Our Favourite Things to Do in California
Make your California dreams come true with our guide to the Golden State.
California dreamin’? They won’t be just dreams for long thanks to this expert guide of things to do in California, specifically curated with you in mind. We know you enjoy the finer things in life and we know you’ve worked hard for them. Slaving away at a job that likely gives you heartburn (although maybe that’s just your age if we're being honest) is certainly no walk in the park.
Never fear, our fastidious home critics have done all the hard labour for you, testing out the mattresses, water pressure, design, feel and vibe of each of our Plum Guide properties to make sure they meet your and our exceptionally high standards. All you need to do is choose your favourites and follow our advice on the best things to do in California, and you’ll be living your very own California dream in no time.
Hit the waves in San Diego
A trip to the charming coastal city of San Diego starts our list of things to do in California on a high note. With 70 miles of coastline home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the US, this is definitely a Cali highlight not to be missed.
Stay at this picture-perfect beach hut in posh La Jolla Cove for walking access to the beach, beautiful views and a cosy yet contemporary feel. Start your day with a surf lesson then spend a few hours exploring some of San Diego’s marvellous museums. Local Balboa Park is home to 17 arts and culture institutions.
Soak in a little California history at historical Old Town San Diego and finish off with some delicious and authentic Mexican food before heading back home to listen to the sound of the waves at Plum home My Blue Breeze.
Be wowed by Big Sur
The cliffs of Big Sur are known to provide some of the most splendid views in the world so this magical place is a must in terms of things to do in California. Located along an alluringly rugged stretch of coastline between Carmel and San Simeon, it’s bordered by mountains to the east and the Pacific to the west.
The beautiful drive to get to this place is almost as famous as Big Sur itself. Take the two-lane, winding State Route 1 and be bowled over by the majesty of the seaside cliffs as you traverse the oft’ misty road. If we’re sounding a little poetic, it’s because it really is that beautiful.
Come here to wine and dine thanks to the elegant and scrumptious local cuisine and then hike it all off the next day in the glorious surrounding nature.
Try not to get starstruck in Los Angeles
You can’t put together a guide of things to do in California without including the City of Angels. Home of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu and Disneyland, Los Angeles is among the most famous cities in the world and with the high percentage of celebrities who live here, you can only imagine how fabulous some of the homes are.
This incredible beach house just off the Pacific Coast Highway offers guests two bedrooms set across four levels within a 5-minute stroll to the beach. Trust us, in LA where your car is your currency, this type of pedestrian access is a rarity. You’ll love the magnificent ocean views from the master suite and the sexy outdoor shower and hot tub on the balcony. Enjoy a tranquil moment by the ocean each morning before heading out to adventure through the city.
Should you prefer to stay closer to town, look no further than this glamorous modernist abode in the swanky Hollywood Hills. Be forewarned though, the pool at this house is so chic, you may not want to venture much further on your trip than inside it.
Soak up the sunshine Santa Barbara
Next up on our selection of things to do in California is Santa Barbara. An hour and a half drive north of LA, this quaint and cute former mission town is regaled for its pristine beaches, Spanish and Mediterranean style architecture and buzzing food scene.
Don’t miss a trip to the historic Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786. The beautiful and unique colonial property is now home to Franciscan friars and a museum. There is great local wine in the area too so make sure to do a tasting if you fancy getting a little tipsy with your better half.
When the wine makes you hungry, head straight to brilliant local hole in the wall La Super-Rica where many agree you’ll eat the best Mexican food outside of Mexico.
Taste the locally produced wine in Napa Valley
Speaking of wining and dining, we can’t talk about things to do in California and not include Napa. The Napa Valley lies just north of San Francisco and is world-renowned for its vino, produced across hundreds of hillside vineyards, just waiting for you to attend a wine tasting.
Tired of driving? Why not try the quirky Napa Valley Wine Train, a vintage locomotive and traveling restaurant that chugs scenically through the valley. Make sure to check out nearby town Yountville too, which is known for its high-end restaurants and sparkling wine. And if you’re really looking for the meal of a lifetime, try scoring a reservation at Chef Thomas Keller’s refined three-star Michelin restaurant, The French Laundry. Your wallet may cry but your stomach will be laughing.
Now you know the best things to do in California, make sure you book a stay at one of our expertly vetted Plum Guide homes. Our fabulous lodgings can be found all across the Golden State.