California

California Travel Guide

It’s nearly impossible to run out of things to do in California. The state has so much going on, from its bustling urban centers -- most notably Los Angeles (which includes all the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood) and San Francisco (where tourists can visit Silicon Valley, widely considered the innovation epicenter of America) – to its rustic, rugged, sprawling national parks.

Nature-lovers wondering what to do in California have an extensive list of available options at their disposable. From skiing in Lake Tahoe, to surfing in Santa Barbara, to hiking in Yosemite, to touring Napa Valley, the option of outdoor things to do in California is truly endless.

Foodies should also rejoice: Anyone wondering what to do in California need look no farther than the state’s incredibly diverse, eclectic, authentic, adventurous, ambitious, and downright delicious culinary scene. From five-star, Michelin-reviewed establishments to corner delis, food carts and fast food joints, the golden state truly has something for every palate.

On this narrow street branching east from Union Square, chic boutiques close ranks. The highlight, though, is the Xanadu Gallery’s Frank Lloyd Wright building (140 Maiden Lane). Its stern brick façade conceals a graceful interior with a Guggenheim-esque spiral staircase.

Running is practically a religion in Brentwood, where the coral-tree-lined center divider of San Vicente Boulevard doubles as a running path. The fleet-footed will find all manner of on-trend, performance running shoes here and über-knowledgeable staff to help them make the perfect selection.

For that chic L.A. jeans-and-a-t-shirt look, American Rag is the de facto headquarters—the “World Denim Bar” annex stocks designer denim in every color and fit imaginable.

Cable cars have competition for Most Endearing Public Transit. These early-20th-century streetcars trundle along the Embarcadero. You might glimpse an orange Milanese number or the olive green “streetcar named desire” from New Orleans.

Six blocks from the town courthouse, this weekly market is the perfect place to watch gray-haired hippies, dreadlocked surfers, and well-heeled natives hunt for Central Coast olive oils and zingy lemon-flavored pistachios.

This expansive urban park hugs the hills above Los Feliz and has enough attractions within its 4,210 acres to please both nature and culture lovers. Those seeking a brush with the wilderness will love its miles of hiking and horseback riding trails as well as the onsite L.A.

Two stone lions practically purr for a photo op, flanking this pagoda-style arch.

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, this 1930s Art Moderne landmark is a dashingly romantic spot at sunset. It’s all fluted, ivory glamour on the outside; inside you’ll find period murals of city life. You can climb up to the observation deck, but the bay view from the ground is nearly as grand.

This sunny boutique specializes in “free-range design” that roams both around the world (there’s a Scandinavian emphasis) and close to home (local designers are represented).

More eclectic and accessible than Design Within Reach just a few doors down, the independently owned Zinc Details has been selling contemporary furniture, lighting, and objects—from Normann Copenhagen’s Grass Vase to Blue Dot’s Buttercup Rocker—since 1991.

In a space flanked by unfinished wood panels and a hanging rope ceiling, patrons enjoy mason jars filled with Churchill’s custom cocktails. The Cape Daquiri’s mix of rum, rooibos syrup, lime, angostura and orange peel, especially, suits the setting.

Developer Abbot Kinney modeled the canals and bridges in this historic district on those in Venice, Italy.

The heavily wooded, 36-acre hill makes for a quick quiet place just off the bustle of Haight Street. The interior paths of San Francisco’s first city park curl around the 589-foot incline toward an idyllic outlook typically just enjoyed by locals.