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California has something for everyone, so we’ve provided an insight into some of the spectacular offerings available, most of them all year round. 

for Road Trips

California is road trip heaven. Beaches, history, fabulous food and wine, National Parks and back roads all play a part in creating wonderful itineraries for the most avid road-tripper. It will take upwards of a week to enjoy all the Pacific Coast Highway offers, from the giant Redwood National Forest in northern California to San Diego near the Mexican border. Shorter two and three-day trips are available across the State. Diverse Itineraries include San Francisco to the Napa Valley onto Lake Tahoe and ultimately Yosemite before returning to the coast through Fresno and the impressive Sequoia National Park. Alternatively, try the Los Angeles loop, heading through AnaheimSan Diego, onto the Anza-Borrego Desert before arriving in elegant Palm Springs to return to nature in the Joshua Tree National Park, an area of outstanding beauty. Finally, take in Southern California’s mountain lake escape, Big Bear Lake and the formidable Death Valley. 

for Wine Country

Napa Valley may be the most famous area in California for wine, but many other parts of the State create unique flavours. Napa is a 30-mile-long valley sitting among the verdant hills just north of San Francisco. Here, you will find replica Tuscan Castles, renowned chefs and nearly 250 wineries offering the most sought-after vintages. Sonoma County is for the pinot noir enthusiast, with almost 400 wineries between the Pacific and the Mayacamas Mountains, providing 50 different grape varieties. A Segway wine tour is a great way to make the most of the area. Los Carneros straddles the southern end of Sonoma and Napa and specialises in Chardonnay, with a Merlot and Syrah providing the red options. At the same time, the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco offer smaller, more isolated vineyards. Taking the Santa Cruz Wine Trail will keep you on the right track. Monterey is one of California’s most underrated wine regions, offering a slightly different take on Pinots and Chardonnay. Still, from Pasa Robles and Santa Barbara County regions down to San Diego, you’ll find vineyards aplenty. 

for Beach Lovers

Whether you’re a surfer, a swimmer, or just looking for a shoreline to stroll, the best beaches in California have it all. The half-mile strip of silvery sand at Coronado Beach in San Diego often sparkles in the sunlight thanks to the mineral mica in the sand. Watch for dolphins in the water and Navy Seals training on the beach. Laguna Beach is considered to be one of the most popular with its palm-tree-lined pavements and turquoise waters, while Malibu’s four-mile-long Zuma Beach is unlike most of the coastline as there are no private homes sitting between the Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean. The Wedge at Newport Beach and Balboa Beach is where you can watch the surfers do their thing. Further north, near Monterrey, charming Carmel has a stunning white sandy beach ringed by sculpted cypress trees, which turns it into the prettiest seaside attraction along this stretch of coast. Beyond Los AngelesSanta Monica Beach is home to the famous amusement park on the pier, sitting on three miles of great sand with an excellent paved bike track and the main hangout for the bold and beautiful LA. Santa Barbara’s east and west beaches are separated by Stearns Wharf, with the east beach being bigger and more popular, although both palm-lined strips of sand are stunning. Oceano Dunes on the road to San Francisco is the only beach in California where dune buggies can be driven on the sands, but the sunsets behind the rolling hills are what make it so special. 

for Urban Explorers

San Francisco, famous for its cable cars, dynamic waterfront, and soaring Golden Gate Bridge, has seduced travellers for decades. With high-octane urban energy, it offers a prime city break, with organic cuisine, live music, ballet and theatre, plus boundless outdoor adventures; San Francisco justifiably is one of the world’s great destinations. For the first-time visitor, Los Angeles should be best understood as a collection of different neighbourhoods, all with their distinct flavour, set against a cinematic history like no other. The golden age glamour of big screen locations from West Hollywood to Beverly Hills, onto the vibe of Venice Beach and trend-setting flair of Santa Monica, with its stylish boutiques and beach-town vibes. San Diego is not only California’s most liveable city; its laidback lifestyle and community spirit, coupled with its everlasting sunny outlook, has an art scene that rivals most big cities. Vibrant bars and golden beaches provide residents and visitors with a lifestyle unmatched elsewhere. From the casual style of Sunset Beach up the coast to upmarket La Jolla with its luxurious shops and galleries, San Diego’s cuisine and architecture have been heavily influenced by its location just 17 miles north of the Mexico border. 

Ninety minutes inland from Los Angeles, the desert setting of Palm Springs, for years the hideaway for many well-heeled older celebritieshas now become a haven for a younger crowd seeking new cultural attractions, including those who like to dine on delicious sushi at stylish restaurants while being able to luxuriate in spring-fed hot pools at trendy spa hotels. Santa Barbara is a sophisticated city with its Spanish Mission-style architecture, a world-class culinary scene and amazing wine and microbrewery trails, all set against the backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Confident and cultured, the town and the surrounding area have long been the ultimate retreat for movie stars, artists and royalty. 

for Shoppers

Rodeo Drive in LA has to be top of most shopper’s lists, even if you are not buying. Robertson Boulevard in the same city is a mecca for unique outlets and high-end labels made up mainly of clothing boutiques, while ten minutes away, the Grove has a village atmosphere with a fountain-filled park and leafy outdoor cafes. South Coast Plaza, only fifteen minutes from Newport Breach south of LA, is a global shopping destination with more than 250 extraordinary boutiques, critically acclaimed restaurants, the Orange County Museum of Art and the celebrated Segerstrom Centre for the Arts. Ontario Mills is California’s largest outlet mall, but beware, the prices are not all discounted; in contrast, Santa Monica offers Montana Ave, where the celebrities shop, or the more affordable Third Street Promenade. San Francisco’s Union Square is a bustling gathering place for luxury shopping, while Palm Springs has the amazing Gardens at El Paseo retail complex. For vintage treasures, head to Uptown Design District.

for Adventurers

Just outside the big metropolitan hubs of California exists wild parts of the State few people know about. A lost coast, volcanic activity, cracked deserts and rural landscapes that feed the nation. From kayaking on the Channel Islands and white-water rafting on the American River for first-timers to paragliding at upmarket La Jolla, there is something for everyone with an adventurous spirit. Freewheelers can try the famous 17 17-mile drive in Monterey or the more challenging mountain bike trails up around Big Bear Lake. There are numerous hiking opportunities for every level of experience, including the dunes of the Mojave National Desert, or challenge yourself with another 17 miles on the coveted adventure of the Half Dome Trail, which presents spectacular vistas of the Yosemite Valley. If you prefer something less challenging, Devil’s Slide Trail may sound dangerous, but it is anything but. A mere 1½ miles walk along the former paved coastal highway with wondrous views, which is closed to vehicles but has parking at each end.

for Kids 

Think of California as a massive playground for children, whether young or old. The prominent places to start are Disneyland and Universal Studios, opposite Los Angeles. At the same time, further south and rated as one of the world’s top zoos, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo is home to around 4,000 animals and is hugely popular with families. San Francisco’s Exploratorium is an interactive, hands-on science museum which any child or adult will enjoy. Dolphin and whale watching tours are available from various areas along the coast, including giant blue whales in summer and autumn and grey whales in winter and spring. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, a 19th-century logging steam train offers rides through the Douglas Fir and Redwoods to Roaring Camp for an hour-long trip. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has frolicking sea otters, fast-swimming sharks, pulsating jellyfish, and waddling penguins. With over 200 world-class exhibits and stunning scenery, the Aquarium provides an insight into the world of oceans. In the middle of the Mojave Desert, for the more adventurous kids, sits Calico Ghost Town, an old west silver mining community abandoned in the mid-1890s but later restored and now providing various attractions such as panning for gold; visit a house of optical illusions or take a historic train ride. 

Whether a first-time visitor or returning time and again, you can find your ideal holiday activity without looking far in California. 

Start your journey.