Getty Images

Stock Photos from 123RF



Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California© Michael G. SmithGolden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
© Michael G. Smith
"California" means different things to different people. To some, it's the land of Gidget and the Beach Boys, populated by tanned surfer dudes catching a wave. To others, it's the place where starlets congregate around pools under the shadow of the Hollywood sign, waiting for the phone call that will make them a Star.

California is all of this and more. In the Los Angeles area, you can kick back with the kids at Disneyland or Universal Studios, follow in Julia Roberts's Pretty Woman footsteps through the exclusive shops of Rodeo Drive, watch trendy inline skaters in Santa Monica, or explore the collection of European and American art at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Further south in San Diego, visit the world-famous zoo, get wet at SeaWorld San Diego or explore the boutiques of La Jolla. With some of the best weather in the U.S., San Diego is a great place to rent a bike or kayak (but rent a car, too, as the city is very spread out).

Gourmets and romantics will feel right at home in San Francisco. Watch the sea lions cavorting near the shops and restaurants of Pier 39, stroll along a beach near the Golden Gate Bridge, or enjoy cocktails in Nob Hill as you watch the sunset over the Pacific. In the nearby Napa and Sonoma valleys, take a balloon ride over sweeping vineyards, tour a winery or try one of the many award-winning restaurants.

Beautiful mist in early morning, Yosemite Valley, California© Laurin RinderBeautiful mist in early morning, Yosemite Valley, California
© Laurin Rinder
Finally, make sure you see some of the state's stunning natural areas. Head to the Big Sur area, between L.A. and San Francisco, for dramatic views of mountains sweeping down to the Pacific. And the High Sierra is home to sparkling Lake Tahoe as well as Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, where you can hike, camp and go whitewater rafting.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF