What you need to know!
Such an interesting deep dive into the Castro and Mission neighborhoods, for which we had an incredibly sunny warm summer day. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, having grown up in the area, and pointed out not only historical places, but beautiful murals, homes and fun nooks and crannies (like hidden stairways to streets) that we never would have seen on our own. We definitely came away with much more of an appreciation for Castro and the Mission (love Dolores Park!) and will seek out other neighborhoods on our next trip!
I had the most amazing time, as a solo traveller doing a small group tour is perfect. My tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. He gave us lots of fun facts along the way and the whole experience was very interesting. Bring your walking shoes we started at 10 am and finished at 6 pm, I highly recommend you do this tour. We went to places tourist didn’t go.
My Boyfriend and I booked an all Day SF tour with Christofer and had an amazing time! He knew a ton of history which we loved and we were able to see a ton. We loved it as it had been our first time visiting. Would highly recommend to anyone wanting to be shown around the city.
Did a wonderful tour with these guys while I was in San Francisco on business. I’d also done a tour with the sister company in Los Angeles several years ago. Kevin, who was the guide, was great and it was so nice to be outside. We learnt tons about SF. Definitely recommended!
Our guide Damien was so very knowledgeable about the area and history of SF. We experienced different methods of transport (avoiding those big hills!) and areas we would not otherwise have known about.
Damien was the best! Friendly & very informative. He took into consideration our interests & made it very enjoyable. Great exercise- best way to see SF. Liked Haight Ashbury the most.
We had a two day layover in San Francisco, so we wanted to make the most of our time there. It’s always been somewhere we wanted to visit and on this tour we got to all the places we most dreamed of going – downtown, Nob hill, Castro, Haight Ashbury, painted ladies, Lombard St, North beach and Chinatown. It was only a small group and the guide was amazing. It wasn’t tiring at all and we had a great time jumping from trains to buses to cable cars. AWESOME DAY!!!
12 Things to Do in California
You’ve bought your airline tickets, you’re feeling the anticipation of your trip building and you’re starting to think about where exactly you’re going to go and what exactly you’re going to do once you get to California. Undoubtedly you already have some things on your to-do list, which is the reason for the journey here in the first place, but you’re looking to add-in other activities and side trips.
But what are the must-do’s in California? Because, remember, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime visit, so you don't want to miss something you may always regret not seeing. Well, as a tour company located in the Golden State we have a fair idea of the kinds of activities you’re going to want to do and places you’re going to want to go while you’re here, so here’s a list of 12 things to do in California (not including the Bay Area).
Activities & Places of Interest in California
1. NAPA VALLEY
Love wine, food and beautiful scenery? Who doesn’t, right? Well, then Napa Valley’s the place for you. Just an hour's drive north of San Francisco the area gets its name from the Napa River that flows through it and is well worth a few days to explore the many fine restaurants and vineyards that call the area home and to admire the gorgeous scenery.
2. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
National Parks – California is full of them and, arguably, Yosemite is the most famous. Gape, amazed, at the awesome majesty of El Capitan (not the Apple operating system, but the enormous chunk of granite that gave it its name), wander through the indescribably beautiful mountain meadows and follow an easy trail to see one of the many waterfalls that drop down into the valley. Better still hire a tent and spend a few days exploring the park. This is a must do!
3. SKIING AT MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN
You may not know it, but depending on when you’re visiting California you could experience some of the best skiing in North America at Mammoth. Hell! It’s one of the best winter sports centers in the world. It’s becoming less and less common (due to climate change), but usually you can even ski here on Independence Day, July 4th.
4. DEATH VALLEY
On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which contains the highest point in the lower forty-eight States (Mount Whitney), is the lowest point, the fabulously named Death Valley. So named by a group of prospectors who stumbled on the valley while making their way to the gold fields of Northern California in the nineteenth century (luckily they didn’t actually die here). It’s an incredible place to visit, although it does get insanely hot in the summer months.
5. MONTEREY / MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM
If you take the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or California State Route 1) south from San Francisco you’ll come to this picturesque town on California’s rugged central coast. Take a half day to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium – it’s one of the best you’ll ever see. The town itself is very picturesque in parts too.
6. BIG SUR
Keep going down the coast from Monterey on the PCH and you’ll drive through the Big Sur. What is the Big Sur? It’s a coastline of unequalled beauty – forested Santa Lucia mountains rising dramatically from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, creating steep cliffs and beautiful, secluded, little beaches. As scenic drives go it’s right up there.
7. SAN LUIS OBISPO
Further down the Central Coast from Monterey is this beautiful town. Founded as a mission by the Spanish in the eighteenth century, it’s now home to a thriving restaurant and bar scene, which is as good as any in California. Didn’t get to visit Napa Valley? There are dozens of wineries in the surrounding countryside here too, so there's no excuse for not trying some of our great Californian wine.
8. SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Further south of Yosemite National Park is this National Park. It’s famous for its giant Sequoia trees (the Sequoiadendron giganteum to give them their scientific name), which are, as far as we know, the largest living things on earth. Apart from that the park is home to some quite sociable black bears and a lot of breathtaking scenery. Definitely worth a visit.
9. SANTA BARBARA
Like San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara was founded by Franciscan Missionaries in the eighteenth century and is now a beautiful city on what’s sometimes known as the American Riviera. The downtown area is full of fun bars and nice restaurants. There are also several wineries nearby. You could even see the city on a day trip from Los Angeles.
10. LOS ANGELES
It seems ridiculous to have Los Angeles occupying just one entry on our list, with so many things to see and do in this amazing, world-famous, city. From the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice, to historic Hollywood, to Griffith Park, to the skyscrapers and loft apartments of DTLA, to visiting a Movie Studio and, yes, to Disneyland, the list is endless. Above all LA has a great laid-back vibe, fantastic historic and cultural attractions and bountiful warm sunshine, so what's not to like? If you come to California you HAVE to go to Los Angeles. It’s that simple.
For the best possible experience of Los Angeles do a tour with our sister company there, The Real Los Angeles Tours, and tell them "hi" from us.
11. JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
East of Los Angeles, past Palm Springs, lies this desert, almost Martian-like, landscape. Like Death Valley it does get ridiculously hot in the summer, but it’s worth putting on your itinerary so you can experience its desolate beauty. And if you like rock-climbing bring some equipment, it’s a popular spot for that too. You can also see it in a day trip from Los Angeles or you can bring a tent and camp out under the stars.
12. SAN DIEGO
Where to start? Balboa Park with its collection of great museums and the San Diego Zoo? The Gaslamp Quarter, with its restaurants, bars and clubs? Maybe the USS Midway Museum? Or the beach at La Jolla? What about Old Town San Diego? The point is, rather like San Francisco, there are a multitude of things to do in San Diego – more than enough in fact to very happily occupy several days.
If you have any feedback on our list of things to do in California, or if you have some recommendations of your own, please email us and let us know. We’ll be sure to take it into account.
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