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California: 10 places to experience on a road trip in the United States

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The great state of the western United States is like created for road trips and you can easily drive from one amazing experience to the next. Here are 10 you need to see.

California: 10 places to experience on a road trip in the USA; text and images of Victoria Glovemaker Wagner.

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California - the state with it all

California really has a lot to offer. From super modern cities to incredible scenery with palm-fringed beaches, clear lakes, the world's tallest and largest trees, even higher mountains and the warmest desert on earth. 

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Everything is just a little wilder in California. Therefore, it is also an obvious destination for one road trip, so you can experience so much of California and the West USA as possible.

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San Francisco - highlights in the hipster city

San Francisco is one of USAs most interesting cities. Here is a wealth of unique world-class experiences.

Dip your toes into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean overlooking the iconic Golden Gate Bridge - if it does not hide in the fog. Visit the prison island of Alcatraz and experience life as a prisoner for a few hours.

Greet the sea lions on Pier 39. Walk the steep streets of the city and then rest your legs in an ultra-hip café. Or how about a delicious meal at one of the 55 Michelin restaurants?

San Francisco has it all. 

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Muir woods - in the realm of the giants

You don't have to drive more than half an hour from the city life of San Francisco to experience California's magnificent scenery in Muir Woods.

Prepare to put your head back well. In the forest you can walk around among the redwood pine trees, known as the tallest trees in the world; several of them are over 100 meters high.

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Napa Valley Wine in all directions

If California were a country in itself, it would be the world's fourth largest wine producer.

The American drops can be tasted in the Napa Valley wine region, where more than 400 wineries are located. 

Many of the producers provide tours of the farms, which provide a good insight into the whole process from grape to wine bottle. The tours are of course accompanied by tastings. In the Napa Valley there is also a large selection of upscale restaurants and charming hotels.

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Monterey - sea atmosphere a la carte

If you are driving between San Francisco and Los Angeles, treat yourself to a stop in Monterey. The city is one of California's best places to go on a whale and dolphin safari.

When not on tour, you can experience Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, where there are plenty of restaurants and shopping.

Monterey is also just a few minutes' drive from Carmel by the Sea, which offers a California holiday vibe, and Point Lobos, from where you can spot sea lions, seals, sea otters and even whales if you're lucky - and binoculars - with you.

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Big Sur - in the violence of nature

Big Sur is one of the wildest coastlines in the United States and an absolute must must, if you want to experience the raw nature of California.

The area is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Santa Lucia Mountains to the east, making it very isolated. On the more than 100 kilometers of coastline, fewer than 2.000 people live.

Are you driving along Highway 1 along the coastline, you will be rewarded with absolutely stunning views.

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Los Angeles - the star-studded focal point of California

As the world's entertainment center ', there is no end to the entertainment in Los Angeles. At Warner Bros. and Universal you can visit famous movie scenes, and on Hollywood Boulevard you can spot one star after another on the famous sidewalk 'Walk of Fame'. 

You get a great view of the Hollywood sign - and the rest of the city - from the Griffith Observatory, or you can see the megacity from the Getty Center, which impresses with both fine art and special architecture.

On the beach Venice Beach, bodybuilders, skaters and street jokers gather for the great pleasure of passers-by. If you continue along the wide beach, you will come to Santa Monica Pier, which with its old amusement park is one of the city's nicest places for an evening walk.

Los Angeles has something for everyone!

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Yosemite National Park - California the wild way

Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the United States - and with good reason.

The green park has perfect surroundings for long walks. Here you will find some of the world's largest trees, countless waterfalls and iconic cliffs such as 'Half Dome' and 'El Capitán'. If you are lucky, you can spot coyotes, cougars or even bears.

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Death Valley National Park - the warmest in the world

If you visit California between fall and spring, treat yourself to a drive east, out into the desertnen.

In the Mojave Desert on the border with Nevada lies the giant Death Valley National Park, known for extreme heat.

The warmest temperature measured on earth is made in Death Valley, and here you will find in addition to the heat indescribable mountain formations and desert landscapes. Remember to bring plenty of drinking water with you.

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Santa Barbara - the relaxed California

Santa Barbara is another of the state's beautiful coastal towns, where palm trees, beach and sea air contribute to the relaxed Southern California atmosphere.

The city especially attracts artists who are inspired by Santa Barbara's picturesque location with mountains in the background. And it can certainly not be completely ruled out that the good wine from the area plays into the relaxed culture.

Santa Barbara is well worth a visit if you want to enjoy California at a leisurely pace scenic surroundings.

See many more great tips and suggestions for your USA trip here

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Solvang - a little bit of Denmark in the middle of California

The Danish city of Solvang is a whimsical feature on a road trip through the USA. Here you will find lots of Danish flags, pastries and mini-versions of the Round Tower and The Little Mermaid.

Although the city was founded by Danes sometime in the 1900th century, it is truly an Americanized notion of Denmark that you encounter when you walk through the many streets with half-timbered houses and windmills. But it's a little cozy now anyway.

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California is perfect for a road trip - we hope you have a great trip USA.

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What to see in California? Sights and attractions

  • Yosemite National Park east of San Francisco
  • Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 and Muir Woods i San francisco
  • The world's fourth largest wine producer in the Napa Valley
  • Point Lobos and Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey
  • Disneyland, the Hollywood sign and Venice Beach in Los Angeles
  • Big Sur at Highway 1 - the wild coastline
  • Death Valley National Park on the border with Nevada
  • A little bit of Denmark in Solvang

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About the author

Victoria Glovemaker Wagner

My name is Victoria and with Alexander I am behind the travel website North side. Since we met in 2010, we have traveled the world and we enjoy experiencing magnificent landscapes and different cultures together. At Nordombord, we share our experiences in the form of destination guides, travel advice and lots of inspiring pictures. Among other things, we have been on a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Highway 1.




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