California is a beautiful, amazing destination. Though huge cities and epic traffic jams may come to mind at first mention of the Golden State, California is home to many unique wonders, both natural and cultivated. Here are seven that are certainly worth a look.
Lake Tahoe – Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains along the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is nation’s sixth-largest lake. Second in depth only to Oregon’s Crater Lake, Tahoe’s unusually clear, pure waters reach depths of 1,645 feet. Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas offer limitless recreational and tourist opportunities, including watersports, cruises and hiking. The surrounding Sierra Nevada peaks offer renowned ski resorts, along with casinos on the Nevada side of the lake.
Golden Gate Bridge – Completed in 1937, San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world. At a length of 4,200 feet, the Golden Gate was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964, and its two towers rise 746 feet above the Golden Gate strait. This feat of engineering connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County. One interesting fact is that the signature “golden” color was not originally intended to be permanent, but was a primer to protect the structure from the bay’s harsh elements. Later it was decided that the orange color was more visible to ships in the fog, and that it better complements the terrain’s natural beauty. There is a new visitor experience at the Bridge Plaza at the southeast end. Walking is the best ways to experience the Bridge. It is 1.7 miles long and it takes approximately 45–60 minutes to walk across. However, parking is extremely limited.
Yosemite National Park – Covering 747, 956 acres, the wonders of Yosemite National Park are almost too numerous to mention. There are breathtaking waterfalls, granite cliffs, mighty sequoia groves and clear water streams. In addition, Yosemite offers endless sightseeing and recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, photography — and simply relaxing and gazing.
Napa Valley – Famous for its wineries and sweeping views of vineyards covering rolling slopes, Napa Valley is a noteworthy destination for wine lovers. The valley and surrounding hills are home to more than 400 wineries. Napa Valley’s wine history dates back to the early 19th century, and is considered one of the nation’s top viticulture areas.
Hearst Castle – Built in 1919, Hearst Castle near San Simeon is a monument of Mediterranean Revival architecture. It is an extravagant monument to the wealth and power of its namesake, San Francisco Examiner founder William Randolph Hearst. The estate features 127 acres of gardens, walkways and pools. The main house totals 60,645 square feet, with 38 bedrooms and 41 baths. Operated by California State Parks, the tour is an experience unlike any other.
Devil’s Postpile National Monument – Located near Mammoth Mountain in eastern California, Devil’s Postpile is a unique rock formation of columnar basalt. If you happen to be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, your trail will pass through the monument. The hexagonal basalt columns were formed from ancient volcanic activity, and create a stunning landscape.
Mount Shasta – Located in northern California, Mount Shasta is the second-highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range. It’s also a volcano, with a volume of approximately 85 cubic miles, making Shasta the largest volcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. However, Shasta’s last significant eruption occurred around 200 years ago. Today it’s a recreation destination with lots of camping, hiking and boating opportunities. Mount Shasta dominates the northern California landscape, and on a clear day can be seen from California’s Central Valley 140 miles away.