31 Famous California Landmarks And Monuments To Visit

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Many states in the U.S. easily impress visitors, and the glamorous state of California is one of them. There are numerous special landmarks in California; ranging from renowned Hollywood sights to historical places, and diverse theme parks. The important monuments spread out across cities are just as popular as the state.

Most Famous Landmark In California

Disneyland, Anaheim

The most visited theme park in the world, Disneyland is a wonderful destination for the entire family. Regarded as the happiest place on earth, the theme park does well to defend the tag with its attractions and activities.

There are dopamine-pumping rides scattered across the park, impressive entertainment and shows, and replica landmarks of popular fictional places.

This is certainly one of the most famous landmarks in California, attracting both local and international visitors. Disneyland will keep you entertained from the minute you enter until you exit.

Famous San Francisco, California Landmarks


Alcatraz Prison

San Francisco’s dark history is not complete without Alcatraz prison, which used to be home to the most dangerous criminals in America.

Located 1.25 miles off the coast of San Francisco, the prison sits on its island, where it was very difficult for inmates to escape from.

Currently, Alcatraz is one of the most famous historical places in California and a top tourist destination in San Francisco. Guided tours are provided to visitors who are interested in learning about the inmates and checking out creepy areas in the abandoned prison.

You have to book in advance to secure your spot. Be sure to plan ahead of time.


Lombard Street

Renowned for its eight sharp hairpin turns and beautiful garden, Lombard Street is one of the most famous California landmarks in San Francisco.

The steep street is regarded as the “Crookedest Street in the World”, a tag that pulls millions of visitors to the place every year.

Tourists who stop by Lombard street will find it worthwhile, as they are also able to catch picturesque views of San Francisco and see some of the most expensive buildings in America. This is one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco.


Ferry Building

Ferry Building is a food hall located in the vibrant Embarcadero area, situated at the eastern waterfront and roadway of the Port of San Francisco.

The building once served as the main city port for ferry boats crossing the San Francisco Bay from mainland California. But it became redundant after the construction of Golden Gate and Bay Bridge.

Today the San Francisco Ferry Building is a bustling public food market recognized as a popular California landmark.

Famous San Francisco, California Monuments

City Hall

The Main City Hall building is an imposing structure situated in the heart of San Francisco. A busy spot for tourism, it is one of the most famous monuments in California.

The building boasts a gorgeous Beaux-Arts style reminiscence of the 1880s. Its impressive interior features a rotunda, which looks directly below a grand staircase.

Tourists and visitors enjoy taking pictures around the City Hall building and also take tours to explore the fascinating architecture.


Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, Golden Gate Bridge is a 1400 feet suspension bridge that is almost impossible to miss when visiting the city.

Initially designed by Joseph Strauss, the bridge was built in 1933 and spans 1.3 miles, connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge links the city to Marin County. It was one of the longest suspension bridges when it was constructed, and still impresses visitors today with its stunning architecture.

Due to its constant feature in movies, magazines, and postcards, the bridge has become an international symbol of San Francisco and California. This makes it one of the most famous landmarks in California.

Tourists can enjoy a walk or bike around the bridge and take photos from observation points. Be sure to visit and learn about the history of this bridge that California is known for.

>Check Sunset Cruise At San Francisco Bay

Famous Sacramento, California Landmarks

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Located in downtown Sacramento, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

Constructed in 1889, the cathedral’s architectural style is Italian Renaissance and it is one of the largest cathedrals along the Mississippi River. It has served as the site of funeral masses for former governors of California.

The Catholic diocese encompasses 102 churches and serves over 1,000,000 million Catholics, making it one of the most famous religious landmarks in California.


California State Capitol Museum

Sacramento is home to the California State Capitol, which is the seat of the California state government.

The neoclassical capitol building was designed by architect Reuben S. Clark, who modeled it after the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Within the grounds of the capitol is the California State Capitol Museum, which is a top California monument in the state. Visitors can explore the museum through guided tours to learn about the history of the city, California, and the Capitol building.

Sutter’s Fort

Sutter’s Fort is a historic landmark in Sacramento that will interest visitors keen to learn about the state’s history.

The fort was built by Swiss John Sutter who started its construction in 1841. The fort was the first non-indigenous community in the California Central Valley and the area it was built would later become where the state of Sacramento was formed. 

After gold was found at a mill owned by John Sutter, the fort was abandoned. The only original fixture in the fort is the two-story main building, an adobe structure that was repaired and later designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

Famous Los Angeles, California Landmarks


Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall is an important architectural landmark in California, located in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the Concert Hall was commissioned in 1987 and completed in 2003.

The building is famous for its stunning architecture and hosting of a variety of top musical shows and performers. You can catch a show or two during your visit or take a guided tour to explore and appreciate the shiny exterior of the building.

The Chinese Theatre

No place has seen a more studded crowd of the finest celebrities in Hollywood than The Chinese Theatre. This theatre is where the biggest Hollywood movies premiere and it also plays host to red carpets.

The Chinese Theatre is located on Hollywood Boulevard, where you can also easily spot the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Feel close to your favorite celebrities by touching their imprints left on the Forecourt of the Stars, take a tour of the theatre to immerse yourself in its greatness, or buy a ticket to see a blockbuster at Imax Theatre.

Visiting the district is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles, with plenty of key attractions around.


Runyon Canyon

Located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica mountains is the alluring Runyon Canyon park. The park stretches over 650,000 square meters (65 hectares) and is home to varieties of vegetation and wildlife.

If you are a nature lover, don’t miss this impressive natural landmark in California. It is a great place to surround yourself with greenery.

The park features plenty of hiking trails and scenery that would captivate any visitor. The longest trail is 3.5 miles long and takes three to four hours to hike, allowing hikers to fully take in the spectacles scattered across the park.

Famous Los Angeles, California Monuments


Hearst Castle

Tucked 1600 feet above sea level, Hearst Castle is a destination that is worth ascending to. The castle is located on the California coastline, on a hill that George Hearst named “the Enchanted Hill”.

Hearst Castle was once a private estate named after its owner George Hearst. Now it is one of the biggest California historic museums, featuring thousands of artworks from all over the world.

Visitors should expect to see some wildlife on the hillside because the castle was once the site of the world’s largest private zoo.


Hollywood Walk of Fame

Los Angeles is home to a good number of famous California landmarks, including the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Walk of Fame, which stretches over 1.3 miles of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, is marked with over 2,700 terrazzo and brass stars. The stars are dedicated to celebrities who have done remarkably well in the entertainment industry.

The Walk of Fame is one of the most famous places in California for movie lovers who can take photos with the emblem stars of their favorite celebrities. And if a star is not enough, you can visit Madame Tussauds Hollywood to get photos with life size wax figurines.

Hollywood Sign

No place celebrates fame better than the Hollywood Sign, another of California’s top monuments. The sign was created in 1923 as an advertisement for housing development but has since grown to become one of Los Angeles’ most popular tourist attractions.

The 45-foot-tall white letters are now synonymous with dreams and ambitions, making it one of the most iconic signs in Los Angeles. Visitors can take pictures of the iconic sign from nearby Griffith Park or book helicopter tours to get a better view of it.

>Check Hollywood Sign Walking Tour

Famous San Diego, California Landmarks


San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo is an important and interesting destination in Balboa Park. Established in 1916, the zoo has served as the home of several species of animals.

Plenty of visitors throng the zoo to catch sight of the animals here, especially the famous Giant Pandas. Other animals you will find in the zoo include tigers, gorillas, polar bears, and elephants.

You can also opt to participate in interactive shows and nature exhibits that happen onsite. It is a great spot for family outings with kids.

>Check San Diego Zoo Pass

USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum is a unique historical site that will interest history lovers and tourists seeking to explore a floating museum.

The USS Midway was America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Now it is one of the most visited California historic museums, averaging over 1 million visitors annually.

The museum ship contains an extensive collection of aircraft. It offers guided tours to visitors. You can explore the climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, watch videos and also take part in a simulated flight.

>Check Tickets To USS Midway Museum

Famous San Diego, California Monuments


Cabrillo National Monument

This is one of the most important national monuments in California, built in commemoration of the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

In 1542-1543, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo traveled along the coast of what is present-day California, making him the first European to explore the region.

The area, located at the southern end of the Point Loma peninsula, features a statue of Juan Cabrillo and incorporates the old Point Loma Lighthouse, which now serves as a museum. It is one of the most meaningful historical sites in California.

Unconditional Surrender

The Unconditional Surrender is one of a few unique California monuments in San Diego. The monument is a statue that resembles an iconic photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

The statue is part of a series of computer-generated statues created by Seward Johnson. Several temporary installations of the statue were made in different states of the USA. In 2007, it was installed in Tuna Harbor Park temporarily.

Although the period of the loan expired in 2010, the statue was restored in 2012 and was made permanent. Visitors to the Midway Aircraft Museum can easily spot the 25-foot-tall statue and snap pictures in front of it.

Famous Oakland, California Landmarks

The Cathedral of Christ the Light

The Cathedral of Christ the Light is the cathedral of the Roman Diocese of Oakland.

The cathedral was built as a replacement for the Cathedral of Saint Francis de Sales, which was damaged in 1989. The construction of Christ the Light was completed in 2008, making the first cathedral built entirely in the 21st century.

The building is a modern architectural style with towering glasses circling it. Other sites in the cathedral complex a conference center, rectory, and a mausoleum, among others. The cathedral may not be old, but it is already an iconic California landmark in the city.

Western Pacific Depot

Also known as 3rd Street station, The Western Pacific Depot was a train station that served as the western terminus of the Western Pacific Railroad.

The station was opened in 1910 and during its operation, it served as the last stop of the original California Zephyr and Exposition Flyer. But the station closed immediately after they ended service in 1970.

Four years after the closure of the station, the building was designated an Oakland landmark, becoming the first Oakland Designated Landmark.

Other Famous Landmarks In California


Zabriske Point, Death Valley National Park

One of the fun facts about California is that the state has the most national parks. If you are up for an adventure that is a little bit extreme, then you should add Death Valley National Park to your California itinerary. 

The Death Valley National Park is America’s largest national park outside of Alaska, known for its harsh weather and ever-changing beauty. The expansive park features dunes, deep canyons, salt flats, and rock formations.

The biggest attraction in the park is the Zabriskie Point Lookout, where you can find landscapes formed millions of years ago. 

The park may have unfavorable weather conditions, but it makes up for it with its beautiful diverse landscapes. It is one of the most famous California landmarks.

Randy’s Donuts, Inglewood

Arguably the most famous doughnut shop in America, Randy’s Donuts has earned its place as one of the most famous places in California.

Randy’s Donuts boasts some of the tastiest, tongue-licking doughnuts, which can only be gotten in a very limited number of spots in the world. This makes it the favorite destination for doughnuts and sweet treats.

The store is also renowned for its appearance in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies including “Iron Man”. A trip to this spot will have you coming back for more.


Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Village

Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most spectacular natural landmarks in California and the United States.

The attractions in the park include mountains, valleys, hiking trails, and rivers, but the chief landmark in the park is the scenic Yosemite Falls.

The Falls, towering at 2425 feet, is the highest waterfalls in the park and one of the highest in California. The native people of Yosemite Valley called the waterfall ”Cholock”, meaning “The Fall”. They believed that spirits of witches settled at the plunge pool located at the base of the fall.

Visitors can get to the top of Yosemite Falls by hiking several trails, the longest one spanning 6 miles. Guided tours are provided by Park Rangers who help visitors understand the history of the village and locate top spots in the park.

Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City

Located on the country island of Universal City, Universal Studios Hollywood serves as a film studio and theme park.

Opened in 1912, it is one of the oldest Hollywood film studios still active. The park is home to several enormous theme parks that are mostly named after films produced by the studio.

From the iconic rides in Simpsons Ride and Jurassic World: The Ride to the collection of shows available in the park’s two playgrounds, and the Tram Ride that tours the actual stages and sets from famous movies, Universal Studios Hollywood offers activities for the whole family to enjoy.


Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier is a gorgeous double-jointed pier sitting at the foot of Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica.

The pier was opened in 1909 and was the final destination of the famous Route 66. Now it bursts with life, providing visitors with great entertainment and attractions.

The site features roller coasters and quality eateries that altogether make the pier one of the most loved places in California.


Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Palm Springs

This magnificent fixture located in Palm Springs is one of the most famous man-made California landmarks in the city. It is the largest rotating aerial tramway in existence, featuring tram cars that are 18 feet in diameter.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway transports passengers in a twelve-and-a-half-minute ride from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station.

The tramway first started operations in 1963. It served as an alternative route to an otherwise arduous hike from Coachella Valley to the top of San Jacinto Peak, giving more visitors the opportunity to soak in the beautiful views.

Sentinel Dome, Yosemite National Park

One of the prime features of Yosemite National Park is the Sentinel Dome, a viewpoint near the spectacular Glacier Point.

The Sentinel Dome is a peak spot that offers picturesque views of Yosemite Valley and the surrounding area. The dome can be accessed by hiking trails or by car, depending on the time of the year.

A trip to this peak is worthwhile as you get to have a 360-degree view of Yosemite’s top sites including El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Basket Dome, and North Dome, among others.

Other Famous Monuments In California

Devils Postpile National Monument, Mammoth Lakes

Located in Madera County, this is one of the most famous California national monuments.

The monument spans 738 acres and protects Devils Postpile, a unique rock formation made of columnar basalt. It features a scenic waterfall known as Rainbow Falls, which is a worthy site to take nature-themed photos.

Pinnacles National Monuments, Salinas Valley

This rugged historic site in California is situated in the hilly Gabilan Range and part of the Pinnacles National Park. The pinnacles were formed by volcanic activity some 23 million years ago.

It was made a monument in 1908, encompassing 25 sqm, plus an additional 12 sqm joined to it in 2000. Its talus caves are hot spots for cavers and rock climbers. Hikers also often challenge themselves by trailing the path leading to North Chalone Peak, the highest point. 

Borax Lake Site, Clearlake

Also known as the Borax Lake-Hodges Archaeological Site, Borax Lake is one of the most important historical landmarks in California.

Although the site was only discovered in the 1930s, it was formed thousands of years ago. The area contains evidence indicating that the earliest human habitation in the area led to what is now known as California.

Findings suggest that the earliest human settlement here happened 12,000 years ago. Therefore, it is not surprising that the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Discovering More Monument And Landmarks In California

California boasts some of the most attractive cities in the U.S. Many of them are home to hotspots that will keep you entertained throughout your trip. There are plenty of exciting historic sites and landmarks in California for all kinds of activities and fun.

The national monuments in California each tell a different story that forms part of the state today. They are worthwhile to explore and will leave a lasting memory with you.



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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