Magpie’s 5 Best Places to Travel in California

California is a huge state, and when you’re visiting, it can be really hard to fit everything in! From the redwood forests to the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean to the inland Mojave Desert and Mono Lake, there is an absolute ton to see.

Since Magpie is located in San Francisco, we want you to fall in love with California! We’ve put together five places that we think you should absolutely see while you’re here. Some of them are off the beaten path, while others are popular destinations.

Here are Magpie’s Top 5 Places to Travel in California.

  1. Lost Coast Trail — If you’re looking to get lost, this adventure is for you! The Lost Coast Trail is on the most remote and undeveloped part of the Pacific Coast in California. Located in the King Range National Conservation Area, this 24-mile trail is stunning and completely worth the 5-hour drive from San Francisco. You’ll have to coordinate your hiking with the tides, because parts of it go on the beach and can get inundated. If you want to know what it’s really like, this guy hiked it over a 4-day period and took some beautiful pictures. Make sure to bring a bear canister (they’re required!) and check the weather — it can be really cold and damp by the ocean. You’ll also be close to some really spectacular redwood forests.
  2. San Diego — You can’t beat the beaches in SoCal, and San Diego is about as good as it gets. Try checking out La Jolla, a gorgeous beach town north of San Diego with a fantastic beach for swimming and walking. You can go snorkeling in La Jolla Cove and see the Garibaldi, California’s bright-orange state salt water fish. The beach at Coronado is also beautiful, and if you get tired of all the gorgeous sun and sand, you can go kayaking or rollerblading around the island! There’s also loads of great surfing. Check out this guide to find out where you can go.
  3. Tuolomne Meadows — If you visit California, you should absolutely see the spectacular beauty of Yosemite. The valley is incredible, but gets very crowded with tourists, especially in the summer. To really feel like you’ve gotten away, we recommend taking the bus up to Tuolomne Meadows and camping there for the night. The drive is about an hour and a half along Highway 120. At 8,600 feet, it gets chilly at night, even in the summer, and you’re close to the Lyell Canyon hiking trail, which has some of the most beautiful scenery and wildflowers in the entire Sierra Nevada range. Campsites are open from May to late September, so plan your trip here during the summer!
  4. Mt. Shasta — The Cascade mountains in the far north of California is sparsely populated and very beautiful. Shasta and Lassen National Park are two of the most exquisite places in the state. You can ski Mt. Shasta in the winter, and in the summer there are tons of hiking trails, fishing, and even yoga retreats! If you’re feeling really ambitious you can ascend Shasta. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a close drive and has a lot of interesting geologic history.This guide to the California Cascades will tell you more about all of the incredible, varied terrain that you can see here.
  5. Catalina Island — If you’re looking to get adventurous, Catalina is an incredible place to go! You can take the Catalina Express ferry from Los Angeles to the island — the trip only takes about an hour. We recommend checking out Avalon, the main city on the island, and exploring during the day. Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing are all popular activities here. Try going on a nighttime snorkel adventure under the stars!

Planning to head to San Francisco? Check out our recent blog post about why winter is the best time to go! And if you make it to any of these places, we want you to tell us all about it!

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