Yosemite National Park is a great travel destination both for the backpacker and the entire family. Weather you love to backpack for days or you just enjoy day hikes with your family, Yosemite National Park has something for everyone. I have visited Yosemite many times and each time I have done something completely different and fun. However, if you’re visiting for the first time there are some things you must see.
A dry season in California creates new beaches on Big Bear Lake. This picture from September 2004 shows lots of white sand on the shores of this beautiful lake. You can also notice the dry vegetation. If you know Big Bear, you will notice that this green is very dry compared with the normal bright green that you normally see in Big Bear throughout the year.
We took advantage of the 2Fer ticket for Southern California residents when we visited Disneyland on Easter weekend. So, two weeks after visiting Disneyland during Spring Break, we came back to visit California Adventure for FREE ! This was a great deal indeed. The simple fact that we came after Spring Break made our experience a lot better than what we went through when visiting Disneyland.
Solvang is a quiet little town, with an European reputation even though it is located in the heart of California. There are many small towns scattered all over California, but Solvang is much different than all other small towns. Danish and Dutch early settlers in California were determined to maintain their heritage in everything they did and most of all in everything they built. From shops and restaurants to office building have all been built in Danish style.
I went with my daughter to Point Mugu Beach. She really wanted to go see “sharks” at the beach. So, we did go to the beach but didn’t see any sharks…which was good. We did see lots of pelicans and one sea lion swimming very close to shore. That was really cool! I decided that we could go to the Point Mugu beach since we haven’t gone there in a long time. We had a great time !
If you live in Southern California, snow is a rare occurrence. If you don’t make some extra effort, your children might grow up not knowing what snow is. However, one of the greatest things about living in Southern California is that pretty much everyone lives within a few hours from the beach and within a few hours from the snow. I love snow and I love to take my family to play in the snow at least once a year…and it doesn’t take much effort. While, everyone knows about the big Southern California ski resorts, there is very little information available about places where you can take small kids so that they can simply play in the snow. Read on to find out about my favorite Southern California snow places for children.
We have visited UCLA in the winter on a sunny December day. Even though the day was short, we had a great time. I always like visiting the UCLA campus, regardless if it’s summer or winter, school day or weekend…I just love it. Maybe it’s because I graduated from UCLA myself…yeah it’s because of that. However, I believe anyone can enjoy visiting the campus for a day, including your children.
I am finally able to put together a gallery of travel pictures for Santa Barbara Zoo. We have visited a couple of times since the beginning of the year and we loved it every time. We just love visiting Santa Barbara Zoo…I think it’s the greatest day trip for small children in Southern California. If you haven’t visited this place, then make it a point to visit it. You will not be disappointed. Read my travel destination guide for Santa Barbara Zoo. See more pictures
Disneyland is called the “happiest place on earth”…at least that’s how the Disney company calls it. A place of magic and wonder where Mickey Mouse is the king. I usually visit Disneyland only when relatives or friends out of town come and visit California. Disneyland is a must see attraction for Southern California, so we’ve got to take our friends when they come to visit. This time however, was very special because I took my wife and my daughter to visit and it was their first time visiting Disneyland. I think it’s pretty cool to take people to Disneyland especially if they’ve never been there before. I wouldn’t say that this place was very happy…especially because of the crowds…but it was very nice and entertaining for sure.
This is an article that I wanted to write for a long time. It is a bit long, maybe that’s why I took such a long time to write. However, this is our favorite Southern California tour. When we have friends and family visiting from outside of California we always take them on this tour because they get to see some of the best tourist sites in SoCal. Yeah, it’s true, this tour doesn’t include Disneyland, Universal Studios or Sea World, but those are attractions that anyone would know about. Our tour hits the best things to see in SoCal apart from amusement parks. The best thing about this tour is that it can be done in one day…a full day that is.
Whenever people talk about Sequoia National Park they mention the Sequoia trees that made the park famous. But Sequoia National Park is home to many other natural attractions. Yes it’s true that the big trees are the main attraction and they will produce awe in everyone looking at them, but when you combine these amazing trees with the spectacular views and incredible hiking trails you get…an amazingly spectacular and incredible place ! That’s Sequoia National Park.
When I mention King’s Canyon National Park, quite a few people ask where that is. This is very different than when talking about Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks..everyone knows about these two places. Even though King’s Canyon is a lot less popular, it is a great place to visit and just like Sequoia, it is a backpacker and hiker’s paradise. There is not much to see if just want to drive there, but if you want to hike, then this is a great place.
Pinnacles National Park is not very well known Park because it is the newest. This is a good thing especially in California where the national parks get very busy starting with the spring are become very difficult to visit getting very busy with tourists. Pinnacles National Park was very easy to visit since they were not that many people even on a Saturday. Our children enjoyed two great hikes which were also a lot of fun.
Avila Beach is another hidden jewel of the California Central Coast. It is hidden in the San Luis Obispo Bay and if you don’t go there on purpose, you will never see it. Avila Beach is well hidden from the 101 freeway by a beautiful forest and some very tall hills. These hills provide amazing views of the ocean and of San Luis Obispo Bay. For now, I’m only posting a few pictures from Avila beach but pretty soon I’ll post my detailed Avila Beach travel guide. Enjoy my pictures from Avila Beach for now.
Hearst Castle is one of the few buildings in America that bears the name “Castle”. We just don’t have castles here like they have in Europe. Castles are a thing of the past and especially in California we don’t have old buildings except for the few old missions that are scattered along the coast. I know I am exaggerating a little but not too much. So, just the name Hearst Castle becomes interesting almost immediately to the tourist.
Back in September we have visited the Sacramento area and we got to visit the State Capitol, Old Sacramento and Folsom Old Powerhouse. We had a great time in Sacramento even though there were a couple of days that were very hot and humid. Those days made us very thankful we live pretty close to the ocean and we never have to deal with this much humidity.
When it comes snow play areas, Northern California has a lot more choices than Southern California. Even for small children, both commercial and non-commercial snow play areas are pretty abundant. Most Northern California ski resorts do have official snow play or snow tubing areas, so it becomes a lot easier to just take you kids along with you while you ski or snowboard. Read on to find some official and non-official snow play areas
Driving in for the very first time to Lake Tahoe is quite an experience. The road is winding through the mountains and suddenly after many bends in the road, we got to see the Lake Tahoe basin…it is huge. We heard that the lake is very large, but when you see it from the road in one of the many vista points, the lake is indeed huge. Once at Lake Tahoe, everyone told us to drive to Emerald Bay. We did drive to Emerald Bay and hiked down to the lake. This is a splendid place. Read on to find out the details.
We have recently taken a day trip to Silverwood Lake and Wrightwood here in Southern California. While these destinations are practically unknown to tourists, they are popular for the local people. They are perfect travel destinations for a day trip on a sunny day (which are plenty in Southern California). Water, nature and maybe…snow will make a great weekend Southern California trip.
Yesterday I wrote about Big Sur and I couldn’t resist writing immediately about Monterey. For one thing if you have driven all the way to the small town of Big Sur you can might as well drive to Carmel and then a little further to Monterey. If you have the time to do this drive, you will be rewarded by gorgeous scenery on the 17 mile drive and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In addition you will get to experience an old town feeling when walking on the Old Canery Road.
I love Southern California and in particular I love all the small beach towns on the way to San Diego from Los Angeles. They have clean beaches and the water is much warmer than Los Angeles and Ventura beaches. San Juan Capistrano is one of these small beach towns along the Southern California coast. It is small but clean and quiet. Wonderful weather and proximity to the Pacific Ocean make San Juan Capistrano a truly delightful beach town. In addition to the clean beaches, San Juan Capistrano boasts one of the twenty seven old California Missions.
Frazier Park’s Mount Pinos is probably the closest place for unorganized and free snow play in the Los Angeles area. Whether you live in Los Angeles County or Ventura County you can usually get to Mt Pinos in about two hours. There are a few beautiful unorganized snow play areas around the Frazier Park/Mount Pinos area. Read on to see my favorite snow play areas around Mt. Pinos.
When people think about California they do not think about mysteries. California brings different thoughts: sun, ocean, surfing, Hollywood but nobody is immediately thinking of mystery when they hear the word California. This does not mean that there is nothing mysterious about California. Alabama Hills is one place where mystery and Hollywood converge.
Yosemite Valley is the place where you can get some great views of the sourrounding mountain peaks you can also experience some great hiking in Yosemite. Most of the hiking trails in Yosemite lead you far from the Yosemite Valley floor, but there are some easier hikes that can be easily accessed from the Valley. The easiest and most popular hike is the Mirror Lake hike. This is by far the easiest trail in Yosemite. Mirror Lake changes dramatically with the changes of seasons at Yosemite. The views you get to see at Mirror Lake all depend on when you hike this trail.
We recently took our first day trip to Catalina Island in the summer. Even though we live somewhat close to the boat dock to Catalina we have never traveled there until recently. After having recently visited the French and Italian Rivieras, Catalina Island was surprisingly similar. Really? In California? Where you have to work so hard to find anything older than 100 years? What could California possibly offer that is comparable with Italy’s famous Tuscany ? Well, Catalina Island surprised us and it will surprise you!
As holidays approach plans are underway in most of the people’s mind on which destination they want to visit. The best place to be where you can have fun in a beach is the Pismo state beach where you will also enjoy bird watching which is a popular activity there. In the US it’s the park which has the largest over – wintering colony of Monarch butterflies. The park is located in the town of Oceano off Highway 1.
Point Dume in Malibu, California is a very small place. It doesn’t really come up in conversations about California except for those who live in Southern California. Point Dume is a favorite place for locals especially in the winter months because it is right on the migration path for gray and blue whales as they travel north to Alaska. Between January and April, Point Dume is one of the few spots on the land where you can actually get to see some whales in addition to dolphins and other sea creatures.
The Getty Center in Los Angeles is an amazing place. We were finally able to visit this place and be transported for a few hours in the heart of Europe. This was not because of the architecture of the buildings because they are very American and very modern. But the art on display at the Getty Center was amazing. We got to see Manet, Monet, Renoir and even a very rare sketch by Da Vinci. Read more to see some of my pictures from the Getty Center.
If you want to get a taste of traditional California countryside, then Edna Valley is the right place for you. Located just a short drive up the hill from the ocean, Edna Valley is a peaceful and beautiful region in the California Central Coast area. While not boasting any famous California tourist attractions or landmarks, Edna Valley is home to several famous California wineries as well as several typical California horse ranches.
Lots to see in Palm Springs and the surrounding areas. If you make sure you don’t visit Palm Springs after middle of May and before middle of September, you will have a great time in the Palm Springs area. If you come during the summer, you will be confined inside your hotel where the air conditioner will make the temperature bearable.
La Purisima Mission is one of the 27 California missions that line up the California coast from south to north. Located in Lompoc, La Purisima is actually a state park and it has been extensively reconstructed to better capture the feel of the Mission times. With lots of things to offer for the entire family, La Purisima Mission Park is a great tourist stop for the California traveler. Read on to find out what is worth seeing at La Purisima.
There are many beach towns in California, but Pismo Beach has the perfect location to make it one of the best beach towns in California. With clean and quiet beaches and lots of things to see and do, Pismo Beach is probably one of my favorite beach destinations. Read along to find out more about my experience at Pismo Beach.
We wanted to go to the beach one weekend and we decided to go to Point Mugu since we haven’t been there in a long time. Since I have forgotten to take cash with me, I couldn’t park at the state beach and ended up parking right next to the Mugu Rock and then went down to a small rock beach nearby. We ended up having a great time and saw a sea lion and lots of pelicans. My daughter loved the trip.
I think everyone must visit their state capitol at least once in their lifetime. I believe it is important to see where laws affecting your state are being created, debated and approved. This is the place that is mostly affected by our votes. Granted, you might not like politicians and politics but usually state capitols are places full of history. This is also the case at the California State Capitol in Sacramento.
The mountains around San Luis Obispo Bay area hide Avila Beach very well. But if you’re willing to get off the beaten path and get off the freeway you will be rewarded greatly with stunning views of the ocean and a relaxed atmosphere in one of the little known California beach towns. Avila Beach, California is the perfect beach town. It’s small, clean and simply beautiful!
Buellton is a small town north of Santa Barbara, California. It is right next to the 101 freeway and it provides very easy access to the California central coast area. However, there is not much to see and do in Buellton itself, but the area around Buellton is full of natural beauty and tourist attractions. We really enjoyed Buellton as a stop on our drive from Pismo Beach back to Southern California. Read more to find out about Buellton, California.
If there is one place that children always like to visit it is the zoo. No matter how small or large, any zoo is a cool place for children. Animals are just very interesting for children. However, if on top of that you add the ocean and a wonderful sunny climate then you get the greatest place for children to visit. Well, there is such a place and it’s called the Santa Barbara, Zoo. Santa Barbara Zoo is one of my favorite family destination of all the Southern California.
Yosemite National Park has many many options for the hiker. You can do a short or long hike, you can do an easy, intermediate or difficult hike. You choose and Yosemite delivers. My most favorite intermediate hike is taking the Mist Trail and going up Vernal and Nevada Falls and coming back on the John Muir Trail. This is where I take friends who come for the first time to Yosemite National Park. It is a beautiful trail.
Oso Flaco Lake is a hidden natural gem. Oso Flaco lake is hidden in the Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve and it is surrounded by farm land. Situated about 30 minutes south of Pismo Beach and about 10 minutes north of the small town of Guadelupe, Oso Flaco Lake is hard to find. There is only one small street sign on Cabrillo Highway. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will definitely miss it. Once you get to the sign there is another five to ten minutes drive through farm lands until you get to the Oso Flaco park. But what a beautiful place Oso Flaco Lake is! It is nestled among sand dunes and the state has built a beautiful walkway that goes almost over the entire lake. Then you can continue walking all the way to the ocean. You get an amazing view at the end of the walkway. It’s just a beautiful place!
On the way down from Tuolomne Meadows in upper Yosemite to the Yosemite Valley…a great day for hiking…we even got some snow thanks to the snow clouds in the picture.
If you’re visiting California you must’ve heard of Malibu…stars, expensive homes, beaches…just beautiful. But what is there to visit besides beaches? Are there any other tourist spots? I found two…actually two in one. The Malibu Lagoon Park…beautiful beach, surfers, lots of wildlife and the beautiful Adamson House…talk about attraction concentration!
I call this the “Pajama Parade” because parade participants come dressed in their everyday clothes even their pajamas sometimes. Even though it has improved over the years, this is not the “Rose Parade” with fancy floats and carefully selected marching bands. The Camarillo Christmas Parade is a parade for the community; it’s a great feeling to see people you know walking in the parade.
Big Sur is an area on the coast of California, roughly in between San Simeon to the south and the little town of Big Sur to the north. It is not clearly defined and many people refer to different places when talking about Big Sur. Some talk about the Point Sur light house while some talk about the Julia Pfeiffer Burns park. Regardless of the proper definition of Big Sur, this area of the California Coast boasts some breathtaking views of the Pacific coast.
Santa Barbara, California is the setting for many movies and soap operas. Beautiful beaches, rich people, movie stars and lots and lots of shopping. No wonder, Santa Barbara has become a real tourist attraction especially during the weekends. It is very rare for American cities to cater to the weekend traveler and the tourist, but Santa Barbara has made tourism a priority.
As I think of mysterious places in California, Alcatraz Island comes to mind right away. The scene of many movies and known as “The Rock”, Alcatraz Island is a mysterious place. It is so close to shore and yet far enough. It’s interesting to read about the escape attempts that have made Alcatraz Island famous…history has not recorded any successful escape attempts. All those that have at least made it into the water have drowned on their way to the San Francisco coast. Enveloped in mystery and many times in fog, Alcatraz Island attracts the visitor.
Silverwood Lake in Hesperia California is well known for many things: great picnic areas, stunning natural beauty and amazing fishing. We only got to stop at a vista point overlooking the lake. I wish we would have had more time to visit the lake this time. I have only visited Silverwood Lake once before…a few years ago and I was impressed by how blue and clean the water was. See more pictures. Also you can read my travel destination guide for Silverwood Lake and Wrightwood.
We visited the Sacramento Capitol park when we visited the actual State Capitol building. We didn’t rush to get inside the building but took our time to see the flowers and trees that are everywhere in the park. It was very hot outside in Sacramento that day but the abundant vegetation in park kept us a little cooler and we enjoyed our visit a lot more because of that.
While visiting the State Capitol and asking around what else to see around the State Capitol we were told to go see Old Sacramento. We listened and figured out quickly where we had to go and we didn’t regret it. It was definitely not as exciting as the State Capitol but we loved strolling by the river and looking at old Wild West type of buildings. Should you visit Old Sacramento? Read on to find out.
We finally got to visit Lake Tahoe, California. Both my wife and I were dreaming about being able to visit Lake Tahoe for a long long time. With a toddler and a newborn we kept thinking that it will be a while before we could enjoy some time at Lake Tahoe. However, in the middle of September, we attended a wedding for some good friends of ours in Sacramento and then we decided to go visit Lake Tahoe since it’s only one hour away from Sacramento. It was well worth the effort. There is a lot to write about Lake Tahoe, but for now enjoy only the Lake Tahoe photo galleries.
Every year the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California puts on the best show. Entitled the Tournament of Roses, this amazing parade is all about flowers and in particular about roses. We always wanted to go to the Rose Parade, but with two small children coming out in the very early hours of the morning just to get a somewhat decent seat, is out of the question. So, we opted to come see the floats in what is called the Post Parade event where you come admire the floats that have been parked on a couple of wide streets. Is it really worth it? Well, read on to find out.
We visited San Francisco a few times and we loved it every time. This time however it was in December and it was raining hard and the San Francisco Bay was covered in thick fog. We ended up mostly driving around but we were still able to walk around Fisherman Wharf area and enjoy the sites. San Francisco is spectacular despite the rain. Read on to find out the main tourist attractions in downtown San Francisco.
Pismo Beach is one of those hidden tourist jewels that is within easy reach but bypassed many times by tourists. The California coast is just beautiful off the 101 freeway in the Pismo Beach area. The fact that many larger tourist attractions like San Luis Obisbo and Hearst Castle are so close, most tourists just pass by Pismo Beach on their way up north. What a mistake! Pismo Beach is just an amazing stop even if you have only few hours to spare. Pretty soon I’ll post my detailed Pismo Beach travel guide, but for now enjoy more pictures from Pismo Beach.
The sand dunes around Pismo Beach are barren and suitable only for ATVs and “four wheelin”. However, there is one natural gem, hidden right between sand dunes. This gem is a fresh water lake called Oso Flaco Lake. Oso Flaco means Skinny Bear in Spanish. Oso Flaco Lake was discovered by Spanish conquistadors way back in the 19th century while they were scouting the California coast. Today, Oso Falco Lake has been turned into a well preserved and well cared for park which is very surprising to the visitor.
If you snooze, you lose…goes the saying! Indeed, if you’re driving on the 101 freeway around the Pismo Beach area and you miss the Avila Beach Drive exit, then you lose a hidden jewel on the California Central Coast. But if you’re willing to get off the beaten path and get off the freeway you will be rewarded greatly with stunning views of the ocean and a relaxed atmosphere in one of the little known California spots. Port San Luis, California is the perfect hidden jewel of the Central California Coast. It’s small, clean and simply beautiful!
California Coast has many beautiful beaches. It does however have a very rugged and dramatic face as well in some places. Shell Beach is one of these places where the dramatic and rugged nature of the California coast is being displayed on a large scale. In addition, Shell Beach is somewhat special because in the middle of this rugged coastline, you have access to a few small and secluded beaches surrounded by large and impressive rocks. Shell Beach makes for a special beach experience. Read on and find out how to see all this dramatic beauty.
Sometimes when traveling you get to witness amazing things that you were not planning to see at all. This is what happened to me when going to the beach again at Point Mugu State Beach in California. I have brought some relatives of ours to the beach since they have not been in this part of the state. When we got there, we noticed that the waves were pretty rough and very loud (about 10 feet high). The water was breaking very close to shore, which made it pretty hard for us to enjoy the water. Eventually we decided to head back home since we couldn’t really play in the water much.
I have visited both Disneyland and California Adventure a number of times over the last 20 years and can clearly say that both parks have become much busier over the years. This busy-ness translates in very long wait times for most of the attractions. This also means that you cannot really see every attraction in one day…no matter what day of the year you go. However, there are some simple things you can do in order to avoid the peak visiting times and enjoy your visit to Disneyland a lot more. Read more to find three simple rules for avoiding the busiest times at Disneyland.
I usually take every chance I get to go to Yosemite National Park. My cousin from Switzerland came to visit us and he agreed to go see Yosemite National Park for two days. Even though he lives next to the Swiss Alps, he still enjoyed the hikes and views in Yosemite. I’ll write more about visiting Yosemite, but for now enjoy the travel pictures from Yosemite: Vernal and Nevada falls, Yosemite falls and an older gallery containing Tuolumne Meadows.
Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite tourist attractions in California. I usually take every chance I get to go visit this beautiful National Park. As it happens, Yosemite is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole state of California, so it’s a busy place. There are many places to stay in or close to Yosemite, but most of them are very expensive. For a few years now I have been staying at the Yosemite Bug since it’s close to Yosemite and very affordable. I had the privilege to ask Yosemite Bug owner Dough Shaw some questions about his own rustic mountain resort and why is it a popular place with Yosemite National Park visitors.
People who visit Yosemite National Park for the first time are usually overwhelmed by the amount of information that’s available about Yosemite. After all the reading many first time visitors to Yosemite still ask the basic questions: So what are the main tourist attractions in Yosemite National Park? What are the must-see places? Wouldn’t it be cool to talk to someone local to Yosemite and just ask him? That’s what I did! I had the privilege to ask Douglas Shaw this very questions: what are the main tourist attractions in Yosemite National Park? And he was very gracious to answer quite a few more questions. Read on to find out the best places to visit in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park is my favorite California Park. I go there every time I get a chance. Most of the times I visit Yosemite National Park in the early summer or spring. This is usually the best time to see the waterfalls at full capacity. But how about the winter? I got a chance to visit Yosemite National Park in mid-November and while there was not much water in the waterfalls, I enjoyed the different colors of the trees due to changing seasons. One of my favorite trails in Yosemite National Park is the Yosemite Falls trail. Read on to find out about my experience hiking this trail and to see some great pictures.
If you come close to Emerald Bay then you should take the trail down to Emerald Bay from the Vikingsholm parking lot up above. You get many benefits from hiking down. You not only get great exercise, but you get to experience beautiful views of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island. And yes, you will get a chance to visit the beautiful Vikingsholm castle.
Lake Tahoe has some great beaches. Kings Beach is one of them. We found Kings beach a great place for a family beach day. Fine sand, shallow water and crystal clear water. There are also lots of great places to eat which adds to the fun. We visited Kings Beach in the middle of September and it was hot. Being able to sit on the beach and relax was great for our family.
After relaxing on the beach and having lunch at Kings Beach, we drove back down through Nevada on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. Sand Harbor looked like a really nice place to spend the afternoon. So we did stop and we continued our relaxation into the afternoon and evening. According to the Nevada park service, Sand Harbor is the most popular, with sandy beaches, a boat launch, picnicking and group use facilities. Yep, the sandy beaches is definitely true…and much more.
Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular attractions in California. It is mostly known as one of the best winter resorts in the world. However, Lake Tahoe is a great family vacation spot in the summer as well. We found Lake Tahoe to be very relaxing and family friendly. My family found great things to see and we enjoyed the beautiful views and places to visit. This article contains our favorite places to visit in Lake Tahoe.
Traveling in California takes a long time. Probably it’s a general statement that applies to the whole of United States, but particularly to Southern California. Whenever we have to travel from Southern California to Northern California we take into account hours of travel…it’s pretty much a day if you count stopping to eat some food and getting out of the car to stretch your legs. If you throw some young children into the mix, then the equation gets a little more complicated. However, there are a few things to do that make the trip to Northern California a little more bearable.