When one thinks of California, you stereotpyically think palm trees, sandy beaches, and consistent warm weather (especially if you haven’t been there). While it’s true that the weather in much of the state is very predictable, it’s not an accurate statement to say that California is merely palm trees and sprawling cities. Actually, most of the palm trees that are present today on the West Coast have been put there artificially. It’s the perfect climate for the California Fan Palm which naturally is found further inland in desert regions like Palm Springs. The state has a whole lot more to offer than just beaches, much of it which can be found inland.
If you’re flying into California, you’re most likely going to fly into either Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Bakersfield, Fresno, or Sacramento. These cities are the backbone of the state financially, and some of them making the bulk of the tourism industry of California. The great thing about the state is that all of the cities and major attractions are close enough together that you can realistically drive to all of them in a week (or two weeks comfortably). Isn’t a California road trip the ideal American vacation anyway?
Let’s start with San Diego. This city has major appeal for its sandy white beaches, beautiful cliffs and art galleries in La Jolla, and the man made amusements like Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. Because San Diego is laden with highways and so drivable, you can plan to spend just 2-3 days here and see everything the city has to offer. An evening in Little Italy, morning at the zoo, afternoon at Sea World, and the next day at the San Diego Zoo, and you’ll have covered much of the city. The city is also just off the I-5 and I-15, so you can quickly reach Los Angeles or Palm Springs in a matter of hours.
The city of lights, as Jim Morrison referred to it in his song “L.A. Woman,” is a place where you can find all that you’d expect to find. There’s stars, there’s glamor, and there’s the quintessential L.A. vibe that’s unlike anywhere else in the world. Los Angeles is the centerpiece of the state of California. It contains the iconic Hollywood area, the rich and famous Beverly Hills neighborhood, and the must visit city of Santa Monica. The city is broken up into many smaller, unique cities like Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach.
The city of Santa Barbara is on the outskirts of the greater Los Angeles area to the north. Here you can find one of the best places to surf, skateboard, and enjoy the laid back atmosphere of Southern California. The city is also a popular shopping destination, with hundreds of shops, boutiques, and even a long pier over the ocean that contains shops (and great views) called Stearns Wharf. The city is surrounded by forests, but the city itself is beautifully landscaped with lush palms. With large, deep green mountains as a backdrop, the city is one of the most scenic in the state. The temperature is also a big reason people have settled in this area, with a mere 12° F difference in the high temperature and low temperature. In the summer, the temperature rarely goes into the 80’s (or the 90’s for that matter), and rarely drops below 50°.
Even people who hate cities love San Francisco. The city of San Francisco is surrounded by water. Located on San Francisco Peninsula, the city is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, and San Francisco Bay to the east. It’s one of the hilliest cities in the country, with steep inclines that are hard to drive and very difficult to walk. These same hills are what make the city so beautiful. Rolling hills roll all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, to Fisherman’s Wharf, and throughout Golden Gate Park. If you’re headed to San Francisco, consider staying within the city for a few days to take advantage of everything that’s around.