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Must See Museums In California

Museum Of Performance + Design

San Diego, California: Must-See Places & Historic Sites

The Museum of Performance & Design is a repository of performing arts and theatre in the bay region tracing its glorious evolution from the Gold Rush of California till this date. This museum in San Francisco exhibits works from artists and performing troops and showcases safeguarded live theatrical performances. The Museums Library enjoys a multifarious collection of books, clippings, photos, posters, interviews, audio-video tapes, interviews, musical theatre recordings, dance performances, plays, Theatre Film Archive, Research materials on sets and costumes, and reviews from critics.

Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center

The Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center was built to preserve a vital part of American history as a tribute to the Japanese American experience and contribution during the World War II. Historic Learning Center, situated at Crissy Field on the Presidio of San Francisco, was initially an abandoned airplane hangar which was converted into a Secret Army Language School in 1941. This was set up by the American army for the training of Japanese Americans during the World War II. The institution schooled 58 Japanese Americans as linguists, who worked closely with the American military intelligence in the Pacific in order to provide combat and cultural tactics.

The Getty Los Angeles

The Getty is an iconic institution in Los Angeles. Its both a museum and a cultural center, as well as an excellent spot for a beautiful view over the city. The center cost $1.3 billion to build and first opened to the public on December 16, 1997.

The Gettys rotating exhibitions range from classic artwork collections to more avant-garde photography from up-and-coming creatives. The permanent collection features work by Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Gogh, among a range of other household names.

Whether youre an avid thrill-seeker or just fancy a day of family-friendly fun, Universal Studios in Hollywood is the best place for both. Visiting a theme park while in Los Angeles is one of the best things to do when here after all!

Those who want to scream loudly can enjoy Jurassic World or The Mummy Rollercoaster. Or, if you would like something more gentle, opt for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem or the newly opened The Secret Life of Pets dark ride.

This theme park also has lots of character meeting opportunities and brilliant themed food. You will need to spend at least a day here to do everything.

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Presidio Of Santa Barbara

Theo Fitzhugh / Shutterstock

Presidio is a Spanish word meaning prison or fortification, and its used to describe a specific kind of military fortress that was built by Spanish forces during their expansion into the New World.

A well-known example of this architecture is the Presidio of Santa Barbara.

Originally built in the 1700s, the Presidio of Santa Barbara has seen everything from wars to earthquakes.

Its one of the oldest surviving structures in the state of California, and its among the last of the military outposts that were built by Spain on U.S. soil.

Its white adobe bricks are topped with red-tiled roofs.

Its twisting hallways lead to gates, chapels, plazas, kitchens, bedrooms and training rooms.

When you see it, you cant help but think that its a landmark that has been frozen in time youll be able to walk along the same paths as Spanish, English and British soldiers from centuries past.

If youre looking for things to do in Santa Barbara, consider this well-preserved presidio.

Its a must see for history buffs, culture lovers and military enthusiasts alike.

Address: 123 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United State

San Joaquin County Historical Museum

Top 10 Must

Enjoy a tour of local history and culture with a visit to the San Joaquin County Historical Museum. Learn about the history of Lodi and the surrounding Central Valley region. Tour the four historic buildings, including Captain Charles Weber’s cottage from 1847. Captain Weber was the founder of Stockton and one of the first farmers in the area.The Gerald D. Kennedy Reference Library contains a collection of historical records, books, maps, photographs and manuscripts from Lodi and Stockton. Stroll through the eight exhibition buildings of photographs, artifacts and collections. The 1919 Holt 75 Caterpillar tractor is a recent addition to the collection.

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Best Things To Do In Southern California Top Activities & Places To Go

  • Tanner Wilkes

Endlessly surprising and breezily gorgeous, SoCal is everyones favorite destination.

With breath-snatching beaches, year-round sunny weather and quirky attractions, SoCal offers a plethora of bucket-list-worthy adventures. Whether youre into theme parks or nature trips, you are sure to find your bliss in Southern California.

And, we know that picking attractions to visit in SoCal can be tough, with the numerous options available. Thats why weve rounded up the best things to do in Southern California.

Union Square San Francisco

Union Square refers to a commercial district of San Francisco, filled with shops, bars, and brilliant things to do. Union Square was actually a sand dune until 1850 when it was transformed into the area’s central hub. Today the square is filled with pop-up art exhibitions as well as street performers.

The Dewey Monument stands in the center of the square, with the Greek Goddess Nike as the focus. She represents the victory of Manila Bay, which took place during the American-Spanish War and was spearheaded by Admiral George Dewey.

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The Broad Is A Work Of Art In Itself

If you want to see the latest in the art world, head downtown to the Broad, which features 2000 pieces of postwar and contemporary art by big names such as Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barbara Kruger and Roy Lichtenstein.

The Broad building itself is also a work of art. Designed by architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and opened in 2015, the museum features a novel concept called the veil and the vault. The vault is where artwork is stored when it’s not being displayed, though it’s not completely out of sight there are viewing windows within the stairwells, so museum-goers can catch a glimpse of pieces awaiting placement. And the veil is the honeycomb-like structure surrounding the building, allowing natural daylight to stream in through the galleries.

General admission to the museum is free but does require a timed ticket. Special exhibits may have a separate fee.

Seaside Towns And Nature Sites Of Marin County

Visit Balboa Park // San Diego CA // Must See Places // ItsEwelina

Just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, is one of the popular day trips from San Francisco. However, travelers should note that a car is required to get to most spots in Marin, except for Sausalito, which is accessible by ferry from San Francisco.

The utterly picturesque waterfront town of Sausalito has a quaint historic downtown, beautiful marinas, and sensational views of San Francisco.

For those sightseeing by car, it’s a short drive from Sausalito to gorgeous nature sites: Tennessee Valley, appreciated for its springtime wildflowers and gentle walking trail to the beach, and Muir WoodsNational Monument, a dense forest of giant 1,000-year-old coastal redwood trees.

Because Muir Woods is such a popular destination, many tour companies offer organized day trips from San Francisco. For all other visitors, reservations are required for the paid parking at Muir Woods National Monument, as well as for the shuttle service from Sausalito .

A spectacularly scenic but difficult winding coastal drive along Highway One leads to Stinson Beach, appreciated for its 3.5-mile-long sandy shoreline. The town owes its Bohemian ambience and touch of flower-child flair to the locally owned shops and organic restaurants. Stinson Beach also has excellent facilities, including picnic areas and barbecue pits.

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Society Of California Pioneers

One of the oldest organizations, the Society of California Pioneers founded the first library in the state. Established in 1850, it is now run by the direct descendants of its founding members and serves as a public museum and research library. The Society memorializes every defining moment in Californian history and there are many of them! From the Gold Rush to the 1906 earthquake to the early settlement of the state, all milestones are preserved carefully thanks to the Societys repository of primary source materials. You can find the Society of California Pioneers in the Presidio of San Francisco, a now-historic park, a recreation area that used to serve as a US military fort.

Maritime Museum Of San Diego

Location: Downtown San Diego

See the largest preserved collection of historic ships in the United States at the . Of the various ships, steam-powered boats and submarines, museum highlights include the Star of India, an 1863 iron bark, a historically-accurate replica of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillos, San Salvador. Guests can even take a ride on board some of the museums ships. Tours include whale watching.

In addition to touring the ships, permanent and temporary exhibits convey important milestones in maritime history ranging from Swift Boats at War in Vietnam to Charting the Sea.

See the Maritime Museum of San Diego and USS Midway Museum on the same day as theyre only a short walk from each other. Get discounted tickets.

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Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

One of the most iconic Californian landmarks is the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Marin County over the Pacific Ocean. It is an absolute must on any San Francisco itinerary!

Johan Strauss was the man in charge of creating this bridge, and he oversaw the project until it was finally completed in 1937 after four years of construction.

At 4,200-ft long, this red art deco bridge is relatively small, although it is very impressive and draws huge crowds each year. The bridge is an iconic photo opportunity, and you shouldn’t visit San Francisco without seeing it.

Stearns Wharf & Sea Center


Stearns Wharf is an iconic Santa Barbara landmark extending over the Pacific where State Street meets Cabrillo Boulevard. Completed in 1872, the wharf was the longest deep-water wharf between Los Angeles and San Francisco in its early days, when it served passenger and freight traffic. Today, its a popular fishing spot thats home to seafood-centric eateries, a winery, shops, and some of the citys most epic views. One of the wharfs top destinations is the Sea Center. Operated by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the small aquarium and marine education facility offers guests hands-on encounters with animals found in nearby waterssharks, sea stars, urchins, jellies, octopus, soft corals, and more. Admission tickets are only available for purchase onsite for the day of. The Lil Toot Water Taxi that runs between Stearns Wharf and the Harbor is also a must-do. Learn More

CURRENT HOURS: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center open Wed Sun 10 a.m. 5 p.m. Lil Toot runs 9 a.m. 6 p.m. daily.

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Kids Love The Natural History Museum Of Los Angeles

For families seeking indoor-outdoor fun, head to the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, just south of downtown. Children can see dinosaur bones and other nature-themed exhibits inside, then run around the gardens out back there’s even a dedicated Get Dirty zone, where kids can dig in compost bins and play inside a house made from willow branches.

But the NHM will appease all nature enthusiasts, not just young ones. One of the oldest museums in Los Angeles, it’s expanded several times over since it first opened in 1913, and it now houses more than 35 million specimens and artifacts as well as wildlife dioramas, much like those at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The scenes are spread across two floors and provide a life-size look at African and North American animals, such as gorillas, lions, and elephants. The dioramas are nearly a century old, but new specimens are added each year.

And for architectural buffs, the museums original rotunda surrounded by marble columns and topped with a stained-glass dome still stands as one of the most striking gems in the city.

Tickets range from $7 for children to $15 for adults.

Los Angeles Fire Department Museum1335 N Cahuenga Blvd Hollywood Ca 90028

Kids who love learning about firefighters will love visiting the L.A. Fire Department Museum in Hollywood. Families will view classic LAFD vehicles and equipment, memorabilia, and theres also a special kids education center. The Museum is housed in Old Fire Station 27, is open each Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and offers free admission.

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Rancho La Patera & Stow House

A historic Goleta gem, Rancho La Patera & Stow House was founded by William Stow, who was legal counsel to Southern Pacific Railway as well as a Speaker of the State Assembly. He purchased the property in 1871 for his son Sherman, who planted the first commercial lemon orchard in California on the grounds in 1873. Shermans son went on to influence the growth of the regions citrus industry, which still thrives to this day. Visitors can get a taste of ranch life on self-guided strolls through the gardens and delve into Goletas history on docent-led tours of the Stow House. The 19th Century specimen gardens feature some impressive old trees, and the redwood trees in Stow Grove Park provide the perfect shade for a picnic. Learn More

CURRENT HOURS: Open from sunrise to sunset daily Museum Store Open Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m.- 4 p.m., with Stow House Tours at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., Ranch Yard Open 11 a.m. 2 p.m. on Sundays

Museums for All Participant*

Griffith Observatory And Griffith Park

Los Angeles, California Travel Guide – Top 10 Must-See Attractions

Opened in 1935, the Griffith Observatory offers the best views of the city and the famous Hollywood Sign. The observatory showcases many exhibits and activities. Explore the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, or take a look through the public telescopes.

Outside the observatory, Griffith Park has a lot to offer as well. The park covers more than 4,100 acres of natural wilderness, making it the largest urban park in the United States. From here, you can get a spectacular view of the Hollywood Sign.

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Petersen Automotive Museum6060 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles Ca 90036

The Petersen is a great opportunity for family fun and learning, with something that appeals to parents and kids of all ages. From child-centered spaces to recurring programs, visitors are invited to drive into the world of the automobile in lots of different ways. There are interactive exhibits, art projects, automotive awareness workshops and more.

Hollywood Walk Of Fame Los Angeles

The Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard is one of the most iconic landmarks in Los Angeles. A series of stars with celebrity names inside line the street, ranging from glamorous actors to great sports stars, including Muhammed Ali.

The Walk of Fame was officially opened in 1960 when a star dedicated to Joanne Woodward was unveiled after she won an Academy Award for The Three Faces of Eve.

Generally, to get a star on the Walk of Fame, a celebrity must have had high levels of fame for at least five years and have been involved with something charitable.

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International Art Museum Of America

International Art Museum of America, a non-profit art museum established by a Buddhist artist H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, is a one of its kind genius in the San Franciscan art sphere. Located on the 1023 Central Market Street, the art museum first came into existence in 2011, with an aim of creating an opulent cultural and artistic domain which would also provide spiritual growth. IAMA brims with an outstanding architecture, excellently envisioned by the architect Weiya Noble, and catches great attention with its grand entrance which includes a garden, pond, waterfall, rock formations with a selection of green hedges and flowers all under a pagoda-roofed pavilion.

Santa Monica Pier Santa Monica

Top 10 Must

Santa Monica Pier is one of the most famous piers in the world, and a Californian landmark that thousands of tourists flock to each year.

Boasting shops, an aquarium, and even an amusement park, theres so much to do here that the whole family can get involved withall while waves from the Pacific Ocean lap at the sand below.

As well as this, there are lots of spots where you can grab a bite to eat, including the popular Bubba Gump Shrimp, which serves up delicious southern-inspired seafood and fun cocktails.

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Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Santa Barbaras entire history comes to life at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, one of the citys oldest cultural institutions dedicated to preserving, celebrating, and sharing the communitys heritage and traditions. The signature Story of Santa Barbara exhibition starts with the native Chumash people and travels through the eras, including the Spanish and Mexican periods as well as Santa Barbaras star turn as a film industry hub in the early 1900s. Permanent exhibits cover fascinating local history from how the city got its name to its time as an arts colony and the creation of Chinatown. The grounds also feature two historic adobes: Casa Covarrubias dating back to 1817 and the 1838 Historic Adobe. The Historical Museum does not charge admission and reservations are not required. Learn More

CURRENT HOURS: Wed, Fri & Sat 12 p.m. 5 p.m., Thu 12 p.m. 7 p.m.

Museums for All Participant*

Luckman Fine Arts Complex

Cultural Center

The Luckman Fine Arts Complex, located in the California State University, Los Angeles, is made up of four separate venues: Luckman Theatre, Luckman Intimate Theatre, Luckman Street of the Arts, and The Luckman Gallery. The gallery hosts rotating contemporary exhibits.


Here are some of the “must see” items at Luckman Fine Arts Complex.

  • Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company
  • The Nutcracker
  • 5151 State University Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90032
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