San Diego Wild Animal ParkWhat’s New
• SUPERMAN Roller Coaster: Listed among the top 10 most anticipated theme park attractions in 2012, the steel coaster is a one-of-a-kind super launch ride that features the tallest inversion west of the Mississippi and ranks among the tallest coaster inversions in the world. Riders experience lightning speeds of 99 kph, with two upside-down twists and two vertical rolls. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo.
• Disneyland Park: Disneyland features 54 attractions in eight themed lands. Nearby, Disney’s California Adventure includes 36 attractions in five themed lands (six if you count the Hollywood Pictures Backlot). In addition to rides, both theme parks have numerous restaurants and shops. Anaheim.
• Universal Studios Hollywood: Experience the sights, sounds and excitement of the movie capital of the world with a tram ride through the backlots, and adventure rides like King Kong 360-3D, The World’s Largest 3-D Experience. Los Angeles.
• Motion Picture Hall of Fame: Honours film legends and educates the public about movie making. Los Angeles.
• J. Paul Getty Museum: Home to a world-class collection of European and American art. Los Angeles.
• Knotts Berry Farm: 60 hectares of rides, shows, and family attractions in six themed areas. The coaster collection appeals to first-time riders as well as seasoned ride warriors; Camp Snoopy was the first-ever theme park area dedicated solely to kids; live shows include the Wild West Stunt Show, Camp Snoopy Theatre and the all new Snoopy’s Starlight Spectacular. Anaheim.
• The Tech Museum of Innovation: Interactive exhibits and unique floor programs showcase not just how technology works, but how it affects daily life. Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater. San Jose.
• Charles M. Schulz Museum: Contains nearly 6,000 of his original comic strips and several hundred preliminary sketches for Peanuts. Exhibits and programs illustrate the scope of Schulz's multi-faceted career. The Museum also features a Tribute Art Collection – tribute art that pays homage to Schultz from cartoonists around the world. Santa Rosa.
• Skiing & Snowboarding: California boasts elite downhill skiing and boarding regions including the High Sierras with the Lake Tahoe Ski Area, South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Sierra-At-Tahoe mountain resorts on the south side and Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Mt. Rose, Alpine Meadows and Boreal on the north; the Central Sierras with Bear Valley, Dodge Ridge and Mammoth Mountain; Mt. Shasta Ski Park in northern California; and Snow Summit and Bear Mountain resorts a few hours from Los Angeles and San Diego.
• Hearst Castle: This palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst is now a State and National Historic Landmark. Open for public tours. San Simeon.
• Aquarium of the Bay: Walk through crystal clear tunnels surrounded by the marine creatures that live in the San Francisco Bay and nearby waters. Exhibits include: The lair of the Giant Pacific Octopus; The Mesmerizing World of Jellies; and PG&E Bay Lab, and interactive climate change exhibit. San Francisco.
• Top 10 Sinatra Sites: Free, detailed list of Frank Sinatra’s favourite haunts. Includes Twin Palms Estate, his former home with Ava Gardner; Frank Sinatra Drive; Melvyn’s, Riccio’s and Lord Fletcher’s, Sinatra’s favourite hangouts and Desert Memorial Park, the final resting place of Ol’ Blue Eyes. Palm Springs.
• Museum of Flying: Featuring nearly two dozen aircraft chronicling the beginning of flight – from a replica Wright Flyer, to the jet age, with the BD-5 micro jet and the FedEx 727 nose section. Santa Monica Airport.
• Golfing: The state is filled with internationally renowned public access courses like Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, PGA West and Torrey Pines. Highlights include Sierra Star Golf Course with the highest elevation course in California; The Golf Club at Whitehawk Ranch with its peaceful setting and a stout test of skills. Pasatiempo Golf Club, in Santa Cruz, is listed on Golfweek’s Best Top 100 golf courses while The Course at Wente Vineyards, east of San Francisco, hosts the Nationwide Tour Wine Country Championship.
• LEGOLAND Water Park: World’s first LEGO-themed water park. Highlights include a Build-A-Raft river where visitors can construct their own LEGO raft; water slides; a 14-metre high tower playground; two sandy beach wading areas and Clutch Powers 4-D Adventure, a combination of wind and rain topped with 3-D effects in a 10-minute action-packed film. San Diego.
• GLBT History Museum: Houses exhibits that reflect fascinating stories spanning nearly a century of GLBT life. San Francisco.
Universal Studios Hollywood
• Monterey Bay Aquarium: Displays more than 500 species housed in 100 tanks that look at the local marine environment including the shoreline, kelp forests and the Bay’s underwater canyon. The Open Sea exhibit offers a unique perspective on the vast, virtually unexplored waters of the open ocean. Monterey.
• Pier 39: Pure fun, with a festival marketplace boasting 110 specialty shops and 12 full-service restaurants dishing up fresh seafood and California cuisines, all accompanied by beautiful Bay views, street performers and the Pier’s famous California sea lions. San Francisco.
• Tournament of Roses Parade (January), Pasadena.
• Masters of Food & Wine (February), Carmel-by-the-Sea.
• Return of the Swallows Festivities (February-March), San Juan Capistrano.
• Santa Barbara Whale Festival (March).
• Santa Maria Strawberry Festival (April).
• Stockton Asparagus Festival (April).
• Amgen Tour of California (May).
• Pismo Beach Classic Car Show (June).
• San Francisco Gay Pride Parade (June).
• Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival (June), Winchester.
• Lights on the Lake (July 4), Lake Tahoe.
• U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition (July), San Diego.
• Gilroy Garlic Festival (July), Gilroy.
• Central Coast Shakespeare Festival (July/August), Avila Beach.
• Old Spanish Days Fiesta (August), Santa Barbara.
• Annual Steinbeck Festival (August), Salinas.
• California State Fair (August), Sacramento.
• Monterey Jazz Festival (September).
• Danish Days (September), Solvang.
• Route 66 Rendezvous (September), San Bernardino.
• Civil War Revisited (October), Fresno.
• California Avocado Festival (October), Carpinteria.
• San Francisco Bay Area: First-class attractions, celebrated wineries, cultural diversity, remarkable skylines and breath-taking views make this region one of the world’s most popular destinations.
• Los Angeles County: Ever since filming began in Los Angeles in 1913, the world has been fascinated by moviemaking and Hollywood’s great dream factories. Wide range of activities available from shopping and site-seeing to surfing and hiking deep into the wilderness just off a busy freeway.
• Central Valley: One of the world’s most productive farming areas. This thriving region includes a wealth of culturally diverse communities, historic sites, exceptional outdoor recreation, abundant wildlife and the California Delta – a unique 1,600-kilometre waterway fed by five major rivers.
• Huntington Beach: Rediscover the mild and mellow California beach culture in the place it began. Highlights include the Huntington Beach Pier; Surfing Walk of Fame, Hall of Fame and International Surf Museum; the dog-friendly parks, restaurants and hotels of Dog Beach; and of course Huntington City Beach.
• Central Coast: Dramatic seascapes and coastal resorts, together with the pastoral atmosphere of its inland agricultural communities, make this tranquil expanse between San Francisco and Los Angeles an idyllic destination. Just a few of the highlights: Monterey, home of the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row; Salinas, birthplace of John Steinbeck and site of the National Steinbeck Center; the romantic town of Carmel-by-the-Sea; the dramatic coastline of Big Sur; Pismo Beach, gateway to Hearst Castle and the Oceano Sand Dunes, the most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California; Santa Maria, home to family-friendly attractions like the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum and the Museum of Flight, as well as several wineries that welcome visitors; Santa Barbara, the “American Riviera”, where travellers can go whale-watching, step into the past at the Santa Barbara Mission, visit vineyards; Solvang, which boasts the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, and the nearby Old Mission Santa Ines.
• California’s Islands: California’s many islands include Santa Catalina, near Los Angeles; Channel Islands National Park, located off Santa Barbara; Coronado Island, directly across the bay from downtown San Diego; Negit and Paoha Islands in the middle of Mono Lake, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range; and Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.
• Golden Gate National Recreational Area: The largest urban park in the world and the largest single open space in San Francisco.
• Huntington State Beach & Bolsa Chica State Beach: Eight kilometres of sandy recreation south of Los Angeles with wildlife-watching in the adjacent, ecologically sensitive wetlands.
• Orange County: Since the opening of Disneyland in 1955, Orange County has become the ultimate family vacation destination, with sunny beaches, luxurious resorts, theme parks and unlimited opportunities for shopping and dining.
• North Coast: Stretching along more than 640 kilometres of coastline from San Francisco to primeval redwood forests at the Oregon border. The region also offers lush vineyards and quaint villages filled with antique shops inland.
• Pismo Beach: Long White beaches, spectacular sunsets and the most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California, as recognized by scientists, conservationists, government agencies, and the public. Other activities include touring Hearst Castle or a collection of local wineries, golf at local courses, horseback riding, surfing, body boarding, fishing from the 365-metre pier and strolling the award-winning boardwalk adjacent to the pier.
CTTC/Robert Holmes• Solvang: Discover the architecture, culture and cuisine of Denmark on California’s Central Coast. Attractions include wine tastings, the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, Mission Santa Ines and outstanding live theatre.
• Inland Empire: Soaring mountains, alpine lakes, historic sites, lush vineyards and colourful entertainment.
• Deserts: California’s deserts are a study in contrasts: soft sand dunes and deeply eroded cliffs, golden poppies and spiny cacti, creeping tortoises and soaring eagles, and snow-capped mountains and glittering resort cities.
• Shasta Cascade: This outdoor lover’s paradise is a beautiful and unspoiled region boasting towering mountains, lush forests, crystal-clear lakes and thundering waterfalls. The perfect base for the region is Redding, home to plenty of great attractions. Must-sees include the spectacular and car-free Sundial Bridge, a 213-metre long, glass-floored suspension bridge over the Sacramento River; and the 121-hectare Turtle Bay Exploration Park, which includes an art and history museum, arboretum and gardens, a butterfly house, logging and ecology exhibits and an aquarium filled with river life.
• Oceanside: Considered the gateway city between metropolitan San Diego and Los Angeles, the near-perfect climate invites you to relax on 5.6 kilometres of white sandy beaches, or step back in time by visiting the historic Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, the “King of the Missions”, and Heritage Park. Other attractions include one of the longest wooden recreational piers on the West Coast, golf at four local courses and the California Surf Museum.
• San Diego: Always sunny, and more than 110 kilometres of beach head the the list of San Diego attractions. Others include Mission Bay and SeaWorld San Diego; Balboa Park with 15 museums, gardens and the San Diego Zoo; the beaches of Coronado Island; Mexican heritage and culture of Old Town; and of course San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
• San Mateo County: Miles of pristine coastline, fine dining and unique shopping across the bridge from San Francisco. Attractions include whale-watching, tidepool tours, wine and beer tastings, San Mateo County History Museum, Hiller Aviation Museum, CruiOdyssey, Computer History Museum, Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia.
• Morro Bay: Located on the Central Coast midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, attractions around this historic fishing village include birding in Morro Bay Estuary; Morro Bay Natural History Museum; dunes; kayaking; sailing; golf on the Morro Bay Golf Course; plenty of shopping; and great dining.
CTTC/Robert HolmesHidden Gems
• Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve: A few miles north of the hustle and bustle of downtown Huntington Beach, this 480-hectare reserve boasts one of the country’s most diverse nesting grounds, with more than 200 species of birds documented.
• Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach: Warm sand, a panoramic view of Monterey Bay and the music from a fun-loving band on Friday nights. Santa Cruz.
• Fresno County Fruit Trail: Find out where locals go to get the very best fruits, berries, and nuts direct from the family farms in eastern Fresno County.
• Point Loma Tidepools: Home to flowery anemones, scampering shore crabs, elusive octopuses, spongy deadman’s fingers and many other magnificent creatures of the sea. The best time to visit the tidepools is during winter and spring low tides. The Cabrillo Monument offers ranger-guided tidepool walks at most low tides.
• Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: Takes passengers from Valley Station (806 metres elevation) to Mountain Station on the edge of the wilderness, elevation 2,596 metres. At the top are a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, visitor centre, the Long Valley Ranger Station, picnic area, ski centre, a self-guided nature trail and Desert View Trail.
Did You Know?
State Motto: Eureka!
State Flower: Golden Poppy
State Bird: California Valley Quail
America’s Byways: Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway-Route 110, Death Valley Scenic Byway, Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, Route 1-Big Sur Coast Highway, Route 1-San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway, Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.
Direct Flights: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, WestJet
Cruise Lines: Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West, Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Clipper Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line Ltd., Hapag Lloyd, Holland America Line, Japan Cruise Line, Mitsui OSK, Norwegian Cruise Lines, NYK Cruises, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Trans Ocean Tours
Info: California Travel and Tourism Commission