The Golden State is almost its own country, packing in iconic sights, spectacular national parks and chilled-out coastal towns with friendly, welcoming locals.
The mid-1800s California gold rush brought many adventurers to the Pacific Ocean shores. Their descendants have established fascinating cities and structures in the midst of amazing natural beauty.
Visit Sacramento to see the art and architecture of the state capital. The California State Railroad Museum tells the important story of building the railroads that enabled development of the California region.
In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, visit Sequoia National Forest. See giant redwood trees, up to 300 feet (91 meters) tall and over 33 feet (10 meters) in diameter, hundreds or thousands of years old. Enjoy the spectacular landscape of granite monoliths, limestone caves and whitewater streams.
The mountains offer a range of choices for outdoor activities. Visit the Lake Tahoe area to hike, boat, fish and swim in the chilly aquamarine waters in the summer. In winter ski at Squaw, site of the 1960 Olympics, Northstar, Alpine Meadows and others, with excellent skiing and views over the lake. See sparkling granite cliffs and majestic waterfalls in Yosemite National Park.
Take a wine tour in Napa or Sonoma. Stop in the fertile agricultural area of the Central Valley to sample strawberries, olives, garlic and much of the nation’s fresh produce.
Like Tony Bennett, you might leave your heart in San Francisco. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge are unforgettable. Visit Chinatown, ride the trolley, climb the hills of the city, ferry to the former prison of Alcatraz and enjoy the exciting nightlife.
Moving south to Los Angeles, enjoy the many beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Watch seals, surfers and skaters. Go to Hollywood to see celebrities’ stars embedded in the sidewalk. Tour Universal Studios. Visit the original Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim, the La Brea Tarpits and the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Farther south, see even more California beaches in San Diego, along with the USS Midway Museum, a retired aircraft carrier. Visit Palms Springs for desert heat and world-famous golf. Cross the border to Tijuana for a Mexican holiday.