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Nickname: Golden State
Area: 156 297 sq.mi (404 807.4 km2)
Highest point: Mount Whitney 14 494 ft. (4 417.8 m)
Population: 33 867 600
Capital: Sacramento
Largest city: Los Angeles

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California is one of the largest states of the USA. It’s bordered by Oregon from North, Nevada and Arizona from East, Mexico from South and the Atlantic-Ocean from West. Its population exceeds 30 million. The coastal and canyon areas are the most frequently populated. Its terrain is quite varied. It’s dominated by the Coastal Mountain on West, and the high mountains of Sierra Nevada on East, which are covered by extensive leafy and pine-needle forests. The fertile valleys of Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers lie in the middle, which suits the intensive agricultural work perfectly. In the Southern part the Mojave, the largest desert of USA is to be found. California is economically one of the most developed states of the country. Its nickname is “Golden State”. Its population grows by thousands each year, due to the continuous inhabitation.

The largest cities in the Northern part of the state are: Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Modesto, San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland. Fresno and Bakersfield are the largest in the central part, and Santa Barbara, Oxnard, San Bernardino, Riverside, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Oceanside and San Diego are the most populated in the South.


The capital of the state is Sacramento, which is located in the Northern part of California. It is an administrational center. It’s worth to see the magnificent building of the California State Capitol, where a museum shows the history of the state. There are old steam engines and railway coaches on display in the California State Railroad Museum, and we can get to know the life of the ancient Indians in the State Indian Museum.
Photo: Sacramento, California, USA, flickr.com, by casch52


San Francisco, the largest city of Northern California lays South-West from Sacramento. It is an industrial, commercial, educational, cultural and scientific center. Nearly 7 million people live in Great-San Francisco, which is the collective name of San Francisco and its suburbs (Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Fremont, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and San Jose).
San Francisco
Photo: San Francisco, California, USA, flickr.com, by Kostas Pagiamtzis

It’s advised to travel along the famous 49 mile Scenic Drive (panoramic road) in the downtown of San Francisco; we may find several beautiful memorial places, and fantastic museums here. It’s typical buildings are: the Grace Cathedral, which show a resemblance with the Notre Dame; the Stow Lake, which lays on a pictorial island; Sutra Tower, the radio tower; the magnificent palace, The Palace of Fine Arts and the San Francisco National Maritime Museum, which is in a building that looks like an Atlantic liner, and has an exhibition about nautical antiquities.
The Financial District is the center of San Francisco. It’s dominated by enormous skyscrapers, among which we can find the pyramid shaped, 260 meters tall Transamerica Pyramid. The main square of the city is the Union Square, dotted with palm trees and surrounded by famous shops and shopping centers.
Transamerica Pyramid
Photo: Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco, California, USA, flickr.com, by pbo31

The most famous museums are:
· San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a really varied collection with magnificent paintings and statues. Nearly twenty thousand pieces are put on display.
· Wells Fargo History Museum, which has an exhibition about old mail-coaches, which travelled thousands of miles back in the 19th century.
· Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is a huge artistic center. Concerts and artistic performances await the visitors throughout the whole year.
· Asian Art Museum is an artistic collection of more than 12 thousand museum pieces exclusively from Asia.
· California Academy of Sciences is huge scientific museum that has several departments, which are the following: Steinhart Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums of the USA; Morrison Planetarium, a special planetarium; Gem and Mineral Hall, which has an exhibition of the most varied gems and minerals; Life Through Time, which shows the history of evolution; Elkus Collection of Native Art, a display of the artistic collection of the native Indians’; and Wild California, which shows the natural sights of California
· California Palace of the Legion of Honor, which show magnificent masterpieces from the European Arts. It has painting from Monet and Rembrandt.

One of the largest Chinese districts is to be found in San Francisco. It’s the Chinatown, where one may find the most varied Chinese shops and restaurants. It’s worth to visit the Chinese Historical Society, which introduces the role of the Chinese ethnic group in the life of San Francisco, and also has an interesting exhibition about Chinese Art.

The swarm Italian district of the city is called the North Beach, which also offers interesting sights. The Cafe Trieste is the oldest cafeterias found in the city. Its most famous night club is the Condor Club, and Lombard Street is said to be the most bended street of the world. The San Francisco Art Institute deserves a visit, where collections of famous artists are put to display. The beautiful Coit Tower is situated on the top of Telegraph Hill. We can admire the whole city from its terrace.
Coit Tower
Photo: Coit Tower, North Beach, California, USA, flickr.com, by code martial

Nob Hill is the highest hill of the city. It is built in with luxurious hotels and magnificent villas. Trams climb down the sloppy roads of the hill to the city. The Grace Cathedral is found over here, where they organize popular, musical ceremonies.

It’s worth to visit the Fisherman’s Wharf on the shore, which is a famous hospitality and fishing center of San Francisco. The most various seafood dishes are served in its restaurants, beginning form the delicious fish soups through the crab cocktails to octopus salads. We may take a look at the USS Pamapanito submarine in the harbor, which served in World War II. We can also visit the San Francisco National Maritime Museum, where an exhibition of the history of sailing and diverse ship-models is set up.

Three other districts of San Francisco Haight Ashbury, Pacific Heights and Fillmore District may also have something interesting for us.
Haight Ashbury was the former hippie district. It was the free and boundless district of the hippies in the ’60-ties. It preserved its characteristics; its cafeterias and places of amusement are visited by many youngsters throughout the year. The Red Victorian Hotel is one of its characteristic buildings. The popular Buena Vista Park offers a splendid outlook onto the city.
Pacific Heights win everyone’s heart with its old building from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We should visit the Palace of Fine Arts, which is in the nearby, in the Marina District. It is an interesting museum of fine arts.
Fillmore District, populated by the afro-American people is rather swarming. There are non-stop parties in its bars and clubs.

Whatever happens, we also recommend the three, maybe the most famous sights of San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alcatraz Island and the Mission Dolores.
One of the most beautiful bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1937 in the San Francisco Bay. More than 40 million cars go over it annually, which is 2.7 kilometers in length and 227 meters tall.
The well-known prison of the Alcatraz Island played a role in many movies. It was the most secure prison of the USA between 1934 and 1963. Such famous prisoners were locked up here, as Al Capone or George Kelly.
The oldest building of San Francisco, the Mission Dolores was built in 1791, back in the era of the Spanish Colonization. The sixth Californian Christian Mission had been operating in this building.
Golden Gate
Photo: Golden Gate, San Francisco, USA, flickr.com, by Mike Johnston

It’s worth to visit the marvelous Golden Gate Park, the John McLaren Park or the Presidio National Park, where we can have a rest and recover our strength. We can go cycling, walk of even be on the beach in some places.

The suburbs of San Francisco also have a surprise for the visitors.

San Jose is the largest of them all, and has several famous museums. The Tech Museum of Innovation has many, mainly information technological collections on display. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and Planetarium offers an exhibition of a reputed ancient collection. If we’re well off with time, we can visit the Winchester Mystery House, which was the residence of the well-known rifle manufacturing family, or we can check out Silicon Valley, where we’ll find the headquarters of the world’s largest information-technological enterprises.
San Jose
Photo: San Jose, California, USA, flickr.com, by skreuzer

Oakland is regarded to be the sleeping city of San Francisco. It’s worth to spend a few hours in the Museum of California, which tells the history of the state, or in the Jack London Museum, which shows the labor of the well-known writer, who’d spent his childhood in this city.

It’s important to mention the two university cities of Great-San Francisco: Berkley, the city of the University of California at Berkley, and Palo Alto, which is the home of the famous Stanford University. These cities feature swarm collage life.
Several excellent, sandy beaches are awaiting the tourists in Great-San Francisco. We can find several places in the San Francisco Bay and along the coast of the Pacific-Ocean that are suitable for pleasure boating, scuba diving and windsurfing. Such places are the Muir Woods, Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach and the Pacifica State Beach too.

One may find smaller cities in the middle part of the state, like Fresno and Bakersfield, and some other along the coast of the Pacific-Ocean, like Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

The city of Fresno is situated beside several wonderful national parks, which are a significant tourism and cultural centers. Its higher educational institution is the Fresno Pacific University. Once in the city, we should visit the Fresno Art Museum, where a valuable artistic collection is on display and the Fresno Museum of History and Sciences, where we will find an exhibition about science.

Santa Cruz is a popular resort, surrounded by beautiful mountains covered with forests. The University of California at Santa Cruz has a lot of student. It’s worth to take a visit to Museum of Art and History at McPherson Center, which is the cultural center of the city, where the visitors may see many beautiful works of art. It has a beautiful coastline, visited by thousands each year. Two of the most popular places here are the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is a classical amusement park, and the Natural Bridges State Beach, where we might take excursions for our sake, for it is a protected area.

Monterey is located south of Santa Cruz, which was the capital of the California in the times of the Spanish Colonization till 1848. It’s got historical buildings in its downtown. Its center is the Monterey State Historic Park. They’d signed the constitution of the state in 1849 in the Colton Hall, which is also found here. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the largest of its kind in the USA, where the visitors may admire thousands of living creatures of the ocean. Pacific Grove is the popular ocean-side resort of Monterey, where we may be on the beach and rest in a beautiful environment. The most popular jazz festival of California is organized in the city each year, which attracts a lot of people to Monterey.

The Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument is found between the cities of Monterey and San Luis Obispo. The famous Hearst Castle is situated here, on the top of a hill, which is one of the largest castles of California. It was built in the first half of the 20th century by William Hearst, the famous media Caesar, The fabulous castle operates as a museum today. The guests may admire its luxurious rooms and magnificent park.

The popular University City and resort, Santa Barbara is located north of Los Angeles. It’s got a beautiful, sandy beach, visited by thousands each year, but it’s also worth to visit the Museum of Art in the city, where we might take a look at a fantastic artistic collection. The Paseo Nuevo is an interesting, open-air bazaar.


The largest and world-famous city on the West coast of the United States is Los Angeles. The “City of Angles” is an industrial, commercial, educational, cultural and scientific center.
Nearly 15 million people live in Great-Los Angeles, which includes not only Los Angeles, but its suburbs: Pasadena, Ontario, Fontana, San Bernardino, Moreno Valley and so on.
Los Angeles
Photo: Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by chrisspurgeon

It’s rather worthy to discover the districts of Los Angeles on foot, so we that have the chance to observe the famous buildings and streets that we saw in thousands of movies from the first row.The Downtown is dominated by huge skyscrapers. The US Bank Tower (Library Tower) is the tallest with is 310 meters of height.
L.A. Downtown, U. S. Bank Tower
Photo: U. S. Bank Tower (Library Tower), Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by YoNoSoyTu

We can access several institutions and museums from Main Street, like:
· Museum of Contemporary Art, where a fantastic artistic collection is on display.
· Los Angeles Central Library, one of the biggest libraries in the world, with 2 million books.
· Los Angeles City Hall, the 28-storey precious stone of the city, built in 1928.
· Los Angeles Children’s Museum, which is designed especially for children. It attracts thousands of families throughout the year.
· Music Center, there are theatrical performances and musical programs and concerts in this huge theatre and concert center

The Grand Central Market, El Pueblo, Little Tokyo and the Chinatown are just beside the downtown.
The Grand Central Market is a big market blessed with popularity. One may buy vegetables, fruits and herbs here.
El Pueblo is the oldest district of Los Angeles. Some of its buildings were built by the Spanish settlers at the end of the 18th century, for example, the Old Plaza Church.
The Union Station, famous for being a scene in many movies, is found just at the edge of the district. It was built in 1939.

Little Tokyo is the center of the Japanese community in Los Angeles. It’s worth to pay a visit to the Japanese Village Plaza, which is a crowded shopping center, and the Japanese American National Museum, where we’ll have the chance to see the effects of Japanese immigrants on the life of the USA.

Chinatown is the center of one of the largest Chinese communities of the USA. The district is always swarm, and one may procure the most varied goods one wants; clothes, different food and many other things too.
Photo: Chinatown, Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by JOE WU

The Exposition Park and University of Southern California is located South-West from the downtown, which is the famous educational and cultural center of Los Angeles. We may also find museums and cultural institutions beside the largest university of California:
· Californian Museum of Science and History, which is an interesting scientific museum.
· Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is a museum of natural science. Various plants and animals are on display.
· California Afro American Museum, which introduces the role of the Afro-Americans of the city to us.
· Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a sports center, which was the site of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

There are two important cultural institution situated North-East of the downtown: Lummis House and the Southwest Museum. Both museums are magnificent and show how the native Indian tribes lived on the continent of America in the last millennium.
The Griffith Park, found in the Northern part of the city, is the largest in Los Angeles. Many people visit the park each year to have a rest and escape from the drift of the city. It’s worth to visit the following popular places in the park:
· Griffith Observatory, an interesting scientific institution
· Greek Theatre, a beautiful theatre built just like the ancient Greek theatres
· Los Angeles Zoo, popular zoo of the city
· Travel Town, it shows old locomotives, railway carriages and cars
· Autry Museum of Western Heritage, an exhibition on the history of the Wild West
Griffith Observatory
Photo: Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by Echo_29

We may find three important cultural centers on the Eastern side of Los Angeles: the Getty Center, the Museum of Tolerance and Westwood Village, which is the home of the University of California at Los Angeles.
The Getty Center was established by the oil-tycoon Paul Getty. It has a magnificent artistic collection from famous painters. We may see various paintings, drawings and graphics here.
The Museum of Tolerance deals with the history of the racism and the Holocaust.
Nearly forty thousand students study at the largest university center of California in Westwood Village. Westwood is the home of several popular cultural institutions, like: the Fowler Museum of Culture History, which is a museum of social science, and deals with the history of many continents; the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture shows a reputed artistic collection with masterpieces from Monet and Van Gogh as well.

The two famous coastal districts of Los Angeles are Santa Monica and Venice.
Santa Monica has probably the most famous beach in Los Angeles. The beautiful sandy beach attracts thousands of visitors each year. The lovers of water sports can enjoy themselves perfectly. There’s a chance to go jet skiing, pleasure boating, wind surfing and scuba diving. The beachside streets are surrounded by elegant shops, restaurants, bars and different musical clubs. It’s worth to visit the shops of Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier, which is a famous amusement park.
Venice is also a popular resort. It deserved the name Venice for its artificial canals, where one may go boating. Its coastal part is popular throughout the year. The well-known Muscle Beach is to be found here, where the bodybuilder like to train. Arnold Schwarzenegger trained here too.
Venice Canals
Photo: Venice Canals, Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by Laughing Squid,

Probably the most famous district of Los Angeles is Beverly Hills, or the Golden Triangle, how the locals call it. The district is the home of the wealthiest people. Its streets are flanked by villas and palaces. There are elegant shops on the two of its main streets, Rodeo Drive and the Wilshire Boulevard. They – Gucci, Versace and Christian Dior for example - offer the latest and most expensive models of the world of fashion. It’s worth to visit the sensational Hollywood Actor’s Home, which introduces the visitors to the life of the actors. The Museum of Television and Radio has got the materials of nearly one hundred-thousand TV and radio programs.
Beverly Hills
Photo: Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by Andréas Olofsson

It is definitely worth to walk along the most famous esplanades of Hollywood, like the Mulholland Drive, the Sunset Boulevard and on the Hollywood Boulevard.
The Sunset Boulevard is flanked by sparkling shops, hotels, elegant restaurants, night clubs and various pleasure-grounds. More film studios are in the area too. Its popular clubs are the Roxy Club, The House of Blues, the Roxbury Club, the Viper Room and the swarm main square of the Sunset Plaza.
The Mulholland Drive is one of the most beautiful panoramic roads of Los Angeles, which connects North-Hollywood to Malibu. There’s a fantastic sight opening up from the road, which marches through the ridge of the Santa Monica Mountain.
Probably the most famous esplanade of Los Angeles is the Hollywood Boulevard. The HOLLYWOOD sign, the symbol of Los Angeles, is placed on the Hollywood Hills, just beside the boulevard. The main attraction of the promenade is the Walk of Fame. This part of the road is decorated by the hand and footprints of the most famous movie actors. It’s advised to visit the Mann’s Theatre and the El Captain Theatre, where always the latest movies are on show. The Hollywood Bowl is just around the block.  It is a huge music and concert center; many people come here throughout the year. The Farmers Market is also found in this neighborhood. There are popular cafeterias, restaurants and different shops here.
Hollywood Hills
Photo: Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by (platinum)

The Universal City lies west from Hollywood. It is the home of the huge movie factory, the Universal Studios. We may also find an amusement park here to, equipped with the scenery of the earlier movies. There are three dimensional movie-theatres, the scenery of Water world, Terminator 2 and the Mummy. The entertainment between the sceneries is unforgettable. We can buy souvenirs from Hollywood in its shops or eat Californian dishes in its restaurants.

It’s worth to visit great-Los Angeles as well. There are two well-known coastal settlements here. The sandy beaches of Malibu and Newport Beach are perfectly suitable for swimming, water skiing or scuba diving. Do visit the Malibu Creek State Park and the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve, where you may find protected animals and plants, and you may admire waterfalls too.
Malibu Beach
Photo: Malibu Beach, Los Angeles, California, USA, flickr.com, by Michael Clesle

The famous Disneyland Resort – one of the largest tourist attractions of Los Angeles - is situated in Anaheim. The amusement park offers entertainment for both children and adults. It is visited by millions of people each year, it is a great fun.

One of the largest suburb cities of Los Angeles is Pasadena. It is an important cultural center. Its famous sights are, the Norton Simon Museum, showing famous artistic collections; the beautiful Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens, which has invaluable books in its possession.

The Long Beach offers further interesting things. One of the largest aquariums of the USA is found here, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the most famous ship of the early 20th century, the Queen Mary is docked in its harbor. It is now a tourists’ spectacle.

Palm Springs is located North of Los Angeles, which is a beautiful resort surrounded by palm trees in the middle of the desert. There’s an adventure bath and an entertainment park in the city. The Oasis Water Resort attracts many visitors, especially in winter. One will find the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway here, which is a 4 kilometers long tramway, taking the visitors up to 1800 meters to the Jacinto Wilderness State Park. The look-out tower here offers a splendid view of the surroundings.


San Diego, the third largest city of California is situated south from Los Angeles. The city is a transformational, cultural and strategic center. Its shopping district is called the Gas Lamp Quarter, where we may find restaurants and many other shops too. Its cultural center is the magnificent Balboa Park, where we may find several museums, and a zoo and a botanic garden. Its museums are: the San Diego Museum of Man, an anthropological museum; the Aerospace Museum, which is dedicated to the history of aviation, and has more than a 100 plains on exhibition; the San Diego Automotive Museum, which is a collection of several dozens of old cars; the San Diego Zoo, and the Botanical Building, with several hundred species of plants. It’s worth to visit the Old Town in case we visit the city. Its older buildings were built in the times of the Spanish Colonization. We might also like to visit the Colorado-peninsula, where beautiful hotels and shops are waiting for the visitors. The most famous sight of San Diego is the Sea World, where we have the chance to see interesting sea-creatures and dolphin-shows.
San Diego
Photo: San Diego, California, USA, flickr.com, by fusionpanda

If we’re well off with time, it is worth to cross the border, and visit Mexico. We’ll have a peak into the swarm life of the Mexicans in the city of Tijuana. We can taste Mexican food and spend a good time in the bars, or buy a sombrero, tequila or different Mexican jewels.
Photo: Tijuana, California, Mexico, flickr.com, by Nathan Gibbs

California State is the paradise of the hiker, for it has a romantic countryside, a beautiful coastline and a hot desert.
Popular parks and landscape conservation areas which are worthy to look up:
· Mojave Desert, huge and imposing desert area, with depopulated mining cities. This is the home of the Edwards Air Force Base, where the space shuttles land.
Mojave Desert
Photo: Mojave Desert, California, USA, flickr.com, by Mollivan Jon

· Joshua Tree National Park, the home of one of the most interesting plants of the desert, the desert yucca, which can grow up to 9 meters.  Its oases and rocks are beloved sights for the hikers.
· Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
is an untouched desert environment with superb cactuses, which blossom in spring.
· Death Valley National Park is a fantastic wilderness with giant rocks and salt plants.
Death Valley
Photo: Death Valley, California, USA, flickr.com, by robw1882

· Channel Islands National Park is a magnificent group of islands, where we may find rare and endangered animal species and plants.
· Lompoc Valley we’ll find fields of flowers here.
· Big Sur is a very long, almost untouched coastline in the middle part of California, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. We recommend this panoramic road for everyone.
· Sonoma Valley, the wine producing center of California. We’ll have the chance to taste the famous wines of California here.
· Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the tallest mammoth trees of the worlds are found here. They offer a splendid view with their 100 meters of height.
· Redwood National Park is also covered with a mammoth tree forest.
Photo: Redwoods, California, USA, flickr.com, by tellumo

· Lassen Volcanic National Park, we’ll find a still active volcano here, with steaming hollows.
· Lava Beds National Monument, we can search for more than two hundred volcanic caves in the park, which can make the excursion rather interesting.
· Lake Tahoe offers a chance to go skiing and ice skating in winter and do water sports in summer in this beautiful lake.
Lake Tahoe
Photo: Lake Tahoe, California, USA, flickr.com, by YAYAYAYAYAY

· Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks of the USA is found in Sierra Nevada Mountain. It’s got astonishing valleys, stony mountains and evergreen forests.
Photo: Yosemite National Park, California, USA, flickr.com, by glennwilliamspdx

· Bodie State Historic Park, the ghost town of California is to be found here. With 170 abandoned buildings, the old mining city offers a splendid sight.
· Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks amuses its visitors with its giant forests, deep valleys and rocky peaks.

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