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Things To Do In California In 10 Days


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Clair Chisholm



Welcome to the beautiful state of California, where stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and endless sunshine await you. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a culture lover, or a foodie, California has something to offer for everyone. With its diverse attractions and iconic landmarks, this state is a paradise for tourists looking for an unforgettable vacation.


Spanning over 163,000 square miles, California is the most populous state in the United States and is known for its incredible natural beauty. From the rugged coastline of Big Sur to the majestic mountains of the Sierra Nevada, California’s landscape is as diverse as its people. You can explore breathtaking national parks, visit world-renowned cities, or simply relax on the stunning beaches.


In this 10-day itinerary, we will take you on a journey through some of the must-see destinations in California. From the eclectic streets of San Francisco to the glamorous beaches of Los Angeles, and from the iconic vineyards of Napa Valley to the stunning natural wonders like Yosemite National Park and the Redwood Forests, this itinerary will give you a taste of everything California has to offer.


Get ready to be captivated by the charm of the Golden State as we embark on an adventure filled with unforgettable experiences and magical moments. So, buckle up and get ready for an incredible 10 days in California!


Day 1: Exploring San Francisco

Welcome to the vibrant city of San Francisco, the perfect starting point for your California adventure! Begin your day by visiting the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Take a leisurely walk or rent a bike to cross the bridge and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city skyline and the Pacific Ocean.


Afterward, head to Fisherman’s Wharf, a bustling waterfront area known for its seafood restaurants and lively atmosphere. Take a stroll along Pier 39, where you can observe playful sea lions basking in the sun and enjoy the vibrant street performances.


For lunch, indulge in some delicious clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, a San Francisco specialty. Afterward, satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Ghirardelli Square, where you can sample their famous chocolate or enjoy a decadent ice cream sundae.


In the afternoon, make your way to the historic Alcatraz Island, a former federal prison that housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals. Take a guided tour of the prison to learn about its intriguing history and hear captivating stories of famous inmates.


End your day with a visit to the buzzing neighborhoods of Chinatown and North Beach. Explore the vibrant streets, browse the unique shops, and indulge in some delicious Chinese cuisine or Italian pasta in the city’s oldest Italian neighborhood.


Before heading back to your hotel, make sure to catch a glimpse of the city’s iconic cable cars and maybe even take a ride on one, experiencing the traditional mode of transportation that has become synonymous with San Francisco.


San Francisco offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. From its iconic landmarks to its diverse neighborhoods, this city will captivate you with its unique charm and beauty.


Day 2: Relaxing at the Beaches of Los Angeles

Get ready to experience the laid-back and sun-soaked vibes of Los Angeles! Start your day by heading to the world-famous Venice Beach, known for its colorful boardwalk and vibrant atmosphere. Take a stroll along the beach, watch street performers, and soak up the California sunshine.


Afterward, make your way to Santa Monica Pier, located just a short distance from Venice Beach. Enjoy a ride on the iconic Ferris wheel and take in stunning views of the coastline. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the many fantastic seafood restaurants along the pier.


In the afternoon, venture to Malibu, home to some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in California. Zuma Beach and Malibu Lagoon State Beach are popular choices for sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying water activities such as surfing and paddleboarding.


If you’re looking for a more secluded and peaceful beach experience, head to El Matador State Beach. This hidden gem is known for its breathtaking cliffs, rock formations, and turquoise waters. Take a leisurely walk along the sandy shore or find a spot to relax and take in the natural beauty.


As the sun begins to set, make your way to the famous Manhattan Beach. This upscale coastal community offers a delightful beachfront promenade, perfect for an evening stroll. Enjoy the picturesque sunset and consider indulging in a delicious seafood dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants.


Los Angeles is renowned for its stunning beaches, and spending a day by the ocean is a quintessential California experience. Whether you’re looking for a lively beach scene or a peaceful escape, the beaches of Los Angeles will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated.


Day 3: Hiking in Yosemite National Park

Prepare to be awe-inspired as you explore the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park. Located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, towering waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees.


Start your day early and make your way to Yosemite Valley, the park’s main hub. Begin your adventure by hiking to the iconic Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. The hike is challenging but rewarding, offering spectacular views of the cascading water and the surrounding granite cliffs.


Afterward, take a short drive to Glacier Point, where you’ll witness panoramic views of the entire Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra. Enjoy a picnic lunch while immersing yourself in the beauty of the expansive vistas.


In the afternoon, venture to Mariposa Grove, home to the giant sequoias, the world’s largest living trees. Take a peaceful stroll along the nature trails and marvel at these ancient giants that have stood the test of time.


As you explore the park, keep an eye out for wildlife such as black bears, mule deer, and coyotes. Yosemite National Park is known for its rich biodiversity, and encountering these creatures in their natural habitat is truly a magical experience.


Before leaving, make sure to visit El Capitan, a massive granite monolith that attracts rock climbers from all over the world. Watch in awe as climbers scale the sheer face of this iconic landmark.


Yosemite National Park offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, the park’s beauty and grandeur will leave an indelible mark on your soul.


Day 4: Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

Get ready to indulge your senses in the world-renowned wine region of Napa Valley. Known for its picturesque vineyards, award-winning wineries, and delectable wines, Napa Valley offers a delightful experience for wine enthusiasts.


Start your day by driving along the scenic Silverado Trail, which winds its way through the lush hills and vineyards of Napa Valley. As you drive, marvel at the rolling landscapes dotted with grapevines and elegant wineries.


Begin your wine-tasting journey at one of the many prestigious wineries in the region. Take a guided tour of the estate and learn about the winemaking process, from grape cultivation to barrel aging. Sample a variety of wines, from robust reds to crisp whites, and savor the flavors that make Napa Valley wines truly exceptional.


For lunch, visit one of the charming towns in Napa Valley, such as Yountville or St. Helena. These quaint towns offer a range of culinary delights, from farm-to-table restaurants to gourmet bakeries. Pair your meal with a local wine for a truly satisfying experience.


In the afternoon, explore more wineries or consider taking a leisurely bike ride through the vineyards. Many wineries offer bike rentals and have dedicated paths for visitors to enjoy the scenic beauty of the region while cycling.


As the day winds down, treat yourself to a relaxing spa treatment at one of Napa Valley’s luxurious wellness retreats. Unwind with a massage or soak in a mineral-rich hot spring, allowing the stresses of everyday life to melt away.


End your day with a delicious dinner at one of the renowned restaurants in the area. Napa Valley is known for its culinary excellence, and you’ll find a wide array of cuisines to satisfy your palate.


Napa Valley offers a sensory experience like no other. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply appreciate the finer things in life, a day spent exploring the vineyards and wineries of Napa Valley is an experience to be cherished.


Day 5: Exploring the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Embrace the glitz and glamour of Hollywood as you spend a day exploring the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. This famous stretch of sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard is adorned with the stars and names of Hollywood’s most beloved celebrities.


Start your day by strolling along the Walk of Fame and marveling at the thousands of engraved stars on the ground, each representing a different actor, actress, musician, or filmmaker. Take your time to search for your favorite celebrities and snap photos with their stars.


While in the area, make sure to visit the TCL Chinese Theatre, a historic movie palace known for its Chinese-inspired architecture and collection of celebrity handprints and footprints in the cement courtyard. Admire the handprints of legendary movie stars and feel the history come alive.


For lunch, head to nearby Hollywood and Highland, a vibrant complex offering a variety of dining options. From trendy cafes to upscale restaurants, you’ll find a range of cuisines to suit your taste buds.


In the afternoon, take a guided tour of one of the iconic Hollywood studios, such as Warner Bros. Studios or Universal Studios. Explore behind-the-scenes sets, witness the magic of movie-making, and perhaps catch a glimpse of a celebrity or two.


As the sun begins to set, make your way to the Griffith Observatory, located in Griffith Park. Enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline and the iconic Hollywood sign as you watch the sunset. Inside the observatory, you can explore exhibits on astronomy and view the stars through telescopes.


End your day with a visit to the vibrant nightlife scene in Hollywood. From rooftop bars to trendy nightclubs, there’s something for everyone. Dance the night away or simply enjoy a cocktail while soaking in the electric atmosphere of Tinseltown.


The Hollywood Walk of Fame offers a nostalgic journey through the history of entertainment. From the stars on the sidewalk to the lively energy of the area, exploring Hollywood is an experience that embodies the glamour and allure of the silver screen.


Day 6: Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Today, we return to the vibrant city of San Francisco for an iconic experience at the Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of the city and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world.


Start your day by visiting the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, where you can learn about the history and construction of this magnificent suspension bridge through exhibits and displays. Take in the breathtaking views of the bridge and the city skyline from this vantage point.


Next, embark on a leisurely walk or bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Revel in the beauty of the red-orange structure against the backdrop of the sparkling blue waters of the San Francisco Bay. As you make your way across, listen to the sound of the foghorn and feel the gentle ocean breeze on your face.


Once you reach the other side, explore the picturesque coastal town of Sausalito. Stroll along the charming waterfront, browse unique boutiques and art galleries, and savor a delicious seafood lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants.


Afterward, you can either return to San Francisco by ferry or continue your exploration of Sausalito. Visiting the Marin Headlands, located just south of the Golden Gate Bridge, is highly recommended. These rugged cliffs offer breathtaking views of the bridge and the expansive ocean.


In the evening, head back to San Francisco and make your way to the Palace of Fine Arts. This architectural marvel is a remnant of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and provides a tranquil setting for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.


End your day by watching the sunset at one of San Francisco’s scenic viewpoints, such as Battery Spencer or Baker Beach. As the city lights come alive, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge illuminated against the night sky.


Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is an essential part of any trip to San Francisco. Its grandeur and iconic status make it a must-see attraction that offers an unforgettable experience and breathtaking views of the city and the bay.


Day 7: Exploring the Redwood Forests

Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of the ancient Redwood Forests on this memorable day of your California adventure. Located north of San Francisco, these majestic forests are home to some of the tallest and oldest living trees on Earth.


Begin your day by driving along the scenic Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch of road that winds its way through towering redwoods. Marvel at the sheer size and awe-inspiring presence of these giant trees, as you become surrounded by their peaceful and serene ambiance.


Stop at one of the many designated hiking trails within the forest to truly experience the magic of the redwoods up close. You can choose from easy trails suitable for all levels of fitness or more challenging hikes for the adventurous souls. Follow the trails through lush greenery, listen to the birdsong, and breathe in the refreshing scent of the forest.


As you explore the forest, be sure to visit the famous Founders Grove, where you’ll find the Founders Tree, an ancient redwood that is over 360 feet tall and estimated to be over 1,200 years old. This truly awe-inspiring sight will leave you feeling humbled by the sheer scale and longevity of these incredible trees.


For a unique perspective, consider taking a scenic drive through the Drive-Thru Tree Park, where you can drive your car through the opening of a massive redwood tree. Capture this memorable moment with a photo, as you become a part of the redwood landscape.


As the day comes to an end, find a peaceful spot in the forest to sit and reflect on the beauty and tranquility that surrounds you. Take a moment to connect with nature and appreciate the profound sense of calm and serenity that the Redwood Forests offer.


The Redwood Forests are truly a natural wonder that must be experienced firsthand. Walking among these ancient giants has a way of reminding us of the incredible power and resilience of nature, leaving you with an indelible sense of wonder and appreciation.


Day 8: Relaxing at Santa Barbara’s Beautiful Beaches

Welcome to Santa Barbara, a coastal paradise known for its stunning beaches, Mediterranean architecture, and laid-back atmosphere. Today, take a break from the hustle and bustle of your California adventure and enjoy a day of relaxation along Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches.


Start your day by visiting East Beach, a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball. The soft golden sand and clear blue waters make it the perfect place to soak up the sun and take a refreshing dip in the ocean.


For those seeking a more secluded beach experience, make your way to Butterfly Beach. This serene stretch of coastline offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and is a great spot for a peaceful walk or a picnic on the sand.


If you’re feeling adventurous, consider renting a kayak or paddleboard and exploring the coastline from a different perspective. Take in the beauty of the Santa Barbara shoreline as you paddle through the calm waters and maybe even spot some marine life along the way.


After a morning of beach activities, head to Stearns Wharf, a historic pier that is home to various shops, restaurants, and even an aquarium. Take a leisurely stroll along the pier, enjoy panoramic views of the coastline, and indulge in some fresh seafood for lunch.


In the afternoon, visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, located just minutes away from the beach. Explore the beautifully landscaped grounds and encounter a variety of exotic animals. The Santa Barbara Zoo is known for its conservation efforts and offers educational opportunities for visitors of all ages.


End your day with a leisurely bike ride along the Cabrillo Bike Path, which stretches along the coastline. Enjoy the scenic views, feel the breeze on your face, and take in the serenity of the ocean as you pedal along this picturesque route.


Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches offer the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. Whether you prefer lounging on the sand, exploring the coast, or discovering the local attractions, Santa Barbara will leave you feeling refreshed and revitalized.


Day 9: Exploring the San Diego Zoo

Get ready for a day filled with exotic animals and incredible wildlife encounters as you visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Located in Balboa Park, this sprawling zoo is home to over 3,500 animals from around the globe and offers an unforgettable experience for animal lovers of all ages.


Start your day by exploring the various animal exhibits throughout the zoo. From the majestic lions and tigers to playful primates and magnificent elephants, you’ll have the opportunity to see a wide array of animals up close. Be sure to check the schedule for animal feeding times and special presentations to enhance your zoo experience.


Visit the Arctic Encounter and watch as polar bears swim gracefully in their Arctic-themed habitat. Marvel at the beauty and grace of the cheetahs as they showcase their incredible speed in the Cheetah Run. And don’t miss the opportunity to see the giant pandas, a beloved attraction at the San Diego Zoo.


Take a break from exploring and enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the lush greenery of the zoo’s gardens. There are various scenic spots throughout the park where you can relax, recharge, and savor your meal in a tranquil setting.


After lunch, venture into the Lost Forest, an immersive exhibit that showcases the diverse wildlife of the tropical rainforests. Step into a lush canopy where you’ll encounter exotic birds, primates, and other fascinating creatures that call the rainforest their home.


Make your way to the Australian Outback exhibit, where you can observe kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas in an environment that mimics their natural habitat. Learn about the unique flora and fauna of Australia as you explore this captivating exhibit.


Before leaving the zoo, take a ride on the Skyfari Aerial Tram for a bird’s-eye view of the zoo grounds and the surrounding areas of Balboa Park. Enjoy panoramic views and capture stunning photos as you glide through the air.


The San Diego Zoo offers a truly extraordinary animal experience. From educational exhibits to immersive habitats, this world-class zoo provides a memorable day of exploration and discovery for visitors of all ages.


Day 10: Shopping and Sightseeing in San Jose

On your final day of this California adventure, explore the vibrant city of San Jose, known for its bustling downtown, diverse cultural neighborhoods, and thriving shopping scene. Spend the day discovering the city’s attractions, shopping for unique treasures, and immersing yourself in its vibrant atmosphere.


Start your day by visiting the iconic Winchester Mystery House, an architectural marvel full of mystery and intrigue. Take a guided tour of this sprawling mansion, known for its eccentric design and countless staircases, doors that lead to nowhere, and other curiosities.


Afterward, make your way to Santana Row, a premier shopping and dining destination in San Jose. Explore the upscale boutiques, indulge in some retail therapy, and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants offering a range of cuisines.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the San Jose Museum of Art is a must. Explore the diverse collection of contemporary and modern art, featuring works by renowned artists from around the world. The museum also offers rotating exhibitions that showcase the talent and creativity of local artists.


In the afternoon, take a stroll through the charming historic district of Japantown. This vibrant neighborhood is a hub of Japanese culture and offers unique shops, restaurants, and cultural events. Browse the stores for traditional crafts, sample Japanese cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of this distinctive community.


End your day with a visit to the Tech Museum of Innovation, a hands-on science and technology museum that offers interactive exhibits and educational experiences. From virtual reality to robotics, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge technology and discover the wonders of science.


Before your trip comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on your unforgettable California journey. Enjoy a relaxing dinner at one of San Jose’s diverse dining establishments, savoring the flavors that this culturally rich city has to offer.


San Jose offers a perfect blend of culture, shopping, and sightseeing, making it the ideal destination to conclude your California adventure. With its diverse attractions and vibrant atmosphere, San Jose will leave you with lasting memories of your time in the Golden State.



Your 10-day journey through California has been nothing short of extraordinary. From the vibrant streets of San Francisco to the breathtaking beaches of Santa Barbara, and from the towering redwoods of Yosemite to the captivating wildlife at the San Diego Zoo, you’ve experienced the best that the Golden State has to offer.


California truly lives up to its reputation as a diverse and captivating destination. The state’s natural beauty, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage make it a paradise for travelers seeking adventure and exploration. Whether you’re strolling across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, tasting exquisite wines in Napa Valley, or relaxing on the sandy shores of Santa Monica, every moment has been filled with wonder and excitement.


Throughout your journey, you’ve witnessed the grandeur of nature, from the majestic mountains to the pristine coastlines. The state’s national parks and forests have allowed you to connect with the raw beauty and serenity of the outdoors. The bustling cities have offered a mix of history, culture, and entertainment, showcasing the diverse tapestry of California’s people and traditions.


From the iconic landmarks to the hidden gems, you’ve discovered the essence of California. Each day has brought new experiences, whether it be exploring famous attractions, indulging in local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of different cities and towns.


As your journey comes to an end, take with you the memories and experiences that have enriched your soul. California’s charm and allure will stay with you long after you leave. Whether it’s the tranquil beauty of the redwood forests, the energy of bustling city streets, or the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the spirit of California will always beckon you back.


As you reflect on your 10-day adventure, remember the sights, sounds, and tastes that made this journey unforgettable. California will forever hold a special place in your heart, a place where dreams come alive and memories are made. So, until we meet again, farewell and cherish the magic of the Golden State.