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16 Photos Of California So BEAUTIFUL They Might Make You Cry

California is a place of natural and manmade beauty everywhere you look.

From top to bottom you’ll find lots of places that make you go ‘hold my beer, I need a pic of this!’.

These are places where moments happen and memories are made.

Family holidays, proposals, roadtrips and romantic dates.

Note from the author: Number 13 is my favorite, I showed it to my Californian-born mom yesterday and it almost made her cry! It reminded her of her dad who used to take her there growing up.

1. Death Valley National Park – Zabriskie Point

death valley zabriskie point

Death Valley National Park is located in the Mojave Desert of California and Nevada, known for being one of the hottest places on Earth.

Zabriskie Point, a notable part of the park, offers a unique viewpoint with its surreal, eroded landscape and colorful, undulating hills.

2. Griffith Observatory

griffith observatory

Griffith Observatory is situated on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles, California and one of the best things to do in Los Angeles.

It is a popular public observatory, offering visitors telescopes, exhibits, and a planetarium.

3. Big Sur Coastline

big sur coastline

Big Sur Coastline is located on California’s Central Coast, stretching between Carmel Highlands and San Simeon.

It’s also part of one of the best roadtrips to do in California (Pacific Coast Highway).

It’s famous for its dramatic scenery, where rugged cliffs meet the Pacific Ocean, creating breathtaking views and natural landscapes.

4. Lake Tahoe

lake tahoe

Lake Tahoe is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, straddling the border of California and Nevada.

It is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the USA, known for its clear blue waters and the stunning mountainous scenery that surrounds it.

5. Napa Valley

napa valley vineyard


Napa Valley is in Northern California, renowned as one of the premier wine regions in the world.

It has picturesque rolling hills, vineyards, and wineries that produce some of the finest wines globally.

6. Yosemite National Park

yosemite national park


Yosemite National Park is located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California and is one of the most visited national parks in California.

It is renowned for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, giant sequoia groves, and diverse wildlife and plant species.

7. Giant Ancient Seqouia Trees

Giant Ancient Seqouia Tree California National Park Redwoods

Giant ancient Sequoia trees are primarily found in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range in places like Seqouia National Park.

These massive trees are among the largest and oldest living organisms on Earth, famed for their immense size and longevity.

8. Golden Gate Bridge

golden gate bridge sunset

The Golden Gate Bridge is located in San Francisco, California, spanning the Golden Gate Strait at the entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.

It’s an iconic suspension bridge, renowned for its striking International Orange color and Art Deco design, making it one of the most photographed bridges in the world.

9. Monterey Bay

monterey bay northern california

Monterey Bay is located on the central coast of California, known for its rich marine life and beautiful coastline.

It’s home to the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can learn about diverse marine habitats and conservation efforts.

10. Superbloom at Antelope Valley

Springtime poppy super bloom at Antelope Valley CA vertical

The Superbloom at Antelope Valley occurs in the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, located in the Mojave Desert region of Southern California.

This rare natural phenomenon (doesn’t happen every year), typically in late winter to early spring, features an explosion of wildflowers, particularly the California poppy, blanketing the landscape in vibrant colors.

11. Santa Catalina Island

santa catalina island avalon


Santa Catalina Island is located off the coast of Southern California, part of the Channel Islands archipelago.

It’s known for its wildlife, dive sites, and Mt. Orizaba, its highest peak, offering a mix of natural beauty and recreational activities.

12. Palm Springs

palm springs


Palm Springs is located in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California, renowned for its hot springs, stylish hotels, and mid-century modern architecture.

It’s a favorite retreat for celebrities and known for its many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture.

13. Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach california


Pfeiffer Beach is located in Big Sur, California, known for its stunning and unspoiled natural scenery along the Pacific Coast.

It’s famous for its unique ‘purple’ sand, created by manganese garnet deposits washing down from the surrounding cliffs, and the striking Keyhole Rock formations.

Not many tourists know about it but locals love this California beach.

14. Channel Islands National Park

Inspiration Point view on Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park California

Channel Islands National Park is located off the coast of Southern California, encompassing five remarkable islands and their surrounding ocean environment.

It’s known for its rugged beauty, diverse wildlife, including significant seabird colonies, and unique flora and fauna, much of which is not found anywhere else on Earth.

It’s definitely one of the most underrated national parks in California.

15. Mount Shasta

mount shasta california

Mount Shasta is located in the Cascade Range in northern California, recognized as one of the state’s most prominent volcanic peaks. It’s also one of the highest peaks in California.

This majestic mountain is known for its snow-capped peak, alpine scenery, and even as a site of spiritual significance for many.

16. Carmel-by-the-sea

carmel by the sea sunset

Carmel-by-the-Sea, often simply referred to as Carmel, is a picturesque coastal town located on the Monterey Peninsula in California.

It’s renowned for its charming and artistic atmosphere, with fairytale-like cottages and beautiful beaches that have some of the best sunsets you’ll ever see.

Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.

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