California State Maps: Attractions and Sights

Map of California Places to Visit
Map of California Places to Visit.

Betsy Malloy Photography

You probably got here by searching for a map of California. Now that you have arrived, you might be wondering why should you stay here looking at these maps.

That's understandable. Most California maps you find just want to show you the geography: where the towns are and the highways that connect them.

That's fine for some things, but those simple-minded maps aren't the best for planning a trip to California, especially if you want to visit more than one place. 

Each of thee maps is the kind of map that a professional travel writer might create for their own trips, to help them understand what's where and start to get organized.

The map above shows just the most-visited places. Take a look. You may discover that Palm Springs is closer to San Diego than you thought - or that Lake Tahoe isn't close at all.

Why These California State Maps Are Different

The California state maps presented below cover the entire state. If you're looking for a map of a single location, scroll to the bottom of the page for a list.

All of these maps are custom made starting with Google maps but edited with visitors in mind, with the information presented in ways that a regular GPS or mapping app doesn't.

If you're an old school traveler, you may want your map on paper. Before there were online maps, the Thomas Guide series was the gold standard of California maps. They are very detailed, but some people find their page and grid system confusing and hard to work with. CSAA (AAA) members can pick up a California state map at their local office.

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Map of California's Major Highways

Major California Highways
Adapted from Google Maps

This map doesn't show all the highways in California; that's what Google maps are for. This map was created to help you in planning your travels across the state.

It shows all the big, major highways but without all the confusing details. You might find it helpful if you're planning a big road trip and need to sketch out a route. It will help you to know that California is about 800 miles from north to south and 200 miles wide, east to west.

From the map, it's also easy to see how the two mountain ranges that run north/south through California slice the state into three parts with few ways to get from one to the other. That means that the drive from Fresno to Mammoth Lakes is almost 400 miles, even though they are 100 miles apart on the map.

To get more information about getting around California, go to the California Highway Map Page.

Continue to 2 of 6 below.
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California Regions Map

California Regions Map
Adapted from Google Maps

It's impossible to show everything to do in a state that covers more than 160,000 miles on a single map. This map breaks the state down into regions.

To drill down to easy-to-read lists of places to visit in each area, click on over to Californa areas guide.

Continue to 3 of 6 below.
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Map of the California Coast

Map of the California Coast
Adapted from Google Maps

Many California visitors never get away from the coast. This map of the California coast was created just with them in mind.

It shows all the most popular places along the Pacific Coast, from Mexico to Oregon. To get tips for driving along the coast and a big list of things you can do along the way, use the map guide to the California coast.

Continue to 4 of 6 below.
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California Lighthouse Map

Map of California Lighthouses

Quite a few beautiful coastal lighthouses are still standing along the California coast. 

This map shows all of them that you can visit. It is part of the guide to touring California's lighthouses.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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California Missions Map

The early Spanish priests built 21 missions in California, and all of them survive until today. This map shows where all of them are located. 

If you want more information about each of them, use the California missions map and guide

Continue to 6 of 6 below.
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More California Maps

Hipster Friends Sitting in Retro Van Looking at Map
wundervisuals / Getty Images

More California State Maps

These California maps at Google are available to anyone who wants to use them:

  • California Relief Map: This map is especially helpful for understanding California. Not only its highs and lows but how the mountains divide the state — and why it can sometimes be so far to travel from place to place, even though they look close together.
  • Driving the San Andreas Fault: Every place you can see the famous geological feature from south to north, including big cracks in the earth, fences torn apart by earthquakes and mountains that have moved hundreds of miles.
  • Route 66 in California: How to follow the iconic highway from the California border, across the desert to the end of the road in Santa Monica, with every sight still worth seeing along the Mother Road.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright in California: This map shows every surviving house and building in California that was designed by the famous architect. Some of them are in places that may surprise you.

Maps of California Places