The Golden State offers snow‐capped mountains, deserts, lush forests, and golden beaches, so you can ski in the morning and be on the beach sunbathing in the afternoon.
If you’re more of a city type, then take your pick from Los Angeles and San Francisco. One is the entertainment capital of the world, big on celebrity, glamour, and insincerity; the other is the home of flower power, the Beat Generation, and gay pride. Linking the two is the spectacular Highway 1, perfect for a romantic drive.
Hollywood and Beverly Hills Everyone’s got to do a little celeb‐spotting sometime and this is the place. If you don’t catch anyone in the flesh, head for Mann’s Chinese theatre where you can see their hand and footprints instead. Check up on the manicured lawns of Beverly Hills before stocking up on Chanel and Cartier down Rodeo Drive.
Golden Gate Bridge A pedestrian sidewalk runs over this star of countless films. Walk across for the most dramatic and beautiful view of the San Francisco skyline.
Venice Beach A rather run‐down part of LA, but worth a visit for the high concentration of jugglers, joggers, and oily hardbodies. Have a quick look in at the Schwarzenegger‐approved World Gym to see real rippling muscles.
Disneyland You simply can’t visit California and not come to the happiest place on earth! For more serious rollercoaster rides, head for Six Flags Magic Mountain instead.
Coast Highway 1 This cliff‐hugging road heading south from San Francisco past Clint Eastwood’s town, Carmel, is perfect for a romantic drive: all dazzling white beaches on one side and pine‐clad hills on the other.
San Francisco Cable Car ride Take a ride up Nob Hill in a cable car for a gorgeous glimpse of the bay and see how the other half live.
Shasta Cascade Get away from it all in this northern part dominated by mountains, waterfalls, redwoods ‐‐ and very few people.
Love bites and love potions
If you have a penchant for an unusual meal, you’re bound to be able to find it in somewhere in California. From organic restaurants to fast‐foodburger joints, from Tex‐mex to sushi, every taste is catered for.
When in Hollywood, try cocktails at the Roosevelt Hotel where Errol Flynn and F Scott Fitzgerald used to hang out. Or for more modern star‐spotting, splash out on dinner at the Bel‐Air hotel. There are good seafood restaurants in Santa Monica, and every type of freshly‐squeezed juice on Venice Beach.
Walk your loved one to the northern viewing point on Golden Gate Bridge and pop the question in full view of the splendid San Francisco skyline.
To get you in the mood
Music wise, you’re spoilt for choice. California is the home of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Los Lobos, The Doors, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac. But the ultimate Californian sound is surely the Beach Boys, especially their classic CD, Pet Sounds.
As for films set in California, the list is endless. But for a rare Hollywood movie that shows the industry like it really is, try Robert Altman’s The Player, starring Greta Scacchi, Tim Robbins and Richard E Grant. And for a truly Californian reading experience, take a look at Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur, the not exactly un‐autobiographical tale of a retired Beatnik idol in search of peace and seclusion.
Language of love
Luv yah babe! (Response: Right back attcha)
Cool, dude! (plus high five) = Congratulations!
Let’s tie the knot
Stags and hens
Just about anything you want to do is possible in California, but a good start is a wine tour of the vineyards of Napa Valley. Needless to say, a great deal of wine‐tasting goes on. Go trekking through forests of towering redwood trees on the north coast of California, or do some deep‐sea fishing or fly‐fishing in one of the state parks.
Soak in a hot mineral spring in Marin County (after some mountain‐biking), or luxuriate in a mud bath. If you are looking for something a little darker, take a ferry to the Alcatraz prison where Al Capone was holed up, and check out the concrete cell block for lifers.
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