California: Outdoor

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Explore California's Outdoor Playgrounds
Discover the North Coast

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

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...

Discover the Deserts

The largest national park outside Alaska, Death Valley is an almost unfathomable place. The park’s 3.3 million acres encompass mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-...

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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...

Amy Meredith/Flickr
The mountains are calling and I must go.
John Muir
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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...

Ski & Board in California
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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...

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

Spotlight: Mammoth Lakes

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...

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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...

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...

Volcanoes, Geysers, & Hot Springs
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...

Kai Schrieber/Flickr

Trip 4 days 10 stops

Wild North Coast

Wine, Romance & Sunsets
San Francisco

Start your trip with 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 transport. Pedal bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, then explore the lush Presidio, a former military base that is now...

Crescent City

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 lighthouses. Overlooking the town’s harbour, the 1856 Battery Point Lighthouse, built with 22-inch thick slabs...

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Get into the coastal vibe

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

Surfing Hot Spots
Alex Farnum

Spotlight: Lake Tahoe

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,...

Joshua Tree National Park by Alex Farnum
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...

Discoveries on the way to Yosemite
Kodiak Greenwood
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 fly fishing rivers. Blue-ribbon waters lace...

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8 great urban parks

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

12 Great Urban Parks
California State Capitol
March

Get into the chequered-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 five-wide race event. The action kicks...

AUTOCLUB 400
Courtesy of Auto Club Speedway
July

Yoga meets alpine wow at this om-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...

WANDERLUST
Christen Vidanoviv/ Wanderlust Festival
Kodiak Greenwood

Waterfalls

See thundering cascades trimmed with mist rainbows or even 'fire'

Among Yosemite’s many bragging rights, its waterfalls rank high. In the list of the world’s 20 tallest...

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the continental U.S., at 3.3 million acres.
Kodiak Greenwood

Spotlight: Big Sur

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 stretch of redwood- and fog-trimmed waterfront...

July/August

With a nickname like ‘Surf City, USA’, 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...

Vans U.S. Open of Surfing
William Fovall/Flickr
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There are tons of reasons why you might plan a winter trip to Big Bear. Here are some you might not have thought of

With plenty of groomed runs and terrain parks at Big Bear Lake’s two alpine resorts, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, it’s easy to see why skiers and boarders head here when the snow flies. But this...

Big Bear Lake in Winter
Courtesy of Big Bear Mountain Resorts
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Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

Groveb/Getty Images
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Stop to smell the roses—and see orchids, poppies, and weird cacti—at these horticultural hot spots

Whether you’re an amateur botanist, a backyard gardener, or even just a curious kid, you should beeline to California’s incredibly diverse botanic gardens. These protected oases are often peaceful...

Foto Voyager/Getty Images
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Take an offbeat adventure to these far-flung finds

California has the largest population of any U.S. state, so you might think there’s no place left that hasn’t been posted and Instagrammed. But wait: The Golden State has plenty of off-the-beaten-...

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Go subterranean at hipster bars, crystal caves, and gold mines

Say “down under” and you might think you’re bound for Australia, but not so fast—or far. California has a wacky-cool mix of ways to get down—way down. At Shasta Lake in the state’s northeast...

13 Ways to Go Underground in California
Courtesy of David Seibold
Courtesy of Mammoth Resorts

Family Snow Adventures

From riding snowmachines to old-fashioned snowman-building, here’s where to find kid-friendly adventures off the slopes

Taking your family to the mountains this winter? Whether your crew is full of avid skiers or contented...