The Rough Guide to California 9

Overview

A comprehensive guidebook to California with full coverage of the state’s sights and attractions and detailed listings of accommodation ­– from budget to upscale - restaurants and nightlife. In-depth coverage of all the national and state parks and reserves, including Death Valley, Sequoia, Yosemite and Lassen, with detailed information on hiking, rafting, and other outdoor activities. A full-colour section introduces California, and three new full-colour inserts explore California food and drink, opportunities ...

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Overview

A comprehensive guidebook to California with full coverage of the state’s sights and attractions and detailed listings of accommodation ­– from budget to upscale - restaurants and nightlife. In-depth coverage of all the national and state parks and reserves, including Death Valley, Sequoia, Yosemite and Lassen, with detailed information on hiking, rafting, and other outdoor activities. A full-colour section introduces California, and three new full-colour inserts explore California food and drink, opportunities for outdoor pursuits and Californian music. From stuffing your face with tacos in San Diego to searching for Lemurians around Mt Shasta, this guide brings California to life.

Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to California

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843539995
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/3/2008
  • Series: Rough Guides Travel Series
  • Edition number: 9
  • Pages: 800
  • Sales rank: 1,345,372
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Various Authors
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Read an Excerpt

WHERE TO GO
California is the third largest state in the US, covering nearly 160,000 square miles: keep in mind that distances between the main destinations can be huge, and that you won't, unless you're here for an extended period, be able to see everything on one trip.

In an area so varied it's hard to pick out specific highlights. You may well start off in Los Angeles, far and away the biggest and most stimulating city: a maddening collection of freeways and beaches, seedy suburbs and high-gloss neighborhoods and extreme lifestyles that you should see at least once, even if you make a quick exit for more relaxed locales. From Los Angeles you have a number of choices. You can head south to San Diego ­ a smaller, up-and-coming city, with broad, welcoming beaches and a handy position close to the Mexican border, or you could push inland to the Californian desert areas, notably Death Valley ­ as its name suggests, a barren inhospitable landscape of volcanic craters and windswept sand dunes that in summer (when you can fry an egg on your car bonnet) becomes the hottest place on earth. It's a logical trip from here across to the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas; though not in California, we've included these last two in Chapter Three of the guide. An alternative is to make the steady journey up the Central Coast, a gorgeous run following the shoreline north through some of the state's most dramatic scenery, and taking in some of its liveliest small towns, notably Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.

The Central Coast makes the transition from Southern to Northern California ­ a break that's more than just geographical. San Francisco, at the top end, is California's second city, and quite different from LA: the coast's oldest, most European-looking city, it's set compactly over a series of steep hills, with wooden houses tumbling down to water on both sides. San Francisco also gives access to some of the state's most extraordinary scenery, not least in the National Parks to the east, especially Yosemite, where powerful waterfalls cascade into a sheer glacial valley that's been immortalized by Ansel Adams and countless others in search of the definitive landscape photograph.

North of San Francisco, the population thins and the physical look changes yet again. The climate is wetter up here, the valleys that much greener, flanked by a jagged coastline shadowed by mighty redwoods, the tallest trees in the world. Though many visitors choose to venture no further than the Wine Country and the Russian River Valley on weekend forays from the city, it's well worth taking time out to explore the state's northernmost regions, a volcano-scarred desolation that's as different from the popular image of California as it's possible to be.

WHEN TO GO
California's climate comes close to its subtropical ideal. In Southern California in particular you can count on endless days of sunshine from May to October, and warm dry nights ­ though LA's notorious smog is at its worst when the temperatures are highest, in August and September.

Right along the coast mornings can be hazily overcast, especially in May and June, though you can still get a suntan ­ or sunburn ­ even under grayish skies. In winter temperatures drop somewhat, but more importantly it can rain for weeks on end, causing massive mudslides that wipe out roads and hillside homes. Inland, the deserts are warm in winter and unbearably hot (120°F is not unusual) in summer; desert nights can be freezing in winter, when, strangely but beautifully, it can even snow. For serious snow, head to the mountains, where hiking trails at the higher elevations are blocked from November to June every year: skiers can take advantage of well-groomed slopes along the Sierra Nevada mountains and around Lake Tahoe.

The coast of Northern California is wetter and cooler than the south, its summers tempered by sea-breezes and fog, and its winters mild but wet. San Francisco, because of its exposed position at the tip of a peninsula, can be chilly all year, with summer fogs tending to roll in to ruin what may have started off as a pleasant sunny day. Head a mile inland, and you're back in the sun.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

PART ONE BASICS
Getting there from Britain and Europe
Getting there from North America
Getting there from Australia and New Zealand
Entry requirements for foreign visitors
Insurance, health and personal safety
Costs, money and banks
Communications, phones and mail
Information, maps and media
Getting around California
Accommodation
Food and drink
Backcountry camping, hiking and wildlife
Women travelers
Travelers with disabilities
Traveling with children
Senior travelers
Gay and lesbian California
Sports
Festivals and public holidays
Directory for overseas travelers

PART TWO THE GUIDE
CHAPTER 1: LOS ANGELES
Arrival and information
City transportation
Accommodation
Orientation
Downtown LA
Civic Centre
Museum of Contemporary Art
Little Tokyo
Echo Park
USC
Watts
Compton, Inglewood and Gardena
Hollywood
Sunset Boulevard
Griffith Park
LA County Museum of Art
Sunset Strip
Beverly Hills
Century City
Westwood
UCLA
Santa Monica
Venice
Pacific Palisades
Malibu
South Bay beaches
Palos Verdes
San Pedro
Long Beach
Santa Catalina island
Disneyland
The Orange County coast
San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys
Pasadena
Glendale and Forest Lawn Cemetery
Burbank and the studios
Eating
Bars, pubs and coffee bars
Nightlife
Live music
Comedy
Theater
Film
Gay and lesbian LA
Women¹s LA
Shopping
Listings

CHAPTER 2: SAN DIEGO AND AROUND
Arrival and information
City transportation
Accommodation
Downtown
Balboa Park
The zoo
The beaches
Sea World
La Jolla
Eating
Nightlife
Gay and lesbian San Diego
Listings
Del Mar
Solana Beach
Encinitas
Carlsbad
Oceanside
Escondido
Julian
Tijuana
Into Mexico

CHAPTER 3: THE DESERTS, LAS VEGAS AND THE GRAND
CANYON
Palm Springs
Joshua Tree National Park
Anza-Borrego desert
Barstow
Baker
Colorado River
Lake Havasu City
Las Vegas
The Grand Canyon
The Western Mojave

CHAPTER 4: DEATH VALLEY AND THE EASTERN HIGH SIERRA
Death Valley National Park
Mount Whitney
Lone Pine
Owens Valley
Bishop
Mammoth Lakes
Mono Lake
Bodie Ghost Town

CHAPTER 5: THE CENTRAL VALLEY AND THE WESTERN HIGH SIERRA
Bakersfield
Lake Isabella
Sequoia National Forest
Visalia
Fresno
Merced
Modesto
Stockton
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Yosemite National Park

CHAPTER 6: THE CENTRAL COAST
Ventura and Ojai
Channel Islands National Park
Santa Barbara
Pismo Beach and Avila Beach
San Luis Obispo
Morro Bay
Hearst Castle and San Simeon
Salinas Valley
The Big Sur coast
The Monterey Peninsula
Carmel
Santa Cruz

CHAPTER 7: SAN FRANCISCO AND THE BAY AREA
Arrival and information
City transportation
Accommodation
Downtown
Nob Hill
Chinatown
North Beach
Fisherman¹s Wharf
Alcatraz
Tenderloin
Civic Center
SoMa
Mission
Castro
Haight-Ashbury
Golden Gate park and bridge
Beaches
Eating
Bars and cafés
Nightlife
Gay and lesbian San Francisco
Women¹s San Francisco
Shopping
Listings
The East Bay
Oakland
Berkeley
The Peninsula
San Jose
Half Moon Bay
Marin County
Sausalito

CHAPTER 8: THE GOLD COUNTRY AND LAKE TAHOE
Sacramento
The Central Mother Lode
Grass Valley
Nevada City
Malakoff Diggins State Park
Downieville
Amador County
Calaveras County
Sonora, Columbia and Jamestown
Lake Tahoe
Truckee and Donner Lake
Reno
Carson City

CHAPTER 9: NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
Wine country
The Napa Valley
The Sonoma Valley
The Russian River Valley
Mendocino
The Humboldt coast
Eureka
Redwood National and State Parks
The Sacramento Valley
Chico
Redding
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity
Mt Shasta
Lava Beds National Monument

PART THREE CONTEXTS
The historical framework
Wildlife
California on film
California in fiction
Books
Mexican-Spanish terms

LIST OF MAPS
California
Chapter divisions

LOS ANGELES
Downtown Los Angeles
Hollywood
West Los Angeles
West Hollywood
Venice and Santa Monica

SAN DIEGO AND AROUND
San Diego
Downtown San Diego
Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo
La Jolla
Downtown Tijuana

THE DESERTS, LAS VEGAS AND THE GRAND CANYON
Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley
Central Palm Springs
Joshua Tree National Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Las Vegas
The Grand Canyon

DEATH VALLEY AND THE EASTERN HIGH SIERRA
Death Valley National Park
Mammoth Lakes

THE CENTRAL VALLEY AND THE WESTERN HIGH SIERRA
Fresno
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Yosemite National Park

THE CENTRAL COAST
Santa Barbara
San Luis Obispo
Around San Luis Obispo
The Monterey Peninsula
Monterey
Downtown Santa Cruz

SAN FRANCISCO AND THE BAY AREA
San Francisco
Downtown San Francisco
The Northern Waterfront
Oakland
Berkeley

THE GOLD COUNTRY AND LAKE TAHOE
Sacramento
Grass Valley
Nevada City
Reno

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
The Wine Country
Chico
Redding
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mount Shasta
Lava Beds National Monument and Around

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Introduction

California is America squared. It's the place you go to find more America than you ever thought possible.
—What's Wrong with America by Scott Bradfield

No region of the world, perhaps, has been as publicized, and idealized, as California, and none lives up to the hype to quite the same degree. A terrestrial paradise of sun, sand, surf and sea, it has a whole lot more besides: high mountain ranges, fast-paced glitzy cities, deep primeval forests, and hot dry deserts.

Having zoomed from the Stone Age to Silicon Valley in little more than a couple of centuries, California doesn't dwell on the past. In some ways this part of America represents the ultimate "now" society, with all that entails ­ life is lived very much in the fast lane, and conspicuous consumption is emphasized to the exclusion of almost everything else. But this is only one side of the coin; the deeper sense of age here often gets skimmed over. Provided you get out of the cities, it is readily apparent in the landscape: dense groves of ancient trees, primitive rock carvings left by the aboriginal Native American culture, and the eerie ghost towns of the Gold Rush pioneers. A land of superlatives, California really is full of the oldest, the tallest, the largest, the most spectacular, all of which goes far beyond local bravura.

It's important to bear in mind, too, that the supposed "superficiality" of California is largely a myth, an image promoted as much by Americans on the East Coast as by foreigners ­ even if the area's endeavours to gain cultural credibility can sometimes seem brash. Politically, it's probably the USA's most schizophrenic region, home state of some of its most reactionary figures ­ Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon to name just two ­ yet also the source of some of the country's most progressive political movements. Some of the fiercest protests of the Sixties emanated from here, and in many ways this is still the heart of liberal America. Consider the level of environmental awareness, which puts the smoky East to shame, and the fact that California has set the standard for the rest of the US (and the world) regarding gay pride and social permissiveness. Economically, too, the region is crucial, whether it's in the traditionally dominant film industry, the recently ascendant music business, even in the increasingly important financial markets ­ in which Los Angeles has come to set the pace.

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