While California may sound like the holiday destination of choice for yoga bunnies, sun worshippers or the young and beautiful, it has plenty more to offer travellers and timeshare owners.
So if you want to get a feel for the true West Coast experience, without simply indulging in the glitz and LA-style glamour, then read on for our ten best things to do in California.
1) Explore the Hollywood Hills
While there are plenty of multi-million dollar celebrity hideaways, the Hollywood Hills is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of LA. Head out for a morning hike in areas such as Runyon Canyon before enjoying a matcha latte in a hip, Melrose Avenue coffee shop on the way home.
2) Drive up Highway 1
Malibu’s famous stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1, takes you along the spectacular Californian coastline and allows you to enjoy plenty of hip cities. Savour the route from San Diego to Malibu, then add the last stretch up to Santa Barbara then finally San Fransisco and enjoy Americana-style “Cali” at its very best.
3) Island Hop
Hop on a ferry and enjoy one of the many small islands that fringe the Californian coast. Scuba divers should head to Catalina Island, just off the shores of Los Angeles, to see bat rays, giant sea bass and horn sharks. In southern California, set sail around the Channel Islands National Park, which takes in five islands and has been dubbed ‘the Galapagos of North America’.
4) Relax in Coronado
Head to San Diego for incredible beaches, including one of the best in the world – Coronado. With sweeping white sands (famously flecked with gold), it’s a great spot for sun worshippers or family days out.
5) Eat at The Wharf
Fish lovers and foodies should head to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf for some of the best fresh seafood you’ll find. Just be sure to dose up on the local speciality, clam chowder, before indulging in delicious chocolate at the renowned Ghirardelli.
6) Hit the Surf
Big Sur may have legendary waves, but Mavericks also has plenty of sweet spots for surfers. Based just outside Half Moon Bay in northern California, this is the place to go for big waves, although we would only advise the pros to head for here.
7) D is for Disneyland
Whether you’re a big kid or little one, you’ll be unable to resist the charm of Disneyland. Goof around with the world’s most famous mouse and his friends, join in the Mad Tea Party in Fantasyland, or hop aboard Splash Mountain in Critter Country.
8) Ski in Big Bear
Big Bear is the hottest place to be to hit the slopes in southern California. Ski bunnies should take a two-hour drive from LA or San Diego to be skiing their way through powdery white snow on one of the world’s best ski resorts. Earmark this for a sun-and-snow visit during the amazing winter months, when California is still warm and sunny but there’s fresh snow on the peaks!
9) Visit the Redwoods
Home to the world’s oldest and largest trees, the Redwood National Park has to be seen to be believed. Feel dwarfed by trees soaring 100m into the sky, explore the oak woodlands or wander through the pretty prairies.
10) Shop in Beverly Hills
Have your own Pretty Woman moment on Rodeo Drive by flashing the cash in this high-fashion shopping destination. Go celebrity spotting before buying yourself a designer “It” bag and having your hair groomed at one of the world’s best hair salons.