California is the top tourist attraction in the U.S. and with good reason.
California features over 1,000 miles of beaches, which happen to be one of the top reasons people travel in or to the United States. Many believe the California beaches rival Hawaii’s beaches for weather, and Florida’s beaches for weather, again. What does that mean? California beaches have some of the best weather in the world.
But more than its beaches, Europeans love the history of the Old West you’ll find in ghost towns and Gold Country region. Americans, on the other hand, seem more enamored with the original Disneyland and Hollywood.
California first became known for its film industry. The weather contributed to making it the place for filming. Southern California’s sunny days and warm climate were conducive to location shoots, and still are. While the industry has grown and spread its wings around the globe, tourists still flock to Hollywood to see the celebrities, or put their hands and feet into the molded sidewalk clay impressions of Hollywood’s famous actors and actresses. Movie studio tours abound but the most popular themed attraction dedicated to movie making and entertainment is Universal Studios Hollywood. In addition to a park admission in which you must purchase a ticket, there’s a free admission City Walk with shops, restaurants and entertainment.
Disneyland also began in California in a city called Anaheim. It is now the original of numerous parks worldwide from France to Japan, and even Orlando, Florida. Original Disneyland still draws tourists as part of a trip to California to enjoy the beaches, Hollywood and several theme park attractions within the region that include Knott’s Berry Farm.
Los Angeles (L.A.) is the top destination in California, and its largest city with well over 3 million people, but the next largest city, San Diego, is considered part of a Southern California vacation for tourists devoting several days to grabbing fun. Along the road to San Diego from L.A. tourists will find Legoland California, then capture some excitement when they arrive at San Diego’s SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park and historic Old Town.
You can’t see California, however, without visiting San Francisco. Boudin Sourdough Bread with Dungeness Crab eaten along Fisherman’s Wharf, a ride on a cable car and a boat tour past Alcatraz and under the famous Golden Gate Bridge make a trip to California nearly complete.
If you only have a few days to see California, you’ll probably fly into LA’s Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), rent a car, then drive throughout the state. The drive is one of the finest if you have patience and a stomach for the twisty-turns of Big Sur on Highway 1 north of the world famous Hearst Castle. This attraction will surprise you. While the castle is well worth the ticket to see, the surroundings make it even more unique. From the hilltop where it sits, you can see the Pacific Ocean off the shores of San Simeon and with trained eye, may spot a pod of dolphins or even see the whale migration.
When visiting California, other highlights that many explore with enough time to stick around include Palm Desert. Known for over 100 golf courses, this is where the Hollywood crowd has made a second home in the winter months especially. Year round residents find air conditioning a requirement for survival. As a visitor, your best time to visit will be during the winter from December to March.
California’s mountains are popular for skiing, and when you add casino gambling to the mix, you have a combination that’s a sure win for gamblers and thrill seekers. One unique ski resort that sits on the border of the stateline with Nevada is Lake Tahoe’s South Lake Tahoe. Yosemite Mountain became one of the first national parks and features gorgeous lodges such as Ahwahnee. It also has mountain bear and deer that roam freely.
Throughout the world you can search and never find the giant redwood trees seen along the California coast or the sequoias in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Some of the largest and tallest trees in the world are over 2,000 years old, and they live in California. There’s nothing more spectacular than standing in a grove of these trees and hearing barely a sound. The light faintly filters into the groves, making the experience even more unique.
Wine country has grown. When you travel around the United States, you’ll hear places proudly proclaim, “We’ve got wine!” But in California, wine growing isn’t just a huge industry and tourist attraction, it is way of life. Gaining fame for a mostly rural region of Napa Valley, neighboring Sonoma County has plenty of vintage products to show off. The secret is out of the bag and tourists can pretty much follow a wine trail throughout the entire state. With regions spanning from Mendocino on the north coast to Temecula in the south, one of the fastest growing, hottest regions to take of is the Central Coast wineries and wine tasting.
As you sample your way and practice safe driving (many wine tour coaches offered) throughout the state, you don’t need to stop at the border of the U.S. and Mexico. Wineries are popular along the Baja Mexico coast from Tijuana south. Many tourists visit Mexico to shop and buy silver, pharmaceuticals and pottery. Food is an especially great value in restaurants, as well.
And if you use California as an anchor to a vacation which involves exploring its surroundings, the number destination is Las Vegas. Millions of people tie trips between California and Las Vegas as entire vacations. Be forewarned! Vegas is hot, hot, hot, in the summer months. But for world class hotels, dining, nightlife, gambling and shows, by all means add Las Vegas to your itinerary.