1. California Offers Fun in Every Season. In California, you’ll find snow, sun and more – often at the same time. Spring is bursting with wildflowers and orchard blossoms, plus the annual gray whale migration. Summer brings fun in the sun, and is the perfect time to hit the beach for the quintessential California experience. Fall foliage or leaf peeping has become popular in California, bringing gorgeous red, gold and yellow to roadside and countryside, while harvest delivers an incredible bounty of wine and food. Winter is a blast, with the best spots for skiing and snowboarding, in addition to (literally) mountains of fun for the entire family. And, with snow lasting in many places until July, you can ski and surf in one day, only an hour apart!

2. Discover Breathtaking Views in California. Breathtaking vistas abound in California, whether in the city or off the beaten path. From the Top of the Hyatt Bar in San Diego (in the tallest building on the West Coast waterfront) to Death Valley’s Telescope Peak (where you can see for more than 100 miles), California offers the best and most beautiful views. Visitors will also enjoy views of Lake Tahoe from Heavenly’s zip line or gondola, and a 360-degree view of San Francisco from the Top of the Mark. And, from one of many lighthouses perched on the stunning California coastline, travelers can watch surfers, boats and even whales!

3. Find Thrills and Chills Aplenty in California. Ghost towns and haunted houses can be found throughout California and give curious visitors chills up their spines. Get spooked at Bodie State Historic Park and Moss Beach Distillery, or stay at haunted inns and hotels, including the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Mendocino Hotel & Garden Suites or National Hotel in Jamestown. California also offers tons of Halloween activities for adults and families alike, including at LEGOLAND and SeaWorld. Another family-friendly option for thrills and chills is Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion – you’ll feel right at “tomb.”

4. California’s Literary Giants. Over the years, California has provided inspiration to countless artists and authors. Visit the homes of such literary celebrities as Mark Twain, Eugene O’Neal, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Saroyan, Will Rogers and Robinson Jeffers, among others. Walk down Monterey’s Cannery Row, which inspired John Steinbeck’s classic novel, or visit the nearby National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. Up north, visit Jack London State Historic Park with a view of Sonoma Mountain, or check out Jack London Square on Oakland’s waterfront. Track down the sights and sounds that inspired your favorite writers!

8. Cook and Crush with the Best in California. Whether learning the wine trade at Crushpad in San Francisco or receiving cooking classes from famous chefs, California is the perfect place to learn more about your favorite wine and food. With award-winners by the dozen and incredible opportunities to taste, tour and learn, California’s wine country spreads across the state and is the stuff of wine lovers’ dreams. Any winery can teach the exact science of wine tasting, while winemaker dinners detail the fine points of food pairing. Make your own dinner with Cavallo Point’s hands-on cooking classes, or take classes in raw vegan cuisine at the Fort Bragg Living Light Culinary Arts Institute.

6. Find Geologic Wonders Across California. California is home to some of the most amazing natural wonders in the world. Lava Beds National Monument, where astronauts trained in the ’60s, features an incredibly rugged landscape – as well as the extensive lava tube caves. Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen are both old volcanoes, with unique features that make for amazing hikes. Near Los Angeles, Vasquez Rocks in Palmdale are part of the infamous San Andreas Fault, and have been featured in numerous movies due to their jagged, jutting edges. And, at Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, the knobby tufa towers can stand over 30 feet tall – and only grow underwater.

7. Try a Unique California Tour. With so many things to see and do in California, why not let a tour do all the work for you? Guided trips abound in every region, for every type of activity. Enjoy your evening with a night tour through the desert, or if you’re on the spooky side, go on a Vampire Tour of San Francisco. Starline City Sightseeing offers loops through Hollywood, Downtown L.A. and Santa Monica, as well as Movie Star Homes tours. At Alcatraz in San Francisco, new garden tours reveal the “softer side of the rock,” while All About Chinatown take you on a cultural, historical and culinary journey. Specialized tours take aspiring foodies through the hottest farmer’s markets or to exclusive wineries. Let someone else plan the trip, and just sit back and enjoy the ride!

8. New Family-Friendly California Adventures. California means fun for the whole family, from theme parks to zoos and aquariums. There’s always a new sight, ride and attraction – here’s a taste of what’s new! In Southern California, Six Flags Magic Mountain unveiled the latest addition to its supreme coaster dynasty with the debut of Terminator Salvation: The Ride, while the newest addition in the heart of Hollywood is Madame Tussauds. Head to B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena for baby zebras, the Santa Barbara Zoo for the new $6 million condor exhibit, and the San Diego Wild Animal Park for a soaring zipline ride. Finally, don’t miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Secret Lives of Seahorses,” or the fantastic new California Academy of Sciences.

9. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in California. California is the perfect place to get your sugar fix – from the finest artesian chocolates to fun and innovative candy makers, come see the sweet side of California. For true chocolate magic, try the Mendocino Chocolate Company, Pasadena’s Leonidas Chocolate CafĂ©, San Diego’s Chuao Chocolatier or Recchiuti Confections in San Francisco. Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab in Arroyo Grande offers signature flavors like birthday cake and honey almond, while the Jelly Belly Factory offers free tours in Fairfield. And, for the child in everyone, the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia showcases hundreds of the classic candy containers.

10. Find History in California. California’s rich history stems from new opportunities and chasing dreams, and the people who make them happen. In the late 1700s, 21 Spanish missions were built, stretching north from San Diego to Sonoma. Travelers can follow the mission trail to learn about California’s native peoples and architecture and experience living history. Travelers looking for California’s Old West flavor can find many activities including guest ranches, cattle drives, horseback riding, wagon trains, historical towns and museums, while Gold Country is full of “Eureka” moments (don’t miss Placerville, formerly known as “Hangtown.” In Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum pays tribute to the original commute.

11. Enjoy a Complete Green Trip in California. Visitors look to a California vacation as the perfect way to minimize their environmental footprint. Enjoy a complete green trip, from a stay at Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco, an environmentally sustainable luxury resort hotel, to a meal at countless restaurants that produce the finest array of organic, slow, vegetarian, vegan and sustainable food. Try the Ukiah Brewing Company, the first certified-organic brewpub, or the gourmet vegan Ravens’ Restaurant. Rent a hybrid car, then play at Universal Studios’ green rides or at San Francisco’s eco-friendly Temple Nightclub. In Santa Monica, visitors can make their own energy riding the Pacific Wheel, while Heavenly Resort in Lake Tahoe participates in a number of green initiatives.

12. Oceanfront Fun in California. With its 1,264-mile-long coastline, California’s waterfront offers plenty of room for all kinds of adventures. The Santa Monica Pier and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk feature rides and attractions, while San Francisco’s Pier 39 and Monterey’s Cannery Row feature incredible shopping and dining. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is perched on the edge of the Pacific, as is Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla. Explore the waterfront districts in Stockton or Oakland, or stay at one of many coastal hotels throughout the state. Visitors will also find adventures on California lakes and rivers, such as Sacramento’s Delta King Riverboat.

13. Celebrate California’s Cultural Landmarks. Home to an enormously diverse population, California is saturated with reminders of its cultural heritage. From the 21 missions to old mining towns, history abounds. Additionally, California’s diverse hotspots range from the Castro’s rainbow-flagged streets and Salinas’ National Steinbeck Center to destinations such as the Contemporary Jewish Museum, California African American Museum, Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, San Francisco Asian Art Museum and Japanese Tea Gardens, San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, Mexican Cultural Center of Northern California, National Chavez Center, California State Indian Museum and Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum. Find more information at visitcalifornia.com/culture.

14. Walk, Pedal, Fly in California. In addition to the ever-popular California road trip, visitors love trying new ways to travel across the Golden State. With bike paths and greenways across the state, group rides or cycling on your own can be a great way to see California. Big cities such as San Francisco and San Diego are definitely pedestrian friendly, while Amtrak or smaller trains (try the Skunk Train or Napa Valley Wine Train) can be a fun way to see large chunks of the state. Visitors can also ride horses, hitch a helicopter or hot air balloon ride, or enjoy the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for unique ways of seeing the state.

15. Unscripted California – Reality Check! Visitors are flocking to California to see where their favorite reality TV shows are filmed. It all started in “Laguna Beach” (the real Orange County), but “The Hills” of Los Angeles are a popular destination. Les Deux near Hollywood is a popular hangout, as, of course, are Pinkberry and Katsuya. West Hollywood is home to High Voltage Tattoo from TLC’s “L.A. Ink,” plus the newest season of “Project Runway” is making Los Angeles its home. And, for Food Network lovers, shows like “Food Network Challenge,” “Road Tasted” and “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” bring visitors to St. Helena, Sacramento, Napa and Santa Rosa.

16. California Bargain Shopping Adventures. Shopping in California can be a chance to score some incredible steals and deals. Find name brands like Calvin Klein, Benetton, Coach and Juicy Couture for less at outlet malls in Gilroy, Folsom and L.A. (Citadel). For thrift stores, Buffalo Exchange has numerous locations throughout California, while Crossroads Trading Co. in San Francisco’s Haight is a local favorite. The Orange County Marketplace in Costa Mesa and Denio’s in Roseville are huge swap meets, flea markets and farmer’s markets rolled into one. Don’t forget, you can often barter at farmer’s markets and flea markets – so the quality of the deal is up to you.

17. Living Large Without Spending Big. Living large in California doesn’t mean emptying your wallet – you can find your dream vacation just around the corner, or take advantage of wallet-friendly transportation like Amtrak to get out of town. Start in your own backyard – explore parks, museums and galleries. Elsewhere, look for deals and promotional offers – Disneyland offers free admission on your birthday.

 

Vacation in California.  Call for reservations: 800-216-1482.

 

 

 
 


 

 

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