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The Great Outdoors: National Parks California
The Great Outdoors: National Parks California
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Great Outdoors

Nearly 300 state and national parks show off California’s spectacular lands.

With its stunning coastline, dramatic deserts, and rugged mountains, California offers wide-open spaces for everything from scenic road trips to adrenaline-fueled adventures.

In parklands including World Heritage sites Yosemite National Park and Redwood State and National Parks, enjoy year-round activities. In spring, raft Gold Country rivers and take wildflower hikes in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, or swing a club at celebrated courses. In summer, surf “The O.C.” or Santa Cruz, or rent a houseboat on a sparkling lake. Come fall, photograph brilliant High Sierra foliage or join a wine country grape stomp. In winter, ski celebrated slopes, or take a whale-watching cruise off the North Coast.

Culture

Make California’s rich, anything-goes culture part of your vacation experience.

California’s arts and culture extend beyond the walls of its world-class museums. Communities like Carmel-by-the-Sea, Idyllwild, and Laguna Beach showcase rich artistic heritage. Spanish missions shed light on California’s roots.

Celebrate the state’s music scene at festivals like Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival near Palm Springs, Monterey Jazz Festival on the Central Coast, and San Francisco’s Outside Lands. Experience diverse cultures in San Francisco’s Chinatown, or Mexican-influenced Old Town San Diego.

Step into the state’s iconic surf culture at Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA. Be dazzled by California’s movie-star magic, with top stars living and working in and around Hollywood.

Urban Excitement

When it comes to big-city fun, California’s urban hot spots shine.

California is a land of great urban gateways, with exciting hubs, like San Francisco’s bustling Union Square, Los Angeles’ dynamic downtown and Sunset Strip, and San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Discover buzz-worthy chefs at innovative restaurants, or sample California’s booming (and delicious) food truck fare. After dark, enjoy a mixologist’s cocktail, catch a concert or play, or dance the night away.

Leave time to experience iconic urban attractions like Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort, SeaWorld San Diego, and Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as hidden gems ranging from tucked-away city gardens to expansive leafy retreats, like San Diego’s Balboa Park and world-famous zoo.

Indulgence

California offers an unparalleled range of unexpected “spoil yourself” experiences.

Escape into bliss at a luxurious spa or a serene wellness retreat. Sip top vintages at elegant wineries. Slip into haute couture styles at Beverly Hills’ boutiques, or at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. Take a VIP tour of movie back lots and top attractions. Savor meals created by Michelin-starred chefs, like Thomas Keller at Yountville’s The French Laundry and Wolfgang Puck at Spago, in Los Angeles.

Priceless indulgences abound. Catch one of the world’s best light shows—a California sunset—from the cliffs of Mendocino. Watch mystical fog swirl through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and gaze up at waterfall rainbows at Yosemite National Park.

The Great Outdoors: National Parks California
The Great Outdoors: National Parks California
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Fun Fact

California Fun Fact
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California contains both the highest point (Mount Whitney) and the lowest point (Death Valley) in the contiguous United States.

Must see places

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Driving through the tunnel leading to Yosemite Valley, the vista opens up like a larger-than-life postcard: the granite faces of El Capitan and Half Dome, the ethereal cascade of Bridalveil Fall and the carpet of wildflowers.

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Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument

Less than an hour north of San Francisco, hike the 10 kilometers of trails among old-growth giant redwood trees in Muir Woods National Monument on Mount Tamalpais, which is often shrouded in fog.

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Universal Studios Hollywood

Enjoy exciting rides at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and many others at Universal Studios Hollywood. Also new, visitors can immerse themselves in the post-apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead.”

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Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz Island

Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz Island

At Fisherman’s Wharf, dine on fresh seafood, watch the amusing sea lions on Pier 39 and catch a cruise to Alcatraz Island, once a notorious federal penitentiary and now a popular tourist attraction.

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Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Straddling the California-Nevada state line, Lake Tahoe is a pristine alpine lake that draws visitors year round. Go boating, fishing, hiking and mountain biking in three seasons, then enjoy skiing with spectacular views in winter.

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Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Visitors to San Diego could spend weeks in the city’s urban cultural park and still not see everything. Start with the award-winning San Diego Zoo, 15 major museums, expansive gardens and frequent events.

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Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Snap your own photo of San Francisco’s most iconic attraction from vista points in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, then drive, walk or bicycle across the world-famous span. The views are amazing, especially at sunset.

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Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

At the juncture of two deserts, this park is filled with a fascinating variety of plants and animals. Enjoy the strange-looking trees (the park’s namesake) as well as surreal geologic features and outstanding stargazing.

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Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Stick your toes in the sand, catch a few waves, then explore the landmark Santa Monica Pier. Ride the roller coaster, take in the fabulous views from the Ferris wheel and play arcade games.

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TCL Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame

TCL Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame

A historic cinema palace in Hollywood, the TCL Chinese Theatre hosts movie premieres in its opulent surroundings, and has movie stars' hand prints embedded in cement. Wander the Walk of Fame and search for your favorite celebrities’ stars emblazoned on the sidewalks.

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Hot Air Balloon flying over Asheville, North California
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