Sunny beaches, towering redwoods, snowy peaks, desert oases—when it comes to natural beauty, California is in a class by itself. But there’s one thing in the Golden State that has even more star power than California’s spectacular vistas—the people who call it home. What really sets this place apart from anywhere else in the world is that legendary, unmistakable and irresistible California attitude—a way of living that makes you want to squeeze the last drop of fun out of every single sun-drenched day.
Don’t leave without tasting…
Freshly baked sourdough at Acme Bread, ultra-rich artisan cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, emerald-green virgin oils from McEvoy Olive Oil—all on a walk through San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.
Where locals go to relax
Californians dig their toes in the sand—whether it’s at Malibu Beach, along the windswept cliffs at Mendocino, framed by surfers at Huntington Beach, in sunny San Diego or at lapis-blue Lake Tahoe, surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
Put these events on your calendar
- Palm Springs International Film Festival (January)
- Mendocino Whale Festival (March)
- Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival; Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival (April)
- Amgen Tour of California (May)
- Gilroy Garlic Festival (July)
- Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach (July/August)
- Outside Lands in San Francisco; Nike U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach (August)
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Fontana (November).
Drive through the tunnel leading to Yosemite Valley—the entire vista opens up in front of you like a life-sized postcard: the slab-like faces of El Capitan and Half Dome, the ethereal cascade of Bridal Veil Fall. There’s nothing like it anywhere.
Top photo opportunities
- Moonrise above Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
- Face of a child the first time she sees Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland
- Tourists putting their hands in Marilyn Monroe’s handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
- Golden Gate Bridge
- Kids craning their heads back to look at the top of coast redwoods or trying to hug a giant sequoia tree
Want to stay up late?
The Sunset Strip in L.A. is still one of the hottest places to catch great music acts (maybe even Johnny Depp or Jeff Bridges riffing on guitar), or check out San Diego’s Gaslamp District, known for its booming bar scene and craft cocktails.
Don’t overlook this…
Santa Catalina Island has mini-sub tours to see ocean life, elegant dining and lodging, and a historic waterfront ballroom—and it’s just 24 miles and a short ferry ride from the L.A. bustle. On the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, you can soar from the desert floor to the towering pines and dramatic vistas from the San Jacinto Range.
Famous people from our state
California is celeb-central, and there’s no place to see TV and film stars like L.A., where they live, work and play. Whether you’re browsing for an award-night outfit at Stella McCartney’s boutique in West Hollywood, buying a skinny no-foam latte at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Santa Monica or bodysurfing in Malibu, the stars really do come out in and around Tinseltown. Want a sure-fire way to star search? Attend a taping of a live show, like ‛The Ellen Show’ in Burbank or ‛Jimmy Kimmel Live’, taped in Hollywood.
Use Twitter and Facebook to track down food trucks like Korean tacos from Roy Choi’s Kogi truck in Venice Beach, the Crème Brûlée Cart in San Francisco, meatballs from Mangia Mangia in San Diego and crab burgers from the Mini-Burger Truck in Sacramento.
Try an ultimate wine-country escape in Napa: a morning balloon ride over the vineyards, a guided bike tour of gold-medal wineries, capped by dinner at Michelin-starred French Laundry in Yountville and a night at a luxurious B&B.