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37 reasons California is the Ultimate Playground

Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga, Napa Valley, California

With diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, world-class beaches, iconic attractions, and a plethora of outdoor adventures to suit every taste and preference, California is the ultimate playground for all. Let us find out more.

  1. The Adventures of Borrego Springs- Borrego Springs, a gateway to the stunning Anza Borrego Desert State Park, is home to the world-famous Sky Art Metal Sculptures by artist Ricardo Breceda and one of the few designated International Dark Sky Communities in the world.
  2. Where Rules of Gravity Do not Work- The Mystery Spot nestled in Santa Cruz was discovered in 1939 and encompasses a circular zone spanning 150 feet and is a place that defies the rules of physics. Numerous theories have been circulating since then to explain this anomaly including a hole in the ozone layer and a spaceship that still remains buried.
  3. Mysteries of Mt. Shasta- The breathtaking Mt. Shasta, towering at 14,179 feet, has drawn numerous tourists to Northern California. The area also draws numerous, fascinating legends and tales. Among these tales are those of the extraterrestrial advanced beings called Lemurians. Legends say that this tribe carved tunnels beneath the volcano and, on rare occasions, also emerges on the mountain’s slopes wearing white robes.
  4. Endless Outdoor Adventures- Sandboard in Death Valley National Park’s Mesquite Flat or Saline Valley dunes, or surf dunes in Mojave National Preserve. At Palisades Tahoe, conquer the 800-foot-high Tram Face, while Mammoth Mountain offers six routes for ages 12 and up for rock climbing. Explore Greater Palm Springs with Red Jeep Tours through the San Andreas Fault, led by naturalist guides. Experience skiing on July 4th at Mammoth Mountain during one of the longest ski seasons in the West, stretching from November to July.
  5. The Superblooms- Superblooms particularly occur after an extended drought when rain falls frequently between October and February, the rainfall triggers extensive germination of wildflower seeds leading to one of the most spectacular annual displays of flowers.
  6. Mark Twain’s Remains- During the Gold Rush, miners sought entertainment through drinking and gambling, immortalized in Mark Twain’s 1865 tale, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Relive the era’s charm at the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee in May or catch a glimpse of the winning frogs and their wranglers in brass on Main Street’s sidewalk Hop of Fame.
  7. Pop Culture Rules- Fans of the hit show, Arrested Development, should take a trip to Orange County to check out rival outlets Sugar ‘n Spice and Dad’s Donut & Bakery Shop located on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. Both claim the title of the “original” frozen banana as featured on the TV series.
  8. Go to the Movies with Quentin Tarantino– Movie director Quentin Tarantino is the owner as well as the head programmer of the Los Angeles New Beverly Cinema envisioned to support 35mm films.
  9. Win an Oscar- Visit the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, to experience one of Hollywood’s biggest nights. At the Oscars Experience, you can hold the prestigious statuette and actually deliver your dream acceptance speech before a virtual audience comprising the industry elites.
  10. Cosplay Is in the Culture- Every July, over 150,000 enthusiasts gather at San Diego’s Comic-Con to be a part of pop culture panels, celebrity photo ops, and exclusive previews of upcoming films and TV shows, dressed as superheroes, fantasy characters, sci-fi icons.
  11. Comedy Legends- For over 45 years, The Groundlings Theatre & School has stood as a Los Angeles improv centre, bringing out comedic talents like Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, Lisa Kudrow, and Kristen Wiig. Their 30-member troupe still has the audiences in splits every night.
  12. Unmissable Museums- Explore Glendale’s Museum of Neon Art, showcasing historic signs and contemporary neon artworks. Discover Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley, a vast underground gold mine. Marvel at 45,000 bunny-themed items at Altadena’s Bunny Museum. Learn at the interactive science exhibits at Santa Barbara’s The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation (MOXI). Experience pioneer history at Bishop’s Laws Railroad Museum and enjoy maritime history at San Diego’s Maritime Museum. Additionally, witness Ice Age fossils at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Engage with hands-on exhibits at San Francisco’s Exploratorium and San Jose’s The Tech Interactive, exploring AI, healthcare, and space.
  13. All for the Kids- Experience Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland Park, featuring Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and kid-friendly attractions like Donald’s Duck Pond. Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita offers adrenaline-pumping rides like Superman: Escape from Krypton and Wonder Woman Flight of Courage. At SeaWorld San Diego, ride Arctic Rescue and explore the Wild Arctic exhibit. Embark on Roar & Snore Safaris at San Diego Zoo Safari Park or stay in treehouse-style accommodations at Safari West. Overnight experiences are also available at zoos like Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, and Santa Barbara, as well as museums such as Fleet Science Center, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Los Angeles Natural History Museum, and California Academy of Sciences. Additionally, enjoy special events at Gilroy Gardens or Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Enter SUPER NINTENDO WORLD at Universal Studios Hollywood for immersive gaming experiences like Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge and themed dining at Toadstool Cafe.
  14. All Inclusivity- California’s premier attractions prioritize accessibility for all visitors, including those with special needs. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert and Sesame Place San Diego are Certified Autism Centers, providing trained staff and amenities like sensory guides and quiet rooms to ensure a stress-free experience. Monterey Bay Aquarium, SeaWorld San Diego, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo offer skip-the-line passes, noise-cancelling headphones, listening assistance devices, and dietary guides, ensuring everyone can fully enjoy their visit.
  15. Best Burgers- In 1924, the cheeseburger was invented in Pasadena and later, arguably perfected by In-N-Out’s first drive-thru in Baldwin Park twenty-four years later. Today, you can explore a replica of the original In-N-Out mini-museum and souvenir stand near its original location.
  16. Chalupas with a View- Taco Bell at Pacifica State Beach in San Mateo County boasts a beautiful setting, where the ocean views are to die for.
  17. Food Festivals are a Thing– You will find the world’s largest guacamole vat at Carpinteria’s California Avocado Festival, a 40-foot-long tamale at the Indio International Tamale Festival, and garlic ice cream at Stockton’s California Garlic Festival.
  18. Culinary Adventure- Indulge in a culinary adventure at Playa Provisions in Playa del Rey, where Top Chef champion Brooke Williamson serves up delights like trout dip bagel sandwiches and lobster rolls at King Beach Cafe, followed by Small Batch’s breakfast cereal–inspired ice cream and dinner at Dockside with favourites like fried crab claw pops and swordfish à la plancha, concluding with bespoke cocktails at Grain Whiskey Bar.
  19. Attend a Mushroom School- Attend a class with Forage SF to learn about foraging mushrooms, seaweed, and wild plants and how to identify edible fungi and wild plants during various guided walks in Sonoma Coast, Santa Cruz, Marin County, Sierra foothills, Oakland, or Half Moon Bay.
  20. Wine with a View- Experience adventure and wine at Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita, where six ziplines span 7,500 feet above the vineyards. Take a helicopter ride in Monterey or Watsonville to Eden Rift Vineyards to taste wine from a Polaris ATV. In Calistoga at Sterling Vineyards, take a gondola ride to ascend 300 feet and enjoy Cabernet amidst panoramic 360-degree vistas of Napa Valley.
  21. Golf and Beer- Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville may be the only brewery in the world to feature an 18-hole disc golf course on its premises. Hone your Jump Putt or Tomahawk Shot across this expansive 26-acre venue while enjoying Briney Melon Gose or Boont Amber Ale.
  22. Craft Beer Classics- California once led the craft beer movement and now has the most breweries nationwide. Belching Beaver Brewery in San Diego offers the award-winning Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Other favourites include 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon, Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, The Lost Abbey’s Duck Duck Gooze, Fall River Brewing’s Numb Numb Juice Hazy IPA, and more.
  23. Tiki Bars- Donn Beach, a World War I veteran adored Polynesian culture establishing Don’s Beachcomber in Hollywood in 1933, starting a trend that would continue to this day. Tiki-Ti was founded in 1961 by a bartender from Don the Beachcomber and now, offers 94 tropical cocktails. Other notable spots include San Diego’s False Idol, Bakersfield’s Tiki-Ko, Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar at the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco, and Little Italy’s Craft & Commerce.
  24. Danish Capital of America- In 1911, Danish Americans acquired 9,000 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley, which evolved into the renowned wine country. Today, Solvang’s Danish architecture attracts millions, offering a blend of culture and wine-tasting experiences.
  25. Mighty Pools-Enjoy swimming at some of the best rooftop pools in the state with a city skyline backdrop or dancing at pool parties at The Kimpton Sawyer in Sacramento, The Andaz in San Diego, Thompson Hollywood, Freehand Los Angeles, and more.
  26. Ride in Style- Embark on a Golden State adventure with moke tours exploring Newport Beach or indulging in wine tasting on Temecula’s Moke & Wine Tours. Alternatively, glide on a foilboard during a “mountain sledge” tour with Lake Tahoe Adventures, or delve into San Diego’s lowrider culture with a hot-air balloon ride during sunrise over Napa Valley. Enjoy romantic rides in Echo Park Lake in a swan boat, or travel in San Francisco’s iconic cable cars.
  27. Cruising on a Scenic Roadtrip- At Monterey Touring Vehicles, choose from a fleet of vintage rides including a 1954 Chevy Bel Air Convertible or a 1981 DeLorean, and embark on a memorable road trip along some of the most scenic thoroughfares.
  28. World’s Whackiest Race- From a two-block stroll on Ferndale’s Main Street in 1969, Arcata’s Kinetic Grand Championship has evolved into a 40-mile journey spanning Humboldt County. Participants build kinetic sculptures, and unique vehicles designed to sustain various terrains, among other ‘whacky’ things.
  29. 3,600 Pickleball Courts- In California, pickleball courts are common including in hotels and resorts. Such as Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in San Diego County, Omni La Costa, Fairmont Grand Del Mar, and Kimpton La Peer Hotel.
  30. Pirate Pride- Join the crew on the Time Bandit pirate ship for 90 minutes of family-friendly fun on Big Bear Lake, or enjoy the immersive adventure Treasure Hunt: The Ride in Monterey’s Cannery Row.
  31. Go Full-Throttle- Experience high-speed thrills at the BMW Performance Driving School near Palm Springs, test-driving the ultra-fast M Series BMW. Skip Barber Racing School at Sonoma Raceway also offers diverse racing experiences, while WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca hosts top IndyCar pros showcasing their skills on the track.
  32. Life and Art are One– Laguna Beach’s annual Pageant of the Masters features volunteer actors recreating classical and contemporary artworks through costumes posing in a backdrop of painted sets.
  33. The Spookies- The haunted tales of Hotel del Coronado, the eerie Queen Mary in Long Beach, the Ship Walk Paranormal Tour, the Alcatraz Night Tour in San Francisco, and the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose are some of the places to experience the spookies.
  34. Build Sand Castles – Carmel’s major fall event is the Great Sandcastle Contest, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects’ Monterey Bay chapter where teams build intricate sand sculptures aiming for the esteemed Golden Shovel Award.
  35. Greeted by the Whales- Year-round, California’s coast offers sightings of grey whales, blue whales, and humpbacks. Half-day whale-watching cruises from Dana Point, Newport Beach, and Monterey provide opportunities to witness their mighty charm.
  36. Dream for Dog and Surf Lovers- Experience the World Dog Surfing Championships every August in Pacifica. After August, head to The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, during the annual Surfing Santa & Stand-Up Paddleboard Contest. Various surf classes are also conducted by Santa Barbara Surf School, Banzai Surf in Huntington Beach, Tommy Tsunami Surf School in Half Moon Bay, and more.
  37. A Home for All- Those who have the freedom to live anywhere often choose to live in California. From celebrities like actor Anthony Anderson to filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola who have adored California, its blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural richness makes it a favoured choice for those seeking an ideal place to call home.

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