If you’ve missed it, my Facebook group, Travelers Tell All (yes, please join), has been running tournaments to keep ourselves amused while we can’t travel. We first decided what the best city in the world was, then the best US national park, the best man-made wonder, the best museum in the world, and the best natural wonder in the world. Now it’s time to delve into my home, California, with the ultimate California bucket list! There were no qualifications for who could vote, or criteria they had to use. It was just a plain old popularity contest!

There is so much to do and see in California, and narrowing this to 64 was tough. I also made each thing an action, so it wasn’t just Golden Gate Bridge, but “walking across the Golden Gate.” Spicy, no?

I divided the tournament into four “regionals,” seeded one to sixteen, and named after four of the “official” California things: Golden, Grizzly, Poppy, and Quail. The seeding is fairly arbitrary, made by me based on what I think should be seeded where, not necessarily how I would personally rank things. Let’s examine the results by regional.

Italics won in the first round. Underlined italics won in the second round. Bold underlined italics advanced to the regional final by winning in the third round.

Golden Regional

The Golden regional first round looked like this:

(1) Driving up Pacific Coast Highway vs (16) Seeing the last street in the country alphabetically, Zzyzx Rd.

(8) Watching the swallows at Mission San Juan Capistrano vs (9) Eating chocolate in SF’s Ghirardelli Square

(5) Kayaking in the Channel Islands (12) Eating Korean BBQ in LA’s Koreatown

(4) Feeling Danish in Solvang vs (13) Experiencing Pride in SF’s Castro

(3) Feeling tiny next to giant sequoias vs (14) Staying at the Madonna Inn

(6) Riding one of San Francisco’s cable cars vs (11) Taking a helicopter to Catalina

(7) Touring a movie studio vs (10) Hiking the John Muir Trail

(2) Having a magical day at Disneyland vs (15) Having the best fish tacos in San Diego

This regional was the only one that went mostly according to seed, with the 3 and 1 seeds meeting in the final.

Regional Winner: (3) Sequoias def (1) Pacific Coast Highway

Biggest Surprise: None, really, unless PCH losing in the regional final counts.

Huge trees are among everyone’s most iconic things in California.

Grizzly Regional

The Grizzly regional first round looked like this:

(1) Skiing and surfing in a single day vs (16) Eating cioppino in San Francisco

(8) Watching wildlife at SD’s Safari Park vs (9) Remembering sad history at Manzanar

(5) Exploring the galaxy at the Griffith Observatory vs (12) Hanging out with elephant seals in San Simeon

(4) Visiting the lowest point in North America at Death Valley vs (13) Catching a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign

(3) Seeing how the elite lived at Hearst Castle vs (14) Getting lost in SF’s Chinatown

(6) Attending a live show taping vs (11) Grabbing seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf

(7) Dining at the French Laundry vs (10) Partying in the Hollywood Hills

(2) Walking across the Golden Gate vs (15) Stopping at a roadside fruit stand

A mess from the start, as the top seed went down in the first round, I am shocked the Golden Gate didn’t emerge.

Regional Winner: (3) Hearst Castle def (8) Safari Park

Biggest Surprise: The 16 winning a match, but the 8 seed Safari Park making the regional final was also a shock.

Hearst Castle

Poppy Regional

The Poppy regional first round looked like this:

(1) Marveling at the grandeur of Yosemite vs (16) Visiting the only Thai Town in the world

(8) Rafting on the American River vs (9) Enjoying the coastline of Point Reyes

(5) Taking the haunted tour of the Queen Mary vs (12) Farming for your own fruit

(4) Seeing the best aquarium in the world, the Monterey Bay Aquarium vs (13) Checking out weird rock formations at Mono Lake

(3) Trying garlic ice cream at the Gilroy Garlic Festival vs (14) Checking out free art at the Getty

(6) Panning for gold vs (11) Running in the iconic Bay to Breakers

(7) Having a double double at In N Out vs (10) Touring the Winchester Mystery House

(2) Seeing the stars of Hollywood Blvd. vs (15) Getting your berry on at the CA Strawberry Festival

What a mess. Of the top eight seeds, only the 1 and 4 won their first match. Yosemite cruised, but really, are you shocked? The Getty meeting it in the final was a surprise, though

Regional Winner: (1) Yosemite def (14) Getty

Biggest Surprise: So so many. The 14 seed won three matches, the 15 won two. Most high seeds lost early.

Yosemite. One of my happy places.

Quail Regional

The Quail regional first round looked like this:

(1) Wine tasting in Napa vs (16) Seeing the world’s largest thermometer in Baker

(8) Renting a boat on Lake Tahoe vs (9) Riding the roller coaster at the Santa Monica Pier

(5) Catching a poppy superbloom vs (12) Watching a film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

(4) Spotting a celebrity in Beverly Hills vs (13) Taking a break from driving at Pea Soup Andersen’s

(3) Escaping from Alcatraz vs (14) Driving Monterey’s iconic 17 Mile Drive

(6) Visiting a unique desert in Joshua Tree vs (11) Touring the Jelly Belly factory

(7) Enjoying the gardens and museums of Balboa Park vs (10) Seeing unique art at the Pageant of the Masters

(2) Rocking out at Coachella vs (15) Taking your photo in front of the Full House house

Another weird regional, where the top four seeds were out after round two, and the final was 7 vs 8.

Regional Winner: (7) Balboa Park def (8) Lake Tahoe

Biggest Surprise: The 7 and 8 seeds meeting in the final, but also the severe underperformance of Napa wine tasting, which I thought was the favorite to win the whole thing!

Don’t miss a poppy superbloom!

Final Four

Match One: (3) Sequoias def (3) Hearst Castle

Match Two: (1) Yosemite def (7) Balboa Park

Final: (1) Yosemite def (3) Sequoias

So Yosemite wins, making it the first double winner in these tournaments (it also won best national park). It is my favorite place in California, so I agree! What is your pick for top California bucket list item?

Like it? Pin it!

Leave a Reply