20 reasons why the Golden State should be your next US holiday

“…Open that Golden Gate! California, here I come!

For a century, visitors to the Golden State (visitcalifornia.com) have hummed this upbeat tune. But stretching 900 miles from north to south and 350 miles wide, it’s more of a country than a state. Where else has such variety? Gorgeous ocean beaches and snow-capped mountains; the lowest elevation in the United States and the tallest trees in the world; scorching desert and lush rainforest; Vibrant multicultural cities and exciting amusement parks: California has it all – and more.

Over the past two years, new attractions have sprung up, from museums and theme parks to hotels and restaurants. As in Britain, staycations have come into their own, with locals discovering backyard gems, from bohemian Northern California towns and wilderness to alluring offshore islands accessible only by ferry. Do as the Californians do. Recharge your batteries in natural mineral hot spring spas; fish for trout in the raging mountain streams; go on vacation to a ranch. Check off bucket list items. Follow the open roads of California in a convertible convertible, on a Harley or in an RV. Cycle through vineyards, play golf where the pros play, or get up close to gigantic whales. California cuisine has long promoted “local” and “seasonal”; Today, chefs at ethnic restaurants create authentic dishes to broaden palates.

In California, the story has a Spanish accent. Celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, the San Luis Obispo Mission (missionsanluisobispo.org) is one of 21 that dot what is now the 101 Freeway. The more recent past includes colorful characters, such as the tycoon of media William Randolph Hearst, whose opulent mansion, Hearst Castle (hearstcastle.org), has reopened after renovation. And then there are the movies. Set aside time to explore the new and comprehensive Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (academymuseum.org) in Los Angeles. Discover locations, such as San Diego, where Tom Cruise’s biggest box office hit, Top Gun: Maverick, was set, as well as his 1986 debut Top Gun hit.

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