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A California Adventure

In Visit California’s ad that aired during the Super Bowl, actress Austin Boyce falls from a skyscraper and flies across a beach above the iconic Hollywood sign. A sportscar spins into view, landing with her on the Pacific Coast Highway. She turns and sees a grinning Mario Lopez at the wheel. 

She rides a roller coaster on Santa Cruz Beach, drives in a redwood forest, flies above the Palm Springs Golf Course and soars over the Golden Gate Bridge into the Gulliver-sized glove of San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. In the final scene, she wakes and asks, “Am I dreaming?” 

“No,” says actor Anthony Anderson, “you’re in California.”

With 12 diverse regions, national parks, cities, beaches, forests, mountains, sports, wine country and Disneyland, a fantastic adventure is not just a dream in California. Anyone can experience its wide array of attractions, and that’s why a Golden State trip might be perfect for an unforgettable group journey.

Up and Coming

New in Wine Country

Napa and Sonoma both attract guests with their quaint towns and award-winning wines. In downtown Napa, there are new tasting rooms at the Michael Pozzan Winery, Grape Culture, the New Frontier Wine Company and other wineries. In Sonoma County, visitors can also sample world-class wines, see 55 miles of Pacific Coast beauty and experience new dining options, including Wit and Wisdom and Blue Ridge Kitchen. After a two-year hiatus, the Sonoma Hot Air Balloon Classic takes place June 4-5. 

Santa Cruz Finds

Santa Cruz is not just a surfer’s paradise; it’s near some of the tallest trees in the world at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where visitors can enjoy a train ride through the ancient forest all the way to the coast. Santa Cruz has art tours on the first Fridays of every month through November and Wednesday-night sailboat races each week through October. For late-year travel, winter is prime time for watching whales and other wildlife.

Scenic South Lake Tahoe

The city of South Lake Tahoe has added fun indoor experiences within walking distance of downtown, including Flatstick Pub, which features local beers, an indoor mini-golf course and a restaurant with beautiful lake views. The restaurant has grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza and soups. Flatstick has locations in Sacramento, Oakhurst, Mammoth and Big Bear called Yosemite Axe Throwing that re-create a lumberjack adventure complete with training in axe tossing.

Memorable Meals

San Diego’s Coasterra

Located on Harbor Island, Coasterra Modern Mexican provides a postcard-perfect panoramic view of the city’s waterfront with creative twists on Mexican classics such as ceviche with bay shrimp, and blue crab or fresh-shucked oysters with fire-roasted cocktail sauce. The ahi tuna tostada is one of many menu highlights. Every table gives guests a stunning view of San Diego Bay, especially at sunset. 

RH Yountville

Named one of the state’s best patio restaurants by Visit California, Napa Valley’s RH Yountville embraces high-style ambiance with knotted olive trees, chandeliers, manicured bushes, a roaring outdoor fireplace and delicious food. The menu includes dishes like crispy local artichokes and imported burrata with charred sourdough, and there is an extensive local wine list. The restaurant integrates food, wine, art, light and design to near perfection with galleries that showcase home furnishings and curated antiques. 

Albion River Inn Restaurant

The Albion River Inn Restaurant in beautiful Mendocino County, several hours from San Francisco, delivers an epic coastal vista, well-appointed guest rooms and cottages, and delicious seafood. It is a wonderful setting for a romantic and relaxing vacation. The menu celebrates California’s north coast bounty of fresh seafood and locally grown produce with service aimed at one goal: customer delight. 

Overnight Sensations

Post Ranch Inn

Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn, which includes a hotel, a spa and a restaurant, is known for its beautiful cliffside overlook of the Pacific. The rooms and private houses come with a spa tub and a private deck, and the inn’s Sierra Mar restaurant, winner of Wine Spectator’s prestigious Grand Award, boasts an award-winning wine cellar, a menu with ingredients from its own Chef’s Garden and a new ventilation system to protect guests. 

Joshua Tree AutoCamp

AutoCamp in Joshua Tree provides a unique outdoor experience among the famed Joshua Trees and rock formations. Adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, the property offers lodging in sleek Airstream suites and luxurious tents. Joshua Tree is a great place for stargazing, and the AutoCamp has an outdoor bar, a hot tub and pool, and a modern, Quonset-hut-shaped clubhouse. 

Cormorant Boutique

The Cormorant Boutique Hotel has undergone a major renovation that brings a midcentury aesthetic to the former La Jolla Inn. It is named after the seaside town’s famous cormorant birds, with nautical-inspired rooms overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There is a new rooftop terrace bar called Birdseye and an upscale marketplace that features local goods and beach essentials. 

Popular Demand

Disney Magic

Disneyland is called the happiest place on earth for good reason: Where else can parents and kids sail with pirates, explore jungles and rocket through space together? For nearly 67 years, the park has delighted groups of all sizes, and the magic is still there as Disneyland continues to rank among California’s top attractions. In nearby Los Angeles, there are tours of Hollywood and fun at Universal Studios, along with Lakers basketball and Dodgers baseball.

Breathtaking Yosemite

Besides the famous Half Dome and El Capitan landmarks, there are waterfalls, meadows, giant sequoias and breathtaking sights all over Yosemite National park. From May 20 to September 30, a reservation will be required to drive into the park to manage crowd sizes and complete needed infrastructure repairs. There are many great things to do to the east in San Francisco, while the charm of the Sonoma and Napa Valley wine regions is also within driving distance.