Northern California

Redwood - photo Visit California

The northern stretch of California coastline is often described as the “wild coast,” with untamed natural beauty and relatively few people. Billowing fog blankets hairpin coastal turns as craggy cliffs tumble down to meet the cobalt-colored Pacific. Get lost among towering trees, and explore quaint fishing villages while catching glimpses of whales in the sea.


Discover the North Coast’s natural beauty by getting up close with its world-famous and iconic redwood trees.

  • The tallest specimens measure well over 350 feet and have been alive for more than 1,000 years.

Travelers will also have the opportunity to survey the coastal towns, exploring boutique shops, local dining, and historic buildings. Visit towns like Eureka for its historic district, Ferndale for its Victorian-era buildings, and Mendocino for the quaint B&Bs, seafood restaurants, and galleries.


And while in Mendocino, making time for wine is a must. Tucked into inland valleys and on sunny slopes, Mendocino’s vineyards are small, family-run, and intimate, making for a great wine-tasting experience.


Click the button above for a sample itinerary for Hidden Beaches. And click the video for an inside look at the North Coast of California.

Wildlife lovers ought to make time to do some California gray whale watching. These 50-foot leviathans ply the ocean along the North Coast, particularly from December to March. Naturalist-led whale-watching cruises head out from coastal towns, including Mendocino and Fort Bragg.


If your clients are nature lovers who enjoy a slower pace, the northern coast of California is a one-stop shop. There are seven national forests and eight national and state parks in this section of the state.

For additional images of Northern California, Click the Slideshow icon before moving on.    

Northern California’s Shasta Cascade

Barn in Shasta Cascade - photo Kodiak Greenwood

The northeastern corner of California is a nature lover’s haven, peppered with explorable volcanoes, deep forests, and trout-filled rivers. In this remote corner of the state, bounded by Oregon and Nevada, travelers will find excellent fishing, camping, hiking, and mountain biking.


With the city of Redding as a home base, your clients are set to explore the natural wonders of the Shasta Cascade. Start with the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, located in Redding itself. This 300-acre park is highlighted by a spectacular centerpiece: the Sundial Bridge, a pedestrian crossing that spans the Sacramento River.

Before continuing, Click on the Video below to watch a quick time-lapse bringing the region to life.


Lassen Volcanic National Park is a must-see, where hissing steam vents and bubbling mud pools give park visitors a safe, up-close look at an active volcano. Note that Lassen’s last major eruption was in 1914.


Mount Shasta is another iconic gem in this region of California. The 14,179-foot volcano rises straight up from California’s northernmost central valley. Laced with trails and capped with snow, this beauty is a prime spot for hiking and mountain biking in the summer and fall, and skiing and snowshoeing in winter and spring.


Shasta Lake, with a surface area amounting to 30,000 acres, is a shimmering gem for those looking to both relax and play. As California’s largest reservoir, it is a mecca for watersports like jet skiing, inner-tubing, and fishing. It’s also a popular house-boating location. Lake Shasta Caverns, reachable only by boat, is another year-round adventure. Suggest a guided tour of this underground world 20 million years in the making.


Continue the underground education at Lava Beds National Monument, a surreal landscape shaped by molten earth. The moon-like landscape contains volcanic tablelands dotted with cinder cones, pit craters, and spatter cones, plus more than 700 caves.

For additional images of Shasta Cascade, Click the Slideshow icon. 

Northern California’s San Francisco Bay Area

Balloons over Napa - photo Tai Power Seeff

No place in California is more poetic than the San Francisco Bay Area. Rolling mist shrouds the iconic international orange Golden Gate Bridge that leads to one of the world’s most dynamic and beautiful cities.

Known for its cable cars, elegant Victorian homes, and sparkling bay, San Francisco is one of the gems of Northern California. Add to that the surrounding Bay Area, with the world-famous Napa Valley and Sonoma wine country, plus waterfront towns, beaches, and the international tech hub of Silicon Valley, and there is truly something for everyone in this part of the state.

For a quick introduction to the Bay area, watch the video above.


Within the city of San Francisco are dozens of highlights that travelers will want to cross off their California bucket lists. Golden Gate Park is the city’s green jewel with 1,000 acres of gardens, trails, and a little lake. It’s also home to the elegant Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum, and the California Academy of Sciences.

Click Video icon above to watch all that San Francisco has to offer your clients.


Clients can visit the Embarcadero, the waterfront esplanade that includes the Ferry Building Marketplace, now a booming indoor food emporium and twice-weekly farmers’ market. From here head to Union Square to shop the big-name brands like Chanel, Prada, and Tiffany and Co., or visit department stores like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.


Discovery continues outside the city as you head north to Marin County. This affluent, hilly region is opposite the Golden Gate Bridge and home to idyllic bayfront towns like Sausalito and Tiburon.

Nature lovers will flock to Muir Woods National Monument and gawk at the epic coast redwoods. Across the East Bay from San Francisco is the bohemian hub Berkeley, including the world-class University of California, Berkeley. Nearby Oakland is a rising destination among young professionals, home to new and dynamic dining, jazz, and the Oakland Museum of California.


A visit to wine country is a must when staying in the Bay Area. Napa boasts some of the finest vineyards in the world, with many tours and tasting rooms open year-round. Follow the Silverado Trail to exceptional wineries, stopping in towns like Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. In Sonoma, explore more than 200 wineries along the Russian River Wine Trail.

For additional images of the San Francisco Bay Area, Click the Slideshow icon.

Central California’s Gold Country

American River; North Fork - photo Myles McGuinness

The California Gold Rush was one of the most exciting and influential periods in the United States, and travelers to California can take a trip back in time to rediscover the action.

In the mid-1800's, the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada were known as Gold Country after the precious ore was unearthed at a place called Sutter’s Mill. Following this discovery, towns sprang up overnight as thousands of immigrants, nicknamed ’49ers, flooded the region in hopes of striking it rich.


Sacramento became the base of operations for the ’49ers, and in 1854 this river town became the state capital. The city now has more than two dozen museums, plus historic buildings, a downtown pedestrian mall, and a restored Old Town with shops, restaurants, and guided walking tours.


Following the winding State Route 49 will take travelers to some of Gold Country’s oldest towns and other attractions. Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park offers a look at hydraulic mining, while Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma commemorates the place where the Gold Rush all began.

Click on the Video icon for a glimpse into Gold Country's past.

History buffs who have a taste for fine wine will love Shenandoah Valley Wine Country. 

  • In this part of the state, known for its award-winning reds and family-run vineyards, follow twisting country roads to discover charming wineries.

  • Most notably, have your travelers make time for a stop at Murphy's, one of the region’s prettiest and most sophisticated towns, packed with excellent dining, spas, luxury inns, and wine-tasting rooms.

For additional images of Gold Country, Click the Slideshow icon.    

Central California’s High Sierra

photo Myles McGuinness

California’s central High Sierra is the United States’ version of the Swiss Alps. Peaks covered in snow during winter give way to gushing waterfalls in spring. This fuels brilliant summer wildflower meadows and glistening lakes, culminating in vibrant colors in the fall. This part of California is a land of dramatic and wild beauty, a must for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.


Lake Tahoe is one of the world’s deepest and bluest natural lakes. It is also one of the best places in the United States for skiers and snowboarders in the winter, with famous ski resorts at Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Alpine Meadows, Northstar California, and Kirkwood. In the summer, these same mountains pull in expert hikers and mountain bikers.


Yosemite National Park, a World Heritage Site, boasts remarkable natural sites like El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and ancient groves of giant sequoias. Its trail network includes everything from paved bike paths to challenging hikes featuring steep elevation gains.

Click the Video icon for an exciting look at this region.


Mountaineers can trek the incomparable Mount Whitney, the highest point in the United States outside of Alaska. A one- to two-day trek leads to the top of the 14,505-foot granite peak (permit required).


Mammoth Lakes is a friendly mountain town, home to Mammoth Mountain resort, which boasts the longest ski season in the state with lifts running into summer. After the extended ski season, enjoy mountain biking, hiking, and sightseeing.


Other notables in this part of California include Bodie State Historic Park, a well-preserved ghost town; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, known for giant sequoias; and Alpine County, which runs along State Route 88/89, twisting through the region’s remote, snow-capped peaks.

For additional images of the High Sierra, Click the Slideshow icon.    

California’s Central Coast

Bixby Bridge on the Central Coast - photo Myles McGuinness

Spanning California’s coastal area from Monterey south to Santa Barbara, this ocean-hugging stretch features one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, with dramatic cliffs that plunge into the turquoise Pacific. 

Wind your way along the epic Highway 1 between San Francisco and Santa Barbara to discover secret beaches, Big Sur, redwood trails, and the uncrowded wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley. Watch the Video for another time-lapse, this time of the beautiful coast.

Monterey is a coastal paradise with shops, eateries, and the not-to-be-missed Monterey Bay Aquarium. Once a rowdy fishing port made famous by local author John Steinbeck, Monterey is now a classic and refined sea town with a charming present and colorful past.


Twist and turn along the spectacular 72-mile length of Highway 1 that cuts through the sprawling natural beauty of Big Sur. Stops include Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, along with Nepenthe, a restaurant known for its fare and sunset views. McWay Falls is another notable stop, with a cascade that plummets some 70 feet from the sea to a remote beach below. Try spotting migrating whales or sea otters, or simply coast along the highway taking in nothing but sea, bluffs, and sky.


Just south of Big Sur, be sure to take half a day to explore Hearst Castle, a spectacular complex of palace-like buildings jam-packed with priceless antiques. The estate is surrounded by formal gardens as well, and it was all the creation of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst.


Pass through Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo for a glass of celebrated Pinot Noir before ending your tour of the Central Coast in Santa Barbara, where terra-cotta-tiled mansions dot the manicured hillsides and boutique-lined streets make their way toward the ocean. This part of the state, known as the American Riviera, is celebrated for its relaxed luxury and beautiful atmosphere. 

For additional images of the Central Coast, Click the Slideshow icon.    

Southern California: Los Angeles County

A view of downtown Los Angeles - photo Visit California/Max Whittaker

Day or night, any time of year, California’s largest city and surrounding communities create a frenetic environment, humming with entertainment, glitz, style, and celebrity glamour. 

Let's start by Clicking the Video for a quick tour of greater Los Angeles.

Dipping into the city’s pockets and neighborhoods will reveal diverse cultures, cutting-edge arts, hip enclaves, beautiful beaches, and surprisingly hushed retreats far from the notorious freeways.


Known the world over for its celebrities and red carpet status, Hollywood is still a dream destination for any movie lover. Follow the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see brass stars commemorating 2,300 icons of film, stage, TV, and music. At TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), find handprints and footprints left by celebs like John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Johnny Depp, and even Donald Duck. Don’t miss the iconic Hollywood sign that looks down over the city.


Entertainment lovers won’t want to miss Universal Studios Hollywood, one of California’s biggest theme parks, which features live shows, movie-themed rides, and guided back-lot tours. Or out in Burbank, on the San Fernando Valley side of the city, you can catch a live TV show clicking at NBC-TV studios or Warner Brothers.


Beaches in Los Angeles are superb, with Malibu and Santa Monica having some of the most vibrant beach communities. Celebrities love Malibu’s sandy crescent, with its million-dollar homes, restaurants, and shops. Santa Monica is one of the most sought-after places to live in L.A., with excellent shopping and dining, a twice-weekly farmers’ market, and the world’s first solar-powered Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier.


Other must-sees in L.A. include the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), a seven-building complex with roughly 100,000 pieces of art; and the Nokia Theater/L.A. Live, a downtown complex that includes the Grammy Museum.

For additional images of Los Angeles County, Click the Slideshow icon.   

California’s Inland Empire

Big Bear Lake - photo Myles McGuinness

With L.A. as a home base, head east to discover the outdoor paradise of the Inland Empire. This region features pine-fringed mountains, off-the-radar gems, and striking natural beauty.


The Rim of the World Scenic Byway is a 107-mile loop passing through some of Southern California’s most scenic landscapes. The route spans miles of national forestland, cresting the San Bernardino Mountains and revealing spectacular panoramic vistas.

The Inland Empire has so much to share with your clients, Click the Video icon to learn more.


Among these Alpine peaks are Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake, top spots for boating and swimming in summer, and skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in winter. Lake Arrowhead is the quieter of the two, with private lakefront estates, while Big Bear Lake has more of a resort-town feel.


Venture into the low-key artists’ colony of Idyllwild, set high in the San Jacinto Range. Meander through the shops and galleries, and enjoy pleasant outdoor dining. Idyllwild Arts, a private art academy, offers music and theater programs as well, with excellent performances year-round.


For wine tasting, dip into the Temecula Valley, where dozens of up-and-coming wineries are ready to serve the local product. For something extra special, board a hot-air balloon to soar above the vineyards, or ride in a horse-drawn carriage in Old Town Temecula.

For additional images of the Inland Empire, Click the Slideshow icon.    

Southern California: Orange County

photo Kodiak Greenwood

South of Los Angeles the pulse of the city mellows to easy beach living as you pass through the coastal community of Orange County.

Huntington Beach, the Orange County city that defines Southern California, is one of the best-known surf spots in America, nicknamed “Surf City USA”. This beach town and sandy oceanfront are drenched in California sunshine and give off that famous relaxed surfer vibe. It’s a great spot to take a surf lesson or simply stare at the waves.

For a quick tour of Orange County, Click the Video icon.

Fans of the rich and famous have no doubt heard of Laguna Beach, an affluent community that is a favorite with local artists. 

A visit to Orange County is incomplete without a stop at Disneyland. Walt Disney’s magical playground has prospered in downtown Anaheim ever since it opened in 1955, with more than 500 million visitors to date. 

For additional images of Orange County, Click the Slideshow icon.  

Southern California: San Diego

One of California's sunniest destinations, San Diego, California's second largest city, offers more than 70 miles of beaches and bays. The city boasts a strong maritime tradition as well as an extraordinary number of cultural attractions, vibrant neighborhoods, and sizzling nightlife.

San Diego is home to many exciting experiences, including: 

  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which showcases the region’s rich Mexican heritage

  • The Gaslamp Quarter, the best place for nightlife along a 16-block stretch

  • The Maritime Museum of San Diego and U.S.S. Midway


  • Balboa Park, with nearly 20 museums

  • The world-famous San Diego Zoo

  • The fantastic SeaWorld San Diego

  • Coronado Island, located across the bay from downtown San Diego, is home to a relaxed community and the iconic Hotel del Coronado, where Marilyn Monroe shimmied in the 1959 classic Some Like It Hot. 

Click on the Video to watch all that San Diego has to offer, particularly families. 

Other nearby attractions include LEGOLAND California, with more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions; San Diego Zoo Safari Park, an 1,800-acre zoo in the San Pasqual Valley northeast of the city; and the enchanting Torrey Pines State Beach and Reserve. 

For additional images of San Diego, Click the Slideshow icon.  


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