Vacation and Travel to California

As you travel around California, you’ll be struck by the state’s astounding cultural diversity and sense of prosperity. You will also be struck by its natural beauty; towering forests and incredible mountains are just hours away from beautiful beaches and deserts.

Explore California by Regions

Central Coast

A tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the romantics and fairy tale-like Central Coast is often called California’s Middle Kingdom. Dramatic seascapes, coastal resorts, and pastoral inland agricultural communities, make this region an idyllic destination.

Central Valley

California’s agricultural bounty flows from the Central Valley, one of the most productive farming areas in the world. This thriving region includes a wealth of culturally diverse communities, historic sites, exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities and plentiful wildlife.

Deserts

California’s deserts are a study in contrasts: Mountain ranges composed of nothing but bare, jagged rock rise abruptly out of flat, sun bathed basins, the land sparsely covered by creosote and bizarrely twisted Joshua trees.

Gold Country

Cradled between the High Sierra and the Central Valley, this territory offers remnants of 1849’s wild days and one of the biggest gold rushes of all time. With rustic towns, picturesque scenery, ample recreational and cultural activities, this region is filled with golden opportunities.

High Sierra

The magnificent Sierra Nevada mountain range serves as the backbone to the spectacular High Sierra region – the setting for a wealth of outdoor recreation. This monumental region contains three of the nation’s most treasured National Parks and truly embodies the American wilderness.

inland Empire

Larger than Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware combined, the Inland Empire encompassing the mountain ranges to the north and sunny farmlands, orchards, and vineyards along the lush Santa Ana River Valley is truly an empire.

Los Angeles County

Ever since filming in Los Angeles in 1913, the world has been fascinated by movie making  and Hollywood’s great dream factories. Where else can you go snow boarding in the morning and catch a wave in the afternoon, or hike deep into the wilderness just off a busy freeway?

North Coast

This spectacular region stretches over some 400 miles of rugged coastline from north of San Francisco to the primeval redwood forests below the Oregon border. This region reaches 40 miles inland to lush vineyards, pastoral farms and quaint villages filled with antique shops.

Orange County

Legend has it that Walt Disney looked all over Southern California before deciding on 75 acres of orange trees in Anaheim for the site of his first amusement park. Residents and visitors are also drawn to the county’s 42 miles of beaches and vast tracts of green space.

San Diego County

With its rich Hispanic heritage, temperate climate, deep-sea harbors, sandy beaches and a variety of fun-filled attractions, San Diego County maintains its reputation as a world-famous destination.

San Fransisco Bay Area

Blessed with a variable fog-cooked, sun-kissed climate and a dramatic landscape, the Bay Area is a visual feast. Add to this a cultural medley: within every neighborhood, a diversity of tastes and interests is thriving. To embrace all this, all you have to do is get out and explore.

Shasta Cascade

Big physically as well as in spirit, the Shasta Cascade region is the great outdoors at its vigorous best. It is a land of dense conifer forests, volcanic landscapes, and few people. The area’s dominating feature, the snowy volcano Mt. Shasta is one of North America’s biggest mountains.

Williamsburg: Where History Comes Alive

Just three hours from Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of America’s most historic, most treasured and most visited cities. Virginia was one of the largest of the original colonies, and Williamsburg was its political center. Much more than a city, today Williamsburg is a living history museum. In Colonial Williamsburg, shops, businesses and homes have been restored into their 18th-century versions, with tradesmen and artisans in full costume selling their wares and perfecting their crafts, and character actors recreating town scenes. Visitors can feel as though they have literally stepped back in time to experience life as a colonist.

The awe-inspiring historical experience alone makes Williamsburg worth the trip. But the city has more to offer: It features great theme parks, gardens, outdoor attractions and golf courses for those who enjoy the outdoors. It also offers museums and theaters for those looking to experience a bit more culture.

What to Do

Historic Jamestowne: This is the site of England’s first permanent colony in the New World, and a must-visit for those who enjoy American history. It was here that Pocahontas and James Rolfe married in 1614, and the first representative assembly in America met in 1619. The site features guided walking tours that help visitors envision the life and hardships of these brave early colonists.

Governor’s Palace: This palace showcases royal life, before the American Revolution, in all of its opulent and stately glory. Inhabited by seven Royal Governors, this palace features tiered gardens, a ballroom and scullery and kitchen buildings where members of historic foodways prepare authentic foods fit for an 18th-century governor and his family.

Great Wolf Lodge: This large, lodge-themed resort is the perfect “rustic” getaway for families. It features an 84-degree indoor waterpark with slides, rides and pools for every age group.

Haunted Dinner Theater: Like other Southern cities with a deep and fascinating history, tales of hauntings abound in Williamsburg, and ghostly presences are said to be everywhere. Haunted Dinner Theater offers visitors the opportunity to have a “safe” scare, and a wonderful night of great theater and great food. While it does deliver some frights, the performance is more funny than scary, and guests are invited to participate in the fun by solving clues left at their tables.

Busch Gardens: This vast theme park features a wealth of rides and attractions for every age group, from thrilling roller coasters to animal attractions. Themed around Old-World Europe, the park is divided into numerous “hamlets” that represent different European cities and countries, each of which features corresponding food, rides and attractions. The park also hosts annual food and wine, Halloween and Christmas festivals.

Ghosts Among Us Tour: This tour gives visitors a chance to see the dark and spooky side of Williamsburg. This is the only Williamsburg ghost tour that actually takes visitors inside buildings to hear stories of their ghostly inhabitants. The tour begins after dark and, unlike other more family-friendly ghost tours in the area, it can be truly frightening.

The Grand Canyon

SITUATED in the heart of the beautiful Coconino Forest, where at night the wind goes whispering through the pines and by day the sun sheds his glorious rays upon many-colored walls and chasms of indescribable beauty, is America’s most sublime evidence of Nature’s handiwork—the Grand Canyon. To call it wonderful were idle, to say that it is beautiful, inadequate, and to describe it, impossible. As the name suggests, it is a deep gorge formed by the erosive action of a river, which flows at its bottom. It is rather, we should say, a series of gorges, each one a thousand feet or so deeper than the one before, converging from the two sides and terminating in the final gorge through which flows the Colorado river.
Perhaps the name Grand Canyon leaves doubt in the minds of some as to the exact location of the wonder referred to. But although this name has often been erroneously used to designate other canyons, there is only one worthy of the name. It is situated in the northern part of Arizona, and is drained by the remarkable Colorado river which flows at its bottom, six thousand feet below its rim. This canyon is two hundred and seventeen miles long, and varies in width from five to thirteen miles. To give some idea of its grandeur, it may not be out of place to quote the words of Robert Brewster Stanton, one of the few men who have traveled through its entire length.
“Cataract and Narrow Canyons are wonderful. Glen Canyon is beautiful, Marble Canyon is mighty ; but it is left for the Grand Canyon, where the river has cut its way down through the sandstones, the marbles and the granites of the Kaibab Mountains to form those beautiful and awe-inspiring pictures that are seen from the bottom of the Black Granite Gorge, where above us rise great wondrous mountains of bright red sandstone, capped with cathedral domes and spires of white, with pinnacles and turrets and towers in such intricate form and flaming colors, that words fail to convey any idea of their beauty and sublimity.”
The first white men to see the Colorado river were the Spaniards. Less than fifty years after Columbus first landed on our shores, they were traveling along its banks. Their explorations were largely the result of the first trans-continental journey, which was made by Don Alvar Cabeza de Vaca. The stories he told led to the sending out of a preliminary expedition under the Franciscan friar, Marcos de Niza, who went east as far as the Pueblos of Zuni, New Mexico. These, he was told, were the seven cities of Cibola.
Upon his reporting favorably, a large and imposing expedition was sent out, under the young and adventurous Don Vasquez de Coronado, in the year 1540. At Zuni, he heard of a large river and dispatched twelve men to find it. After twenty days journey through desert country, they arrived, as they said, at the banks of the river which seemed three or four leagues below where they stood.
Simultaneously with Coronado, Hernando de Alarcon started out by sea. He was instructed to keep in touch with the former, but was nowhere able to do so, although he reached the mouth of the Colorado, and twice sent boats up its waters.
In September of the same year, Melchoir Diaz set out from the Valley of Hearts to find Alarcon. He reached the mouth of the Colorado at the head of the Gulf of California, and at the foot of a tree found a jug containing a letter from Alarcon, saying that he had been, forced to abandon his expedition.
Besides the Spaniards, many other explorers tried from time to time to conquer the wild and treacherous Colorado. Many failed at the start, while others succeeded only partially. It remained for the untiring zeal and fearless daring of Major John Wesley Powell to achieve what Indians, prospectors and Spanish explorers had declared impossible. On the 24th of May, 1869, with four boats and provisions for ten months, he left Green River City. In the latter part of August he emerged from the canyon at the Grand Wash, which is its lower end.
During those few months, Major Powell and his men had experiences enough to fill volumes. On the fifth day of their journey they passed through a narrow gorge where the water is rolled in great waves from the rocky sides to the center, and where the boats leap about and careen as if wild. A little farther on, they came to two falls, the first about ten feet high, and the second much higher. One of their boats became unmanageable and went over both falls. At the bottom it struck a rock—rebounded— and was carried broadside down the river, with the three men who had been its occupants clinging to its side. Some distance further on, it struck another rock and was broken in two. The men still clung to one of the parts, which floated because of a water-tight compartment, and were rushed down the river. Reaching a rapid whose channel was filled with huge boulders, the part of the boat t o which they clung was dashed to pieces, and the m e n left to the mercy of the torrent. Two of them were washed on an island, and they succeeded in rescuing the third.
After many hardships, which, however, were but the precursors of worse ones to come, the party entered the errand Canyon. Thenceforth, until they emerged a t the lower end, they beheld daily an ever-changing panorama of walls and castles and gorges in such a variety of form and colors as to dazzle the most inartistic. Having finally reached the end of their journey, they disembarked—rejoicing as did Columbus when he first sighted land.
For him -who wishes to behold this mighty canyon, there are t w o ways of getting to it. The one most universally used is, of course, the railroad, which now extends to within a short distance of the canyon rim. The other, and the one entirely used before the advent of the railroad, is the stage from Flagstaff, Arizona. Though there are roads from other of t h e small towns in the vicinity, the journey from Flagstaff is the most pleasant, and the town itself presents interesting features found nowhere else in the country.
From whatever direction you approach Flagstaff; whether from the blazing sands of the desert to the west, or from the barren prairies of New Mexico to the east, you are certain to be surprised and delighted with the grandeur and stateliness of the pines which surround the locality. At this point the whole appearance of the country changes. Where formerly was nothing but rolling prairies and stunted sagebrush and cactus, now are picturesque mountains and fertile valleys.
Having arrived at the canyon by either one of the two ways, let us now descend into it and view it from within.
Altogether there are about ten trails into the heart of the Grand Canyon; but of these only three are used to any extent at the present time. They are the Mystic Spring Trail, named after a spring which seems to ooze out of solid rock; the Grand View Trail from whose head the outlook is particularly beautiful, but which is falling more and more into disuse; and the Bright Angel Trail, which is at the terminus of the railroad and is, therefore, the best known and most accessible.
The last named trail has a total length of about seven miles. Leaving the hotel, it drops westward for a quarter of a mile until the cross-bedded sandstone is reached. Here, immediately to our left, we see a huge pile of red sandstone, which, because of its shape, is called the Battleship Iowa. We next descend the Zig-Zag which is a very difficult piece of trail, and reach the summit of the red wall limestone— one of the most prominent of the canyon strata, having a thickness of one thousand feet. Looking up from here, we see many pillars of erosion—rocks cut out of the limestone by the wind and rain.
At the base of the red wall limestone we breathe easier; for, although there is little danger, it seems as though at every moment our burro is going to walk off of the trail and hurl us into the abyss below. These animals always insist upon keeping to the outside of the trail, and refuse to be guided to safer channels.
Going along Boulder Bed, where huge rocks lie all around, and where small shrubs and plants are in abundance, we come next to the Indian Gardens, having travelled about one-half the distance to the river. There is here a large spring, and a camp, whose lights, like a will o’ the wisp, are seen at night from the hotel. Stopping here for a short rest, we soon resume our journey and go out along level ground to the end of Angel Plateau, where twelve hundred feet below us we see—and listening may hear the roar of the raging Colorado.
We must now descend the jagged face of the gorge to get to the banks of the river. The trail for the most part is difficult, and in one piece—called Devil’s Corkscrew—it is necessary to dismount and walk. The descent completed, we are at last on the very banks of the most remarkable and also most cruel river in the world. Nearby flows the crystal clear Bright Angel creek, whither we hasten to quench the thirst developed by our arduous trip.
The question most likely next to arise is, “How was this gigantic chasm formed?” The answer, according to the generally accepted theory is that it was cut down by the action of the Colorado river on a plateau which was undergoing a process of uplift. The torrent now raging at the bottom of the canyon was once a quiet stream flowing on a level with the surrounding country. For untold ages it flowed on, cutting ever deeper and growing ever swifter.
According to some geologists, there were once ten or eleven thousand more feet of strata than now exist on the plateau which occupies this whole locality. Then, as the strata were uplifted to form a dome, the rasping forces of Nature began acting upon them, and particle by particle carried them away to the sea. Had this uplift not ceased, the river would have cut its way through thousands of feet of Archaean and Plutonic rocks which form the Black Granite Gorge. Even as it is, the river is still cutting deeper and deeper, and before the last of the sons of Adam shall have been called to his eternal rest, who can say what proportions will have been reached by this mighty chasm of the Colorado?