The 15+ Most Instagrammable Spots in California: A Local’s Guide

Ready for your close-up? You will be in front of one of these Instagrammable spots in California, a list of the best places to capture the most captivating images. So get your camera ready. California, the Golden State, is an Instagrammer’s paradise boasting the most photo-worthy places. With its diverse landscapes, iconic landmarks, and gorgeous coastline, there’s no shortage of picture-perfect spots to capture and share.  

California Poppy Super Bloom.

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Whether you’re a professional photographer or just looking to up your Instagram game, California offers an array of stunning locations and iconic landmarks. 

Happy family visit Yosemite national park in California.
Photo credit: My Good Images/Shutterstock.

It’s hard to narrow California’s picture-worthy spots down to just 15 places, but we picked the best spots for you, some obvious and some less so. 

So, let’s get to the most Instagram-worthy places in California worth visiting.  

Most Instagrammable Spots in California

From the picturesque beaches of Southern California to the majestic mountains in the north, the state truly has something for everyone.  

Woman at Santa Monica Pier.

As you explore California, take advantage of its urban centers, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where you can find Instagrammable gems around every corner, such as the “Pink Wall” on Melrose, colorful murals, and fascinating architecture. 

Waterfall in Julia Pfeifer Burns State Park at sunset with a soft golden color on the rocks.
Photo credit: wollertz/Deposit Photo.

Remember to venture beyond the city limits and experience the natural beauty of national parks, including the incomparable Yosemite National Park and the otherworldly Joshua Tree. ​

In California, nearly every corner is picture-worthy.  

1. Pfeifer Beach and Keyhole Arch 

Have you ever seen a beach with purple sand? Pfeiffer Beach near Big Sur off Highway 1 is famous for its unique purple-colored sand, primarily due to manganese garnet minerals in the area.  

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  Sunlight shining through keyhole rock.
Photo credit: Neil Lockhart/Shutterstock.

Pfeiffer Beach in Monterey County is a hidden gem worth searching for in the picturesque Big Sur region of the Central Coast of California. About three hours north of San Francisco. 

Not only is Pfeiffer Beach Instagrammable for its purple sand, but off the beach looms Keyhole Arch, a rock formation with a natural arch allowing water and light to pass through. 

Keyhole Arch is one of the most iconic sights at Pfeiffer Beach.  

At sunset, there is an extra touch of beauty as light streams through the arch and waves crash. You will want to take a photo to remember this stunning scene that plays out on Pfeiffer Beach each evening and makes in one of the most Instagrammable places in California.

Pfeiffer Beach and Keyhole Arch are some of the best places to capture a unique photograph that will make your feed stand out from all the others.  

2. Sunset Cliff Natural Park in San Diego 

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park at the other end of California, in So Cal, has stunning cliffs and breathtaking views. It is the best place in all of California to watch and document the sun setting over its rugged coastline and expansive Pacific Ocean views.  

San Diego Seascape Series eroded bluffs at Sunset Cliffs in Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, Southern California, USA.
Photo credit: NayaDadara/Shutterstock.

Located in San Diego, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a 68-acre gem on the western edge of Point Loma, a must-see destination for anyone visiting San Diego.  

Once on the beach below the impressive cliffs, you’ll find Sunset Cliff Sea Cave, a vast rock formation with an arch and a large hole at the top. 

Sea Cave is genuinely stunning to look at and capture on film. It is one of Southern California’s best Instagrammable beach spots, especially during golden hour. 

3. The General Sherman Tree  

Only the largest tree in the world, the General Sherman Tree, is a giant sequoia tree in the heart of Sequoia National Park, about two hours southeast of San Francisco. The General Sherman sits in America’s second-oldest national park and is the world’s largest living tree by volume at 52 cubic feet. 

Tourist in Sequoia National Park in front of the largest tree in the world - General Sherman tree. California, United States.
Photo credit: haveseen/Shutterstock.

It’s highly Instagrammable.  

You won’t be able to capture the top of the tree in a photo, but the sheer size of its trunk next to a human is impressive and makes for an unforgettable image.  

Sequoia trunks maintain their impressive girth at lofty heights.  

Notably, at a point 60 feet above its base, the General Sherman Tree showcases a diameter of 17.5 feet (5.3 m), making it the widest tree in the world – incredibly Instagrammable. 

4. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco 

One of the most popular Instagrammable spots is the Golden Gate Bridge. No list of the best Instagrammable places in California would leave off the Golden Gate Bridge, and we aren’t going to either. 

Classic panoramic view of famous Golden Gate Bridge seen from scenic Baker Beach in beautiful golden evening light on a sunny day with blue sky and clouds in summer, San Francisco, California, USA.
Photo credit: canadastock/Shutterstock.

I lived in San Francisco for five years, and the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge never dimmed or got old. It still takes my breath away.  

Its rusty red color against the white buildings of San Francisco, dark green trees, and early morning fog make it visually stunning. You can’t take a bad photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. It isn’t possible.

The Golden Gate Bridge, an emblem of engineering marvel, spans the Golden Gate Strait, connecting San Francisco to Marin County. 

Construction began in 1933 amid the Great Depression. The building of the Golden Gate Bridge employed innovative suspension techniques and safety measures like safety nets to save workers’ lives. 

Completed in 1937, the bridge’s distinctive International Orange hue was chosen for its visibility in San Francisco’s frequent fog. 

The bridge’s unparalleled beauty and ingenuity have made it an enduring symbol of the city and a testament to human innovation. It remains a triumph of architecture and perseverance, captivating millions with its elegant span and sweeping views. 

5. The Griffith Observatory  

For the best views of Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory at the top of Griffith Park in Los Angeles is always stunning, especially at night.  

Two hikers on hill overlooking Griffith Observatory in LA.
Photo credit: Hayk_Shalunts/Shutterstock.

The striking building sits on top of Hollywood, surrounded by the Hollywood sign, miles and miles of trails, and the Santa Monica Mountains. 

Downtown LA sits behind it, in the distance, and beautiful Spanish homes surround the Observatory. 

I’ve hiked to the observatory thousands of times, and it never disappoints.  

Go at night when the city’s lights shine below, and the Observatory is lit from within, which makes this icon sparkle even more. You can also capture a lit-up Hollywood Sign. The Observatory is one of the most recognizable buildings in Los Angeles – very Instagrammable. 

6. Joshua Tree National Park 

I have captured some of my best photos in Joshua Tree National Park. Of all the national parks, Joshua Tree is one of the most unique parks in the United States. 

Cholla cactus garden from Joshua Tree national park with a warm morning sunlight.
Photo credit: saraprn/Shutterstock.

A true desert gem, Joshua Tree National Park showcases stunning rock formations and the unique, twisted Joshua trees that give the park its name.  

This amazing landscape is perfect for capturing incredible photos.  

You can explore the park through its numerous hiking trails, rock climbing routes, or even stargazing in the clear desert skies, and remember to snap some great photos of your adventure here. It is a must stop if you are in the Greater Palm Springs area.

7. The Painted Ladies in San Francisco

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco consists of seven adjacent Victorian and Edwardian houses, each adorned with its distinct and vibrant color scheme of pastels. 

Painted ladies and San Francisco view.
Photo credit: Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock.

When you think of San Francisco, the iconic row of brightly colored Victorian houses known as the Painted Ladies may come to mind.  

“Painted Ladies” refers to any set of Victorian or Edwardian houses painted in three or more colors, but the ones at Alamo Square are the most famous.  

This picturesque spot provides a beautiful backdrop for your Instagram feed, showcasing the architectural beauty of these historic homes and San Francisco’s skyline behind them. 

Situated on Steiner Street in San Francisco, directly facing Alamo Square, these houses offer an iconic and picturesque view, perfect for capturing a timeless postcard-worthy image. 

Stand across the street in Alamo Square and snap an Insta-worthy picture of yourself standing in front of these picturesque Victorians. This is one of San Francisco’s most photogenic locations, along with the Golden Gate Bridge. 

8. The Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica  

Welcome to the iconic Santa Monica Pier! This spot is a must-visit for some fantastic Instagram shots.  

Santa Monica 66 End of the trail sign. Famous end of route 66.
Photo credit: RAW-films/Shutterstock.

The Santa Monica Pier is a cherished Californian coast emblem, boasting historical resonance and contemporary allure. It has evolved into an iconic destination with a legacy dating back to its establishment in 1909.  

Grab some cotton candy and snap a photo while you stroll along the pier or enjoy the amusement rides. 

Its Pacific Park amusement park beckons thrill-seekers with its whimsical rides and games. It is highlighted by the Pacific Wheel, a towering Ferris wheel offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.  

Two women standing by the Route 66 sign at Santa Monica pier.

Beyond amusement, the pier’s cinematic presence in movies and TV shows has elevated its fame, embedding it into popular culture.  

Its role as the western terminus of Route 66 adds a touch of nostalgia to its allure. 

Perched against the backdrop of the picturesque coastline, the Santa Monica Pier remains an ever-captivating hub for leisure, cultural resonance, and capturing iconic photos.​

9. Venice Beach in Los Angeles  

Nearly every photo of Venice Beach is recognizable. Maybe because it’s appeared in many films throughout the years, it offers a unique and vibrant atmosphere of the Venice Beach Boardwalk, where people still rollerblade like it’s the 80s.  

Woman in a rainbow shirt at Venice Beach skateboarding.

With its eclectic mix of street performers, artists, and skateboarders, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for your Instagram feed in Venice Beach. 

Remember to take a selfie with the famous Muscle Beach in the background, showcasing the colorful graffiti art that lines the beachside walkway.

Woman flexing at Muscle Beach at Venice Beach.

10. Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles

One of the city’s most iconic symbols, the Hollywood Sign is a must-visit Instagram spot. The Hollywood Sign’s fame is deeply ingrained in its symbolic representation of glamour, movie stars, allure, and cultural significance of the entertainment industry. 

The Hollywood sign overlooking Los Angeles. The iconic sign was originally created in 1923.
Photo credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

Perched high in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign is an iconic beacon of Hollywood’s golden age and its ongoing influence on global popular culture. 

The Hollywood sign’s prominent placement against the backdrop of the city’s sprawling urban landscape has made it a powerful visual emblem that encapsulates dreams of fame, success, and the magic of the silver screen. 

Located on Mount Lee within the Santa Monica Mountains, this landmark has been overlooking the streets of LA since 1923. 

Woman in a helicopter over the Hollywood sign.

You can even take a helicopter tour to see this iconic sign

You can capture stunning photos while hiking the many trails that crisscross the mountain and Griffith Park up to the Griffith Park Observatory, another iconic spot that made this list. ​This is one of those Los Angeles Instagram spots for stellar photo ops that can’t be missed.

11. Redwood National and State Parks 

In Northern California, about 5.5 hours north of San Francisco, you’ll find an incredible stretch of ancient forest – the Redwood National and State Parks – where you’ll walk among some of the tallest trees in the country. 

Redwoods National Park hiking girl on the trail.
Photo credit: Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock.

Here, you can marvel at the impressive height of the towering majestic redwoods (different from a giant sequoia like the General Sherman Tree), some over 2,000 years old!  

Redwood forests offer a breathtaking environment where you can take a scenic drive, hike amongst these giants, or walk along the tranquil rivers that meander through the lush forests. 

You don’t want to miss this truly beautiful part of Northern California. The trees alone are stunning, and you’ll find some of the best hikes in Redwood National Forest, plus Instragrammable shots with some of the tallest trees. 

12. Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park 

The majestic Yosemite Falls is one of the most impressive attractions in the Yosemite National Park.  

Meadow with boardwalk in Yosemite National Park Valley with Yosemite Falls at cloudy autumn morning. Low clouds lay in the valley. California, USA.
Photo credit: haveseen/Shutterstock.

This magnificent waterfall comprises three separate falls – Upper Yosemite Fall, Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Fall – which together create one of the highest waterfalls in the world. 

Make your way to the Yosemite Falls trailhead and hike to the top of the falls. This moderate hike offers impressive views of the waterfall and the surrounding Yosemite Valley.  

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park California.
Photo credit: Nelson Sirlin/Shutterstock.

As you approach the base of the Lower Yosemite Fall, prepare to be amazed by the sheer power and beauty of the waterfall, and don’t forget to snap some Instagram-worthy photos. Just please be careful. No picture is worth risking life and limb! 

In addition to capturing the splendor of Yosemite Falls, many other beautiful locations throughout Yosemite National Park are perfect for your Instagram feed.  

From iconic views at Tunnel View to the serene ambiance at El Capitan Meadow, you’ll have no shortage of inspiration for your next California adventure. 

13. Mount Shasta 

Rising 14,179 feet above sea level, Mount Shasta dominates the landscape in Northern California.  This snow-capped, dormant volcano offers an awe-inspiring backdrop to your photos.  

Mount Shasta and Heart Lake.
Photo credit: Photo credit: Maddy M/Shutterstock.

The mountain’s diverse ecosystems, ranging from lush forests to alpine meadows, offer a haven for hikers, climbers, and nature lovers to explore its trails and marvel at its beauty.  

Its unique conical shape and often snow-capped peak make it a beloved landmark. 

You can experience Mount Shasta’s beauty through the myriad hiking trails, visiting nearby lakes and rivers, or even participating in winter sports during the colder months. 

Take the chance to add this breathtaking landmark to your collection of Instagrammable natural wonders in California. 

14. Potato Chip Rock 

Do you have the courage to climb a seemingly delicate rock jutting out over a precipice? It looks as thin as its name suggests! 

Hiker at Potato Chip Rock in California.
Photo credit: Christian Perry/Shutterstock.

If your answer is yes, then embarking on a hike to Potato Chip Rock (it looks an awful lot like a single potato chip) promises a singular, unforgettable opportunity. Rest assured, the drop below may appear farther than it is, mainly due to the perspective. 

Check out Potato Chip Rock on your trip to San Diego for a very Instagram-worthy photo.  

This unique and gravity-defying rock ledge is located along Mt. Woodson Trail and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the San Diego area.  

The trail to reach Potato Chip Rock is about 7.5 miles round-trip, so expect a moderately challenging hike, but rest assured that the incredible photo opportunities at the top will be well worth your effort.  

Remember to stay safe while posing on the rock, and be mindful of fellow hikers trying to capture their memorable snapshots. 

15. Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe 

Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe stands as a photographer’s dream, a veritable masterpiece of natural beauty that begs to be captured in every frame.  

Panoramic view of a colorful sunrise over Emerald Bay and Eagle Point off Lake Tahoe in California.
Photo credit: Colin D. Young/Shutterstock.

Its vivid azure waters, cradled by towering cliffs and crowned by Fannette Island’s lone evergreen, create a scene of unparalleled splendor.  

The iconic Vikingsholm Castle, nestled against the lush greenery, adds a touch of historical charm to the landscape.  

As the sun’s rays dance upon the water’s surface, casting a shimmering glow, photographers are presented with a canvas that shifts from the serene reflections of early morning to the fiery hues of sunset, each moment more captivating than the last.​

16. Balboa Park  

If you’re visiting San Diego, you definitely won’t want to miss Balboa Park.  This beautiful and historic park is home to numerous cultural institutions, lush gardens, and picturesque architecture.  

Alcazar Gardens, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.
Photo credit: Lynn Watson/Shutterstock.

Start by exploring the Spanish Renaissance-style Botanical Building, where you can find beautiful foliage and striking water features. 

Noteworthy photography spots encompass a sprawling six-acre sunken butterfly garden, the captivating San Diego Museum of Man alongside the iconic California Tower, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. 

However, it’s important to highlight the presence of numerous other museums, complemented by diverse nature trails and enchanting gardens. 

Head to the lovely Alcazar Garden, which boasts vibrant flowers, fountains, and patterned walkways.  

Balboa Park is also home to various museums, so catch some of its diverse exhibits while you’re there snapping photos. 

Other Notable Photo Ops for Your IG Feed

There are a multitude of beautiful locations in California that provide great photo opportunities. Capture more of your travels at these spots, too.

Wild orange california poppy blooming from antelope valley in southern california.
Photo credit: saraprn/Shutterstock.
  • Urban Light installation at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  • Salvation Mountain near the Salton Sea
  • The Broad Contemporary Art Museum
  • Orange County contains one of the most Instagrammed place on the planet—Disneyland
  • Hot air balloons over expansive vineyards in Temecula Valley
  • Flower fields of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve (usually blooming late February through May)
  • Point Reyes Lighthouse outside of San Francisco in the bay area
  • Colorful hotels or Instagrammable hotels like the Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs
Woman in a hot air balloon in Temecula, California.

That’s a Wrap: Best Photo Spots in California 

There you have it, the most popular Instagrammable spots in California worth visiting. No matter where your travels take you within California, you’re guaranteed to find jaw-dropping, Instagram-worthy spots. 

Woman at Venice sign at night.

Each of these picks is the perfect spot to capture a stunning image.  

So, pack your camera and get ready to explore this awe-inspiring state while filling your Instagram feed with incredible memories and possibly ending up a budding influencer.

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Jessica Iler

Jessica Iler is the founder of CA Girl Travels. She is a writer and entrepreneur working in the creator economy since 2016, building websites, writing for Medium.com, and helping others become writers. She is on a mission to help entrepreneurs make money online and travel the world while she's doing it.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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