California is set for another unforgettable year and is already bursting with holiday ideas, from hotel openings and record-breaking roller-coasters, to major sporting events and special anniversaries. Can’t decide whether you want remote islands or a slick city break, Michelin-starred or street food, skiing or surfing – fret not, you’ll be able to do it all in California. So if you needed any more reasons to add the Golden State to your bucket list, read on.
New on Visit California’s Media Center for 2013 is the first episode of our quarterly ‘What’s New in California’ video newsletters, presented by San Francisco-based journalist John Vlahides. Click here to check out the Winter 2013 news for more inspiration.
California never disappoints with its range of accommodation options and we’re lucky enough to be welcoming some additional properties to the state in 2013. San Francisco will see the first significant opening in its hotel landscape since 2008 with the arrival of the Hotel Zetta on 18th February. Managed by the Viceroy Hotel Group, Hotel Zetta will boast 116 modern guestrooms with wireless streaming entertainment and the ultimate Game Lounge that includes a pool table, video game stations and a London red telephone booth for Skyping in style and ordering room service. Not to be outdone, the first Orient- Express hotel on the US West Coast will open in Santa Barbara in March. Home to 92 rooms and a seven acre landscaped garden, El Encanto will have a boutique spa, outdoor swimming pool, its own vegetable garden, beer brewed on site, and even Ellie, the hotel's own cow, to provide dairy for the restaurant.
Also adding to the property portfolio is the Sirtaj Hotel in Beverly Hills, arriving this month. Nestled in a quiet residential neighbourhood just south of Wilshire Boulevard, the hotel will offer an intimate boutique experience, with 32 rooms and a sleek cocktail lounge. Further up the coast, guests will find Carmel’s Quail Lodge and Golf Club re-opening on 1st April after a three-year, $28 million renovation. Hotly anticipated, the property will have rejuvenated guestrooms and suites with a California Ranch design, an enhanced lobby, and new landscaping upgrades.
Get your pulse racing with some of the State’s newest roller-coaster rides and theme parks. Starting off the new year is Six Flags, with the tallest, fastest looping roller-coaster in the world, Full Throttle . Get ready to ride the world-record 160-foot loop with a zero to 70 miles-per-hour acceleration, coming in spring. Not far behind is the epic Gold Striker , an Old West themed roller-coaster located in Silicon Valley’s California’s Great America park. Anyone with a passion for high-speed wooden rides should make sure they add this to the itinerary, along with California’s only spinning roller-coaster Undertow . The new $5.5 million ride, with a 360° carousel spin, will pitch up along the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk this summer. Just make sure you save the hot dog for after!
For some more unexpected thrills head to Chula Vista, just south of San Diego, where you can ride water slides amongst dolphins and flamingos. Seaworld’s new Aquatica Waterpark will combine a marine park and a water park, allowing guests to enjoy the park experiences whilst learning about a variety of exotic animals. Coming in June 2013, expect this to be very popular with families. For a fully immersive theme park experience, don’t forget that the LEGOLAND Hotel is opening on 5th April at the LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad.
Batter up! Sports fan unite as California hosts an array of participant and spectator sporting events this year. For those wanting a taste of an all-American day out, head to San Francisco for the World Baseball Classic semi-finals and finals , 17th – 19th March, where you can cheer with the locals as you watch the game’s best players sweat it out. If you prefer to combine sight-seeing with your sport, make sure you’re around San Francisco this summer for the 34th America’s Cup Finals , where you can catch the action from several vantage points in the city. The Louis Vuitton Cup will take place between 4th July - 1st September, culminating in the America's Cup Finals between 7th and 22nd September. Visitors can get a taste of the action racing around the Bay on a former America’s Cup yacht with the AC Sailing experience , and should visit California Academy of Sciences to check out their‘Built for Speed’ exhibition from 10th May. The exhibit will showcase high-speed sailboats designed by the America’s Cup defending champions, as well as exploring the adaptations of some of the fastest animals in the sea.
Cycling fans will want to head to California between 12th and 19th May when the 2013 Amgen Tour of California rolls through with the world’s top cyclists in tow. 12 Host City partners, ranging from deserts to coastal regions, have been selected for the South to North course of what is considered America's largest and most prestigious professional road cycling stage race.
Not forgetting the sport of the season - the ski season is well underway and Tahoe and Mammoth are experiencing epic levels of powder. Time your trips out to the slopes with the Mammoth Winter Biathlon from 13th - 17th March, and witness some remarkable performance skiing. Hot on its heels is the US Freestyle Championships at Heavenly in Tahoe, where you can check out the US Ski Team prepare for the 2014 Olympics, 29th – 31st March.
The action doesn’t stop once the snow melts! The Truckee-Tahoe area will host California’s first fulldistance IRONMAN triathlon since 2001. The course will include a swim in Lake Tahoe, a 112-mile bike ride over Brockway Summit and a run along the Truckee River and the west shore of the lake.
With award season underway, the sights of Hollywood are looking as glamourous as ever. For a movie star of a different kind, make your way up north to Alcatraz to visit ‘The Rock’ on the 50th anniversary of its closing on 21st March, while another half-century celebration is the 50th anniversary of Hitchcock’s The Birds . Stop by Bodega Bay this summer to visit the set and check out The Bodega Country Store, which houses the largest collection of Hitchcock and The Birds memorabilia.
Eco-travel writers should take note of Down to Earth Month in April, a celebration of California’s leadership in sustainable wine and vineyards. Continuing with the libations theme, California Wine Month will host special tastings and harvest tours during September, while beer lovers are spoilt for choice with a number of festivals, including San Francisco Beer Week , 8th to 17th February and Sacramento’s Art of Beer Week , 22nd February to 3rd March.
The wave action for 2013 will be happening at Huntington Beach with the Nike US Open of Surfing , 20th to 28th July, and the infamous Surf City Surf Dog competition, 27th to 29th September. Back on dry land, the City of Palm Springs celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and will be hosting special events throughout the year.
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