California’s major gateways for international travellers are San Francisco International (SFO) in the north and Los Angeles International (LAX) and San Diego (SAN) in the south.
Other major gateways with international service or interstate connections include Oakland (OAK), Sacramento (SMF), and San José (SJC).
A large number of other airports have interstate flights or provide quick hops to other parts of California, including Fresno/Yosemite (FAT), Santa Barbara (SBA), Burbank (BUR), LA/Ontario (ONT), Long Beach (LBG), Santa Ana/Orange County (SNA), and Palm Springs (PSP). Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) serves Lake Tahoe; the airport is in Nevada, about 40 miles east of the lake. Also in the High Sierra, Mammoth Lakes (MMH) has newly expanded year-round air service.
For buzzing around within the state, check schedules and service offered by American, United/United Express, Southwest, Alaska, Horizon, and JetBlue. Rates tend to be best if made online and well in advance. Charter flights can also be arranged, but tend to be very pricey.
National bus operator Greyhound runs a number of services between towns and cities throughout California. While buses are generally safe and dependable, they aren’t a very elegant way to travel and trips can take a long time as routes aim to connect scattered rural communities. A typical trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco should take 7.5 hours without delays. L.A. to San Diego takes about 2.5 hours.
Visitors without cars can turn to public buses to go from urban areas to the most popular parks and scenic destinations.
Another alternative is train travel, which is a relaxing way to get around California. Long-distance passenger service is offered by Amtrak, which also services much of the U.S. except Alaska and Hawaii. Three classic routes start and end in California, and in fact privately run excursion and dinner trains are another option for taking in the sights.
- The Capitol Corridor runs from San Jose to Auburn via Sacramento.
- The Pacific Surfliner links San Diego to Paso Robles with stops in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
- The San Joaquin rolls through the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Sacramento, then continues west to the San Francisco Bay Area.