California Cities and Regions
San FranciscoOne of the most diverse cities in the United States (hence its numerous distinct neighborhoods) San Francisco shines as the jewel of California with it’s pristine coastline, historic architecture, and progressive sensibility. See our San Francisco Travel Guide
Los AngelesAs the frontier of the American Dream, laid-back Los Angeles allows you to be a pampered star, an earnest culture vulture, a die-hard foodie, and anything else your heart desires. Plan your perfect L.A. vacation with our exclusive recommendations and tips. See our Los Angeles Travel Guide
San DiegoWith world-class cultural events, a hip downtown scene, and numerous outdoor options, no other California locale offers big city tastes coupled with such a laid-back beach vibe like San Diego. See our San Diego Travel Guide
Napa ValleyBecause Napa Valley is only 35 miles long, you can easily travel from one end to the other in about half an hour. Most of the major wineries are located along Highway 29, which runs the entire length of the valley and provides access to all towns and destinations on this list. See our Napa Valley Travel Guide
SonomaA picturesque slice of California Wine Country, Sonoma offers over 40 wineries, spectacular outdoor activities, numerous towns to explore, and a laid-back rural charm that distinguishes it from the trendier and more crowded Napa Valley. See our Sonoma Travel Guide
Redwood State ParkThirty-seven miles of Northern California coastline fall under the protective jurisdiction of Redwood State Park, named in honor of the gargantuan, 300-plus-foot trees that grace the territory. Campers, picnickers, hikers, and the merely awe-struck are equally welcome on the grounds.
Lake TahoeNestled among the Sierra Nevada's 10,000-foot peaks, North America's highest and largest alpine lake straddles California and Nevada and ranks as the country's second-deepest swimming hole. Indeed, the lake merits its indigenous Washoe name – Tahoe, or "Lake of the Sky." The surrounding region is also a premier ski destination. See our Lake Tahoe Travel Guide, Heavenly Travel Guide, and Squaw Valley Travel Guide.
DisneylandInaugurated under the Southern California sun in the summer of 1955, The Happiest Place on Earth is still the country’s premier family destination. See our Disneyland Travel Guide
Orange CountyWedged between Los Angeles and San Diego, sun-kissed Orange County offers enviable stretches of golden beaches, unrivaled family attractions, world-class golf courses, and some of the best shopping in the country. See our Orange County Travel Guide.
Palm SpringsLong a favorite of weekenders from the Los Angeles basin, the posh cocktail capital of the arid Coachella Valley offers up a versatile and modern slice of vacation life, replete with affordable mid-century modern inns, mist-cooled patio restaurants, world-class golf courses, inventive spas, and rugged desert canyon hiking trails. See our Palm Springs Travel Guide.
YosemiteA World Heritage Site since 1984, Yosemite’s 1,200 square miles in the central Sierra Nevada of California support a stunning collection of habitats – from alpine rock to foothill chaparral – which, in turn, shelters hundreds of animal species including yellow-bellied marmots, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep. Over 3.5 million visitors come yearly to admire the bubbling geysers, granite cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife that put this spectacular park on the map. Mega ski resort Mammoth Mountain is located about 45 minutes from the park's eastern gate. See our Mammoth Travel Guide.
Santa BarbaraWith a splendid location between palm-fringed beaches and ever-green mountains, quaint Spanish- and Mediterranean-style architecture, sublime organic fare, and posh hotels, it’s no wonder this bona fide beach town has attracted West Coast residents for decades. From wine-tasting in the country’s largest wine-producing region to strolling barefoot on the shore at sunset, a visit here is a heady experience. Tack on a hot-air balloon outing – a favorite local activity – and swoon over the scenery.
Death ValleySpend a couple of days exploring the vast open spaces, arid mountains, rolling sand dunes, old ghost towns, and barren salt pans of Death Valley. Despite its macabre moniker, this underrated national park comes alive with wildflowers through mid-April, and spring temperatures make it the prime season to discover this 3.3-million-acre park’s many wonders.
Santa Catalina IslandThough its heyday as a stomping ground for movie stars passed with Hollywood’s golden age, Catalina Island, 22 miles off the coast of Long Beach, is still an idyllic seaside escape with a year-round Mediterranean climate. Avalon, the only real city on this 75-square-mile isle, is a postcard-perfect place where the mode of transport is by golf cart rather than car.
Our Experts save you money with travel deals and advice
Many of the world’s most popular – and expensive – cities offer a wealth of things to see and do entirely for free.
Laura Motta Director, Deals Publishing
Sign up for the Top 25 Newsletter
to get exclusive weekly deals