Variety In California Sights

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There Was Such Variety In California Sights

We visited several times and were always amazed at the variety of California sights we found. Many people think of the big city sites. But we were delighted to find ocean, wildlife, mountain and desert views. And when we wanted to unwind, it was easy to find a tranquil winery view!

Ocean Views All Along The Coast

The California coastline is over 1,200 miles (almost 2,000 km). So we were not surprised when we found an amazing variety in the ocean views from north to south.

On our visits to San Francisco, those ocean views were often framed with bridges and fog. A short distance south, we found wild ocean views in Monterrey. And long sandy beach strips in Carmel.

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge - Variety In California Sights.jpg

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We loved the view of the pounding surf along the Cambria coast. And there was no better way to end a day than with a sunset view over the Pismo Beach pier.

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Pismo Beach Sunset Pier - Variety In California Sights.jpg

As we headed south towards San Diego, we loved all the beach areas around Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Long stretches of white sand drew us down to the water. And funky beach towns kept us going back.

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As water lovers, the ocean views offered our favourite variety in California sights.

Wildlife Was Always Found Everywhere

With such a long coast, we were not surprised that we found wildlife all along our coastal travels. The rafts of sea lions on the pier in San Francisco and in Monterey kept us entertained for hours. Day trips to visit La Jolla outside of San Diego brought us hours of fun as we watched the playful sea lions.

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As we travelled along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), we always stopped at the beach close to the Hearst Castle and watched the large and lumbering elephant seals. We stayed upwind of the smelly guys. And we listened to them as they talked to each other.

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We loved to do whale watching when we travelled. So no trip to the California coast was complete without a whale watching excursion in Monterey. We were lucky on many whale watching trips to be out when the whales played for us.

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When we wanted to learn more about the sea life of California or to see the smaller creatures, we often visited the Monterey Aquarium. We never missed a chance to watch the mesmerizing jelly fish.

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Visits to Catalina Island offered us the chance to see large pods of dolphins as they played. And on one excursion, a flying fish jumped right into our boat.

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Catalina Island Avalon Flying Fish.jpg

The chance to see wildlife was definitely one of the reasons we visited California. With a fun variety in California sights.

Rocky Views Provided Some Variety In Landscapes

When we travelled along the PCH, large portions of the highway hugged the steep shores. Stunning vistas were available all along the route.

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When we visited Hollywood, the Hollywood hills were the backdrop for iconic sights. The Hollywood Bowl was a great spot to see entertainment in a natural setting. And the Hollywood Sign stood high on the hills for all to see.

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If we wanted our hills in a wilder setting, we explored Yosemite National Park. The mountain peaks framed The Dome at Yosemite. Waterfalls cascaded down the sharp faces. And the hills were reflected in the rivers that ran through the park.

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On a trip to the Palm Desert for a weekend, we were surprised to see high mountains over the desert valleys. And when we took the aerial tram, we even found snow.

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From Palm Desert, we crossed the mountains for a stay in Temecula wine country. The wine valleys were ringed with high mountains. And many days we chased those views. In the early mornings, the mountains were the perfect backdrop for hot air balloons.

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When we drove inland from the Cambria coast, we were delighted to find verdant green rolling hills on our way to Paso Robles and Luis St Obispo. The views made us think for a minute that we really had moved to Ireland!

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We found steep ocean cliffs, gentle rolling green hills, National Park wonders and snow covered peaks on our travels in California. Just one more example of the variety in California sights.

Wide Desert Vistas

As we travelled on the California coast, we found massive redwood forests. Heading inland, we travelled through rolling vineyards. So much of California was green.

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But when we visited Palm Desert, we got a taste of desert landscape. Although we were sorry we missed the spring desert bloom.

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When we visited California, we went from green lush fields to barren desert vistas. Such a huge variety in California sights.

Lush Winery Views

We always went wine tasting on visits to California. Several times we explored the Napa Valley area. And there were some great wine tasting experiences.

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On our cruise along the California coast, we did a day trip from Santa Barbara to the Santa Ynez Valley. There we tasted some new wines. And even did a wine and cupcake tasting!

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On a visit inland to Temecula, we enjoyed visiting with local friends. They showed us a good sample of the great wineries in Temecula.

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There were so many wine regions in California to visit. We were sad we missed the wineries in Paso Robles when we stayed in the Cambria region. But wineries are always high on our list when we visited California. Great taste experiences and a huge variety in California sights.

Architectural Delights

On our travels in California, we enjoyed the cities too. San Francisco had a great range of architecture to enjoy. We toured at ground level, inside the buildings and caught the night skyline view. And we always found interesting architectural delights in San Francisco.

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On a trip down the California coast, we got a real treat when we stopped and visited the Hearst Castle. This delightful sight of Hearst Castle was an architecture lovers dream inside and outside. And the views from the top of the hills were amazing.

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San Diego had an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods and corresponding architectures. We loved to walk in the city and see the sights of San Diego.

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California was well known for its large cities. We loved to explore and see the variety in California sights we found in the urban areas.

Discovering Variety In California Sights On Our Travels

We certainly found a variety in California sights. Whether we were out and enjoyed the natural beauty or explored the cities, there were so many different views to take in.

There was something for everywhere when we visited California. And this kept bringing us back!

Did you find a variety in California sights? Did you have a particular kind of sight you sought? Or did you like to sample the widely different sights?

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About TravelAtWill 748 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!


  1. The California coastline is really beautiful! We did a drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara a couple of times, and it was heavenly in the summer. I wish we had more time to spend in Monterey though – I would have loved to visit the aquarium and go whale watching.

    • Nish, California is one of our favourite spots to visit. There is such a beautiful variety of things to see and do. That stretch from San Francisco to Santa Barbara is stunning. Can’t wait to go back. Linda

  2. I spent about 6 months living in Southern California after I graduated from college. I lived in Carlsbad, and I loved the little village by the beach. It was so adorable! And I also loved visiting La Jolla to see the sea lions. I haven’t made it to northern California yet, but I have a cousin in San Francisco and can’t wait to get out there, and also to do a Napa Valley tour! Wine….yummm!

    • Lia, We have visited California several times. And each time we found so new delights. And re-visited old favourites. Hope you get to enjoy more of Northern California. Linda

  3. California has so much to see! I would love to go to Yosemite and the Napa Valley as those are two areas I haven’t been to yet. The coast, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree are all incredible and like you said there is so much variety 🙂

    • Kelly, Every visit to California we are excited to see more of the sights. There is a little something for everyone. Hope you get to Yosemite and Napa Valley. Two very different areas with lots to offer. Linda

  4. I prefer the Oregon coast to California because there are fewer people there, more of nature. But the truth is that California is amazing too & worth seeing. I love San Francisco. It is one of my favorite cities in the US. I love California wine and happy to visit California vineyards every time I visit this state. Wildlife is also spectacular there! Hope to go back 🙂

    • Agnes, I understand your feelings for Oregon. We wish we planned more time there on our last trip. But we will go back. But California offers such a variety of sights. We too hope to go back and discover more. Linda

  5. Beautiful post! It reminded me about my west coast road trip I’ve done few years ago! Ive seen Yosemite as well as I drove the pacific highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles! I didn’t made many stops there, just a quick ones to take some photos. I wish I knew back then about whale watching as I would love to see that! And wow, I definitely have to plan a trip in the future to Temecula wine country and Cambria coast. Its looks stunning over there

    • Karolina, I am glad this post brought back some great California moments. We are certainly California dreaming! Hope you go back to see more of the great sights. Linda

  6. You have proven just how beautiful and diverse California is! Beautiful photos and features – makes me want to visit there again soon, especially norther California

  7. California looks like such a great state to visit, I can’t believe I still haven’t been there. Driving along the coast is one of my dreams and I would love to spend time admiring all the wild life you have mentioned. Dolphins have been my favorite animal since I was a young child and while I have seen them in controlled settings I would love to see them in their natural habitat. I have yet to spot one on a cruise. And I think it would make the whole trip for me if a flying fish jumped onto the boat. Amazing! Not to much the wine and Hollywood sign!

    • Melissa, I hope my post helps to move California higher on the travel wish list. There are indeed so many different facets to explore from north to south. Linda

  8. So much to see in California. From water to vineyards, it has everything which can make anyone hooked. Napa Valley is high on my list. I am very excited to see the whale watching trips. The photos were simply good. Loved reading about different sights of California. The landscape variety in California is superb. Thanks for this interesting post.

  9. I’ve been dreaming of a road trip across the US for a long time but I could just stay in California and see all these things. A hot air balloon ride and plenty of wildlife interactions would be on my list of things to do!

  10. The sights of California are indeed so varied and also really breathtaking. The Ocean sights are our favourie pick of the lot here. It must be so fascinating to see so much of wildlife on the coast. And the winery views are so enchanting. The California you have presented is so beautiful and unlike the urban centre that we had imagined.

    • Sandy, The long coast and water views definitely draw us to California. We love to share the diversity of the sights so people won’t think just of the big cities. They are great. But so much more to see. Linda

  11. To be honest, I thought California was a big city like London and with skyscrapers and Architectural sights only.Thank you for enlightening me. I will definitely love to explore California – the variety in California sights makes it looks like a country and not a state. I can’t imagine a state with an ocean sight, a wildlife sight, a mountain sight and a desert sight.

  12. The California coastline is amazing isn’t it. There’s just so much to see, you can understand why so many Californians don’t bother traveling anywhere else. Loved your reminder of the Monterray Aquarium, I took so many photos of those jelly fish. They’re fabulous to watch, I could have stayed at that exhibit for hours.

    • Jay, We too love the Monterey Aquarium and usually visit if we are in the area. The jellyfish as my favourites too. Love the wide variety in the Calfornia sights. Linda

  13. Driving along the PCH is a must-do in California. It is such a great way to see the changing landscape. I also remember seeing all the seals when we went down to La Jolla. There is just so mcuh to see from the mountains and wine country to the cities and beaches. I love California!

  14. In my mind California has always been synonymous with great road trips and sooner of later I’ll do it! I’m truly impressed about the variety of sights that can be found in the region. The Napa Valley would be high on my list, I’ve heard great things about it and I’m really curious to see it myself!

  15. You’re absolutely right! California is wonderful. I’ve been there many many times since I was 4 years old because half of my relatives live there, but still haven’t visited all the places I’ve wanted to. This post is making me want to return again soon (when it’s allowed to travel to the USA again!) to explore more of San Diego and return to SF where we lived for several months.

  16. The non city sights in California are really caught my attention. I never thought there’s a rolling green hills there. I know about the wild animals, but I didn’t know about the whales.

  17. I have never visited California before. It has surely been on my list for a long time as I have had relatives and friends living in that place. They have invited me many a times but have never got a chance. O would love to see the whales as that is something that I do here in Sydney every year, watching whales. That will definitely be my fav.

    • Raksha, I am glad to give you some more reasons to visit California. There are so many amazing sights. Hope you get to go whale watching when you visit. Linda

  18. This is why I really want to go to California, it seems that there is something for everyone to enjoy and such a variety of things to do that you will never get bored! I really loved both cities and getting out into nature too so Cali is ideal. I grew up a skater too so that’s one reason I’ve always wanted to go, I just want to be able to spend enough time there when we do to make the most of it.

  19. Laguna Beach and Newport Beach have always been so beautiful. The whole Pacific coast is incredible! Catalina Island has always been on my bucket list. It sounds like an amazing few day get a way! There truly is so much to do in California. The views and different climates all make this state perfect for anyone to enjoy. Your article has now had me add hot air balloons and wineries to my bucket list. Thank you for sharing!

  20. I totally loved the word variety and the blog brings it out too. It has helped me to learn so much. I just knew about Napa valley or a few more things but whale watching and desert vistas sound so much more fun. My cousin lives in California and this year I was due for a trip there. But anyways, I know its not just me. All our plans have crestfallen. Hopefully traveling days will be back soon.

  21. I love variety of sights and as California has so many various landscapes then it would be choice too. I have seen East coast and Mid-west of US but not yet seen western coast of US. Lush winery views, amazing coastlines, sunsets of beaches would be my preference. As I live in desert at present, so might give desert a miss but all green space and beaches would be my first choice. Even the architectural delights of San Franciso is amazing and very interesting to me.

  22. Indeed, california is one of the many things. There is too much to see and do and it’s simply amazing. Love the lush winery in the area making it worth the visit to enjoy great wine tasting experiences.

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