25 Famous Things California Is Known For!

If you are wondering what is California known for, then you have come to the right place. California is one of the most popular states in the United States, and there are many things it is known for.

Nicknamed “the Golden State”, California is known for its golden hills, sunny weather, and diverse landscape. From the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge to the enchanting Yosemite National Park, California has something for everyone. Other unique things about California are the world-famous wine country, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley.

But the state of California is massive with each part having something distinct. That is why we have written this article to showcase some of the things one of our favorite states is famous for!

Landmarks California is known for

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

California is known for tons of iconic landmarks that are featured in numerous Hollywood movies each year, but the Golden Gate Bridge located in San Fransisco might just be the most famous. There are over 40 movies with the Bridge somewhere in the film, and we haven’t even counted the TV series yet!

The 746-foot-tall towers and the signature International Orange color of the bridge attract over 10 million visitors a year. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco and a must-visit for any traveler in the Bay area. We dare to say it is one of the most stunning landmarks in North America!

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2. Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Jutting off into the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Pier is another one of the most famous landmarks in the state of California. Built in 1909, this Los Angeles attraction brings every visitor nostalgia for the good ol’ days.

The Santa Monica Pier has endless entertainment options like the small amusement park that features thrilling rides such as the West Coaster roller coaster and the Pacific Wheel.

Outside of the amusement park, the Santa Monica Pier is stocked full of concession stands and restaurants selling everything from Japanese-style hot dogs to fresh and hot churros. You’ll even find the Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome, a dedicated National Historic Landmark since 1987.

Santa Monica Beach surrounding the pier is a wonderful place to take a swim in the salty ocean, sunbathe on the golden sand or bike around on the boardwalk!

3. Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island

Situated in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is one of the landmarks in California with the most complex and interesting history.

Located on a small island in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is a former maximum security federal prison and military fort. As a result, it held some of the most dangerous criminals at the time, including Al “Scarface” Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.

Alcatraz Island is accessible by taking a public ferry, which has stunning views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

On the island, visitors will be greeted by National Parks Service workers who guide visitors through the history of the island as well as the many activities and exhibits available on the island today.

4. Fisherman’s Wharf

Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf

If you haven’t caught on by now, San Francisco is one of the most iconic cities in California. Besides the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, it is also famous for the oceanside neighborhood of Fisherman’s Wharf.

At Fisherman’s Wharf, visitors will find the popular Pier 39, one of the best places for views of the bay. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants serving fresh-caught seafood, cable cars, and a world-famous aquarium. It’s also a very popular starting point for whale watching tours of the bay.

It is no surprise why the Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco!

Food California is Known for

5. In-N-Out


On the surface, In-N-Out might just look like a regular fast-food burger joint. Well, it is a fast food place, but it is known for its delicious food made with fresh ingredients at a very affordable price.

The bright yellows, whites, and reds of the In-N-Out logo are a California symbol almost as famous as the bear featured on the California state flag. No trip to California is complete without a stop at In-N-Out for a delicious cheeseburger and animal-style fries.

Just don’t let the mile-long drive-through lines scare you– these burgers are worth the wait, especially since you can only find them on the West Coast of the USA.

There are also plenty of secret items on its secret menu!

6. Wine (Napa Valley)

Napa Valley Wine California
Napa Valley

The words wine and Napa Valley are almost as synonymous as peanut butter and jelly. A visit to Napa Valley’s 400+ world-class wineries should be at the top of every wine lover’s bucket list. With morning hot air balloons, afternoon wine tastings, and evening visits to luxury spas, Napa Valley is pure heaven on earth.

Wine is one of the things California is known for producing! It is responsible for about ninety percent of the country’s wine supply and a big part of its economy!

National Parks California Is Famous For

7. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

The natural beauty of California is unmatched and one of the most famous places to get out and explore nature is Yosemite National Park. Situated under the shadows of the Sierra Nevada, the park is best known for Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, and Half Dome, a popular hiking spot for the bravest of daredevils.

Nature isn’t the only attraction to see in the park– Yosemite also hosts many art exhibitions and concerts each year including the Yosemite Music Festival and Sierra Art Trails. It is also home to some of the best campgrounds in California!

8. Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood Trees
Redwood Trees

The Redwood National and State Parks are most famous for being the home of the tallest trees on earth, the redwood trees. In fact, the tallest tree in the world is named Hyperion and stands in the redwood forests at a height of 380 feet. Hyperion is estimated to be roughly 800 years old.

Besides really tall trees, these parks also boast stunning meadows and coastlines as well as incredible biodiversity from gray whales to banana slugs.

9. Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park Trees
Sequoia Trees

Not to be confused with the Redwoods, Sequoia National Park in California is known for having the LARGEST trees in the world.

The crowning glory of the national park is the tree named General Sherman, which is the largest tree on earth by volume. Other giant sequoias in the national park are so big, cars can be driven through them!

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10. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is interesting because it is home to the lowest land point in all of North America. It is also one of the hottest and driest places in the world. In fact, it holds the world record being the highest recorded temperature at 56.7°C (134.1°F), which was recorded on July 10th, 1913.

But Death Valley is a valley of extremes and despite the name, there is a diverse natural beauty to explore in the park. Artist’s Palette and Badwater Basin salt flats are some of the most beautiful sites.

Famous People From California

11. Steve Jobs


At this point, Steve Jobs is basically a household name, and we are all reminded of him in every iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch we see. The famous co-founder of Apple was born in San Francisco, California, and remains a symbol of the ingenuity of the California people.

12. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood. Since his birth in Los Angeles California, DiCaprio has starred in dozens of movies and has won Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and even a British Academy Film Award. The California Native is among the highest-paid actors in the world.

Cities California Is Known For

13. San Francisco


California is famous for its many iconic cities with one of the most famous being the city of San Francisco. The city is most notably known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, cable cars, and the world’s most crooked street.

San Francisco’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community, massive art culture, and extremely diverse population are what drive people from all over the world to flock to the city. With the city having so much to offer, it makes sense why people decide to tolerate the city’s almost constant cover of fog. A fog that is so constant, the locals have given it a name.

14. San Diego


When most people picture California, they think of the way California is portrayed in movies. Aesthetic, relaxed surf towns with hundreds of palm trees, where everyone lives to go to the beach and the sunsets are amazing. San Diego is pretty much the perfect representation of the laid-back beach vibes that California is known for.

The city boasts almost an eternal summer and dozens of beautiful beaches making it known worldwide for being the perfect surfing community. The endless natural beauty, rustic architecture, and fun-filled attractions make the city a must-add to the bucket list of any nature lover.

Top tourist attractions in San Diego include Balboa Park, Sea World, La Jolla beach, Sunset Cliffs Natural Parks, and the San Diego Old Town.

15. Los Angeles

Los Angeles Panoramic Views

Los Angeles is perhaps one of the most famous cities in the entire country with millions of visitors coming to explore this quintessential California metropolis each year. The city is internationally known for being the stomping grounds of celebrities and influencers, the main home of the entertainment industry, and year-round summer.

As the second largest city in the United States and the Creative Capital of the World, Los Angeles truly has something for every type of person. There’s hiking and surfing for the nature lovers, museums and art galleries galore for the creative minds, and world-class clubs and music festivals for the fun-loving souls.

Top tourist attractions in Los Angeles include famous beaches, such as Venice Beach, the famous shopping on Rodeo Drive, and the Griffith Observatory. Oh, and of course the city’s amazing and diverse food scene!

16. Palm Springs


Located smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert is the famous desert oasis known as Palm Springs, California. Palm Springs has long been the preferred destination for celebrities, wealthy businessmen, and regular people alike to flee the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. It’s also a popular location for snowbirds to live in during the winter months.

The popular resort town is full of restaurants, hotels, natural hot springs, and enough golf courses that Palm Springs has been dubbed by some as the “Golf Capital of the World.”

In recent years, Palm Springs and the surrounding communities in the Coachella Valley have become famous because of the thousands of people who flock to music festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach each year.

Top tourist attractions in Palm Springs include the Moorten Botanical Gardens, Annenberg Theatre, the many casinos, golf courses, and the nearby Joshua Tree National Park.

What Else Is California Famous For?

17. Silicon Valley

Apple Headquarters in Silicon Valley

Stunning national parks, world-class museums, and being the entertainment capital of the world are just a few of the things California is known for. Silicon Valley is located in the southern part of San Francisco Bay and brings California the title of the global center for high technology and innovation.

Silicon Valley got its name from the material ‘silicon’ that is used in many technological innovations created in the valley. Many of the largest and most famous technology companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Visa have headquarters in Silicon Valley.

18. California Gold Rush

Bodie is now a ghost town after the Gold Rush

Long before California became the most populated state in the country, it was a mostly uninhabited wasteland that truly epitomized the idea of the Wild West. This all changed when some of the few inhabitants of California struck gold in the Sacramento Valley.

A discovery like this propelled thousands of pioneers to California, all clamoring for their chance to become rich.

The California Gold Rush between 1848 and 1855 forever changed the history of California and the United States as a whole. It prompted mass migration to the west, pushed California towards statehood, and brought along many technological advances.

19. Hollywood


Hollywood is probably the most famous district of Los Angeles, California. Known for being the world capital of the film industry, people across every corner of the globe have long been enthralled with the glitz and glamour of this famous city.

Each year all kinds of celebrities flock to Hollywood to star in the next biggest movie, record songs for hit albums, and accept awards at famous awards shows. Millions of viewers tune in to watch the Golden Globe, Oscars, Grammy and Emmy Award shows being broadcasted live from Hollywood.

Some popular tourist attractions in Hollywood include the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and

20. Theme Parks

Disneyland in California

Theme parks have long been a favorite form of entertainment for people along the globe and few other states do theme parks the way California does.

California is famous for being the birthplace of one of the world’s largest entertainment brands, Disney, and home to the “happiest place on earth.” Many people travel to California each year for the sole purpose of visiting the Disneyland theme park. The park is famous for its thrilling and family-friendly rides like Space Mountain and Its a Small World.

If Disneyland is the most popular theme park in California, then Universal Studios must be the second most popular. Universal Studios features attractions from some of the most popular movies of all time, like the Harry Potter series and Jurassic Park Franchise. The theme park doubles as a film studio for many well-known movies and TV shows.

Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm are lesser known, but still, very popular theme parks in California.

21. Music Festivals

The Golden State’s vibrantly diverse and artistic culture means that music is practically a religion in California. The state hosts many fabulous music festivals each year that draw visitors from all over the world including Coachella, Stagecoach and Desert Daze.

These festivals are just about as famous for great music as for the outrageous outfits that festival-goers wear.

22. Mediterranean Climate


One of the biggest draws is the very agreeable Mediterranean climate that covers much of the southern part of the state from the Pacific coastal regions to the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

This Mediterranean climate is considered the ideal climate by many and brings year-round sunny and warm weather to this part of the state.

One big perk of this weather is that residents of and visitors to Southern California can enjoy California’s outdoor activities and natural beauties any time of the year. In fact, California is one of the most popular destinations for winter sun!

23. Progressive Politics

California has long been known for having much more progressive politics than anywhere else in the country.

Many cities in the state have been longtime advocates for progressive policies such as same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, gun control, raising of federal minimum wages, and universal healthcare. The state has been a Democratic stronghold for nearly 30 straight years.

24. Spanish and Mexican Heritage

Mexican food is everywhere in California!

Before California became a part of the United States of America during the Mexican American War, the state was part of Mexico. That piece of history combined with the close proximity of the state to Mexico means that many of California’s people associate with a Mexican or Spanish history.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the state besides English and Mexican culture is prevalent in many parts of the state from the food to the music to the artwork. We love the Mexican food in California just as much as we do in Mexico (minus the price difference)!

25. Beautiful Beaches


No discussion on the vibrancy of the state of California would be complete without mentioning the many beaches that line the nearly 1,000-mile-long coastline. Each part of the coastline has its own unique kinds of beaches from the rocky, foggy beaches in the Bay area to the golden sand sunny beaches in Santa Barbara.

25. Incredible Sports Team

Home of the LA Lakers

If there is one thing California is associated with domestically, it is their sports team. California is home to some of the best teams in the United States.

For the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers is surely one of the teams that many around the world have heard of. It has won 17 championships at the time of writing, and was where famous players such as Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal played. The Golden State Warriors is also very famous among basketball fans.

For MLS (Major League Soccer), the LA Galaxy is one of the most successful teams in history. For MBS (Major League Baseball), the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have a combined total of 13 championships.

What Is California Known For FAQs

What Food Is California Most Famous For?

Since California is so big, there is a drastic difference in the type of cuisine served in different parts of the country. So, the food California is most famous for is anything from avocado toasts, In-N-Out, fish tacos, garlic ice cream, California Roll and oysters.

What Are Some Fun Facts About California?

Here are some fun facts about California. California’s flag is also known as the Bear Flag, and it was designed using the pelt of Monarch the bear, a native of the Ventura Mountains. California is also known as the birthplace of the internet, with the first message sent from a UCLA site! Lastly, Fallbrook in California is known as the “Avocado Capital of the World”, and it holds an annual avocado festival to celebrate!

What Places Is California Known For?

California is known for plenty of places, from landmarks like Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney, cities like San Jose to San Francisco, and beautiful sights like Big Sur to Yosemite National Park!

This concludes our article on what is California known for. As the third largest state in the United States, it is no wonder why California is famous for so many things! So what are you waiting for? Go discover some of the wonders of California!

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