Collaboration with Amanda Green
While, of course, there is no wrong way to tour California, some ways are better than others. For instance, a far better way than doing a whirlwind road trip is to experience each region differently.
So, instead of an exhausting trip going from one place to another, visit only one region at a time. You’ll spend less time traveling and more time getting a deeper appreciation for each region. When you get home, you’ll have more treasured memories rather than a blur of experiences.
Here is a quick overview of some recommended regions to visit in California to give you a good idea about its delightful cultural and geographical diversity.
While California has a number of cities, the most fascinating to visit are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Palm Springs.
Incidentally, speaking of popular cities, an interesting fact about California is that the growing popularity of timeshare in the San Diego and Palm Springs areas serves as a home base for those wishing to return after an unforgettable trip. According to a San Diego Union-Tribune article on the Lawrence Welk timeshare, San Diego, “Welk resorts have condominium-style rooms with kitchens, lavish water slides, and playgrounds. The Escondido complex has a retail center and theater with music and Broadway-style productions. It’s something like a cruise ship on land.”
1. Los Angeles
Los Angeles, the City of Angels, in Southern California, has the distinction of being ranked only after New York when it comes to the largest US city. Surrounded by mountains and valleys and facing the inexorable spread of the blue Pacific Ocean, its beaches, like Venice and Malibu, have a reputation for being wild-and-crazy places for surfers, celebrities, and tourists. Often considered the celebrity capital of the US because of Hollywood and the big movie studios here, LA has many gorgeous celebrity homes, high-priced designer stores in Beverly Hills, and exquisite restaurants. LA is also home to big amusement parks like Universal Studios Hollywood and theme parks like Disneyland.
2. San Francisco
San Francisco, nestled in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California, is the tip of a peninsula. It has a unique ambiance by dint of the world-famous suspension bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the tight curves of Lombard Street, the Chinatown area, the largest outside Asia, and the Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco has developed a reputation as one of the top college towns. According to an article in Grandslam on Top 10 College Towns in California, “Nestled right by downtown San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Berkeley is a student’s paradise. Great food, great climate, beautiful scenery, and both a small-town and big-city feel are just a day in the life of a UC Berkeley student. The student population is incredibly vibrant and known for its activism, protests, and rallies. Additionally, Berkeley offers a thriving music, film, and art scene as well as a booming tech scene.”
3. Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, 90 miles north of LA, has been called “The American Riviera” because of its mild climate, beautiful beaches, and old-world atmosphere. The city is well-known for its ubiquitous California Mission-style architecture and Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786 by the Franciscan order.
4. San Diego
San Diego, south of LA and north of the Mexican border, is a huge coastal city, with an ideal climate and breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Despite its large size, it has the intimacy of a small town. Popular attractions include the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, the Birch Aquarium, and SeaWorld San Diego.
5. Palm Springs
The sun shines almost all year long, and even the winters, at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, are mild. Dubbed the winter retreat of the rich and famous, this city in the desert has numerous golf courses, clubs and casinos, bars, and fine-dining restaurants.
Some of California’s unique natural geographical places include Death Valley, Catalina Island, Napa Valley, and its national parks.
1. Death Valley
Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert in the Death Valley National Park, ranges from snow-capped mountains to spectacular sand dunes. The region is famous for the ruins of ghost towns; Scotty’s Castle, a historic landmark; and Zabriskie Point, a scenic outlook.
2. Santa Catalina Island
Santa Catalina on the Pacific is only 22 miles from LA and visitors come by plane, helicopters, ferries, and private boats. It’s a popular island for day trips, family vacations, and honeymoons. Its two main popular centers are Two Harbors and Avalon. There are no private cars here, only taxis, golf carts, and bicycles.
3. Napa Valley
Home to some of the finest wines in the world, Napa Valley has developed a booming hospitality industry to accommodate wine lovers from the US and around the world. Visitors have a choice of established hotel chains, Bed & Breakfast inns, quaint hotels, and camping grounds. Besides enjoying a wine tour, visitors can also enjoy a spa, bike tours, and hot air balloon trips.
4. National Parks
The most famous national parks are Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite National Park. Sequoia and Kings Canyon border each other in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The region is famous for its giant sequoia trees, which can be 100 feet wide and 300 feet tall. Meanwhile, Yosemite National Park, also in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central eastern California, is celebrated for its 1,169 miles of geographical diversity from gigantic trees to stunning waterfalls to towering granite cliffs.