Landscape in Yosemite National Park
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Sandy dunes in Death Valley National Park
California is undoubtedly the state that embodies the very essence of America. Named after an imaginary paradise island, it was an El Dorado for many newcomers who came to seek a promised land. The Gold Rush, the first "global" event on the planet, gave it its nickname of "Golden State". The whole world never tires of settling there every day to try to make the American dream come true, fuelled by the myth of Hollywood or the spectacular successes of Silicon Valley.
Discover the region
California is so big that it is unrealistic to want to explore it in a single trip. It is also so varied that it is preferable to make choices according to your tastes.
Los Angeles is by far the largest and most dynamic city with its collection of world-class highways, beaches, arid hills, chic neighborhoods and museums. Huge, sometimes disconcerting, it takes time to seduce and you never stay there long enough to appreciate it to its full potential.
Its growing neighbor to the south, San Diego, fits perfectly into the image of idyllic California with its beaches and historic "blocks", whether they are from the Spanish colonial era, Victorian, or with a sixties charm from a Beach Boys song. It's also the gateway to Mexico!
San Francisco completes this three dimensional series of queen cities. It is too often opposed to L.A. for ease of use. Both cities are like water and fire! Its sublime location, its hills covered with wooden houses looking out towards the ocean, the bay surrounded by bridges, as well as its clutural diversity always give us regrets when we leave. To the south of the city, the small coastal town of Half Moon Bay borders the San Andreas fault line.
The Pacific coast is exceptional. Over 850 miles in length are scattered gulfs, bays, headlands and estuaries. The central part between L.A. and San Francisco is the busiest. US Highway 101, clinging to the dizzying cliffs by graceful bridges, set in countless films, alternating with forests and vineyards, a whole series of charming towns and villages, often of Spanish origin, such as Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Simeon, Santa Cruz, Carmel and Monterey, home to writers and artists.
North of San Francisco, the impression of isolation predominates. The coast, chopped by rivers flowing down the Coast Ranges, is even wilder, sheltering some nuggets like Mendocino or Eureka, a superb Victorian port and gateway to Redwood National Park. In Shaska Lake, it is possible to rent a "Houseboat" and spend a few days there in complete tranquility.
The interior of the state is largely occupied by the immense Central Valley, the attic and the orchard of America. It is in this region, on 17-Mile Drive, that you will find the Cypress Point, one of the most beautiful views of the Pacific with a cypress tree perched on the cliffs. High Sierra ski resorts sometimes receive up to 30 feet of snow! Squaw Valley, the 1960 Olympic city near Lake Tahoe, and Mammoth Mountain in the heart of Yosemite National Park, are among the favorite resorts for visitors. Yosemite, Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks, which are the gateways to the Sierra Nevada, are adorned with waterfalls or gigantic centuries-old trees, while Lake Tahoe is dazzling with its emerald color. The famous Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses it. It is between Sacramento and Yosemite that the Gold Rush towns are located, punctuated by small mining towns straight out of the westerns and becoming tourist resorts. Not to mention ghost towns such as Bodie, Calico or Columbia.
The south of the state is the kingdom of the desert, symbolized by Death Valley, the Mojave Desert crossed by Route 66, and also by the fantastic shadows of the Joshua Tree National Park, famous for its thousands of cacti and near which green t golf courses of the Palm Springs Valley. Another radically different landscape that creates surprise in a state that never ceases to amaze its visitors.