One of the longest and most populated states in the country, California offers a variety of activities in diverse settings. Here's a look at the best things to do in the Golden State, if you're looking for a true California experience.
Make the Club Scene
Once ranked the No. 1 Golf Course in America by Golf Digest, the public Pebble Beach Golf Links along the Pacific Ocean remains one of the most beautiful courses in the world and has hosted five U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship. Don't forget your credit card if you want to play. Greens fees for 18 holes are $495.
Tour Randolph's Place
Architect Julia Morgan spent 28 years constructing Hearst Castle for newspaper king William Randolph Hearst, and today much of the opulent San Simeon palace and grounds are on display for tour-goers. In fact, four different tours are available with views of glitzy swimming pools, lavish gardens, priceless artworks and several of the castle's 165 rooms.
Join the millions of people each year who visit the quirky Southern California beach community of Venice, especially along Ocean Front Walk that showcases a spectacle of street performers, muscle builders, palm readers, volleyball players and a Skate Dancing plaza. You can stroll the beach's entire three miles to Santa Monica Pier and then grab lunch.
Say Hi to Mickey
Always improving and adding to their attractions is Disneyland Resort, billed as the “Happiest Place on Earth.” The Anaheim destination has welcomed a half-billion guests since opening in 1955, and current rides include Cars Land, Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Stars Tours. An often-updated fireworks show takes place at night throughout the year.
Hurray for Hollywood
Explore how movies and TV shows are made by spending a day at Universal Studios Hollywood, a theme park with rides, walking tours and trams that drive through real entertainment sets. By upgrading to the VIP Experience, visitors get a private tour to back lots where movies were filmed such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and The Sting.
Music acts like the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin got their starts at The Fillmore, which still books top bands and solo acts in its standing-only, intimate hall setting. The walls of this San Francisco landmark feature posters and photos of legendary acts that have graced The Fillmore stage, including James Brown, The Cure, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix.
Pack a Backpack
Deep valleys, giant sequoias and rock climbing adventures are all part of Yosemite National Park, a 1,200-square-mile outdoor sanctuary perhaps best known for its giant waterfalls. Activities abound, including hiking, biking, camping, fishing and art and photography. Sites include Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley and Porcupine Creek, and several ranger-led interpretive programs and guided tours are available.
Window Shop Galore
The three-block stretch of Rodeo Drive (pronounced roh-DAY-o) north of Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills remains one of the most famous, high-end shopping districts in the world. More than 100 pricey boutiques and hotels line this avenue of luxury fashion, with stores such as Brooks Brothers, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co.
Wine All You Want
Spend a couple of days in Napa Valley, considered the top wine-producing area in the United States and frequented by more than five million people each year. Nearly 400 wineries exist to produce varietals like cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, champagne and merlot. An annual Napa Valley Film Festival adds to the region's popularity.
A gorgeous lake with seven different ski resorts, Lake Tahoe gets nearly 400 inches of snow each year to provide a wonderland for skiers, snowboarders, sledders and tubers. The seasonal cold-weather venues also offer guided snowmobile tours that showcase views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, while additional activities include cross country skiing and ice skating.