California On a Budget
SightsThe city of San Francisco is unique in the U.S. with its European style streets, cable cars, and eclectic personality. Nearby is the city of San Jose, known as "Silicon Valley", the internet hub of the world. Not too far north is wine country, with Napa Valley and Sonoma at its heart. Just north of San Francisco are the Marin headlands, a natural protected area with rugged mountains, hiking trails, and Muir Woods.
In the far north of the state are several national parks, including Redwood National Park, famous for its massive and extremely tall trees.
Following the coast south from San Francisco will lead visitors to Monterey Bay, known for sea life and its aquarium. Nearby is Carmel, a nifty beach and golf town with a long stretch of attractive coastline. Further south is a stretch of coastline known as Big Sur, which showcases mountainous landscapes with green hills that plunge into the blue sea. Occasional hidden beaches can be found in some of the inlets. In fact, this area should definitely be part of your California Road Trip experience.
Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the U.S. and has much to offer from Hollywood to the nearby beach areas of Santa Barbara and Long Beach, as well as Orange County, Beverly Hills, Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, and the list goes on.
San Diego, in the far south near the Mexican border, offers the warmest weather, scenic beaches, and a historic downtown area (the Gaslamp quarter) and the world class San Diego Zoo.
Inland, California offers rugged terrain and national parks. Southern California has a wide area of desert, and visitors can visit Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mojave Desert. In central California, the Sierra Nevada range hosts Yosemite National Park, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, Lake Tahoe, and other state and local parks.
ActivitiesPopular activities in California include surfing on the many beaches, visiting the numerous national parks, exploring the famous cities, and even skiing in the winter.
Hiking in the summer months is very popular, especially in national parks such as Yosemite, Redwoods, Kings Canyon, and Joshua Tree. The inland desert areas of the southern part of the state are very popular destinations in the winter months.
The Lake Tahoe area is quite popular in the summer and winter. The winter months are terrific for skiing and snowboarding.
Food and DiningCalifornia offers a wide variety of cuisine. In the south, much of the food is influenced by Mexico. It's common to find Mexican restaurants, especially those that are low cost and casual. Try a burrito if you're on a budget and you'll have a fresh, delicious meal that will sustain you until your next craving.
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California is also crisscrossed by various interstate highways. While distances can be far, driving times can be acceptable between most major cities depending on traffic. However, expect a very long drive from southern cities such as L.A. to the northern cities of the Bay Area.