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California's Natural and Manmade Vistas

Jan. 17, 2017

Why does anyone travel? To see something new of course! From stunning sunsets over the ocean to architectural marvels like the Painted Ladies in San Francisco, travelers are thirsty to drink in new vistas and views. In California there is a myriad of ways to do just that ranging from riding a gondola and going on an epic hike to visiting an observation platform or dining at a romantic restaurant. California is blessed with so many natural and manmade landmarks that a list of the top views is arguable at best, but here are some captivating sights throughout the Golden State.

Natural Wonders
Mother Nature smiles upon California time and time again. See her in action at these incredible natural sights:

Bumpass Hell – Lassen Volcanic National Park
A unique vista point in this volcanic wonderland is Bumpass Hell, the largest hydrothermal area in the park. The temperature of high-velocity steam jetting from Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in the area, has been measured as high as 322°F (161°C) – making it one of the hottest fumaroles in the world. Bumpass Hell at 8,000 feet in elevation and is accessible via an easy hiking trail (approximately one hour each way). The trailhead is approximately 10 miles inside the park from the south park entrance.

Half Dome – Yosemite National Park
Nothing worth getting is easy and such is the case for the view from Half Dome. Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. The roughly 15-mile, 11-hour hike rewards experienced hikers with outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and – from the shoulder and summit – panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

Mammoth Mountain – Mammoth Lakes
Skiers love Mammoth for the powder, but everyone will love it for the incredible scenery. All visitors can scale Mammoth thanks to the Panorama Gondola. Enjoy views of the Sierra Nevada peaks as the gondola transports you up to 11,000 feet. At the top, one of the best views in California awaits. Trips to The Eleven53 Interpretive Center and the Eleven53 Café will add to the experience.

Big Sur – Along Highway One Coastline
Highway One through Big Sur is located along the Central Coast and is recognized as a one of the crown jewels of America's Scenic Byways program. Along this beautiful stretch of coastal highway, it is not unusual to see soaring California Condors; migrating Gray, Humpback and Blue whales; and elephant seals. Oh, and of course, the famous Bixby Bridge and expansive views of the Pacific Ocean.

Manmade Beauties
While it’s hard to top Mother Nature’s sheer beauty, these manmade ways to experience Californian views are a testament to human ingenuity:

Battery Point Lighthouse – Crescent City
For over 150 years, the Battery Point Lighthouse has aided coastal navigation. Unlike many historic lighthouses, it is still active with a lightkeeper in residence. Legends abound about its Native American ties as well as the resident ghost said to haunt the building. Crossing during low tide to get there affords stunning views of the California coast.

Coit Tower – San Francisco
At the summit of the historic Telegraph Hill in San Francisco sits the 210-foot Coit Tower. The elegant tapering column was built in 1933 at the request of San Francisco’s colorful Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who left a $125,000 bequest "for the purpose of adding beauty to the city which [she had] always loved." The ground floor lobby is adorned with fresco murals by some 30 local artists. Depicting life in 1930s San Francisco, they are a colorful, insightful look at The Great Depression.

OUE Skyspace LA – Los Angeles
The new OUE Skyspace LA® is California’s tallest open-air observation deck and the premiere destination for panoramic, 360-degree views of Los Angeles. While acrophobics will cringe, daredevils will celebrate the Skyslide – a 45-foot glass slide connecting the 70th floor to the east observation deck. Enjoy views of what is soon to be the tallest building on the West Coast; the under-construction InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown; Pacific Ocean and glittering LA as you take the plunge!

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – Palm Springs 
Hop on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car, to experience 360-degree desert vistas of Chino Canyon and Mt. San Jacinto Park. After ascending to 8,500 feet, travelers can enjoy over 50 miles of hiking trails, a natural history museum and observation platforms that are the perfect perch for aspiring Ansel Adams.

Mickey’s Fun Wheel – Anaheim
Mickey’s Fun Wheel is a playful way to enjoy views of Paradise Bay and Disney’s California Adventure Park. The 150-foot wheel is one of only two “wonder wheel” Ferris wheels still operating in the country. There are 24 gondolas, including 16 that swing, sway and glide throughout the nine-minute ride.

Bertrand at Mr. A’s – San Diego
Located just minutes from Downtown San Diego, Bertrand at Mr. A’s offers the most spectacular views in San Diego and was ranked fourth in the nation for dining by OpenTable diners. From here you can enjoy the beautiful San Diego skyline, as well as views of San Diego Bay, Balboa Park, Coronado, Point Loma and even the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Toast an inspiring San Diego sunset from the outdoor, wraparound balcony and watch the jets gently glide into the San Diego Airport.