California Nature & adventure

Our most recommended California Nature & adventure

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

From top to bottom, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway delivers a scenic and educational journey as you travel through 5 transitional zones. Some have compared it to taking a ride from Mexico to Alaska in just 10 minutes. See for yourself as you ride up to the top, where spectacular views await! The 2.5 mile (4 kilometer) ride from the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 feet, or 805 meters) to the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet, or 2,596 meters) transports you from the warm desert sands to cool mountain air, with temperatures that are generally 30-degrees cooler than on the ground. The tramway is the threshold of the 14,000-acre Mt. San Jacinto State Park, a natural place with some of the last pristine wilderness in Southern California. In the winter, try cross-county skiing or snowshoeing. Rental equipment is available at the Adventure Cether, snow conditions permitting. During the summer months, camping, guided nature walks, and 54 miles (87 kilometers) of hiking are available. There are 2 dining options at the Mountain Station: Peaks Restaurant offers upscale contemporary cuisine with a spectacular view of the desert floor, and Pines Cafe is a cafeteria-style restaurant that offers a casual dining experience. Also at the top are gift shops, a Natural History Museum, and 2 documentary-style movies on the history of the tramway and the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

2. South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

Embark on a sightseeing cruise starting in South Lake Tahoe either at sunset or during the day. Take in the scenic beauty while cruising 11 kilometers across the lake to Emerald Bay, one of the top ten most photographed places in the world. Savor snacks and drinks as you sail. See the majestic mountains of South Lake Tahoe while onboard the world-class Tahoe Bleu Wave yacht. As you cruise, you will find indoor and outdoor seating with 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the snow-capped mountains, Fannette Island, Vikingsholm Castle, Eagle Waterfall, and the Rubicon. Navigate the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe while hearing your captain's narration about this lake. You may even get the chance to see a variety of wildlife such as the bald eagle, black bears, and wild geese. If you've chosen the sunset option, relax and watch the sun dip low below the sky.

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

3. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

4. Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

Hop onboard one of the largest vessels in Monterey for a guided whale-watching tour. Leave the harbor and head out into Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in search of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife that migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Relax in the heated cabins of the 110-feet Princess Monterey and the 100-feet Atlantis Monterey. Grab a snack or drink from the onboard bar, enjoy spacious indoor and outdoor seating, and never miss a moment with a 360-viewing walkaround deck. With deep nutrient-rich waters just offshore, Monterey Bay hosts humpback whales and blue whales during summer and fall. Gray whales pass by the coastline as they navigate one of the longest migrations of a marine mammal during winter and spring, while dolphins come to the bay throughout the year. Every trip is different, so whether it’s your first time on a marine wildlife cruise or you’re a whale-watching veteran, see what Monterey Bay has in store for you.

San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

5. San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

Discover the underwater world at SeaWorld San Diego, with animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and thrilling rides. Get up close to marine life and enjoy educational animal presentations for the whole family to enjoy. Upgrade your ticket to include a dining pass to eat all day at SeaWorld. Experience thrilling rides such as Electric Eel with its high-energy twists and loops, or Manta, with two thrilling launches that send riders soaring in the spirit of the world’s largest ray. For kid-friendly fun, enjoy Tentacle Swirl, Sea Dragon Drop, Elmo's Flying Fish, and so much more. Admire the animals at SeaWorld such as beluga whales, walruses, penguins, sharks, and orcas as you learn about these incredible creatures. Enjoy interactive exhibits such as the Explorer's Reef Touchpools and Sea Lion Point. Explore the Sesame Street Bay of Play where you can meet your Sesame Street friends. If you choose to upgrade to the all-day dining bundle, you can get an entree, a side/dessert, and a drink every 1 hour at Shipwreck Reef Café®, Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s® Pizza Kitchen, Big Bird's Bistro, Coral Market, Shark Market, Orca West Market, and Pretzel Shop.

Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

6. Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

Discover the diverse wildlife of Monterey Bay on a guided dolphin and whale watching boat cruise. Feast your eyes on massive gray whales, watch playful dolphins leap from the water, spot turtles skimming underneath the waves, and learn about the ecological landscape of the bay's oceanic habitat. Begin your tour by meeting your captain and boarding the boat at the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Sail into Monterey Bay, watching for birds and otters along the wharf's shallow banks. Learn about local efforts to protect what is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse bays in the area. As you sail further away from the shoreline, watch for harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, elephant seals, and even sharks. Catch sight of gray whales leaping alongside the boat and curious killer whales, with their characteristic black and white coloring, swimming nearby.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

7. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

8. Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

Head out on a whale and dolphin-watching cruise from Newport Beach. The waters surrounding Newport Harbor offer deep nutrient-rich waters that attract all types of marine creatures. With a 96% success rate, almost every trip has the opportunity to see whales or dolphins. Look out for giant blue whales (during the summer and fall months), finback whales, gray whales (winter and spring months), minke whales, humpback whales, several types of dolphin (including giant rizzo dolphin over 14 feet in length), seals, and all sorts of other marine life. Most whale-watching cruises take in the scenic backdrops of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach while viewing the gentle giants just a few hundred yards from shore. Due to the geography of the Orange County coastline that surrounds Newport Harbor, ocean conditions are incredibly calm. The captain and crew have backgrounds in marine biology and can provide details about the marine creatures, environment, and ecosystems.

San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

9. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The superb complex incorporates all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe! Don’t miss the African penguins – and 38,000 other live animals – at the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, a must-see attraction in San Francisco. Rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light or journey deep into the oceans of the world as the Academy boldly brings life to life. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the American alligator with albinism, and hang out with Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies and become immersed in the rainforests of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the flooded Amazon. Discover Borneo bats, chameleons, poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, gliders, snakes, and so much more. Catch the latest amazing digital planetarium show, taking you on a spectacular journey to the far reaches of the universe, held 7-10 times a day. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum housed under a living roof will inspire lifelong curiosity for the natural world as you experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the universe.

San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

10. San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to over 4,500 rare and endangered animals, and experience their worlds at the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, and other areas. The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is known for its naturalistic habitats and unique animal encounters. An urban paradise for all ages, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see in Southern California. Winding paths through the tropical oasis of a botanical garden bring you to the zoo‘s rare and fascinating animals, including koalas, Galápagos tortoises, tigers, eagles, flamingos, great apes, and more. Other exotic animals you may encounter include Sichuan takins, Buerger’s tree-kangaroos, arctic foxes, pangolin, and Visayan warty pigs. Explore Africa Rocks to discover penguins, baboons, the mysterious fossa, weaver birds, and other unique creatures. The festive, lively atmosphere makes the San Diego Zoo a great place for family fun and gathering friends. Discover the wonders of wildlife with animal encounters, interactive experiences, and exciting animal presentations and shows. The Zoo’s 17 Galápagos tortoises are now at home at the Fetter Family Galápagos Tortoise Exhibit. When keepers are present, you can pet and occasionally feed the tortoises over a short rock barrier. At the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge, you can get closer to polar bears than ever before. Climb aboard an Arctic research helicopter, crawl into a bear den, or measure yourself against the size of a polar bear. The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey is a 7.5-acre habitat and a first-of-its-kind experience. This area combines the fun of a zoo with the experience of a museum by creating an untamed landscape of animals from the past and present. A leader in animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo is at the heart of the San Diego experience.

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What people are saying about California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 3,843 reviews

Our tour guide Joseph was excellent, giving us information on the places we drove through as well as Yosemite. Mai our driver was also good, stopping at several view points. The views were amazing and it was well worth the time spent travelling. We were picked up and dropped off at our expected times. Only disappointment was the limited amount of water flowing over the waterfalls due to visiting in October, I would recommend travelling in Spring. Didn't see any bears although they are in the area we visited. Wear walking shoes to take full advantage of the time there. The restaurant at Yosemite was cash less so make sure you take a credit card.

Was an awesome day getting to see Yosemite. Rob was a great tour guide and was very knowledgeable and passionate about Yosemite and San Francisco.

Dylan, guide and driver of our tour was exellent, explained a lot about history, wider circustances and also about today´s San Francisco...

If you are wanting to ride the rides, the fast path ticket is the only way to do it.

we saw a lot of dolphins, and the price is certainly fair