California’s cities have more flavors than a jar of jellybeans. Start from San Francisco, where earth mother meets geek chic, and head toward Los Angeles, where even juice-cleansing starlets can't resist Koreatown BBQ. On sunny days when the coastal fog lifts, over 1100 miles of ocean beaches await. Drift down the coast past palm-lined avenues to surfer-dude-central San Diego – and when you're tanned enough and ready for a change of scenery, escape to the craggy Sierra Nevada mountains, soul-search in SoCal's desert moonscapes, and find your better nature in northern redwood forests. And no matter where you go, California's vineyards never seem far away.
California’s ‘Left Coast’ reputation is made in SF, where DIY self-expression, sustainability and spontaneity are the highest virtues. Freethinkers, techies, chefs and renegade artists all conspire to create the world's most out-there ideas, food and technology – and reinvent San Francisco anew each day.
Marin County & the Bay Area
Hiking & Cycling
Outdoorsy people especially love Marin County for its beaches, ranches, wildlife and hiking and cycling trails – but indoorsy people will find something to love about the entire Bay Area, from the legendary counterculture hubs of 'Bezerkely' and 'Oaktown' to the nerd-core nodes of Silicon Valley.
Napa & Sonoma Wine Country
Cycling & Canoeing
The twin advantages of sun-washed valleys and cool coastal fog have turned Napa, Sonoma and the Russian River into California’s most iconic wine-growing region. But this isn't a monoculture: local ranches and specialty produce thrive, keeping the ecosystem diverse and yielding bountiful farm-to-table meals.
North Coast & the Redwoods
Lumber barons who had a change of heart helped conserve primeval redwood forests along the misty, rugged and wild North Coast. Let your hippie flag fly in Humboldt County, and swap seafaring stories at fishing villages from Bodega Bay to Eureka.
Sacred Mt Shasta is a magnet for Native American shamans, new-age poets and ice-axe-wielding alpinists. There's more wilderness as you head north along backcountry byways, passing pristine lakes to Lassen’s volcanic Bumpass Hell.
Sacramento & the Central Valley
Farms & Fairs
Start exploring California’s roots at the state capital – show up in July for the state fair, then visit the Sacramento River Delta, where perfectly preserved riverside towns look much as they did in their 1930s heyday. Explore the Wild West Chinatowns of Locke and Isleton or Walnut Grove's Japantown.
Caving & Rafting
Head for the Sierra Nevada foothills to find the Wild West alive and well in California's historic gold-mining country. Get thrills on river-rafting trips, chills on underground cave tours and swills at rustic winery tasting rooms.
Cabins & Camping
North America’s largest alpine lake is a year-round outdoor playground. Come for Olympic-worthy skiing in winter, or cool off by the beaches in summer. Flashy casinos are a bonus nearby attraction.
Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada
Hiking & Climbing
California’s iconic mountain range is a world of wonder, with granite peaks, natural hot springs, deep canyons, groves of giant sequoias, and alpine meadows and lakes. Summer is prime time for outdoor adventures in America's wildest backyard.
Surf south from hippy-dippy Santa Cruz to studious San Luis Obispo, stopping to whale-watch at Monterey Bay, hike past Big Sur’s coastal waterfalls and gawk at Hearst Castle.
Santa Barbara County
Unlike certain movie-star neighbors, Santa Barbara keeps a low, Spanish Colonial profile behind white-sand beaches, and world-class vineyards are less than an hour's drive away. Sparkling waters invite you to go snorkeling, diving or sea kayaking in the Channel Islands National Park, just offshore.
There’s more to life in La La Land than just sunny beaches and air-kissing celebrities. Get a dose of culture downtown, then dive into LA’s iconic neighborhoods, from historic Little Tokyo to movie-palace Hollywood.
Disneyland & Orange County
The OC’s beaches are packed bronze-shoulder-to-shoulder with rugged surfers, ripped beach-volleyball champions and retouched reality stars. If you think the scenery is surreal here, wait until you spend a day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
San Diego & Around
California's southernmost city is on permanent vacation, with a near-perfect year-round climate and booming craft-brewery scene. Explore Balboa Park's quirky museums and lush gardens, or do what everyone else is doing: wander laid-back beach towns on a quest for the ultimate fish taco.
Palm Springs & the Deserts
Resorts & Spas
Hiking & Climbing
The retro resort playground of Palm Springs is making a comeback with its Coachella festival, LGBT scene, tiki speakeasies and restored mid-Century Modern motels. Go hiking or climbing in Joshua Tree, then test your 4WD mettle in Death Valley, where spring wildflowers dazzle.