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Things to Do in California - page 2

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Indian Canyons
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9 Tours and Activities

Some of the best hiking near Palm Springs—and in the deserts of California—can be found at Indian Canyons, which is located at the western edge of Palm Springs. The land is owned and protected by the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians, who settled in the Palm Springs area centuries ago. Today, these people diligently care for the trails and invite visitors from near and far to experience the stunning desert scenery.

There are three primary hikes in the Indian Canyons: Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon and Murray Canyon. All three are thought to be easy to moderate trips, but more advanced hikers can combine different hikes and take small paths with greater elevation gains up the mountains. Some of the features of the hikes include waterfalls, panoramic views and of course, the sprawling desert landscapes. All of the trails are clearly marked.

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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
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The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, built in 1907, is a classic seaside amusement park complete with roller coasters, games, and rides. A colorful overhead gondola offers aerial beach views, and there are plenty of indoor activities and food options. One of the oldest amusement parks in California, it is designated as a historic landmark.

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Computer History Museum
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Located in Mountain View, the Computer History Museum chronicles the history of computing and technology. Visit to see a range of exhibits, demonstrations and interactive activities—including the world’s largest collection of computer-related artifacts—for an educational and family-friendly day out.

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USS Hornet (USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum)
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The USS Hornet (USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum) may now be docked in the San Francisco Bay as a National Historic Landmark, but the massive air carrier once fought the Pacific battles of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, in addition to taking part in the Apollo program that recovered astronauts returning from the moon. The vessel served many functions, from combat training to leading heavy bombing attacks, and finally as the primary recovery ship for Apollo 11. The carrier underwent air attacks 59 times without damage, earning nine battle stars in the process.

Today visitors can tour the flight deck and ship compartments, as well as the USS Hornet museum. Everything from a NASA exhibit with moon exploration mission items to retired naval aircraft and information about contemporary carriers is on display here. Visitors can get up close and personal with historic helicopters, jets, and propeller aircraft and the flight and hangar decks. There is even a flight simulator for those who want a fully immersive experience.

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El Capitan
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El Capitan is the largest exposed-granite monolith in the world and among the most popular rock-climbing destinations in the US. Rising 3,593 feet (1095 meters) above Yosemite Valley, El Capitan was once considered impossible to climb. However, since Warren Harding first conquered the "nose" in 1958, El Capitan has become the standard for big-wall climbing.

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Balboa Park
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Home to world-class museums, manicured gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park tops the list of San Diego city sights. Its 1,200 lush acres (486 hectares) comprise the largest urban park in the United States. Apart from its many attractions, Balboa Park also features lengthy walking and hiking trails, distinctive landscaping, Golden Age Spanish buildings, and one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.

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San Francisco Bay
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A natural harbor spanned by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the picturesque San Francisco Bay is the defining feature of California’s Bay Area. Get out on the chilly, choppy water—or just savor the views from the shoreline as the fog rolls in.

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Tunnel View
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As you drive north on Highway 41 towards Yosemite Valley, you'll pass through a tunnel and, on other side, you'll be treated to an epic view: Bridalveil Fall spills over granite cliffs into a verdant valley while El Capitan and Half Dome stand sentry. Originally constructed in 1933, Tunnel View is the most famous—and visited—scenic overlook in Yosemite.

A 2008 renovation included a more accessible viewing area, improved traffic flow and educational exhibits. Every vista from Tunnel View is picture-worthy, but for frame-worthy light, try to time your stop at Tunnel View to coincide with sunset, when the light turns to shadow and sweeps across the valley.

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San Diego Harbor
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The city’s waterfront Embarcadero district is one of the San Diego Bay's most vibrant areas. From museums to maritime attractions, and from Seaport Village's shops and restaurants to the area’s parks, the San Diego Harbor is known for its entertainment offerings and family-friendly attractions.

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Sunset Strip
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The legendary 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood known as the Sunset Strip extends east–west from Beverly Hills to Hollywood, laid end to end with celebrity-studded music venues dating back to the heyday of rock and roll, comedy clubs, boutiques, restaurants, hotels, and cocktail bars with stellar views of the surrounding city.

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More Things to Do in California

Viansa Sonoma Winery

Viansa Sonoma Winery

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Sample and enjoy wines with a view at Viansa Sonoma Winery. Located at the summit of Sonoma Valley, the winery offers panoramic views over its property, which includes 33 acres (13 hectares) of estate vineyards and 97 acres (39 hectares) of natural wetlands, home to a number of indigenous waterfowl.

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Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter

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The epicenter of San Diego’s party scene, the lively Gaslamp Quarter offers much more than just pulsating nightlife. The charming downtown neighborhood is also rich with cultural museums, art galleries, concert venues, and symphony halls, plus loads of lovely alfresco eateries. But back to the nightlife: Clubs, dive bars, and cocktail lounges draw the university crowd, while diverse audiences fill the Spreckels and Balboa theaters for performing arts, comedy shows, and live music.

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Venice Beach

Venice Beach

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Known for its free-spirited vibe, Venice Beach is a happening, upscale outlier of Los Angeles, fronted by the iconic Venice Boardwalk, officially known as the Ocean Front Walk. Encounters with pickup basketball teams, fortune tellers, and roller skating sunseekers are pretty much guaranteed—especially on hot Southern California summer days. Beyond the sand, visit the skate park, the famous Muscle Beach outdoor gym, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard, featuring trendy restaurants, stylish boutiques, galleries, and cafés.

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Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove

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Every winter, tens of thousands of monarch butterflies stop in Pismo Beach during their mass migration to a warmer climate. The bright-orange-and-black monarchs cluster together among the branches in a protected eucalyptus grove, creating a stunning natural display that attracts visitors from up and down the California coast.

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Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm

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Knott’s Berry Farm, a 160-acre (65-hectare) amusement park in Buena Park, California, is one of the most-visited theme parks in the United States. The attractions—from dizzying roller coasters to scream-inducing thrill rides—and water park make Knott’s a popular option for family fun in Southern California.

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Old Sacramento

Old Sacramento

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A US National Historic Landmark District, Old Sacramento sits on the east bank of the Sacramento River and offers a glimpse of California history dating back to the Gold Rush and early days of the railroad. Occupying 28 acres (11 hectares), this area offers historical architecture, museums, and activities.

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Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

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After the great earthquake of 1925 ruined much of the city, an opportunity arose to give this beloved city by the sea something that would reflect the areas culture and beauty; something that would both honor and impress its residents. Designed in Spanish-Moorish style and completed in 1929, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is now one of the main tourist attractions on a visit to the American Riviera.

One of the most beautiful government buildings in all of the United States, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a working courthouse, but visitors are encouraged to explore what its grounds hold in store for them. Here you’ll find the Sunken gardens where many weddings take place, an elevator to the 85-foot “El Mirador” clock tower for a panoramic view of downtown Santa Barbara, many hand-painted rooms full of detail (including the fantastic Mural Room), the Spirit of the Ocean fountain, and many wrought-iron hand-rails and window coverings which make the courthouse what it is – spectacular.

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Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

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The largest alpine lake in North America, and the second-deepest lake in the United States, Lake Tahoe is Northern California’s winter playground. known for its several ski resorts, and a summer getaway. The lake straddles the California-Nevada border, with roughly two-thirds of its mass in California.

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Madonna Estate Winery

Madonna Estate Winery

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Located in the world-renowned Carneros region, Madonna Estate Winery is a unique winemaker utilizing dry-farming production and organic grapes. The vineyard is family owned and operated using a combination of traditional and modern winemaking techniques. As one of the oldest vineyards in Napa Valley, Madonna Estate Winery is working to ensure the historic winemaking traditions of the past live on. It was one of the few original vineyards that survived the Prohibition era.

The idea behind their wines is minimal intervention and as much natural growth as possible. Mild fog, wild, and cool temperatures create a unique microclimate in this area, fed with coastal air. Madonna Estate Winery produces ten varietals including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. The tasting room is decorated in Italian Pompeii style to reflect the family’s heritage, and the reserve room serves their highest quality vintages.

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Santa Ynez Valley (SYV)

Santa Ynez Valley (SYV)

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The Santa Ynez Valley (SYV) is located in northern Santa Barbara County, California and includes the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. It is one of five distinct American Viticultural Areas in Santa Barbara County's large wine country. More than 50 varietals thrive in this area's diverse micro-climates. There are more than 120 wineries located here, and most are small boutique operations and family owned and operated. Visitors come here to enjoy world class wines in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Aside from wine, the Santa Ynez Valley has a strong craft beer scene. Throughout the area there are outstanding breweries, specialty tasting rooms, bars and restaurants offering international beer tastings, and a specialty brew shop. There are also several art and history museums that explore the culture of this area as well as art from the local communities. The Valley is also a great place for outdoor activities. Visitors can experience nature by exploring hiking trails through rolling hills and wildflowers.

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TCL Chinese Theatre

TCL Chinese Theatre

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Peek into old Hollywood on a visit to the historic TCL Chinese Theatre. This quintessential California landmark, featured in movies since 1927, is still a favorite location for star-studded red-carpet premieres. A recent upgrade to the theater’s seats and IMAX 3D equipment enhances the experience while keeping the theater’s original charm.

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Heavenly Gondola

Heavenly Gondola

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Whether you're an adventure junkie or a relaxation-seeking traveler, Heavenly Gondola—at Heavenly Ski Resort—is a can't-miss Lake Tahoe attraction. Take it to the top of the mountain, then gaze out over panoramic shore-to-shore views of aqua-blue Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains from up high.

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Sunny Jim Sea Cave

Sunny Jim Sea Cave

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Along sunny San Diego’s La Jolla coast, there are numerous sea caves carved into cliffs rising from the ocean. What’s unique about Sunny Jim Sea Cave is that it’s the only sea cave there you can access by land in California. Walking through the man-made tunnel leads you to not only the cave itself, but also seven other natural caves carved by the force of the ocean.

The cave took its name from Wizard of Oz author Frank L. Baum, who noted its resemblance to a British cartoon character called Sunny Jim. The tunnel to the cave — which once smuggled liquor during Prohibition — took two years to dig through. Once you emerge into the cave, many more years of carving are noticeable…200,000 or so, in fact! Its estimated by fossil imprints and waterlines that the cave walls have been standing for up to that length of time. The cave walls are also decorated with many different natural colors from a variety of mineral deposits.

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Santa Barbara Waterfront

Santa Barbara Waterfront

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It should come as no surprise that a city hailed for its beautiful coastline should consider its waterfront the #1 tourist attraction in the area. With a variety of restaurants, boating and sport fishing tours, a bird sanctuary, bike path, and a beautiful promenade connecting the Waterfront to the rest of the downtown area, the Santa Barbara Waterfront is, without a doubt, one of the glittering gems of Santa Barbara.

From State Street (the area’s main business street) head East to see Chase Palm Park (home to Sunday art-walks and where many a pickup soccer game begins), the Santa Barbara Skate Park, and the Bird Sanctuary. Head West from State Street and find the Harbor, Waterfront Museum, several restaurants, and water sports adventure tours.

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