There’s no doubt about it, California is one of the most distinctive, iconic and diverse states in all of the USA. Whether you’re craving adventure or relaxation, you’re bound to find it in the Golden State. California is idyllic vineyards, charming cities and towns, beautiful mountains and national parks, and sweeping coastal views from the border of Mexico to the redwood forests of Northern California. Rugged mountains, desert landscapes and the dazzling beaches make for endless imagery and lasting memories. Everything you’ve heard about California is true. It’s both upscale and laid-back, outdoorsy and rugged, polished and beautiful.
Consistently ranked as America’s Favorite City, San Francisco never ceases to enthrall its visitors. The city boasts jaw-dropping sights, world-class cuisine, cozy cafes, and booming nightlife venues. You will discover a patchwork of culture flourishing throughout San Francisco’s many vibrant quarters. The city is among the most diverse in the United States, with distinct Hispanic, Chinese, and European traditions represented in a host of arts and music festivals, as well as architecture and food. To explore the city, take the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf, bike or skate through Golden Gate Park, ferry over to Alcatraz Island, or spend time wandering through the high-end shops around Union Square. Evening brings a vast array of choices as well, with more than 4,415 restaurants in San Francisco. The best time to visit San Francisco is in the spring and fall when the temperatures are mild and pleasant, and the crowds are smaller.
California Wine Country
Situated within a two-hour drive north of San Francisco are two of the premier wine growing areas in the United States and the world, the Napa and Sonoma valleys. With the perfect combination of soil, sun, and seasonal moisture, the hundreds of area wineries produce award-winning Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons, and others. In addition to fabulous wine, these valleys are also known for serving outstanding cuisine. Yountville, Sonoma, Healdsburg, St. Helena and Calistoga have small-town charm as well as luxurious inns, hotels, and soothing spas. The natural setting in these two picturesque valleys is equally sublime, whether experienced from your car, the back set of your chauffeured sedan, on an electric bike, a canoe on the Russian River or the deck of a winery overlooking endless rows of vines while sampling your favorite Cabernets.
On a sunny day, Sausalito could easily be mistaken for a Mediterranean fishing village. This picturesque seaside town has the ambience of a European vacation resort with its quaint boutiques, upscale art galleries, scenic waterfront walk, and yacht-filled marinas. Even locals from “The City” have the impression of getting away when they spend an afternoon or evening here, even though it’s just a short drive, ferry or sail from San Francisco. The ferry ride from San Francisco across the bay offers a spectacular approach to Sausalito allowing visitors to admire elegant houses nestled on wooded hillsides, enjoy marvelous views of the Golden Gate Bridge along the way, and view the San Francisco skyline over their shoulders. Sheltered by the Marin Headlands, which lie just beyond the bridge, Sausalito is usually warmer than San Francisco but is often breezy in the early evening when the fog rolls in.
Yosemite National Park
One of California’s most formidable natural landscapes, Yosemite National Park features nearly 1,200 square miles of sheer awe: towering waterfalls, millennia-old Sequoia trees, striking, daunting cliff faces and some of the most unique rock formations in the United States. But despite its enormous size, most of the tourist activity takes place within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley. Here you’ll find the park’s most famous landmarks – Half Dome and El Capitan – as well as excellent hiking trails through the natural monuments, beautiful forests and along bustling streams and waterfalls.
Carmel & Monterey
Carmel was developed in the early 20th century by artists, poets, and visionaries. Its residents have retained the friendly, small-town, sophisticated character with boutique stores, coffee shops, restaurants, a laid-back atmosphere, intimate bed-and-breakfast inns, and luxury lodges. Inland from the shore is Carmel Valley, known for its high-end golf and spa resorts. Carmel is located immediately south of Monterey, separated by the hilly Monterey Peninsula. Monterey Peninsula is famous for its famous golf courses, beautiful homes and 17-Mile Drive, which loops through the Pebble Beach golf course and along the rugged shore, past Seal Rock and the much-photographed Cypress Point. To the south of Carmel lies the diverse wildlife habitat of Point Lobos. Further beyond, the dramatic coast of Big Sur lures visitors along one of the most scenic coastal highways in the U.S., Highway 1..
Palm Springs has long been associated with Hollywood celebrities who lived or played here during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Today, a new generation of travelers is discovering what Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe made such as fuss about. California’s greater Palm Springs area, which is made up of 9 desert cities, is like a giant sandbox where adults play their favorite games—the most popular being golf. Palm Springs itself is the most well-known of the adjacent communities in the Coachella Valley, though all offer a similar type of vacation experience with great food, relaxing accommodations, pampering spas, casinos, and plenty of opportunities to be outside. The area is a must visit for lovers of midcentury modern architecture, as there are many well-preserved homes and businesses designed by the genre’s heavy hitters. It has also long been known as a safe and friendly space for LGBTQ+ vacationers. Despite the glitz and glitter of its famous residents, the area can also be affordable as a fun family destination.
San Diego is sunny and mild, not just in weather, but in personality, as well. This is a place where the people are friendly and the sun shines more than 300 days a year. To top it off, San Diego is blessed with considerable natural beauty: gorgeous beaches to the west, creviced canyons to the east, and sweet-smelling tropical flowers everywhere. A quintessential U.S. Navy town, San Diego has boomed in recent years. The trendy downtown and Gaslamp Quarter, plus such attractions as Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, continue to pull in locals and tourists alike. The greater San Diego area is actually a series of individual towns, each with its own personality. La Jolla is San Diego’s Beverly Hills. Coronado has the palatial Hotel del Coronado, broad avenues running past Victorian homes and the naval home of several impressive aircraft carriers. Then there are San Diego’s beaches: Ocean, Mission, Pacific, La Jolla, La Jolla Shores, Del Mar, and many more. San Diego is the perfect get away for couples, families and friends.