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See the best of the Golden State: top things to do in California
There’s so much to do in California – from exploring its bustling cities, with their world famous attractions, to getting out and about in its magnificent wilderness areas. Here are just a few options:
Take a tour: If you want a glimpse of the trappings of Hollywood fame and fortune, you could take an open-top guided tour to see movie star homes (from a safe distance). Or how about a wine tour? A large proportion of the wine produced in the US comes from California, so there are plenty of wine estates to tour. The main producing areas are the Central Valley, North Coast, South Coast and Central Coast, while well-known regions within these include Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Paso Robles, Ramona Valley and Sierra Foothills.
Winter sports: California has more than 25 winter sports resorts, including Squaw Valley, Bear Mountain, Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows. All levels are catered for, and the standards of accommodation and facilities are generally very high.
Take to the water: California has more than a thousand miles of coastline, and you’re never far from a great beach to laze upon. There are plenty of surf spots, you can go kayaking to explore sea caves, scuba dive among wrecks and search for monsters of the deep, or try your hand at windsurfing or sailing. If you like fishing, you can hire some equipment and try your luck from the shore, or take a boat trip out into the rich Pacific waters. Inland, head to the mountains for some great fly fishing opportunities.
Take a road trip: California has some great driving routes. Why not head along the legendary Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Cruz, through Monterey and Carmel to Solvang, taking in giant redwood trees, spectacular wildlife-filled coastline, pretty towns and Spanish missions along the way? Or you could take a drive from the high sierra down into the low deserts, through epic scenery. Start off by travelling along the shores of Lake Tahoe, then head south, passing close to the state’s highest peak, Mt Whitney, before ending up at its lowest point in Death Valley.
Go for a walk: California has so much open space to explore, and whatever your fitness level, you’ll find some stunning hiking trails. If you have limited time, you could head to the Angeles National Forest, just outside LA, where you’ll find hundreds of miles of trails, including some short and easy routes. At the other end of the scale, you could attempt the two-day hike up Mt Whitney, which is almost 14,500ft high. It’s no easy task, and you’ll need a permit, plenty of planning and a good level of fitness and experience.