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The Ultimate California Travel Guide
Home to movie stars and Disneyland, California is one of the most exciting states in the US. People from all over the world dream of visiting the Golden State.
Known for its famous beaches and relaxing vineyards, there’s so much to see and do in California.
Here, we’re sharing the Ultimate California Travel Guide including the best times to visit and what to do when you get there. Let’s make your California dreams come true.
California, especially its southern cities, is known for its gorgeous weather year-round. In the summer, California experiences its dry season while, in the winter, it’s the wet season.
As opposed to other US coastal cities, California experiences warm weather without much humidity during the summer.
This climate is extremely desirable and creates the perfect beach day conditions.
During the winter, you can find glorious ski regions such as Lake Tahoe with powdery snow and a winter wonderland climate.
Overall, California has it all and, depending on when you visit, its climate has something for every preference.
Best Time to Visit California
With so much to do, most of the time, California is a great place to visit. However, peak season occurs during the summer months of June to August.
So, if you’re not a fan of crowds (which is presumably everyone), this is when you should avoid a trip to California.
August to October is an incredible time to go to southern California. It’ll be warm during the day but chilly at night, making it the perfect weather for an extended beach vacation.
However, up north, somewhere like San Francisco also has great weather and fewer crowds from August to October.
And, with late summers, you’ll experience cooler weather as late as May as well.
Currency, Culture, and More
For anyone planning to visit California from overseas, it’s important to get an understanding of what to expect once you arrive.
English is the main language spoken throughout California but you’re likely to hear Spanish being widely spoken, especially in southern California due to its proximity to Central America.
California uses the US dollar and most businesses accept credit cards. ATMs are also widely available.
Plugs (power outlets/power points) are Type A and B with a standard voltage of 120V and a frequency of 60Hz.
So, be sure to pack an adapter if you’re using international plugs.
As a whole, California is a safe place to travel. But, there are certain areas that are safer than others.
Always be vigilant and make sure you’re aware of your surroundings. It’s common in the US to close windows and lock doors at all times, which is quite different from many places in Europe or Australia, for example.
The US requires most travelers to obtain a visa. The most common visa you’ll need to visit California is a Visa ESTA which allows you to visit the country without work rights for 90 days.
Best Things to Do in California
If we were to go into detail about all of the best things to do in California, we could fill an entire book.
So, in an effort to keep things brief, let’s separate the state into north and south, listing all the best things to see and experience in the Golden State.
- Palm Springs
- Santa Monica Pier
- Venice Beach
- Hollywood Walk of Fame
- San Diego
- Santa Barbara
- Death Valley National Park
- Joshua Tree
- San Francisco
- Yosemite National Park
- Redwood forests
- Big Sur
- Napa Valley
- Lake Tahoe
One of the best ways to see California’s highlights is by taking a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Most of these epic destinations are stops along the way and it’s the ultimate way to see this coastal state.
Best Food in California
California is so large and diverse that you can find some of the best food in the world while traveling there.
In the northern regions, you’ll find world-renowned vineyards where you can wine and dine in more of a farm-to-table style.
However, in southern California, the authentic Mexican food you can find is to die for.
Seafood tacos and unassuming food trucks are not to be taken for granted. Being so close to the Mexican border, you’ll be eating some of the best Mexican flavors you can get compared anywhere else in America.
You’ll also find pockets of incredible Asian food in certain areas of the larger cities, as well as Michelin-rated restaurants from some of the globe’s top chefs.
A quick Google search will produce a huge number of amazing restaurants in California – you’ll likely have trouble choosing.
Make the Most of Your Trip to California
When it comes to planning a California trip, it’s best to strike a balance between having plans and leaving room for spontaneity.
Knowing where you’ll stay, for how long, and having an idea of what you’ll do each day is essential. But allowing time for unexpected adventures will make your trip even more exciting.
Perhaps you plan to stay in San Francisco for three days. Make a list of all the things you’d like to do and see – Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Full House house, a fancy dinner – and decide on how they’ll be prioritized.
From there, you can book a few tours and reservations ahead of time and wait until you arrive to plan the rest day by day. Inclement weather and traffic can cause delays and potentially cause stress.
So, planning some things while leaving others to chance is your best bet.
Another helpful hint when planning your California trip is knowing where you can store your luggage in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Many travelers are hopping from one city to the next, hoping to explore without a bunch of suitcases in tow.
Now that you have the scoop on the ultimate California vacation, it’s time to make your top picks and start planning!