California is a near-mythical place for many people, a land immortalized by pop songs, movie stars, and images of palm trees and beaches. Every year, millions of people from around the globe travel to the Golden State in search of their own California experience. While not all will find what they were looking for, there are many reasons to make the trip to California.
The natural beauty of the state is undeniable. Where else in the world can one find sandy beaches, harsh deserts and majestic mountains all within a couple hundred miles. In addition, California’s numerous man-made attractions give tourists endless options for entertainment.
Photo Credit: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a must-see for those who appreciate natural wonders. Epic rock formations and magnificent waterfalls form the backdrop here. The views both from the valley floor and spots higher up are truly breathtaking. Hikers will find some of the most beautiful and challenging hikes west of the Rockies in Yosemite. Rock climbers consider the park a virtual nirvana, as the massive granite structures offer innumerable tests of their skills and endurance.
The greater Los Angeles area offers many top-notch theme parks, including Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain and Universal Studios. Disneyland gives kids of all ages the chance to go on thrilling rides, discover a myriad of themed lands, watch professionally enacted shows, and meet their favorite Disney characters. For tourists who really enjoy amusement park rides, Magic Mountain is hard to beat. Some of the most thrilling rides every created reside here. Knott’s Berry Farm also offers an abundance of family-friendly rides and thrills, in addition to animal attractions. Universal Studios is as essential experience for any movie buff, with unique rides and exhibits from many popular motion pictures.
In Hollywood, visitors can see the Walk of Stars, featuring tributes to hundreds of celebrities. There is also often the opportunity to participate as an audience member in some of the many television shows that are recorded here. Nearby Ventura Boulevard provides a picturesque drive through the city and into the surrounding hills.
The beaches of Southern California are renowned for their boardwalks and surfing. Whether visitors are looking to relax and get a tan, play some beach volleyball, or ride the waves, opportunities abound. Venice Beach is one of L.A.’s most fashionable spots. Numerous walkers, bikers and roller bladers use its long, paved boardwalk. Many interesting street performers can be found here as well. Hermosa Beach is a long sandy beach that inspired the Beach Boys’ famous surf music. Surfing lessons are often available at many of the beaches for those who want to try this exhilarating, yet challenging sport.
Animal lovers will want to travel a couple hours south of Los Angeles to San Diego. This gorgeous city is home to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, as well as the fantastic Sea World. The Zoo is host to an incredible array of animal species, including many endangered ones. Sea World offers visitors a chance to witness sea creatures from all over the planet, as well as trained performances from dolphins, seals and orcas.
Northern California is not as popular for tourists as the southern half, but visitors will find bountiful attractions here as well. The beautiful city of San Francisco is one of the top places to visit. The “City by the Bay” features the famous Golden Gate Bridge, the former prison island of Alcatraz, and a world-class seafood market with many interesting shops to explore. San Francisco is especially nice to visit during the summer, when fresh ocean breezes keep the city much cooler than most of the state.
The Redwood forest north of San Francisco is a collection of some of the largest trees in the world. Towering hundreds of feet above the forest floor, some trees are wide enough to drive a car through. In fact, one particular titan is hollowed out to allow just that. To the far north, the photogenic and volcanic Mt. Shasta offers a popular ski resort during the winter and numerous outdoor activities the rest of the year. For those who enjoy a scenic drive, Highway 101 snakes along the coastal mountains, presenting spectacular ocean views along the way.