California holidays

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Experience California

Experience [destination]

Introduction to California

Think California holidays and you probably envisage world-class theme parks and sun-bleached beaches. If so, you’d be right. However, there is much more to the ‘Golden State’ than high-speed rides and surfer dudes. Holidays to California boast access to outstanding natural wonders, instantly-recognisable film locations and some of the best wines on the planet.

In addition, it’s here you will find some of the best fine-dining restaurants in the States, alongside fast food chains and lavish eateries. Home to some of the world’s biggest businesses and the most idyllic natural sports in North America, holidays in California are suited to sun-seekers, adrenaline junkies and city-dwellers alike.

Best Places to Visit

California deals offer the chance to visit the world-famous Joshua Tree National Park. Studded with alien-looking geological formations and unusual desert plants, it is like stepping onto the set of a science-fiction film. The park attracts climbers looking to tackle the imposing rocks, as well as wildlife enthusiasts in search of unusual flora and fauna. It’s also a popular place for families, who come to enjoy the open space. Look out for the Hidden Valley, which is tucked away behind a range of massive boulders. This offers some of the best scenery in the region.

Los Angeles is where California packages combine the weird and wonderful. Venice Beach is worth a visit – although don’t go to top up your tan; this has to be one of the best destinations on the planet for people-watching. You will find quirky and eccentric characters from all walks of life, rubbing shoulders with movie stars and celebrities. LA is also home to some of the USA’s most famous theme parks – perfect for anyone travelling with children on their California breaks.

Top Attractions

California package holidays just wouldn’t be complete without visiting the world’s most famous theme park, Disneyland. A once-in-a-lifetime treat for Disney fans of all ages, it is like stepping into a fairy-tale. Not only do you get the chance to meet your favourite Disney characters, but you will also find an endless stream of rides, shows, shops and restaurants. Make sure to look out for the world-famous parade and, if you last the day, the fabulous firework display in the evening.

For something a little out of the ordinary, the barren beauty of Death Valley is something to behold. Pack your sun-block, though, as temperatures here can reach well over one hundred degrees! Take a drive through the valley in an air-conditioned car and you can marvel at the mountains, dunes and salt fields, in cool comfort. Badwater Lake offers some respite from the heat and you can even indulge in a little splash – if it hasn’t dried out!

Entertainment in California

If you are enjoying package holidays to California and want a truly memorable night out, the only place to go is Sunset Strip. Peppered with legendary clubs, many of which are frequented by the rich and famous, this is where to experience California’s glitz and glamour.

Our best deals in California

Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

Although English is the official language of the USA, travel to California and you will uncover a melting pot of different heritages. After English, the next most-popular language spoken in California is Spanish. You are also likely to hear Chinese, Vietnamese and a smattering of Korean.

Currency

The official currency of California is the US Dollar. To get the very best exchange rates, it’s a god idea to convert your sterling before flying to California. In the event that you do run out of money, it’s easy enough to withdraw some dollars from an ATM, using your bank card. There are ATMs virtually everywhere in the state, but you can also buy things with your credit card. All of the major cards are widely accepted, including (unsurprisingly) American Express. However, do bear in mind that there could be surcharges.

Visas

If you have a British passport and you are flying to California for a holiday that lasts less than 90 days, then you don’t currently need a visa. However, you will need to apply for an ESTA. Also bear in mind that your passport needs to be valid for the length of your holiday.

Climate

The third largest state (by area) in the USA, California is subject to a range of climates that can vary dramatically. As a rule of thumb, if you’re by the coast or in the southern parts of California, you can expect Mediterranean-style weather. To the north, the temperatures tend to drop a little and there is a little more rain. As you go inland, things start to hot up. So, if you want a good dose of sunshine on your holidays to California, then head for the central parts of the state.

January and February are both great months for anyone wanting a skiing break in the north, while July and August are the months for topping up your tan.

Main Airports

While the state has a large number of airports, if you’re flying to California for a holiday you will likely land in one of the five busiest airports: Los Angeles International Airport (generally known as LAX), San Francisco International Airport, San Diego International Airport, Oakland International Airport, or San Jose International Airport. From here, there are connecting flights to smaller airports, which are scattered across California.

Los Angeles International is the biggest airport in California, handling over 80million passengers each year. It boasts a whopping nine terminals, laid out in a horseshoe arrangement. Each terminal is served by a shuttlebus and some are connected by underground or overground walkways.

Foodies should head to the Tom Bradley Terminal, where you will find everything from fine-dining to fast food. If you’ve got any spare time, the airport is close to some of LA’s best beaches – perfect for a last-minute tanning session.

Flight Options

California is very well connected to the rest of the world, with direct flights available from most of the UK’s major airports. Depending on where you’re flying from and to, direct flights to California can take between 11 and 14 hours. If you’ve opted for a flight with stopovers then they can take longer, so check with your chosen airline before your holiday.

Other Advice

Los Angeles International Airport is located on the outskirts of LA. There are trains to the centre of the city, as well as cabs running from the airport. Alternatively, there are car hire companies on hand, allowing you to travel under your own steam. Whichever option you choose, the journey is roughly 45 minutes. Be aware, though, that LA’s traffic jams are legendary, and the freeways are often gridlocked during peak travel times.

When it comes to leaving California, the airport recommends that you check-in at least three hours before your flight is due to depart.

Bus

Greyhound buses run across California, providing a low-cost and convenient way to get from A to B. The buses themselves are clean, cheap and reliable, making them a great option if you want to see the ‘Golden State’ on a budget. All the major cities have impressive bus networks, allowing you to travel for next to nothing

Taxi

The iconic, yellow taxis are virtually everywhere and you ought to take a trip in at least one, as part of your holiday in California. Cabs can be hailed from the roadside or booked in advance online or by the phone.

Tram

The trams in San Francisco are the last manually-operated cable car system in the world, making them a must on any holiday to California. These allow tourists to take in some of the city’s best sights. Tickets are sold in advance.

Rail Services

California's rail network isn't the most cost-effective way to get around the country, but it does offer the best view. Long distance routes are normally served by dining carts, while comfortable sleeper cabins are available.

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FACTS

  1. California is the only US state to have hosted both the winter and summer Olympics.
  2. Hollywood is based in California.
  3. California is home to the world’s tallest trees.
  4. The towns of ‘Cool’ and ‘Squabbletown’ can both be found in California.

FACTS

  1. California is the only US state to have hosted both the winter and summer Olympics.
  2. Hollywood is based in California.
  3. California is home to the world’s tallest trees.
  4. The towns of ‘Cool’ and ‘Squabbletown’ can both be found in California.