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The Great California Road Trip

By: Cityseeker
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Golden Gate Bridge

An engineering marvel, the Golden Gate Bridge spans over the Golden Gate Strait, the channel linking San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. It is San Francisco’s signature monument, soaring while draped in fog or drenched in sunlight, its suspended cables swayed by the wind. Designed by Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow, and Charles Ellis, the bridge opened in 1937, and is open to car, bike, and foot traffic, making it one of the most visited sites in California. The bridge is not quite golden, instead painted in International Orange, and has Art Deco walkways, rails, lights, and towers. To see the best views of the bay, walk or bike the 1.7-mile span (2.7 kilometers) between Fort Point and Vista Point. Also, don't miss the historic Roundhouse, a gift shop and visitor center, which boasts a fine selection of souvenirs along with exhibits about the bridge's construction and history.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Winchester Mystery House

Sarah Winchester was heir to the Winchester repeating rifle fortune, and she was convinced that the spirits of all those killed with that gun were haunting her. So she moved from New Haven, Connecticut to San Jose to construct her dream home. To confuse the restless spirits, she constructed one of the oddest houses ever built and kept construction in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year until the day of her death. The Victorian-style labyrinth that resulted features a door on the second floor that opens onto thin air, and others that open onto walls and stairs and corridors that lead to dead ends. It features 160 rooms and only 110 can be explored. Don't miss this intriguing attraction when in town.

San Jose, CA, United States
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Mystery Spot

For almost 60 years, this attraction has been puzzling its visitors with its bizarre phenomena. Apparently, there are unusual deviations in gravity, mysterious inflections of light and altering perceptions of velocity and space. The staff takes you on a tour of the property, and you can witness all sorts of mysterious phenomena. It is a great place for the kids (and the adults who love them). This attraction is open every day of the year.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States
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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

History, culture, and a seaside amusement park all in one place ensures that there really is something for everyone. Since 1907, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been thrilling children and grown-ups alike with its infamous Giant Dipper roller coaster, circa 1924, along with its 1911 Looff Carousel, arcades, mini golf, bowling, shopping, outdoor concerts, and more. All of this can be found just a few steps from the sandy beach leading out to the ocean. The Boardwalk is the perfect place for a day trip with the kids, but seasonal park passes are available for the regulars.

Santa Cruz, CA, United States
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Carmel Mission

Also known as Mission Carmel Basilica and more formally, as Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Rio Carmelo, this was the second of the nine missions founded by Father Junipero Serra. The area was originally chosen for its agricultural possibilities in 1771, but the temperate climate and exquisite landscape soon made it Father Serra's favorite. Indeed, he is buried, as per his wishes, in front of the church's main altar. The building, which fell into ruins in the 19th Century and has since been completely restored, exhibits classic Mission-style, fortress-like architecture, with thick, bougainvillea-covered adobe walls and a central courtyard. A Moorish-style bell tower contains nine bells and is open to the public. Though some may find the climb up the steep staircase taxing, the views from that vantage point are magnificent.

Carmel, CA, United States
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Big Sur

Big Sur is one of the most beautiful stretches of the California coast. This central-California locale encompasses several state parks, gorgeous beaches, and jaw-dropping views that continue to amaze no matter how many times you visit the area. Big Sur stretches from the Carmel River in Monterey County to San Carpoforo Creek in San Louis Obispo County. The beauty of this hard-to-reach landscape has attracted artists, adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts to its shores and trails. Visitors can enjoy hiking, kayaking, swimming, and many other outdoor sports while visiting Big Sur.

Big Sur, CA, United States
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Pinnacles National Park

Visit this expansive national aprk to discover a unique set of rock formations called the Pinnacles, which were created as a result of volcanic activity. Spread over 26,606 acres (10,767 hectares), the park attracts rock climbers as well as avid nature enthusiasts thanks to its rocky landscape. Interesting places to explore at the park apart from the Pinnacles are the Balconies and Bear Gulch rock caves. The park also boasts a plethora of flora and fauna including the Townsend's Big-Eared Bats and the California Condor. Camping facilities at the park are available.

Paicines, CA, United States
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Hearst Castle

Though not built for royalty, this 20th century marvel is no less spectacular than an actual mansion. Constructed with painstaking efforts and attention to detail over a period of close to three decades, Hearst Castle was meant to be an indulgent retreat for William Randolph Hearst, a publishing giant and a renowned public figure who passed away in 1951. Each of the structures inside the sprawling property, from the spectacular Neptune Pool to the magnificent Casa Grande will take your breath away. Visitors can explore the property and a stunning collection of Hearst's private artwork through one of the guided tours offered by the visitors center. There's a theater as well on site that takes visitors through the process of its construction. Check website for more.

San Simeon, CA, United States
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Santa Barbara

Flanked by the Santa Ynez Mountains on one side, and the endless Pacific Ocean on the other, Santa Barbara is one of the most picturesque and beautiful cities in California. Its coastal location and consequent geography result in the city having a Mediterranean climate, and thus has earned the city the moniker the ‘American Riviera’. Besides the climate, visitors can feast their eyes on architectural marvels like the Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County Courthouse, and Presidio of Santa Barbara. The city is also home to famous festivals like the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show, the Fiesta, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Summer Solstice Parade.

Santa Barbara, CA, United States
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Six Flags Magic Mountain

This world famous attraction is one of Southern California's most popular theme parks! With the most exciting thrill rides around, you're guaranteed to have fun. Six Flags California is composed of two parks: Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Magic Mountain bills itself as the extreme park with the most roller coasters and adult rides in the region. Of course, there's still plenty to do for the whole family, including an amazing kids area that's perfect for the younger crowd. Take a ride on the gigantic Colossus, try not to scream on the rollercoaster Scream, and feel like you're flying on Superman!

Valencia, CA, United States
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The city of Malibu in California is well known as the residence or second home of many Hollywood celebrities. Malibu skirts the Pacific Ocean, and boasts beautiful sandy beaches and luxurious beach-front houses. The Malibu beach is a famous surfing destination in the area and has been the host of several professional events. The city also has some cultural attractions such as local festivals and parades, film festivals and more, alongside world-class restaurants and haute-couture boutiques.

Malibu, CA, United States
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San Diego Zoo

This world-famous establishment is clearly no ordinary zoo. Walk or ride a double-decker bus throughout this expansive park, home to over 4,000 rare and exotic animals exhibited in beautiful garden habitats. San Diego Zoo is also a major research facility dedicated to conservation efforts. However, it is cleverly disguised as a park with entertaining shows and inspiring exhibits like Polar Bear Plunge and Hippo Beach.

San Diego, CA, United States
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