California is a beautiful place to visit. As the state ranking third in physical size, with 163,707 square miles of land, there are many beautiful places to visit from Northern California to Southern California and all of the space in between. However, there are some places that are found to be more popular destinations than others. Some areas that would be easy to become enchanted with are San Diego, Los Angeles, and the surrounding area, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco.
A trip to San Diego feels incredibly laid back for being in a metropolitan area. Downtown is wonderful for some of the unique skyscrapers, the San Diego Bay and Maritime Museum, the Gaslamp Quarters for nightlife and Little Italy for a taste of fine, authentic cuisine. Coronado Island, just over the big, blue bridge is like an island escape.
Old Town is fascinating for the preservation of that old world appearance and Balboa Park is an intriguing mixture of gardens, exhibits and old Spanish architecture. Mission Beach boasts an amusing boardwalk, known as Belmont Park, and La Jolla beaches are known for the brilliant scenery surrounding it. Sea World and the San Diego Zoo are both wonderful attractions for animal lovers while those looking to venture into another culture can slip over to Tijuana. Be sure to check travel advisories before crossing the border though.
Take a drive north on Pacific Highway One to go towards Los Angeles. This classic highway boasts breathtaking beachside views and perfect vistas of the extravagant hillside homes in Laguna Beach. Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City, is also on the way. Once you have arrived in Los Angeles you can take in one of the many museums or go to Universal Studios. Next, take a trip to Hollywood to see the star-studded Walk of Fame or swing over to Anaheim to spend a wistful day at Disneyland, the children’s fantasy land or riding thrill rides at Knott’s Berry Farm.
A classic outdoor attraction that is timeless is Yosemite National Park. Here you can hike, bike or take a bus tour as well as camp out or shack up in a local bed and breakfast, resort, hotel or cabin. Yosemite Valley is full of waterfalls and cliff faces among other alluring natural wonders. One of the most popular attractions is the Half Dome rock, featured in many nature photographers’ portfolios.
After Yosemite, slide almost due-west to see San Francisco. There are several features that are commonly spoken of, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the famous cable cars that are very successful in the hill-ridden City By The Bay. One attraction that is well-known, but not nearly as publicized is the Fisherman’s Wharf. This is any seafood lovers dream come true! Most of the deck that serves food distinctly smells of very fresh seafood. Across from the Fisherman’s Wharf lies Alcatraz. The prison, which is built on top of a tiny island, is open for tours. Some of the most notorious criminals resided here between 1934 and 1963.
There are so many other areas of California that are equally enchanting. These suggestions touch on some of the most popular destinations, but the possibilities are almost endless in the Golden State.
If you’re into walking paths paved with stars and seeing the actual “behind the scenes” aspects of the Hollywood movie business, then Universal Studios in Hollywood is the place to go. While this theme park doesn’t offer an extremely large number of actual “rides”, there is plenty to do and even more to see.
The most visited and loved attraction at Universal Studios is most definitely the “back-lot tour”. You board a “tram” which takes you on an approximately 45 minute adventure through actual studio lots ranging from familiar scenes in the movie “Jaws” to a tour passed the actual “Psycho” house. You’ll also find yourself in the midst of an Earthquake and nearly being washed away by a raging flood. The tour directors are very knowledgeable and provide entertainment as well as education on various aspects of the “business”. Sometimes you’ll even be lucky enough to spot an actual “star” on set.
There are several other major attractions including “Jurassic Park the Ride” and “Back to the Future”, which are both exhilarating and quite entertaining. The downside is that because of the relatively small amount of actual “rides”, the lines can be horrendous, sometimes over an hour long. There is no “fast pass” system in place as in Disneyland, so you have no choice but to wait out the lines. It helps if you get the major attractions done early, though watch out, because if you ride “Jurassic Park”, you’re going to get wet!
Another downside to the park is that Hollywood in the summertime can reach temperatures in the high 90’s and because Universal Studios is virtually completely made of concrete and pavement, you can find yourself in heat stroke territory quite easily so sunscreen is a must.
Overall, Universal Studios is a place that one should definitely visit at least once in their life, if not several times. I wouldn’t say that it is up to the caliber of “The happiest place on Earth”, but it’s certainly one of the more “entertaining places on Earth”.