The land of movie stars and make believe, California occupies the imagination of the entire world. Dreams of swaying palm trees lining manicured Beverly Hills boulevards with enormous mansions, sunny beach boardwalks with fun fairs and rollerbladers, scenic highways skirting dramatic coastal drop-offs, and secluded paths meandering through groves of giant redwood trees are all part of the magic of this wildly popular state.

For many people, a holiday in California means visiting Hollywood in Los Angeles, including a wide variety of activities ranging from the rides at Universal Studios, to posing for pictures at the Hollywood Wax Museum, to hunting down celebrity grave sites for Bing Crosby and Natalie Wood.

Southern California is also famous for its many theme parks, like Six Flags, Knott's Berry Farm, and of course Disneyland. From there, many travellers take a quick drive down the 101 Highway to San Diego, for family-friendly attractions like Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.

Holidays in San Francisco and other destinations in Northern California offer a different experience, often less pre-packaged and more cultural. Whether going for dim sum in the bustling streets of Chinatown, hunting for records in Haight Ashbury, wine tasting in Napa Valley, or riding the famous cable cars up and down the hills, San Francisco has something for everyone.

But far from the bustling streets of the big cities, the stunning landscape of California offers scenic photo opportunities ranging from the giant redwoods of Sequoia National Park, to the twisted branches of Joshua Tree. Travellers can ski or swim at Lake Tahoe, and cavort with dolphins on Catalina Island… leading many to wonder if there's anything you can't find in California!

Bixby Creek Bridge

Best time to visit California
The weather in California is famously beautiful, and it really is a year-round destination. That said, California's climate varies dramatically from north to south, something visitors should be aware of. The weather in Southern California is hot with dry desert winds in the summer, and more rainfall and lower temperatures in the winter (November to February). Northern California is cooler with much more rain, and winters can be downright cold in San Francisco.

What to see in California

  • Explore the LA beach communities of Venice Beach, Malibu and Santa Monica.
  • Pay tribute to bygone stars at the many celebrity gravesites in Los Angeles.
  • See long-extinct animals at the La Brea Tar Pits.
  • Marvel at the collection of the Getty Center, one of the most visited museums in the US.

What to do in California

  • Take the kids to heaven at Disneyland Resort
  • Trawl Hollywood Boulevard, visiting the many museums and landmarks.
  • Mingle with the rich and famous in the upmarket neighbourhoods of West LA.
  • Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Sample local wines in Napa Valley and Santa Barbara.
  • Go skiing at popular resorts like Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain.
  • Catch a wave and walk on the boardwalk on Santa Monica Beach.
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