The 15 Most Instagrammable Places in California

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park | © Bruce Tuten / Flickr
Photo of Juliet Bennett Rylah
26 January 2018

Photogenic California will offer the aspiring influencer many opportunities to #humblebrag to their friends in snowier states. If that is your passion, we offer 15 suggestions for stunning shots, including both natural and man-made wonders, such as three spectacular national parks and a house whose owner couldn’t stop ordering new additions.

Salvation Mountain

Art Gallery
Map View
Salvation Mountain | © Channone Arif / Flickr
A true labor of love, Salvation Mountain was built by the late artist Leonard Knight over the course of several years. It’s made of adobe and straw and is brightly painted with Christian messages, though even those who are not religious can appreciate the massive undertaking this artwork must have been. You can find the mountain in the Colorado Desert, not far from Slab City. Guests are free to climb up and inside the mountain.

Golden Gate Bridge

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The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge | ©jseff/Flickr
The Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps California’s most famous and, therefore, one of its most Instagrammed bridges. Its rusty red color standing out against the area’s frequent fog makes it particularly photogenic, and many instantly associate the bridge with San Francisco. The bridge gets its name from the Golden Gate, a strait connecting the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, over which it spans.

Carlsbad Flower Fields

The Carlsbad Flower Fields are a seasonal attraction, blooming in full for about six to eight weeks each spring. Visitors may go on a wagon ride through the flower fields or meander on foot. There’s a sweet pea maze and a shop where customers can purchase fresh flowers, but Instagrammers flock to the colorful fields of Giant Tecolote Ranunculuses.

Carlsbad Flower Fields, 5704 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad, CA, USA, +1 760 431 0352

There are 50 acres of gorgeous Ranunculus flowers | © Juliet Bennett Rylah

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory sits in Los Angeles’ massive Griffith Park. It was built in the 1930s and features great views of the Hollywood sign and Downtown L.A., but it also looks beautiful from a distance. Visitors can attend a planetarium show,peek through telescopes, or view current exhibits. Admission is currently, and has always been, free. To avoid parking fees, take the DASH Observatory bus from the Metro Red Line station at Vermont and Sunset.

Griffith Observatory, 2800 E Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 473 0800

Balboa Park

Balboa Park lies in San Diego. As the host of the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, San Diego developed the park to feature several stunning buildings and landscaping. Points of photographic interest include a six-acre sunken butterfly garden, the San Diego Museum of Man and California Tower, and the San Diego Zoo. Yet, it’s worth noting there are also a dozen of other museums, as well as several nature trails and gardens.

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 239 0512

Lyon Street Stairs

The Lyon Street Stairs will allow you to move between Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights in San Francisco, getting in both a workout and some great photos of the stunning landscaping. Plus, the views of the city from the stairs aren’t bad either. According to HiddenSF, there are 332 steps total.

Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA, USA


Lyon Street Steps | © Jed Record / Flickr

Winchester Mystery House

Building, Museum
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Winchester Mystery House © Mike Shelby/Flickr
Winchester Mystery House | Mike Shelby / Flickr
The Winchester Mystery House is a Victorian mansion in San Jose. It was purchased by Sarah Winchester, the widow of Winchester Repeating Arms Company treasurer William Winchester, in the late 1800s. She spent the next several years adding on to the house, resulting in numerous extra rooms and passages. Some claim that she believed she was haunted by the ghosts of people killed by Winchester rifles and built obsessively as a way to hide from them, while others cite much more mundane reasons, including a fascination with architecture and a way to keep her staff gainfully employed. Whatever the reason, it makes for a fascinating tour and great photos.

Palace of Fine Arts

Building, Theater, Theatre
Map View
Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco, California, a monumental structure originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco | © Alpha Stock / Alamy Stock Photo
San Diego’s Balboa Park, as previously mentioned, was developed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, while San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts was part of the competing 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. It’s gorgeous for photos or a walk, but it also has a café and Palace Games, a fantastic escape room to test your wits.

Yosemite National Park

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Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park | ©Sarath Kuchi/Flickr
Connect with nature at Yosemite National Park. It’s nearly 1,200 square miles of unfettered wilderness, including some very photogenic waterfalls, forests, rivers, and lakes. Guests come for camping, hiking, bird-watching, rock climbing, fishing, water and winter sports, and, of course, photography.

The Getty Center

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The Getty Center is home to a large collection of European, Asian, and American art, several gardens, and a series of rotating exhibits. It’s also a stunning example of modernist architecture, as designed by Richard Meier. From its position on a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains, you also get sweeping views of the city and the Pacific Ocean.

Joshua Tree National Park

Map View
Joshua Tree National Park | ©Christopher Michel/Flickr
Joshua Tree is one of Southern California’s most popular tourist destinations, both for hiking and camping and for those looking for a meditative experience with nature. So named for the unique (and Instagram-worthy) trees scattered throughout the park, the area offers not only 800,000 acres of wilderness but also a downtown area with numerous shops, restaurants, and bars. Hit up the nearby Pappy & Harriet’s for some BBQ and live music.

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