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. https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=541
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. http://www.santacruz.org/pleasure-point-authentic-surf-vibe
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. https://arboretum.ucsc.edu/
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. https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/fort-funston-beach/
Want a spectacular 360 degree view of San Francisco? Head for the top of Twin Peaks, San Francisco. These two hills rise almost 1000 feet above the City and sit just about in its geographical center. https://www.inside-guide-to-san-francisco-tourism.com/twin-peaks-san-francisco.html
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. https://goldengatepark.com/
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. https://www.inside-guide-to-san-francisco-tourism.com/lombard-street-san-francisco.html
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. https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/china-beach/
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. https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/aquatic-park-cove/
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. https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/baker-beach-san-francisco/
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. https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/lands-end-beach/
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. https://www.presidio.gov/places/east-beach
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. https://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm
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. https://www.visitcalifornia.com/au/attraction/santa-monica-mountains-national-recreation-area
Malibu Pier isn’t one of the longest piers in California, but it is in one of the best locations. West of the pier you can walk for several miles when the tide isn’t high. In that direction you’ll cross Carbon Beach, La Costa Beach, and Las Flores Beach (the latter two are not easily visited from Pacific Coast Highway). East of Malibu Pier is Surfrider Beach where longboard surfers and stand-up paddleboarders play in the mild rolling break. Farther to the east, Malibu Lagoon State Beach offers a unique setting without million dollar mansions behind (although they are never far away in Malibu). The Adamson House and Garden (Tour) between the lagoon and the pier is cool to see when it’s open. Malibu Farm Cafe and Restaurant is at the end of the pier and has healthy food for hungry visitors. Nobu and other restaurants are nearby as well. Parking is available in the lot next to the pier and along PCH. https://www.californiabeaches.com/attraction/malibu-pier/
Authentic 6.5-acre Japanese Garden created by Dr. Koichi Kawana to provide beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of Japanese culture using reclaimed water. https://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/activities/japanese-garden
Looking for a picture-perfect view of the Sign? For many visitors to Los Angeles, there is no more coveted photo than a shot of the world famous Sign. Though it is visible from all over the city from its lofty perch on Mt. Lee, it can actually be surprisingly difficult to get a well-angled shot.
Stunning views of the Hollywood Sign unfold at your own pace on hiking trails that meander through the rolling chaparral of the Santa Monica Mountains. Trails originally blazed by paws, hooves, and yucca-thatched moccasins now connect us to cultural as well as natural wonders. The western frontier of Griffith Park offers hikers amazingly close encounters with the Sign, which is off-limits to human hands, just below the ridgeline at the 1,708-foot summit of Mt. Lee. On the longest hike, you can ascend above and behind the Sign’s 45-foot-tall aluminum letters, where you look out over a windswept vista encompassing the DOOWYLLOH sign, the dreamy towers of downtown Los Angeles, and, on a clear day, the ageless blue Pacific. https://hollywoodsign.org/seeing-the-sign/
Located in La Cañada Flintridge, the 160-acre Descanso Gardens was originally developed in 1936 by newspaper magnate Elias Manchester Boddy, whose numerous interests included horticulture and politics. Descanso Gardens offers numerous areas for exploring, including a bird sanctuary, five-acre rosarium, Japanese tea garden, water-wise garden, Oak Woodland, California garden, and the world’s largest collection of camellia flowers. https://www.descansogardens.org/
Pasadena's only dedicated free public garden, Arlington Garden was built in 2005 on the former site of the historic Durand Mansion. The garden includes thousands of California-native plants such as poppies, sunflowers, cactus and succulents, orchards of orange and olive trees, and many more species. Arlington Garden also features a variety of benches and tables, birdbaths and statuary. A classical, seven-circuit Labyrinth was built at the garden in October 2010. In November 2008, 21 crepe myrtle trees were donated and permanently installed at Arlington as part of Yoko Ono's Wish Tree series.
This garden is not only friendly to people and pets, but also exists as a refuge for Pasadena’s native fauna. Birds, bees and butterflies are particularly abundant and can be seen throughout the year. http://www.arlingtongardenpasadena.com/
Lovers Cove is on Pebbly Beach Road just a short distance east from Avalon on Catalina Island. It is a short walk to this cove from town and even shorter from the Catalina Express ferry landing dock. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a beach between the road and the water at this location. This rocky shoreline is mostly a snorkeling destination. Inquire in town about nearby snorkeling spots and they might send you to this location. Snorkeling gear, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, bikes, golf carts, and more can be rented in town to explore the area. The Catalina Express operates boats daily to Catalina Island from the mainland in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Dana Point. https://www.californiabeaches.com/beach/lovers-cove-on-catalina-island/
The Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden is a thirty-minute stroll up Avalon Canyon from town center. The Botanic Garden is the primary gateway to access one of the Island's most popular hikes, the Garden to Sky Trail.
The Wrigley Memorial honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr., who lived from 1861 to 1932. Although best known as the founder of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, largest manufacturer of chewing gum in the world, he also played an instrumental role in the history of Santa Catalina Island. https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?p=wrigley_memorial_and_botanic_garden&s=visit
At 3,000 vertical feet (880 m) above the Colorado River, the sheer drop from Toroweap Overlook offers a dramatic view. The volcanic cinder cones and lava flows in this ancestral home of the Southern Paiute people make this area unique.
Situated below the iconic rim of Grand Canyon, a visit to Tuweep provides an opportunity for an uncrowded, rustic, and remote experience. Access is challenging and demands skill at negotiating difficult roadways. Summer brings monsoonal rain and lightning. Winter includes rain, snow and freezing temperatures. Be ready for quickly changing conditions. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/tuweep.htm
The phrase “Havasu Falls” is often referencing the actual waterfall called “Havasu Falls” and it’s also often referencing the area where all 5 of the Havasupai Waterfalls exist on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in the Grand Canyon. Havasu Falls itself, the waterfall, is arguably the most aesthetic of the 5 waterfalls at Havasupai. It is the third and middle waterfall from top to bottom, and provides the best swimming, cascades, shade, places to relax, and general amazing ambiance.
Havasu Falls is approximately 80 feet high, where the turquoise waters of Havasu Creek plunge from the travertine terraces above down to a large, idyllic pool of water below. From the pool below the waterfall, the water cascades down through a series of pools, each one a wonderful little swimming pool. http://waterfallsofthegrandcanyon.com/havasu-falls/
Hermit Road is a scenic route along the west end of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for 7 miles (11 km) out to Hermits Rest. This extremely popular route is accessed by free park shuttle bus, foot, bicycle, or commercial bus tour most of the year, with private vehicles allowed only during winter months of December, January and February.
Along the canyon rim are nine designated viewpoints where the free Hermits Rest Route shuttle bus stops. The Canyon Rim Trail also follows the rim of the canyon for 7.8 miles (12.6 km) along Hermit Road and offers the opportunity for short or long walks between viewpoints on both paved and dirt trails. In addition to the Rim Trail, three miles of paved greenway trail provide additional views for cyclists and hikers. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hermit-road.htm
Find everything you need for a Grand Canyon adventure in Grand Canyon Village. This historic village has excellent shopping for all the hiking and camping gear you need, as well as authentic American Indian crafts and plenty of canyon souvenirs. The village also has stellar lodging options and a top-rated walking tour.
Grand Canyon Village, located on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Northern Arizona, holds some of the best scenic overlooks in the park, including Yavapai Point. Begin your Grand Canyon tour at the visitor center. Here you can pick up a copy of the self-guided walking tour brochure for in-depth information on the canyon and its history. Highlights of the tour include Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel Buckey O’Neill Cabin, Hopi House, Lookout Studio, and Kolb Studio. You’ll also learn how Grand Canyon Village grew up around the Santa Fe Railroad starting in 1901. Stop by the rustic Grand Canyon Railway Depot, which welcomes Grand Canyon Railway passengers to the village. https://www.visitarizona.com/cities/northern/grand-canyon-village
Just 35 minutes west of Salt Lake City in the heart of Tooele County is the Deseret Peak Complex. This venue features a wide array of activities, and there is something to satisfy every sports enthusiast's hunger for excitement. The complex is nestled in the heart of the Tooele Valley and is full of family fun activities.
Imagine a place so flat you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist. Imagine the passing thunder of strange vehicles hurtling by on a vast dazzling white plain. This is not an alien world far from earth; it is Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats. The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the most unique natural features in Utah. Stretching over 30,000 acres, the Bonneville Salt Flats is a fragile resource administered by the Bureau of Land Management. It is located along I-80 near the Utah-Nevada border. Wendover is the closest city. Thousands of visitors, commercial filmmakers, and of course, high speed auto racers, make the Bonneville Salt Flats a world famous destination.
Wanna fly? It is no longer just a dream. You can fly; Skydive Utah will teach you how. Your first skydive is only a phone call away. Fly high above the Great Salt Lake with a view that goes on for miles. Tooele County is one of the few places in Utah where skydiving is allowed. https://utah.com/tooele
Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, is a popular destination for both hikers and mule riders. Overnight hiker dormitories and cabins can be reserved and meals are available for purchase. Advance reservations for meals and lodging at Phantom Ranch are required. Reservations are made through Xanterra via an online lottery 15 months in advance. The park's Backcountry Information Center does not make reservations for Phantom Ranch lodging or meals. Overnight guests of Phantom Ranch who have advance reservations do not need to obtain backcountry camping permits.
Taking a mule ride at the Grand Canyon is a tradition that began more than 100 years ago. Trips into the canyon - as well as rides through the park's woodlands to scenic canyon overlooks - are offered on both the North and South Rims https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/photosmultimedia/grand-canyon-in-depth-03.htm
Desert View Drive is a scenic route to the east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for 25 miles (40 km) out to the Desert View Watchtower and East Entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. Along the way there are: Six developed canyon viewpoints, Four picnic areas, Five unmarked pullouts and Tusayan Museum and ruin site (Ancestral Puebloan).
Private vehicles, are allowed on Desert View Drive. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/desert-view-drive.htm
Desert View is a small settlement on the South Rim located 25 miles/ 41 km east of Grand Canyon Village, and near the eastern edge of Grand Canyon. Arizona Highway 64, Also known as Desert View Drive, is a scenic road that connects Desert view with Grand Canyon Village.
Also discover The Tusayan Ruin, is the remains of a small Ancestral Puebloan village located 3 miles (5 km) west of Desert View. This was a thriving community that created pottery, arrowheads and other household artifacts. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/desert-view.htm
A worthwhile trip for those who enjoy the road less traveled, the North Rim, or "other side" of Grand Canyon is visited by only 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors. The North Rim is over 8000 feet/2438 m. in elevation.
For classic North Rim views, start at the Grand Canyon Lodge patio, then walk the paved trail out to Bright Angel Point. From the main parking area it is a relatively short, easy walk to Lodge itself.
During winter months, the North Rim closes because of snow. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/north-rim.htm
There are different river trip opportunities through Grand Canyon National Park: half-day and full-day smooth water trips on the Colorado River or noncommercial trips that launch from Diamond Creek and takeout at Lake Mead typically are 2 to 5 days in length. These are also professionally guided raft trips, available to the public and often reserved a year or two in advance. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/whitewater-rafting.htm
Imagine the passing thunder of strange vehicles hurtling by on a vast dazzling white plain. This is not an alien world far from earth; it is Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats.
The Bonneville Salt Flats is one of the most unique natural features in Utah, stretching over 30,000 acres. It is located along I-80 near the Utah-Nevada border.
Perhaps the most impressive spot to view the Salt Flats is along along I-80, about 10 miles east of Wendover. A rest stop has been established there (offering restrooms and water). The rest area is surrounded by perfectly flat land that looks like it is covered by snow. To the north and west, low mountains break the view. To the east and south, it looks like flat land extends virtually forever.
At the rest stop you can walk out onto the salty soil. When you return, a water spray station has been set up so you can wash the salt from your shoes. https://utah.com/bonneville-salt-flats
Wind, water and time have eroded Bryce Canyon National Park's sandstone cliffs into otherworldly characters plucked from the unconscious of a mad Viking. Rows of humanoid pillars crosshatched by rock strata look almost intentional but perfectly surreal. So silent, eerie and beautiful. So improbable it has to be true!
Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah near the city of Bryce (convenient, eh?), and is accessible by air or car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, St. George and even neighboring Zion National Park.
Done hiking and looking to rest your weary head? You’ve got options. The park itself is a one-stop vacation shop. Besides camping there’s a quaint, rustic lodge at the center of the park built in the 1920s featuring cozy cabins, suites and motel rooms, plus a dining room and gift shop. If you want to take things off-site, there are plenty of accommodation options in Bryce Canyon City (just outside the park) or in nearby Tropic or Cannonville.
The park is open all year (24 hours a day), giving you both winter wonderland and summer spectaculars. https://utah.com/bryce-canyon-national-park
Red Butte Garden is Utah’s Botanical Garden and part of the University of Utah. It is the largest botanical garden in the Intermountain West. Explore themed gardens, a children's garden, waterfall and pond and nearly five miles of natural area hiking trails. “Four Seasons, A Million Reasons” to visit for floral shows, outdoor concerts, camps and classes. A new 4-acre garden opened May 2017 to rave reviews and amazing views. https://www.visitsaltlake.com/listings/Red-Butte-Garden---Utah-s-Botanical-Garden/54428/
Camelback Mountain is an amazing natural attraction in Phoenix, Arizona. The mountain gets its name from its unique shape. For the most part, it looks like the hump and head of a camel on its knees. It is located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area and is a well-known landmark near metropolitan Phoenix.
The area is one of the best places to indulge in a spot of hiking and rock climbing. The mountain is believed to be a sacred site of the Hohokam, the prehistoric North American Indians, up until the 14th century. There are 2 hiking trails to explore at Camelback Mountain. For a shorter hiking experience you could choose the Echo Canyon Trail, which is 1.14 miles long. On the other hand, if you are game for a longer adventure then 1.4-mile long Cholla Trail is the ideal alternative. The trails are challenging with steep grades although there are sections with handrails to make things a little easier. There is also a red sandstone rock formation known as the Praying Rock, which resembles a person kneeling down to pray. Avid rock climbers will find the region most challenging. https://www.visitacity.com/en/phoenix/attractions/camelback-mountain