Top California Destinations by Each State

From its diverse cultural and geographical offerings to its vibrant and bustling cities, California is truly the gold standard for travelers around the globe. But this West Coast destination is not only a popular vacation spot for foreigners; people across the United States also love visiting sunny California. Why? Regardless of where you are from, California offers every American some type of escape. 

Whether you want to hike the trails in one of the state’s many breathtaking parks, kick back with some bubbly in the northern valleys, or relax on one of the sunny southern shorelines, there’s truly something for everyone in the Golden State. In fact, according to The New York Times, more Americans choose to live in California than anywhere else in the United States. In this article, we will explore the allure that California holds for travelers across the country, and why California continues to be America’s most visited state, year after year. 

10 Interesting Finds

Americans undeniably love visiting the sunny state of California. That said, not all Americans are drawn to the same destinations within the state. 

While New York City is a popular vacation destination in and of itself, the crowd, the hustle, and the pace can lead to some serious stress and burnout for residents who live there year-round. Thus, the urban sprawl of Los Angeles does not hold the same vacation appeal to New Yorkers as it may to some. 

To escape the hustle and bustle of the city, hard-working New Yorkers turn to Napa Valley. Known for its beautiful landscapes and world-class wineries, Napa is a wonderful place to relax and unwind with its boutique hotels and luxury resorts. While it may be best known for being one of the best wine destinations in the world, Napa is also beloved for its mind-blowing natural setting. Its tiered hillsides, wine caverns, and distinguished estates make for breathtaking scenery. Visitors also love to participate in numerous outdoor activities, including hiking, golf, horseback riding, and even hot air balloon rides. 

Filled with rural havens and charming towns, there’s a lot to love about Connecticut. But the slow-paced lifestyle and the long, cold winters can become dull and tiresome for some. That’s why Connecticut residents are drawn to the lively city of San Francisco. 

One of the most famous cities in the world, San Francisco is humming with life everywhere you turn. Brimming with impressive sights, world-class cuisine, and vibrant nightlife, the energy in San Francisco is simply electric. Individuals who are craving adventure will relish the edgy street art, innovative cuisine, and an endless number of tourist attractions to visit. 

Filled with miles and miles of coastlines, bays, and beaches, Rhode Island is a beautiful state, but it’s not exactly a bustling one. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that residents from Rhode Island have a desire to visit one of America’s most populated cities: Los Angeles. While the sprawling metropolis and ever-congested freeways might deter some, the thrum of people, cars, and energy may hold more allure for people from Rhode Island. At more than 500 square miles, Los Angeles is a massive city, and touring can be exhausting, but that doesn’t deter individuals from the smallest state in America from seeking out an ambitious adventure.

Almost half of Michigan residents live in the state’s 75 largest cities and townships including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, and Lansing. Thus, the perfect escape for a Michigan resident is not another populated, urban city, but a place that is remote, quiet, and beautiful, like Lake Tahoe. 

Known for its steep granite cliff sides and towering mountaintops, Lake Tahoe has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the United States. Aside from admiring the breathtaking blue lake, this area is filled with white sand beaches, small quaint towns, and picturesque vistas galore, making it the perfect place for a Michigan resident to relax and unwind.

Boasting countless amusement parks, family-friendly attractions, and pristine white sand beaches, Florida has more things in common with California than some other states. While people flock to Los Angeles for the chance to visit Disneyland and bask on the beaches in Malibu, these attractions do not hold the same appeal to residents of the Sunshine state. When people from Florida are looking for an escape, they opt for a trip to Napa Valley. 

While people visit Napa Valley to “taste the grapes,” this city is also known for its pleasant climate and for having a wide range of top restaurants, cafes, and spas. In short, this quiet and serene area offers a respite for Florida residents, particularly during the hot and sticky summer months.

Montana is one of the largest states in America, but it’s also one of the least populated. In fact, national forest acreage outnumbers the population in this remote state. Therefore, it’s to be expected that Montana residents are not as enticed by quiet, remote California getaways, but gravitate towards bigger cities, like San Francisco
When Montana residents visit The Golden City they can stroll along the PIER 39, enjoy a ride on a cable car, or the Golden Gate Bridge, or hop on a boat tour to Alcatraz. There is no shortage of things to do in this city, making it the perfect antidote for those looking to escape their sleepy Montana city for a week. Not to mention, landlocked Montana residents can enjoy a picnic on the beach and catch a rare glimpse of the ocean; two things they don’t get to do in their hometowns.

One can assume that people from Wyoming are drawn to LA for similar reasons that people from Montana are drawn to San Francisco. From Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming’s stunning national parks draw millions of tourists to the state every single year. While California also has its fair share of unparalleled natural beauty, Wyoming residents are more interested in visiting the Golden State’s big cities, like Los Angeles. 

From the ample shopping, celebrity spotting and all the things to do in Los Angeles with young kids, this sprawling Southern California city offers so many novel opportunities for Wyoming residents. And while Wyoming may boast some of the world’s greatest wilderness areas, it’s not home to iconic beaches like Los Angeles.

Known for its bold architecture and skyline dotted with skyscrapers, Chicago is the third largest metropolis in the United States. Even once you leave the city, Illinois is not known for its natural beauty or unique geographical features. In fact, this Midwestern state has been deemed the second-flattest state in the country. When Illinois residents are looking for an escape, they flock to the hilly and beautiful countryside of Napa Valley. 

Napa Valley is blessed with beautiful hills, mountains, and fields, but it’s also graced with a pleasant climate. The weather in Napa offers relief for Illinois residents who experience both hot and humid summers and fiercely cold winters. 

The Garden State is teeming with sprawling cities, charming towns, and historical landmarks, but is perhaps not as famed for its natural beauty. This may be why a place as stunningly beautiful as Lake Tahoe holds so much appeal. From its snow-capped peaks and Alpine forests to its shimmering freshwater lake, Lake Tahoe when it comes to epic landscapes, Lake Tahoe is unmatched. 

While the scenery in Lake Tahoe is worth the trip alone, New Jersey residents can also indulge in outdoorsy activities galore such as mountain biking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing, and swimming.

South Dakota is another expansive, sparsely populated Midwestern City. While the rolling prairies and the striking Black Hills National Forest are sights to be seen, this state has nothing much in the way of a major city. At least, there’s no city in South Dakota on the same scale as Los Angeles. 

Of all the vacation destinations in the Golden State, South Dakota residents are most drawn to the City of Angels. While exploring a city of this size may be exhausting for fellow urban goers, people from South Dakota are most likely in awe of the abundant tourist attractions Los Angeles has to offer, from Hollywood’s Universal Studios and Disneyland Resort to Santa Monica Pier and Beverly Hills.

Why We Love These Californian Cities

California is one of the few places in the world where you can experience a little bit of everything from ocean drives and green forests to cosmopolitan cuisine and luxurious vineyards. Because California is one of the most diverse states in America, each city has something different to offer to both tourists and residents alike. 

Characterized by its numerous  charming beach towns, its diverse arts scene, and rich military history, San Diego is the ideal destination for outdoor adventurers and sun seekers alike. Don’t leave this city without experiencing the lively nightlife, sampling the delectable Mexican cuisine, visiting the San Diego Zoo, and catching a glimpse of the La Jolla seals and sea lions. San Diego is also home to some of the country’s best beaches, as well as hiking, biking, and surfing spots.

Los Angeles has earned a name for itself as one of the most glamorous cities in the country. But aside from the rolling estates of Beverly Hills and the luxury boutiques scattered across Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles is also home to famous art galleries and renowned architectural structures, like the Getty Center. Between visiting the beaches in Santa Monica, walking the historic streets of the Arts District, and exploring the trendy Silver Lake area, there will never be a dull moment on your trip to La-la land.

Pristine weather, delicious restaurants, friendly wildlife, and must-see museums — what more could you want? It may only stretch across 7 miles, but the activities that San Francisco offers truly run the gamut. From exploring the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf to walking along the bay for a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge (and some friendly seals), San Francisco is filled with character, culture, and fun things to do. Even the legendary fog adds a certain ambiance to this hub of excitement.

With miles of sandy stretches just waiting to be enjoyed, Santa Barbara is the perfect haven for seaside lovers. Only two hours away from L.A, the welcoming, laid-back vibes, and temperate climate, make this renowned California beach town the perfect weekend getaway all year round. Visitors won’t be able to get enough of this coastal town’s palm-lined beaches, Spanish-style architecture, and the beautiful backdrop of the Santa Ynez mountains.

Surrounded by pristine pine forests and snow capped mountain peaks, the most breathtaking scenery in Lake Tahoe is its namesake: the lake itself. Known as the sapphire heart of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. This year-round vacation destination offers an endless number of outdoor activities including hiking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, skiing along the slopes of Squaw Valley Ski Resort, and kayaking across Emerald Lake.

Not only is Napa a world-class wine destination, but it’s also one of the most popular vacation spots in all of California. While visitors are sipping on a glass of wine at one of the 400 wineries in the area, they can take in the tiered hillsides and decadent estates that make up the breathtaking backdrop. Aside from visiting wineries, Napa is teeming with activities. Travelers can bike on mountain trails, attend music and film events, or snack on smoked charcuterie and handcrafted cheeses.

Shaped by the 17-mile drive of the rugged California coastline, this picturesque seaside town never disappoints. With its seafood restaurants, whale watching tours, craft breweries, and centuries-old Spanish and Mexican influences, Monterey has both natural beauty, a rich cultural history, and an abundance of indoor and outdoor activities. Don’t leave without visiting the Monterey Aquarium, which has thousands of marine animals and plants on display.

While it may not get the same hype as other cities in California, Sacramento has tourist attractions that appeal to people of all ages and interests. The state’s capital has a long history dating back to the mid-1800s and the California Gold Rush, which is readily on display all across the city in places such as Old Sacramento. With trendy neighborhoods, breezy city parks, and miles-long bike trails, there are plenty of ways to explore the city and enjoy the nice year-round weather.


Our team compiled research on flights taken from all 50 states to various California cities and vacation spots. We drew upon this research to make the conclusions summarized above. 

StatesTop Destination
AlabamaLos Angeles
ArizonaLake Tahoe
ArkansasLos Angeles
CaliforniaSan Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Napa, Monterey, Sacramento
ConnecticutSan Francisco
DelawareLos Angeles
District of ColumbiaSan Francisco
HawaiiSan Francisco
IdahoLos Angeles
IndianaLake Tahoe
IowaLos Angeles
KansasLos Angeles
KentuckyLos Angeles
LouisianaLos Angeles
MaineLos Angeles, San Francisco
MarylandLos Angeles, San Francisco
MassachusettsSan Francisco
MichiganLake Tahoe
MinnesotaLake Tahoe
MississippiLos Angeles
MissouriLake Tahoe
MontanaSan Francisco
NebraskaLos Angeles
NevadaLos Angeles, Lake Tahoe
New HampshireLos Angeles
New JerseyLake Tahoe
New MexicoLos Angeles
New YorkNapa
North CarolinaNapa
North DakotaLos Angeles
OklahomaLos Angeles
OregonLake Tahoe
PennsylvaniaLake Tahoe
Rhode IslandLos Angeles
South CarolinaLos Angeles
South DakotaLos Angeles
TennesseeLake Tahoe
TexasLake Tahoe
UtahLos Angeles
VermontSan Francisco
VirginiaLake Tahoe
WashingtonLake Tahoe
West VirginiaLos Angeles
WisconsinLake Tahoe
WyomingLos Angeles