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Things to Do in California

With the Pacific Ocean to its west, discover panoramic views, scenic drives around Monterey and great beaches, like those near Santa Monica Pier. San Francisco with its cable cars, hills and great restaurants lies south of the Napa Valley wine area. Los Angeles is home to Chinatown, while Hollywood is movie stars. Tour a studio or visit attractions like Anaheim’s Disneyland.  Mountains are the setting for Lake Tahoe. To the south, find deserts and Palm Springs’ resorts. San Diego’s Balboa Park has tons of things to do. Discover the state’s Spanish missions, as well as gold rush era. National parks include Redwoods, Yosemite and Death Valley. Hotels run the gamut from bed and breakfasts to hotels and inns.
Things To & DoVacation Ideas

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

47225 Highway 1
Big Sur, California
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, a 1,006-acre park, is home to redwood groves, the 60-foot Pfeiffer waterfall, hiking trails - one that has views of the coast, and the Big Sur River. During the summer the park offers campfire programs and guided nature walks.
Hours & Admission
Daily dawn to dusk. Admission.
Photo Courtesy: California State Parks

Point Lobos State Reserve

Highway 1
Carmel by the Sea, California
The reserve hugs the rocky Pacific coastline. Find coves, beaches and small islands throughout. Inland find rolling meadows with walking trails many that lead to, or eventually follow, the shore. Sea otters and harbor seals live in the park, along with an abundance of animals, birds and plant life. At certain times of the year, it may be possible to see migrating whales or dolphins.

Certified divers with reserve permission can enter the waters at Whalers Cove and Bluefish...
Hours & Admission
Daily 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Admission (cars). Free (hikers/bikers).
Photo Courtesy: California State Parks

Balboa Park

1549 El Prado
San Diego, California
Balboa Park is a San Diego must-see. Ranked as one of the "Best Parks in the World" by the Project for Public Space. The park is home to 15 major museums, several performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and many other cultural and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions laid out among its 1,200 lushly planted acres, Balboa Park is the nation's largest urban cultural park.
Hours & Admission
Daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Free (park). Admission (various attractions).

Chess Park

Ocean Front Walk at Seaside Terrace
Santa Monica, California
International Chess Park with its artistic seawalls, public pathways and landscaping is the home to 14 large tables with four chess boards each, 10 smaller tables with one chess board per table, plus one large life-size chessboard. This contemplative environment does not require reservations, however, it may be necessary to watch and wait before a board opens. Age doesn’t seem to be as much a concern as a mind for chess.
Hours & Admission
Daily dawn to dusk. Free.

Clover Park

2600 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, California
The nearly 18-acre park houses a sizable recreation complex with baseball, softball and soccer fields, plus tennis, basketball and sand volleyball courts. Popular among families, it offers picnic tables with grill and play equipment with a clever aviation theme.

Exercise enthusiast can enjoy the par course.

The park is situated next to the Santa Monica Airport, a general aviation operation.
Hours & Admission
Daily 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Free.

Dennis the Menace Playground

Del Monte Avenue and Camino Aguajito
Monterey, California
The 45-acre city park has a number of amenities including boat rentals, fishing and a skate park, but one of its most notable features is the Dennis the Menace Playground. With the assistance of Hank Ketchum, Dennis' comic strip creator, the park was built.

The playground has climbing structures, slides, a balancing bridge, a maze, an adventure ship and a lion-shaped drinking fountain.
Hours & Admission
Daily June to August, 10:00 a.m. to dusk. September to May, Wednesday to Monday 10:00 a.m. to dusk. Free.

Exposition Park Rose Garden

701 State Drive
Los Angeles, California
Operated by the city’s recreation and parks department, the formal rose garden with beds of flowers radiates out from a central fountain. Established in the 1920s, the garden is one of several facilities in the park including an amphitheatre, recreation center, swim stadium with family and competitive pools, and a senior center.
Hours & Admission
Mid-March to December, daily 9:00 a.m. to dusk. Free.

Griffith Park

4730 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, California
The 4,210-acre park, which is the largest municipal park in the United States was envisioned and initially funded by Griffith J. Griffith, a gold miner from South Wales who purchased 3,000 acres of Los Feliz Rancho to be used as a park.

While much of the park is not developed, it is available for recreational pursuits including bicycling, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, jogging, picnicking, swimming and tennis....
Hours & Admission
Park: daily 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Bridle trails, hiking paths and mountain roads: 6:00 a.m. to dusk. Free.

Griffith Merry-Go-Round: late May to early September, Monday to Friday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., early September to late May, Saturday, Sunday, holidays and spring and winter holiday periods 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. L.A. Live Steamers Railroad Museum: Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pony rides: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission.

Los Angeles State Historic Park

1245 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California
This is one of the most important historic sites in all of Los Angeles (L.A.), as it tells the story of the city’s earliest beginnings of human habitation and in later years, as well: • The site has been a location of human occupation by Native Americans for thousands of years. The Tongva, Hokan-speaking and Shoshonean peoples from the Great Basin, including the Gabrielinos, have occupied the greater L.A. area for thousands of years.

• The Native American village of Yang-Na is believed to be near the river (area of the site), near where...
Hours & Admission
Daily 8:00 a.m. to dusk. Free.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, California
The 133-acre Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden, located in Griffith Park and owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles, encircles one of the park’s peaks.

A gorilla reserve with waterfalls and lush landscape is home to Western Africa lowland gorillas, while a one-acre habitat with an outdoor playground is houses chimpanzees. Nearby orangutans reside in a rain forest. Harbor seals spend time relaxing on recreated California cliffs or swimming in saltwater pools. The...
Hours & Admission
Daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed December 25. Admission.
Information subject to change without notice.
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