Planning for a trip to California? Here’s your chance to think of a trip plan. California, one of the most wonderful places to visit in the U.S is an excellent place for those who wish to have a wholesome enjoyment. If you are looking for a buoyant lifestyle, brilliant party nights as well as the serenity of the beaches, then here’s your best shot. Visit the must see California attractions and have a blast. If you are planning to visit the must see places in California, make sure you have enough finance to make your trip fun-filled. The state has also come up as one of the most sought after places for those from Europe as well. Far away from the glitz of Paris and the biblical monuments of Rome or the pristine hills of the Northern Europe, California seems to welcome you to a new world with unique charm.
What is the Best Time To Visit?
May Through October
What is the weather like?
California’s weather is never same all through the year, it varies from Arid to Subarctic depending on the latitude and elevation.
Which Places To Visit in California?
To start with, it is always good to visit the top must see California cities and beaches first. In this context you can have an idea with following cities
- Disneyland in California
Time to Visit: All over the year.
Admission Fee: $69 for one person one park. There are other tickets graded from A to E. The higher the rates, the more rides they have access to.
How to Reach:
Air: If you are coming from the LAX Airport, take the Century 105 Freeway east, to the 605 south, to the Riverside 91 east, to Golden State Freeway south and exit at Harbor Blvd. going down south.
From John Wayne Orange County Airport, take the 55north/ east, to the 5 freeway north, and exit at Harbor Blvd south.
If you want to reach the Park from Ontario Airport, take the 10 or the 60, to the 57 south, and turn right to the Ball Road west. Travel for about 3 miles from there and you will reach the Harbor Blvd. Turn left and drive for another half a mile, and watch out for the Disneyland sign.
Nearest International Airport: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
There are numerous places to see in Disneyland, California. Some of the must see attractions in Disneyland include:
It is a fascinating journey into a lush and tropical land where you go to see Indiana Jones Adventure, Jungle Cruise, Tarzan’s Treehouse and the Enchanted Tiki Room.
Critter Country Attractions:
Nestled under the shade of towering trees, this region features Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes and Splash Mountain.
Located just beyond Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Fantasyland features numerous attractions for the children like Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, King Arthur’ s Carousel and so on.
Here you will enjoy the excitement of a wild runaway mine train ride, a leisurely riverboat ride or watch an Old West stage show and much more!
Main Street, U.S.A. Attractions:
As you move across the turnstiles to enter the park, you visit Disneyland Railroad, Main Street Fire Engine, Main Street Horse-Drawn Streetcars, Main Street Horseless Carriage, Main Street Cinema, Omnibus.
Mickey’s Toontown Attractions:
The youngest visitors will enjoy this magical land, featuring all sorts of cartoon gags and gadgets along with a number of rides and attractions. There are Chip ‘n Dale Treehouse, Disneyland Railroad, Donald’s Boat, Gadget’ s Go Coaster, Goofy’ s Bounce House, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.
New Orleans Square Attractions:
You will certainly feel as if you are in the center of New Orleans in this quaint land, complete with Disneyland Railroad, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Disney Gallery.
Tomorrowland represents the vision and fancy of the famous prophets such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Leonardo da Vinci. The points of interest are Astro Orbiter, Autopia, Buzz Lightyear’ s Astro Blaster, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, Space Mountain, Starcade.
If you come to Disneyland Park, you must take part in live entertainments such as Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, Disney Princess Fantasy Faire, presented by NestleÂ® Ice, Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams, presented by Sylvania or the vibrant nighttime entertainment like Fantasmic or “Remember… Dreams Come True” Fireworks Spectacular, presented by Honda.
Dining at Disneyland in California is a memorable experience. From simple fare to a fantastic gourmet meal, from casual dining to fine dining, there is something to satisfy the taste bud of each and every one. Some of the popular dining outlets in and around Disneyland are Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar, Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel, Mr. Stox Restaurant, Yamabuki.
Apart from sightseeing and various entertained activities, shopping is also a major pastime for the travelers in Disneyland. There are numerous general merchandise shops like Adventureland Bazaar, Briar Patch, China Closet, Emporium, Fantasy Faire Gifts, Gag Factory – Toontown Five and Dime, Indiana Jonesâ„¢ Adventure Outpost and specialty shops such as Bonanza Outfitters, Candy Palace, and Candy Kitchen, Disneyana, Atmosphere, Jewel of Orleans, Mad Hatter, New Century Jewelry in Disneyland Park.
Starting from the luxury hotels, there are abundant standard budget and discount hotels near Disneyland. They offer comfortable guestrooms along with a complete range of dining and other facilities to meet the needs of leisure as well as business travelers.
Some of the popular hotels, located within proximity to Disneyland include Anaheim North, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, Embassy Suites, La Quinta Inn and Suites Anaheim Disneyland, Residence Inn by Marriott Anaheim Resort, Sheraton Anaheim.
No visit to Southern California would be complete without a visit to the magic kingdom of Disneyland. It is an unspoiled blend of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Alcatraz
It is located in San Francisco Bay which is a beautiful island few miles away from Fisherman’s Wharf. The island holds major historical importance as it was a prison for some of the most notorious criminals of the world.
- The Fisherman’s Wharf
Time to Visit: Any time, but the best months are April and OctoberNearest International Airport: San Francisco International Airport
Parking charges: $6 per hour up to a maximum of $30
The Irish coffee got introduced to America at the Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco. Do not forget to taste it during your visit there; it is something you will not find at many other places. Basically it is a glass of hot coffee with cold cream on top of it — you sip, and the whole range of tastes that coffee can produce hit your mouth at one and the same time! What a treat! San Francisco is famous for sourdough bread, and Boudin Bakery makes the best sourdough bread in San Francisco. This old establishment has recently found a new two-story house at Fisherman’s Wharf. It is a great place to grab a sourdough bowl of clam chowder or a steamed Dungeness crab. Gastronomies apart, it is basically a historic waterfront dotted with numerous restaurants, art galleries, and shops, making it one of the best places to visit in San Francisco.
Places of interests
With its several attractions, bustling crowds, lively music of the street performers, colors and aromas, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco is worth a visit. Some of the must-see attractions in Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco include:
- The Cannery Shopping Center: Originally a Del Monte cannery which was built in 1907, the Cannery Shopping Center features a shopping hub and dining area.
- San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park: Run by the National Park Service, the Hyde Street Pier museum displays a fine overview of San Francisco’s maritime history.
- Musee Mecanique: The museum boasts of its wealth of coin-operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Two floors exhibit famous oddities of Ripley.
- USS Pampanito and SS Jeremiah O’Brien: Located just behind the Franciscan restaurant, the World War II Balao-class Fleet submarine, restored to late 1945 vintage lies next to the Jeremiah O’Brien, an entirely-renovated World War II Liberty Ship.
- Wax Museum: It is famous for featuring several wax statues of celebrities and US Presidents.
- Things to do:
There is something for everyone at Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco: fine food, majestic views, diverse history, family fun and more.
Apart from sightseeing, there are plenty of other things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf. With its flat waterfront, steep hills and pleasant weather, San Francisco is a perfect venue for getting some exercise and activities in the fresh sea air. Whether you prefer a relaxing stroll or an aerobic challenge, the City by the Bay has the terrain for you. You will enjoy a walk along the shoreline or a bicycle ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. During the day, street performers are ready to entertain you and at night, the wharf becomes vibrant with live music, theater, dancing, comedy clubs and much more.
Fisherman’s Wharf, an ideal food lover’s paradise, boasts some of the finest dining in the world. Savor fresh Dungeness crab, variety of gourmet recipes at any of the numerous seafood restaurants or taste some locally made chocolate. The Wharf’s eclectic mix of international delicacies is sure to satisfy your taste buds.
- Wine Country in the Napa Valley
Location: In Napa County, in the north of the San Francisco Bay area in California, USA.
Best Time to Visit: Summer and fall.
Preferred Timing: 10.00 a.m. to 04.00 p.m.
Entry Fee: $5 to $30 per winery
How to Reach
The nearest airport of Napa Valley is the Napa County Airport (IATA Code: APC, ICAO Code: KAPC). Also known as Napa Valley Airport, this airport is located just 8 km south of Napa. Remember, no commercial flights are available in this airport, only charter flights are available. So, you may have to use some other mode of transportation in order to reach Napa Valley.
Form San Francisco: Take Highway 101 and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to reach almost Novato. Take Napa (Highway 37) exit to Highway 121/12 and drive by following the signs to reach Napa. It is just under an hour drive in good traffic condition.
Napa County Airport (APC) with no commercial flight. San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Visit Napa Valley in the winters! Sudden rain can ruin your day, but the risk is worth taking, because on a clear day — the contrast of the green vine trunks and the yellow mustards that overgrow the grass will give you a view you have never seen in your life. It will be like cycling through a watercolor painting. Is the Napa Valley America’s answer to the French Burgundy or Tuscany in Italy? Understandably, a few Europeans will love to disagree, but the fact remains that Napa Valley can challenge the best wines from the French and Italian shores.
Located in the Napa County, at the north of the San Francisco Bay Area in the US state of California, Napa Valley is an American Viticultural Area, also known as Napa Valley AVA, it is presently universally recognized as the land of some of the most famous and beautiful vineyards in the world. In fact, the place has a lot to offer to tourists throughout the world as several wineries welcome tourists in their place and offer various world-class art collections for public viewing. As a result, Napa Valley has become the second most popular tourist destination in California, only after the Disneyland.
Activities in Napa Valley There are several ways you can explore and enjoy the beauty of Napa Valley. As Napa Valley is known for the world-renowned vineyards, your activities will revolve around the wineries, though you also have some other activities to do as well. Various wine tours, bicycle tour to the vineyards etc. are some of the most exciting activities in Napa Valley. Besides these, you can also visit several other tourist attractions in Napa Valley like Historic Parks including Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park and Sonoma Historic Park, various picnic spots like Kenney Park, Yountville Park, and Fuller Park, and several places for hiking including Skyline Wilderness Park, Westwood Hills Park, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, and Alston Park etc.
Wine Tours One of the most thrilling tours in Napa Valley is surely the Wine Tasting tours that every tourist looks forward to here. In these tours, you get an opportunity to visit the vineyards as well as enjoy a wide range of wines.
Some of the wineries that you can visit are given below:
Beringer Vineyards: It is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley. Goosecross Cellars: Enjoy great wines, away from the crowds, in the cool cellar of Goosecross Sellers.
Girard Winery: It is the award-winning winery that offers friendly and world-class services to the tourists.
St. Clement Vineyards: It is the award-winning winery that offers friendly and world-class services to the tourists.
Whitehall Lane Winery: It is a family-owned winery, specialized in Cabernet, and is located in the heart of Rutherford Appellation.
Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards: It is the place for Flora Springs wine with some wonderful wine accessories.
Burgess Cellar: It, arguably offers the best view of the Napa Valley. Tours and tasting can be done only by prior appointments.
Louis M. Martini Winery: It is called ‘A Napa Valley Gem’. You will find the best quality distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon here.
Mumm Napa: It has got one of ‘America’s Best Tasting Rooms’ and is known to the whole world for exceptional and sparkling wines.
Pine Ridge Winery: According to the Wall Street Journal, Pine Ridge Winery is one of the top five wineries to visit in Napa Valley.
Robert Mondavi Winery: It is consistently voted as the best tour in Napa Valley.
Rutherford Hill Winery: It is, according to the Wall Street Journal, is one of the top five wineries to visit in Napa Valley.
Cycling in the Vineyards?
There is hardly any better way to explore the vineyards of Napa Valley than visiting them by bicycle. It is an exhilarating and memorable experience for any tourist to visit the vineyards by bike that to see them from inside a rental car. There are various organizations that offer cycling tours to the vineyards of Napa Valley. These are usually one-day tours which may have easy to moderate difficulty levels. So, if you are going for one, be prepared for that. The tours will include bike & helmet, local guide, food and any van support in case you buy some bottles of wine. It is recommended that you bring comfortable shoes, a camera, sunscreen, sunglasses, and some cash for wine tasting fees and other purchases.? A one-day bike tour usually starts from 09.30 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. before covering almost 15 miles. It may cost you around $149 per person including all costs.
Napa Valley Wine Train
Another unique way to explore the beauty of Napa Valley is through the Napa Valley Wine Train. It is a three-hour journey through the picturesque Napa Valley in vintage rail cars. It is not only a tour to the valley; it is also a culinary experience at the same time, as the train has got the best restaurants in Napa Valley which offer a wonderful seasonal menu.
The train, after starting its journey from the McKinstry Street Station in Napa, travels towards north to St. Helena and then comes back again via same route.
You may choose three tours including Raymond, ZD Winery Tour, Domaine Chandon Winery Tour, and Grgich Hills Winery Tour as well. In Domaine Chandon Tour on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you will disembark at Yountville during the return trip (southbound leg). In Grgich Hills Tour on weekdays, you will disembark at Grgich Hills Winery on the northbound leg. You will again be picked up by the train at the time of its return trip.
- Golden Gate Bridge:
Location: On U.S. Highway 101, connecting the city of San Francisco and Marin County.
Best Time to Visit: The best months are April and October when the skies remain clearest. However you can also visit it from March through May and also in September. Avoid winters.
Preferred Timing: 05.00 am to 06.00 pm.
Entry Fee: Free for pedestrians and cyclists. However, for the cars, you need to pay the toll. The rate starts from $6.00 and depends upon the type of vehicle.
How to Reach
If you are coming down here by air, you have three airports to choose from as the San Francisco Bay Area has three airports in the form of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC). Among those, San Francisco International Airport is the closest to the city of San Francisco. Oakland and San Jose offer more discounted flights whereas San Francisco Airport offers more international flights. This airport is located just 16 km south of the city.
The Golden Gate Bridge is located on U.S. Highway 101, connecting the city of San Francisco and Marin County. Therefore, wherever be the places you are coming from, you need to take U.S. Highway 101 in order to reach the Golden Gate Bridge.
Amtrak serves the San Francisco Bay Area with long-distance and intercity trains. You can come done from a number of US cities like Chicago and Emeryville, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, Bakersfield and Stockton.
You can come down to San Francisco from different parts of the USA by using various bus services like GotoBus, Greyhound, AC Transit, SamTrans, Golden Gate Transit, WestCAT, Vallejo, and Baylink.
From San Francisco: You can reach the Golden Gate Bridge from any point of San Francisco city by following any of the Golden Gate Transit Routes 10,60,70 or 80. If you take SF Muni from Downtown or Fisherman’s Wharf, you need to take Route 30 and transfer to Route 28 at Laguna & Chestnut. You can call toll-free 511 and say “Golden Gate Transit” in order to locate your nearest bus stop.
Form Marin County: Take any of the Golden Gate Transit Routes including Routes 2, 4, 8, 10, 24, 26, 27, 38, 44, 54, 56, 58, 60, 70, 72, 73, 74, 76, and 80.
Nearest airport: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
Introduce a touch of novelty to your Golden Gate Bridge tour. A short drive away from the northern tip of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, is the picturesque city of Sausalito. It is a wonderful Bay area city with a population of just above 7000. Once a shipbuilding area, it is now recognized as a wonderful tourist spot with the only free marinas of the Bay Area. Many households own houseboats. Spend time in one of them, or find a place in one of the wonderful open-air cafes and relax with a mug of espresso and fresh bagels made and baked on-site as sea lions cavort in the Bay water. Your Golden Gate Bridge experience will be complete in a true sense.
Golden Gate Bridge (GGB) is a 1.7 miles long suspension bridge built on the Pacific Ocean in the San Francisco Bay, connecting the city of San Francisco to Marin County. It is one of the noblest representations of twentieth-century American architecture and engineering, and one of the seven wonders of the modern world. However, it is more than that. It is the symbol of the dream, the life, the cultural diversity and the myriad panorama of human activities and emotion that San Francisco represents. And what’s more, it has contributed a new term in the painter’s jargon — ‘international orange’ — referring to its characteristic orange-vermilion hue.
Completed in 1937 at a cost of $35 million after more than four years of construction work, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was made open to vehicular traffic on 28th May 1937, ahead of schedule and under budget. At the time of completion, the bridge had got the longest suspension bridge span in the world. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects declared the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco as the 5th most favorite architecture in America. Sadly, this breathtaking bridge is also the most prevalent place in the world to commit suicide.
The design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge were supervised by Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss. As he was less experienced in cable suspension designs, much of the engineering and architectural responsibilities fell on other experts like Irving Morrow, who designed the overall shape of the bridge tower, and Charles Alton Ellis, who was the principal engineer of the project.
The construction of the bridge started on 5th January 1933. Though initially, it had a budget of $35 million, the project was completed by April 1937, with $1.3 million under budget. The design of the Golden Gate Bridge follows an Art Deco Theme. The Golden Gate Bridge has got two wonderful main towers that support the suspension cables of the bridge. The towers stand 746 ft above the water and 500 ft above the roadway.
Traffic on Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge is the only road to exit San Francisco to the north. It is a part of both U.S. Route 101 and California Route 1. As the volume of traffic at a specific direction on Golden Gate Bridge changes during the day, the median markers between the lanes are moved to adjust the traffic pattern of the lanes. On weekday mornings, the traffic mostly flows southbound into the city. As a result, four of the six lanes run southbound then. Conversely, during the afternoon on weekdays, four lanes run northbound. The effort is on for installing a movable barrier on the bridge. Since 1st October 1983, the speed limit on the bridge has been reduced to 45 mph (72 km/h) from the earlier limit of 55 mph.
The eastern walkway of the bridge is earmarked for the pedestrians and bicycles during the weekdays and during daylights only. On the other hand, the western walkway is for the bicyclists on weekday afternoons, weekends, and holidays.
Tolls are collected only in the southbound direction. There are two modes of payment — by cash and with FasTrak. FasTrak. FasTrak, an electronic toll system accepted on the Golden Gate Bridge, is operated by Caltrans. For more information on FasTrak, you may log on to www.bayareafastrak.org.
The toll rate for 2-axle vehicles on the Golden Gate Bridge is $6.00 (by cash) and $5.00 (with FasTrak). For vehicles with more than two axels, the toll rates increase at $3.00 per axle (by cash) and $2.50 per axle (with FasTrak). The toll rate for qualified persons with a disability is $3.00 per vehicle (2-axle only).
Things to do:
Pedestrians and also those who use wheelchairs may access the sidewalks of the Golden Gate Bridge during the daylight hours. They may use the east sidewalks during the weekdays. Roller Blades, Roller Skates, and Skateboards are not permitted on the bridge. Dogs are permitted only if they are on a leash and under full control of the owner. It is the best way to cross the bridge, feeling the harmony between nature and human creations that complement and beautify each other. You can also take a short walk to the Fort Point from the southeast parking lot. A visit to the renovated garden area will just be a visual treat for the eyes.
Cyclists can access (toll-free) the sidewalks of the Golden Gate Bride round the clock. But they must abide by the rules of cycling laid by the authority. They must make way for pedestrians. Electric bicycles can only be used if they are pedaled on the sidewalk.
Your visit to the Golden Gate Bridge cannot be complete unless you step into the Gift Center located in the famous ‘Roundhouse’ on the southeast side, behind the Strauss Statue. You will like to buy some memorabilia from a wide variety of souvenirs on Golden Gate Bridge, photos, books, posters, videos, and historical information, etc. The Gift Center remains open daily from 08.30 a.m. to 07.30 p.m.
You can also check-in at Bridge Cafíé, located on the southeast side of the Golden Gate Bridge for a variety of snacks like muffins, sandwiches, salads, desserts, Starbuck’s coffee, sodas, and water. The Cafíé remains open daily from 09.30 a.m. to 05.00 p.m. during the winter and from 09.00 a.m. to 07.00 p.m. during the summer.
Tip: The ‘Marin Headlands’ side of the Golden Gate Bridge is a wonderful place to take pictures of it. So, if you wish to take a few snaps of this San Francisco Bridge, this could well be your spot.
Other places to visit in California:
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Cable Car system
- Golden Gate Bridge
- La Brea Tar Pits
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Universal Studio, Los Angeles
- Wine Country in Napa Valley
- Santa Cruz
- Central Coast
- Monterey Peninsula
- La Jolla
- Santa Monic Beach
- Santa Barbara