California is the most highly populated state in America, with around forty million Americans calling it home. Stretching most of the length of the west coast, it offers huge diversity in things to do and places to visit, making it one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, California is sure to have something new and exciting in store for you. With cheap flights to LA making this trip of a lifetime more and more accessible, you too can find out the appeal of the Golden State.
When asked what springs to mind when you mention California, most people will mention a bronzed surfer dude with sun-bleached hair and an enviably athletic body. Sure enough, up and down the coast this sight becomes more and more normal. The state is host to a number of the world’s best surf breaks and even if you don’t surf, the experience of watching the waves roll in becomes in itself almost addictive. Not far from San Francisco lies the small town of Santa Cruz, a place steeped in surfing history and, of course, waves galore. On your way down the coast you can stop off here and learn all about the story of surfing starting way back in 1885 when it was supposedly introduced by a trio of travelling Hawaiians. The best swells come in winter so if you’re not afraid of braving the cold, that’s the time to go.
If surfing isn’t to your fancy, there’s always something to get the blood pumping. You can hire a bike and explore the sights at your own pace, allowing you the freedom to get off the well-trodden path and find yourself some peace and quiet. Yet then again, if you prefer to keep your holidays restful, there’s plenty of sport on show for you to settle in and leave it to the professionals to do their thing. California has leading teams in every American sport – like the Golden State Warriors, reigning NBA champions – so to be able to watch a game live will be an experience you will not forget in a hurry. Remember to book in advance though, as tickets will sell out fast.
Once you’ve had your fill of stadiums you’ll want to get outside and start exploring. California offers a huge range of national parks and walks where you can immerse yourself in nature like never before. Yosemite national park is one of the most popular since being labelled a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Here, you will find over one thousand miles of stunning natural beauty offering more photo opportunities than you can shake a selfie-stick at! The time of year makes a big difference to what is on offer so it’s important to do your research as to what will suit you best. April and May are two of the most attractive months with crowds drawn to the snow-capped mountains and sheer number of waterfalls.
If it’s jaw-dropping views of natural scenery you’re after then Big Sur will offer Yosemite some stiff competition. This stretch of land on California’s Central Coast is lightly populated making it the perfect getaway from the humming cities. It has inspired countless artists from Henry James to Jack Kerouac so it’s well worth finding out for yourself what exactly is the great attraction. You won’t find many shopping malls or gas stations but rather will have the sun and the stars as your guide as you make your way through its beautiful, untamed coast lines.
You’ll want a change of pace after all the walking and what better way to relax than sitting back and indulging in some wine tasting? California’s wine region is now hailed as one of the best in the world and you can visit the very vineyards giving the state this glowing reputation. If you have time, one of the best ways to enjoy the vineyards is through hipcamp, a company connecting you with the outdoors, providing perfect camping opportunities in a responsible manner. The keener wine and food enthusiasts can also visit the incredible Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival. Running in May this festival offers up the chance to see cooking demonstrations from experts, get lost in a wacky parade, and, of course, eat and drink as much as you desire. Need I say more?
Now, you can’t talk of California without mentioning LA. The perfect antidote to the great outdoors, this vibrant city is like no other in the world. Home to celebs, wannabe celebs and everyone in between, LA will leave you speechless. You can visit the famous Hollywood Hills, take a tour of the mansions or simply sit back, grab a coffee and people watch. Either way, LA will leave its imprint on your memory for a long time to come. You’ll want to look the part when here but, luckily for you, it is a shopper’s paradise. In no time you’ll be looking as dapper as the rich and famous you see strolling the LA streets.
If you’re coming with children there’s plenty to keep the little ones happy. The most popular attraction for the whole family is Disneyland, located in Anaheim. This world famous resort offers the kids the time of their lives frolicking with Mickey and co. The dare-devils amongst you will enjoy the rides – one of which is aptly named California’s Screamin’ – or take a tour of Universal Studios and find out how the pros in Hollywood film your favourite action flicks. If the thought of the queues is just too much then the San Diego zoo is a great alternative, where the sight of giant pandas will be sure to excite the kids.
The best way to start your trip is entirely up to you, with both directions offering their own incentives. Flights to either LA, then travelling north, or to San Francisco and travelling south, make the most sense. The world renowned Highway One makes travel up or down the coast both easy and scenic as the road hugs the coast for much of the way. There’s no way to fit everything in in one trip so it’s best to be flexible and enjoy whatever comes your way. If you run out of time, that’s ok because you’ll be back. I promise.