California is a land of landmarks, and worldwide recognizable icons are often top tourism destinations. In Sacramento, the California State Capitol has been restored and reflects turn-of-the-century grandeur. Visitors will also enjoy the 40-acre Capitol Park and tours of the Capitol's historic offices. The California Gold Rush era remains alive at the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. More than 100 buildings have been renovated or reconstructed to the Gold Rush period of the 1850s-1870s at the 28-acre historic district along the Sacramento River. In the old mining camp of Coloma, preserved at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, the Gold Discovery Museum Visitor Center offers information and artifacts relating to the California Gold Rush. The museum's grounds contain mining exhibits and equipment used by the miners in their quest for gold.
Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco)
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is considered one of the engineering marvels of the modern world with its elaborate suspension system. The bridge was dedicated in 1937. Its distinctive color, international orange, was selected for its visibility in the fog. Hearst Castle in San Simeon is one of California's well-known architectural icons. The Castle was originally built as the private estate of art collector and publisher William Randolph Hearst. Guided tours of the estate bring visitors into the history of the past.
Hollywood sign (Los Angeles)
The sign is one of the world's most photographed icons and symbolizes the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry. Although visitors can go right up to the sign, prime viewing spots are at Hollywood and Highland, and Franklin Avenue and Gower Boulevard. A list of California landmarks wouldn't be complete without mentioning Yosemite National Park, which was established in 1890. Highlights of the park include Tuolumne Meadows, a sub-alpine meadow surrounded by mountain peaks, and Yosemite Valley with its high cliffs and waterfalls. There's also the Wawona History Center and Historic Hotel.
Aircraft Carrier Museum (San Diego)
The San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum is located aboard the decommissioned USS Midway berthed at Navy Pier in the San Diego Bay. With more than 47 years of service, the USS Midway was home to 200,000 sailors and saw action during the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars. In Oceanside, the Mission San Luis Rey is considered "King of the Missions" and is the largest working mission in California. This 206-year-old national landmark offers guided tours. In Carmel, the Carmel Mission is one of California's most famous and historic buildings. Established in 1771, it shelters a monument to Father Junípero Serra, who was a driving force in the Spanish conquest and colonization of California, sculpted by Jo Mora in the 1930s. The Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County provides a particularly rich educational environment. The Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, established by Franciscan priests from 1769 to 1823, is rich in tradition, legend and history.
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum (Santa Cruz)
The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum sits on a cliff overlooking surfing spot Steamer Lane. Historic photographs, early wetsuits and vintage redwood surfboards trace more than 100 years of surfing history. Redondo Beach, at the Redondo Beach Pier, pays homage to surfing with a bronzed statue of George Freeth, the Hawaiian surfer who brought surfing to the mainland in the early 1900s. In Calaveras County, the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, located north of Arnold, is one of the longest operating attractions in California. The park features two groves of giant Sequoia trees. There's also the Avenue of the Giants, majestic redwood forests, in Humboldt County. In Oroville, the Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States and was considered the eighth wonder of the world when it was built in the late 1950s. It stands 770 feet tall and stretches one mile across its crest.
Colton Hall (Monterey)
In Monterey, Colton Hall was the site of California's 1849 Constitutional Convention, when 48 delegates gathered to craft the direction of the state. Built in the 1840s, the building has been in continuous use as Monterey's City Hall, a public school, the county court house, the sheriff's office and Monterey's city police headquarters.
Maidu Interpretive Center and Historic Site (Roseville)
In Roseville, the Maidu Interpretive Center and Historic Site offers a nature-loop trail that features ancient petroglyphs and hundreds of bedrock mortars. In Santa Cruz, the Neary-Rodriguez Adobe at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park offers Ohlone Indian exhibits. Visitors can tour the single-story adobe, while admiring the expansive views of the city. Ventura is home to the Albinger Archaeological Museum with its 3,500-year-old Native American artifacts and Chumash village site. The Ventura County Museum of History and Art, also in Ventura, houses a collection of Native American, Spanish and pioneer artifacts.
Tallac Historic Site (South Lake Tahoe)
This historic site offers a look back into Old Tahoe style and architecture. The site preserves much of Tahoe's history from the end of the logging boom through the 1920s with its outdoor museum and historic properties. In Fort Bragg, The Guest House Museum, a three-story Victorian, offers visitors an overview of the Mendocino Coast history. The area provided the lumber from its redwood forests to build San Francisco and many other Gold Rush-era communities.