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15 California Tours You Haven't Taken Yet, But Should

15 California Tours You Haven't Taken Yet, But Should

Go on a low-key excursion, plan a super touristy escape, and cycle around your hometown—whatever you end up doing, you’re in for a ride.


7 min read

June 27, 2021

You’ve already been backpacking, camped at lakeside destinations, and experienced every scenic drive imaginable in the Golden State—but you’re not really done feeling like a tourist in your own town. What do we suggest? The answer is pretty simple; there’s no way you’ve gone on all of California’s tours, and the best ones are yet to be experienced. Whether you’re on a mural hunt or a haunted house tour, you’ll easily find one that suits your fancy. 

Go on a low-key excursion, plan a super touristy escape, hop on a bike, and cycle around your hometown—whatever you end up doing, you’re in for a ride. 

Incredible Tours in California 

Lean out and touch the treetops on a wonderful hot air balloon ride over the magnificent vineyards of Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Tours 

1. Take a Balloon Ride in the Wine Country

Napa Valley tours don’t have to be synonymous with sipping vino. One of the best ways to explore the beautiful Wine Country is by getting carried away—literally. Hop in a colorful balloon with Napa Valley Balloons, sit tight, and let the adventure begin. Fly over gorgeous estates, quaint towns, and a handful of other Napa Valley attractions, many of which line the scenic Silverado Trail. Shall we fly, fly away?

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Sonoma Valley Tours 

2. Tour the Wolf House 

Let the grasslands of Jack London State Historic Park lead you to one of Sonoma’s most treasured attractions—the Wolf House. What was once meant to be an opulent 26-room project, tragically burned down in a matter of hours. The mysterious fire destroyed almost everything, leaving the haunting ruins as a testament to the glory it could have had. Go on this Sonoma Valley tour to explore the unpaved paths of the house all the way to the surviving chimneys. Reflect, learn, and ponder what the Wolf House could have been. 

Learn about the influential role of Club Land in the history of the city and the entire nation on a tour that highlights S.F. architecture.

San Francisco City Tour

3. Marvel at S.F. Architecture on a Club Land tour

Taking the Club Land tour is like opening a time capsule to the Gilded Age. Club Land—an area between Nob Hill, Union Square, and the Financial District—was once a place where the extravagantly wealthy mingled in social clubs. Today, the ornate clubhouses can be seen lining the streets as a testament to an era long gone. Learn about Club Land and its influential role in S.F. architecture and history by taking a city tour.

Monterey Tours 

4. Whale Watch at Monterey Bay 

While it’s not the only place in California to go whale watching, the tours in Monterey feel like a seaside safari. Monterey Bay Whale Watch offers year-round whale watching trips to observe the spectacular diversity and abundance of the creatures inhabiting the bay. 

Go on the ultimate whale watching tour in California and you’ll end up spotting more than just the largest mammals—-dolphins and seabirds also stop by to say hello.

Take a quick tour of the neighborhood and roll into the best days of summer as you cycle in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Tours 

5. Go on a Rolling Expedition 

Wheel Fun Rentals is only a block away from Stearns Wharf—the perfect starting point for your Santa Barbara rolling tour. Located in the heart of the Funk Zone, this rental is all about staying active while taking advantage of the bike trails to make the most of your tour. Are you a cycling aficionado? Your choices are anything but limited—Wheels Fun Rentals has everything you need from Taga and e-bikes to specialty cycles and beach rentals. Let the good times roll.

6. Take the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Tour

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a work of architectural wonder. The magnificent Spanish-Revival palace was built in 1929 and is surrounded by lawns and a sunken tropical garden. Hardly a day goes by that a festival, concert, or friendly get-together isn’t taking place in this picturesque setting. Tour the interior of the courthouse for a chance to marvel at hand-painted ceilings, roam under iron chandeliers, and pose next to giant murals.

Discover the hotspots where you can mingle with the stars and immerse yourself in the ultimate Hollywood experience on the TMZ tours.

Los Angeles Tours 

7. Hop on the TMZ Celebrity Tour 

Extra! Extra! Read all about it—or hop on an exclusive celebrity tour in Los Angeles instead. The two-hour TMZ bus tour rushes you through gossip, secrets, and buzz-worthy clubs all over town. Departing several times a day, this L.A. tour pairs insider stories, video clips, and giveaways with iconic Hollywood locations. The guides also manage a remote studio on wheels, in case wandering celebrities wish to stop by for an interview.

8. Go on an Art Tour in L.A.

Offering tours at many iconic museums in the City of Angels, Art Muse Los Angeles is bound to have you hooked. Visit the Getty Center, Hammer Museum, Norton Simon Museum, Los Angeles County Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art with the best historians, artists, and educators in the state. The tours are organized by district and may also feature seasonal art fares and other interesting installations.

You've hiked and driven to the Hollywood Sign. Now it's time you fly of the iconic L.A. landmark. Are you ready?

Tours of Hollywood 

9. Fly over the Hollywood Sign

Embark on an exhilarating helicopter adventure from the Burbank Airport, just moments away from the iconic Universal and Warner Bros Studios, and experience Los Angeles from a breathtaking perspective. In just ten minutes, you'll glide over the legendary Hollywood Sign and sweep across the vibrant L.A. Basin, catching a glimpse of the bustling activity at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Your journey will take you past the scenic Mulholland Drive and through the storied Laurel Canyon, a secluded retreat once favored by the music world's most celebrated artists. As you fly, the lush landscapes of Beverly Hills and the opulent estates of Bel Air unfold beneath you. While you might not spot the Fresh Prince, the view of Jay Z and Beyonce's lavish $90 million mansion is unmistakable, promising a sight to remember.

10. Take the Warner Bros Studios VIP Tour 

Want a rare and intimate glimpse into Tinseltown at work? Embark on a two-hour exploration through backlot streets, soundstages, and craft shops with the Warner Bros Studios VIP Tour. Walk through the set of a hit television show, watch Foley artists create sound effects, get up-close with set construction, or browse millions of items in the props department—no two tours are alike.

Explore Avalon on a golf cart with a friendly, knowledgeable local and get a personalized experience focused on your interests.

Catalina Island Tours 

11. Tee off on a Private Golf Tour

When it comes to tours on Catalina Island, this one takes you putt, putt, and away. The private golf cart tour combines all the fun of zipping around Avalon with a knowledgeable guide on the wheel. Relax, take photos, and get all your Catalina questions answered with Catalina Tours. Plus, you can stop and take a walking detour at any point.

Desert Adventures has provided the most highly regarded outdoor adventures in the Greater Palm Springs area since 1988.

Palm Springs Tours 

12. Become a Luxury Off-Roader 

Opting for something unique for your getaway? Jeep tours are Palm Springs’ primo family-friendly activity. Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tours bring travelers to Indian Canyons, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Knowledgeable guides offer you an introduction to the area’s unique geological formations as you feast your eyes on desert wildlife. And as the sun paints the sky in vivid pinks and oranges, you might even catch a glimpse of an owl or a coyote.

13. Tour the Desert’s Rodeo Drive

The swanky El Paseo district is a shop lover’s paradise. This mile-long strip has everything from distinctive shops to restaurants and galleries; the only time you’ll want to take a break during your walking tour is while venturing in one of El Paseo’s upscale shops. El Paseo is also home to one of the largest concentrations of art galleries in SoCal—we sense another Palm Springs tour in the making.

Learn about the city from an expert guide and enjoy quality time out on the bay on San Diego's best harbor cruises.

San Diego Tours 

14. Go on a Harbor Cruise 

San Diego’s harbor is easily one of the city’s most iconic sites. There are plenty of options to choose from, and whichever you end up picking, you get a chance to marvel at the Coronado Bridge, navy ships, renowned waterfront areas, and adorable sea colonies all at once. These San Diego harbor tours provide professional and in-depth historic narration every step of the way.

15. Have a Scavenger Hunt 

Ever thought of turning San Diego into a giant game? The exciting and interactive scavenger hunt by Shore Excursions combines the fun of the Amazing Race with a three-hour sightseeing tour of San Diego. Your adventure begins at Waterfront Park and winds through Little Italy all the way down to the water. Roam along both well-known attractions and hidden gems, solving clues and completing challenges in the meantime.

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