Friday, October 21, 2016

Things to do in California, USA

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Things to do in California, USA
Multiple Responses
1.
Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco)
From all angles the bridge is amazing! We just happened to visit on a perfectly sunny day. As we finished our drive across, a cloud rolled in and we got to experience the famous misty whiteout that happens often. There is a toll when you drive from the north to the south, it was over $7 U.S. Dollars when we visited.

Alcatraz (San Francisco)
First time visit. Definitely worth it!!! A must see/do on your list not too be missed! Self tours available with headset and guided recordings. Very strong winds make sure you wear something warm.

USS Midway Museum (San Diego)
This is a MUST see in San Diego! The USS Midway is amazing. We really enjoyed touring all the different areas of the aircraft carrier. I especially enjoyed the engine room, city at sea and the barrack areas. If you are debating this tour i recommend you go. You wont regret it.

The Getty Center (Los Angeles)
I admit, as a native Southern Californian, I had not yet been to the Getty Center. I know. The Villa, yes. But my desire to avoid the 405 kept me away. Well, I'm glad I got over that. This place is glorious. Surprisingly well laid out for its size. The maps of the different exhibits are easy to understand. I am a big fan of impressionist art so having a chance to see some of my favorite Monets was a treat. Gorgeous sculpture garden and gardens. The views are incredible, of course. I hit the Garden Cafe and , like all museums, was a little overpriced but delicious. Amazing collection. Go. Soon.

San Diego Zoo (San Diego)
We booked our trip to the Zoo from New Zealand with our travel agent. We had a really good time and it took us from 11am until about 5.30pm to do it all. With children of course it would probably take a little longer. But we were surprised by how nice the enclosures were and how tidy the grounds/walk ways were. We enjoyed the panda the most as we had never been anywhere else that has pandas. It was a hot day but there seemed to be cold air around the place, I don't know if this was made that way? But I had a cardy and leggins on all day and didn't feel the need to take them off. The elephants were getting fed a little as we went round and a man gave us a little talk. It was interesting to read the 100 year board, nobody else was so we took advantage of the quiet space. The gift shops were amazing, so many plush animals! We thought it was a great day out and totally recommend to all groups of people.

Glacier Point (Yosemite National Park)
Star attraction of Yosemite without a doubt. Best to leave early on a day, reach by 9 AM spend the day there. It has a small cafe with cold(only) sandwiches.

If possible, go on a week day you will have memories for lifetime.

Take the 4 mile trek to Yosemite lower falls if you are fit to do a tough trail. It is an experience.

Beautiful reserve along the coast of California. Bring a picnic and go during the week and it won't be as busy. Lots of seals and wild flowers as well as a couple of sea lions. Definitely worth the $10 entrance fee.

Balboa Park (San Diego)
This is a nice big park to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Lots of people are there to walk around and take pictures. There are many wonderful museums on sites which you can pay to enter. There are free garden you can visit for free so look around. Very lively atmosphere on the weekend here. A great place to spend time with family and little kids can run around to play. Parking is free.

Yosemite Valley (Yosemite National Park)
I have been here many times and it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Seriously, if you are reading about this on Yelp, put down your cellphone and enjoy the sights.

San Francisco Bay (San Francisco)
Very pretty to see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate and great for walking along the bay, get those calories off.

Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles)
Amazing! Even if you don't go inside the museum, you will still enjoy the view. Also, the observatory is free, only the shows cost money. However, be prepared for a long drive up to the observatory due to its popularity with all the visitors. We took über up and down instead of driving and it was great because we didn't have to worry about parking.

It is a very good place for young kids to learn about aquatic animals. It is also a very good place for all ages people. There jellyfish collections are amazing. Lots of educational materials for sustainable eating habits of human. It has a very big collections of all short of creatures.. allow enough time to enjoy and relax.

I wouldn't come to Disney resort JUST for DCA but it's an awesome addition to the original Disney theme park. Lots of thrill rides like Screamin, Tower of Terror and of course the ever popular Radiator Springs Racers. As a tip if you're coming with kids that are atleast teens do the Single Rider line and don't waste 2 hours in like for Radiator Springs. You wont be in the same car but it's so much fun you wont care. I've found I often prefer the food at DCA over the options at Disneyland. You can get quality meals that wont break the break the bank, but also don't require crazy reservations and lines like at The Blue Bayou.

And of course there's the alcohol, not available at Disneyland. Lots of beer options (domestic and craft), Cove Bar and Carthay Circle have a full bar, and there's even wine tasting at the Tratorria in "wine country".

If you've traveled the length of California you will certainly see all of the references walking through this park, it's pretty amazing. If you go on an off day, you will notice the lines aren't as bad as Disneyland, but as slow days are rare at DLR now, come prepared with the same patience you would need for Disneyland itself.

AT&T Park (San Francisco)
We wanted to see a ball game so it was our first time here and it is a very good ball park! Easy to find everything you need for yourself to watch a ball park game. Everyone is friendly too.

Travelled here with a group ranging from 7-55 and had the most fun all day! Go early as the day really does fly by! You cannot go to LA and not go to Universal it has something for everyone and for all ages! A day to remember for life!

Tunnel View (Yosemite National Park)
Not sure if this is the most famous view in Yosemite but you can drive to it with no walking or climbing and it is breathtaking. A must see.

2.
20 great things to do in Los Angeles for tourists
From star spotting on Rodeo Drive and at the Griffith Observatory to museum hopping between the Getty and LACMA, your guide to things to do in Los Angeles

The list of things to do in Los Angeles is as long as the city is vast. If your time in town is limited, you could spend days in the museums alone and never even make your way to Hollywood. Expect to put in a few miles between hitting up Venice Beach and exploring a hip Eastside 'hood. But that's the great thing about this city: there are so many things to do and see, like the ones listed below, to get the most from your LA getaway.

1
Get active on Venice Beach
Get active on Venice Beach
Venice Beach has long been known as the kooky Mecca of California, and while it gets more than a fair share of mainstream tourists, the area nurtures its eccentric spirit. Skateboarders, radical pamphleteers and body builders: the visibility is great if you enjoy people-watching. Go for lunch at the local Figtree's Café before scanning the shelves at Small World Books. The bohemian district is welcoming to the gay community.

2
See the sights of Hollywood
See the sights of Hollywood
Hollywood celebrities are never far away in LA. To catch a glimpse of stardust, stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where more than 2,400 figures from the entertainment world are immortalized in pink terrazzo with symbolic gold lettering. If you're a film buff, look out for the famous hand and footprints at the Chinese Theatre. Countless premieres and galas have passed through, adding to the renowned pagoda's star quality.

3
Marvel at big budget art
Marvel at big budget art
The Getty Center is the envy of museums worldwide for its generous endowments. Although it doesn't match the rich collections of Old World galleries, it has some impressive works covering a vast sweep of history. Among them are several paintings by Rubens and a sprinkling of Impressionists, including Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and Van Gogh. The French decorative arts and an expanding photography collection are definitely worth visiting. And don't forget to hunt out Miró and Moore in the fine sculpture garden.

4
Shop in style on Rodeo Drive
Shop in style on Rodeo Drive
Many people dream of being Julia Roberts shopping on Rodeo Drive, but few can afford to buy from the array of high-end designers seen in the film Pretty Woman. So window-shopping is the order of the day. Along the $200-million ersatz European cobbled walkway Two Rodeo, browsing tourists mingle with serious spenders. A hop away is Anderson Court, which is the only shopping mall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

5
Take a walking tour
Take a walking tour
Take a fuel-efficient walking tour and cherish Los Angeles' urban architectural heritage. The Los Angeles Conservancy walking tours take in the city's top sights and most beautiful buildings, from Downtown's historic theaters and art deco (on a weekly basis) to the modern skyline tour (bi-monthly). Be sure to reserve a place well ahead, because the tours are incredibly popular.

6
Squeeze in the Jurassic experience
Squeeze in the Jurassic experience
Despite the misleading name, this scientific nook has nothing to do with Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is home to a repository of curiosities: scientific wonders include a bat that can fly through walls and artistic miracles such as impossibly tiny sculptures. The institute is an intriguing combination of fact and fiction, and much more exciting than chasing CGI dinosaurs.

7
Marvel at Los Angeles' Museum Row
Marvel at Los Angeles' Museum Row
The collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, are housed in a vast 20-acre complex of buildings, expertly renovated in 2008. The focal point is the BP Grand Entrance, which includes the stunning installation of Chris Burden's Urban Light. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum is home to a dazzling selection of modern works. LACMA sits just across the street from the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Craft & Folk Art Museum.

8
Wise up at the Griffith Observatory
Wise up at the Griffith Observatory
You could happily spend a few hours browsing around the Griffith Observatory, even though you can't see much through the giant telescope. There's the popular Hall of the Sky and Hall of the Eye, a pair of complementary displays that explores the connections between people and space. The star attraction is the building itself and its stunning view of the city from Griffith Park.

9
Draw from towers of strength
Draw from towers of strength
Italian-born tile-setter Simon Rodia began building the Watts Towersusing nothing but scrap metal in the 1920s. Scaling the towers with a window-washer's belt and bucket, he decorated them over the next three decades with consumer objects, such as green glass from bottles of 7-Up or Canada Dry and tiles from Malibu Pottery, as well as jewelry, marble and seashells. There are 17 of these intriguing structures, the tallest stretches nearly 100 feet into the sky. They still exude a kind of spectral beauty years after they were built.

10
Get animated with Mickey and Minnie
Get animated with Mickey and Minnie
You're never too old for Disneyland. This legendary theme park is packed with cool things to do, spread over seven lands and the adjacent California Adventure. Stroll down Main Street USA to experience turn-of-the 19th century America, head Westwards at Frontierland and tune into the music of New Orleans square, minus the floods and booze. Great rides include the stomach-churning Space Mountain and the epic Indiana Jones Adventure.

11
Study the dark past of Japanese immigrants
Study the dark past of Japanese immigrants
The Japanese American National Museum, one of the city's best, tells the compelling story of Japanese immigration to the United States. It all began in 1882 when employers were barred from importing Chinese labor, so thousands of Japanese flocked to the country instead. Yet they ended up being sent to internment camps during the Second World War and did not become American citizens until 1952. This museum tells their story in a lucid fashion, through documentary and art exhibitions, and a moving display of artifacts from their internment camps.

12
See a concert
See a concert
Not in the least bit cartoonish, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the crown jewel of the LA Music Center. Designed by Frank Gehry, the auditorium has wonderful acoustics and an open platform stage. It is home to the internationally acclaimed, Gustavo Dudamel–led LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale, but offers a surprisingly varied program of concerts throughout the year.

13
Stock up on new threads and fresh produce
Stock up on new threads and fresh produce
For chic clothes and delicious food, the place to go shopping is the junction of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue. Here, you'll find The Grove, an open-air mall where you can browse through about 50 top-brand stores. Adjacent, you'll find the Original Farmers Market. Set up in 1934, it's expanded from selling fresh produce to offering an international culinary experience from a vast range of stalls.

14
Raise the drinking bar
Raise the drinking bar
The Bar Marmont in West Hollywood is fabulously elegant. It has an air of longevity lacking in many other LA hangouts and the décor is exquisite, especially the butterflies pinned to the ceiling. For an alternative, stylish drinking experience, head Downtown to The Edison, a power-plant-turned-nightspot, with DJs and a weekly burlesque show. Dress up.

15
Load up on CDs at Amoeba
Load up on CDs at Amoeba
Sure, Spotify is great, but anyone in search of that arcane track off of that mid-'80s Tom Robinson album knows it isn't perfect. Neither is Amoeba, but it is the largest independent record store in the United States, and the variety of music on offer is amazing, the prices are fair and the staff really know their music. It's a great place to find CDs that you can't track down elsewhere.

16
Cruise along Mulholland
Cruise along Mulholland
If you're looking for a joyride, Mulholland Drive is a must. This is the road of classic make out points, Hollywood chase scenes and scenic splendor. You can drive it in its entirety while stopping at the half dozen or so overlooks in less than an hour. Just be careful along those blind curves, alright?

17
Tickle your funny bone
Tickle your funny bone
The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre lives up to its revolutionary name with cutting-edge comedy. You're sure to see familiar sitcom faces here, especially during the acclaimed Asssscat improv show. If you're in the mood for more traditional stand-up, check out iconic clubs like the Laugh Factory, Improv and Comedy Store.

18
Go clubbing European-style
Go clubbing European-style
If there's one thing that LA knows how to do really well, it's throw a good party. You're welcome to enter into the spirit at Avalon, the city's pre-eminent nightclub, which favors Europe's techno renaissance music. Or you could go street haunting to find warehouse venue The Smell. It has the look of a squat, but once you get inside, you'll discover the latest in indie-noise and political art-punk. It's perfect for bright young hipsters, because it doesn't serve booze.

19
Double dip your sandwich
Double dip your sandwich
Who invented the juicy beefy French dip sandwich? Where's the best place to eat one? The answer may well be Philippe the Original. It's been in business since 1908 and certainly claims to have whipped up the dip (but it's not the only one; see Cole's). Savvy customers opt for the traditional lamb or lighter turkey filling, and then ask the server to double-dip the bread in meaty juice, before adding a splash of house mustard. The wines served by the glass aren't bad either, but the sandwich is king.

20
Taste a trio of art venues
Taste a trio of art venues
Culture vultures will be spoiled for choice at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. It's an ingenious multi-purpose venue, which hosts an art gallery, a library with substantial holdings and elaborate botanical gardens. A desert garden with cacti and a hilly Japanese garden are among the attractions. Set aside a day to explore the highlights of this fabulous place.

3.
10 (Alternative) Things to Do in California
Oh no! Not another Top Ten list of California Attractions! Don't worry, this isn't a list of the usual suspects, I promise. That's right - no Disneyland or Hollywood, no Yosemite, Alcatraz Island, etc... You probably know all about those kinds of sights by now, and they probably either figure into your plans already, or you're sick to death of hearing about them. If you do want something mainstream, you can always try our guide to Amusement Parks in Califoria.

However if you're looking for something slightly different but still uniquely Californian, then read on. California's a huge state, diverse in its scenery and endless in its possibilities. I'm going to tell you about some must-see attractions and must-do activities that probably wouldn't occur to the casual tourist. Consider this list a chance to live like a local, with the benefit of a little inside information. So without further adieu…

If you want to have a genuine California experience then (in no particular order) you should:

Attend the Pageant of the Masters.
Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts Theater
Pageant of the Masters Theatre
A pageant? That sounds kind of, um, boring. Trust me, this is something you're going to remember long after it's over. What we're talking about here is a ninety minute show of living pictures. Called the art of tableaux vivants, it features real people posing in painstaking recreations of works of art. It's one of those things that you can see and understand but somehow still not quite believe what it is you're looking at. Add a beautiful outdoor amphitheater, a professional orchestra, an original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers, and you have a unique and unforgettable experience. The Pageant is one of California's best kept secrets and a Laguna Beach tradition since 1932.
The Pageant of the Masters only happens in the Summertime and tickets run between $20 and $70.

Eat an In-N-Out Burger.
In-N-Out Burger sign
In-N-Out Sign
Now I'm sure someone's going to write to me and say that it's not technically a "unique California experience" any more, now that In-N-Out Burger has branched out into some of the bordering states. But they're wrong. In-N-Out will forever be linked to Southern California and remain an indeliable part of its culture. As a native Californian, I've always felt kind of sorry for the rest of the country who couldn't experience this incredible burger.

What's so great about it? In-N-Out started in 1948 as California's first drive-thru hamburger stand. As the company gradually expanded it remained family-own - it never franchised. The service is great. The ingredients are always fresh and the burgers are always made to order. No freezers, no microwaves, no heat lamps... ever. The menu is very simple but it's easy to customize - you see, though it's not written down, there's a secret menu. I won't ruin it for you, because discovering all the different goodies on it is half the fun. I will only say this: "Double Double animal-style". You will not be sorry (unless you're a vegetarian).

Forget Napa Valley. Go wine tasting in Paso Robles.
Paso Robles Hills
Highway 46 Green Hills
I don't mean to be hard on Napa, but it's not what it used to be. It's become more heavily commercialized and touristy. On the other hand, Paso Robles is kind of like what Napa used to be. In fact as California's fastest growing wine region it probably will be like Napa in another 10 years, so see it soon. For now this is a charming, unpretentious area that a lot of people don't yet know about.

"Paso" is a hidden gem located on California's beautiful Central Coast. The Paso Robles wineries are often distinguished by whether they are "46 East" or "46 West", 46 being the highway that runs through the area. At last count, there over 160 wineries there, many of them producing excellent vintages. Paso Robles wines tend to have deep colors and rich flavor due to the intensity of the sun, with fairly bright acidity due to the region's cool nights.

Take a trip to Pismo Beach.
Sunset at Pismo Beach
Pismo Sunset
This one almost didn't make the list - not because it wasn't good enough, but because I didn't feel like sharing it. If you look up "Classic California Beach Town" in a dictionary you'll see a picture of Pismo Beach (okay, maybe not, but you should). This small town is easy driving distance south of Paso Robles (above), it has great beaches, a 1,200-foot wooden pier, waters rich with marine life, nice restaurants (if you like a good steak, you must try McClintock's) and shops, and about 50 hotels with great ocean views. Also, six state beaches, two nature preserves, and three state parks can be found within a 30-minute drive.

What's there to do in the area? Kayaking, golf, surfing, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and dune riding for a start. There's also some excellent wineries nearby, not to mention Hearst Castle, and cosmopolitan San Luis Obispo. Pismo beach is also home to large grove of Monarch butterflies in Winter and a huge classic car show in June. As fun as Pismo is in Summer, it is near perfection in Winter. Why? Because the weather is mild and it feels as if you have the whole town, the beach, and the ocean to yourself. Relaxation is virtually assured. Now do you see why I didn't want to share?

Cruise PCH.
Morro Bay
PCH North of Morro Bay
California State Route 1, aka Highway 1, aka Pacific Coast Highway, or known to most natives as simply, "PCH" is arguably the most beautiful drive in America. State construction of what is now Highway 1 began in 1919 and is a distinct part of California history. Traditionally, PCH begins at San Juan Capistrano (South of Los Angeles), and ends where Route 1 merges with Highway 101 south of Eureka, California. In between, PCH will bring you to L.A., Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and San Francisco as well. How long will this trip take? Well, you could easily spend 2-3 weeks exploring this road - at any rate give yourself at least 2 days because you will want to take your time.

So exactly what is the big deal about Highway 1? Not much really, unless you're into picture perfect ocean views, scenic cliffs overlooking roaring surf, waves breaking against rocky shorelines, dense forests, dozens of historical landmarks like Spanish Missions, and the chance to participate in just about any kind of outdoor activity you could imagine. Really, you could search the globe and still not find the unique combination of scenery and recreational opportunities already available along PCH. So rent a convertible, drive this winding road into the heart of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, stop and get out whenever you feel like it, and lose yourself in an adventure only to be found in California.

Visit (and eat at) Farmers Market in Los Angeles.
Farmers Market clock tower
Farmers Market at the Holidays
Actually I'm killing two birds with one stone here, because Farmers Market is not only uniquely California, it is uniquely Los Angeles. Located at Third and Fairfax, the Market wasn't planned so much as it just kind of happened. In 1934, a group of local farmers pulled their trucks into (what was then) an empty lot and started selling fresh produce on their tailgates. Crowds gathered. Someone decided that the farmers and their customers alike might get hungry and started selling sandwiches. In turn, a wider variety of vendors showed up which drew even more crowds. 75 years later Farmers Market is an LA (and a Southern California) institution.

What's great about Farmers Market, is that this casual open-air venue contains an impressive variety of fun little shops and delicious food. In fact you can find just about any kind of world cuisine you can think of, all of it as fresh as can be, much of it being prepared right in front of you. Between the cooking, exotic spices, fresh bread and pastries, and flowers, the aromas in this place are near-intoxicating. Some of the restaurants here (Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts, Dupar's, Mr. Marcel Pain Vin Et Fromage, Pampas Grill, and Patsy D'Amore's Pizza to name but a few) are local traditions in themselves. Making up your mind for lunch here is not easy.

Just in case you can't get enough shopping, The Grove (an upscale mall) is located right next door. In addition to the usual first class shops, restaurants, and theaters, The Grove features musically choreographed dancing fountains and free live concerts in The Park.

Survive Death Valley.
Death Valley
Death Valley Sand Dunes
And now for something completely different. On April Fool's Day in 1907 an ad appeared in Death Valley's local Chuckwalla magazine. It went something like this: "Death Valley: all the advantages of hell without the inconveniences!" About six years after that ad appeared, this desert reached 134°F (in July, at the aptly named Furnace Creek) - to this day the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere. (It's interesting to note that Furnace Creek reached a record low of 15°F later that January.)

So, is this the source of Death Valley National Park's mystique? Okay, it can get really hot, but what else is there? There's also the fact that it's the lowest location in North America at 282 feet... below sea level. And, it's the driest, with the average annual rainfall being about 1.5 inches.

Now if you're an adventure traveler (and/or slightly insane), I've probably already sold you. But why should anyone else want to come here? What's there to see? Well, you can start with the lowest spot in the park, Badwater (you really have to love the names here - other Death Valley landmarks include Coffin Peak, Hell's Gate, Starvation Canyon and Dead Man Pass to name a few). Badwater is basically a lake that's not there any more - it evaporated thousands of years ago, leaving behind a five mile wide swath of white salt. Then you could visit the Devil's Golf Course (not a real golf course) with mounds of salt crystals carved by the wind, that give it the look of a coral reef. Or you could take in some amazing scenic views from Zabrieskie Point or Dante's View. Just some of the other attractions include the eccentric Scotty's Castle and an Old West ghost town or two.

Simply put, Death Valley has a rugged and desolate (yet suprisingly colorful) beauty that somehow connects with one on an almost spiritual level. And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. Death Valley saw about 1 million visitors last year, many from Europe. Though I'm a California native, when I visit Death Valley I feel like I'm on another planet. If you're from back east, you'll probably feel like you've fallen into another dimension. Either way, this is a destination you'll be talking about for years to come.

Look up... at some very big trees.
Redwood trees
Redwood Cathedral
Remember when I was talking about PCH and I said it ends when it merges with U.S. 101 south of Eureka? Well, if you keep going on the 101 from there, you'll find yourself on a 78-mile stretch of road known as the Redwood Highway. This is where the 101 runs parallel to California's northwestern coast. This is home to Sequoia sempervirens, more commonly known as the Coast Redwood. Here ocean mists and winter storms nuture some of the tallest trees in the world, while its wide bays and estuaries teem with life.

Redwoods can reach heights well over 350 feet tall (the current tallest tree, Hyperion, was measured at 379 feet as the world's tallest living thing) and after looking up at one up close, it can be difficult to get the word "majestic" out of your head. But as awe-inpsiring as that experience can be, there is something else about these Redwood forests, something subtle yet even more powerful - their age. The oldest known Coast Redwood is about 2,200 years old - meaning it was already about a century old when Julius Caesar was born. And that's not all. These virgin forests contain descendants of some of the oldest plants on Earth. Suddenly the word "ancient" takes on a whole new meaning. In addition to the already abundant wildlife, you might now catch yourself expecting to see a dinosaur or two.

Ski (or snowboard) Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
So maybe you're wondering how this can be uniquely California when part of Lake Tahoe is in Nevada? Okay, you got me, but since two-thirds of the shoreline is in California, and since the south shore is dominated by South Lake Tahoe (on California soil), I'm claiming it for our side.

Mark Twain once said of Lake Tahoe, "I thought it must be the fairest picture the whole earth affords." Who am I to argue with Mark Twain? Lake Tahoe is gorgeous. It's also the second deepest lake in the U.S., and one of the highest (with an elevation of 6,225 feet), which may be why it has a reputation for appearing so blue. The crystal clear water reflects the deep blue sky making for some gorgeous panormas. Oh, and I guess I could mention that the slopes surrounding the lake offer some of the best skiing in the world (yes, Heavenly and Squaw Valley are here). Incidentally, Tahoe City, California can boast the world's first snowboard halfpipe (which was literally located at the city dump).

If you're not into skiing there's hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and sailing to name a few of the Summer activities. Still, if you do get bored of all the breath-taking beauty that this "Jewel of the Sierras" has to offer, I suppose you always could hop over to the Nevada side and "donate" some of your money to some of the casinos there...

Spend a day (or two) at Balboa Park, in San Diego.
Casa del Prado Theater
Casa del Prado Theater
In many ways San Diego is the perfect example of a California city. It's near-optimum climate, Spanish heritage, great beaches, laid back attitude, and nightlife all mark it as a West Coast haven.

So... if San Diego's the quintessential California city, then what's the quintessential San Diego experience? Balboa Park. This isn't really so much a park as it is a 1,200 acre cultural center and a National Historic Landmark. To give an idea of the scale, the world-class San Diego Zoo is just one of its attractions (albeit a big one). There are also 15 museums, beautiful gardens, shops, restaurants and performing arts venues. Think of the "park" as an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink California experience. For this reason, if you visit you might want to consider purchasing aBalboa Park Passport offering various degrees of an all-in-one admission purchase.

To sum up, Balboa Park is a unique combination of the historical, the cultural (and horticultural), the educational and the recreational. In this one place you can find things like priceless works of art, highly-ornamented architecture, exotic animals, intricate model railroads, folk art from around the world, sports memorabilia and historic aircraft.

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