Enjoy an audience with the state’s unique collection of kings, queens, and princesses.
California has its own brand of “royals”—Disney princesses, historic riverboats, basketball kings, drag queens, a king of beasts, and a queen of the high seas. In fact, visiting California’s pseudo-monarchs is a south-to-north journey fit for, well, a king.
Queen Mary . From its maiden voyage in 1936 to its 1967 arrival in Long Beach, the Queen Mary ruled the waves. The ship offers endless opportunities to experience the romance of ocean travel. Take a tour and see vintage Art Deco design or let a psychic guide you into the ship’s haunted past. Dine or have cocktails in a host of venues. You can even spend the night—as Hollywood and British royalty when the Queen plied the Atlantic.
Pacific Grove . Monarch butterflies must have a nose for prime real estate. Every fall, thousands of monarchs wing on over to Pacific Grove, one of the coast’s most appealing towns. These orange-and-black beauties flutter amongst the eucalyptus trees in the Monarch Grove Sanctuary—a seasonal show so spectacular it earned Pacific Grove the title of “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.” Monarchs even get their own Butterfly Parade every October.
Tahoe Queen . Catch a glimpse of this riverboat all-aglow, and you might mistake the historic paddle wheeler for a floating palace. You’ll certainly enjoy the royal treatment when you come aboard for a lake cruise. Restored to its early 1900s grandeur, the Tahoe Queen offers daytime trips to Emerald Bay and sunset dinner cruises.
Kings Beach . According to legend, Joe King won the rights to this Lake Tahoe area in a poker game. King certainly played his cards right: Kings Beach boasts a spectacular setting, with the lake’s lapis-blue waters surrounded by alpine peaks. Despite its regal name, Kings Beach is anything but pretentious, and has a kickback way of life that seems best suited for a cooler and an inflatable raft. Hang out at the white sands of Kings Beach State Recreation Area and you may never want to leave your beach towel.
AsiaSF . You can dress them up with names like “gender illusionists,” but the haughty and naughty performers—some astoundingly beautiful—at the San Francisco institution are really just top-notch drag queens. This restaurant/lounge/dance club knows how to strut its stuff (or let the “ladies” do it) and deliver command performances. If you can take your eyes of the entertainers on the red-topped runway, order a signature cocktail and dine on memorable Cal-Asian cuisine in a setting as lively and colorful as San Francisco itself.
Sacramento Kings . Although it has been 60 years since the franchise won an NBA championship (when it was the Rochester Royals), the Kings inspire a fervent local following. Ranked among basketball’s top fans, these faithful subjects have sworn their allegiance to the Kings since 1985. While the home court in Power Balance Arena is no palace, its fan don’t seem to mind, and rock the house as hard as any home team in the NBA.