7 Reasons Why California Is One Of The Best US States To Visit

California has consistently ranked among the most popular holiday destinations in the world, with millions visiting each year. So what makes the sunshine state so great? Read on for just a few reasons why West is Best when it comes to your next big American adventure.

The Music

Take a quick browse through your playlists, and you’ll probably find that an astonishingly high proportion of artists, song titles and lyrics in your collection have a strong link to the sunshine state. From the Beach Boys to Metallica, folk rock to gangsta rap, you’ll have no trouble putting together a playlist to get you in the mood. If you’re short of time, however, the Ultimate California Road Trip Spotify Playlist from the NME is a great place to start.

It’s quite possible to plan an entire trip around musical references to California: you can 'sit on the dock of the Bay' that Otis Redding sang about, 'spend the night in Frisco in every kind of disco' (but nobody calls it that of course - it’s SF to the locals), check in at the 'Hotel California' and if you’re lucky, maybe even experience a bit of 'California Love', Dr Dre Style...

The Wine

Wine tasting.
Image by Abi Silvester.

California is the biggest wine producing region in the US, which is itself the 4th most prolific in the world. Californians take their wine very seriously, and if you’re fond of a glass or two, you should certainly take a day out to experience the delights of the Napa Valley and surrounding regions.

Take a look at our top suggestions for wine tours if you’re up for a spot of tasting and learning about how some of your favourite tipples get from grape to glass. You’ll experience some spectacular scenery, enjoy a wide range of local specialities, and learn how to sample wines like a pro.

The Wildlife

Trees in California
Image by Giant RedwoodsMichael Ballint under Creative Commons.

California’s cities are surrounded by swathes of stunning countryside with some natural wonders you won’t find anywhere else on earth. Best known are the giant redwoods and Sequoias - towering trees that are only found in California, grow up to 360 feet, and can live to be more than 2000 years old.

Many visitors to the region choose to take a tour around Muir Woods; a ‘tree lovers’ monument’ where some of the tallest trees on Earth are found. Walking among trees as old as the century is certainly a humbling experience. Other exceptional natural attractions include Lake Tahoe, a vast lake surrounded by majestic mountains where you can swim, jet-ski, kayak or ski, and Yosemite National Park, with its stunning granite cliffs and beautiful waterfalls.

The Beaches

Muscle Beach.
Image by Santa Monica Pier 22 by Oscar Rohena under Creative Commons.

California is not only home to some of the world’s greatest cities, it has some legendary beaches, too. LA plays host to some of the most iconic, dotted with piers, fairgrounds, palm trees and lifeguard lookouts. They include Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach and the small but world-renowned gym-bunny section known as ‘Muscle Beach’.

If you want to experience miles of golden sand and surfing paradises outside the metropolis, head to Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara, where the South-facing beaches produce spectacular sunsets. Big Sur, meanwhile, is said to have some of the most scenic views along the Pacific highway. Those looking for a mostly beach-based holiday should also consider San Diego in the South of the State, where the beach is a way of life. Check out San Diego’s best beaches to whet your appetite.

Man-made marvels

Golden Gate Bridge.

It’s no exaggeration to say that California offer something for everyone. Kids of all ages will go crazy for a trip to Disneyland, while movie buffs, celeb spotters and anyone with a passing interest in the global entertainment biz will enjoy a trip to Hollywood. If you’re looking for great beaches or a surfing adventure we’ve got that covered, while those who enjoy the freedom of the open road can hit Route 66 and embark on one of the world’s most celebrated road trips.

Those looking to experience iconic sights such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Walk of Fame will not be disappointed, and those looking to embrace their inner hippie can visit the site of the original Summer of Love. Or to put it another way, your main problem when planning a trip to California will be figuring out how to fit everything in.

The Weather

It’s not called the ‘sunshine state’ for nothing, and most of California enjoys a Mediterranean-type climate with long hot summers and mild winters. There are exceptions of course: San Francisco is well known for its fog. But if good weather is a dealbreaker for you when planning a holiday, you can rely on most of California to deliver the goods.

The Diversity

California is a big state, and you’ll probably need to take several internal flights or embark on an epic road trip if you choose to see it all. But for those who do, there’s a vastly diverse landscape to explore. From the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Mountains in the North to the Mexican Border in the South, visitors to California are unlikely to ever get bored.

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