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Take a Trip from Tinseltown to California's Heartland

Take a Trip from Tinseltown to California's Heartland
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Get a rare glimpse of reality in Hollywood, walk the red carpet and a street of stars, then head north to sequoias and sea lions.

Trip length: 4 days

UNIVERSAL CITY. Blow your mind on the revolutionary new Transformers: The Ride 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood , where a post-modern fusion of HD 3D media meets flight simulation technology. Take the Studio Tour for a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s most famous back lot. INFO Universal Studios Hollywood ; 800/864-8377

HOLLYWOOD (4mi/6km; 12min). Look to the street instead of the sky to stargaze on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Stroll the red carpet fronting Madame Tussauds Hollywood to see waxworks of iconic celebs from James Dean to Justin Bieber. Or catch a premier or checkout hand- and footprints of the stars at the landmark Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre). INFO Hollywood Chamber of Commerce ; 323/469-8311

LOS ANGELES (12mi/19km; 25min). Take the kids on an “Art Adventure,” a 1-hour tour of the Getty Center geared specifically for families. Admission is free, and the hilltop museum offers a full range of kid-oriented programs, not to mention jaw-dropping views and palatial gardens. INFO Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board ; 213/624-7300

LOS ANGELES (16mi/26km; 25min). Check out the real big screen: a seven-story IMAX movie screen at California Science Center that brings tiny atoms and the vast universe to life. Then watch your kids defy the laws of gravity on a daring high-wire bicycle ride. (Don’t worry, mom, science keeps the kids safe.) INFO Los Angeles Tourism ; 213/624-7300

BURBANK (15mi/24km; 23min). Peek behind the scenes of your favorite TV shows and movies at Warner Bros. Studio ; tours offer a rare glimpse of how Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. Get free tickets for live TV tapings too. INFO Burbank Chamber of Commerce ; 818/846-3111

VALENCIA (27mi/43km; 29min). Get your thrill on at Six Flags Magic Mountain , home to Tatsu, the world’s tallest, fastest, longest flying roller coaster. Pint-size thrill seekers can get their fix, too, on age-appropriate rides like WhistleStop Train and Merrie Melodies Carousel. Continue north and visit the Tulare California Welcome Center. INFO Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce ; 661/255-4111

VISALIA (155mi/249km; 2hours 21min). Explore Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks , neighboring preserves known for the world’s largest living things, giant sequoias. Join free ranger-led programs to learn about the area’s fascinating natural history. INFO Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 800/524-0303

FRESNO (44mi/71km; 43min). Listen to crashing waves and smell salty sea air—more than 100 miles inland—at Chaffee Zoo’s new Sea Lion Cove, where an underwater viewing area puts kids nose-to-snout with playful pinnipeds. Get a taste (and buy) fresh premium ice cream made at Fresno State University’s Gibson Farm Market ; the frozen treat and all other delicious foods and wine on sale were manufactured by students. INFO Fresno Convention and Visitors Bureau ; 559/981-5500

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