California — Overview
The glamour of Hollywood extends well beyond the borders of Los Angeles, infecting the entire state of California with celebrities, iconic landscapes, and trendy metropolitan wonder. From the balmy beaches of southern California to the soupy fog of San Francisco and northwards into the wild redwood forests and dramatic Pacific coastline, this state really does have it all.
Unless you’ve got a month to spare, you won’t be able to cover all of this lengthy state. So pick a region or two, rent a car, and get lost in magical California. Surf the casual breaks along Orange Beach, hike the Sierras, or gawk at the wood and granite cathedrals of Yosemite National Park. California is a nature lover’s paradise.
But unlike some other scenic American states, California also oozes culture, style, and sophistication. The state has its own genre of cuisine, the nation’s top wine region, and a very long list of cool, relaxed beaches and hideaways that warrant a lingering visit. Spa resorts are a big part of the draw here, but nothing really comes cheap in California so prepare to loosen the purse strings.
Even if you base yourself in one of the wonderfully entertaining cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco, it’s still easy to reach wild state parks, the coast, or small country towns in an hour. It’s this mix of nature and culture that really turns on the appeal in California. Some of its trendiest towns are quiet, friendly places where wineries grow grapes, brewers craft beer, and dairy farmers churn out gourmet cheeses.
Getting around California is a breeze – literally, if you rent a convertible and cruise the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. Driving is definitely the way to go due to the scope of highlights off the beaten path. But the Amtrak runs a sweet line right along the Pacific coast that offers a scenic and comfortable way to hop between towns. Or if you’re really in a rush, fly to cover more distance between Northern and Southern Cali.
- Watch the sun set at any of the 100 of so beaches along the coast
- Hike through alpine valleys in Yosemite or Sequoia national parks
- Tour the wineries of Napa, Sonoma, and other hidden valleys in northern California
- Explore San Francisco’s diverse tapestry of neighborhoods
- Search for movie stars out for their morning coffee in Los Angeles
- Walk slowly and softly through the cathedrals of redwood forests along the central and northern coast
- Hit the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe or Big Bear in winter