New cravings have been invented at California's cultural crossroads for over 200 years, so don't hold back – get adventurous with the latest food trends, from Peking duck empanadas to vegan soul food.
Chez Panisse Chef Alice Waters revolutionized California cuisine back in the ’70s with seasonal, sustainable, locavore cooking. The tradition continues in this iconic Berkeley restaurant.
French Laundry The north star of contemporary cuisine. Thomas Keller continually takes home international awards to tiny Yountville.
LA's food trucks LA sparked the mobile foodie revolution, with chefs on wheels offering gourmet cuisine from downtown strips to Pacific beachfronts.
Ferry Building Duck inside San Francisco’s landmark to good taste, featuring local, sustainable food producers and a legendary farmers market.
Fish tacos Join surfers on the quest for the ultimate Mexicali snack, starting in San Diego with Baja Betty's and all the way up to Malibu.
California’s vineyards may steal the scene, but big copper vats hidden in garages across the state are producing award-winning brews.
Lost Coast Brewery In Eureka, knock back a pint of Downtown Brown while admiring conceptual-art beer labels.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company Mendocino County’s solar-powered brewhouse lets you play disc golf while drinking a bottle of oatmeal stout.
Stone Brewing Company This San Diego upstart brews big, bold character into Arrogant Bastard Ale and chipotle-spiked porter.
Anchor Brewing Company San Francisco lets off steam with the help of Gold Rush steam-brewing techniques innovated by this historic brewer.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Get tours and pours of this mega-popular pale ale in Chico.
SoCal is theme-park heaven, bringing Hollywood movie magic, Disneyland and roller coasters galore.
Disneyland Topping almost every family’s must-do list is Walt Disney’s ‘imagineered’ theme park, with Disney California Adventure next door.
Universal Studios Hollywood The legendary movie studio offers a studio backlot tram tour, movie-themed rides, live-action shows and slick special effects.
Legoland California Resort Creative kids love this low-key theme park with a resort hotel and endless building possibilities.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Take a safari-style tram tour through an ‘open-range’ zoo.
Ever since Native Americans blazed the first trails through this wilderness, Californians have been hikers. Oceanside rambles, desert palm oases, skyscraping peaks and silent forests await.
Sierra Nevada Spend a lifetime trekking in national parks and alpine wilderness, or just a day summiting Mt Whitney.
North Coast Hardy backpackers tackle the Lost Coast Trail, while wanderers ramble misty old-growth redwood forests.
Marin County Tawny headlands tempt hikers across SF’s Golden Gate Bridge north to wild, windblown Point Reyes.
Palm Springs & the Deserts Discover hidden oases, stroll across salt flats and visit Native Californian canyons.
When California's crowded metropolises wear you out, restore your spirits at friendly locales by the beach, up in the mountains and down the road from vineyards.
Calistoga Napa Valley's blue-jeans-and-boots crowd heads to this quaint downtown for mud baths and BBQ.
Bolinas This quirky end-of-the-road beach hamlet is Marin County's best-kept secret.
Ferndale A charming Victorian-era farm town tucked away on the North Coast.
Mammoth Lakes All-seasons outdoor adventures begin at eastern Sierra's jumping-off point.
Seal Beach Discover an old-fashioned Orange County surf town, complete with period-perfect main street and wooden pier.
National & State Parks
Jagged mountain peaks, high-country meadows and desert sand dunes lure you inland – and you'll be astonished by California's wild diversity, from the Nevada border ranges to wind-tossed offshore islands.
Yosemite National Park Ascend into the Sierra Nevada, where waterfalls tumble into glacier-carved valleys and wildflower meadows bloom.
Redwood National & State Parks Get lost ambling among ancient groves of the world’s tallest trees on the foggy North Coast.
Death Valley National Park Uncover secret pockets of life in this austere desert landscape, peppered with geological oddities.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Camp by northern alpine lakes and traipse around the boiling mud pots of Bumpass Hell.
Channel Islands National Park Escape civilization on SoCal’s isolated islands, nicknamed ‘California’s Galapagos.’
Go VIP all the way at California's chic city nightclubs – or skip the velvet ropes and dress codes, and hit California's come-as-you-are watering holes.
Los Angeles DJs spin at glam Hollywood clubs, and all of LGBT LA hits the ‘WeHo’ scene.
San Francisco Become a beatnik in North Beach, mingle with Mission hipsters or party with the Castro's rainbow-flag nation.
San Diego Put on your best flip-flops for surfer bars, or your walking shows for pub crawls through the Gaslamp Quarter, downtown’s historic red-light district.
Las Vegas, Nevada The Strip’s high-wattage nightclubs are the stuff of legend – but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.
Film & TV Locations
For a century California has made audiences laugh, cry, and come back for more. To witness the magic in action, join a live studio audience or tour a movie studio in LA.
Los Angeles You can’t throw a director’s megaphone without hitting a celluloid sight, from Mulholland Drive to Malibu.
San Francisco Bay Area Relive film-noir classics like The Maltese Falcon and Hitchcock’s thrillers Vertigo and The Birds.
Lone Pine Get misty-eyed over old-fashioned Westerns filmed in the Alabama Hills over in the Eastern Sierra.
Orange County Where soap operas, 'dramedies' and reality TV series have struck pop-culture gold.
Mendocino This tiny North Coast town has starred in dozens of movies, from East of Eden to The Majestic.
SoCal’s deserts and the North Coast are magnets for free spirits, but loopy LA and bohemian SF are just as jam-packed with memorable oddities.
Venice Boardwalk Gawk at the human zoo of bodybuilders, chainsaw-jugglers and Speedo-clad snake-charmers.
Kinetic Grand Championship Outrageously whimsical, artistic and human-powered sculptures race along the North Coast.
Integratron Allegedly built with aliens’ help, this giant 'rejuvenation and time machine' awaits near Joshua Tree.
Madonna Inn Fantastically campy Central Coast hotel with 110 bizarrely themed rooms, from ‘Caveman’ to ‘Hot Pink.’
Mystery Spot Santa Cruz’s shamelessly kitschy 1940s tourist trap will turn your world upside down.
Solvang Danish-flavored village in Santa Barbara's wine country spirited out of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
Las Vegas, Nevada Exploding faux volcanoes, a mock Eiffel Tower and an Egyptian-esque pyramid.
Who says California only has pop culture? You could spend most of your trip viewing multimillion-dollar art galleries, high-tech science exhibits, out-of-this-world planetariums and more.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) The supersized museum has more space than ever for photography, new media and walk-in installation art.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art More than 150,000 works of art span the ages and cross all borders.
Griffith Observatory There's no better place to see stars in Hollywood than at this hilltop planetarium.
de Young Museum A copper-skinned temple to art from around the globe in SF's Golden Gate Park.
Balboa Park Museums Spend all day in San Diego hopping between top-notch art, history and science museums, including those for kids.
Exploratorium Even adults love the zany interactive science-learning fun at this indoor/outdoor landmark on San Francisco Bay.
Native American nations, Spanish Colonial presidios (forts) and Catholic missions, Mexican pueblos (towns) and mining ghost towns have all left traces here for you to find.
Mission San Juan Capistrano Painstakingly restored jewel along California’s mission trail, stretching from San Diego to Sonoma.
Gold Country Follow in the tracks of Western pioneers and hardscrabble miners, or pan for gold yourself.
Old Town San Diego Time travel on the site of California’s first civilian Spanish Colonial pueblo.
Monterey State Historic Park Get a feel for California's Spanish, Mexican and early American days inside adobe buildings.
Bodie State Historic Park Haunting mining ghost town in the Eastern Sierra, above Mono Lake.
Manzanar National Historic Site WWII Japanese American internment camp interprets a painful chapter of the USA’s past.
Bringing Your Dog
What fun is it to go on vacation and leave your four-legged family member at home? These outdoorsy destinations welcome them with open arms and paws.
Huntington Beach Southern California’s biggest and best dog beach, where Fido can run off-leash for two miles.
Lake Tahoe The Sierra Nevada’s top outdoor playground for pups, with hiking trails, beaches, campsites and cabins.
Carmel-by-the-Sea On the Central Coast, everyone takes their pampered pooches to lunch, then lets them play in the surf.
Big Bear Lake Bring your canine companions for pet-friendly trails, cottages and camping in the mountains outside LA.
It doesn’t matter where you go in California, especially along the coast: there’s a rack of haute couture, outlet-mall bargains or vintage finds begging to be stashed in your suitcase.
Los Angeles Forget Beverly Hills. Robertson Blvd has more star-worthy boutiques per block, and youthful Melrose Ave is more fashion-forward.
San Francisco Elevating thrift-store fashion to a high art, while indie boutiques spread from the Marina to the Mission.
Orange County Hit Costa Mesa’s offbeat mini-malls, or browse boutiques with beautiful people in Laguna Beach.
Palm Springs Heaven for vintage and thrift-store shoppers seeking retro 20th-century gems, with outlet shopping too.