‘You haven’t lived until you’ve died in California.’

California is the largest state of the United States by population, and the third-largest by the area, located on its coast to the Pacific Ocean. It has natural attractions as well as theme parks and bustling city life. From misty Northern California redwood forests to sun-kissed Southern California beaches, the enchanted golden state makes Disneyland seem normal.

Don’t be fooled by its perpetually fresh outlook and adventurous attitude: California is older than it seems. Coastal bluffs and snowy peaks were created over millennia of tectonic upheavals that threatened to shake California right off the continent. After 19th-century mining, logging and oil-drilling threatened the state’s natural splendors, California’s pioneering environmentalists rescued old-growth trees, reclaimed rivers, and cleaned the beaches. Thanks to the leadership of Californian conservationist John Muir and his Sierra Club, California’s national and state parks continue to astound visitors today.

Through booms and busts, California has gotten by on its wits and charm. Hollywood still makes most of the world’s movies and TV shows, and launches new talents nightly on stages statewide. But California dreams don’t begin with moguls in office towers – they’re invented by California’s artists, adventurers, and resident weirdos in their own backyards. Wild schemes that started at psychedelic music festivals and in San Jose garages have gone mainstream – perhaps you’ve heard of smartphones, streaming video, and Burning Man? – but there are plenty of outlandish ideas here still awaiting discovery. Hang out at California galleries, cafes, bars, and festivals, and you may actually see the future coming.

California’s cities hit maximum dazzle as the sun sets over the Pacific, and lights twinkle across golden hillsides. Lamps illuminate San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, the Hollywood sign glows bright as the moon over LA, and Bay Bridge lights welcome San Francisco arrivals with a wink and a shimmy. Consider this your invitation to come out and play, and join the crowds at LA’s star-studded nightclubs and movie palaces, San Francisco’s historic LGBT hot spots, Santa Barbara’s swanky beach bars, and San Diego’s booming brewpubs. Tomorrow there will be neighborhoods, beaches, spas, and boutiques to explore – but tonight is a night on the town like no other.

California is a fertile, peaceful place where you’ll find a near-equal balance of vineyards and deserts, beaches and mountains, hippies, and traditionalists. Catch an epic wave in Big Sur or swirl a glass in Napa Valley. Be dazzled by the Joshua Tree night sky or just star-gaze in Hollywood. Swish down the slopes of a Tahoe ski resort, or cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge with the top down and the music blasting. Above all, don’t forget to soak up some Golden State sunshine.

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