Grab your coat and a handful of glitter, and enter the land of fog and fabulousness. So long, inhibitions; hello, San Francisco. Natural Highs California is one grand, sweeping gesture, a long arm cradling the Pacific. But then there's San Francisco, that seven-by-seven-mile peninsula that looks like a forefinger pointing upwards.
Too often forgotten or dismissed as ‘flyover’ country between San Francisco and LA, this fairytale stretch of California coast is packed with wild beaches, misty redwood forests where hot springs hide, and rolling golden hills of fertile vineyards and farm fields. Coastal Hwy 1 pulls out all the stops, scenery-wise.
Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada
An outdoor adventurer’s wonderland, the Sierra Nevada is a year-round pageant of snow sports, white-water rafting, hiking, cycling and rock climbing. Skiers and snowboarders blaze through hushed pine-tree slopes, and wilderness seekers come to escape the stresses of modern civilization.
North Coast & Redwoods
There's a stretch of the coast with no road access called the 'Lost Coast,' but even the rest of the region, reached by a circuitous two-lane blacktop, feels far from the world's radar. The North Coast is no Beach Boys’ song; there are no bikinis and few surfboards.
Napa & Sonoma Wine Country
America’s premier viticulture region has earned its reputation among the world’s best. Despite hype about Wine Country style, it’s from the land that all Wine Country lore springs. Rolling hills, dotted with century-old oaks, turn the color of lion’s fur under the summer sun and swaths of vineyards carpet hillsides as far as the eye can see.
Shimmering in myriad shades of blue and green, Lake Tahoe is the USA’s second-deepest lake and, at 6255ft high, it is also one of the highest-elevation lakes in the country. Driving around the lake’s spellbinding 72-mile scenic shoreline will give you quite a workout behind the wheel.
Sacramento & Central Valley
The Central Valley is a vast swath of golden fields, rolling hills, and scenic waterways that span 400 miles from Chico to Bakersfield. Its rich soil feeds the nation. Half the produce in the US — and nearly every carrot, almond, and asparagus spear — was grown here. In spring, the rivers swell and the orchards bloom.
Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Yosemite and neighboring Sequoia & Kings Canyon occupy the most spectacular region of one of the most spectacular mountain ranges on the planet. Backcountry Bonanza All the usual trappings of civilization can be found within the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range spanning 400 miles roughly north to south across Central California.
Hollywood draws the dreamers and Silicon Valley its fortune-hunters, but this isn't the first time droves of young folk looking to hit paydirt streamed into the Golden State. After a sparkle in the American River caught James Marshall’s eye in 1848, more than 300,000 hungry prospectors from America and abroad started digging for gold in the Sierra foothills.