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.

San Francisco

Food

Culture

Arts

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

Food

Cities

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

Wineries

Food

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

Wildlife

Hiking

Scenic Drives

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.

Northern Mountains

Mountains

Lakes

Scenic Drives

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

History

Museums

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.

Gold Country

History

Caving & Rafting

Wineries

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.

Lake Tahoe

Winter Sports

Water Sports

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

Wildlife

Hiking & Climbing

Scenic Drives

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.

Central Coast

Beaches

Wildlife

Scenic Drives

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

Beaches

Wineries

Outdoor Sports

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.

Los Angeles

Nightlife

Food

Beaches

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

Theme Parks

Beaches

Surfing

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

Beaches

Mexican Food

Museums

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

Wildflowers

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.