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Ideas for California Vacations

Choose the Best Spots for California Vacations

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For your California vacation, we've organized some of our most interesting sights, attractions, places and things to do by topic. Use these lists to help you decide where to spend the most time, or to find places off the beaten path that may appeal to your special interests, hobbies and passions.

Click on something you're interested in and find out the best places to indulge it.

California Vacations for General Interests

  • Gardens and Flowers: Some of the best blooming places in the state...
  • Shopping: You can probably find the local shopping mall on your own, but these are a few places to mix with the locals or buy some unique regional items.
  • Theme Parks: You probably know where Disneyland is, but do you know how to avoid the lines? Or where to find a theme park that's perfect for the younger set?

California Vacations for Cultural Interests

"Culture Vultures" and lovers of the arts in any form can indulge themselves during their California vacations. Some of the best things turn up in the oddest places...

  • Architecture: Some of Frank Lloyd Wright's most important works, cutting-edge structures designed by Frank O. Gehry, Victorian- and Craftsman-style homes, Googie architecture and a few famous bridges.
  • Arts: Some of the best arts spots probably aren't where you think they'd be. We'll tell you where to see Tony Award-winning drama, internationally-renowned music festivals, Shakespeare under the stars, and outstanding art collections.

California Vacations for Enjoying Natural Beauty

Rather be outdoors than in a museum? More Sierra Club than nightclub? These locales for California vacations are just the thing for you.
  • Animals in Captivity: Zoos and beyond...
  • Scenery and the Outdoors: Places so beautiful and unspoiled that they're likely to wreck your schedule and deliver maximum pictures per mile. We'll tell you where to find the oldest, tallest and largest living things on earth.
  • Wild Animals: Did you know that a male elephant seal's bellow sounds kinda like a motorcycle stuck in a drainpipe? We've got sleeping monarch butterflies, tule elks and some island that make you think of the Galapagos, too.

Only in the Golden State

  • History: We'll tell you where to find the most authentic of the state's 21 Spanish missions and the Ellis Island of the West.
  • Film-Making and the Movie Industry: There's more to see than Universal Studios. Go behind the scenes and tour back lots, visit sights from film history.
  • Factory Tours: If you ever wondered "How do they do that?" these places are for you.

California Vacations for Special Interests and Hobbies

  • Ghosts and Haunted Places: From haunted toy stores to really creepy night tours that make even the skeptics wonder...
  • Science and Technology : Looking for a saber-toothed cat? Want to design your own roller coaster?
  • The Old West and Western Films: We'll tell you where to find the mother lode of Gold Rush ghost towns, the locales of some of your favorite western films and television programs and about a western film festival so good you'll be wishing you brought your six-shooter.
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