California, in many respects, is the center of the world. Home to Hollywood and most top celebrities, the state has an appeal that few others can emulate. When you hear the word “Wisconsin” or “Ohio”, it doesn’t conjure up the same images of fun and adventure.
It’s fair to say that the allure of the Golden State is nothing new. Over a hundred years ago, during the gold rush of the 1850s, hundreds of thousands of Americans flocked there to make it rich. After going, many decided to settle, thanks to the rich culture and incredible opportunities offered by the emerging metropolis of San Francisco.
Since those early days, the population swelled to over 40 million, cementing it as by far and away the most populous of any state. And it’s not by chance that California won over the hearts and minds of the millions of people who lived there: it has a magnetic personality. Here’s why.
Not everybody is a fan of current celebrity culture, but most are. And if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of the Beckhams or Kardashians, California is the place to be. The majority of A-list celebrities in California live in Los Angeles, especially around Hollywood. Here you’ll find organized tours, showing you where stars live and providing a glimpse into their lifestyles. You’ll also be able to take a walk down Hollywood Boulevard and see some of the most famous names that ever graced the screen immortalized on the pavement beneath your feet.
California is home to some of America’s biggest cities, including LA, the second largest. But the majority of the population live on the coast. Go a little inland, and you soon stumble upon a relatively unspoilt wilderness.
Travel north from LA, and you’ll quickly come to the Napa Valley, famed for its wine production. Here, you can experience a landscape similar to that of Tuscany in Italy and visit some of the finest wineries in North America. The Napa Valley is a hotspot for celebrities too, thanks to the stunning natural environment and enormous mansions dotted along the gently rolling hillsides.
The Golden State probably isn’t the first place you think of when you consider scary places, but it has its fair share of supposedly haunted locations. Alcatraz prison just off the coast of San Francisco leads the pack in the spookiness stakes. The former detention facility is now open as a tourist attraction, allowing visitors to see the conditions for inmates. What makes Alcatraz so scary is that every one of the stories about it is real.
If you like haunted locations, don’t forget to visit the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital near Downey, and the Winchester Mystery House in the southern city of San Jose.
Like New York, California is a shopping hub renowned the world over. Carlsbad tourism is booming right now, thanks to the sheer number of shops and designer outlets. If there’s something you want to buy, then California is the place to be. Enormous shopping malls, food courts with every conceivable style of cuisine, and big brands all conspire to make your shopping trip something you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Although more than 40 million people live in the Golden State, Californians are keen to preserve their natural environment. And so they should: California is home to some of America’s most exquisite landscapes.
Yosemite, for instance, covers more than 1,200 square miles of stunning forest, lake and mountains. Here you can find lots of places to go hiking, cycling and horseback riding. Also, make sure to check out the Redwood National Park, home to some of North America’s tallest trees, and the Marin Headlands, a famous movie location.
Hollywood did something incredible in the 20th century: it cemented itself right at the heart of the world’s film industry and has had an iron grip on it ever since. For decades, its pumped out new movies at a regular clip, creating legends in the process. There’s a lot of money in Hollywood, but there’s also a lot of magic.
Film buffs will love California for its rich cinematic heritage. If you are a fan of the film Ghoulies, then you need to pay a visit to the Wattles Mansion, the demon-filled set for the film. Other films, including Rain Man, also used the house.
If you prefer sci-fi, why not pay a visit to the Bronson Canyon, a location used in some of the most iconic films of the genre, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
Did you like Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby? Then you need to visit Frankie Dunn’s house, the set for the movie that won practically all of the awards at the 77th Oscars.
The Golden State isn’t called “golden” for nothing. It’s famous for its pleasant weather and climate. But one of the nice things about California, unlike inland southwestern states, is that the climate is more seasonal. During the winter months, you can travel to the north of the state and find snow on the ground – perfect for snowball fights or a snowman. In the spring, you can bask outside in the early morning light, reading a book without having to worry about a downpour spoiling your plans. And in the summer, when the temperatures soar, you can head to the coast and cool off by the sea.
It’s unusual to find long stretches of coastline dominated by beautiful white sand beaches. But this is precisely what you get in California, and why so many people want to live in the state. There is about 1,000 miles worth of beach along the California coastline, running from Mendocino in the North all the way down to LA in the south. Make sure to pay a visit to Muscle Beach if you’re into fitness and Venice Beach if you want to live the high life.