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State Bucket List: California

10. El Capitan Theatre

10. El Capitan Theatre

Los Angeles

Pretend you are Clark Gable or Katherine Hepburn as you attend a movie screening at one of the oldest operational theaters in the country. Opened in 1926 as part of Sid Grauman’s famous theaters, El Capitan has served as a hub for arts and culture as it has seen the premiere of countless movies such as Citizen Kane and Toy Story.

El Captain/Omar Barcena/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

9. In-N-Out Burger

9. In-N-Out Burger

Various Locations

Come and see why all of your friends from California argue that this is the greatest burger they’ve ever tasted. Since 1948, this popular chain has gained a sizable following, expanding to over 300 locations. If you are already a seasoned In-N-Out veteran, branch out with some of the wild offerings (blue crab, ostrich, and kangaroo) from Crazee Burger in San Diego.

In-n-Out at Night/greychr/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

8. Drive-Thru Tree Park

8. Drive-Thru Tree Park

Leggett

The park is home to some of the largest trees in the world. One of which—Chandelier Tree—is a coast redwood so large you are able to drive your car through its trunk. Try to picture how people were able to carve through this massive tree over seventy years ago.

Dsc_1953/Joshua Ganderson/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

7. Hot Air Balloon Rides

7. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Santa Rosa

Soar over mountain landscapes and wine vineyards in a guided hot air balloon. Many ballooning companies offer early morning flights so visitors can watch the sunrise from the air. This is an ideal romantic getaway or a fun family adventure if you are traveling with kids.

Hot Air Ballooning/Travis Wise/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

6. Whale Watching

6. Whale Watching

Point Lobos State Reserve

California’s central coastline is home to many wildlife preserves, but one of the most well-loved is Point Lobos. Travelers can view blue, humpback, and gray whales in their natural habitat. You do not want to miss these beautiful giants.

Where Nature Gets Big/David Prasad/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

5. Hearst Castle

5. Hearst Castle

San Simeon

Come and see the gorgeous estate of the late newspaper tycoon. While this collection of mansions is impressive by itself, many visitors love to see the zebras on the grounds who are descended from those in William Randolph Hearst’s private zoo.

King of Hearts/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

4. Catch Some Waves

4. Catch Some Waves

Santa Cruz

Said to be the best surfing spot in the state, Santa Cruz offers perfect weather and enormous waves for people at any level of the sport. Find out for yourself why the town is nicknamed “Surf City.” While you are in the city, be sure to check out the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, home to one of the nation’s oldest amusement parks.

Wonderlane/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

3. Salvation Mountain

3. Salvation Mountain

Niland

Named for its many biblical references, Salvation Mountain is covered with vivid colors depicting many religious phrases. Deep in the Colorado Desert, this artistic imagery was designed by Leonard Knight, who passed away in 2014 at age 83.

 

Salvation Mountain/Brian/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

2. Bubblegum Alley

2. Bubblegum Alley

San Luis Obispo

As gross as it may sound, this wall of used chewing gum is a sight to see. Referenced in many areas of pop culture, this landmark has become a thing of legend to San Luis Obispo locals. The origins of the 15' by 70' alley, however, are widely debated.

Bubblegum Alley/Karlis Dambrans/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

1. Yosemite Falls

1. Yosemite Falls

Yosemite National Park

Nearly everything at this famous national park is breathtakingly scenic, but one of the main draws is Yosemite Falls. Visit the marvelous 2,425-foot drop, which is particularly grand just before summer starts and the spring rains have filled the river.