CALIFORNIA

The Golden State


California has so much to offer. At over 700 miles in length, the topography of California includes mountain ranges, deserts, beaches, big cities, small towns, farmlands and more. The state contains the highest and lowest points in the lower 48 - Mt. Whitney and Badwater, Death Valley respectively. The jewel of California is Yosemite National Park, an outdoor playground with towering granite cliffs, waterfalls, lakes, hiking trails, campgrounds, resorts and much, much more. Lake Tahoe is another outdoor playground with nearly two-dozen ski resorts and a plethora of lake activities. San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles are the state's largest cities and all offer endless points of interest, entertainment and activities unique to their region. California is best know for pristine beaches, giant sequoias and fine wines from the Napa Valley region.

SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco is a refreshing mix of culture, beauty and activities. Big city connects by bridge to open grasslands, vineyards and lush forests. Chinatown San Francisco, the Mission District and the Haight all offer glimpses into a dichotomy of cultures. This was the heart of the hippy movement in the 60's as well as the Gold Rush of 1849. San Francisco is best known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Cable Cars and earthquakes but this region also includes Napa Valley Wine Country, miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of National Park lands and redwood forest. Weather in San Francisco can be somewhat unpredictable, especially the fog. Whether you're looking for a day of shopping at Union Square or a peaceful hike in the redwoods, there's a wide diversity of things to see and do in San Francisco.

LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles is located along the coast of Southern California and is one of the largest cities in the world. L.A. topography is diverse and includes beaches, urban sprawl, rural foothills, high desert and snow-covered peaks. Popular L.A. attractions include the Santa Monica Pier, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood, L.A. Zoo, Aquarium of the Pacific, Griffith Park, Hollywood movie studios, Los Angeles beaches, L.A. Dodgers, Rodeo Drive and much more. Catch a ferry to Catalina Island, California's only luxury island resort. Spot a celebrity at one of many celebrity hangouts in Beverly Hills. Play in the waves at one of several sandy beaches comprising more than 70 miles of coastline. Enjoy authentic Mexican food and shops on Olvera Street, the oldest street in Los Angeles.

SAN DIEGO

San Diego is a big city with lots of small-town charm. San Diego beaches intermingle with quaint artist communities and huge metropolitan regions bordering ranches and orchards. This is avocado country where over 40% of California's avocados originate. Even though San Diego has a large population and location on the border of a poor third-world country, it has a surprisingly low crime rate. San Diego residents live the good life and some regions have topped the list for the most expensive property in the entire United States. Downtown San Diego is very clean and offers many San Diego attractions within moderate walking distance including Gaslamp Quarter, Padres ballpark, Little Italy, Aircraft Carrier Museum, Maritime Museum, Seaport Village, Horton Plaza and several of the best San Diego hotels. Most of the most popular San Diego museums are found in Balboa Park along with the San Diego Zoo.

ORANGE COUNTY

Orange County is known for its pristine beaches, wealthy neighborhoods, high-end shopping malls and of course... Disneyland®. Other Orange County attractions include Knott's Berry Farm Theme Park, Angels baseball, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Mission San Juan Capistrano. The portion of coast from Newport Beach to Dana Point is known as the 'California Riviera' for its secluded beaches and upscale communities. Several pier communities offer the fun-in-the-sun lifestyle synonymous with California including Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and San Clemente. Foodies indulge in the diversity of Orange County from the Vietnamese food of Garden Grove to the Mexican food of Santa Ana and seafood of Newport Beach. Popular Orange County events include the U.S. Open of Surfing, Pageant of the Masters, Orange International Street Fair and Knott's Scary Farm.

INLAND EMPIRE

The Inland Empire of California includes a mix of farmland, large industry, towering mountains, small communities and large metropolis. The Inland Empire resides east of Los Angeles and consists of Riverside County and a portion of San Bernardino County. Popular activities in the Inland Empire include boating, golfing, off-roading, skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, wine tasting, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, camping and more. The Inland Empire is more recently becoming known for its Temecula wineries and luxury Indian casinos. Big Bear and Idyllwild are in the mountains surrounding the Inland Empire and are the outdoor playground of the entire L.A. basin.

DESERT

The California Desert offers visitors many recreational activities and natural wonders, from the barren lands of Death Valley National Park to the lush green golf courses in Palm Springs. The desert can be a brutal place of survival with a surprising amount of life. Many visitors come in the Spring to witness the 'Desert in Bloom' when the dry, desolate landscape explodes with wildflowers and butterflies. Others come for off-roading on the thousands of miles of dirt roads or giant sand dunes of Glamis or Dumont. Summer is understandably the 'off-season' when daytime temperatures can hover over 100 degrees and even 130's in some parts of Death Valley. Rock climbers from beginner to advanced enjoy the unique boulder scape of Joshua Tree National Park

CENTRAL COAST

The California Central Coast stretches from Ventura all the way up to Monterey Bay. Popular activities include kayaking, golfing, whale watching, wine tasting, hiking, fishing, camping and more. With a surprisingly low population, most of the Central Coast remains as pristine as it was 200 years ago. The remote region of Big Sur is popular with campers and those looking to find seclusion from their busy lives. From the bustling college cities of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, to the quaint towns of Pacific Grove and Cambria, the Central Coast has a lot to offer. Central Coast landscape varies from rolling sand dunes to rocky cliffs and soaring conifer forests. The Central Coast is one of the few regions in California that allow off-roading and horseback riding on the beach.

SIERRA NEVADA

The Sierra Nevada is a high-altitude mountain range that spans most of the eastern portion of California. The Sierras are definitely one of the best regions in California for outdoor adventure. Here you'll find Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in North America's lower 48 states, and many other notable places like Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. There are ghost towns, Giant Sequoia groves, recreational lakes, waterfalls, active volcanoes and several ski resorts. This region is superb for camping, fishing, hiking, golfing, skiing, horseback riding and many other outdoor activities.

NORTH COAST

The North Coast of California is known for its Redwood Parks and rugged coastline. With no major cities and a low volume of tourists, you can easily be the only ones walking among towering California Redwoods or hiking a cliff-side trail overlooking the rugged Northern California Coast. The region of North Coast from Ferndale to Rockport is known as 'The Lost Coast' due to its remoteness and lack of population. Several small towns of logging origin have long since given up on logging and now cater to tourism. Find lighthouses, quaint Inns, picturesque bridges, fishing charters and more on the Mendocino Coast California.

SHASTA CASCADE

The Shasta Cascade is the largest region of Northern California. It includes low-lying farmland, active volcanoes, mountain ranges and high-altitude plateaus. Several large lakes offer exciting activities from houseboating to water-skiing and salmon fishing. Mt. Lassen is an active volcano with boiling mud pots, acidic lakes, lava tubes and more. Take a boat across Lake Shasta and explore Shasta Caverns on a hot summer day. Walk through a covered bridge near Chico. Ski down a volcano at Mt. Shasta Ski Resort. Because of its distant proximity to any major airports, the northern regions of the Shasta Cascade are the some of the least populated regions in California. A visitor can explore all day and never see another person.

GOLD COUNTRY

California Gold Country was established when a carpenter discovered gold in the American River at Sutter's Mill in 1848. By 1849, the Gold Rush was in full swing with bustling mining camps springing up all over the region. When the gold ran out, these camps were nearly deserted and remain today as the towns of Nevada City, Auburn, Placerville, Jackson, Angels Camp, Jamestown and many more. Most Gold Country towns feature original structures and cater to tourism. Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the scenery along Highway 49 alone is worth the trip. Many natural and historic sites blanket the region along the way including recreational lakes, caverns, mines and railroads. Popular Gold Country activities include camping, hiking, wine tasting, horseback riding, boating, spelunking, gold panning and more.

CENTRAL VALLEY

The Central Valley is mostly composed of fertile farmland and farming communities. If not for the large dams that control water flow from the Sierras and the Shasta Cascade, this region would be completely marsh and swamp land. These dams also provide the Central Valley with many recreational lakes. From the bustling cities of Sacramento and Fresno, to the quaint towns of Winters and Exeter, the Central Valley has a lot to offer. The State Capitol is located the northern portion of the valley. Fresno is the gateway city to Yosemite National Park. Enjoy a glass of chardonnay at a Lodi winery. Visit the largest fossil find on the west coast in Madera. Try your luck at a local Indian casino.

California by Region