California Places to Visit

California Places to Visit #1:

By Kathleen from Salem Oregon - My favorite California places to visit is Sequoia National and Kings Canyon National Parks in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range.

I truly believe this is directly related to the fact that it was my family’s annual camping location and I have very fond memories. I even convinced my “city boy” fiancé to go camping for our honeymoon.

Although it has changed over the years, becoming more tourist friendly in my opinion, Sequoia is still wonderful.

There are lodges and cabins in the General Forest and Grant Grove areas. One of several visitor centers is located Grant Grove. The Giant Forest Museum is nearby.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time staying at the John Muir Lodge. The lobby is decorated with rustic wooden furniture and a stone fireplace.

Above the fireplace is a painting of John Muir, the naturalist who worked to preserve the area. There are also many paintings of the rugged back country of Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

The lodge is within walking distance of Grant Grove and the General Grant tree. A giant sequoia tree, it is recorded to be over 260 feet tall and is the second largest tree on earth!

My focus on Sequoia has always been the natural aspect. Sequoia is the home of gorgeous California redwoods and lodgepole pines among other conifers. Lodgepole campground is probably my favorite campground.

In addition to being right on the river which is wonderful for hiking along, fishing and swimming, Lodgepole also has a visitor center, store, showers, and post office. (None of those were there when I was a child.)

Lodgepole is the starting area for many of the trails into the back country. I recommend taking the trail from Lodgepole to Tokopah Falls. The river is on your right and the scenery on the left is inexpressively beautiful.

It is only about 2 miles one way UP to the falls, but they are worth it! They are 1,200 feet high. There are meadows which are blanketed with flowers in the spring. We nicknamed one of the meadows “Mosquito Alley” for a very good reason.

A short distance past Mosquito Alley, in the rockier area, is an area frequented by marmots which are cousins of ground hogs. I know my opinions are biased and I could write so much more, but I hope you will consider Sequoia and Kings Canyon if you are looking for California places to visit.

California Places to Visit #2:

Fess Parker Winery
Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/23126594@N00

At the Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards you can combine wine tasting, horseback riding. Stay at the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn & Spa . This is a great getaway combination located in Los Olivos, California. That’s along the southern coast about a half hour north of Santa Barbara. The countryside here is valued for its plethora of beautiful wildflowers and views of Mt. Figueroa.

Horseback is a wonderful way to leisurely enjoy the 714-acre winery and the rolling landscape of the Santa Ynez Valley. Along with your ride enjoy wine tasting and a picnic lunch. The inn has a variety of packages that include their spa, fine dining, golf and bicycling. Check it out for a nice weekend getaway or a great way to spend a couple days while vacationing in southern California.

California Places to Visit #3:

By Heather from Colorado - My favorite place in the world to vacation is the Monterey Bay area in California. Perhaps it's because my family & I vacationed there every summer while I was growing up, so it feels like home to me.

The peninsula is dotted with tiny seaside towns, each with its own charm & plenty of activities for everyone. Not only is the bay known for its stunning natural beauty, but for those who are more interested in shopping or culture, you will never run out of new things to see & do.

Of course there are beautiful beaches all along the peninsula; some are rocky & good for climbing, while others are soft & sandy & good for swimming or surfing. For those who just want to relax with a good book on their beach blanket or swim in the surf, you can always find a beach to suit your tastes.

Heading into the city of Monterey you can shop Fisherman's Wharf & take a whale-watching tour on one of their boats. Or you can head down to the world-famous Cannery Row & see the myriad creatures in the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

There are hundreds of shops you can browse to find unique, touristy keepsakes, clothing, seashells, & almost anything else you could want. There are many fine waterfront restaurants, such as the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory, or you can eat at a smaller, family-owned restaurant off the beaten path.

As you continue south from Monterey, driving the winding road that is Ocean View Boulevard (known for its spectacular views of the coastal waters), you will come to a tiny town called Pacific Grove.

While there you can start a trip down the famed 17-mile Drive, or you can visit the stately Point Pinos Lighthouse. Don't be surprised if here you see a group of deer casually grazing not more than a few feet away from you. They are quite common & quite unfazed by tourists who want to take pictures of them!

If you continue south on the peninsula from Pacific Grove, you will find yourself in Carmel, a picturesque & upscale area that is quite dear to my heart because I was married there on the warm sands of Carmel Beach, a few feet from its sapphire-blue waters.

Just past Carmel you can spend a day hiking the woodsy trails of Point Lobos State Reserve, where you will find gorgeous views of the ocean as well as wildlife galore. I could go on forever, as there are a million more treasures & discoveries that await the adventurous or romance-seeking visitor to this stunningly beautiful peninsula on the California coast. It’s the best California places to visit. Experience it for yourself!

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