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Play “What If?” When Planning a California Trip

Brainstorm your future getaway with the fabulous locations from our latest TV spot

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Posted a month agoby Katrina Hunt

“In California we believe in ‘What If’—after all, ‘if’ is our middle name.”

That’s the opening statement in the latest Visit California commercial, and it’s hard to refute. Indeed, the Golden State still holds endless potential for adventure and fun—even while staying safe amid the state’s phased reopening. When the time is right, you can visit all of the incredible California settings highlighted in the TV spot—and we’ll show you how below.

See fields of poppies in bloom at Antelope Valley, shred the slopes near Lake Tahoe, or check out a wonder-of-the-world waterfall in the Shasta Cascade. Put these locations and experiences on your must-do list for a future California getaway.

1. Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve

Los Angeles County

Just outside the town of Lancaster, this natural preserve is the mother ship for the state flower, the California poppy. April is peak season for seeing the bright orange blooms along the reserve’s eight miles of trails, but you can typically see them anytime between mid-March and early May. (more)

2. Los Angeles Beaches

Los Angeles County

Surfing in Malibu. Blissing out in Marina Del Rey. Pedaling along a path through Santa Monica and Venice. Whatever your beachy pleasure may be, there’s a stretch of Los Angeles County sand that’s perfect for you. And if you want to combine surf with snow, you’re just a little over an hour from the closest slopes: Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. (more)

3. Lake Tahoe 

El Dorado County, Placer County

Lake Tahoe is an all-seasons playground: Summer means hiking the mountain trails around the 22-mile-long emerald lake, getting on the water to paddle a kayak, or, if the wind conditions are right, surf. Winter powder brings the area ski slopes to life at resorts like Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. (more)

4. Mt. Shasta 

Siskiyou County, Shasta County

Naturalist John Muir once wrote that his “blood turned to wine” when he saw Mt. Shasta, which rises a dramatic 14,179 feet from the relative flatlands outside Redding in UpState California. Climbing to the summit may be for experts, but nature lovers of all levels can enjoy Sundial Bridge near the base of the mountain, or enjoy various hikes and cycling routes around the mountain’s surrounding meadows and forests.

5. Death Valley National Park

Inyo County

Extreme is the theme of Death Valley National Park, and it’s not just about the heat (temperatures can top 120°F in summer, while rainfall averages just two inches a year). The park’s biggest extreme is the massive salt flats of Badwater Basin: at 282 feet below sea level, it’s the lowest spot in North America. (more)

6. Napa Valley

Napa County

Napa Valley is most famous for its world-class wines, especially its Cabernet Sauvignon, but there is so much more here to satisfy sophisticated palates. Unusually fertile soil produces great growing conditions, and the restaurant scene is not to be missed. Michelin stars abound here, along with dramatic presentations (want to try spiky sea urchin?) as well as hidden culinary gems such as farm-to-table cafes, excellent barbecue, and charming bakeries. (more)

7. McArthur-Burney Falls

Shasta County

This 129-foot-tall, fern-draped waterfall in the Shasta Cascade got part of its name from the McArthur family, who bought the fall’s surrounding land in the early 20th century just to make sure it didn’t get developed. The falls so impressed President Teddy Roosevelt that he called it “the eighth wonder of the world.” Get your own dramatic view by taking the short path to the main overlook at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. (more)

8. Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Preserve

Mono County

About 20 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park’s Tioga Pass, Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve feels like it’s from another era—or even another planet. The salty lake—which was, in ancient times, an inland sea—is rimmed by ethereal tufa towers. Hike the trails that surround the lake or rent a kayak to paddle across this prehistoric marvel. (more)

9.  San Francisco Pride

San Francisco County

Pride parades and celebrations tend to take place in summer, and San Francisco’s June party is the world’s largest LGBTQ gathering. But the Golden State takes pride in being welcoming to everyone year round—with museums, film festivals, fun runs, and more that celebrate California’s diverse communities, from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and Anaheim. (more)

10. Hotel del Coronado

San Diego County

If Coronado Island has a patron saint, it’s the Queen Anne–style Hotel del Coronado, a National Historic Landmark that first opened in 1888. “The Del” featured prominently alongside Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot, and today offers rooms in both the original and newer buildings. Alongside the old-school ambience, you can enjoy any contemporary amenity you might want, from the spa and yoga on the beach to pool cabanas, outdoor movies, and a holiday-season ice rink set up on the sand. (more)

The safety of both visitors and residents is a top priority in the Golden State. Before traveling, familiarize yourself with local guidelines and regulations for all of the destinations you plan to visit. We also encourage everyone to check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub as well as the latest Travel Updates.

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