• California is full of natural wonders, scenic views, and tourist attractions that draw in visitors from around the globe.
  • While photos of these places usually appear glamorous online, not all of them look as impressive in real life.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, for example, is often covered by fog, making it hard to actually see the landmark.
  • The Hollywood Sign is an iconic symbol in Los Angeles, but you’ll need to be prepared to hike quite a distance if you want to see it up close.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Some of California’s most popular tourist destinations don’t always live up to expectations. Large crowds, underwhelming historical sites, and tourist traps make for disappointing photos that don’t quite match the picturesque views seen on the internet.

Keep scrolling to see what these 17 tourist hotspots look like in real life.

San Diego is known for its stunning coastline and white sand.

Foto: La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California.sourceStephen Simpson/Getty Images

But the city’s beaches are not as picturesque when you consider the amount of seaweed that washes up on the shore.

Foto: The shore can sometimes be covered in seaweed.sourceGloria V Moeller/Shutterstock

The Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see when visiting San Francisco.

Foto: The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California is a popular tourist destination.sourceEd Freeman/Getty Images

But most of the time it’s covered in fog, so you won’t actually be able to see much.

Foto: The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, covered in fog.sourceJoe Robbins/Getty Images

The famous Hollywood Sign looks just like it does on the silver screen.

Foto: The Hollywood Sign is instantly recognizable in Los Angeles, California.source4kclips/Shutterstock

But getting up close to the sign is not for the faint of heart, as it requires a nearly three-hour round-trip hike.

Foto: Visitors will have to hike up a large mountain to get an up-close view of the sign.sourceTobias Bäumler/EyeEm via Getty Images

People from all over the world travel to Salvation Mountain in Calipatria, California, to see the religious shrine’s decorative art and bright colors.

Foto: Salvation Mountain in Calipatria, California, is a hand-built art installation.sourceNagel Photography/Shutterstock

But visitors may be surprised to discover that it’s just a painted hill in the middle of the desert.

Foto: The mountain is located in California’s Colorado Desert.sourceStephen Bures/Shutterstock

Lombard Street in San Francisco, California, is famous for its curvy road that has eight sharp turns.

Foto: Lombard Street is known as the most crooked street in the world.sourcephotoquest7/Getty Images

But since its still an active public road, cars are constantly traveling down the one-way street, causing congestion.

Foto: Traffic is common on Lombard Street.sourceronniechua/Getty Images

Griffith Observatory offers spectacular views of Los Angeles.

Foto: The Griffith Observatory overlooks the Los Angeles basin.sourcef11photo/Shutterstock

But Los Angeles’ heavy layer of smog can make it difficult to enjoy the sights.

Foto: Heavy smog and pollution in Los Angeles obscure the view.sourceMario Tama/Getty Images

Disneyland in Anaheim, California, can be the perfect place to spend time with family and friends.

Foto: Disneyland is a short drive from Los Angeles.sourceJeff Gritchen/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Thousands of other people likely had the same idea, though.

Foto: Disneyland is usually packed on any given day.sourcePhoto by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

Universal CityWalk Hollywood comes to life in the evening with neon signs and bright colors.

Foto: Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, California, is a popular tourist destination.sourceArtography/Shutterstock

During the day, though, it’s an ordinary shopping plaza that’s not as entertaining.

Foto: It’s a bit more crowded during the day.sourceIdealphotographer/Shutterstock

Santa Monica Beach can be a serene place to watch the waves crash on the shore.

Foto: The sunset at Santa Monica Beach in California.sourceJon Bilous/Shutterstock

But most of the time, you’ll likely see more crowds than waves.

Foto: Santa Monica Beach can get packed.sourceJames D. Morgan/Contributor/Getty Images

Dolores Park is one of San Francisco’s most popular places to relax and enjoy views of the city.

Foto: Dolores Park in San Francisco, California.sourcePaper Cat/Shutterstock

But on a sunny day, it might be hard to find a spot to kick back.

Foto: There are usually large crowds on the weekends.sourceSan Francisco Brooke/Shutterstock

Joshua Tree National Park is like a whimsical desert oasis.

Foto: Joshua Tree National Park is located between the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert in Southern California.sourceKiskaMedia/Getty Images

But with nearly 800,000 acres of desert land to journey through, the view can get a little repetitive.

Foto: It’s also easy to get lost in the vast national park.sourceJames O’Neil/Getty Images

Venice Beach has become a tourist hotspot.

Foto: Many people visit Venice Beach for its famed boardwalk and ocean views.sourceXavier Arnau/Getty Images

But the area has also become overpopulated in recent years because of this reason.

Foto: The popular beach city is also grappling with a homelessness epidemic.sourceMichael Rosebrock/Shutterstock

Hoping to go on a tranquil water excursion through the Venice Canals?

Foto: The Venice Canal Historic District is located in Los Angeles, California.sourceAlexander Spatari/Getty Images

You’ll have to bring your own non-motorized watercraft because there are no official boat rentals available.

Foto: The Venice Canals are a short walk from Venice Beach.sourceFrédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Downtown Los Angeles has a great mix of high-rise buildings and famous historical landmarks.

Foto: Downtown Los Angeles, California is home to many of the city’s skyscrapers.sourcekenny hung photography/Getty Images

But it’s mostly underwhelming, as it’s predominantly filled with office buildings.

Foto: Many people work in the city.sourceJohnny Habell/Shutterstock

The stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are one of the main reasons tourists travel to the iconic, celebrity-filled city.

Foto: Stars line the sidewalk at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.sourceoneinchpunch/Shutterstock

But it’s basically a regular sidewalk, and your chances of seeing an actual celebrity are slim.

Foto: The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a popular reason to visit Hollywood, California.sourceAndrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

L.A. Live has plenty of nighttime entertainment options.

Foto: Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, L.A. is a premiere destination for events.sourceAlex Millauer/Shutterstock

But it’s also home to Staples Center, Microsoft Theatre, and the Novo — which means it can get crowded when events are happening.

Foto: L.A. Live can get too crowded at times.sourceralphh909/TripAdvisor

If you’re a “Full House” fan, the Painted Ladies in San Francisco make for the perfect photo op.

Foto: The Painted Ladies appear in the opening of the ’90s TV show “Full House.”sourceAndia/Contributor via Getty Images

But it might be difficult to capture that dream photo since people are constantly taking their own pictures in front of the homes.

Foto: The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, California, are popular.sourceDiegoMariottini/Shutterstock