So many people have contacted us about the recent wildfires and asked how they can help. We cannot thank you enough for your concern. Your contribution could make a tremendous difference so please click here to donate. Give whatever you can, big or small, because everything helps.
It has been incredibly gratifying to see so many people coming together during these difficult times. This generosity is an essential aspect of the California experience—something visitors always remark on when they travel here.
We encourage you to experience this for yourself by planning a trip to the Golden State. Whether you decide to visit Butte County, Los Angeles County, or somewhere else in California, your holiday expenditure will benefit many small business owners, hotel workers, restaurant staff and so on, and play a huge role in helping these communities.
We would also like to invite you to Share the Love and discover the bounty that California has to offer.
The History: A town square was a must for Chico’s founders in the 1860s. The result, City Plaza, is still a hub of activity, hosting everything from art shows to culinary festivals. The history in this town, not quite 200 miles northeast of San Francisco, remains accessible as well. Some of the original buildings stand unchanged; others have undergone a refresh, but their bones have stayed intact. Start at the grand Renaissance Revival–style Chico Midtown Station (i.e. Downtown Post Office, which has looked the same since its opening in 1916). Then check out the Senator Theatre—an Art Deco gem built in 1927 that was home to vaudeville acts and movie screenings and is a concert venue today. Don’t miss the gorgeous animal mural inside.
Where to Play: The Plaza area offers some fun activities that are historic in their own way: the National Yo-Yo Museum, free to tour and featuring the world’s biggest working wooden yo-yo; and the Janet Turner Print Museum, with a collection of more than 3,500 fine-art prints. To surround yourself with history, stay at the Hotel Diamond, which has been around since 1904. The hardwood floors are still originals; the rest has been refurbished into a stately property that includes the gourmet Two Twenty Restaurant.
Stretching for more than 30 miles along the Pacific and Highway One, Malibu has achieved almost mythological status among California beach towns. Hollywood stars and top athletes live in oceanfront homes here, under an elegant veil of privacy on long strands of beach, and enjoy front-row seats for surfing and unforgettable sunsets.
While it may sound exclusive, there is plenty of Malibu magic for visitors to access too. Considered to have some of the most perfect waves anywhere, Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, just off the Malibu Pier, was named the first World Surfing Reserve; nearby Zuma Beach is a sun magnet for locals and families. In winter, Point Dume, at Malibu’s north end, provides an ideal perch for spotting migrating gray whales.
The perfect aesthetics stretch beyond the beach, too. The Getty Villa—the original home of the Getty Museum, which opened in 1974—focuses on Ancient Greek and Roman Art (admission is free, but you need to make a reservation). For more contemporary, beachy masterpieces, check out the 30 historic surfboards on display, some dating back to the 1910s, at the Surf Museum at Pepperdine University’s Payson Library. And for wearable art—and perhaps to spot one of the local celebs—browse the shops at the Malibu Country Mart and Malibu Lumber Yard, two upscale retail centers located next to one another.
Afterward, grab a bite at Malibu Farms, the organic café and restaurant that sits right on the pier. Or browse the fresh catches—and try one of the famed ahi tuna burgers—at Malibu Seafood, right across from Dan Blocker Beach. To spend the night like an insider, get a room at the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn, a former motel located on the so-nicknamed Billionaire’s Beach, which was given its original makeover by Hollywood mogul David Geffen.
Tough as it is to drag yourself away from the ocean, head inland a short distance and you can also hike through hills and canyons, filled with spring wildflowers and even waterfalls, on trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. For a cool guided experience, take one of the two-hour Malibu Wine Hikes on the rolling terrain of Saddlerock Ranch vineyard; walks include stops to see Chumash cave drawings, a meet-and-greet with a movie-star giraffe (he was in Hangover 3) and, of course, a wine tasting.