Focus on Los Angeles. Yes, the stars live in Los Angeles - Demi Moore eating at The Ivy, Jack Nicholson cheering at a Lakers basketball game, Jennifer Aniston on the beach - and they live here for the same reasons you visit: great leisure opportunities, exciting events and camera-ready ocean sunsets.
Surf, Sun, Stars. Have fun at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, then explore Beverly Hills, lush vineyards and beautiful beaches. Santa Monica, Malibu, The Getty Center Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood.
Hot LA Nights. Sunset Strip: The concentration of hot clubs makes this major route one of the best places to hear top-quality live music in the region. For over 50 years, the Troubadour has attracted great performers such as James Taylor and Elton John; it's a fun place to catch up-and-coming acts as well as big-name stars.
Best Theme Parks. Say "hi" to Mickey and friends and feel the magic of Anaheim's Disneyland Park, especially at night when it lights up with parades and fireworks. Next-door at Disney's California Adventure, take a simulated hang glider tour in Soarin' Over California or ride the adrenalin-pumping The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Friendly San Diego. See dolphins, polar bears and exciting shows, before enjoying entertaining amusement-park rides at SeaWorld. Stroll through the hip gaslamp Quarter for outdoor dining and nightclubs. Parents, let the kids play at The New Children's Museum, with interactive exhibits, then enjoy romantic skyline views, steaks and seafood at the Island Prime restaurant.
San Diego County. San Diego County is blessed with undeniable riches and the perfect climate to enjoy them. Outdoor enthusiasts can snorkel, go mountain biking or play golf. Wildlife is another big part of the region's allure, with some of the world's best zoos and wild animal facilities open all year-round, migrating whales off the coast from late December to March and hawks soaring in the sky throughout the year.
Orange County. With miles of sun-kissed beaches and some of the world's best-loved theme parks, it's no surprise that Orange County makes it onto most visitors' must-see lists. With Disneyland Park, Disney's California Adventure Park and Knott's Berry Farm all within the region, "OC" makes a fantastic family destination.
Catalina's Charms. With its exotic island setting, sweeping ocean views and almost unlimited activities, it's easy to see why Catalina Island has beguiled visitors for generations. Take an express sea shuttle 22mi/35km across the sparkling Pacific, and then relax in the town of Avalon, a hamlet rich in movie-star history and romance.
8 Perfect Beaches. With hundreds of miles of coastline, it's not surprising that there's no shortage of beaches along the edge of the Pacific. Here are eight favorites, listed north (colder water but wildly beautiful) to south (warm waves and bronzed bodies).
Inland Empire. With spectacular peaks and dramatic deserts, the Inland Empire region of Southern California is home to great contrasts, beauty and experiences. To the north, nestling along the aptly named rim of the World Scenic Byway, the San Bernardino Mountain communities of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake provide alpine playgrounds where you can fish, sail and cycle in summer.
LA north to mountain. Visit world-class museums, such as the new and dazzling Broad Contemporary Art Museum, at the los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art complex where you can view over 15,000 works. tour the soaring, stainless-steel Walt disney Concert hall (home of the los Angeles Philharmonic). For great fashion finds, explore the LA.
Desert. Running along the eastern edge of California for roughly half its length, the state's strikingly beautiful deserts are enigmatic and surprisingly varied. to the northeast is death Valley National Park, home to the lowest spot in the Western hemisphere. Fewer than 100mi/161km southeast is the high-desert terrain of Mojave National Preserve, a major recreation area.
Romancing the Desert. A romantic escape means reducing the world to just two people. Where better to do that than the desert? At Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, you're surrounded by 600,000 acres of, well, almost nothing. But the nothing that is there is truly spectacular and it offers the perfect framework for romance.
Central Coast castles. At the Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero, enjoy a culinary wonderland, with organic produce and excellent dining. In the Presidio, stretch your legs along the bay front from Crissy Field to Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge. Downtown, check out over 200 stores at Westfield San Francisco.
Central Coast. From the stunning array of aquatic life around Monterey to the range of rare wildlife on the pristine Channel Islands, the Central Coast is a nature lover's heaven and enough to keep any visitor entranced. Other destinations beckon too, such as the opulent Hearst Castle, situated roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
California Winery. A visit to California's beautiful wineries can go far beyond sipping wines. Here are just some of the special events and activities throughout California. Winery tasting rooms are open daily: holiday schedules may vary.