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The third and final week of our USA road trip was spent in the beautiful state of California. Having already seen so much in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada I was worried this state wasn’t going to leave such a big impression on me anymore. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every state has such unique and wonderful features, you can hardly compare them to each other. Here are my six favourite places to visit in California.
Tip: Looking for more awesome things to do in California? Check out this California Bucket List, filled with everything you need to see whilst in California.
Tioga Pass (Yosemite National Park)
Yosemite National Park was one of the main things I really wanted to visit during my time in the US. When my parents visited the country 25 years ago, this was one of their favourite things. They couldn’t wait to share it with us too. Unfortunately, the park was closed due to forest fires when we visited.
Luckily some parts of the park were safe and we were able to drive through the Tioga Pass. This way we still got a glimpse of the beautiful nature that you can find in Yosemite. It was so peaceful, so serene. It made me so sad to think about what we missed out on due to those fires, but I’m glad we were safe!
Because Yosemite was closed, we went for a hike in Mammoth Lakes instead. We were already planning to stay in Mammoth Lakes for a night, but we were meant to drive on to Yosemite early in the morning. I’m so glad we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery here because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this kind of nature.
We ended up taking a 5-mile long hike up to Rainbow Falls. The weather didn’t allow for a rainbow to actually from near the waterfall, but it was nonetheless a beautiful sight.
I’m very happy we got to stay in Mammoth Lakes for a day. Other than the beautiful hike to Rainbow Falls, our accommodation for the night was perfect. We stayed in a little cabin in the middle of the woods. It was obvious that the town is famous for its skiing and snowboarding season, but it was still lively during the summer for its mountain bike trails.
Death Valley / Furnace Creek
I left the car twice during our drive through Death Valley but the heat was so intense. With 120 degrees Fahrenheit / 50 degrees Celsius, I couldn’t wait to get to the other side. Even though it is literally a wide-open valley, the heat made me feel incredibly claustrophobic. There is no escape from it (except the brilliantly air-conditioned car). After we drove for about an hour, we had to turn our AC down because the car was slowly overheating… Not what you want to hear while driving through a desert that is literally named after Death.
Sequoia National Park
This holiday has amazing for crossing things off my bucket list, Sequoia is one of the few things I’ve been dying to see for years. So obviously it deserves a spot in the best places to visit in California list. The biggest tree on the planet (The Sherman Tree) is located in this park, and it didn’t disappoint. Looking back at pictures now, it feels crazy that these trees are real and that I walked next to them. While walking through the forest it felt like I had walked through a wormhole and ended up on a different planet. Looking back at the photos with these tiny people next to them, the Sequoia’s look even more gigantic.
Because we couldn’t go to Yosemite, we had more time to explore this park. In the end, we really needed that extra time. To get to the park, you need to drive across small, swirly roads up a mountain. This took a lot longer than we expected. The walk to the Sherman Tree also took a little longer than we thought, nonetheless this walk was through the most beautiful forest I’ve ever seen. If you get the chance to go, please do but make sure you plan at least half a day – if not longer – for your visit. You wouldn’t want to rush!
San Francisco turned out to be one of my favourite places during this holiday – I felt so at home! Because we saw quite a few things in our short stay in the city, I dedicated a separate post for San Francisco here.
We stayed in Los Angeles for a few days and we were able to see so many things! From eating hamburgers at In-N-Out, the walk of fame and the Hollywood sign to Universal Studios! Therefore, I’ve dedicated a special post for Los Angeles, here.
The Golden State did not disappoint and brought this amazing road trip to a beautiful end. I felt right at home and would love to come back soon. If you guys have any more recommendations for best places to visit in California, please leave them in the comments!