Every year Lonely Planet releases its Ultimate Travel List. It ranks the 500 most amazing experiences worldwide. The regional follow-up, the "Ultimate United States Travel List", is the top 500 unmissable experiences and destinations in the U.S.
There are four California destinations in the Top 20. In this story, we look at the top 4 experiences in California, according to Lonely Planet.
Yosemite National Park
It will come as no surprise to anyone to find California's Yosemite National Park ranked in the No. 2 position. Only 4.5 hours from Los Angeles and just 3 hours from San Francisco and San Jose mean the once-in-a-lifetime experience is something Californians can do more than once!
Incidentally, the Grand Canyon National Park grabbed the No. 1 spot.
However, unlike the Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite is reputedly cheaper to visit.
The many waterfalls, streams and lakes, and the giant sequoia groves make it a fascinating national park.
With over 800 miles of hiking trails and being open year-round for camping, it is somewhere we would visit again and again.
Yosemite National Park's granite cliffs and majestic scenery make it a must-see for every American.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Another magical landscape in California can be seen at Joshua Tree National Park.
Due to the short 2 hour travel time from Los Angeles, it can get crowded, and it is especially a popular weekend destination.
The vast area is home to rugged rock formations and a stunning desert landscape, along with the Joshua trees illuminating the landscape.
With views of the Josuha tree sand stunning rock formations, the hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park offer some of the best views in the country.
Additionally, the 1 mile Hidden Valley nature trail is an easy short hike for most people.
However, best of all, we love to take in the otherwordly landscapes, especially during sunset and sunrise.
Golden Gate Bridge, California
Lonely Planet ranked the iconic structure, the Golden Gate Bridge, as one of the top 20 experiences in the U.S. The world-renowned icon is on the travel bucket list of many world travelers and the most famous thing to do in San Francisco.
For those who want to get up close and personal, there are guided tours of the bridge, or you can choose to walk or do a bicycle ride over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Though, we think the best part of a visit to the Golden Gate bridge is a cruise on San Francisco Bay past the bridge.
Take your pick; there are buffet lunches, seated dinners, sunset trips, and party cruises.
Muir Woods, California
If you are visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, you will undoubtedly want to visit one of California's other Top 20 experiences, according to Lonely Planet. Just north of San Francisco, Muir Woods has some of the tallest trees you will see anywhere.
The national monument is famous for its old-growth redwood trees.
Trails among the trees offer spectacular views of the treetops, the Pacific Ocean, and surrounding mountains.
The easy 2-mile main loop trail starting at the Visitor Center follows the creek and enters the surreal Cathedral Grove.
The oldest trees are over 700 years old, and some are over 250 feet in height. However, the average age of the trees is between 500 to 700 years old!
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