Why you will love California
Collected by Jenna Francisco , AFAR Local Expert
I am fortunate to have called California my home for more than 15 years (once as a teen and again for the past 11 years). Though the state has its fair share of problems, its beauty and unique culture are undeniable. Here are some reasons why you will love California (or why you should visit again!).
Driving into Yosemite National Park, you make your way through a narrow tunnel. When you emerge, this is the view that greets you. It was winter time, and a blizzard had just blown through. While driving into the park, I had slipped on the ice,...
3926 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA
You wouldn’t know there was a store there unless you lived in the neighborhood, but the owner, Chris, has an amazing list of cheeses. I love his shop because he sells what he likes, not what people tell him is good. He’s also got an...
52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
After five hours in the car, I was more than happy to hop out and hike the 1.4 miles out to Pfeiffer Burns State Park and get the prize of a beautiful waterfall. The water's color is an unreal sea blue/green that I have never seen before. The best...
39171 Tassajara Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA
In 1967, Tassajara (already a storied hot springs resort) became the first Zen monastery outside Japan. Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the public from May through September and closed the rest of the year for...
610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
Think of the Oxbow like a high-end shopping mall for food and wine. On the east side of the Napa River, the market brings together a number of epicurean purveyors under one roof (well, technically, it’s three different roofs). The result:...
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA
The Getty Center, perched on the hills above Brentwood in Los Angeles, is one of America's great museums. Free to the public and accessible via a computer-operated tram, the complex is a citadel of art and education, all covered in Italian...
Carmel Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, USA
The beaches and coastline of central California is not what one might imagine when hearing "California." They are rugged, rocky, and often cold or even foggy. Carmel Beach, at the end of the super-cute town of Carmel, is a bit of an exception....
1060 Dunaweal Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
Playful art and sculptures are the centerpiece of the winery, Clos Pegase. A collection of sculptures by famous 20th-century artists greets visitors outside, and the collection continues in the courtyard and tasting room. The owner, Jan Shrem,...
1425 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
My friends and I were so lucky to get into Oenotri at the last minute. The restaurant serves some of the best Italian food to be had outside of Italy. Their salumi and pastas are made fresh daily right in the restaurant and they own a wood-fueled...
200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
I had heard that the botanical garden at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California, was worth visiting, but I didn't expect it to be so beautiful. Set among the hills that rise above the city, the botanical garden seems to go on and on, one beautiful...
2501 Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Orinda, CA 94563, USA
This is my favorite 30-35 mile ride in the East Bay, and spring and fall are the times to see the colors really pop. Make your way up and out of Berkeley on Spruce and head straight on Wildcat Canyon to enter the majestic Tilden park, when you hit...
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, USA
Ensconced on its hill above the Pacific just west of Los Angeles, The Getty Villa is one of the great architecural/museum gems of the entire U.S...and it's FREE. This reproduction of a volcanically-buried Roman villa, excavated on the slopes of...
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