California, I'm going, going, back, back, to Cali, Cali. Nothing comes close to the Golden Coast where dreams are made and broken. California dreamin' on such a winters day. You can check out anytime, but you can never leave.
I'm a California native, can you tell? That's not the reason why California is my favorite state in the USA, but I do consider myself very lucky to have been born and raised here.
There are so many things to do in California, that I should have an entire website dedicated to California, but that's been done and I will give you a couple of links for that later.
I'm going to be dividing the Golden Coast into Southern and Northern California. Keeping everything brief, but enough info to let you know that there is a lot to see and do in California!
Where to go in Southern California? San Diego, Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, Temecula, Palm Springs, Catalina Island, Whale Watching in Dana Point, wine tasting, Knott's Berry Farm, Legoland, Disneyland, Joshua Tree National Park, Queen Mary, San Diego Zoo, walk to Baja Mexico from San Diego and lots more!
Southern California has some gorgeous beaches and so many events happening during the summer time. I recommend visiting Huntington, Newport, Dana Point, Carlsbad, Oceanside, and Long Beach. All these beaches offer great lodging and restaurants. Huntington, also known as "Surf City" hosts the Vans US Open of Surfing competition and lifestyle festival. Each summer, over half a million people cruise the sand on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier for nine free fun-filled days. The event is July 29 to August 6, 2017. If you go to Long Beach, make sure you visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the Queen Mary. There's some great places to eat on Ocean Avenue and I go there often to shop for unique gifts for friends and family.
Whale watching is a California specialty. The best whale watching cruises are from Dana Point Harbor. Captain Dave's has been the leader in the industry and you can see whales, dolphins and seals up close on their boats.
Looking for a trip filled with presidential history? You will find two presidential libraries in Southern California. For you Democrats: The Nixon Library is located in Yorba Linda, Orange County and has a small town feel. The library is filled with amazing facts on President Nixon and hosts several events throughout the year.
For the Republicans: The Ronald Reagan Library is located in Simi Valley and has special exhibits throughout the year as well. You can even read some of Reagan's jokes that he used during his speeches and public presentations. He wrote them on 3x5 cards and memorized them.
San Diego has a world class zoo; San Diego Zoo and is a great family destination. For adults, I suggest visiting the Gaslamp District where you will find an abundance of places to eat and drink. Pubs, clubs, hotels and dancing in the Gaslamp for sure! One of my favorite places to eat and drink is at Dick's Last Resort. For dessert, check out Extraordinary Desserts, but you may need to take an Uber. Be sure to go there on an empty stomach. San Diego also has a Little Italy that serves up Italian food just right. You can take the Amtrak from LA to get to San Diego and vice versa on the Pacific Surfliner. Check the Amtrak website for a complete schedule of departures.
Santa Barbara is a wide county that runs from the mountains to the sea. You can hop along the coast or drive inland to Solvang, Los Olivos, and Foxen Canyon if you like wine tasting and visiting vineyards. Some great wineries to visit are Rancho Sisquoc, Riverbench, Palmina, and If you stay in Solvang, then you must eat at The Succulent Cafe. Try their Charcuterie & Cheese plate, a Tapas like meal for two along with a glass of wine! My favorite bakery is Mortensen's Danish Bakery and it's been there for over 30 years. If you want a great BBQ meal, then drive over or get an Uber to Flying Flags RV Park. That's where we stay in our RV. The dinner is fantabulous and there's a huge fire pit that you can sit at all night long. You can even bring your own wine!
Northern California is where you will find some of the most beautiful forests in the entire USA, but before I give you the list there's other places to visit along the coast.
San Simeon was once the home of Randolph Hearst, a super filthy rich publications owner, who is now passed. His home, called Hearst Castle is now a State Park and is magnificent. Built in 1947, this home is under the care of California.
Monterey is one of my favorite Northern California cities. It's super dog friendly and the coast line is extremely beautiful. It's a great place to visit and there's lots of great places to eat. We took our pooches for a weekend there and they loved it too! There's lots of walking trails and great clam chowder.
Ano Nuevo State Park and Reserve located in Pescadero on the Northern California Coast, where you can see 1000 pound plus size Elephant Seals! Docents are on site to answer all your questions. This is a 5 Star adventure!
San Francisco is vibrant and you definitely don't need a car to get around. There's the BART, the Cable Cars, Street Cars and the MUNI and of course you can walk. Best places to visit are the Golden Gate Bridge, Alacatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, and Golden Gate Park. If you like Irish Coffee, then the historical Buena Vista is a must! Master Bartender Larry Nolan has been making these delish coffees for over 40 years! They serve over 2,000 glasses a day. You will never taste a better Irish coffee anywhere. Oh, they serve breakfast and lunch as well.
If wine tasting is your thing, then be sure to visit Napa Valley, Sonoma, and Calistoga for some awesome tastings. In Napa, Sterling Winery provides you with a gondola to the top of the winery. Sonoma has a small town atmosphere and it's a great place for a picnic and wine.
This is just a short list of just a few National Parks you can see either Redwoods, Giant Sequoias, fumaroles (steam and volcanic-gas vents), bears and other wildlife, and wildflowers: Yosemite National Park, Sequoia & Kings National Park, Redwoods National Park, Pinnacles National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Point Reyes.
Be sure to visit the NPS website for more info: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm