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9 Landmarks to Check Out on Your California Road Trip
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9 Landmarks to Check Out on Your California Road Trip

If you’re planning a road trip around California, here are the 9 landmarks to check out along the way.

Palig Dzadourian

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5 min read

August 01, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com does not receive any kind of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

When traveling across the Golden State, a fun time is always guaranteed; California is brimming with entertainment all year long. Knowing the rich history behind our beloved state is part of said fun Taking a road trip in California with stops to visit landmarks is one of many ways to do just that. Make your road trip an exciting yet informative one, lined with memories of the past and breathtaking sceneries along the way. Some of the best road trips to go on are one's that include some of the most iconic landmarks.

1. Bixby Bridge

Take a drive through one of the tallest bridges of the world.

One of the most known landmarks in California, Bixby Bridge is simply breathtaking. This iconic Big Sur bridge is where photographers flock from all over the country for outstanding photo ops. It was built in 1932 to serve as a continuous route between Carmel and San Simeon. Located 15 miles south of Carmel on State Route 1, a drive on Bixby Creek Bridge will take your breath away, especially if you catch the Bixby sunset on camera—the perfect stop on an ultimate California road trip.

2. Golden Gate Bridge

Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge on every piece of media is one thing, experiencing its grandeur in real life is definitely worth every second.

One of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark and the gateway to San Francisco. It is an essential part of your road trip to Northern California. Stretching out 4,200 feet and as tall as a 65-story building, it is undoubtedly an impressive structure. You even have the option of biking through the bicycle paths available on both sides of the bridge.

3. Muir Woods

Just North of San Francisco lies another popular national monument, Muir Woods. It is the perfect addition to your Northern California road trip, as it will take you just a few minutes to reach the magnificent Redwood forest from San Francisco. Once you arrive, there will be parking spaces open for your vehicles, and you will be transported to a world of giants. The California Redwood is the tallest living organism in the world and will make for a humbling experience. To be in the presence of one Redwood is already impressive, so imagine walking through a densely packed forest of these giants. 

4. Yosemite National Park 

No matter how many times you go, Yosemite National Park will still blow you away.

Another great destination for an ultimate California road trip, a drive to Yosemite National Park never disappoints. As Yosemite is located in the center of the state, it makes for an amazing California national parks road trip. This ride offers scenic views of the Sierra Nevada the likes of which you have never seen before. One of the most popular roads is the Tioga Pass, filled with natural attractions to stop at if you wish, such as Tenaya Lake, Olmstead point, and a few more. Yosemite National park is also home to many incredible national landmarks in California, which include the Ahwahnee Hotel and Ranger’s Club.

5. Fort Ord National Monument 

Located in the heart of California’s Central Coast, the Fort Ord national monument is an all-around impressive piece of land. Rich with history, dotted with biological wonders and beautiful vivid landscape views, Fort Ord National Monument is worth a visit while on a road trip in California. Fort Old holds great historical significance as it is linked to the heroism and dedication of the men and women who served our nation during the 20th-century wars. This monument once served as the training ground for these soldiers and is now a space for many recreational outdoor activities.

6. San Diego Zoo 

One of San Diego’s most popular landmarks, the San Diego Zoo is a great place for a small detour during a road trip in California. With a wide variety of activities and safaris to choose from, you won’t find a single dull moment at this amazing zoo. The list of animals to see here is large, from native to exotic species, making it an exciting and educational trip for the whole family. The San Diego zoo is conservation-based, meaning it focuses more on the well-being of the animals instead of profit.

Download the San Diego Zoo Travel guide to access a user-friendly digital map of the zoo, facilitating movement inside the area.

7. Griffith Observatory 

Griffith Observatory is always a delight to visit.

The iconic Griffith Observatory has been around since 1935, and it has since then become one of the most frequented public observatories in the world. The observatory is located within Los Angeles and can be accessed in more ways than one. If you are in the middle of a Southern California road trip, however, it is best to park your cars in the parking lot of Griffith's lot and walk up to it. The Griffith Observatory’s mission has always been to provide the public the chance to learn and get inspired. It has attracted more and more visitors throughout the last few years, so grab a telescope and bask in the wonders of outer space. 

8. The Huntington Library 

The Huntington Library is full of aesthetically pleasing nooks and corners, an amazing place to visit.

The sheer vastness of the Huntington Library is definitely an intimidating element, but as one of the world’s greatest independent research libraries, its size makes sense. There are an estimated 11 million items in the library, spanning from the 11th all the way into the 21st century. Considered to be one of the best stops on your road trip in California, the library is full of galleries, art exhibits, and even a stunning botanical garden. The gardens are divided into 16 themes and have 130 acres worth of beautiful plants and flowers.

9. Cabrillo National Monument

Not only a monument but a spot where you will be met with breathtaking views.

San Diego is on everyone’s list when planning an itinerary for a Southern California road trip. While you’re in this sun-kissed city, why not take a minute to visit one of San Diego’s most iconic attractions: Cabrillo National Monument? It was named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the very first European to set foot on what is now known as the West Coast of the United States in 1542. Popular among nature lovers, history buffs, and landscape photographers, the Cabrillo National Monument is a must-see! It is also quite family-friendly, with easy trails and walks around the area for you and your kids. Have a taste of San Diego by stopping by this national monument rich with history.

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