We are humbled by and indebted to the heroic first responders who fought to protect lives and land in Southern and Central California, and we are relieved that firefighters have gained the upper hand. Now we turn our attention to the recovery process and look for ways to help these communities heal.
Tourism plays a crucial role in this process. If you’re already planning a trip, please don’t cancel. Hundreds of local businesses—hotels, restaurants, theme parks, retail shops, rental car companies, and more—rely on visitors for their livelihood and all are eager to welcome you.
January is a wonderful time to visit this part of the state. The weather is mild, skies are blue, the beaches are as irresistible as ever, and California Restaurant Month is in full bloom. Come, stay, play, and know that your Golden State getaway will make a positive impact on the people who live here.
Caroline Beteta, President & CEO of Visit California
Looking for ways to help Southern and Central California after the tragic fires? Visiting is one of the best options, and we have provided some inspiration and information to help you plan your next trip to California.
Perched in the hills above West Los Angeles, The Getty Center looks like a modernist city on a hill, a collection of dramatic buildings housing galleries filled with modern masterpieces. To reach this complex designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, ride a tram from the parking lot up to the snow-white Getty campus, with buildings clad in travertine mined from a quarry outside Rome. Inside the galleries, see European masterpieces, decorative art, and photography. And it’s all free—a gift from philanthropist J. Paul Getty. (There is, however, a fee for parking.) For all of its art, the Getty is equally stunning outside. Broad courtyards with fountains, leafy bowers and the grand Central Garden created by Robert Irwin is a living work of art, with outstanding views stretching from Mount Baldy to Santa Catalina Island. Watch the sunset from elegant The Restaurant at The Getty for a memorable splurge. A variety of free self-guided and guided tours enrich your visits, and spirited family programs—like jousting workshops—can turn your kids onto art too.
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 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 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.
The 31,000-square-foot/2,880-square-meter spa village at this classic California resort caters to some of Hollywood’s best. The stucco-and-Moroccan-tile Mind & Body Center features a tranquil lap pool and upscale fitness center. For a unique, experience, try out the Kuyam, an updated sweat lodge where you’ll breathe in lemongrass-infused steam after being coated with cleansing mud and herbs. To unwind after this exhilarating treatment, try the Petals package—a rubdown with powdered roses followed by a rose-gel shower, and finished with a rose-oil massage. Freshly picked flowers stimulate the senses during the spa’s sought-after seasonal treatments.