Travel & Day Trips

The 10 Best Instagram Photo Spots in California

Are you a budding influencer on Instagram? Planning some California travel and looking for amazing spots to photograph for social media?

New data released by Family Destinations Guide shows the best spots in California to take Instagram photos, based on the analysis of millions of Instagram hashtags and location tags.

Millions of photos have been taken from these iconic locations, so the next time you travel to California, you can take photos in the same place, too, while adding your personal style.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National park

4.8 Million hashtags

Yosemite National Park is one of the jewels of the US national park system, and one of the best national parks in California. With sites ranging from the iconic Half Dome mountain to beautiful forests and giant redwood trees, Yosemite has a wide variety of beautiful places to photograph.

The park’s dramatic waterfalls are one of the most popular Instagram subjects. That said, anywhere you travel in Yosemite, you’re likely to see some dramatic scenery.

The good news is that visiting Yosemite is generally not expensive. If you’re traveling to California, it’s definitely a place you need to stop and see.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach nightlife

4.4 Million Hashtags

Venice Beach in Los Angeles is another popular place to take Instagram photos. Sure, you can capture pictures of yourself lounging on the SoCal sand and soaking up some rays!

But another popular attraction in Venice Beach is the boardwalk, and also the Muscle Beach area, where budding bodybuilders work out in public. Cyclists cruising by the beach, dramatic waves, and surfers on the Pacific Ocean make for beautiful photos taken in Venice Beach.

Venice Beach is also a neighborhood, not just a beach. That means there’s lot of nightlife and cool local restaurants and bars to photograph.

Lots of people staying near Legoland or Disneyland head up to Los Angeles for a day to check out the beach scene.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio

4.3 Million Hashtags

Tourists and visitors to San Francisco, California have been photographing the Golden Gate Bridge ever since it opened in the 1930s. The bridge has been featured in family travel photos for generations, so it’s not surprising that it’s also one of the most popular Instagram photo spots in California.

If you’re traveling to San Francisco, make sure to get at least a few snapshots of the bridge. You can photograph it from the Presidio or other locations close to the bay.

One of the best ways to photograph the bridge, however, is to rent a bike and bike across. From the middle of the span, you can capture beautiful, Instagram-ready photos of downtown San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, and more.

Just a bit South of the bridge on the coast, Half Moon Bay is a great place for coastal Bay Area photography, too.

Lake Tahoe

Blue waters of Lake Tahoe

2.8 Million Hashtags

Lake Tahoe is the fourth most popular Instagram spot in California. The lake is vast, so there’s plenty of wonderful spots to get a unique shot.

One of the coolest photographs to take is of the deep blue lake with snow-covered mountains in the background. Talk about amazing photographic contrasts!

Some of the scenic overlooks in the southern part of the lake are incredible Instagram photo spots as well. Of course, you could also rent a boat and take some photos from the middle of the lake. Keep in mind that Lake Tahoe is extremely cold, even late into the season, so swimming and beach shots might not be in the cards here!

More Great California Photo Spots

Those are the top four, but there are a wide variety of other great California Instagram photo spots according to the data.

Here’s the full list of the most popular California spots for Instagram photos from Family Destination Guides‘ study.

Tourist destinationInstagram hashtags
Yosemite National Park4,800,000
Venice Beach4,401,000
Golden Gate Bridge4,300,000
Lake Tahoe2,810,000
Disneyland Park2,469,000
Big Sur Coastline1,489,000
Santa Monica Pier1,471,000
Death Valley National Park1,304,000
Alcatraz Island1,259,000
The Hollywood Sign978,000
Courtesy Family Destinations Guide

In Conclusion

With its dramatic mountains and scenery, iconic public works, and amazing national parks, California lends itself to photographs. The clean air and dramatic light make your Instagram photos pop, no filter required!

If you’re planning to travel to California, make sure to add these iconic photo spots to your Instagram photo list. 

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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