California holidays

Travel on holiday to the third biggest state in the US; it’s home to famous cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. The snow-capped peaks of Lake Tahoe in the north, and vast deserts of Southern California show just how diverse this part of the USA is. But wherever you go, one thing’s for sure; you’ll never be too far the laid-back beach life along the stunning coastline. Whether you’re travelling to the Golden State as a couple or with the family in tow, you’ll discover that the possibilities are practically endless on your California holidays. No wonder it’s one of the most popular destinations in the world!

Things to do

Set on a peninsula on California’s north-west coast, the famously hilly San Francisco has a distinctive ‘village’ feel. There’s a vibrant social and theatre scene here, and foodies should head to the wineries of Sonoma and Napa Valleys. In southern California is the glamorous Los Angeles, home of red carpets and golden sands – think Laguna Beach and the iconic Malibu Beach (which inspired Baywatch). Further south of LA is sunny San Diego, which borders Mexico. Delight the kids with nature theme parks such as SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo, and enjoy its lively cultural hub Balboa Park.

If you’re on the search for sunshine, you’ll love lazy days on the beach. With mile upon mile of stunning coastline, tall rocky cliffs make way for stretches of soft sand, perfect for family days by the sparkling sea. From San Francisco’s romantic Ocean Beach to LA’s chilled-out Laguna Beach, there’s no shortage of choice as you pull up a sun lounger and get into the true Californian spirit.

If you’re going away with the family, there are endless possibilities to keep the kids entertained. With world class attractions like Disneyland Resort and San Diego Zoo to choose from, days out in California are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

If you like to get a culture fix on holiday, you’re in for a treat. Whether you’re exploring the museums and theatres of San Francisco, visiting Balboa Park or looking at the night sky from the Griffith Observatory, California is a treasure-trove of fascinating sights that will entertain and amaze.

You’ll be spoiled for choice if you’re a bit of a foodie, with everything from wineries to bubble tea stands and seafood stalls to breakfast pancakes on offer. Of course, your visit to Los Angeles wouldn’t be complete without sipping a frappuccino on Sunset Boulevard, watching the glitzy world of Hollywood go by.

California’s landscapes are breathtakingly gorgeous, making it the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. Trek the mountains at Yosemite Valley, take a sunrise hike through Death Valley or explore Lassen Volcanic National Park to really experience this beautiful east coast state in all its jaw-dropping glory.

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Map of California

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32 ℃

Expect soaring highs in summer and mild daytime temperatures all year.

12 hours

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and San Diego International Airport (SAN).

California is best for...

Movie fans: Rub shoulders with off-duty A-listers when you head for glamorous Hollywood. Don’t miss the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard and Universal Studios Hollywood

Families: You’ll have the chance to make childhood dreams come true in California’s epic theme parks. How about a trip to Disneyland Resort? You could do as the locals do, and head for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Road trippers: Hire a car and drive along the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway and bring your all-American road trip to life. It’s up to you where you go next.

Fast facts for California

Language: The language spoken here is English.

Currency: You’ll need to get your holiday changed into American Dollars ($).

Local time: California is 8 hours behind GMT/UK time.

Fly to: LAX or San Francisco International Airport. Transfer times are 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Flight time from UK: The flight time to California is 11–12 hours.

Holiday destinations related to California:

 

Getting around California

By bus/metro: It’s a cheap and efficient way to travel around in the San Francisco and Los Angeles and explore different parts of town. 

By tram/train: You’ll find charming streetcars in San Francisco. Explore downtown San Diego on its bright red trolley.

By taxi: San Diego and San Francisco run metered taxis, but you can try asking for an estimate before you get in. Don’t forget about the 15% to 20% tip, it’s the thing to do here.

By hire car: Taking to the road will give you the freedom you need for a daytrip away from your hotel. If you’re planning on road-tripping, it’s the only way to do it properly.

By horse-drawn carriage: Carriages and pedicabs are a quirky way to take a trip down San Diego’s charming seafront.

Events in California

Film festivals: On the must-see list are the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January, and September’s SoCal Independent Film Festival in Huntington Beach, Orange County.

Music and arts: The ultra-cool Coachella music and arts festival takes place in April. Look out for the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach from July to August, where clever performers and artists recreate artworks with staging, make-up and costumes.

Sports: Petrol-heads come to Fontana from all over the US and beyond to see the NASCAR Sprint Cup races in September. If you love your snow sports, head to Lake Tahoe for the US Freestyle Championships at the end of March every year.

California weather

Temperature: 13 to 32 (°C).

Best time of year to visit: If you like it hot, visit in summer, when 32 (°C) temperatures are common.

Spring is a beautiful time of year for California holidays, with mild daytime temperatures that are ideal for exploring everything the Golden State has to offer. When summer comes around, you can cool off in the sea when it hits glorious highs of 32(°C). Looking for a more laid-back experience? Choose holidays to California in the autumn; this time of year is grape harvest season. If you’re planning some skiing, head for the mountains in winter and you’ll find plenty of snow. Temperatures vary from 8 (°C) in San Francisco to 15 (°C) in LA and San Diego in the peak winter season. 

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