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California: Outdoor

ALL DREAMS WELCOME

Explore California's Outdoor Playgrounds
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Discover the North Coast

Hugging California's northwestern edge, a spectacular network of parks protecting nearly half of the world’s coast redwoods, the world’s tallest living things, which grow...

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Discover the High Sierra

Famous for its plunging waterfalls and massive granite faces, this unparalleled parkland, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, attracts 4 million visitors...

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Discover the Deserts

The largest national park outside of Alaska, Death Valley is an almost unfathomable place. The park’s 3.3 million acres /1.34 million hectares encompass mountain-size sand...

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From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

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Amy Meredith/Flickr
The mountains are calling and I must go.
John Muir
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Get into the coastal vibe

Maybe it’s the sun-streaked hair, the frequent smiles, the eyes always gazing west, looking to the horizon to see when the next set might roll in. It’s the unmistakable look and vibe of a...

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Family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes

High Sierra peaks, deep drifts on a Mammoth volcano, family-friendly resorts, snowy escapes on the edge of Yosemite and more—California has enough alpine destinations to keep any skier or boarder...

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Get insider tips on visiting our top natural wonders

Ask a local the best things about California, and somewhere at the top of the list would be the sheer beauty of the place. See for yourself with this dream list of incredible national parks, with...

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California is blessed to have the most designated National Parks in the United States.
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Rebecca Garrett

Spotlight: Mammoth Lakes

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Snowy winters, wildflower summers

Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the west, folks in this laid-back mountain town know they’ve got a good thing going. It’s a land of...

May 11 - May 20
May

America's largest and most prestigious cycling event brings many of the world’s top riders to the Golden State. The 8-stage race changes it up every year, with new courses connecting cities and...

Amgen Tour of California
Amgen Tour of California
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See a few amazing wonders of the sea first-hand

Each year, about 20,000 gray whales make an epic 6,000-mile/9,656-km journey between Alaska and Mexico—and then back again. These whales travel from feeding grounds in the Bering Sea to mating and...

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Michele W/Flickr
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Lava, geysers & naturally heated hot springs

From the snow-capped heights of Mount Shasta in California’s far north to Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert, signs of California’s volcanic past—and present—dot the landscape. Explore these...

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Lassen Peak by Grant Montgomery/Flickr
It [Pinnacles] represents what nature often does, all the great conflicts and tensions are there, of volcanic activity and fault lines, and the sort of geology of it is just spectacular to see on display.
Ken Burns
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Feel really, really small at these wow-worthy parks

Get ready to look up—way, way up. California has the biggest, tallest trees on the planet. Discover them at outstanding parks and preserves dotting the state. Coast redwoods, some...

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Calaveras Big Trees State Park by Kai Schrieber/Flickr
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Trip 4 days 10 stops

Wild North Coast

Wine, Romance & Sunsets
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Start your trip to one of the world’s great cities. For a novel way to explore “the City by the Bay” park your car and explore by foot, bike, and unique public transportation. Pedal bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, then explore the lush Presidio, a former military base that’s now a...

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The last stop on this spectacular road trip ends at the very last city in California. Only 20 miles south of Oregon, sea-faring Crescent City is home to the northernmost of California’s lighthouse stations. Overlooking the town’s harbour, the 1856 Battery Point Lighthouse, built with 22-inch/56-...

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Alex Farnum

Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

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Majestic Peaks, Bucket-List Essential

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket-list essential. Where else...

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Vast landscapes, spectacular desert vistas

Both vast and intimate, the California desert is a region that ranges from arid, barren expanses to oasis-like canyons with hidden waterfalls. Towering sand dunes rise above the desert floor,...

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Joshua Tree National Park by Alex Farnum
May

Contraptions, creations, and creativity—those are the mantras for this wacky three-day event on an out-there stretch of the North Coast. Contestants must maneuver their handmade, people-powered...

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Kinetic Grand Championship by Erik Fitzpatrick/Flickr
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There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.
Edward Abbey
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Gold Rush history, epic high-country landscapes, hidden wine country, and charming country towns

Granite monoliths, waterfalls, alpine meadows—it’s no secret that Yosemite delivery some seriously big wow moments. But what is a secret is the bounty of awesome things you can see and do on your...

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Kodiak Greenwood
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Flyfishing

Cast a fly in blue-ribbon waters

Between the volcanic summits of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen flow some of California’s most celebrated flyfishing rivers. Blue-ribbon waters lace the...

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8 great urban parks

While you might think of a city park as an appealing splash of green amidst the asphalt jungle, California’s urban parks stand out as cultural hubs, with outstanding and innovative...

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California State Capitol
March

Get into the checkered-flag spirit at this big and loud NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Cheer for your favourite drivers as they zoom for the front in this 5-wide race event. The action kicks off...

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Courtesy of Auto Club Speedway
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July

Yoga meets alpine wow at this ohm-filled, 4-day event. Daytimes are filled with workshops and workouts lead by eminent yoga instructors, all taking place in indoor and outdoor settings that...

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Christen Vidanoviv/ Wanderlust Festival
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Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the continental U.S., at 3.3 million acres.
October/November

Get a chance to see the crème de la crème of thoroughbreds at this exciting two-day event at historic Santa Anita Park. This unofficial culmination of the thoroughbred racing season brings...

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Photo by Jean/Flickr
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Search for Nemo and Dory's ocean friends on the edge of the Pacific

California’s western border is edged by oceans, bays, and other tidal waterways filled with life. While you're not likely to run into Nemo (unless you're lost like Dory), you will find popsicle-...

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David Gomez/Getty Images
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Kodiak Greenwood

Spotlight: Big Sur

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Art and nature merge on this rugged coast, one of California’s most spectacular settings

Welcome to one of the world’s most unforgettable stretches of coastline. This roughly 90-mile-long/ 144 kilometre-long stretch of redwood- and fog...

July/August

With a nickname like “Surf City, U.S.A.,” Huntington Beach is the obvious place for this 9-day, sun-and-wave extravaganza, the world’s largest surf event. Top pros including Kelly Slater and Rob...

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Vans U.S. Open of Surfing by William Fovall/Flickr
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Room/Getty Images

Lone Pine

Discover the natural beauty and another side of California in a historic Owens Valley small town

Head to Lone Pine to see a different side of California—one that is less connected to...