12 Best Things To Do in California for Young Adults: Cool Activities for Millennials + Gen Z

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated July 4, 2024 tourism Dream Destinations
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Ready to jump into all the fun attractions for young adults in California? There really is something for all tastes here, so keep reading to discover the amusements and attractions that you’ll be ticking off when you visit California on your next adventure.

California is the ultimate playground for young adults – it’s like living in a summer dream. This state is all about vibrant vibes, from the iconic beaches to the towering mountains. Picture roaming the hip streets of San Francisco, where history meets a cool, modern edge, or getting lost in the artsy neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

For those who thrive on energy and excitement, California is your scene. Imagine catching waves at Malibu, or discovering the latest food trends in a bustling LA market. It’s a place where the laid-back lifestyle meets trendy spots and jaw-dropping scenery. Every corner, from the graffiti-filled alleys of San Francisco’s Mission District to the chill beaches of Laguna, has its own unique flavor.

As night falls, California really lights up. You’ve got rooftop bars with insane views and nightclubs where you can groove to the beats of top DJs until the early hours. It’s a state that’s a canvas of cool experiences, perfect for young adults looking to explore, make memories, and write their own California story. So, grab your sneakers and your camera. Let’s dive headfirst into the vibrant, sun-soaked life of California!

The best things to do in California for young adults right now

Top Things To Do in California for Young People

Ready to dive into the endless fun and excitement that California has in store for young adults? Whether you’re calling California home or just passing through, this ultimate guide is packed with everything you need to know. We’re talking about top-tier attractions, thrilling adventures, and unique experiences that make California a dream destination for young adults.

1. Bike Ride Across the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco isn’t just a way to get from point A to point B; it’s a legendary piece of architecture and a symbol of cool innovation. For young adults looking for awesome experiences in California, this iconic bridge is a must-visit for its stunning views and fascinating history.

Kick off your Golden Gate adventure at the Welcome Center at the bridge’s south end. It’s a deep dive into the bridge’s impressive history and engineering. They offer guided tours (around $15) that are totally worth it for a behind-the-scenes look at how this massive structure came to be.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco stands as a legendary architectural marvel, symbolizing cool innovation and iconic design.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco stands as a legendary architectural marvel, symbolizing cool innovation and iconic design.

If you’re all about Instagram-worthy shots or just love capturing moments, the viewpoints on both sides of the bridge are where you want to be. The northern vista point is especially epic for sunset snaps – a prime spot for you and your friends to chill and watch the day fade away.

And hey, why not bike across the bridge? You can rent bikes nearby, and cruising the 1.7-mile stretch is a rush. Feel the breeze, soak up the views of the city and bay, and get that perfect blend of adventure and sightseeing. Just a heads up – it can get windy, so dress in layers.

2. Go Hiking at Yosemite National Park

If you’re looking for epic things to do in California, Yosemite National Park is where it’s at, with its perfect mix of adrenaline-pumping adventures, chilled vibes in the summer and dozens of breathtaking views.

Get ready to hit the trails like the Mist Trail or take on the epic challenge of Half Dome. The views are insane, and the journey itself is an adventure. The park entry is about $35 per vehicle, but the memories you’ll make are totally worth it. The best times to go are late spring and early summer when the waterfalls are absolutely jaw-dropping.


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Yosemite Valley’s meadows offer a laid-back haven, perfect for a leisurely day and a delightful picnic experience.

If you’re into rock climbing, Yosemite‘s got you covered with legendary spots like El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks. There are guided climbing tours too, perfect for beginners looking for a safe yet thrilling experience. Just a heads up – the weather in Yosemite can be all over the place, so pack layers and check the forecast before you head out.

For a more laid-back day, the meadows in Yosemite Valley are the perfect spot for a picnic. It’s all about kicking back and soaking in the beauty of nature. Yosemite is the place to push your limits, find some peace, and really connect with the great outdoors.

3. Disneyland and Universal Studios

For young adults seeking a dash of magic and a sprinkling of excitement, Disneyland and Universal Studios in California offer an iconic option for those searching for fun things to do in California.

Welcome to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” literally! Here, you’ll find a blend of classic attractions like the thrilling Space Mountain and the enchanting Pirates of the Caribbean. The park’s ticket prices vary, but expect to spend around $100 for a day of memories that’ll last a lifetime. For the ultimate experience, visit during Halloween or Christmas when the park transforms into a festive wonderland.

Disneyland and Universal Studios provide a unique convergence of fun, excitement, and childhood memories, offering distinct experiences for visitors
Disneyland and Universal Studios provide a unique convergence of fun, excitement, and childhood memories, offering distinct experiences for visitors

A short drive away, Universal Studios Hollywood invites young adults to immerse themselves in the world of movies and TV shows that we’ve all grown up with. The Studio Tour, a highlight of the park, takes you behind the scenes of famous movie sets. Don’t miss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can sip on Butterbeer and explore the magical Hogwarts castle. The best time to visit is on weekdays to avoid the crowds.

Both parks offer a unique experience where fun, excitement, and childhood memories converge.

4. Take a tour of Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is a journey into some seriously cool (but equally shocking) history, making it a top pick for young adults exploring California. Famous for its old federal prison and stories of notorious inmates and bold escapes, Alcatraz is a must-see for anyone into a bit of mystery and intrigue.

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Your trip to Alcatraz kicks off with a scenic ferry ride from Pier 33. Tickets are about $40, including the ferry and an audio tour, and it’s a good idea to book them ahead of time because they sell out fast. The audio tour is super immersive, with stories from former inmates and guards that really bring the eerie past of the prison to life.

Alcatraz appeals to history enthusiasts and adventure seekers with its intriguing past and mysteries to uncover.
Alcatraz appeals to history enthusiasts and adventure seekers with its intriguing past and mysteries to uncover.

Walking through the cell blocks, you can almost feel the history around you, picturing infamous prisoners like Al Capone and Robert Stroud. Plus, the island has some killer views of the San Francisco skyline – a dream for anyone into photography.

Hitting up Alcatraz is like stepping into a different part of American history. It’s a standout experience for young adults who love diving into the past, uncovering mysteries, and adding a bit of adventure to their travels.

5. Road Trip Along the Big Sur Coastline

Hitting the road along the Big Sur coastline is an epic Californian adventure, tailor-made for young adults looking for awesome experiences in California. Cruising down this legendary part of Highway 1, you’re in for some of the most jaw-dropping views and wild coastline vibes you can imagine.

The journey kicks off in Monterey and takes you straight into a world of stunning scenery. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Santa Lucia Mountains on the other, every twist and turn brings a new, mind-blowing view. Make sure to stop at the Bixby Creek Bridge for some epic photos. And don’t miss McWay Falls, where an 80-foot waterfall drops right onto a gorgeous beach.

A road trip along the Big Sur coastline is a visual highlight reel, showcasing California's most extraordinary landscapes
A road trip along the Big Sur coastline is a visual highlight reel, showcasing California’s most extraordinary landscapes

Spring or fall is the prime time for this road trip – the weather’s great, and it’s less crowded. And a pro tip: fill up your gas tank before you start, as gas stations are pretty rare along this more remote part of the coast.

A road trip on the Big Sur coastline is like a highlight reel of California’s most incredible landscapes. For young adults looking for unforgettable places to explore in California, this is definitely one for the bucket list.

6. Go Stargazing at Glacier Point in Yosemite

For young adults who dig the night sky, stargazing at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park is a magical experience and a top pick for cool things to do in California. This spot gives you an epic view of the Yosemite Valley, and under a starry sky, it’s absolutely surreal.

Glacier Point is a short drive away and offers a jaw-dropping panoramic view of Yosemite’s big hits like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the High Sierra. But the real show starts when the sun dips. The sky turns into this incredible display of stars and constellations, making you feel like you’re part of something much bigger.

Glacier Point offers one of the finest opportunities for stargazing, allowing a mesmerizing connection with the cosmos
Glacier Point offers one of the finest opportunities for stargazing, allowing a mesmerizing connection with the cosmos

Bringing along a telescope or binoculars is a game-changer, letting you get up close with the Milky Way and other night sky wonders. The new moon phase is the best time for stargazing since the sky’s at its darkest. Summer’s great for clear skies, but remember, Glacier Point Road is closed in winter, so check before you go.

Stargazing at Glacier Point is one of the best opportunities you’ll ever have to connect with the cosmos in one of the most stunning places on the planet.

7. Kayak in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is an ideal destination for young adults in California, blending adventure with stunning natural beauty. Famous for its crystal-clear waters, this alpine lake is perfect for kayaking, offering a unique perspective on its picturesque surroundings.

As you kayak across Lake Tahoe, you’re greeted by breathtaking mountain views and a tranquil atmosphere. It’s an intimate way to connect with nature, whether you’re smoothly gliding over the water or pausing to take in the stunning scenery. For those seeking more excitement, stand-up paddleboarding is a fun and engaging challenge, navigating the gentle waves.

Lake Tahoe emerges as a perfect destination for California's young adults, seamlessly combining adventure with breathtaking natural beauty.
Lake Tahoe emerges as a perfect destination for California’s young adults, seamlessly combining adventure with breathtaking natural beauty.

The shores of Lake Tahoe also cater to hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts. Trails like the Flume Trail are suited for various skill levels and provide incredible vistas. Summer is the prime season to visit, with warm weather and welcoming waters.

Local outfitters provide kayak rentals and guided tours, typically priced around $60 for a half-day excursion. When preparing for a day on the lake, essentials like sunscreen and hydration are important, especially under the bright mountain sun.

8. Lost Property Bar, Hollywood

If you’re cruising through Hollywood and looking for a spot that’s off the beaten path but iconic in these parts, you’ve got to check out Lost Property Bar. Tucked away right at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine, this place is a true hidden gem in the bustling heart of LA.

Walking into Lost Property, you’re immediately hit with a vibe that’s both retro and effortlessly cool. Think dark, intimate, with a touch of old Hollywood glamor. The walls are adorned with vintage finds and quirky memorabilia, making it feel like you’ve stepped into a secret time capsule.

Lost Property stands out for its laid-back atmosphere, creating a distinct and relaxed vibe for visitors. | Image Credit: Tripadvisor
Lost Property stands out for its laid-back atmosphere, creating a distinct and relaxed vibe for visitors. | Image Credit: Tripadvisor

But let’s talk drinks – because, honestly, that’s what we’re here for, right? The cocktail menu is a mixologist’s dream, featuring unique concoctions that are as Instagram-worthy as they are delicious. Whether you’re into classic cocktails or looking to try something new and edgy, they’ve got you covered.

What really sets Lost Property apart is its laid-back atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where you can kick back with friends, enjoy some top-notch drinks, and maybe even strike up a conversation with a local or fellow traveler. And if you’re lucky, you might just stumble upon one of their impromptu live music sessions. This certainly adds the perfect soundtrack to your Hollywood night.

9. Coachella Music Festival

Now this one is, admittedly, very seasonal. Held annually in the Colorado Desert, this cultural phenomenon attracts young adults from all over the world, so it’s a great choice for those looking for fun things to do in California.

Coachella is known for its diverse lineup, featuring genres ranging from indie and rock to electronic and hip-hop. Beyond the music, the festival is a canvas for artistic expression, showcasing large-scale art installations and interactive exhibits.

Coachella transcends a mere event; it's a cultural rite of passage, weaving unforgettable moments into the tapestry of young adulthood.
Coachella transcends a mere event; it’s a cultural rite of passage, weaving unforgettable moments into the tapestry of young adulthood.

Attending Coachella is also about embracing the festival lifestyle. From camping under the stars to joining in on eyebrow-raising wellness events, the experience extends far beyond the stages. The festival’s fashion scene is a highlight in itself, with attendees often sporting creative and bohemian styles.

Tickets for Coachella can sell out quickly, so plan ahead. Prices vary, but a general admission pass typically starts around $400. The festival usually takes place over two consecutive weekends in April, offering the same lineup each weekend.

Coachella is like a rite of passage for so many young adults. So come along to enjoy incredible music, freedom of expression and create memories that last a lifetime!

10. Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign is like ticking off a major item on your California adventure list, especially for young adults. It’s right up there with visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, offering a mix of a fun hike, awesome views, and that classic Hollywood vibe.

There are a few different trails to choose from, but the Griffith Park route is a favorite. It’s a manageable hike for most fitness levels. As you make your way up, you’re treated to some epic panoramic views of Los Angeles, making every step worth it.

Young adults seeking a blend of exercise, history, and breathtaking views in California must embark on the Hollywood Sign hike.
Young adults seeking a blend of exercise, history, and breathtaking views in California must embark on the Hollywood Sign hike.

Getting to the sign itself feels like a real achievement. You’re right there with those iconic letters, and it’s the perfect spot for some legendary photos. To beat the heat and the crowds, try hitting the trail early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

The hike’s free, but come prepared. Bring water, sunscreen, and wear comfy shoes. It can take a couple of hours to complete the whole thing, so plan your day around it.

For young adults looking for a cool mix of exercise, history, and some of the best views in California, the Hollywood Sign hike is a total must-do. It’s not just a hike; it’s a chance to experience a piece of Hollywood magic.

11. Go for a stroll at Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is an iconic hangout spot for young adults in California. Located right on the stunning Santa Monica coastline, this famous pier is a hotspot of fun, food, and beachside vibes.

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At the heart of the pier is Pacific Park, a classic amusement park where you can ride a solar-powered Ferris wheel that offers insane views of the Pacific. The roller coaster and carnival games crank up the fun. This makes it a great place to chill with friends and have a blast.

Santa Monica Pier symbolizes California's lively culture, attracting young adults for enjoyable rides and a vibrant atmosphere.
Santa Monica Pier symbolizes California’s lively culture, attracting young adults for enjoyable rides and a vibrant atmosphere.

As evening rolls in, the pier comes alive with street performers and live music, capturing that energetic California spirit. Just a short walk away, Third Street Promenade is perfect for a bit of shopping or grabbing a bite, with everything from laid-back cafes to fancy restaurants.

Santa Monica Pier is like the symbol of California’s fun and vibrant culture. It’s the go-to place for young adults to enjoy cool rides, check out marine life, and get into the lively local scene. If you’re looking for a place to kick back and have some fun in California, this is it.

12. Surf in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, famously known as “Surf City USA,” is a paradise for surf enthusiasts. It’s also one of the most thrilling activities in California for young adults. This iconic beach town in Southern California is renowned for its consistent waves, surf culture, and laid-back beach community.

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a newbie eager to catch your first wave, Huntington Beach offers the perfect setting. The city’s long stretch of sandy beach creates dream conditions for surfing, with spots suitable for various skill levels. Surf schools and rental shops are in no short supply, offering lessons and equipment for those looking to give it a try. A typical surf lesson costs around $80 to $100, but they’ll show you all the ropes to getting started.

Huntington Beach epitomizes California's surf culture, making it a must-visit for young adults seeking enjoyable activities in the state.
Huntington Beach epitomizes California’s surf culture, making it a must-visit for young adults seeking enjoyable activities in the state.

Beyond surfing, the Huntington Beach Pier is a landmark in itself. Stretching 1,850 feet into the Pacific Ocean, it’s a great place to stroll, people-watch, and soak in the stunning ocean views. The beachfront also hosts dozens of events throughout the year, including pro surf competitions.

Huntington Beach embodies the quintessential California surf culture. This makes it a must-visit for young adults looking for fun things to do in California for 18-year-olds and above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Things To Do in California For Young Adults

Looking to learn more about the top things to do in CA for twenty-somethings? Here are some common questions I get a lot about the best attractions and activities for young adults.

What is California famous for?

California, known as the Golden State, is famous for its diverse landscapes, ranging from stunning beaches to majestic mountains. It’s celebrated for iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, renowned theme parks such as Disneyland, and its vibrant cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. The state is also a hub for entertainment, technology, and a rich cultural melting pot. This makes it a top destination for fun things to do in California for young adults.

What part of California is most fun?

The definition of ‘fun’ can vary. But Southern California, with its sunny beaches, theme parks, and dynamic cities, is definitely the most fun. It’s a region where you can find a variety of activities in California for young adults. This includes everything from surfing in Huntington Beach to exploring the nightlife in Hollywood.

How many days are enough to explore California?

Ideally, a two-week trip allows a comprehensive exploration of California’s diverse attractions. This duration provides ample time to visit major destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It also includes natural wonders like Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe. However, for those with limited time, even a week-long trip can cover several fun things to do with friends in California.

What is the best way to travel around California?

Renting a car is often considered the best way to travel around California, especially for visiting multiple destinations. It offers flexibility and the opportunity to enjoy scenic drives like the Pacific Coast Highway. For longer distances, internal flights can save time. Additionally, major cities have reliable public transportation systems for young adult things to do within urban areas.

California, renowned for its tourist-friendly environment, boasts diverse accommodations, varied dining choices, and numerous attractions catering to diverse interests.
California, renowned for its tourist-friendly environment, boasts diverse accommodations, varied dining choices, and numerous attractions catering to diverse interests.

Which part of California has the most activities for young adults?

Los Angeles and the surrounding area boast a high concentration of activities for young adults. From the entertainment options in Hollywood to the beaches of Santa Monica and the cultural experiences downtown, Los Angeles is a treasure trove of attractions for young adults.

Is California tourist-friendly?

Absolutely. California is known for being tourist-friendly, with a wide range of accommodations, diverse dining options, and numerous attractions catering to different interests. The state is equipped with tourist information centers. It also has a well-established infrastructure to assist visitors in finding fun places to go in California.

What is the best time of year to visit California?

The best time to visit California largely depends on the activities you’re interested in. For beach activities and coastal exploration, summer (June to August) is ideal.

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However, for fewer crowds and pleasant weather, spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) are excellent choices, especially for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring fun activities in California for adults.

Conclusion: California Dreaming – Your Adventure Awaits

Hitting the road in California is like jumping into a live-action adventure. It’s where every moment is part of an epic story of excitement, awe, and exploration. This adventure is perfect for young adults, offering a mix of heart-racing theme park thrills, peaceful hikes in national parks, and chill vibes on iconic beaches.

Wrapping up our journey through the best spots for young adults in California, it’s clear that the Golden State is all about finding yourself and having a blast while doing it. California invites you to immerse yourself in its dynamic culture, groove to the beat of its bustling cities, and seize the endless opportunities it throws your way.

So, let your passions guide you as you discover the wonders of California. Whether you’re catching epic sunsets on the beach or gazing at stars in the wild, remember that in California, every second is a chance to dream big, explore more, and craft stories that you’ll remember forever. The Golden State isn’t just a place to visit; it’s where you’re encouraged to live out your boldest California dreams.

The best things to do for young adults in California for all types of travelers
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