Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - —LARRY HABEGGER, Editor

On the bluffs in San Fran­cisco over­look­ing the Golden Gate and the Marin Head­lands, there’s a place that comes upon most vis­i­tors as a sur­prise. The pop­u­lar walk­ing path here on Lands End winds around the city’s north­west cor­ner high above the sea, nar­row and wooded in places, open and flat in oth­ers, with ex­pan­sive views over the wa­ter. But sit­ting atop a flat out­crop far be­low is a scat­ter of brown stones that takes on a pat­tern when you look closely, and you won­der if you’re see­ing things.

A side path will get you down there and when you come around the last bend you see that you’re right, the stones have been placed to form a labyrinth sim­i­lar to those of fa­mous Euro­pean cathe­drals. Step inside and take a slow, me­an­der­ing walk to the cen­ter, where you can take deep breaths of the clean Pa­cific air and con­tem­plate your good for­tune to be stand­ing at this mag­i­cal place on the edge of a con­ti­nent.

There are many sur­prises like this on the path­ways and roads of Cal­i­for­nia. Take a turn in wine coun­try and you might dis­cover a bou­tique win­ery you hadn’t heard about. Climb over a moun­tain pass and have your breath stolen by the beauty of the land­scape be­fore you. Drive through the for­est in the north­ern reaches and en­counter trees seem­ingly older and larger than time it­self. Drop into a road­side café and learn that it’s as good as any­thing starred by Miche­lin.

On the coast, you can dis­cover hid­den coves and pris­tine beaches where you can surf, kayak, swim or pad­dle board. In the cities, catch world-class opera, sym­phony, jazz or the­ater. Head to the desert for rest­ful spas, dra­matic land­scapes and sur­pris­ing mu­se­ums, not to men­tion one of the coun­try’s top music fes­ti­vals.

Cal­i­for­nia is San Diego’s sum­mer sun, Los An­ge­les’ en­ter­tain­ment glitz, San Fran­cisco’s fa­mous bridges and Sil­i­con Val­ley’s tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion. It’s also Death Val­ley Na­tional Park, Lake Ta­hoe, Yosemite Na­tional Park, the vol­canic peak of Mount Shasta, the fer­tile Cen­tral Val­ley that feeds the na­tion. In short, it’s ev­ery­thing you could hope it to be, all linked by the net­work of long and wind­ing roads that take you wher­ever you want to go and are part of the adventure.

In these pages we help you pre­pare, with pro­files of the state’s 14 tourism re­gions, es­says on his­tory, cui­sine, mu­se­ums, theme parks and many other top­ics, plus re­source pages with in­for­ma­tion on vis­i­tors bu­reaus, driv­ing dis­tances, Cal­i­for­nia Wel­come Cen­ters and more.

As you make your plans for a trip to the Golden State, you’ll have a lot to look for­ward to. Cal­i­for­nia of­fers a pro­found rich­ness of ex­pe­ri­ence, and much like the cen­ter of that labyrinth on the bluffs in San Fran­cisco, it’s all within easy reach, pep­pered with pleas­ant sur­prises along the way.

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