How to spend the perfect summer in California

Los Angeles, Hollywood Sign - how to spend a summer in California

How to spend the perfect summer in California

Overlook in Malibu, Los Angeles

If you’re planning to spend your summer in California, you’re in for one of the best experiences of your life. The Golden State is a land of contrast, where tranquil natural landscapes meet vibrant cities and iconic man-made landmarks.

Whether you’re drawn to the stark beauty of the vast desert or the lush forests of the Sierra Nevada, California provides the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable summer. You can balance outdoor adventures with visits to the iconic cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Here endless opportunities to revel in modern ingenuity, explore iconic attractions and walk amidst the rich and famous await you!

To get your itinerary planning juices flowing, here’s a detailed guide on the must-visit places to explore as you spend your summer in California.

Embrace the extremities of nature

death valley museum sign
death valley museum sign

There are nine national parks to discover across the Golden State! Howver, Death Valley is the epitome of extraordinary and dramatic landscapes. It’s the hottest, driest, and lowest park in the United States, the area comprises unique geological formations and hardy species found nowhere else on the planet.

Though its name seems uninviting, there’s unparalleled natural beauty to be found here for those brave enough to face the high temperatures and unforgiving landscape. Top attractions include:

• Badwater Basin: At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is the remnants of an ancient lake which evaporated long ago, leaving salt flats which glisten under the sun in mesmerizing patterns. Be sure to enter the basin before 10 am or after 4 pm. The geology of the area mimics a convection oven and temperatures have been known to reach 134℉ (57℃)

• Dante’s View: For a panoramic view of Death Valley, hike or drive up to Dante’s View. This esteemed elevation point of 5,475ft offers travelers stunning views of the valley, and on a clear day you can see as far as the Sierra Nevada mountains.

• Artist’s Palette: Aptly named, this colorful geological formation is created by layers of mineral-rich earth, compacted into an undulating expanse of pink, purple, green and golden waves. Perfect for those wishing to witness the beauty of the park without hiking, the Artist’s Palette is part of the Artists Drive Scenic Loop, which also passes through the Black Mountains and swirling salt flats. Visit at sunset or sunrise for a breathtaking display of color.

How to spend the perfect summer in California – Visit the crown jewel of California

Carmel by the sea, california summer
Photo by Arush Godha on Unsplash

Located along the central coast of California, just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is revered as a coastal paradise. The dramatic seascapes and pristine natural beauty of the area have been coined as the crown jewel of the California State Park system.

Landscape painter Francis McComas called it “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.” Lose yourself in the tranquility of nature by walking the coastal trails, meeting rare wildlife and breathing in the stunning views.

One of the most popular hikes in the area is the Cypress Grove Trail. This easy loop takes you through stands of Monterey cypress trees. It also has ocean views and the chance to see seabirds and marine mammals like seals, sea otters and whales.

If it’s strictly wildlife you’re searching for, head to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. As one of the richest aquatic habitats in California!

This marine park is teeming with 70-foot-high kelp forests which create a safe haven for many species. Divers are greeted by lingcod, rockfish, harbor seals, sea otters, sea stars, turtles and dolphins.

Explore San Francisco

san francisco golden gate park and bridge
Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, eclectic neighborhoods and emerald hills, San Francisco is a prestigious coastal city well worth visiting. A fine blend of history, culture and nature, this city has many claims to fame. Not only is the place where Levi Strauss invented denim jeans for mine workers, but it’s also home to the only mobile National Historical Monument – San Francisco’s cable cars. Top attractions to add to your itinerary include:

• Golden Gate Bridge and Park: Walk or bike across the bridge for stunning views of the city’s skyline and sandy bay, or explore the urban Golden Gate Park to enjoy a Japanese Tea Garden, view the Conservatory of Flowers and visit the de Young Museum.

• Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39: This bustling waterfront offers an idyllic walk past quaint craft shops, restaurants serving fresh seafood and the chance to visit historic ships.

There’s also a cool aquarium, carousel and other attractions to be found at Pier 39, alongside platforms full of sea lions lazing in the summer sun!

• Alcatraz Island: The infamous former prison island of Alcatraz is a must-see whilst in San Francisco – take a ferry and enjoy an audio tour to learn about its history.

How to spend the perfect summer in California – Walk with the stars in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, Hollywood Sign - how to spend a summer in California
Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

As the heart of the worldwide entertainment industry, Los Angeles offers a rich mix of cultural attractions alongside idyllic beaches and glamorous neighborhoods.

Stroll along Hollywood Boulevard to ‘walk with the stars’, where events and ceremonies often take place and offer a chance to come face to face with icons. Hunt down the stars belonging to your favorite actors, musicians and sports entertainers for a star-studded selfie.

There are also plenty of amusement parks across the city, headlined by Universal Studios in Hollywood. This attraction is full of thrilling rides and enchanting shows and performances. Don’t miss the Studio Tour for unique, behind-the-scenes insights into your favorite characters, movies and shows.

Summer in the sun

Death Valley, California

Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, discovering urban wonders or immersing yourself in natural beauty, California promises a summer to remember and is definitely a destination you’ll want to visit time and time again.

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