Living in California (and especially the Los Angeles area, where I resided for 5 years) has odd effects on your movie-going experience. It's a bit disorienting when you're seeing a scene set somewhere else and recognize that the actors are really in LA. It happened to me several times when watching "Star Trek: Into Darkness" so I thought I'd share the most recognizable spots.
First and most recognizable is Star Fleet Academy, whose beautiful architecture and glass-walled spaces are actually the Getty Museum, although movie magic relocates it to the San Francisco waterfront. When Captain Kirk and his crew take off to board the Enterprise and track down arch-nemesis Khan, they're actually flying from Treasure Island, halfway across the bay from San Francisco (with the Bay Bridge in view).
It's also interesting to see how the film's creators view the San Francisco of the 23rd Century. Few recognizable landmarks remain, but the Golden Gate Bridge is still standing, the cable cars are still running on solid ground amidst a host of levitating vehicles and the neon sign proclaiming "Port of San Francisco" (which is located behind the Ferry Building) shows up outside the bar where Scotty goes to lick his wounds after quitting his job in mid-argument with his boss. The ruins of Alcatraz are also still standing when the film starts, but wiped out by a crashing starship.
More: Getty Museum | Getty Museum Photos | Film Lover's Getaway to Los Angeles
Monterey Bay is one of the most unique places along the California coast to get a good look at a wide variety of whales. On cruises from Monterey and Santa Cruz, you can see humpback and blue whales feeding and at the right time of year, you might even get a look at orcas (killer whales) stalking migrating grey whales and their calves. It's all because of the deep canyon that runs through the ocean floor.
As it turns out, summer is prime whale-watching time in Monterey and you can get all the details in the Monterey Whale Watching Guide.
More: Whales and Dolphins of the California Coast | Whale-Watching in California | Things to Do in Monterey
I injured my knee recently, something I wouldn't be talking about here except that it gave this normally mobile person a good excuse to research the ins and out of visiting Disneyland when it's harder to get around on your own two feet. All the results, insights and research are summarized in the new Guide to Disneyland with Moblity Challenges
More: Disneyland Hotels | Disneyland Rides | Best Time to Visit Disneyland
Not only is Yosemite one of California's most popular National Parks, but it's also a place where you can see some of Mother Nature's strangest phenomena. On a recent visit, we photographed a rare "moonbow," a rainbow that occurs when the full moon's light strikes Yosemite Falls' water spray at just the right angle.
More: Yosemite Falls | Yosemite in Spring | More Yosemite Pictures