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A footpath leads down towards the Pacific Ocean in Monterey, California
12 June, 20192 minute read

California dreaming

The ‘Golden State’ of California is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the US. Sun, sea and stardom have lured multitudes to the bright lights of Los Angeles, while the vibrant cosmopolitan culture of San Francisco, with its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, has long been an exciting hotbed for the arts.

But what about the lesser known Californian highlights that really should not be missed? There are some beautiful sights, historical attractions and cultural hubs that deserve to be on the itinerary of all holidaymakers heading out to indulge in some California dreaming.

Balboa Park, San Diego

Be sure to visit the harbour city of San Diego and head straight for the awe-inspiring 1,400 acres of Balboa Park. Here you will find San Diego Zoo, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Art and the Old Globe Theatre. Leave time to wander through the vast botanical gardens, which are breathtakingly beautiful and dine out in one of the luxury restaurants.

Discover Calico Ghost Town in the Desert

For an authentic Old West experience, visit the fascinating Calico Ghost Town. Calico was founded in 1881 during the largest silver strike in Californian history. The 500 mines yielded over $20 million in silver ore, until the silver price crash forced the miners to abandon Calico in 1896, leaving behind a ghost town. In the 1950s the original town buildings were completely restored, and today Calico provides a fantastic insight into what life was like in the Old West.

Curve Your Way Round the Big Sur Coastline

Made famous in Jack Kerouac’s 1962 novel Big Sur, this dramatic coastline has to be experienced to be believed. Immense Pacific waves crash against the rocky shore as you wind your way along the curves of the road. Be sure to take some photographs of the Santa Lucia Mountains, which rise majestically from the Pacific Ocean.

History and Culture Abound in Monterey

The magnificent city of Monterey was the capital city of Alto California from 1777. It remained under Spanish and Mexican rule until 1846, when California was claimed for the United States during the Mexican-American War. There remain fine examples of old town architecture throughout the city. On the seafront delicious seafood can be tasted at Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row provides excellent nightspots and restaurants, while the varied local sealife can be enjoyed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Alongside the usual attractions, make sure these thrilling Californian highlights are on your itinerary as you make your way through America’s glorious ‘Golden West’.

Image of blog author Nicola James

Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.

Nicola | About the author

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