Jaw-dropping national parks, spectacular coastlines, jazz-age glamour and high-tech buzz: dive into the heart of the American dream.
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The Golden State
California is a magnet for dreamers. Epitomising an all-consuming sense of wanderlust, there is nothing as liberating than spending your vacation driving along California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway with the windows down and salty air whipping through your hair.
California’s awe-inspiring landscapes create an epic backdrop where you can take a road trip from San Diego to San Francisco and get into a Big Sur state of mind or cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and sip world-class wines in Sonoma in a weekend. As night falls, get lost amongst the stunning desert stars in Joshua Tree National Park or take in the Hollywood sign glowing bright over LA’s skyline. Thrill seekers can get their kicks at theme parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and Legoland!
It’s easy to understand why travellers flock to California as a holiday destination: the majestic Golden State is a never-ending source of adventure, where all dreams are welcome. Throw in an abundance of fresh seafood, some of the best Mexican fare in the country, famed wine regions and craft beer for days and you have a truly memorable trip.
Best Time to Visit California
Spanning from the balmy border of Mexico to the cooler edge of Oregon, there is reason to visit California at any time of the year. Your interests, budget and bucket-list activities will influence the time of year you visit.
Peak season typically falls between June – August; where the crowds are buzzing, attractions are swarming, and accommodation prices soar. We recommend visiting outside these months when the weather—and crowds—are milder.
Water babies should head to the sun-soaked coast from August – October when peak tourist season is on the decline and temperatures sit at a comfortable 25 – 28 degrees Celsius. It’s a great time to visit San Francisco and see the sights without the crowds.
Yosemite National Park and northern California are best visited in Spring—from March to May—when the days cooler and the skies are blue; making it the ultimate hiking weather and setting the scene for the most striking of photo ops.
California Weather & Temperature
With a Mediterranean-like climate, summers tend to be dry and winters average to be mild yet consistently wet.
Dry Season: Summer
Advantages: It’s the perfect temperature to hit the waves along California’s famous West Coast. Summer also brings low humidity, so outdoor activities at high elevations – such as hiking and bouldering in Yosemite National Park– or swimming and kayaking in forest-shaded areas are popular.
Disadvantages: As California’s busiest season you should expect crowds, queuing for attractions at top places like Disneyworld and prices for accommodation and airfares will be be higher than usual.
Wet Season: Winter
Advantages: If you’re a snow bunny—and California boasts some pretty spectacular ski regions like South Lake Tahoe, —you can find powder-coated mountains between November and March. Often associated with summer, the winter playground of California is just as spectacular.
Disadvantages: Hiking and exploring mountainous regions like Yosemite National Park, Tahoe National Forest and Eldorado National Forest can be chilly with night temperatures often dropping below zero.
Attractions & Things to Do in California
California is so diverse and offers many iconic, bucket-list experiences. From tasting your way through the west coast’s gourmet food and wine trail and world-class restaurants, to discovering a winter wonderland, there are so many reasons to visit California. Nature lovers can discover the striking playground of Yosemite National Park, city explorers can uncover San Francisco’s most spectacular lookouts and wine buffs can uncover the seemingly-endless vineyards. Star spotting in LA is must-do when visiting California –and movie buffs can experience Hollywood where the magic of the silver screen comes to life.
Rent a convertible and cruise the famed, water-hugging Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco; experiencing the rugged beauty of Big Sur, charm of quaint Santa Barbara and fresh seafood of Monterey along the way.
Best Restaurants & Places to Eat in California
From San Diego’s famous Baja fish tacos at Carnitas Las Michoacanas to the best vegan restaurants in California, the diversity of dishes found in California rival any other American state. Indulge in farm-to-table excellence in Yosemite National Park, waterfront dining in San Francisco or our favourite local restaurants in Palm Springs.
California Visa: Do I Need One?
When travelling internationally, a visa may be required to the destination you are visiting. It is each traveller’s responsibility to ensure they are holding a current visa. Please take the time to visit our preferred vendor website Visa’s Direct to assist you with any visa application requirements and processes.
Australians visiting America for less than 90 days require an ESTA document and a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining.
Please ensure that you have a current passport before travelling. Your passport needs an accurate photo and should be valid for at least six months after you are scheduled to return home. It should also have at least two blank pages left for passport stamps.
Allow plenty of time if you need to send your passport to the Passport Office for renewal, particularly prior to peak travel periods.
All travellers, especially honeymooners, should ensure that names in passports are those given out on the booking form. Airline tickets must be booked in the same name that appears on your passport.
It is useful to carry photo ID with you at all times, so get several good quality photocopies. This also makes replacing a lost passport easier.
Government Travel Advice
The safety of our travellers is the utmost importance. With your safety in mind, we monitor world events very closely, however we recommend visiting the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smart Traveller website to stay informed.