Waimea Falls, also known as Waihi Falls, is one of the more accessible falls on Oahu. It is located within Waimea Valley, which is a unique Hawaiian botanical garden within a significant cultural and archaeological site. There is a small fee to enter the park. This is a worthwhile contribution, as the place is dedicated to the preservation of the incredible botanical and cultural features of the area.
The Honolulu Zoo is 42 lush tropical acres of mammals, reptiles, birds and more! A children's zoo, African Savannah exhibit, playground and snack bar complete the visit.
The Zoo is 42 acres and home to almost 1000 different animals from the tropics. Komodo Dragons, orangutans, elephants, primates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and a variety of African animals can be seen daily. Be sure to see the wildest place in Waikiki!
Hikers rejoice! Diamond Head State Monument offers breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. In fact the view is so good, it was used by the US military as a post for preventing attacks against Honolulu.
The trail takes you to the edge of a 300,000 year old crater. While the hike isn’t that long in terms of distance, it can be somewhat challenging due to its ascent. Parts of the trail are over uneven rock, and the 99 steps near the end of the hike are steep. Also, the only water fountains are at the beginning of the trail, so you’ll want to bring a water bottle or bottled water to stay hydrated.
Every year, more than a million people get to swim with the fishes in a marine ecosystem located on the southeast coast of Oahu, 10 miles east of Waikiki. Hanauma (or curved bay) Bay is a former volcanic crater that became a protected marine life conservation area in 1967. Since then, it’s become an underwater park for snorkel enthusiasts, swimmers and anyone desiring to see more than 400 species of Hawaiian fishes including Hawaii’s state fish the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, turtles and other marine life.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open year-round, except for Tuesdays, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plan to arrive as early as you can or wait until the crowd trickles out in the mid-afternoon. During summer, the state park opens at 6 am and closes at 7 pm. It closes at 6 pm in winter.
Walk among old growth coast redwoods, cooling their roots in the freshwater of Redwood Creek and lifting their crowns to reach the sun and fog. Federally protected as a National Monument since 1908, this primeval forest is both refuge and laboratory, revealing our relationship with the living landscape.
Muir Woods National Monument is world renowned for its old-growth coastal redwoods, attracting over one million visitors each year. With the park’s popularity come pressures on a fragile ecosystem representing more than 380 different plants and animals.
The incredible diversity of flora and fauna at Muir Woods can be daunting sometimes, elusive at other times. The redwoods themselves dominate the scene, but the Steller's jay often steals the show. Ladybugs clustering by the thousands on ancient horsetail ferns boggle the imagination, while the slimy banana slug is able to disgust and fascinate all at once. Plants adapt to low light levels on the forest floor, while whole plant and animal communities bustle in the canopy above our heads.
Another San Francisco beach located near an old fort. Fort Funston a rugged beach with crashing surf at the bottom of 200 foot cliffs, just south of Ocean Beach. Very popular with dogs, as well. When the winds are blowing, you'll see hang gliders soaring from the cliff tops.
Ocean Beach is the grand-daddy of San Francisco beaches, stretching out for three miles along the entire western edge of San Francisco. This wide, flat expanse of sand is the best beach for long walks or a run. It's also the most popular, which means lots of people on our warm, sunny days. This is a great surfing beach, and dogs can be off-leash in certain parts.
At the western tip of San Francisco, jutting out into ocean, is Lands End: a nature park of steep cliffs with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. It has a small, rocky beach, called Mile Rock Beach, accessible from the Coastal Trail. Wonderful beach to walk to.
Golden Gate Park is the third most visited park in the United States. While the park is free to visit during the day, popular attractions charge admission, such as deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers. The park is filled with gardens, museums, art, flowers, trees, lakes, birds and wildlife. There are also plenty of opportunities to participate in sports, clubs and other activities. Browse the site for information on parking, maps, weddings, hotels, permits, making reservations, transportation, contact numbers, and the history of Golden Gate Park.
China Beach is a great little local beach in San Francisco. The China Beach Cove is protected by rock walls on both sides creating a protected area that once was a camp for Chinese fishermen, hence the name. China Beach faces north toward the Marin Headlands and has a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge too. It’s not a large beach so when the tide is up and the summer sun is out, it can be hard to find a spot that is dry and isn’t already taken. At low tide there are tide pools to discover.
Like all the beaches in this area, China Beach is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Swimming isn’t safe at China Beach for many reasons including the lack of lifeguards. The area just south of the cove is called Lands End and has many hiking trails to explore.
Baker Beach is a large popular beach not far from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. On sunny weekends both parking lots could be full and all the spaces along the entrance roads too. This popular spot is one of the many beaches in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Just north of the main parking lot is the Battery Chamberlin, a large historic military gun installation that was built in 1904. It is worth checking out especially if you have kids. Be aware as you explore the north end of Baker Beach because North Baker Beach is a clothing-optional area. All of Baker Beach is an unsafe swimming area because of cold water and frequent rip currents in the surf.
Just inside the Golden Gate, Crissy Field has a wide, sandy beach with a pretty view of the bridge and Alcatraz. It's a short, 10 minute walk from Fisherman's Wharf. Of the San Francisco beaches, this one's the most popular with windsurfers.
Lombard Street in San Francisco is often called the most crooked street in the world. Actually, it's the second crookedest, but San Francisco has the number one street as well! The pretty, postcard view of Lombard Street has become famous worldwide and many visitors enjoy seeing the cars carefully winding down the turns among the beautiful flower beds.
Aquatic Park Cove has a narrow sandy beach and a grass park at the end of the Hyde Street Cable Car line on the San Francisco Waterfront. The cove is located at the north end of Hyde Street and Van Ness Avenue near Fisherman’s Wharf. Boats are allowed to anchor in the protected harbor in the cove. It is protected by a long curved municipal pier that should not be missed if you have time to walk out on it. The view from the pier includes the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco skyline. Nearby Hyde Street Pier has historic ships to see as well. The Marine Museum sits at the center of Aquatic Park Cove near the beach. Behind that is Ghirardelli Square. Aquatic Park Cove is part of San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, a district within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The large park at Fort Mason is a short walk away up the trail to the west.
As San Francisco’s most popular visitor destination, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a wide range of land, sea, and air activities.
A food lover's haven, Fisherman's Wharf boasts some of the best dining in the world. Salivate over fresh Dungeness crab served steaming hot at outdoor stands or in a variety of gourmet recipes at the Wharf’s many seafood restaurants. The Wharf's eclectic mix of international cuisine is sure to make a hit with your taste buds.
Cable cars are a historic symbol recognized around the globe and offer real working transportation up the steep hills of San Francisco. The cable cars begin their runs at 6 a.m. and continue until midnight.
From Union Square to the crest of Nob Hill, cable cars offer a thrilling way to move with the City. A ride on San Francisco’s cable cars may be the most iconic and memorable of your entire trip to California. Even people who might dismiss cable cars as a cheesy tourist attraction will admit that there is something incredibly romantic about these rides.
Pier 39 is located on the San Francisco waterfront near the Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city and is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to California. The pier is home to many great restaurants offering local seafood as well as other cuisines. If shopping is your thing you will find 90+ stores offering everything from souvenirs to sports memorabilia. Pier 39 is also where you can find fun and exciting attractions such as the Aquarium of the Bay and the 7D experience.
If you walk to the end of Pier 39 and visit K-Dock you will find the world famous sea lions who have made the pontoons their home. The sealions first appeared after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and began taking over the piers on the Pier 39 marina, much to the annoyance of the marina tenants. After numerous attempts to shoo them away they eventually had to give up and the numbers grew and grew reaching a peak of over 1500 in 2009. Today they have become one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco and have their own area of Pier 39. While there why not pay a visit to the Marine Mammal Center just upstairs from the viewing area where you can learn more about the sea lions and pick up some sea lion related souvenirs.
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center offers hands-on immersion into the world of ocean exploration and discovery. With a 20,000-square-foot visitor center, guests can touch a shark, explore the latest discoveries in ocean science, and take in the spectacular Monterey Bay, called the “Serengeti of the sea,” for its incredible diversity of marine life. Powered by the Long Marine Laboratory, a world-renowned university research facility, our exhibit hall offers a deeper dive into the fascinating and varied work of scientists studying the oceans here in Santa Cruz and around the world.
This park and beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, as well as seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, public access tidepools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub and grasslands, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. Moore Creek flows through the park, forming freshwater wetlands and a salt marsh before it reaches the sea.
At this 135-acre outdoor, living museum, you can also explore the Hummingbird Trail to seek out the rare, elusive white hummingbird, and sniff pleasing scents of lavender, jasmine, and oregano in the fun Aroma Garden.
The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden’s rich and diverse collection contains representatives of more than 300 plant families of Mediterranean climates. The garden maintains collections of rare and threatened plants of unusual scientific interest. Particular specialties are world conifers, primitive angiosperms, and bulb-forming plant families. Large assemblages of plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and California natives are displayed on the grounds. Many of the species in these collections are not otherwise available for study in American botanical gardens and arboreta.
West Cliff Drive ridiculously, scenic pathway traverses one of the most inspiring settings along the California coast. Hugging the shoreline of the majestic Monterey Bay, the waterfront thoroughfare stretches from the sandy beach at Natural Bridges State Beach to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Along the way, you’ll pass vivid, succulent-covered cliffs, secluded beach coves, and some of the region’s most famous sights including big wave surfers at Steamer Lane, playful pups at Its Beach, and the Santa Cruz Surf Museum at Lighthouse Point.
Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad and the forest. In the 1880s, narrow-gauge steam locomotives were used to haul giant redwood logs out of the mountains. Roaring Camp's steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing regularly scheduled passenger service in America.
Overlooking internationally renowned surfing hotspot Steamer Lane, this little gem of a museum has photographs, surfboards, and other interesting artefacts tracing over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz. The museum shop specializes in great surfing books and surfing-related items.
Mount Hermon Adventures has grown immensely since it began and has become an internationally recognized provider of adventure experiences and team development programs. They now operate the world-famous Redwood Canopy Tours, multiple aerial adventure courses, intentional Team Building programs, and provide Mount Hermon overnight guests with mountain biking, surfing, sea kayaking, target sports, aquatic facilities, paint ball, skate park and more. Guests experience Mt. Hermon's core values of quality, authenticity and inspiration with the final goal of living a transformed life.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a classic seaside amusement park located along a beautiful sandy beach in a friendly beach town.
The Boardwalk features more than 40 rides and attractions including two National Historic Landmarks: the world-famous 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the beautiful 1911 Looff Carousel, plus many scream-inducing thrill rides, gentle kiddie rides, casual restaurants, gift shops, games, indoor arcades, and miniature golf.
The small surf community of Pleasure Point is located in an unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, nestled between Moran Lagoon and 41st Avenue, adjacent to the Monterey Bay. Nearly a dozen famous surf breaks make this an ideal destination for skilled surfers. It’s a classic beachside town and the genesis of surf culture in Santa Cruz – home to wetsuit pioneer Jack O’Neill – where locals mix effortlessly with visitors eager to capture that authentic surf vibe.
Fill your day with roller coasters, live shows, concerts, fireworks, amusement park food favorites and even a water park at the iconic California's Great America. Thrills for every age are ready to rock your world and run you ragged. New rides and attractions are introduced every year and special events like the nightmarish Halloween Haunt are looked forward to by the tens of thousands! Get your walking shoes ready and practice your screaming, there's a lot to cover on this adrenaline rush of an outing!
Located in Kelley Park in San Jose, Happy Hollow Park and Zoo has been providing affordable family entertainment, education and fun since 1961. The Park is a peaceful, creative and safe place for children of all ages, with the main focus on “little ones” between the ages of 2-10. There are creative play areas, children’s rides, hand puppet and marionette shows, special events, and birthday areas.
Learn about wildlife up close during daily meet-and-greets, leap like a lemur on the playground, brush and feed the goats, or take a peek inside Doc’s Critter Care building and the Ranch House. Double-H Ranch features a combination of animal exhibits, including giant anteaters and red ruffed lemurs, as well chickens and domesticated animals that are docile enough to touch.
At 68,000 square feet, Lake Cunningham Regional Skate Park is the largest skate park in California. Featuring the the world's largest cradle, tallest vert wall, and largest full pipe, LCRSP offers a wide variety of terrain for all skill levels to learn and enjoy.
The Aerospace Museum of California is one of aviation's greatest showcases with over 40 military and civilian aircraft and a world-class engine exhibit. Located 15 minutes from Cal Expo, the Museum has STEM activities from building block competitions and scavenger hunts to a motion movie ride and realistic Flight Zone simulators. Experience every era of aviation from a fully restored 1932 Curtiss Wright speed wing biplane to the Titan IV LR87 space booster engine. Come experience the amazing innovation of flight!
Think there’s no wide-open countryside left in Los Angeles? Think again. The Santa Monica Mountains stretch for 80km across the northwestern boundary of the Los Angeles basin. Within the range lie more than 60,000 largely undeveloped hectares of grassy swales, rock-studded hillsides, tree-shaded glens, and windswept beaches. A mosaic of state, local, and federal preserves protects this land, all managed under the umbrella of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the nation’s largest urban national park.
One of the few mountain ranges in the United States to run east to west rather than north to south, the Santa Monicas can claim big nature bragging rights. Considered to be a “botanical island” in L.A.’s urban corridor, the slopes that run straight down to the Pacific are covered in chaparral, coastal sage, springtime wildflowers, and oak and sycamore forests. More than 20 species of endangered plants and animals thrive here. This is a place where you might see a bobcat stalk its prey, a coyote lope across the grasslands, or a golden eagle fly overhead.