California – A Heady Mix

California, pronounced and often erroneously spelt as Califonia, is the 3rd largest state in the USA. It is one of the most geographically diverse states with sunny beaches on the west coast, deserts in the southeast, snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada in the east and a fertile central valley.

The state of California is the centre of entertainment, IT, aerospace, wine and agriculture industries in America, making it the richest as well as the most populous state. From beaches to national parks, and from entertainment to technology, California is a heady mix which offers some fantastic options for your holiday travel.

California hotels, restaurants and clubs are some of the best in the country. Nightlife can be exciting and expensive and entry to some clubs is by invitation only. Element is the top rated California club along with The Viper Room, Arena, Zanzibar and Level 3 in Los Angeles. In San Francisco, try DNA Lounge, Medjool and Slim’s.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot to do and see in California during your holiday travel. Here are a few highlights of the most important cities and national parks to help you in planning your California vacation:

California Cities

Los Angeles

Home to Hollywood and the glitz associated with the movie industry, Los Angeles is also called La-La Land for some very sane reasons. LA is vast, complex and an incredible fusion of tastes and cultures. Beverly Hills and Sunset Boulevard epitomize glamour. Malibu, Venice and Santa Monica are its top beaches where you will see some seriously fit and sexy bodies. Chinatown and the Grand Central Market are in Downtown LA. The famous Disneyland Resort is in Anaheim. LA is also home to some great museums like the two world-famous Getty Museums. Take time to visit its opulent shopping malls, clubs and restaurants.
You will need more than two days to fully explore this sprawling city in southern California where traffic jams are a way of life.

San Francisco

You need an open mind to visit San Francisco or else you will be in a perpetual state of shock when you see what passes as routine. The city is beautiful with 43 hills, a fantastic bay area and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Some of the things to do include a visit to Alacatraz – the infamous prison where Al Capone was jailed, a walk along the Golden Gate Bridge, watching sea lions basking in the sun at Fisherman’s Wharf and cable car rides for some spectaculars views of the city.
San Francisco is located about 380 miles from Los Angeles in northern California.

San Diego

A pleasant weather and a wonderful 70-mile coastline means its resident prefer to live their life outdoors. It’s one city that is kid friendly and its Seaworld and San Diego Zoo attract loads of families from all over the world. Visit the Gaslamp Quarter and see lovely Victorian structures converted into fine restaurants and top boutiques. Stroll, swim, go kayaking, surf or watch seals at La Jolla, quite often voted the best California beach. Also explore the 1200-acre Balboa Park which is considered the cultural heart of the city.

San Jose

Once surrounded by farms and ranches, today’s San Jose is where top industrial and computer giants have their headquarters. Yet it still retains its small-town feel. It has some great museums, historical buildings, beaches, bars and restaurants. Silicon Valley attracts the top IT brains from all over the world and its unique population mix adds to the city’s cultural diversity.


The capital of California, Sacramento is best known for its Capitol building and its sprawling gardens. There are tree-lined avenues along the river with several Victorian houses. Because housing is more affordable, some people who work in the Bay Area or in Silicon Valley prefer to live here and commute to work. This is a surprisingly laidback city of southern California.

California National Parks

Although more famous for its glamour and beaches, the state of California is also home to some of the most stunning and diverse National Parks in the country. Below is our selection of the top four national parks in California.

Yosemite National Park

It is located just 200 miles east of San Francisco and covers a large area of the Sierra Nevada mountains. To put it simply, Yosemite National Park’s beauty just takes your breath away. Icy glaciers, tall granite mountains, crystal clear lakes, 1,000 feet waterfalls and wildflower meadows together create a park that’s stunningly beautiful. Giant sequoia trees, some presumed to be more than 3,000 years old, are found here. The Half Dome granite mountain rises up majestically to a height of 8,842 feet.
The Park gets overcrowded during peak summer but go in May and June so you can avoid the crowds and see the cascading waterfalls cascading as they are fed by the melting snow.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

The most incredible thing about the Park is that it is the site of an active volcano. The Lassen Peak volcano last erupted in 1921. When you enter from the south entrance you will arrive at the area known for its geothermal activity. Bubbling mud pots, hot springs and steaming fumaroles create a smoldering terrain surrounded by lush pine forests.
The Park is fully operational for only three months of the year but it is possible to access some parts of the Park all year round. Lassen is located north of the Sierra Nevada mountains and is 200 miles from San Francisco.

Death Valley

As its name indicates, very little grows here. Death Valley is vast – it is the second largest national park in the USA, and barren with sand dunes and rocky mountains. Its lowest point is 282 feet below sea level which is why temperatures rise to a boiling 130 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. The highest point however is above 11,000 feet so nights can get very cold and it also snows high up in the mountains in winter. This extreme climate makes for an interesting experience. Multi-coloured rocks and canyons stand besides pristine sand dunes and snowcapped mountains.

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park

These two parks are located next to each other and have similar terrains. As their names indicate, Sequoia is famous for its clusters of the gigantic 200-feet plus tall reddish sequoia trees while Kings Canyon is known for its fantastic canyon and the gorges of the Kings river. The parks are less visited than some of the others in California but are definitely not less beautiful. They are located on the southern side of the Sierra Nevada range.

Read more about other interesting destinations like Beaches, Romantic Spas, Ski Resorts and other holiday travel locations on this site.

Posted by on November 7th, 2009

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