Inspiration Destinations USA California Dreaming: 9 Unmissable Experiences in the Golden State 

California Dreaming: 9 Unmissable Experiences in the Golden State 

May 14, 2023

From the champagne sands of the coast to the glittering lights of Los Angeles, discover why they call California The Golden State in partnership with Visit California.

California calls dreamers of all ages looking to experience the trip of a lifetime with its glorious golden beaches, rolling vineyards and laidback coastal cities perfect for road-tripping. With a lifestyle revered the world over, this sun-kissed state beckons those dreaming of a taste of the good life. 

From Disneyland rides with the family to Michelin-starred, celebrity chef restaurants and wine tastings in the Napa Valley, no matter what type of traveller you are, you’re sure to find something you love in sun-soaked, free-spirited California.  

Ready to explore California for yourself? Check out our handpicked California deals here.    

Encounter endless thrills at Disneyland Resort, Anaheim 

Disneyland has a gravitational pull that can only be explained as magic: this enchanting world lights up the eyes and imaginations of kids big and small. Watch as your favourite characters come to life on a parade down Main Street and browse the stores for your perfect pair of Mickey ears. Travel through space on an action-packed Star Wars ride and take the plunge on Splash Mountain as you hop between attractions. When night falls, see the fireworks soar into the sky, illuminating the lofty spires of Cinderella’s Castle.  

Looking for inspiration? Check out Six of the Most Magical Moments at the Disneyland Resort in California

Go vineyard-hopping across Napa Valley  

california dream

There are over 400 wineries that line the sunken pockets of Napa Valley, each with a unique terroir and storied past, offering bottomless tasting opportunities for would-be sommeliers and casual wine enthusiasts alike. The signature Cabernet Sauvignon of the region is best enjoyed with a view, whether that’s among the emerald-coated hills of Cakebread Cellars, beneath the architecturally restored roof of the Louis M. Martini Winery or perched on the porch of a manor house at Stags’ Leap.  

Looking for a Napa Valley escape? Stay at the elegant Silverado Resort and Spa

Discover jaw-dropping nature at Yosemite National Park  

california dream

A walk along any path in Yosemite is met with a blossoming tower of sequoias, rolling valleys and tumbling waterfalls — a sight best seen during the springtime snow melt, that makes a spellbinding backdrop for a brisk hike. Adventure off-season for an intimate look at the flourishing ecosystem of Yosemite with year-round tours and camping, or bait your hook and see what bites on a fishing trip across the park’s stunning waters.  

Surf on legendary waves in Malibu 

california dream

If your holiday would be amiss without testing out the local swells, then Surfrider Beach in Malibu should be first on your list. Honoured as the first World Surfing Reserve, this star-spangled beach city is home to some of California’s most prized waves. The rolling waters have set the scene for several beach flicks, which have sent surfers flocking to Surfrider for its challenging waters and soft sands. After a morning chasing barrels, grab a locally sourced lunch at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe and lap up the glistening beach views. 

Beach-hop along San Diego’s coast  

california dream

Set against the ritzy backdrop of Hotel del Coronado, this stretch of sand is considered one of the USA’s best spots for laying up under the sun. If surfing along rolling waves is more your thing, grab a board and ride along the palm-fringed Swami’s Beach, or picnic on the cliffside and make your way to La Jolla Cove for sunset, to catch a glimpse of the ephemeral green flash. 

Check out our San Diego coastal escapes here.  

Dine at a celebrity-chef restaurant  

Leave dinner in the capable hands of a celebrity chef and taste the flavours of coveted Californian cuisine at one of the state’s many star-studded restaurants. Sample your way through Beverly Hills with an intimate nine-course meal at Curtis Stone’s 24-seat restaurant, the Michelin-starred Maude, savour a caviar-clad pizza in the courtyard of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, or pay a visit to a pioneer of Californian cuisine at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley. 

Go fruit-picking at California’s best farms  

Round the troops for a day out at California’s blossoming fruit and veggie farms. The peak picking season for strawberries, cherries and pumpkins is the months between February and July, plus there are all sorts of farmyard festivities to boot. Pop the kids on a wagon ride through Tanaka Farm in Irvine, sift through ruby-red strawberries at Carlsbad Strawberry Company and navigate through a sunflower maze, or snack on cherries and bring home a fresh jar of raw honey from Villa del Sol. 

Hike across a volcano in Oakland  

california dream

Mount Round Top in Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is the lava-formed remnant of a 10-million-year-old extinct volcano, sitting over 1500ft at its peak, with sweeping views of the Oakland Hills. There are plenty of hiking trails to follow such as the Round Top Loop Trail that offers panoramic views of the Bay Area and paths that meander through man-made rock-lined labyrinths.  

Go mountain-biking in Los Angeles 

California dream

Los Angeles’ hilly terrain has no shortage of breathtaking scenery and where there is a mountaintop vista to be admired, a winding bike trail is right there to take it all in. Follow the locals’ tread marks down the long-loved Backbone Trail to catch a glimpse of Tinseltown from new heights, and breathe in the crisp Pacific Ocean breeze while racing down the Portuguese Bend Reserve Loop, lapping up the stunning greenery and sparkling sea views. 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out Stay & Play in LA: Your Ultimate Guide to Three Days in the City of Angels

About Sofia Calvert
Travel and lifestyle writer → born in Australia, raised in Asia and the South Pacific. Loves craft cocktails and long walks to the hotel pool.

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