California

TRAVEL GUIDE

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California's endless wonders, from Yosemite National Park to Disneyland, are both natural and man-made. Soul-satisfying wilderness often lies close to urbane civilization. With the iconic Big Sur coast, dramatic Mojave Desert, and majestic Sierra Nevada mountains, sunny California indulges those in search of great surfing, hiking, and golfing. Other pleasures await, too: superb food in San Francisco, studio tours in Los Angeles, winery visits and spas in Napa and Sonoma. Follow a beach picnic with a city stroll and live the California dream.

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Los Angeles

One of the glitziest places on the planet, the City of Angels combines the people-watching of Rodeo Drive, the nonstop nightlife of the Sunset...

San Francisco

With its myriad hills and spectacular bay, San Francisco beguiles with natural beauty, vibrant neighborhoods, and contagious energy. From the...

San Diego

San Diego is a vacationer's paradise, with year-round temperatures in the seventies and near-constant sunshine. One of America's most family...

Healdsburg

Easily Sonoma County's ritziest town and the star of many a magazine spread or online feature, Healdsburg is located at the intersection of...

Yosemite National Park

By merely standing in Yosemite Valley and turning in a circle, you can see more natural wonders in a minute than you could in a full day pretty...

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has long been an oasis for Los Angelenos seeking respite from big-city life. The attractions begin at the ocean and end in the...

Napa

After many years as a blue-collar burg detached from the Wine Country scene, the Napa Valley's largest town (population about 80,000) has evolved...

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The monstrously thick trunks and branches, remarkably shallow root systems, and neck-craning heights of the sequoias are almost impossible to...

Palm Springs

A tourist destination since the late 19th century, Palm Springs evolved into an ideal hideaway for early Hollywood celebrities who slipped into...

St. Helena

Downtown St. Helena is the very picture of good living in the Wine Country: sycamore trees arch over Main Street (Highway 29), where visitors...

Monterey

Monterey is a scenic city filled with early California history: adobe buildings from the 1700s, Colton Hall, where California’s first constitution...

Sonoma

One of the few towns in the valley with multiple attractions not related to food and wine, Sonoma has plenty to keep you busy for a couple of...

Calistoga

The false-fronted shops, 19th-century buildings, and unpretentious cafés lining the main drag of Lincoln Avenue give Calistoga a slightly rough...

Death Valley National Park

The natural riches of Death Valley—the largest national park outside Alaska—are overwhelming: rolling waves of sand dunes, black cinder cones...

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park teems with fascinating landscapes and life-forms. It attracts around 1.5 million visitors each year, yet is mysteriously...

Sacramento

All around the Golden State's seat of government you'll experience echoes of the gold-rush days, most notably in Old Sacramento, whose wooden...

Berkeley

Berkeley is the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, the radical hub of the 1960s, the home of arguably the nation's top public university...

Redwood National Park

Soaring more than 350 feet high, the coastal redwoods that give this park its name are miracles of efficiency—some have survived hundreds of...

Oakland

In contrast to San Francisco's buzz and beauty and Berkeley's storied counterculture, Oakland's allure lies in its amazing diversity. Here you...

Yountville

These days Yountville (population about 3,000) is something like Disneyland for food lovers. It all started with Thomas Keller's The French...

Mammoth Lakes

International real-estate developers joined forces with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to transform the once sleepy town of Mammoth Lakes (elevation...

Santa Cruz

The big city on this stretch of the California coast, Santa Cruz (pop. 63,364) is less manicured than Carmel or Monterey. Long known for its...

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Even when its population quadruples with tourists on weekends and in summer, Carmel-by-the-Sea, commonly referred to as Carmel, retains its...

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Peak, a plug dome, is the main focus of this 165-square-mile tract of dense forests and alpine meadows. Its most spectacular outburst...

Paso Robles

In the 1860s, tourists began flocking to this ranching outpost to "take the cure" in a bathhouse fed by underground mineral hot springs. An...

Santa Rosa

Urban Santa Rosa isn't as popular with tourists as many Wine Country destinations—which isn't surprising, seeing as there are more office parks...

San Luis Obispo

About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo spreads out below gentle hills and rocky extinct volcanoes. Its main appeal...

South Lake Tahoe

The city of South Lake Tahoe's raison d'être is tourism: the casinos of adjacent Stateline, Nevada; the ski slopes at Heavenly Mountain; the...

Temecula

Temecula, with its rolling green vineyards, country inns, and first-rate restaurants, bills itself as "Southern California Wine Country." The...

Channel Islands National Park

On crystal-clear days the craggy peaks of Channel Islands are easy to see from the mainland, jutting from the Pacific in sharp detail. A high...

Mill Valley

Chic and woodsy Mill Valley has a dual personality. Here, as elsewhere in the county, the foundation is a superb natural setting. Virtually...

Sausalito

Bougainvillea-covered hillsides and an expansive yacht harbor give Sausalito the feel of an Adriatic resort. The town sits on the northwestern...

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is all about the trees, and to understand the scale of these giants you must walk among them. If you do nothing else,...

Catalina Island

Just 22 miles out from the L.A. coastline, across from Newport Beach and Long Beach, Catalina has virtually unspoiled mountains, canyons, coves...

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections that adjoin the northern boundary of Sequoia National Park. The western portion, covered...

Truckee

Formerly a decrepit railroad town in the mountains, Truckee is now the trendy first stop for many Tahoe visitors. The town was officially established...

Pinnacles National Park

President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the uniqueness of the Pinnacles Volcanic Formation—its jagged spires and monoliths thrusting upward...

Fresno

Fresno, with half a million people, is the center of the richest agricultural county in the United States. Cotton, grapes, and tomatoes are...

Point Reyes National Seashore

With sandy beaches stretching for miles, a dramatic rocky coastline, a gem of a lighthouse, and idyllic, century-old dairy farms, Point Reyes...

Sebastopol

A stroll through downtown Sebastopol—a town formerly known more for Gravenstein apples than for grapes but these days a burgeoning wine hub...

Newport Beach

Newport Beach has evolved from a simple seaside village to an icon of chic coastal living. Its ritzy reputation comes from mega-yachts bobbing...

Laguna Beach

Driving in along Laguna Canyon Road from the Interstate 405 freeway gives you the chance to cruise through a gorgeous coastal canyon, large...

Glen Ellen

Craggy Glen Ellen epitomizes the difference between the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Whereas small Napa towns like St. Helena get their charm from...

Pacific Grove

This picturesque town, which began as a summer retreat for church groups more than a century ago, recalls its prim and proper Victorian heritage...

Barstow

Barstow was born in 1886, when a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway began construction of a Harvey House depot and hotel...

Tiburon

On a peninsula that was named Punta de Tiburon (Shark Point) by 18th-century Spanish explorers, this beautiful Marin County community retains...

Redding

A gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park's northern entrance, Redding is an ideal headquarters for exploring the surrounding countryside. ...

Avalon

Avalon, Catalina’s only real town, extends from the shore of its natural harbor to the surrounding hillsides. Its resident population is about...

Rutherford

The spot where Highway 29 meets Rutherford Road in the tiny community of Rutherford may well be the most significant wine-related intersection...

Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is a working-class town that many feel is the most authentic place on the coast. The city maintains a local vibe since most people...

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Road, which heads inland from Highway 1 south of Carmel, is the main thoroughfare through this valley, a secluded enclave of horse...

Disneyland Resort

The snowcapped Matterhorn, the centerpiece of Disneyland, punctuates the skyline of Anaheim. Since 1955, when Walt Disney chose this once-quiet...

Huntington Beach

Once a sleepy residential town with little more than a string of rugged surf shops, Huntington Beach has transformed itself into a resort destination...

Chico

The Sacramento Valley town of Chico (Spanish for "small") offers a welcome break from the monotony of Interstate 5. The Chico campus of California...

Morro Bay

Commercial fishermen slog around Morro Bay in galoshes, and beat-up fishing boats bob in the bay's protected waters. Nature-oriented activities...

Bakersfield

Bakersfield's founder, Colonel Thomas Baker, arrived with the discovery of gold in the nearby Kern River valley in 1851. With 364,000 residents...

Tahoe City

Tahoe City is the only lakeside town with a charming downtown area good for strolling and window-shopping. Stores and restaurants are all within...

Cambria

Cambria, set on piney hills above the sea, was settled by Welsh miners in the 1890s. In the 1970s the isolated setting attracted artists and...

Ventura

Like Los Angeles, the city of Ventura enjoys gorgeous weather and sun-kissed beaches—but without the smog and congestion. The miles of beautiful...

Ojai

The Ojai Valley, which director Frank Capra used as a backdrop for his 1936 film Lost Horizon, sizzles in the summer when temperatures routinely...

Kenwood

Tiny Kenwood consists of little more than a few restaurants, shops, tasting rooms, and a historic train depot, now used for private events....

Lodi

With about 100,000 acres of mostly rich alluvial soils planted to more than six-dozen grape varietals—more types than in any other California...

Pismo Beach

About 20 miles of sandy shoreline—nicknamed the Bakersfield Riviera for the throngs of vacationers who come here from the Central Valley—begins...

Big Bear Lake

When Angelenos say they're going to the mountains, they usually mean Big Bear, where alpine-style villages surround the 7-mile-long lake. The...

Olympic Valley

Olympic Valley got its name in 1960, when Squaw Valley USA, the ski resort here, hosted the Winter Olympics. Snow sports remain the primary...

Petaluma

The first thing you should know about Petaluma is that this is a farm town—with more than 60,000 residents, a large one—and the residents are...

Guerneville

Guerneville's tourist demographic has evolved over the years—Bay Area families in the 1950s, lesbians and gays starting in the 1970s, and these...

Geyserville

Several high-profile Alexander Valley AVA wineries, including the splashy Francis Ford Coppola Winery, can be found in the town of Geyserville...

Central Big Sur

The countercultural spirit of Big Sur—which instead of a conventional town is a loose string of coast-hugging properties along Highway 1—is...

Placerville

It's hard to imagine now, but in 1849 about 4,000 miners staked out every gully and hillside in Placerville, turning the town into a rip-roaring...

Murphys

Murphys is the Gold Country's most compact, orderly town, with enough shops and restaurants to keep families busy for at least a half day, and...

Claremont

The seven Claremont Colleges are among the most prestigious in the nation, lending the town an ambitious and creative energy. The campuses are...

Nevada City

Nevada City, once known as the Queen City of the Northern Mines, is the most appealing of the northern Mother Lode towns. The iron-shutter brick...

Rancho Mirage

The rich and famous of Rancho Mirage live in beautiful estates and patronize elegant resorts and expensive restaurants. Although many mansions...

Philo

Many wineries straddle Highway 128 in Philo and nearby Navarro. Tasting rooms here are more low-key than their counterparts in Napa, but the...

Borrego Springs

The permanent population of Borrego Springs, set squarely in the middle of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, hovers around 2,500. From September...

Mendocino

A flourishing logging town in the late-19th century, Mendocino seduces 21st-century travelers with windswept cliffs, phenomenal Pacific Ocean...

Mt. Shasta

While a snow-covered dormant volcano is the area’s dazzling draw, the town of Mt. Shasta charms visitors with its small shops, friendly residents...

Half Moon Bay

It may be the largest and most visited of the coastal communities, but Half Moon Bay is still by all measures a small town. Turn onto Main Street...

Weaverville

Chinese miners erected the 1874 Joss House that anchors Weaverville's impressive downtown historic district. The town, population about 3,600...

Solvang

You'll know you've reached the town of Solvang when the architecture suddenly changes to half-timber buildings and windmills. Danish educators...

Palm Desert

Palm Desert is a thriving retail and business community with popular restaurants, private and public golf courses, and premium shopping along...

Dana Point

Dana Point’s claim to fame is its small-boat marina tucked into a dramatic natural harbor and surrounded by high bluffs. The early-March Dana...

Eureka

With a population of 27,200, Eureka is the North Coast's largest city, a good place to fuel up, buy groceries, and learn a little about the...

Oakhurst

Motels, restaurants, gas stations, and small businesses line Highway 41 in Oakhurst, the last sizeable community before Yosemite National Park...

Modesto

Among the most striking "welcome to downtown" signs you'll see, the Modesto Arch, at 9th and I streets, bears the city's motto: "Water, Wealth...

Merced

The 2005 debut of a branch of the University of California helped spur redevelopment in Merced County’s seat of government. The transformation...

Visalia

Visalia's combination of a reliable agricultural economy and civic pride has produced the Central Valley's most vibrant downtown. If you're...

Pebble Beach

In 1919 the Pacific Improvement Company acquired 18,000 acres of prime land on the Monterey Peninsula, including the entire Pebble Beach coastal...

Avila Beach

Because the village of Avila Beach and the sandy, cove-front shoreline for which it's named face south into the Pacific Ocean, they get more...

Victorville

At the southwest corner of the Mojave is the sprawling town of Victorville, a town with a rich Route 66 heritage and a museum dedicated to the...

Bishop

One of the biggest towns along U.S. 395, bustling Bishop has views of the Sierra Nevada and the White and Inyo mountains. First settled by the...

Corona del Mar

A small jewel on the Pacific Coast, Corona del Mar (known by locals as "CDM") has exceptional beaches that some say resemble their majestic...

Boonville

At first glance Boonville, population a little more than 1,000, looks pretty much as it has for decades, with the 19th-century Boonville Hotel...

Quincy

A center for mining and logging in the 1850s, Quincy is nestled against the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The county seat and largest...

Palmdale

Before proclaiming itself the aerospace capital of the world, the town of Palmdale was an agricultural community. Settlers of Swiss and German...

Bodega Bay

From this working town's busy harbor west of Highway 1, commercial boats pursue fish and Dungeness crab. In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock shot The...

Carnelian Bay to Kings Beach

The small lakeside commercial districts of Carnelian Bay and Tahoe Vista service the thousand or so locals who live in the area year-round and...

Auburn

Halfway between San Francisco and Reno, Auburn convenient to gold-rush sites, outdoor recreation opportunities, and wineries. The self-proclaimed...

Three Rivers

Close to Sequoia National Park's Ash Mountain and Lookout Point entrances, Three Rivers is a good spot to find a room when park lodgings are...

Forestville

To experience the Russian River AVA's climate and rusticity, follow the river's westward course to the town of Forestville, home to a highly...

Los Olivos

This pretty village was once on Spanish-built El Camino Real (Royal Road) and later a stop on major stagecoach and rail routes. Tasting rooms...

Kernville

The wild Kern River, which flows through Kernville en route from Mt. Whitney to Bakersfield, delivers some of the most exciting white-water...

Indio

Indio is the home of the renowned date shake: an extremely thick and sweet milk shake made with dates. The city and surrounding countryside...

Sutter Creek

Sutter Creek is a charming conglomeration of balconied buildings, Victorian homes, and neo–New England structures. At any time of year Main...

San Simeon

Whalers founded San Simeon in the 1850s, but had virtually abandoned it by 1865, when Senator George Hearst began purchasing most of the surrounding...

Ridgecrest

A military town that serves the U.S. Naval Weapons Center to its north, Ridgecrest has scores of stores, restaurants, and hotels. With about...

Davis

Davis began as a rich agricultural area and remains one, but it doesn't feel like a cow town. It's home to the University of California at Davis...

Lake Shasta Area

The city of Shasta Lake, population about 10,000, is a portal to water, wilderness, dazzling stalagmites, and a fabulous human-made project...

Grass Valley

More than half of California's total gold production was extracted from mines around Grass Valley, including the Empire Mine, which, along with...

Indian Wells

For the most part a quiet and exclusive residential enclave, Indian Wells hosts major golf and tennis tournaments throughout the year, including...

Graton

Mere steps from Sebastopol and not far from Occidental, the tiny hamlet of Graton has a one-block main drag one can stroll in two minutes—although...

Lee Vining

Tiny Lee Vining is known primarily as the eastern gateway to Yosemite National Park (summer only) and the location of vast and desolate Mono...

Red Bluff

Red Bluff is a gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Established in the mid-19th century as a shipping center on the Sacramento River, and...

Oakville

Barely a blip on the landscape as you drive north on Highway 29, Oakville is marked only by its grocery store. The town's small size belies...

Mariposa

Mariposa marks the southern end of the Mother Lode. Much of the land in this area was part of a 44,000-acre land grant Colonel John C. Fremont...

Jamestown

Compact Jamestown supplies a touristy view of gold-rush-era life. Shops in brightly colored buildings along Main Street sell antiques and gift...

Jackson

Jackson wasn't the Gold Country's rowdiest town, but the party lasted longer here than most anywhere else: "girls' dormitories" (aka brothels...

Ukiah

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Santa Ynez

Founded in 1882, the tiny town of Santa Ynez still has many of its original frontier buildings. You can walk through the three-block downtown...

San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano is best known for its historic mission, where the swallows traditionally return each year, migrating from their winter haven...

Capitola and Soquel

On the National Register of Historic places as California’s first seaside resort town, the village of Capitola has been in a holiday mood since...

Idyllwild

Set in a valley halfway up Mt. San Jacinto, Idyllwild has been a serene forested getaway for San Diegans and Angelenos for nearly a century...

Susanville

Susanville, established as a trading post in 1854, is one of the eastern gateways to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The town tells the tale...

Occidental

A village surrounded by redwood forests, orchards, and vineyards, Occidental is a former logging hub with a bohemian vibe. The small downtown...

Ferndale

Ferndale, best known for its colorful Victorian architecture, much of it Stick-Eastlake style, is worth the 5-mile detour off U.S. 101. Many...

Moss Landing

Moss Landing is not much more than a couple of blocks of cafés and restaurants, art galleries, and studios, plus a busy fishing port, but therein...

Aptos

Backed by a redwood forest and facing the sea, downtown Aptos—known as Aptos Village—is a place of wooden walkways and false-fronted shops....

Hopland

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Lancaster

Points of interest around Lancaster include a state poppy reserve that bursts to life in the spring and Edwards Air Force Base, which offers...

Long Beach and San Pedro

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Oak Glen

More than 60 varieties of apples are grown in Oak Glen. This rustic village in the foothills above Yucaipa is home to acres of farms, produce...

Gualala

This former lumber port on the Gualala River, a good base for exploring the southern Mendocino coast, has all the basic services plus some galleries...

Buellton

A crossroads town at the intersection of U.S. 101 and Highway 246, Buellton has evolved from a sleepy gas and coffee stop into an enclave of...

Shenandoah Valley

The most concentrated Gold Country wine-touring area lies in the hills of the Shenandoah Valley, east of Plymouth—you could easily spend two...

Chester

The population of this small town on Lake Almanor swells from 2,500 to nearly 5,000 in summer as tourists come to visit. Chester serves as a...

Alturas

Alturas is the county seat and largest town in Modoc County. The Dorris family arrived in the area in 1874, built Dorris Bridge over the Pit...

Stinson Beach

This laid-back hamlet is all about the beach, and folks come from all over the Bay Area to walk its sandy, often windswept shore. Ideal day...

La Quinta

The desert became a Hollywood hideout in the 1920s, when La Quinta Hotel (now La Quinta Resort and Club) opened, introducing the Coachella Valley...

Cathedral City

Cathedral City is more residential than tourist-oriented, with large and small malls everywhere, but the city has several good restaurants and...

Woodland

In its heyday, Woodland was among California's wealthiest cities. Established by gold seekers and entrepreneurs, it later became an agricultural...

Stockton

California's first inland port—connected since 1933 to San Francisco via a 60-mile-long deepwater channel—is wedged between Interstate 5 and...

Hanford

Founded in 1877 as a Southern Pacific Railroad stop, Hanford had one of California's largest Chinatowns—the Chinese came to help build the railroads...

Trinidad

A mellow base for exploring the southern portion of Redwood National Park, coastal Trinidad got its name from the Spanish mariners who entered...

Riverside

By 1882 Riverside was home to more than half of California's citrus groves, making it the state's wealthiest city per capita in 1895. The prosperity...

Needles

Along Route 66 and the Colorado River, Needles is a decent base for exploring Mojave National Preserve and other desert attractions. Founded...

Pomona

The green hills of Pomona, dotted with horses and houses, are perhaps best known as the site of the Los Angeles County Fair and of California...

Lone Pine

Mt. Whitney towers majestically over this tiny community, which supplied nearby gold- and silver-mining outposts in the 1860s, and for the past...

Oakdale

Oakdale was founded as an orchard community and, in a real stretch, calls itself the Cowboy Capital of the World. Formerly the home of a Hershey...

Redlands

Redlands lies at the center of what once was the largest navel orange–producing region in the world. Orange groves are still plentiful throughout...

Rancho Cucamonga

Once a thriving wine-making area with more than 50,000 acres of wine grapes, Rancho Cucamonga—the oldest wine district in California—lost most...

Twentynine Palms

The main gateway town to Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms is also the location of the U.S. Marine Air Ground Task Force Training...

Freestone

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Dunsmuir

Surrounded by towering forests and boasting world-class fly-fishing in the Upper Sacramento River, tiny Dunsmuir was named for a 19th-century...

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead Village is an alpine community with lodgings, shops, outlet stores, and eateries that descend a hill to the lake. Outside the...

Independence

Named for a military outpost that was established near here in 1862, sleepy Independence has some wonderful historic buildings and is worth...

Fish Camp

As you climb in elevation along Highway 41 northbound, you see nothing but trees until you get to Fish Camp, where there's a post office and...

Lompoc

Known as the flower-seed capital of the world, Lompoc is blanketed with vast fields of brightly colored flowers that bloom from May through...

Corning

Signs along Highway 99 and Interstate 5 beckon travelers to Corning, whose favorable soil and plentiful sunshine have made the town a center...

Joshua Tree

Artists and renegades have long found solace in the small upcountry desert town of Joshua Tree, home to artsy vintage shops, cafés, and B&amp...

Randsburg

Randsburg and nearby Red Mountain and Johannesburg make up the Rand Mining District, which first boomed with the discovery of gold in the Rand...

Desert Hot Springs

Desert Hot Springs's famous hot mineral waters, thought by some to have curative powers, bubble up at temperatures of 90°F to 148°F and flow...

Point Arena

Occupied by longtime locals and long-haired surfers, this former timber town on Highway 1 is part New Age, part rowdy, and always laid-back...

Pescadero

As you walk down Stage Road, Pescadero's main street, it's hard to believe you're only 30 minutes from Silicon Valley. If you could block out...

Elk

In this quiet town on the cliff above Greenwood Cove, just about every spot has a view of the rocky coastline and stunning Pacific sunsets....

Volcano

Many roads, all of them winding, all of them scenic, lead to Volcano, an off-the-beaten-path former mining town of about 120 people, the entirety...

Emerald Bay State Park

You can hike, bike, swim, camp, scuba dive, kayak, or tour a lookalike Viking castle at this state park. Or you can simply enjoy the most popular...

Salinas

Salinas, a hardworking city surrounded by vineyards and fruit and vegetable fields, honors the memory and literary legacy of John Steinbeck...

Sonora

Miners from Mexico founded Sonora and made it the biggest town in the Mother Lode. Following a period of racial and ethnic strife, the Mexican...

Muir Beach

Except on the sunniest of weekends, Muir Beach is relatively quiet, but the drive here is a scenic adventure. ...

Little River

The town of Little River is not much more than a post office and a convenience store; Albion, its neighbor to the south, is even smaller. Along...

Mojave National Preserve

The 1.6 million acres of the Mojave National Preserve hold a surprising abundance of plant and animal life—especially considering their elevation...

Angels Camp

Angels Camp is famous chiefly for its May jumping-frog contest, based on Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras...

Knott's Berry Farm

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Ontario

Ontario has a rich agricultural and industrial heritage. The valley's warm climate once supported vineyards that produced grape varietals such...

El Portal

The market in town is a good place to pick up provisions before you get to Yosemite . You'll find a post office and a gas station, but not much else. ...

Columbia

Columbia is the gateway for Columbia State Historic Park, one of the Gold Country's most visited sites. It's a great place for families to...

Pope-Baldwin Recreation Area

To the west of downtown South Lake Tahoe, U.S. 50 and Highway 89 come together, forming an intersection nicknamed "the Y." If you head northwest...

Tahoma

With its rustic waterfront vacation cottages, Tahoma exemplifies life on the lake in its quiet early days before bright-lights casinos and huge...

Corona

Corona's Temescal Canyon is named for the dome-shaped mud saunas that the Luiseño Indians built around the area's artesian hot springs in the...

Mt. Tamalpais State Park

The view of Mt. Tamalpais from all around the bay can be a beauty, but that’s nothing compared to the views from the mountain, which range...

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

Visitors love to hike, swim, and fish here in the summer, but this park is also popular in winter, when a small campground remains open. Eleven...

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas on Earth, is the product of both natural and artificial forces. The sea occupies the Salton Basin...

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Conservationists banded together a century ago as the Save the Redwoods League and scored a crucial victory when a memorial grove was dedicated...

Jenner

The Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner, a wide spot in the road where houses dot a mountainside high above the sea. Facing...

Bass Lake

Almost surrounded by the Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake is a warm-water reservoir whose waters can reach 80 degrees F in summer. Created...

Salt Point State Park

Enjoy dramatic views, forested acres, and a rocky, rugged shoreline along Highway 1’s 5-mile route through this park. With the hiking, picnicking...

Red Rock Canyon State Park

On the stretch of Highway 14 that slices through Red Rock Canyon State Park, it’s easy to become caught up in the momentum of rushing to your...

San Juan Bautista

Much of the small town that grew up around Mission San Juan Bautista, still a working church, has been protected from development since 1933...

D.L. Bliss State Park

This park shares 6 miles of shoreline with adjacent Emerald Bay State Park, and has two white-sand beaches. Hike the Rubicon Trail for stunning...

Fort Ross State Historic Park

With its reconstructed Russian Orthodox chapel, stockade, and officials' quarters, Fort Ross looks much the way it did after the Russians made...

McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park

One of the most spectacular sights in the Far North is Burney Falls, where countless ribbon-like streams pour from moss-covered crevices. You...

Amador City

The history of tiny Amador City (population 200) mirrors the boom-bust-boom cycle of many Gold Country towns. With an output of $42 million...

Anderson Valley

At the town of Albion, Highway 128 leads southeast into the Anderson Valley, Mendocino's primary wine-growing region. Most of the first 13 miles...

Año Nuevo State Reserve

A beautiful park year-round, Año Nuevo State Reserve bustles during elephant seal mating season, from mid-December through March. ...

Coloma

The California gold rush started in Coloma. "My eye was caught with the glimpse of something shining in the bottom of the ditch," James Marshall...

Bolinas

The tiny town of Bolinas wears its 1960s idealism on its sleeve, attracting potters, poets, and peace lovers to its quiet streets. With a funky...

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Home to some grand redwoods and terrain that varies from rocky coastal coves to dense forestland, the 18,000-acre Big Basin has a human history...

Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie State Historic Park's scenery is spectacular, with craggy, snowcapped peaks looming over vast prairies. The town of Bridgeport is the...

Muir Woods National Monument

Climbing hundreds of feet into the sky, Sequoia sempervirens are the tallest living things on Earth—some are more than 1,800 years old. One...

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

In 1908 army chaplain and former slave Colonel Allen Allensworth and a group of African Americans decided to move west to create a community...

Primm, NV

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Baker

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Watsonville

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Cerro Gordo Ghost Town

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Manzanar National Historic Site

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Occidental

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Los Angeles

One of the glitziest places on the planet, the City of Angels combines the people-watching of Rodeo Drive, the nonstop nightlife of the Sunset...

San Francisco

With its myriad hills and spectacular bay, San Francisco beguiles with natural beauty, vibrant neighborhoods, and contagious energy. From the...

San Diego

San Diego is a vacationer's paradise, with year-round temperatures in the seventies and near-constant sunshine. One of America's most family...

Healdsburg

Easily Sonoma County's ritziest town and the star of many a magazine spread or online feature, Healdsburg is located at the intersection of...

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has long been an oasis for Los Angelenos seeking respite from big-city life. The attractions begin at the ocean and end in the...

Napa

After many years as a blue-collar burg detached from the Wine Country scene, the Napa Valley's largest town (population about 80,000) has evolved...

Palm Springs

A tourist destination since the late 19th century, Palm Springs evolved into an ideal hideaway for early Hollywood celebrities who slipped into...

St. Helena

Downtown St. Helena is the very picture of good living in the Wine Country: sycamore trees arch over Main Street (Highway 29), where visitors...

Monterey

Monterey is a scenic city filled with early California history: adobe buildings from the 1700s, Colton Hall, where California’s first constitution...

Sonoma

One of the few towns in the valley with multiple attractions not related to food and wine, Sonoma has plenty to keep you busy for a couple of...

Calistoga

The false-fronted shops, 19th-century buildings, and unpretentious cafés lining the main drag of Lincoln Avenue give Calistoga a slightly rough...

Sacramento

All around the Golden State's seat of government you'll experience echoes of the gold-rush days, most notably in Old Sacramento, whose wooden...

Berkeley

Berkeley is the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, the radical hub of the 1960s, the home of arguably the nation's top public university...

Oakland

In contrast to San Francisco's buzz and beauty and Berkeley's storied counterculture, Oakland's allure lies in its amazing diversity. Here you...

Yountville

These days Yountville (population about 3,000) is something like Disneyland for food lovers. It all started with Thomas Keller's The French...

Mammoth Lakes

International real-estate developers joined forces with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to transform the once sleepy town of Mammoth Lakes (elevation...

Santa Cruz

The big city on this stretch of the California coast, Santa Cruz (pop. 63,364) is less manicured than Carmel or Monterey. Long known for its...

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Even when its population quadruples with tourists on weekends and in summer, Carmel-by-the-Sea, commonly referred to as Carmel, retains its...

Paso Robles

In the 1860s, tourists began flocking to this ranching outpost to "take the cure" in a bathhouse fed by underground mineral hot springs. An...

Santa Rosa

Urban Santa Rosa isn't as popular with tourists as many Wine Country destinations—which isn't surprising, seeing as there are more office parks...

San Luis Obispo

About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo spreads out below gentle hills and rocky extinct volcanoes. Its main appeal...

South Lake Tahoe

The city of South Lake Tahoe's raison d'être is tourism: the casinos of adjacent Stateline, Nevada; the ski slopes at Heavenly Mountain; the...

Temecula

Temecula, with its rolling green vineyards, country inns, and first-rate restaurants, bills itself as "Southern California Wine Country." The...

Mill Valley

Chic and woodsy Mill Valley has a dual personality. Here, as elsewhere in the county, the foundation is a superb natural setting. Virtually...

Sausalito

Bougainvillea-covered hillsides and an expansive yacht harbor give Sausalito the feel of an Adriatic resort. The town sits on the northwestern...

Truckee

Formerly a decrepit railroad town in the mountains, Truckee is now the trendy first stop for many Tahoe visitors. The town was officially established...

Point Reyes National Seashore

With sandy beaches stretching for miles, a dramatic rocky coastline, a gem of a lighthouse, and idyllic, century-old dairy farms, Point Reyes...

Sebastopol

A stroll through downtown Sebastopol—a town formerly known more for Gravenstein apples than for grapes but these days a burgeoning wine hub...

Fresno

Fresno, with half a million people, is the center of the richest agricultural county in the United States. Cotton, grapes, and tomatoes are...

Newport Beach

Newport Beach has evolved from a simple seaside village to an icon of chic coastal living. Its ritzy reputation comes from mega-yachts bobbing...

Pacific Grove

This picturesque town, which began as a summer retreat for church groups more than a century ago, recalls its prim and proper Victorian heritage...

Glen Ellen

Craggy Glen Ellen epitomizes the difference between the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Whereas small Napa towns like St. Helena get their charm from...

Laguna Beach

Driving in along Laguna Canyon Road from the Interstate 405 freeway gives you the chance to cruise through a gorgeous coastal canyon, large...

Avalon

Avalon, Catalina’s only real town, extends from the shore of its natural harbor to the surrounding hillsides. Its resident population is about...

Rutherford

The spot where Highway 29 meets Rutherford Road in the tiny community of Rutherford may well be the most significant wine-related intersection...

Tiburon

On a peninsula that was named Punta de Tiburon (Shark Point) by 18th-century Spanish explorers, this beautiful Marin County community retains...

Barstow

Barstow was born in 1886, when a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway began construction of a Harvey House depot and hotel...

Redding

A gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park's northern entrance, Redding is an ideal headquarters for exploring the surrounding countryside. ...

Chico

The Sacramento Valley town of Chico (Spanish for "small") offers a welcome break from the monotony of Interstate 5. The Chico campus of California...

Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is a working-class town that many feel is the most authentic place on the coast. The city maintains a local vibe since most people...

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Road, which heads inland from Highway 1 south of Carmel, is the main thoroughfare through this valley, a secluded enclave of horse...

Huntington Beach

Once a sleepy residential town with little more than a string of rugged surf shops, Huntington Beach has transformed itself into a resort destination...

Bakersfield

Bakersfield's founder, Colonel Thomas Baker, arrived with the discovery of gold in the nearby Kern River valley in 1851. With 364,000 residents...

Ojai

The Ojai Valley, which director Frank Capra used as a backdrop for his 1936 film Lost Horizon, sizzles in the summer when temperatures routinely...

Morro Bay

Commercial fishermen slog around Morro Bay in galoshes, and beat-up fishing boats bob in the bay's protected waters. Nature-oriented activities...

Tahoe City

Tahoe City is the only lakeside town with a charming downtown area good for strolling and window-shopping. Stores and restaurants are all within...

Ventura

Like Los Angeles, the city of Ventura enjoys gorgeous weather and sun-kissed beaches—but without the smog and congestion. The miles of beautiful...

Cambria

Cambria, set on piney hills above the sea, was settled by Welsh miners in the 1890s. In the 1970s the isolated setting attracted artists and...

Kenwood

Tiny Kenwood consists of little more than a few restaurants, shops, tasting rooms, and a historic train depot, now used for private events....

Pismo Beach

About 20 miles of sandy shoreline—nicknamed the Bakersfield Riviera for the throngs of vacationers who come here from the Central Valley—begins...

Big Bear Lake

When Angelenos say they're going to the mountains, they usually mean Big Bear, where alpine-style villages surround the 7-mile-long lake. The...

Lodi

With about 100,000 acres of mostly rich alluvial soils planted to more than six-dozen grape varietals—more types than in any other California...

Petaluma

The first thing you should know about Petaluma is that this is a farm town—with more than 60,000 residents, a large one—and the residents are...

Central Big Sur

The countercultural spirit of Big Sur—which instead of a conventional town is a loose string of coast-hugging properties along Highway 1—is...

Olympic Valley

Olympic Valley got its name in 1960, when Squaw Valley USA, the ski resort here, hosted the Winter Olympics. Snow sports remain the primary...

Geyserville

Several high-profile Alexander Valley AVA wineries, including the splashy Francis Ford Coppola Winery, can be found in the town of Geyserville...

Guerneville

Guerneville's tourist demographic has evolved over the years—Bay Area families in the 1950s, lesbians and gays starting in the 1970s, and these...

Murphys

Murphys is the Gold Country's most compact, orderly town, with enough shops and restaurants to keep families busy for at least a half day, and...

Placerville

It's hard to imagine now, but in 1849 about 4,000 miners staked out every gully and hillside in Placerville, turning the town into a rip-roaring...

Mendocino

A flourishing logging town in the late-19th century, Mendocino seduces 21st-century travelers with windswept cliffs, phenomenal Pacific Ocean...

Borrego Springs

The permanent population of Borrego Springs, set squarely in the middle of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, hovers around 2,500. From September...

Philo

Many wineries straddle Highway 128 in Philo and nearby Navarro. Tasting rooms here are more low-key than their counterparts in Napa, but the...

Nevada City

Nevada City, once known as the Queen City of the Northern Mines, is the most appealing of the northern Mother Lode towns. The iron-shutter brick...

Mt. Shasta

While a snow-covered dormant volcano is the area’s dazzling draw, the town of Mt. Shasta charms visitors with its small shops, friendly residents...

Claremont

The seven Claremont Colleges are among the most prestigious in the nation, lending the town an ambitious and creative energy. The campuses are...

Rancho Mirage

The rich and famous of Rancho Mirage live in beautiful estates and patronize elegant resorts and expensive restaurants. Although many mansions...

Weaverville

Chinese miners erected the 1874 Joss House that anchors Weaverville's impressive downtown historic district. The town, population about 3,600...

Palm Desert

Palm Desert is a thriving retail and business community with popular restaurants, private and public golf courses, and premium shopping along...

Solvang

You'll know you've reached the town of Solvang when the architecture suddenly changes to half-timber buildings and windmills. Danish educators...

Half Moon Bay

It may be the largest and most visited of the coastal communities, but Half Moon Bay is still by all measures a small town. Turn onto Main Street...

Eureka

With a population of 27,200, Eureka is the North Coast's largest city, a good place to fuel up, buy groceries, and learn a little about the...

Dana Point

Dana Point’s claim to fame is its small-boat marina tucked into a dramatic natural harbor and surrounded by high bluffs. The early-March Dana...

Modesto

Among the most striking "welcome to downtown" signs you'll see, the Modesto Arch, at 9th and I streets, bears the city's motto: "Water, Wealth...

Oakhurst

Motels, restaurants, gas stations, and small businesses line Highway 41 in Oakhurst, the last sizeable community before Yosemite National Park...

Pebble Beach

In 1919 the Pacific Improvement Company acquired 18,000 acres of prime land on the Monterey Peninsula, including the entire Pebble Beach coastal...

Avila Beach

Because the village of Avila Beach and the sandy, cove-front shoreline for which it's named face south into the Pacific Ocean, they get more...

Visalia

Visalia's combination of a reliable agricultural economy and civic pride has produced the Central Valley's most vibrant downtown. If you're...

Merced

The 2005 debut of a branch of the University of California helped spur redevelopment in Merced County’s seat of government. The transformation...

Corona del Mar

A small jewel on the Pacific Coast, Corona del Mar (known by locals as "CDM") has exceptional beaches that some say resemble their majestic...

Auburn

Halfway between San Francisco and Reno, Auburn convenient to gold-rush sites, outdoor recreation opportunities, and wineries. The self-proclaimed...

Three Rivers

Close to Sequoia National Park's Ash Mountain and Lookout Point entrances, Three Rivers is a good spot to find a room when park lodgings are...

Bishop

One of the biggest towns along U.S. 395, bustling Bishop has views of the Sierra Nevada and the White and Inyo mountains. First settled by the...

Victorville

At the southwest corner of the Mojave is the sprawling town of Victorville, a town with a rich Route 66 heritage and a museum dedicated to the...

Palmdale

Before proclaiming itself the aerospace capital of the world, the town of Palmdale was an agricultural community. Settlers of Swiss and German...

Bodega Bay

From this working town's busy harbor west of Highway 1, commercial boats pursue fish and Dungeness crab. In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock shot The...

Boonville

At first glance Boonville, population a little more than 1,000, looks pretty much as it has for decades, with the 19th-century Boonville Hotel...

Quincy

A center for mining and logging in the 1850s, Quincy is nestled against the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The county seat and largest...

Carnelian Bay to Kings Beach

The small lakeside commercial districts of Carnelian Bay and Tahoe Vista service the thousand or so locals who live in the area year-round and...

Los Olivos

This pretty village was once on Spanish-built El Camino Real (Royal Road) and later a stop on major stagecoach and rail routes. Tasting rooms...

Indio

Indio is the home of the renowned date shake: an extremely thick and sweet milk shake made with dates. The city and surrounding countryside...

Forestville

To experience the Russian River AVA's climate and rusticity, follow the river's westward course to the town of Forestville, home to a highly...

Sutter Creek

Sutter Creek is a charming conglomeration of balconied buildings, Victorian homes, and neo–New England structures. At any time of year Main...

Kernville

The wild Kern River, which flows through Kernville en route from Mt. Whitney to Bakersfield, delivers some of the most exciting white-water...

Lee Vining

Tiny Lee Vining is known primarily as the eastern gateway to Yosemite National Park (summer only) and the location of vast and desolate Mono...

Red Bluff

Red Bluff is a gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Established in the mid-19th century as a shipping center on the Sacramento River, and...

San Simeon

Whalers founded San Simeon in the 1850s, but had virtually abandoned it by 1865, when Senator George Hearst began purchasing most of the surrounding...

Ridgecrest

A military town that serves the U.S. Naval Weapons Center to its north, Ridgecrest has scores of stores, restaurants, and hotels. With about...

Davis

Davis began as a rich agricultural area and remains one, but it doesn't feel like a cow town. It's home to the University of California at Davis...

Indian Wells

For the most part a quiet and exclusive residential enclave, Indian Wells hosts major golf and tennis tournaments throughout the year, including...

Oakville

Barely a blip on the landscape as you drive north on Highway 29, Oakville is marked only by its grocery store. The town's small size belies...

Grass Valley

More than half of California's total gold production was extracted from mines around Grass Valley, including the Empire Mine, which, along with...

Lake Shasta Area

The city of Shasta Lake, population about 10,000, is a portal to water, wilderness, dazzling stalagmites, and a fabulous human-made project...

Graton

Mere steps from Sebastopol and not far from Occidental, the tiny hamlet of Graton has a one-block main drag one can stroll in two minutes—although...

Jamestown

Compact Jamestown supplies a touristy view of gold-rush-era life. Shops in brightly colored buildings along Main Street sell antiques and gift...

Jackson

Jackson wasn't the Gold Country's rowdiest town, but the party lasted longer here than most anywhere else: "girls' dormitories" (aka brothels...

Santa Ynez

Founded in 1882, the tiny town of Santa Ynez still has many of its original frontier buildings. You can walk through the three-block downtown...

Mariposa

Mariposa marks the southern end of the Mother Lode. Much of the land in this area was part of a 44,000-acre land grant Colonel John C. Fremont...

Lancaster

Points of interest around Lancaster include a state poppy reserve that bursts to life in the spring and Edwards Air Force Base, which offers...

Oak Glen

More than 60 varieties of apples are grown in Oak Glen. This rustic village in the foothills above Yucaipa is home to acres of farms, produce...

Capitola and Soquel

On the National Register of Historic places as California’s first seaside resort town, the village of Capitola has been in a holiday mood since...

Susanville

Susanville, established as a trading post in 1854, is one of the eastern gateways to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The town tells the tale...

Moss Landing

Moss Landing is not much more than a couple of blocks of cafés and restaurants, art galleries, and studios, plus a busy fishing port, but therein...

Long Beach and San Pedro

...

San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano is best known for its historic mission, where the swallows traditionally return each year, migrating from their winter haven...

Ferndale

Ferndale, best known for its colorful Victorian architecture, much of it Stick-Eastlake style, is worth the 5-mile detour off U.S. 101. Many...

Occidental

A village surrounded by redwood forests, orchards, and vineyards, Occidental is a former logging hub with a bohemian vibe. The small downtown...

Hopland

...

Ukiah

...

Idyllwild

Set in a valley halfway up Mt. San Jacinto, Idyllwild has been a serene forested getaway for San Diegans and Angelenos for nearly a century...

Aptos

Backed by a redwood forest and facing the sea, downtown Aptos—known as Aptos Village—is a place of wooden walkways and false-fronted shops....

La Quinta

The desert became a Hollywood hideout in the 1920s, when La Quinta Hotel (now La Quinta Resort and Club) opened, introducing the Coachella Valley...

Alturas

Alturas is the county seat and largest town in Modoc County. The Dorris family arrived in the area in 1874, built Dorris Bridge over the Pit...

Buellton

A crossroads town at the intersection of U.S. 101 and Highway 246, Buellton has evolved from a sleepy gas and coffee stop into an enclave of...

Stockton

California's first inland port—connected since 1933 to San Francisco via a 60-mile-long deepwater channel—is wedged between Interstate 5 and...

Cathedral City

Cathedral City is more residential than tourist-oriented, with large and small malls everywhere, but the city has several good restaurants and...

Lone Pine

Mt. Whitney towers majestically over this tiny community, which supplied nearby gold- and silver-mining outposts in the 1860s, and for the past...

Hanford

Founded in 1877 as a Southern Pacific Railroad stop, Hanford had one of California's largest Chinatowns—the Chinese came to help build the railroads...

Stinson Beach

This laid-back hamlet is all about the beach, and folks come from all over the Bay Area to walk its sandy, often windswept shore. Ideal day...

Woodland

In its heyday, Woodland was among California's wealthiest cities. Established by gold seekers and entrepreneurs, it later became an agricultural...

Trinidad

A mellow base for exploring the southern portion of Redwood National Park, coastal Trinidad got its name from the Spanish mariners who entered...

Gualala

This former lumber port on the Gualala River, a good base for exploring the southern Mendocino coast, has all the basic services plus some galleries...

Pomona

The green hills of Pomona, dotted with horses and houses, are perhaps best known as the site of the Los Angeles County Fair and of California...

Riverside

By 1882 Riverside was home to more than half of California's citrus groves, making it the state's wealthiest city per capita in 1895. The prosperity...

Shenandoah Valley

The most concentrated Gold Country wine-touring area lies in the hills of the Shenandoah Valley, east of Plymouth—you could easily spend two...

Needles

Along Route 66 and the Colorado River, Needles is a decent base for exploring Mojave National Preserve and other desert attractions. Founded...

Chester

The population of this small town on Lake Almanor swells from 2,500 to nearly 5,000 in summer as tourists come to visit. Chester serves as a...

Independence

Named for a military outpost that was established near here in 1862, sleepy Independence has some wonderful historic buildings and is worth...

Redlands

Redlands lies at the center of what once was the largest navel orange–producing region in the world. Orange groves are still plentiful throughout...

Rancho Cucamonga

Once a thriving wine-making area with more than 50,000 acres of wine grapes, Rancho Cucamonga—the oldest wine district in California—lost most...

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead Village is an alpine community with lodgings, shops, outlet stores, and eateries that descend a hill to the lake. Outside the...

Twentynine Palms

The main gateway town to Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms is also the location of the U.S. Marine Air Ground Task Force Training...

Dunsmuir

Surrounded by towering forests and boasting world-class fly-fishing in the Upper Sacramento River, tiny Dunsmuir was named for a 19th-century...

Freestone

...

Oakdale

Oakdale was founded as an orchard community and, in a real stretch, calls itself the Cowboy Capital of the World. Formerly the home of a Hershey...

Randsburg

Randsburg and nearby Red Mountain and Johannesburg make up the Rand Mining District, which first boomed with the discovery of gold in the Rand...

Volcano

Many roads, all of them winding, all of them scenic, lead to Volcano, an off-the-beaten-path former mining town of about 120 people, the entirety...

Salinas

Salinas, a hardworking city surrounded by vineyards and fruit and vegetable fields, honors the memory and literary legacy of John Steinbeck...

Lompoc

Known as the flower-seed capital of the world, Lompoc is blanketed with vast fields of brightly colored flowers that bloom from May through...

Point Arena

Occupied by longtime locals and long-haired surfers, this former timber town on Highway 1 is part New Age, part rowdy, and always laid-back...

Fish Camp

As you climb in elevation along Highway 41 northbound, you see nothing but trees until you get to Fish Camp, where there's a post office and...

Elk

In this quiet town on the cliff above Greenwood Cove, just about every spot has a view of the rocky coastline and stunning Pacific sunsets....

Joshua Tree

Artists and renegades have long found solace in the small upcountry desert town of Joshua Tree, home to artsy vintage shops, cafés, and B&amp...

Corning

Signs along Highway 99 and Interstate 5 beckon travelers to Corning, whose favorable soil and plentiful sunshine have made the town a center...

Desert Hot Springs

Desert Hot Springs's famous hot mineral waters, thought by some to have curative powers, bubble up at temperatures of 90°F to 148°F and flow...

Pescadero

As you walk down Stage Road, Pescadero's main street, it's hard to believe you're only 30 minutes from Silicon Valley. If you could block out...

Sonora

Miners from Mexico founded Sonora and made it the biggest town in the Mother Lode. Following a period of racial and ethnic strife, the Mexican...

Knott's Berry Farm

...

Muir Beach

Except on the sunniest of weekends, Muir Beach is relatively quiet, but the drive here is a scenic adventure. ...

Ontario

Ontario has a rich agricultural and industrial heritage. The valley's warm climate once supported vineyards that produced grape varietals such...

El Portal

The market in town is a good place to pick up provisions before you get to Yosemite . You'll find a post office and a gas station, but not much else. ...

Little River

The town of Little River is not much more than a post office and a convenience store; Albion, its neighbor to the south, is even smaller. Along...

Angels Camp

Angels Camp is famous chiefly for its May jumping-frog contest, based on Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras...

Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park

Visitors love to hike, swim, and fish here in the summer, but this park is also popular in winter, when a small campground remains open. Eleven...

Columbia

Columbia is the gateway for Columbia State Historic Park, one of the Gold Country's most visited sites. It's a great place for families to...

Corona

Corona's Temescal Canyon is named for the dome-shaped mud saunas that the Luiseño Indians built around the area's artesian hot springs in the...

Tahoma

With its rustic waterfront vacation cottages, Tahoma exemplifies life on the lake in its quiet early days before bright-lights casinos and huge...

Jenner

The Russian River empties into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner, a wide spot in the road where houses dot a mountainside high above the sea. Facing...

Bass Lake

Almost surrounded by the Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake is a warm-water reservoir whose waters can reach 80 degrees F in summer. Created...

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas on Earth, is the product of both natural and artificial forces. The sea occupies the Salton Basin...

Amador City

The history of tiny Amador City (population 200) mirrors the boom-bust-boom cycle of many Gold Country towns. With an output of $42 million...

Coloma

The California gold rush started in Coloma. "My eye was caught with the glimpse of something shining in the bottom of the ditch," James Marshall...

San Juan Bautista

Much of the small town that grew up around Mission San Juan Bautista, still a working church, has been protected from development since 1933...

Anderson Valley

At the town of Albion, Highway 128 leads southeast into the Anderson Valley, Mendocino's primary wine-growing region. Most of the first 13 miles...

Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie State Historic Park's scenery is spectacular, with craggy, snowcapped peaks looming over vast prairies. The town of Bridgeport is the...

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

In 1908 army chaplain and former slave Colonel Allen Allensworth and a group of African Americans decided to move west to create a community...

Fort Ross State Historic Park

With its reconstructed Russian Orthodox chapel, stockade, and officials' quarters, Fort Ross looks much the way it did after the Russians made...

Bolinas

The tiny town of Bolinas wears its 1960s idealism on its sleeve, attracting potters, poets, and peace lovers to its quiet streets. With a funky...

Baker

...

Watsonville

...

Primm, NV

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Cerro Gordo Ghost Town

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Occidental

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Manzanar National Historic Site

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Napa and Sonoma

In California's premier wine region, the pleasures of eating and drinking are celebrated daily. It's easy to join in at famous wineries and...

The Central Coast

Balmy weather, glorious beaches, crystal-clear air, and serene landscapes have lured people to the Central Coast since prehistoric times. Today...

The Monterey Bay Area

Natural beauty is at the heart of the Monterey Bay area's enormous appeal—it's everywhere, from the redwood-studded hillsides to the pristine...

The Bay Area

It's rare for a metropolis to compete with its suburbs for visitors, but the view from any of San Francisco's hilltops shows that the Bay Area...

North County and Around

A whole world of scenic grandeur, fascinating history, and scientific wonder lies just beyond San Diego’s city limits. If you travel north along...

Sacramento and the Gold Country

The Gold Country is one of California's less expensive and more sublime destinations, a region of the Sierra Nevada foothills that’s filled...

Palm Springs and the Desert Resorts

With the Palm Springs area’s year-round sunshine, luxurious spas, chef-driven restaurants, and see-and-be-seen pool parties, it's no wonder...

Orange County and Catalina Island

With its tropical flowers and palm trees, the stretch of coast between Seal Beach and San Clemente is often called the California Riviera. Exclusive...

Lake Tahoe

Whether you swim, fish, sail, or simply rest on its shores, you’ll be wowed by the overwhelming beauty of Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake...

The North Coast

The spectacular coastline between Marin County and the Oregon border defies expectations. The Pacific Ocean defines the landscape, but instead...

The Far North

The Far North's soaring mountain peaks, trail-filled national forests, alpine lakes, and wild rivers teeming with trout make it the perfect...

The Central Valley

In California’s family of diverse regions, the 225-mile-long Central Valley is literally and figuratively a middle sibling. Cradled between...

The Inland Empire

Threaded with rolling vineyards, homey agricultural towns, and mountain retreats, the Inland Empire has a humble allure. Often bypassed because...

The Southern Sierra

The Eastern Sierra's granite peaks and ancient pines bedazzle heart and soul so completely that for many visitors the experience surpasses that...

The Mojave Desert

Dust and desolation, tumbleweeds and rattlesnakes, barren landscapes and failed dreams—these are the bleak images that come to mind when most...

Outside Redwood National Park

Crescent City, north of the park, is Del Norte County's largest town (population about 6,700) and home to the Redwood National and State parks...

Big Sur Coastline

Long a retreat of artists and writers, Big Sur is a place of ancient forests and rugged shoreline, stretching 90 miles from San Simeon to Carmel...

Outside Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nationa Parks

The already remote Sierra National Forest encircles much of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, making them a wilderness within a wilderness. ...

Outside Death Valley National Park

Founded at the turn of the 20th century, Beatty sits 16 miles east of the California-Nevada border on Death Valley's northern side. Named...

Outside Yosemite National Park

Marking the southern end of the Sierra's gold-bearing mother lode, Mariposa is the last town before you enter Yosemite on Route 140 to the...

Outside Lassen Volcanic National Park

The tiny logging town of Chester, 30 miles from the southwest park entrance on Highway 36, serves as the commercial center for the Lake Almanor...

Outside Joshua Tree National Park

Palm Springs, about a 45-minute drive from the North Entrance Station at Joshua Tree, serves as the home base for most park visitors. This...

Outside Channel Islands National Park

With a population of nearly 110,000, Ventura is the main gateway to Channel Islands National Park. It's a classic California beach town filled...

Yucca Valley

One of the high desert's fastest-growing cities, Yucca Valley is emerging as a bedroom community for people who work as far away as Ontario...

The Marin Headlands

The term Golden Gate has become synonymous with the world-famous bridge, but it was first given to the narrow waterway that connects the Pacific...

Outside Pinnacles National Park

Soledad, at the park's western entrance, is most famous for being the setting of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, but it's also a part of...

Southern Big Sur

This especially rugged stretch of oceanfront is a rocky world of mountains, cliffs, and beaches. ...

Carneros District

...

Eastern Carneros

...

Western Carneros

...

Yosemite National Park

By merely standing in Yosemite Valley and turning in a circle, you can see more natural wonders in a minute than you could in a full day pretty...

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The monstrously thick trunks and branches, remarkably shallow root systems, and neck-craning heights of the sequoias are almost impossible to...

Death Valley National Park

The natural riches of Death Valley—the largest national park outside Alaska—are overwhelming: rolling waves of sand dunes, black cinder cones...

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park teems with fascinating landscapes and life-forms. It attracts around 1.5 million visitors each year, yet is mysteriously...

Redwood National Park

Soaring more than 350 feet high, the coastal redwoods that give this park its name are miracles of efficiency—some have survived hundreds of...

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Peak, a plug dome, is the main focus of this 165-square-mile tract of dense forests and alpine meadows. Its most spectacular outburst...

Channel Islands National Park

On crystal-clear days the craggy peaks of Channel Islands are easy to see from the mainland, jutting from the Pacific in sharp detail. A high...

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is all about the trees, and to understand the scale of these giants you must walk among them. If you do nothing else,...

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park consists of two sections that adjoin the northern boundary of Sequoia National Park. The western portion, covered...

Pinnacles National Park

President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the uniqueness of the Pinnacles Volcanic Formation—its jagged spires and monoliths thrusting upward...

Emerald Bay State Park

You can hike, bike, swim, camp, scuba dive, kayak, or tour a lookalike Viking castle at this state park. Or you can simply enjoy the most popular...

Mojave National Preserve

The 1.6 million acres of the Mojave National Preserve hold a surprising abundance of plant and animal life—especially considering their elevation...

Salt Point State Park

Enjoy dramatic views, forested acres, and a rocky, rugged shoreline along Highway 1’s 5-mile route through this park. With the hiking, picnicking...

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Conservationists banded together a century ago as the Save the Redwoods League and scored a crucial victory when a memorial grove was dedicated...

Mt. Tamalpais State Park

The view of Mt. Tamalpais from all around the bay can be a beauty, but that’s nothing compared to the views from the mountain, which range...

Pope-Baldwin Recreation Area

To the west of downtown South Lake Tahoe, U.S. 50 and Highway 89 come together, forming an intersection nicknamed "the Y." If you head northwest...

Red Rock Canyon State Park

On the stretch of Highway 14 that slices through Red Rock Canyon State Park, it’s easy to become caught up in the momentum of rushing to your...

McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park

One of the most spectacular sights in the Far North is Burney Falls, where countless ribbon-like streams pour from moss-covered crevices. You...

Muir Woods National Monument

Climbing hundreds of feet into the sky, Sequoia sempervirens are the tallest living things on Earth—some are more than 1,800 years old. One...

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Home to some grand redwoods and terrain that varies from rocky coastal coves to dense forestland, the 18,000-acre Big Basin has a human history...

Año Nuevo State Reserve

A beautiful park year-round, Año Nuevo State Reserve bustles during elephant seal mating season, from mid-December through March. ...

D.L. Bliss State Park

This park shares 6 miles of shoreline with adjacent Emerald Bay State Park, and has two white-sand beaches. Hike the Rubicon Trail for stunning...

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