Whether you want to hit the beaches in SoCal or hang out with the hipsters in San Francisco, California offers a myriad of exciting travel opportunities. Visit the redwood forests in Northern California, or go wine sampling in Napa Valley. Embark on a road trip along the Pacific Coast, or cruise down Hollywood Boulevard looking for the likes of Tom Cruise or J-Lo. Take the family to San Diego, or try your hand at surfing in Santa Barbara. Furthermore, the food scene in California is notoriously epic. The state’s climate affords some beautiful farmland, and the coast offers an abundance of seafood. Combine all that fresh food with a fusion of multi-cultural cuisine, and your taste buds will never go bored.
The key to exploring California is to not cram too much into your itinerary. It’s a large and diverse state. Pick and choose your options carefully.
Cities to Visit in California
- Los Angeles
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Monica
- San Francisco
- San Diego
Unique Things to See and Do in California
- Wine tasting at Napa Valley
- Visit Yosemite Valley
- See San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge
- Road trip the Big Sur coastline
- Visit Sequoia National Park
- Celebrity sighting in Hollywood
- Visit Disneyland
- Learn to surf in SoCal
- Visit a farmers market in LA
- Explore Death Valley
California’s Natural Beauty
California is unrivalled in natural beauty. Why? Whether you’re a mountain person or a beach junkie, you’ll be happy in this state. In fact, you’re never too far from the mountains or the ocean, so you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Yosemite National Park might be California’s most popular scenic attraction. The famous Yosemite Valley is an iconic image, often seen on state postcards or in tourism brochures. The park itself is full of impressive waterfalls, mountains, valleys, and meadows, and it’s accessible by car year-round. There’s also the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, as well as Glacier Point & Badger Pass. And for a quieter version of Yosemite Valley, head to the stunning Hetch Hetchy. (How can you not, with a name like that?)
When it comes to coastline, California’s Pacific views are out of this world. Case in point: driving Big Sur. It’s a sparsely populated area of Central California, where the Santa Lucia Mountains frame the ocean and offers one of the most beautiful drives in the world. The 140-kilometre stretch from the Carmel River to San Luis Obispo County is a definite must-do.
For something different, head to Death Valley. Although the name doesn’t sound appealing, California’s gorgeous desert landscape is full of sand dunes, canyons, volcanic craters, and more. But it does get incredibly hot here – it’s important to plan ahead, or hire a local guide to explore the area safely. Its direct opposite attraction might be Sequoia National Park, known of course for its staggeringly tall sequoia trees. See the General Sherman Tree, the tallest tree in the world at 274.9 feet.
And even if you’re not a wine drinker, the Napa Valley is still one of the most stunning destinations in California. Rolling valleys and sprawling vineyards will greet you, and cycling there comes highly recommended.
Getting around California
Above all, picking up a rental car or embarking on an RV trip is the best way to see California. If you want to do some city hopping, flying inter-state is not as expensive as you’d think.
Most of the major cities have very efficient public transit systems. Los Angeles and San Francisco also both have subways. Several rail systems are available throughout the state. Metrolink services much of Southern California, while BART and Caltrain commuter rail connects the San Francisco area. You can also opt for bus companies that travel between cities, like Greyhound.
Best time of year to travel to California
Weather and climate in California is incredibly varied, so it’s impossible to generalize the entire state. It’s definitely a year-round destination, but with some regions being more comfortable during certain times of year than others. Much of California has warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The coast can be quite cool year-round, but high temperatures in the summer can get upwards near 30-degrees Celsius. Freezing temperatures are rare.
Once you get inland, summers are much hotter. At higher altitudes, however, you’ll get more of a four-season variety, with beautiful summers and cold winters with lots of snowfall. In other words, ski or surf!
Did you know…?
California is the most ethnically diverse state in the United States.
Did you ALSO know…?
California has nearly 40-million people…more than Canada as a whole!
Ready to plan your visit to California? Check out these popular guides and trips.