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California, USA

Los Angeles - San Francisco - Monterey - Santa Barbara -

Santa Cruz - Yosemite Park - Sierra Nevada

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California is a state on the west coast of the USA. It is also the third largest state by area and the largest state by population in the USA. The state offers something for everyone: Southern California is home to such popular attractions as Disneyland, Hollywood and the beaches that inspired the television show Baywatch, while the northern part of the state offers the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the hills of San Francisco, and the vineyards of Napa Valley. Further away from the state's major cities California is home to some of America's most rugged national parks, incredible skiing opportunities, and quiet northern forests. More information here and here.

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The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. Since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges. It still has the second longest suspension bridge main span in the United States.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island is a small island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California, United States. It served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification, then a military prison followed by a federal prison until 1963. Today, the island is a historic site operated by the National Park Service and is open to tours.

Yosemite Valley - Sierra Nevada

Yosemite Valley is a world-famous scenic location in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It is the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, attracting visitors from all parts of the globe. The Valley is the point of entry into the park for the majority of visitors, and a bustling hub of activity during tourist season, with an array of visitor facilities clustered in the middle.

The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign is a famous landmark in the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, California, spelling out the name of the area in 15 m high white letters. It was created as an advertisement in 1923. Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical centre of movie studios and movie stars, the word "Hollywood" is often used as a metonym of cinema of the United States.

San Francisco

The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 13th most populous city in the United States, with a 2007 estimated population of 799,183. In 1776, the Spanish established a fort at the Golden Gate. The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After being devastated by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt.

San Francisco

Pier 39 - San Francisco

Pier 39 is a shopping center and popular tourist attraction built on a pier in San Francisco. At Pier 39, there are shops, restaurants, street performances, an interpretive center for the Marine Mammal Center, the Aquarium of the Bay, virtual 3D rides, and views of California sea lions hauled out on docks on Pier 39's marina.

Pier 39 - San Francisco

Sea lions basking on Pier 39's docks delight tourists, but are a pest for boat owners. They arrive here in January.

Pier 39 - San Francisco

A collections of restaurants, shops, and amusements, set against a backdrop of spectacular bay views, is one of the city's major tourist attractions.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay onto the Pacific Ocean. In 2007, it was ranked fifth on the List of America's Favourite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects. The weight of the roadway is hung off of two cables that pass through the two main towers and are fixed in concrete at each end. Each cable is made of 27,572 strands of wire. There are 129,000 km of wire in each of the two main cables; the total is sufficient to go around the world roughly 6 times.

The Golden Gate Bridge

The bridge is widely considered one of the most beautiful examples of bridge engineering, both as a structural design challenge and for its aesthetic appeal. It was declared one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. According to Frommer's travel guide, the Golden Gate Bridge is "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.

San Francisco from Golden Gate

San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Chinatown.

Alcatraz Island - San Francisco

Due to its isolation from the outside by the cold, strong, hazardous currents of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861. The island became a federal prison in August 1934. During the 29 years it was in use, the jail held such notable criminals as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), Jose Sierra , James "Whitey" Bulger and Alvin Karpis.

Alcatraz Island

During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed no prisoners as having ever successfully escaped. 36 prisoners were involved in 14 attempts, two men trying twice; seven were shot and killed, and two drowned. The most violent occurred on 2 May 1946 when a failed escape attempt by six prisoners led to the so-called "Battle of Alcatraz".

Alcatraz Island.

The interior of a regular cell in the row known as Broadway.

Alcatraz Island

On June 11, 1962 Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin successfully carried out one of the most intricate escapes ever devised. Behind the prisoners' cells in Cell Block B (where the escapees were interned) was an unguarded 3-foot (0.91 m) wide utility corridor. Leaving papier-mâché dummies in their cells with paint brush bristles as hair, they escaped. Articles belonging to the prisoners (including plywood paddles and parts of the raincoat raft) were located on nearby Angel Island, and the official report on the escape says the prisoners drowned while trying to reach the mainland in the cold waters of the bay.

Alcatraz Island

View from Alcatraz Island toward Golden Gate bridge.

Lombard Street San Francisco

Lombard Street is best known for the one way section on Russian Hil which the roadway has eight sharp turns that have earned the street the distinction of being "the crookedest [most winding] street in world.

Chinatown Gateway, San Francisco

San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America. It is also the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. Established in the 1850s, it has featured significantly in popular culture venues such as film, music, photography and literature. It is one of the largest and most prominent centres of Chinese activity outside of China.

Chinatown, San Francisco

Even during bad times, it has always remained a major tourist attraction — drawing more visitors than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles i0s the largest city in the state of California and the second largest in the United States. Often abbreviated as L.A. and nicknamed The City of Angels, Los Angeles is rated an alpha world city, has an estimated population of 3.8 million and the Los Angeles metropolitan area is home to nearly 12.9 million residents, who hail from all over the globe and speak 224 different languages. Los Angeles is an important centre of culture, business, media, and international trade, but is most famous for being the centre of the world's entertainment industry, which forms the base of its global status.

Venice Beach

Venice is a district in western Los Angeles known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, which features performers, fortune-tellers and vendors. It is an important tourist attraction in Southern California, and has retained its popularity in part because it is an attractive location for walking and bicycling. It was home to early Beat poets and artists in Los Angeles.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach is understood to include the beach, the promenade that runs parallel to the beach ("Ocean Front Walk" or just "the boardwalk"), Muscle Beach, the handball courts, the paddle tennis courts, Skate Dancing plaza, the numerous beach volleyball courts, the bike trail and the businesses and residences that have their addresses on Ocean Front Walk.

Venice Beach

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is the world’s largest working movie and television studio and theme park. Its official marketing headline is "The Entertainment Capital of LA", though during the summer it is often advertised as "The Coolest Place in LA." It was initially created to offer tours of the real Universal Studios soundstages and sets.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Movie set from Steven Spielberg's Film War of the Worlds.

Beverly Hills – Los Angeles

Beverly Hills is a city in the western part of Los Angeles. Beverly Hills contains some of the largest homes in Los Angeles County and the nation. These homes range from the extravagant and luxurious in size, to the more elegant and modern homes. In 2007, Coldwell Banker lists Beverly Hills as the most expensive housing market (second year in a row) in the United States, with a median home price of over $2.2 million.

Sunset Boulevard - Los Angeles

Sunset Boulevard is a street in the western part of Los Angeles that stretches from Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Coast Highway at the Pacific Ocean. The street is one of the most famous roads in the world and a icon of Hollywood celebrity culture and the phrase "Sunset Boulevard" is an enduring shorthand for the glamour associated with Tinseltown.

The Santa Monica Pier

Since 1908, Angelenos and visitors alike have flocked to this landmark pier. The pier contains Pacific Park, a family amusement park with a large Ferris wheel. It also has a carousel from the 1920s, an aquarium, shops, entertainers, an arcade, a trapeze school, a pub, and restaurants. The end of the pier is a popular location for anglers.

Santa Monica Beach

Following the success of the television series Baywatch, Santa Monica’s beaches are famous throughout the world. It is two miles long, has a picnic area, shops and pier. Visitor activities include volleyball, basketball and a running strip along the beach. The beach has manned lifeguard stations, casual eateries, equipment rental spots, public fitness and activity facilities, a bike trail, wooden pathways for beachgoers with disabilities and warm days.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is located geographically less than 100 miles from hyper-metropolitan Los Angeles but feels light years away from the noise and congestion of its huge neighbour to the south, which helps explain why the upper crust of Southern California have long favoured the coastal retreat as both a getaway destination and the perfect place for a second (or sometimes first) home.

Paintings outside Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara, also known as Santa Barbara Mission, is a Spanish Franciscan mission near present day Santa Barbara. It was founded December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, to evangelize the local Chumash tribe.

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California. The population was 8,551 at the 2000 census.

Highway 1

State Route 1, often called Highway 1, is a state highway that runs along much of the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California. It is famous for running by some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, leading to its designation as an All-American Road.

Highway 1

Highway 1

Monterey

The City of Monterey is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. As of 2005, the city population was 30,641. The city is noted for its rich history of resident artists beginning in the late 1800s and its historically famed fishery. Monterey is steeped in history and famed for the abundance and diversity of its marine life, which includes sea lions, sea otters, harbour seals, pelicans and dolphins.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz in California had a total population of 54,593 in 2000. It is located about 115 km south of San Francisco. The present-day site of Santa Cruz was the location of a Native American settlement since ancient times. It was also one of the earliest settlements of the Spanish during the exploration of Alta California in the later part of the 1700s.

Santa Cruz

During the late 1800s, after California became part of the United States, Santa Cruz became widely popular for its idyllic beaches and Coastal Redwoods and became a popular resort community.

Sunset at Santa Cruz

Capitola

Capitola is a city in Santa Cruz County, California, and has a population of 10,033 (2000). Capitola is known as the oldest beach resort on the West Coast. Capitola is a popular tourist town because of its trendy shops and restaurants on the shore directly connecting to a fishing wharf and its large, sandy beach.

Yosemite Valley - Sierra Nevada

Upper Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Valley are the highest waterfalls in North America and tumble from a height of 740m in two great leaps, Upper Yosemite and Lower Yosemite Falls. One of the most recognizable features of the park, the cascades are visible all over the valley.

Yosemite Valley - Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada (Spanish for "snowy mountain range") is a mountain range located in California. The height of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada gradually increases from north to south. The crest near Yosemite National Park is roughly 13,000 feet (4,000 m) high at Mount Dana and Mount Lyell, and the entire range attains its peak at Mount Whitney (14,505 feet, 4,421 m).

Bridgeport - California

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Sonora Pass 2933m – Sierra Nevada

Sonora Pass (el. 9,624 ft. / 2,933 m.) is the second-highest highway pass in the Sierra Nevada. The pass connects the communities of Sonora to the west and Bridgeport to the east. The highway over the pass is extremely steep (up to 26% in some locations), narrow and winding.

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