California

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.

Behind a glass storefront in Lower Pacific Heights, Sam Hamilton’s MARCH sells kitchen, pantry, and tabletop items in the spirit of Ralph Lauren.

Sun-seeking hotel guests can dip into the plunge pool while waiting for their drinks, or take in the panoramic views, which stretch from the Hollywood Hills to downtown L.A. and out to the Pacific. Specialty “Limoncello sparkle.”

Tucked away on the fifth-floor roof garden of the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel lies The Peninsula Spa. Relaxation and high-end pampering await just beyond the heated rooftop pool and outdoor cabanas.

The Spread: Some 85 vendors and growers spread out around the waterfront Ferry Building on Saturdays in San Francisco, the No. 7–ranked city for markets in our America's Favorite Cities survey.

Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in 1895 in Alexander Valley, and since then the 300-acre winery has been producing award-winning wines.

South of Jack London Square, Dashe Cellars hosts weekend tastings of its Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Syrah wines.

First founded by gold miners in 1850, Columbia is now the Columbia State Historic Park, with everything from hotels to restaurants to schools (it’s still a real town). Sure, it’s touristy, but panning for gold at the Hidden Treasure mine is a thrill.

This marine-inspired theme park has activities for kids of all ages, including several water rides like Shipwreck Rapids, a tube-style rafting adventure. Aquariums and permanent exhibits, such as Turtle Reef and the California Tide Pool, allow for up-close encounters with the animals.

Now owned by the city of Long Beach, this historic ship made 1,001 transatlantic crossings carrying WWII soldiers. Grab a map for a self-guided tour through the wedding chapel, isolation ward, and engine room.

Tucked away in a residential area, this nursery spans eight greenhouses across two acres and sells plants, garden accessories, outdoor furniture, vases, and containers.

Pepto-bismol-colored lounge

Located in Hayes Valley, this home furnishings store has a red-framed screen door and colorful mosaic entryway leading into an equally vibrant interior.

An open-air used bookstore set in the frame of a traditional (though roofless) house.