The Golden State is a spe­cial place with a world’s worth of ex­pe­ri­ences to be sa­vored

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY DON GE­ORGE

Cal­i­for­nia Dream­ing


When the pop­u­lar ’60s mu­si­cal group The Ma­mas & the Pa­pas sang of Cal­i­for­nia Dreamin’, it was LA they were mus­ing about, a place of glit­ter and glam­our and stars where dreams could come true. A fa­vorite place to imag­ine those dreams is high atop Mount Hol­ly­wood at Grif­fith Ob­ser­va­tory, es­pe­cially at night, when stars in the sky seem to fall over the city be­low and any­thing seems pos­si­ble. THE SE­DUC­TIVE STATE OF CAL­I­FOR­NIA is large in ev­ery sense of the word. It’s the most pop­u­lous state in the U.S. and the third largest in terms of ge­o­graph­i­cal size. Its econ­omy ranks sixth in the en­tire world. When it comes to vis­i­tor at­trac­tions, Cal­i­for­nia presents trav­el­ers with as wide a range of riches as many coun­tries. Whether you’re pas­sion­ate about nat­u­ral ac­tiv­i­ties, cul­tural pur­suits or din­ing and win­ing, the Golden State has di­verse de­lights to en­tice you.

Out­door Ad­ven­turer

If you’re a na­ture lover and ac­tive ad­ven­turer, you’ll be daz­zled by the state’s spec­tac­u­lar spec­trum. On the western edge there’s the Pa­cific Ocean, the largest body of wa­ter in the world, per­fect for surf­ing, sail­ing and swim­ming. In the east there are the mag­nif­i­cent moun­tains of the Sierra Ne­vada, a haven for skiers and snow­board­ers in win­ter and hik­ers and bi­cy­clists in sum­mer. This re­gion is home to Mount Whit­ney, the tallest moun­tain in the “Lower 48” and a mecca for climbers, top­ping off at 14,505 feet. Among Cal­i­for­nia’s most mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ences are walk­ing through the nat­u­ral cathe­dral of Muir Woods and camp­ing in the gran­ite grandeur of Yosemite Na­tional Park.

For boaters, bird­ers and fish­er­men, there’s Lake Shasta, home to an abun­dance of fish and fowl. For white­wa­ter fans, more than a dozen rivers, in­clud­ing the mighty Amer­i­can and Sacra­mento, pro­vide thrilling rides. Kayak­ers and ca­noers find par­adise in Point Reyes Na­tional Seashore in the north and wa­tery won­ders at Morro Bay on the cen­tral coast.

In the south­ern part of the state, vis­i­tors sa­vor the sere splen­dors of the Mo­jave Desert and Death Val­ley, the low­est point in North Amer­ica, 282 feet be­low sea level. If tide pool­ing tempts you, Shaw’s Cove tide pools in the La­guna Beach State Marine Re­serve and the Ter­ranea tide pools in the Point Vi­cente State Marine Con­ser­va­tion Area in Ran­cho Palos Verdes show­case sea anemones, crabs, urchins, sea slugs, sea stars and more. The five is­lands of Chan­nel Is­lands Na­tional Park, ac­ces­si­ble only by boat or plane from Ven­tura and Ox­nard, pro­vide a peace­ful, pris­tine home for more than 2,000 plant and an­i­mal species, in­clud­ing 145 found nowhere else on the planet.

Cul­tural Con­nois­seur

If you love cul­ture, you’ll find a treasure trove of ac­tiv­i­ties in the Golden State, from mu­seum and art gallery ex­hi­bi­tions to shops show­cas­ing contemporary hand­i­crafts and time­worn an­tiques, and from per­for­mances of the­ater, dance and music

to dis­plays at aquar­i­ums and hands-on ed­u­ca­tion cen­ters.

For music, the world-class concert halls of Los An­ge­les and San Fran­cisco are well­known, but equally ap­peal­ing are smaller sites such as the Red­lands Bowl in the In­land Em­pire city of Red­lands, where an el­e­gant am­phithe­ater spot­lights Cal­i­for­nia’s old­est free concert se­ries, pre­sent­ing ev­ery­thing from clas­si­cal music to blue­grass bands each sum­mer, or the Joan and San­ford I. Weill Hall on the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Sonoma cam­pus, where warm-weather concert-go­ers can spread a blan­ket on the ter­raced lawn for an al­fresco music fest.

A lively va­ri­ety of per­for­mances, in­clud­ing bal­let, the­ater, va­ri­ety shows, comedy and even on­stage con­ver­sa­tions, are pre­sented at Oak­land’s or­nately Art Deco Para­mount The­ater. An­other mul­ti­fac­eted venue lov­ingly re­stored to its for­mer glory is Fresno’s Warnors Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, listed on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places and dis­tin­guished by a pipe or­gan that repli­cates the sound of a full orches­tra.

From the Siskiyou County Mu­seum in Yreka to the San Diego Mu­seum of Art, mu­se­ums and gal­leries cel­e­brat­ing his­tory, hu­man en­deavor and artis­tic her­itage abound through­out the state. Cre­ative ex­plor­ing will yield ac­cess to small-scale mu­se­ums that spe­cial­ize in ev­ery­thing from comics and cable cars to surf­ing and sewing. Other out­stand­ing ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions that fo­cus on in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences in­clude the Mon­terey Bay Aquar­ium, the Cal­i­for­nia Academy of Sciences and the Ex­plorato­rium.

Food Afi­cionado

For food afi­ciona­dos, Cal­i­for­nia is a won­der­land of tastes, tex­tures and in­no­va­tive culi­nary cre­ations. One of the most de­light­ful and en­light­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ences is vis­it­ing a farm­ers mar­ket, where fresh­from-the-farm pro­duce will be on de­li­cious dis­play and fresh-from-the-field farm­ers will be happy to of­fer sam­ples and sto­ries. Farm­ers mar­kets can now be found through­out the state. As a fur­ther out­growth of the pop­u­lar­ity of these mar­kets, more and more farms are now of­fer­ing vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity to pay to pick their own straw­ber­ries, peaches or plums and sa­vor the sweet­ness of just-plucked fruit. Some farms even of­fer trav­el­ers the chance to stay and work, which re­veals from the inside the rites and rhythms of mod­ern farm life.

Cal­i­for­nia is the birth­place of Cal­i­for­nia cui­sine, of course, a culi­nary rev­o­lu­tion spear­headed by Berke­ley’s Alice Wa­ters— whose Chez Panisse is still serv­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary food 46 years after it opened. That rev­o­lu­tion has spawned nu­mer­ous other chan­nels of cre­ative culi­nary fresh­ness and fu­sion, blend­ing Asian, Euro­pean and Latin Amer­i­can in­gre­di­ents and tra­di­tions, which are show­cased through­out the state. As Alice Wa­ters and her fol­low­ers fo­cused at­ten­tion on lo­cal pur­vey­ors, food-re­lated op­por­tu­ni­ties for trav­el­ers ex­panded. One re­sult to­day is the Cal­i­for­nia Cheese Trail, an in­ter­ac­tive web­site (cheese­trail.org) that fea­tures ar­ti­sanal cheese mak­ers through­out the state, as well as the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail map that high­lights cheese mak­ers from Point Reyes and Val­ley Ford to Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

Wine trails have long drawn trav­el­ers to Cal­i­for­nia, but these have ex­panded as well in re­cent years. In ad­di­tion to worl­drenowned re­gions such as Napa and Sonoma, up-and-com­ing ar­eas that of­fer their own win­ery routes in­clude Liver­more, Paso Robles, Madera and Te­mec­ula.

What­ever in­ter­est has drawn you to Cal­i­for­nia, you’ll find al­most in­fi­nite rea­sons to be se­duced and stay.

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