California Travel Guide! - California Travel and Tourism Guide.

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California Travel Guide

Publicized and idealized all over the world, CALIFORNIA really does live up to the myth. More than just a terrestrial paradise of sun, sand and surf, it has high mountain ranges, fast-paced glitzy cities, primeval old-growth forests and vast stretches of deserts. The landscape is imbued with history, ranging from rock carvings left by indigenous Native Americans to the eerie ghost towns of the Gold Rush pioneers.

In some ways, the west coast is the ultimate "now" society. Anywhere so vulnerable to the constant threat of the Big One - a massive earthquake of unimaginable terror - is bound to have a sense of living for the moment. However, its supposed superficiality is largely fictitious. Although home to such reactionary figures as Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, it has also been the source of some of the country's most progressive political movements . The fierce protests of the Sixties may have died down, but California remains the heart of liberal America, at the forefront of environmental awareness, gay pride and social permissiveness, and increasingly a bulwark of the Democratic Party. Economically , too, the region is crucial, whether in the film industry, the music business, the financial markets, or the all-consuming sector of real-estate development.

California is too large to be fully explored in a single trip, but in an area so varied it's hard to pick out specific highlights. Los Angeles is far and away the biggest and most stimulating city: a maddening collection of freeways, beaches, seedy suburbs, upscale neighborhoods and extreme lifestyles. From Los Angeles you can head south to the growing metropolis of San Diego , with its broad, welcoming beaches and easy access to Mexico; or push inland to the desert areas , most notably Death Valley , a barren and inhospitable landscape of volcanic craters and salt pans that in summer becomes the hottest place on earth.

Most people, though, follow the shoreline north up the central coast : a gorgeous run that takes in lively small towns like Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz . California's second city, San Francisco , at the top end, is about as different from LA as it's possible to get: the oldest, most European-styled city in the state, set on a series of steep hills, its wooden houses tumbling down to water on three sides. It is also well placed for the national parks to the east, such as Yosemite , where waterfalls cascade into a sheer glacial valley, and Sequoia/Kings Canyon with its gigantic trees, as well as the ghost towns of the Gold Country. North of San Francisco the countryside becomes wilder, wetter and greener, approaching Oregon through spectacular and almost deserted volcanic tablelands.

The climate in southern California consists of seemingly endless days of sunshine and warm dry nights, with occasional bouts of torrential flooding in the winter. LA's notorious smog is at its worst when the temperatures are highest, from July through September. All along the coast mornings can be hazily overcast, especially in May and June; in exposed San Francisco it can be chilly all year, and fog rolls in to ruin many a sunny day. Much more so than in the south, winter in northern California can bring rain for weeks on end, causing massive mudslides that wipe out roads and hillside homes. Most hiking trails in the mountains are blocked between October and June by the snow that keeps California's ski slopes among the busiest in the nation.

 

 

 

         

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