California Getaways – Northern and Southern Places on Our List

Living in the state of California has its benefits. It is known as the sunshine state.

Why? Well, it’s because there is sun most of the time (sounds great right?). What really gives California the edge besides the weather is the truly diverse types of entertainment, food and landscape you can experience while living or traveling to this state. You can visit the beach, mountains and major city center, all within one day.

Here are some quick California state facts:

  • Highest population of within the U.S. states (approx 37 million)
  • Nicknamed the Golden State
  • Grizzly Bear is the state animal even though they don’t exist there anymore (were hunted to non-existence in the state)
  • The third largest state in the U.S.
  • The Highest Point is Mt. Whitney at nearly 15k ft and the Lowest Point is Death Valley at approx 280 ft below sea level.

Researching Things to Do in California

Travel on a Trolley Car in San FranciscoSo where do you start if you are looking for things to do in California? I usually check out TripAdvisor for some ideas.

TripAdvisor specializes in user reviews of destinations around the world, so I know that there will be some great info on places that are interesting to visit.

If you’re looking for that city life experience where entertainment options abound, start with some of the major cities like San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Seeing all that California offers in a weekend is not realistic. The state is huge and having only a few days, I would recommend focusing on either northern or southern California (probably not both).

Southern California Things To DoIf northern California is your destination of choice, you’ll probably fly into San Francisco International Airport.

From there you can rent a car and start exploring the surrounding areas. Some places that are popular in northern California are: San Francisco, Sacramento (the State Capitol), Napa, Sonoma, Sausalito, Monterey, Yosemite National Park, Redwoods, and  Sequoia National Park.

Want to check out southern California, the most popular places tend to be Los Angeles, Orange County, the mountains (Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead), Palm Springs, and San Diego.

You have several options in terms of airports. Los Angeles (LAX), Orange County (SNA), and San Diego (SAN). Most of the amusement parks are located here including: Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Sea World, Lego Land, and Universal Studios.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Weekend Vacation in California

  • If possible, try to visit once school is back in session (i.e. not during the summer school break). This is especially noticeable if you plan to visit theme parks as they are packed during the summer time when people all over the world converge there.
  • Look for hotel deals. The off season has some really great perks (you can also find some deals if you are military, government employee, AARP or AAA members.
  • Plan out your weekend with a checklist of places you plan to visit or a simplified itinerary.
  • Pack a light jacket/sweater and some pants. Even in southern California, the day could be warm but the evenings are generally cool.
  • Have a good GPS (click here to see a list of the best GPS navigation systems). Better to bring your own versus renting one from the car rental agency. Even as a native southern California resident, I don’t go many places without mine.