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Trip to California for the first time

New York, NY
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Trip to California for the first time

My boyfriend and I want to plan a trip to California...very broad I know. I've never been before and want to get the most out of spending a week there. I was leaning towards the Bay area but theres just so much going on there and everywhere else I really don't know where to begin. I'd like to see different towns sample food, visit wine country. We'd like to experience as much as possible without breaking the bank and we wouldn't want to overwhelm ourselves either. Does anyone have suggestions like what in your opinion are the top 3 cities to go to and the best times of the year to go. I feel like if I at least have 2 or 3 areas it would be easier to plan. Thanks in advance for any suggestions anyone can provide.

Redlands, California
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1. Re: Trip to California for the first time

My suggestion would be to pick North or South depending on your particular interests--either half can easily fill up a week. Although I live in SoCal I love the Bay area and the wine country in Napa/Sonoma/Mendocino is of course superior to the more southerly regions (although Paso Robles/Santa Ynez aren't chopped liver). Drive up to Muir Woods to see the redwoods, or perhaps visit the redwoods on the way to Monterey for a night or two, or even venture as far as Big Sur for maximum beauty. . .

also a world-class aquarium in Monterey.

For that area I would pick early fall.

In the more southern area. San Diego of course has the Zoo (new panda cub!) and Wild Animal Park with the option of a visit to Tijuana if that interests you--gorgeous and scenic beaches in the area. (Also a mini-wine country in the Temecula Valley nearby.) Again, fall is best as springs can be overcast and damp near the coast, while midsummer can be very busy. (But temperate.)

Los Angeles is a wonderful city but it can be overwhelming (although as a New Yorker you could probably handle it). Avoid midsummer as it can get very hot and smoggy (although it is improving). If you choose Southern California you might also consider a visit to the Palm Springs area for a real change of scene--for example the Aerial Tramway up the mountains!

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2. Re: Trip to California for the first time

CA is a gigantic state with a diverse geography/topography. Three areas in just one week is even alot. If you did southern CA you could do San Diego, LA & Santa Barbara including the wine country of the area all the way to Santa Ynez.

Northern CA is SF, wine counrty of Napa/Sonoma and then maybe Monterey.


Tahoe, the wine country of El Dorado plus the fab Zins of Amador and then Yosemite.

West Hollywood...
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for Los Angeles
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3. Re: Trip to California for the first time

Go to your library and check out a travel guide on California. Popular ones are:



DK Eyewitness (my favorite)

Let's Go

Good luck!

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Trip to California for the first time

There is the California in which we live. It's about a thousand miles long and about two hundred miles wide. Within it are many Californias of legend and lore. The California in your mind might be the one you should visit. Describe it to us and we'll tell you where, and when, to find it.

Vienna, Austria
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5. Re: Trip to California for the first time

I would start in either San Francisco or L.A and drive up/down Highway No. 1 along the coast. which is just awesome!

Uden, The...
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6. Re: Trip to California for the first time

For a first visit and one week I would fly San Francisco, drive along the coast to Monterey and Cambria, go inland to Yosemite and return to San Francisco via Napa. This will easily fill your week.

I also think early fall is fantastic but also went april/may. Nothing wrong with that either esp. for Yosemite.


Topanga, California
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7. Re: Trip to California for the first time

Tijuana should not interst you:


8. Re: Trip to California for the first time

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