People have flocked to California ever since the gold rush began in 1849 and today the Golden State's allure continues thanks to its diverse natural beauty, dazzling cities, celebrated coastlines, favourable climate, fantastic food and wine experiences.
When it comes to big city fun, California's urban hotspots shine. Undeniably one of the world's great cities San Francisco is known for its sparkling bay, iconic crimson bridge, quirky neighbourhoods and trundling cable cars scaling the steep streets. Sprawling Los Angeles offers a wide range of attractions from the fun-filled theme parks of Disneyland and Universal Studios to the glitzy Beverly Hills shops and celebrity homes and the palm-fringed beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu. Located just north of the Mexican border San Diego is a large coastal city with a small town atmosphere where you'll find an array of fabulous beaches, an ideal climate and outstanding family attractions.
Nature looms large in World Heritage listed Yosemite National Park, a vast wilderness with miles of rivers, lakes, waterfalls, peaks and valleys while further south Death Valley National Park is an awe-inspiring land of volcanic craters, brilliantly-coloured rock formations and desolate salt flats. You can't get any lower than this in the western hemisphere and, in summer, you can't get much hotter. Other natural attractions include the impressive grandeur of the giant sequoia forests at Sequoia National Park; the forest-rimmed Lake Tahoe which straddles the border with Nevada and attracts outdoor enthusiasts year round; and Joshua Tree National Park where you can glimpse the curious flora and fauna of the Mojave Desert.
The spectacular beauty of the rugged coastline at Big Sur extends about 100 miles south from Monterey. Here, the Coastal Mountains dip directly into the Pacific Ocean to form some magnificent scenery with sea cliffs, rocky headlands and tiny beaches. Twisting Highway 1 hugs the mountain slopes and offers exquisite vistas at every turn and is one of the great road trips in the USA.
Southern California's warm Pacific waters attract sun worshippers and surfers alike. The counties of San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles are crammed full of great beaches for just about any beach activity you can think of. Some of the best beaches include Laguna Beach, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, Coronado and La Jolla. Head further north and the waters are cooler and sandy beaches are scarcer but the wildlife watching can be incredible, with seals, sea otters, whales and sharks all regular visitors to these waters.
Let's not forget the Wine Country as another great reason to visit. Napa and Sonoma in Northern California are two of the biggest and best wine producing regions in the world and travellers are welcomed to many of the vineyards for tastings and tours. If that weren't enough, the scenery is fantastic!
No matter what you want to see and do, a California holiday has it.
- Great cities
- Diverse natural scenery
- Celebrated coastline
- Favourable climate
- Wonderful wine
- Laid-back lifestyle