California Travel Guide

By Daria, Creator of The Discovery Nut.


Santa Monica, California

California is a dream for many travelers from all over the world.

“Whether you are a student, just graduated, or already working, traveling California is a one-of-a-kind experience that might change your views on many things. In my biased opinion, California is one of the most interesting to visit in the United States for many reasons; it's one of the diverse states in America that beacons people from all over the world who come here to pursue their dreams. 

But it's also a place with harsh contrasts. 

It's where you see homeless encampments along highways in Southern California and uber-rich communities populated by famous people. It's where Google, Apple, and Disney were born. It's where some of your favorite movies and TV shows have originated. The list goes on. 

That alone makes California worth a trip. 

But then there's a scenic coastline, vast deserts and towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada, giant sequoia trees, and amazing wildlife. California is like a puzzle that is waiting to be put together by visiting all of its incredible gems!

If you are talking about a classic tourist route in California, you probably think about iconic cities, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco where you can do plenty of shopping, sightseeing and hiking nearby, a trip to Napa Valley, and a few nights at a national park or two.

But California is a lot more than that, hence my California Travel Guide. 

Besides the tourist hot spots, it also offers many quaint towns in the middle of popular travel routes that you’ve never heard about before, but that will quickly steal your heart. 

However, California is huge, and exploring it demands time. Regardless of what your plans might be, I don’t recommend spending less than one week for California, simply because there’s too much to do here.

Many travelers start their trip in Southern California and continue up north to San Francisco, hitting at least a few national parks such as Yosemite or Sequoia along the way. 

Don’t want to follow the well-trodden path that millions of other tourists take?

Then read my California Travel Guide where I share some of the best places to visit that will give information beyond tourist hubs like Santa Monica, Hollywood Walk of Fame, or Venice Beach.”

California Travel Guide: Best Beaches in California 

“California boasts over 840 miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches. While the state’s most famous and iconic beaches are located in Southern California, beaches in the northern part of the state have more fog and craggy shores. 

Luckily, California has beaches for every taste, from super popular locales like Santa Monica to more mellow places like Laguna Beach or Santa Barbara, so you will find something that fits your taste.”



Here’s my round-up of some of the best beaches in California in different parts of the state:

Coronado Beach 

“San Diego is one of the most incredible places to visit in Southern California.

Famous for its perfect weather year-round weather and gorgeous sunsets, San Diego is home to many iconic beaches that are perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. Here you will also find plenty of hiking trails in places such as Torrey Pines State Preserve, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, and Cabrillo National Monument. 

One of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego is Coronado Beach, home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, this beach boasts white sand and warm water for swimming.”

San Clemente Beach

“One of the most beautiful beaches in SoCal, San Clemente stretches along the railroad below the rugged cliffs covered by lush vegetation. I love San Clemente because it offers magic views of the ocean, and has many hiking and picnic trails in the park above.”



El Matador State Beach

“El Matador is one of the most scenic beaches in the greater LA area. It’s not the wide sandy beach that stretches for miles, but rather a small pocket with huge rocks sticking out of the water and bird colonies sitting on the sandstone bluffs above the beach. Simply drive up to the Malibu area and don’t forget to watch for signs. The parking lot is located above the beach, which can be accessed by a wooden staircase that goes down.”

East Beach 

“Located in Santa Barbara, East Beach has everything that you could ever wish for: volleyball courts, a bike path, and lots of space which makes it so popular with beach goes, runners, kayakers, runners, and paddle boarders. In addition, you also have a Strean Wharf right nearby that has many stores, restaurants, and cafes. 

If you need more information about what to do in Santa Barbara, make sure to read my post!”

Pismo Beach

“Although Pismo Beach is located in Central California, it has all of the attributes of a typical Southern California Beach: wide shoreline with the golden sand, warm waters that are so loved by surfers, and along the busy promenade. Located near San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach is a local’s favorite getaway from the city.” 

Pfeiffer Beach 

“Pfeiffer Beach is not easy to find, which helps to reduce the crowds. This beach famous for its purple sand is located along Big Sur and offers a nice secluded space along the rugged coastline. And although it’s incredibly scenic, don’t expect to lounge on the beach since temperatures here can be pretty low even in the middle of summer. 

In fact, getting to this beach located within Los Padres National Forest, Pfeiffer Beach is a true adventure, as you have to drive along with the huge redwoods.”

Glass Beach

“Come to Northern California’s town of Fort Bragg to check out some cool colorful glass along the famous Glass Beach. When you come here, you might wonder how this strange phenomenon occurred in the first place.

The story isn’t actually that pretty in the first place. For years, local residents dumped glasses, electronic appliances, and other household items near the water. However, little did they know that nature would do some magic and turn the old junk into little colorful rocks that now bring so many tourists here!”

How to get around California:

“If you plan to spend some time in California, the question of transportation will come up sooner rather than later. More people choose to drive around California; however, driving here requires time and planning, as there are simply too many cool places that you could visit on any California Travel Guide.”


“Getting around California by plane is good for those travelers who have a limited amount of time. There are several major airlines that fly within California as well as regional carriers. If you plan on taking a flight within California, don’t forget to book your ticket ahead of your trip, especially if you plan to travel during the busy summer season.”


“If you don’t mind a bit of an adventure, get on one of Greyhound buses that will help you get around between major cities along California’s Coast. While Greyhound is a great way to get between larger tourist hubs, unfortunately, it will not help you get to smaller towns in California or national or state parks within the state.”


“Renting a car is the most popular choice among California travelers. In a state where distances sometimes can be great, services sparse, and cell phone coverage virtually non-existent, renting a car provides a lot of flexibility and freedom to mold your own schedule.

However, keep in mind that while a car is your only choice if you want to take a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco with stops in places like Yosemite National Park, getting around a major metro area could be hellish. Just think about sitting for hours in that notorious Los Angeles traffic.”


“If you plan to travel between the major hubs of LA and San Francisco, Amtrak could be an option. Amtrak has several stops along California’s coast, and it’s by far one of the most inexpensive ways to get around the state.

Speaking about local trains, San Francisco offers some of the best train systems in California with BART serving most of the Bay Area.”


San Francisco Golden Gate

Golden Gate, in San Francisco, California.


California Travel Guide: Best Towns off the Beaten Path to see in California 

“Everyone wants to see LA and San Francisco, but not everyone might know about other less-discovered places such as San Clemente or San Luis Obispo that offer gorgeous scenery and offer a quieter atmosphere. Beyond the highways and never-ending urban sprawl of LA, California has many small coastal communities that are waiting to be explored:”

Here’s my round-up of California’s towns that should be on your itinerary:


“You spent a few days in Los Angeles. You took a photo on Hollywood Walk of Fame, went window shopping in Rodeo Drive, and tried surfing. Now it’s time to get on a boat and head to Avalon, a quiet town that has the Mediterranean feel to it thanks to the harbor dotted with dozens of small boats. Located on Santa Catalina Island, Avalon can be reached via a boat from LA and offers a great day trip if you want to relax and take a break.”


“Ojai in Central California is slowly getting noticed, and I think that it soon might turn into a yet-another tourist place. Ojai has an artsy vibe to it with many stores, galleries, and cute cafes along its streets. Here you will find beautiful lemon groves, hike near Topa Topa Mountain and explore colonial Spanish Buildings.”




“When you visit Capitola, you will instantly feel the vibe of coastal Italian cities such as Cinque Terre. Capitola is comprised of rows of pastel-colored houses along the waterfront; however, besides being eye candy, it's also one of the oldest resorts in entire California!”

La Jolla 

“Just north of San Diego sits a small town called La Jolla, home to many affluent residents, gorgeous coastline, and some incredible marine wildlife in La Jolla Cove.

Pronounced (La H-o-y-a-h), this is a popular day trip from San Diego and you those who come here often do Caves and Coves Kayaking Tour, go on a shopping trip and enjoy some of the beautiful beaches in the area.”

Laguna Beach 

“The beautiful Orange County is home to so many gorgeous beaches, you can spend weeks roaming them. Located along Pacific Coastal Highway, this affluent community boasts 20 coves interlinked by the series of the dramatic cliffs. Also, what's good about them is that everybody can find their thing whether you are looking for a less crowded place, a surfer's spot, or just want to take a few photos of the iconic tide pools. It is a must on any California Travel Guide.”


Laguna Beach California

Bodega Bay

“Bodega Bay might sound like a strange name that never shows up in a single tourism brochure about California. And that's exactly what makes it a great destination. Bodega Bay is located about 70 miles north of San Francisco and offers a combination of green hills peppered with vineyards, lush orchards, and a gorgeous coastline right on the ocean. 

Wherever your California itinerary takes you, I hope you have a great time. Make sure to take it slow and easy and enjoy some of its most incredible places.

Happy travels!”


Written by Daria, The Discovery Nut:

The Discovery Nut


The Discovery Nut is a travel blog focused on adventurous destinations around the world. The founder of the blog, Daria created The Discovery Nut to share her favorite places with the audience and to encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and explore more. If it's a scenic destination with gorgeous nature and amazing culture, it surely sounds like a Discovery Nut kind of place 🙂

Social Media: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest: thediscoverynut

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