California Travel Guide
Your guide to the best things to do and see in California
The Golden State is maybe one of the best in the USA. With beautiful natural wonders, cool cities, a long history of liberal arts and much more, California has it all. Start here with my basic California travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest California travel blogs.
When to Visit
Given its size, California has a big range of climates. Along the coastal region, where the biggest cities are to be found and where most of the state’s population live, temperatures rarely go very low, even in winter. More inland, in the dessert and mountainous regions, temperatures can be much more extreme.
Really, California is a year-round destination, and there will always be a part of the state that is warm and sunny whatever day of the year it is! Also, given how culturally dense it is, there’s always cool stuff going on in California, especially in the cities.
Top Cities to Visit
San Diego – Sun, sea, sand and beautiful people, San Diego is one of California’s coolest cities. With loads of outdoor activities to indulge in (including surfing, duh), cool museums, great food and sun all year round, don’t leave this city out of your California itinerary—especially if you’re visiting on a California road trip.
Los Angeles – The sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, California’s biggest city has a lot to offer: food from all over the world, some of the best gay nightlife, endless pool parties, celebrity spotting opportunities and of course the Hollywood sign!
San Francisco – Probably one of the coolest cities in North America, San Francisco has it all: beautiful scenery, a great art scene, cool architecture, excellent international food and all the nightlife you can handle. It’s also a gay mecca with the famous Castro neighborhood being an important birthplace for much of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
California Road Trips
There are so many great ways to visit California, but probably the best is on the road. From the famous Pacific Coast Highway route to other ones that take you through the many national parks, California is great to experience by car (and better: by convertible).
Check out this useful CA road trip itinerary from Bridges & Balloons, or view some California road trip itineraries below:
Southern California Road Trip
Perhaps the most iconic of the California road trip itineraries, one that goes through Southern California from Los Angeles to San Diego offers some of the best sights. Following Pacific Coast Highway, the route goes through some of California’s best beaches.
Some of my favorite stops in a Southern California road trip include: San Diego, La Jolla, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu, and Los Angeles. Read more about some of my favorite Orange County destinations here.
Renting a car
Because of a general lack of public transportation across the state, and the necessity of getting around by car, you’ll discover that in California, most car rentals are surprisingly affordable. Find car rental options throughout each city, but also at each major airport.
Recommended: I used Advantage Car Rental on a California road trip recently and found the service easy (and friendly) to use. Use code GAYTRAVEL for a special discount for LGBTQ travelers.
California is a great place to take a tour, as it’ll get you into some areas you might otherwise overlook, and it can also save you time and money. Take a look at this selection of California tours.
For more California travel inspiration, check out this guide to the state’s 50 Most Beautiful Places.
LGBT – Gay California Travel Guide
California is probably one of the best states in the union for gay travelers. With a liberal attitude and forward thinking population, so many gay-friendly establishments and loads happening in the annual gay events calendar, it’s a definite highlight for any queer visitor to the US.
San Francisco is probably the gayest city in California, but Los Angeles definitely gives it a run for its money. Both California cities have loads of fun bars, clubs, shows and events.
More gay travel resources here.
California Hotel Deals
California has plenty of cool and quirky hotels, as well as all the big chains you’d expect. I’ve found that using Booking.com, Agoda.com or Hotels Combined can be really useful for finding last-minute deals.
Greystone Hotels operate throughout California with boutique hotel options in most major cities. A private company started back in 1995 (with one hotel in San Diego, CA), Greystone has grown into a family of 12 west coast hotel properties made up of both “California Independent Boutique Hotels,” as well as some “branded” (or chain affiliated) properties.
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