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Things to Do in California - page 5

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Little Italy San Diego
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Once home to generations of Italian families who who made their living in San Diego’s flourishing fishing industry, Little Italy is now a lively neighborhood packed with restaurants, patio cafés, craft brewpubs, urban wineries, and little plazas with fountains and views of the bay. The trendy, walkable neighborhood—in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter—also has upscale boutiques, art galleries, chic shops, boutique hotels, and live music venues, so there is far more to experience here than just the delicious food.

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Union Square
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Union Square is the city’s main dining, entertainment, and shopping district. Visitors can shop at department stores and designer boutiques; stop into various art galleries; grab a bite to eat at any of a number of restaurants; and see a live performance at a nearby theater.

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Windansea Beach
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With 17 miles of coastline, San Diego is known for its scenic beaches. Everyone has their favorites, making it hard for visitors to choose. But if you’re a surfer, or just like to watch them in action, save time for a trip to Windansea Beach.

It’s one of the more crowded beaches, but for a good reason. Most locals agree it provides the area’s most consistent surfing conditions. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, a guy or girl, surfing is a part of life in San Diego.

Underwater reefs help create the surf breaks that surfers enjoy here. Swimming is also allowed at the beach, but swimmers need to be careful. Windansea Beach is also known for its moderate to severe shore break. That means there can be hard breaking surf near the shoreline, so swimmers need to use caution when getting in or out of the water.

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Ferry Building
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One of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks, the Ferry Building is a port of entry and transit hub, marketplace, and farmers market. Food merchants, specialty shops, wine bars, and restaurants line the historic building’s hallways, making it a one-stop shop for experiencing the diverse culinary flavors and master retailers of San Francisco.

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Sentinel Dome
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Though not as well known as Yosemite’s famous Half Dome, at 4,150 feet high a climb up Sentinel Dome offers some incredible 360 degree views of the national park. The 2.6 mile hike up is well-marked with signs and is easy to follow. From the gently-rounded top you can see the whole of Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, El Capitan, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail is mostly flat, except for the granite slope to the summit.

Sentinel Dome first became known for the lone Jeffrey Pine tree that grew from its peak. The tree is no longer there, but was well-documented by photographer Ansel Adams. The dome is a sight in itself, but the real rewards are the views from atop. It’s a good alternative to the often crowded viewpoints of Glacier Point, and is particularly scenic during the sunset hours.

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Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
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Jacuzzi Family Vineyards have been run by the same family for generations, ever since owner Fred Cline spent time with his grandfather in vineyards in his late childhood. Its heritage wines are highly influenced by the culture and wines of Italy, and the property itself has a beautiful courtyard and an Italian stone villa filled with elegant Italian art, fountains, and handmade furnishings. The barrel room has vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, adding to its elegant atmosphere. The Jacuzzi family makes a variety of Italian varietals, including Pinot Grigio, Barbera, and Sangiovese. An olive oil press and balsamic vinegar tastings round out the experience.

Uniquely, the winemakers do not use any synthetic pesticides on the vineyards. Efforts for sustainable winemaking practices are essential to the process. They’re generous with tastings of both the foods and wine made here, including their specialty: a chocolate cup filled with Pinot Noir.

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Aquarium of the Bay
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Discover the creatures that call the waters of Northern California home with a trip to San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay. Marvel at the wonders of jellyfish or tunnel under sharks to view the true underbelly of marine life in the immersive exhibits.

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Crissy Field
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A wide swath of beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area backed by restored wetlands is just part of Crissy Field’s story. An integral part of San Francisco’s waterfront, Crissy Field hosts a yacht harbor, a tidal marsh, and Crissy Promenade—a popular bike and pedestrian path that climbs from the beach to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

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Los Angeles Original Farmers Market
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Open since 1934, the Los Angeles Farmers Market, aka the Original Farmers Market, draws both locals and visitors to its 100-plus food stalls, grocers, eateries, and other vendors that sell everything from fruit, meat, and baked goods to skincare, candles, flowers, and housewares. You can easily spend a couple of hours here eating, browsing, and people-watching.

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Asilomar State Beach
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Located on Monterey Peninsula, Asilomar State Beach is scenic stretch of sandy coastline offering unparalleled Pacific views. Visitors enjoy the pedestrian Coast Trail, a dog-friendly beach, and self-guided walking tours. This mile-long beach is a local favorite for surfing, and it's a top spot for tide pooling.

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More Things to Do in California

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

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Hearst Castle, perched along California’s Central Coast, is the ostentatious creation of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan. This 90,000-square-foot (8,361-square-meter) estate comprises 165 rooms and 127 acres (51.4 hectares) of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways—all now open to the gawking public.

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Catalina Island

Catalina Island

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Santa Catalina—widely known as just Catalina—is a beautiful Southern California island just off the coast of Los Angeles. With rocky terrain, blue waters, and Mediterranean flair, it’s an idyllic escape from the City of Angels, and hard to believe that it’s only a 1-hour ferry ride away. Catalina’s only small town, Avalon, is home to boutique shopping, oceanfront dining, and harbor views. There are plenty of chances to get in or on the island’s stunning waters as well—if you can drag yourself of off the beach.

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Mist Trail

Mist Trail

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One of the most iconic hikes in Yosemite, the Mist Trail leads hikers to not one, but two of Yosemite's standout waterfalls: Vernal and Nevada Falls. You can reach the Vernal Fall footbridge (the best view of Vernal Fall) in about 1.5 mile (2.6 km) round-trip; be prepared for a three mile (4.8 km) to reach Vernal Fall. The hike isn't difficult if you stop at the footbridge, but if you continue up to Vernal Fall, be prepared for steps cut into the cliff side.

Pushing on to Nevada Fall will take your total up to a seven mile (11 km) round trip, but it's worth it for some of the finest views in all of Yosemite, encompassing Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap, and the back side of Half Dome. You'll get close enough to the falls that you’ll feel the spray kiss your face and clothes, so wear proper clothing and exercise caution when hiking on the slick rocks.

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Lovers Point Park

Lovers Point Park

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Lovers Point Park is a picturesque green space in the heart of Pacific Grove that offers up plenty of outdoor fun, with easy access to ocean waves that are idea for swimming, surfing, kayaking and more. Travelers can rent bikes and cruise along the coastal drive where urban landscapes meet salty sea. Visitors can pack a picnic lunch and relax on stretches of sandy beach or break into a sweat at one of the popular beach volleyball courts. There’s a children’s swimming pool to keep the little ones happy and a lush green lawn is perfect for a game of Frisbee or unwinding in the shade of one of the park’s towering trees.

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Hollywood Hills

Hollywood Hills

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Whether it’s hiking or horseback riding, biking or busing, there are plenty of ways to explore the well-heeled neighborhood of Hollywood Hills. Its famous bright white Hollywood sign has become an iconic California image and its panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley have made it worth venturing outside the city for tourists hoping to capture the perfect sunset picture.

Travelers can climb to the top of Mt. Hollywood or wander through scenic Griffith Park. John Anson Ford Theater, the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Reservoir and Forest Lawn Memorial Park are also popular sites on a visit to this famed high-rent neighborhood, but visitors would do just as well to drive around the quiet streets taking in some of the most classic (and impressive) residential architecture in California.

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Pacific Battleship Center - Battleship IOWA Museum

Pacific Battleship Center - Battleship IOWA Museum

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Once considered the world’s greatest naval ship thanks to its powerful weaponry, heavy armor, and advanced fire control systems, the USS Iowa served the U.S. Navy during World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. Today it’s docked in Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, California.

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Andretti Winery

Andretti Winery

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Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, Andretti Winery was founded by legendary race car driver Mario Andretti. The 42-acre (17-hectare) Tuscan village–style winery is an idyllic setting to sample the variety of wines produced at the vineyard, including red, white, sparkling, dessert, and port.

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Torrey Pines Golf Course

Torrey Pines Golf Course

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Overlooking the Pacific Ocean from the coastal bluffs of La Jolla, Torrey Pines Golf Course is not only a scenic spot to play a round of golf, but also one of the top courses in the country, having hosted the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour since the 1960s, among other tournaments. The municipally owned Torrey Pines is, in fact, home to two 18-hole courses, the north and the south courses, both designed by legendary course architect William P. Bell. Of the two, the south course is the most challenging and in demand among expert golfers; however, hole No. 6 on the north course is Torrey Pines’ signature hole.

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Point Pinos Lighthouse

Point Pinos Lighthouse

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Lighting the way for sailors for more than 150 years, Point Pinos Lighthouse is tucked into the picturesque shoreline of the Monterey Peninsula. The lighthouse still operates today, and its beacon reaches 17 miles out to sea. Visit to take in the scenic location, ocean views, and beautiful lantern room, complete with original lens.

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Embarcadero

Embarcadero

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Acting as both the waterfront and major road along the eastern edge of San Francisco, the Embarcadero stretches from Fisherman’s Wharf to South Beach, passing through some of the city’s most popular destinations. It attracts visitors and locals with its restaurants, bars, hotels, tourist attractions, event spaces, bay cruises and ferries, and a wide pathway for walkers and joggers.

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Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park

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The largest natural island in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island—a California state park—is often overshadowed by the much smaller Alcatraz Island. Yet with an equally interesting history as a West Coast version of Ellis Island, Angel Island also offers hiking, biking, and picnicking, all with views of the San Francisco Bay, city skyline, and Golden Gate Bridge.

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San Francisco Dungeon

San Francisco Dungeon

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The first US version of Europe’s popular dungeon attractions, the San Francisco Dungeon takes you on spooky journey through the city’s gruesome past, from Gold Rush fever to Alcatraz escapes. During this immersive theatrical experience, live actors and special effects bring 200 hundred years of San Francisco’s history to life.

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Fort Point National Historic Site

Fort Point National Historic Site

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Sitting just below the massive Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point is a National Historic Site that once served to defend the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The brick fort can still be explored on foot today, with the opportunity to learn about the area’s history and the fort’s former military use.

The fort was in operation from the Gold Rush era through World War II, a fascinating time in San Francisco’s history. A visit to the site offers extraordinary, close-up views of San Francisco’s most famous landmark — the Golden Gate Bridge. It is one of only three third-system brick forts on the west coast of the United States. Due to its location and protection of the coastline, it is also known as the “Gibraltar of the West.”

Visitors have the chance to explore Civil War era uniforms, weaponry, and historic photographs on display. With its many floors and wide brick arches, it stands as an excellent example of American military architecture.

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Petco Park

Petco Park

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Home to the San Diego Padres major league baseball team, Petco Park opened in 2004, replacing the old Qualcomm Stadium with a new venue whose design reflects San Diego’s coastal setting. Visitors can enjoy modern amenities, views of the city skyline, and even behind-the-scenes tours.

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