California is undoubtedly one of the biggest symbols of the United States – metaphorically speaking, physically as well.
California is also one of the biggest states in the union, comprising a similar amount of area to the country of Japan. With its rustic mountains, golden lakes, swarming deserts, lush farming land, and yes, sprawling metropolises such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, California is one of the most interesting places to visit in the entire world.
How does one decide what to do in California?, we will explore the history of Californian culture briefly, and then describe some of the most intriguing things to do in the Golden State.
California has been settled by Native Americans for over thousands of years. In the era of European exploration, the area that is now California was originally held by Mexico, as reigning independently from Spain. After the Spanish-American war, California was given to the United States. Then known as the California Territory, it arose to prominence after the discovery of gold drove flocks of people to search for their fortune in the mid-1800s.
It wasn’t until the 20th Century, however, that California truly made a name for itself. The blooming movie industry struck itself in Los Angeles, and would later become the centre of the talking pictures. Today Hollywood, next to Los Angeles, is considered the entertainment capital of the world, with many world-renowned movie stars and music artists living nearby. During the Great Depression, many mid-Westerners moved west to try their hand at working the Californian orchards and farms. Due to California’s expansive landscape, many people moved to the area, making it the most populous state in the union by the end of the millennium.
California is typically divided into Northern and Southern California, with San Francisco marking the halfway point. Each half has its own geography and culture, and it’s often joked amongst Californians that they are two separate states. Depending on what you want to do, you may want to check out both halves!
The following are some of the top things to do in California.
Be a Movie Star in Hollywood and Beverly Hills (Los Angeles)
Every movie lover at some point makes their way to LA to check out the entertainment capital of the world. Many of the movie studios, such as Universal, have open-lot tours in which visitors can see where their favourite movies have been made. It is also customary to go on celebrity-house-hunting tours to see where top celebrities live in the area. Beverly Hills is renowned for its upmarket living and shopping. Rodeo Drive is one of the most expensive places to shop in the world, boasting almost every major designer that one can think of. The rest of Los Angeles is a treat as well, imbrued with a heavy Latin culture as it is the prime home for Latin American immigrants.
Be Cultured In San Francisco
The other famous city in California is San Francisco, known around the world for its diversity. Geographically it is also famous, with its Victorian homes on top of steep hills, and the Golden Gate Bridge linking Northern and Southern California. Technically, San Francisco is considered a part of Northern California, but it is in a world of its own. If you visit here, definitely explore the melting pot offered by Chinatown, Japantown, Little Russia, and a chorus of Latin communities. You can escape to the countryside easily to one of many surrounding state parks, and then return in the evening to enjoy the vibrant San Francisco nightlife. There is never a dull moment in this city!
Take Your Chances in Death Valley
Death Valley, not too far from Los Angeles, is home to the lowest point in the United States, as well as one of the hottest. It can be quite dangerous to drive through during the summer season, when temperatures regularly reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but during the off-season it is a beautiful wasteland. You are bound to learn something about yourself in the Valley of Death.
Relax with Some Refreshments in California’s Wine Country
Northern California is renowned for its wine country, heralded around the world as the origin of some of the finest wines available. There are tours available for people to visit many of Northern California’s wineries. While you can just sit in the tasting rooms and enjoy the delicate fragrances and delicious tastes, we also recommend that you take the winery tours, where you can find out how wine is made and even pick some of your own grapes. Some places also let you take part in the creation of wine, all the way down to the traditional stamping of the grapes.
Hike a Trail in California’s Famous State and National Parks
For the more rugged among you, California is home to some of the country’s best National and State parks. Hiking, camping, fishing, and even hunting in the appropriate seasons call people from all over North America and beyond. Those who love the great outdoors would surely be missing out by not making a stop by one of California’s famous parks. Most of them are located in Northern California, but Southern California also boasts a few. While most people probably don’t think of the Sierra Nevada Mountains when they think of California, they are certainly a highlight of the state’s great geography.
California truly has something for everyone, from the high-roller to the person at one with nature. No matter your lifestyle, you can find something to do in this great American state. Come down to the place where dreams are made and realized, and maybe you’ll find a new piece of yourself as well.