The western US state of California is brimming with incredible sights, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and magnificent national parks to the bright lights of Las Vegas and the hilly roads of San Francisco. There’s certainly a lot to explore in California but a few of the most famous sights include Yosemite and Grand Canyon national parks, the giant redwood trees, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, Death Valley, Monterey and Salt Lake City.
Between the months of June and September is a great time to visit California. Although there tends to be good weather year-round, the summer months are particularly pleasant with plenty of sunshine and little rainfall. However, depending on what you plan to see on your trip, the time to visit may vary. Hiking trips that take you among lofty peaks or desert landscapes are best taken in spring or autumn as the temperatures are cooler. If you prefer to travel when there are fewer crowds, spring is your best option, and you’ll also see beautiful floral displays of wildflowers in the national parks. Alternatively, visit during the autumn to enjoy the stunning fall colours.
California is home to 10 national parks, each with its own unique charms, iconic views and landscapes. While Death Valley introduces you to the vast and dramatic desert, Yosemite will amaze you with its glacial landscape, wild bears and waterfalls. Sequoia boasts some of the largest trees in the world and the impressive Mount Whitney, which stands at 4,421m. Grand Canyon National Park is arguably the most spectacular, spanning around 300 miles and plummeting more than 6,000ft into the valleys below and the Colorado River. To experience its true enormity, it’s definitely worth hiking beneath the rim trails.
If you’re looking for bear encounters on California tours, the best places to go are Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, which are home to hundreds of black bears. Because bears prefer habitats that are sheltered and have a rich supply of berries, insects and acorns, you’ll most likely find them foraging in woodlands. In California, bears are seldom found in the south and are more often found in the north, east and west of the state. During the winter months, the bears will hibernate in hollow trees and logs, beneath giant roots or in caves so you’re unlikely to see them.
If you’re from the UK or most of the EU countries, you can travel to California without a Visa. Instead, you must apply for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This is a much more straightforward and quicker process than applying for a Visa and will only cost you around $21US. The application process can be done online and usually takes just a day or two to be approved. The ESTA is valid for up to 2 years and allows you to stay in the United States for up to 90 days for business or tourism purposes. Always check the entry requirements for your country and nationality well in advance of travelling.
California is a great place for food lovers and with so many restaurants, cafes and diners to choose from, you’ll be in your element. The California burrito has its own take on this classic Mexican dish by adding fries for even more satisfying carbs! If you’re a lover of fried chicken then it doesn’t get much better than dry fried chicken wings with garlic, ginger and red peppers, a must for anyone visiting San Francisco. A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without trying one of the world-famous burgers. With the likes of Five Guys, In-N-Out Burger and many other burger bars strewn across the state, it’s not difficult to get your hands on this indulgent treat.
Slap bang in the middle of a desert, Las Vegas is an unlikely location for such a glamorous and hedonistic city. Although it’s known as the gambling capital of the world owing to its endless casinos, it also has some of the best restaurants, hotels and entertainment. While the bright lights and vibrant nightlife aren’t for everyone, it’s certainly worth exploring on a trip to California. Behind its glitzy façade, you’ll also find botanical gardens, hiking trails and showstopping fountains.