- THE SEA LION CENTER IS NOW OPEN: This educational center offers free interpretive programs designed to enhance visitors’ experiences of the sea lion colonies that thrive on San Francisco’s docks, just next to the pier. Operated and managed by the Aquarium of the Bay, the Sea Lion Center overlooks the usual hangout of the city’s most famous pinnipeds on PIER 39’s K-Dock.
- WATER OASIS: The new Water Oasis attraction at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park is a cool place for kids to splash and play while also learning about ways to conserve water. Gilroy.
- SKYDIVING: Tsunami Skydivers now offers the only coastal skydiving experience in Southern California. Oceanside.
- CULINARY TOURS: Edible Excursions is launching a new tour of Oakland's Uptown neighbourhood this spring. Oakland.
- NEW WINE TOURS: Pure Luxury Transportation has launched a five-hour Wonderful Westside Road Wine Tour in Sonoma.
• Disneyland Park: Disneyland features more than 60 attractions. Nearby, Disney’s California Adventure includes eight themed lands (Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, Condor Flats, Pacific Wharf, Hollywood Land, A Bug’s Land and Cars Land). 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 back-lots, and adventure rides like Transformers The Ride – 3D. Los Angeles.
- Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park: The whole family will enjoy exploring this beautiful theme park, which features over 20 rides and the new Water Oasis attraction, as well as majestic gardens and the world-famous “Circus Trees”.
- Segway In Solvang: A unique way of seeing the architecture of the only Danish city in the west. Highlights include a trip across the Santa Ynez River Sanctuary. Solvang.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: For more than 25 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has worked to protect ocean life for future generations by inspiring visitors with the beauty and wonder of the oceans. Monterey.
- PIER 39: This historic pier is the most visited destination in San Francisco, offering two levels of dining, entertainment, shopping and attractions, all surrounded by unbeatable views of the city and the bay.
- Motion Picture Hall Of Fame: Honours film legends and educates the public about movie making. Los Angeles.
- Knotts Berry Farm: 65 hectares of rides, shows and family attractions in five 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.
- 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; 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.
- 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.
- Sundial Bridge: This bridge is an actual working sundial – the largest in the world –and serves as a pedestrian bridge over the Sacramento River. Redding
- LEGOLAND Water Park: The world’s first LEGO-themed waterpark is located inside LEGOLAND California. Highlights include a Build-A-Raft river where visitors can construct their own LEGO raft and enjoy water slides, a 14-metre high tower playground, two sandy beach wading areas and the “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.
- Tournament Of Roses Parade (January), Pasadena.
- Return Of The Swallows Festivities (February-March), San Juan Capistrano.
- Santa Barbara Whale Festival (May).
- Santa Maria Strawberry Festival (April).
- Stockton Asparagus Festival (April).
- Calremont Folk Festival (May), Claremont.
- Amgen Tour Of California (May).
- Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival (May/June), Winchester.
- Pismo Beach Classic Car Show (June).
- San Francisco Gay Pride Parade (June).
- Lights on the Lake (July 4), Lake Tahoe.
- U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition (July), San Diego.
- Gilroy Garlic Festival (July), Gilroy.
- California State Fair (July), Sacramento.
- Central Coast Shakespeare Festival (July/August), Avila Beach.
- Old Spanish Days Fiesta (July/August), Santa Barbara.
- Annual Steinbeck Festival (August), Salinas.
- Sacramento Gold Rush Days (August/September).
- Monterey Jazz Festival (September).
- Danish Days (September), Solvang.
- Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest (September/October).
- Civil War Revisited (October), Fresno.
- Joshua Tree Fall Music Festival (October).
- California Avocado Festival (October), Carpinteria.
- Festival Supreme (October), Los Angeles.
- San Diego Beer Week (November).
- San Francisco Bay Area: First-class attractions, celebrated wineries, cultural diversity, remarkable skylines and breathtaking 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 – snowboarding, surfing and hiking deep into the wilderness just off a busy freeway.
- 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, the 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 and visit vineyards; Solvang, which boasts the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum and the nearby Old Mission Santa Ines.
- Redding: Boasting some 300 beautiful days of sunshine a year, the “Second Sunniest City in the U.S.” is nestled in the scenic heart of northern California, amid rich culture and heritage, boundless recreation and magnificent landscapes.
- Gilroy: Centrally located between Silicon Valley, the Bay Area and the Central Coast, Gilroy is a perfect home base for a California getaway. Be sure to visit Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, shop at Gilroy Premium Outlets, and explore the area’s many parks, wineries, and restaurants.
- Oceanside: Located on San Diego’s north shore, Oceanside is a classic California beach community with warm sandy beaches, a historic wooden pier and a Cape Cod-style harbour village complete with unlimited water sports and recreation.
- Ventura: Dubbed “The land of endless summers” by early Spanish settlers, Ventura is the place to discover the Real California. Just an hour north of Los Angeles, the city boasts abundant arts and cultural activities, lush farmlands and ocean beaches. Channel Islands National Park lies just offshore, the Los Padres National Forest is found in Ventura’s foothills and two of California’s longest flowing open rivers help form the city’s boundaries.
- Shasta Cascade: This outdoor lover’s paradise is a beautiful and unspoiled region boasting towering mountains, lush forests, crystal-clear lakes and thundering waterfalls.
- 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”. 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: San Diego features more than 110 kilometres of beach and it’s nearly always sunny. Top attractions include Mission Bay and SeaWorld San Diego, Balboa Park with its 15 museums, gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the beaches of Coronado Island, the Mexican heritage and culture of Old Town, and, of course, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
- Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail: Follow the trail to over 20 family-owned wineries and tasting rooms throughout Gilroy and the southern Santa Clara Valley – California’s oldest wine-growing region. Gilroy.
- Historic Downtown Gilroy: Features numerous antique shops and boutiques as well as several unique restaurants and cafés.
- Redding Area Caves: Much of the landscape to the north and east of Redding was created by volcanic activity. As a result, there are plenty of caves to explore, like Lake Shasta Caverns, Lava Beds National Monument and Lassen Volcanic National Park.
- Gilroy Premium Outlets: Discover 145 exceptional brands, from Nike and Levi’s to Michael Kors and Coach, as well as extraordinary savings of 26 to 65 per cent. Gilroy.
- Davis Farmers Market: Long considered one of the finest farmers’ markets in the state, the market, between 3rd and 4th Streets, boasts a festive atmosphere, fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, baked goods and handmade crafts. Davis.
- Palm Canyon Drive: Hugging the base of the San Jacinto Range, the Drive boasts a fine collection of mid-century modern boutiques, consignment dealers, art galleries and antique shops. Palm Springs.
- Palm Desert: The El Paseo Shopping District is a 1.6-kilometre-long street that the locals dubbed the “Rodeo Drive of the desert”. Browse through an amazing array of inviting restaurants, art galleries, clothing boutiques, bistros and bakeries.
Did You Know?
- State Motto: Eureka!
- State Flower: Golden Poppy
- State Bird: California Valley Quail
- Region: SOUTHWEST
- 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.
- Shopping: Robertson Boulevard and Calremont Village (LA), Lake Arrowhead Village (Inland Empire), Temesacal Alley (Oakland), V Marketplace (Napa Valley), Uptown Design District (Palm Springs), Bazaar del Mundo and the Gaslamp Quarter (San Diego), The Victorian Village (Ferndale), Downtown Petaluma (San Francisco), Santana Row (San Jose), Boonville (Mendocino), The Lab Anti-Mall (Costa Mesa), Cedros Design District (Solana Beach), Mariner’s Mile (Newport Beach).
Direct Flights: Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, WestJet.
Cruise Lines: Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West, Carnival, Celebrity, Clipper Cruise Line, Crystal, Cunard, Hapag Lloyd, Holland America, Japan Cruise Line, Mitsui OSK, Norwegian, NYK, P&O, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Trans Ocean Tours.
Info: Visit California
Get Your Motor Running
California’s gorgeous Central Coast is the home of the original road trip.
In the heart of California between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Central Coast stretches over 480 kilometres from Santa Cruz – just two hours south of San Francisco – all the way down to Oxnard, which is just an hour north of Los Angeles.
The Central Coast features unmissable attractions like Hearst Castle, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the National Steinbeck Center, Channels Islands National Park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, historic missions and a dizzying array of wine-tasting and culinary opportunities.
There are endless kilometres of rocky shoreline and dreamy beaches to explore –all with unsurpassed panoramic views of the Pacific. Alternatively, you can head inland to lose yourself among towering mountains and rolling hills.
Stumble upon charming cities like Carmel and Monterey, or make your way to Santa Cruz, a beach town with a truly independent spirit. Ventura and Oxnard also provide access to the spectacular Channel Islands National Park.
In the San Luis Obispo area you can explore everything from vintage beach towns like Pismo Beach and Morro Bay, along with the legendary Hearst Castle. Or head to Santa Barbara and the American Riviera, with its Mediterranean architecture, incomparable beaches and a dramatic mountain backdrop.