Grab your coat and a handful of glitter, and enter the land of fog and fabulousness. So long, inhibitions; hello, San Francisco. Natural Highs If California is one grand, sweeping gesture, a long arm cradling the Pacific, then San Francisco, that seven-by-seven-mile peninsula, is a forefinger pointing upwards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
With wild rock formations, astonishing waterfalls, unimaginably vast swaths of granite, humbling peaks and a four-season dance card, the Sierra Nevada is no less than perfect. Backcountry Bonanza Spanning 400 miles across Central California, the Sierra Nevada encompasses dazzling mountain canyons and some of the highest peaks in the country.
Cloud-dappled hills and sun-streaked mountaintops dabbed with snow typify the landscape of the Eastern Sierra, where slashing peaks – many over 14,000ft – rush abruptly upward from the arid expanses of the Great Basin and Mojave deserts. It’s a dramatic juxtaposition that makes for a potent cocktail of scenery.
The birthplace of modern-day Wine Country is famous for regal cabernet sauvignons, château-like wineries and fabulous food, attracting more than four million visitors a year, many planning to wine and dine themselves into a stupor, maybe get a massage, and sleep somewhere swell with fine linens and a pool.