Things to do in California
It’s nearly impossible to run out of things to do in California. The state has so much going on, from its bustling urban centers -- most notably Los Angeles (which includes all the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood) and San Francisco (where tourists can visit Silicon Valley, widely considered the innovation epicenter of America) – to its rustic, rugged, sprawling national parks.
Nature-lovers wondering what to do in California have an extensive list of available options at their disposable. From skiing in Lake Tahoe, to surfing in Santa Barbara, to hiking in Yosemite, to touring Napa Valley, the option of outdoor things to do in California is truly endless.
Foodies should also rejoice: Anyone wondering what to do in California need look no farther than the state’s incredibly diverse, eclectic, authentic, adventurous, ambitious, and downright delicious culinary scene. From five-star, Michelin-reviewed establishments to corner delis, food carts and fast food joints, the golden state truly has something for every palate.
Howard Backen’s barnlike complex near the town of Sonoma houses several salons and lounges; choose between a flight of four, a five-course food-and-wine pairing, or a picnic by the pond.
This no-frills neighborhood theater is the last surviving revival movie house in Los Angeles—thanks in large part to its famous benefactor Quentin Tarantino, who stepped in to buy the property when the theater was on the brink of shutting down.
Climb up to the fourth floor to the country’s oldest Chinese temple, a shrine to Tien Hau, the Goddess of Heaven and the Sea. Fringed red lanterns throng the ceiling, and Taoists send up puffs of incense with their prayers.
This “secret” subterranean bar is hidden below a popular wedding and events venue and offers a sultry speakeasy vibe for cocktailing and live music. The entrance—through the parking lot behind The Victorian and down a flight of stairs—is appropriately hard to find.
The biggest and oldest (opened in 1978) of three linked Haight Street vintage shops, Held Over carries garments, hats, and shoes from the 40’s through the 90’s.
Though there’s more than a hint of pessimism for the printed book’s future in the name of this indie bookshop, The Last Bookstore may actually restore your faith in its survival.
The Clay is a sweet single stream theatre, distinguished for being one of San Francisco’s oldest. It’s a mix of classic and contemporary programming in a deco setting.
When True Sake opened in 2003, it was the first wholly dedicated sake shop outside of Japan. Their most popular offering is “Nama Ginjo Genshu,” an unpasteurized sake packaged in a stylish can.
Six blocks from the town courthouse, this weekly market is the perfect place to watch gray-haired hippies, dreadlocked surfers, and well-heeled natives hunt for Central Coast olive oils and zingy lemon-flavored pistachios.
For that chic L.A. jeans-and-a-t-shirt look, American Rag is the de facto headquarters—the “World Denim Bar” annex stocks designer denim in every color and fit imaginable.
Cable cars have competition for Most Endearing Public Transit. These early-20th-century streetcars trundle along the Embarcadero. You might glimpse an orange Milanese number or the olive green “streetcar named desire” from New Orleans.