From star spotting to sun soaking, your California holidays are guaranteed to be easy on the eyes. America's most populous state claims the majority of the west coast of the United States and is incredibly diverse in terms of both landscape and culture. Where else in the world can you find park rangers protecting the great Yosemite, technology wizards Apple and Google toiling away in Silicon Valley, budding stars waiting for their big break in Hollywood and the original happiest place on earth in Anaheim? Places of note in Cali include the cruisey state capital Sacramento, the many Sans (San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose) and the city of angels itself, Los Angeles.
Flight Centre travel consultant Greer Gardiner is joined by Los Angeles travel consultant, Ho Min Um, hitting the road from LAX for a road trip up California's Highway 1, exploring what makes the state great.
Wherever your travel preferences lie, in the glamorous Hollywood Hills or back to nature at Lake Tahoe, California has something for everyone. The enigmatic LA is where the magic happens – follow the stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, grab a hotdog and enjoy the great American pastime at Dodger Stadium or hang ten in Malibu. California is a fantastic family holiday destination with crowd-pleasers Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld and the adventure-lovers playground Yosemite National Park which turns into a white wonderland come winter. See the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco from the harbour as you approach the island of Alcatraz or head north to Napa Valley wine country.
Where to Eat and Drink
California is a food-lover's paradise and is all about fusion dining. Every cuisine is represented in Cali, especially in Los Angeles where family-run delis are as common as celebrity-owned restaurants. Always at the forefront of the latest health crave, LA is home to a new wave of organic cafes and gourmet street food trucks. With more restaurants per capita than any other North American city plus the largest Chinatown, you are guaranteed to find something to suit your tastes and budget in San Francisco where brunch reigns supreme. The further south you venture the more Latin American flavours you will find, with the United States/Mexico border less than half an hour away from San Diego city.
Where to Stay
For the ultimate LA luxury stay, you can't go past Beverly Hills, while coastal districts Venice and Santa Monica offer great selection of budget and mid-range rooms within easy reach of the sand and surf. In San Fran, consider staying in Downtown, Chinatown or Fisherman's Wharf. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and make your way to Napa County (roughly between San Francisco and Sacramento) where bed and breakfasts and cosy inns are the norm, or book your seaside stay in family-friendly Pismo Beach or Santa Cruz. Brave the arid desert heat and head to Palm Springs, a favourite escape for the glitterati, where there is also a wide range of gay and lesbian dedicated resorts.
Shopping in California is something you need to prepare yourself mentally for. Downtown LA is a retail mecca where entire districts are dedicated to shopping from flowers to fashion, seafood to shoes. Wander along Melrose Avenue, the strip best known from the similarly named soap opera, or make your way to Rodeo Drive to visit fashion boutiques frequented by the rich and famous. If you're looking to buy big and spend less, Desert Hills Premium Outlets are only around an hour from LA. San Francisco's Fillmore Street has earned a reputation as the go-to shopping district in the City by the Bay, while nearby university town Berkeley is known for its independent retailers and local markets.
California Like a Local
The Golden State is all about optimism and progressive thinking. With everyone vying for fame, artistic success and top marks in technology, feel free to let your hair down and your confidence shine through. Keep an eye out for our deals on cheap flights to California to spend a few weeks working on your sun-streaked hair, flex your pecs at Santa Monica's Muscle Beach and roadtrip along one of the world's most beautiful stretches of bitumen, State Route 1, tracing along the Pacific coastline from Orange Country to Mendocino County. Take time off from riding Space Mountain and enjoy a round of golf at the prestigious Pebble Beach – one of the state's many slices of paradise.