Intro to California
California is a top destination in the United States. It is located in the Pacific Region with a total area of 163,696 square miles of breathtaking coastline, mountains and beaches. California is also home to some spectacular national parks such as Yosemite, and attractions such as Disneyland, Hollywood and wine country, among others. With so much to see and experience, it’s hard to know where to start which is why we created this California Travel Guide.
California is divided into two regions to explore: Northern California, which includes the San Francisco Bay area, Napa, Sonoma, Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, the Golden Gate Bridge and the magnificent sequoias. Southern California is home to movie stars in Hollywood and Los Angeles, and the most famous theme parks including Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World in San Diego.
When it comes to outdoor activities California’s diverse landscapes and eco-systems are a big draw for millions of visitors and millions that call the Golden State home. The best way to explore Northern California is via a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, where sequoias tower in the dense forests, and California’s Central Coast that takes you to the quaint towns of Carmel by the Sea and Monterey, and Pebble Beach’s 17-Mile Drive, where the fresh air from the redwood forests beckon with refreshing mountain air and nature.
If you decide to make the road trip from Northern California to Southern California visitors are in for a real treat. Often considered one of the most breathtaking road trips in the United States, you can hug Highway 1 all the way along the Pacific Coast through Big Sur’s statuesque redwood trees and sequoias and along California’s Central Coast. The best place to kick off your California road trip should follow a visit to the San Francisco Bay area. Take a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and explore the wine country in Napa and Sonoma. Check out the one-time most famous prison in the U.S.-Alcatraz Island, which is also a California state park.
Southern California boasts the most popular theme parks in the world including Disneyland (in Anaheim), Universal Studios Hollywood and Sea World. If you take a day trip outside of Los Angeles be sure to visit Santa Barbara with its many shops and boutiques and its Mission-style architecture. Additionally, Santa Barbara boasts mild year-round weather.
No visit to California is complete without a visit to California’s many national parks. One of the most famous is Yosemite National Park, with iconic landmarks including El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Valley and Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America. Another national park in Southern California is the Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs, famous for its hiking and desert terrain. Another not-to-be-missed national park is Death Valley, one of the most beautiful places for stargazing and a day trip of hiking. Although not a national park, Lake Tahoe is the perfect setting for summers and skiing in the winter. California’s Lake Tahoe borders the state of Nevada and is the best place to take in the Golden State’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
Plan Your Trip
Where is California?
California is located in the Pacific Region of the United States and is the third-largest state in the U.S. The population as of 2013 is 38,322,521, with an area of 163,707 square miles. Major industries include tourism, agriculture, movie-making and technology (Silicon Valley area).
Getting Around California
California is the third-largest state in the United States, so the best way to see the full state is by renting a car to allow for day trips or road trips. However, if you visit San Francisco in Northern California or Los Angeles in Southern California you can take public transportation via trains and buses. In fact, San Francisco boasts a famous cable car that is a tourist attraction.
More than 200 languages are spoken in the state of California. English is the most spoken language followed by Spanish. California is considered one of the most linguistically diverse states in the U.S.
The United States uses the U.S. dollar. Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted throughout the state of California and the U.S.
When is the Best Time to Visit California?
California is a year-round destination. It’s popular with families, so if you’re planning to visit family attractions, you’ll find fewer crowds in the spring, winter or fall.
What to Pack When Visiting California?
California is known for its moderate temperatures year-round, but the winter months in California are considered the rainy season. In Northern California regardless of when you visit it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket. During the fall months, Southern California tends to have warmer temps. Otherwise, pack a swimsuit, jeans, shorts and comfortable shoes when visiting Disneyland or walking cities like San Francisco in Northern California.
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