California Discovery Guide

Overview

The size of California is vary large, which means that any traveling plans should probably be limited to one area of the State in order to see what is there. Its weather brings a near Mediterranean like climate, which means it is great for traveling almost year around, with it being cooler in the north part of the State. California is about 900 miles from north to south and about 200 miles wide. This means that just about any kind of terrain can be found there in this beautiful state.



Starting with some of the most well known natural places to see, would be the redwood forests. These largest trees on earth are up to about 370 feet tall - more than a football field, and have been there for centuries. While there, be sure to ride the SkyTrail - a tram that takes you above the trees (to a height of 742 feet) to give you a panoramic view of the trees and the coastline of California.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places in California - and possibly on the earth. Known for its beauty because of its high waterfalls - three of the ten highest in the world, granite cliffs, sequoia trees, thousands of lakes and two rivers, this park is visited each year by more than 3.5 million people. There are more than 800 miles of hiking trails, about half that in roads, and 1,600 miles of streams. Probably the most heavily traveled area includes Yosemite Valley, which offers magnificent views of mountains and the valley. Another great place is at the Glacier Point & Badger Pass. This National Park is a must-see vacation spot for anyone passing through California. Winter activities are available - such as skiing.

Not far from Yosemite, are the highest and lowest spots in the lower 48 states. The highest - Mt. Whitney (just under 15,000 feet) is in the Sequoia National Park. About 100 miles east (as the crow flies) of there is Death Valley, which is 282 feet below sea level, and usually too hot in summer to travel. You can also find Crystal Caves in the Sequoia National Park, too.

Right at the eastern elbow of the state, on the border with Nevada, is beautiful Lake Tahoe. This hotspot is terrific if you are looking for an outdoor place to go hiking, boating, fishing, and much more. Couples looking to get married often visit it, too, and there are plenty of resorts and hotels available. In the winter months, it is probably the ski hotspot of the nation, with more ski resorts than just about anywhere. Over 125 inches of snow falls in Lake Tahoe area, giving it plenty of snow for all winter sport enthusiasts. Be sure to take one of the cruises that sails daily on the lake in the warmer months.

Not far from Lake Tahoe, over in Grass Valley, you will find the Empire Mine State Historic Park. This historic gold mine which operated for more than 100 years, is the site of the largest, richest, deepest and longest operating gold mine in California. Tours are available in a small part of the mine - since many of the tunnels are now flooded. Buildings and the mineshaft entrance are well preserved in the National Park. You will also find 12 miles of trails at the park for horseback riding, biking, and hiking.

California also offers much in the way of theme parks. These are mostly in the southern part of the state, and include parks such as Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios, California Adventure, and Knott's Berry Farm - most near Los Angeles. Near San Diego you have parks like Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, and the famous San Diego Zoo.

When it comes to visiting some of the cities of California, you will want to go to San Francisco. Here you can see the famous Golden Gate Bridge, which, at the time it was built was the largest suspension bridge in the world and it kept that title for almost 30 years. You can also take a tour from San Francisco to nearby Alcatraz - an island prison for many years. Take advantage and see much of San Francisco from the top of a double-decker bus that has had the top removed - giving you great viewing of the city.

Los Angeles is definitely another place to visit. Here you can find many exciting places to see around the city - including Hollywood. In Hollywood, you can drive down the famous Hollywood Boulevard - where you will find the Walk of Fame and Mann's Theater, as well as Rodeo Drive, which has many exclusive shops. The Queen Mary is also parked in Los Angeles - in Long Beach. Other things to see would have to include the J. Paul Getty Art Museum. The partial art collection of the billionaire is now exhibited in four buildings - and some say the architecture is just as unique as the art it contains. Another good place to go is to see Old Town in Pasedena. Here you will find many quaint little shops and restaurants - a great nightspot, too. One more great vacation place to go - that is quiet and different - the island off of the coast - Catalina. Here is a laid back sort of place where you can really get away from it all. Most of the vehicles here are golf carts, and life is lived slowly. It remains quiet - almost as if Los Angeles had not found out about it yet.

On the beautiful pacific coastline of California are many beautiful beaches - lined with palm trees. These beaches stretch from Mexico up most of the coastline, but becomes more rocky and cliff-like in the northern part of the state. In the south, swimming is good - but possibly even better for surfers - at least some of the time. In the north, where the water is cooler and not so comfortable for swimming, you can watch the whales in season, and see seals and sea otters. Hiking along the northern shoreline is also excellent, too.

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