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The Golden State is a fitting nickname for California, a sunny state that stretches along the rugged shore of the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for glamour and fun in the sun, Southern California should be at the top of your itinerary. A land of sandy beaches, surfers, and Hollywood stars, Southern California has a temperate climate year-round, with especially warm and sunny summers. To soak up the laid-back atmosphere, plan a vacation on the shores of Long Beach, Newport Beach, or Huntington Beach near Los Angeles. Head further south for an oceanside retreat in Encinitas, Carlsbad, or La Jolla in north San Diego County, where the food and culture is wonderfully influenced by Baja California, Mexico.
Heading north from Los Angeles, the coastal city of Santa Barbara is another favored holiday destination, where green coastal mountains rise over a sparkling sea. Popular with Los Angeles locals, this beautiful town is home to a large university, great shopping, and wonderful restaurants and nightlife. Along the central coast, the college town of San Luis Obispo and Cambria are more off-the-beaten-track places to soak up the surf. When visiting the central coast, don't miss Hearst Castle, the opulent mansion of famed newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst.
Northern California has milder weather and a charming atmosphere. Known for its hilly streets, beautiful Victorian architecture, and incredible gourmet and local food scene, San Francisco is a romantic place to spend a few days. When in San Francisco, take a ferry to Alcatraz, a former island prison that is now a state park with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
When planning your trip to California, keep these must-see spots in mind:
-Napa Valley: The most renowned wine-growing region in the United States, the Napa Valley boasts a gorgeous countryside, world-class restaurants, and quaint towns.
-Big Sur: Big Sur is the most dramatic stretch of coast in California, where towering redwood forests overlook the dazzling Pacific Ocean.
-Santa Monica: The quintessential California beach town, Santa Monica is a laid-back, stylish, and sunny town on the coast of Los Angeles.
-Palm Springs: The perfect place for a desert sojourn, warm nights, clear air, and craggy mountain scenery define the Palm Springs experience.
-Yosemite National Park: America's most famous national park is a spectacular destination for hiking, camping, rock climbing, and mountain biking.
-Disneyland: Located just south of Los Angeles, the Magic Kingdom is one of the world's most famous theme parks.
In Southern California, you can live like the stars in an elegant villa overlooking the ocean. For trips to the Sierra Nevada, consider renting a cozy cabin near Lake Tahoe or Yosemite. In San Francisco, the urban environment is perfect for a luxury condo in one of the city's vibrant neighborhoods.