Let’s Go to California

Let’s Go to California – Third Biggest and Most Populous State in the United States

By Charles L Harmon

Let’s go to California since it has so many sights and scenes. Everything from deserts to mountains to beaches and loads of cities, people, and places all in one state.

Golden Gate Bridge
The famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

I live in California, but it is so big and has so many attractions I have seen and experienced only a small part of them.

Depending on where you live in the state, some destinations you can drive to. While others you can fly directly to if they are in any of the larger cities. If you don’t live here then you should add destination California to your bucket list.

100 Things To Do In California – Video

by California Delicious
Published on Youtube on Jan 15, 2015

California’s population had reached 38,041,430 (2012 est) by 2012, making it the most populated state.

According to the Sacramento News & Review, California’s population, due to an influx of people will increase to 50 million people by 2025. While in contrast, it is now 39.5 million people as I check Wikipedia in March 2018. California Population likewise in 2018 so far has now grown to 39,776,830 according to World Population Review.

The state adds around 400,000 people a year according to the State Population Bureau. Ca Population StatsSurely enough California is still growing according to the latest figures.

California’s Large Scale Economy

California has a large 2.8 trillion dollar economy. Likewise, it is larger than that of any other state in the country. If one were to consider it a country, it would be the 5th largest economy in the world. That’s larger than the U.K. or France. The state would be the 36th most populous as of 2017.

Similarly, the Greater Los Angeles Area is the second-largest urban economy in the country. San Francisco Bay Area is the nation’s third-largest urban economy. Both as of 2017. The New York City metropolitan area is the largest economic area in the US as of 2017.

The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation’s highest GDP per capita in 2017. Most noteworthy it is home to four of the world’s ten largest companies by market capitalization. Also, four of the world’s ten richest people live in that area.


Visit California and one of its Big Cities

More than 12 percent of U.S. citizens live in California. Its population is greater than that of all but 34 countries. The state has eight of the top 50 US cities in terms of population.

Los Angeles is the nation’s second-largest city with a population of 4,018,000 people.

San Diego California downtown
San Diego downtown in the afternoon. Click image to enlarge.

San Diego is the 8th largest city. San Jose (10th), San Francisco (14th), Long Beach is the 34th largest city. Fresno (36th), Sacramento (37th) and Oakland (44th) ALL largest city by population.

Los Angeles County has held the title of most populous county for decades. It is more populous than 37 US states. Note these statistics may have changed slightly.

California compares in size with Sweden. With over 160,000 square miles (411,000 km2),as a result the landscape of the state is vast and varied.

The state contains extremes in elevation. Mount Whitney rises to 14,505 feet (4,421 meters) and is the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

In contrast, Death Valley at almost 300 feet below sea level is the lowest elevation.

Glendale Freeway
Glendale Freeway view

Destination California for your Preferred Weather

Let’s go to California where we can experience warm winter’s. Yes, California has lots of different climates depending on where you might visit or even live within the state. The climate varies from the Mediterranean to subarctic. A large part of the state has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters and dry summers.

Along the Pacific coast, there is often summer fog. The fog sometimes extends inland for many tens of miles. Further inland you will encounter colder winters and hotter summers. But on the good side of that consider the inland area of Southern California. Unless you live in the desert it very rarely snows in the winter.

Most of the winter days you don’t even need a coat except maybe a light jacket on the colder days. In the summer hottest days, yes it does get hot, but the humidity is almost always low so you do not sweat profusely unless you stay out in the sun a long time.

California’s Geography

California is often geographically considered as two different regions. You hear about Southern California a lot. It generally comprises the ten southernmost counties of the state. While in contrast, Northern California comprises the other 48 northernmost counties.

In Northern California and upper parts of the state average higher annual rainfall than the south. California’s mountain ranges influence the climate as well.

lets go to California
Some of the rainiest parts of the state are west-facing mountain slopes. The northwestern part of the state has a temperate climate.

The Central Valley has a Mediterranean climate but with greater temperature

extremes than the coast. Its high mountains, including the Sierra Nevada, have an alpine climate.

As a result, they have snow in winter and mild to moderate heat in summer. Sometimes, however, there is not enough snow or rain, consequently, the state has a severe drought.

California is bordered to the north by Oregon. Nevada is to the east. Arizona is southeast and Baja California, a state of Mexico, to the south.

California has wide-ranging geography. It ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west, to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east.

In the northwest – from the Redwood–Douglas-fir forests. The Mojave Desert areas are in the southeast.

In the center of the state is the Central Valley, a major agricultural area. California also contains both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States. Highest is Mount Whitney. Lowest is Death Valley.

Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean-like climate, it is definitely not like that everywhere. Since the state is rather large, hence quite different climates appear in different parts of the state.

Temperatures vary considerably in the state. It is moist temperate rainforest weather in the north. You have arid desert and hot temperatures in the interior of the state. There is also the snowy alpine climate in the mountainous areas in the winter season.

let's visit California
Sonoran Desert Gateway to Palm Springs, California, as observed from above highway 62 in the Morongo Basin. Photo by Jessie Eastland / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert covers approximately 100,000 square miles in southeastern California and southwestern Arizona. Also most of Baja California and part of Sonora, Mexico. Subdivisions of this region include the Colorado and Yuma deserts.

This is the hottest of our North American deserts. However, the rainfall pattern produces a high biological diversity in this desert. So it is not barren like you might think.

Due to irrigation, there are many fertile agricultural areas in it. They include the Coachella and Imperial valleys of California. Warm winters attract tourists from Canada and other areas to Sonora Desert resorts in Palm Springs, California.

Some Californian cities in this desert include Palm Springs Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Blyth, Coachella, Palm Desert, Indio, La Quinta, El Centro and Imperial.

In a part of this area, according to Wikipedia, there are undocumented border crossings.

Straddling as it does the US-Mexican border, with low levels of human-installed security, the Sonoran Desert is a popular route to attempt unauthorized entry across the border. The harsh conditions mean that the 3-5-day march, usually moving at night to minimize exposure to the heat, often ends in death.

Palm Springs
A view of Palm Springs from the Museum Trail. Photo by Visitor7 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Visit Palm Springs – A World Famous Resort City

Palm Springs, located in Riverside County, California. It is within the Coachella Valley. It’s located about 55 miles east of San Bernardino and 107 miles east of Los Angeles. In the other directions are northeast of San Diego some 123 miles, and is 268 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona.

The population estimate in 2018 was 48,375. Palm Springs covers approximately 94 square miles thus making it the largest city in Riverside county by land area. This world-class desert resort destination desert city offers a collection of hip new hotels and historic and boutique hideaways.

There are unique vacation homes you can rent. Due to the hot summers, all will include a swimming pool for your leisurely relaxation. Your vacation day likely begins and ends in the pool. Of course, you’ll take time to eat, drink, play and shop. There are trendy bars and restaurants with delicious foods.

Palm Springs California street
Palm Canyon Drive (California State Route 111) in Downtown Palm Springs, California. Photo by Patrick Pelster / CC BY-SA 3.0

Some of the activities in and around Palm Springs are golf, swimming, tennis, and biking. You can also go hiking and horseback riding in the nearby desert and mountain areas. Those are the major forms of recreation in Palm Springs. The city is also known for its mid-century modern architecture, design elements, and arts and cultural scene.

The city has lots of annual cultural events and public art projects you can attend or visit. In addition, there are museums and other points of interest.

Palm Springs is a popular retirement destination. In the winter it is also a snowbird destination. During the winter months (November to March), the city’s population triples. It has an influx of people from Canada and other places in the US where winter is brutally cold and snowy. Palm Springs and surrounding cities and areas might be the perfect place to visit in the winter if you live in an area where it is cold in the wintertime.


The Mojave Desert and Desert Cities

When one thinks of the desert they may think of the Sahara desert in Africa. However, there are deserts all over the world. Although California borders the Pacific Ocean that doesn’t prevent it from having a desert or two.

Here are most of the California desert cities.Mojave Desert cities The California Deserts are pretty much a theme park unto its own. The desert region hosts visitors to elevations of thousands of feet above to more than 280 feet/85 meters below sea level.

It offers health and wellness. This is due to the natural hot mineral waters that bubble to its surface.

The California desert has hundreds of old mines and ghost towns hidden in its hills and valleys. Visiting some of them brings back reminders of the area’s past.

The Mojave desert’s northern part extends into the State of Nevada. The Mojave Desert occupies a large portion of Southern California plus parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

It is a large desert just across the mountains of Southern California. It extends all the way to Nevada and beyond. From the Inland Empire region of California, some of the northern parts of this desert is a hop-skip-and-a-jump to Las Vegas, Nevada. In fact, many Southern Californians drive about 300 miles to Las Vegas on the weekends.

The Mojave Desert stretches from the Antelope Valley eastward across the Colorado River and into Arizona. It borders the Sonoran Colorado Desert and along with the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Along with almost a half million people scattered within the area are dozens of wilderness areas.

The famous US Route 66 was perhaps the most fabled highway in America in its day. It has been immortalized in song, literature, and was even a T.V. series back in the 60s. When the famous highway went through cities it was often designated as US66A, an alternate route through part of a city.

Palmdale California
Looking south from the hills near Tierra Subida Avenue, January snow can be seen at the higher elevations. Photo by Jamesb01

Palmdale and Lancaster; California’s Two Biggest Desert Cities

Palmdale and Lancaster are adjacent cities in the Mojave Desert. Compared to many other cities in the United States they have very few tourist attractions.

Maybe because they are in the desert and the hot weather in the summer will turn most tourists off from visiting. Maybe because they are relatively far from the many non-desert cities is another reason. Nonetheless, there are over 100,000 people in each city.

Palmdale lies in the Antelope Valley region of Southern California. The San Gabriel Mountains separate Palmdale from the city of Los Angeles to the south. Together with its immediate northern neighbor, the city of Lancaster, the Palmdale/Lancaster urban area had an estimated population of 513,547 as of 2013.

The city hosts The Palmdale Fall Festival. It is an annual festival said to be one of the best in California where it is held every October. There is also the Palmdale Jazz & Wine Festival. It is an annual event held in September at the Palmdale Amphitheater.

Lancaster California
Lancaster covered in several inches of snow after a winter snowstorm in December 2008. Photo by Basil D Soufi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just north of the city’s northern border is the city of Lancaster. Lancaster is part of a twin city complex with its southern neighbor Palmdale. Together they are the principal cities within the Antelope Valley region. Lancaster has a slightly larger population than Palmdale. Some of the residents of these two large desert cities commute to Los Angeles, 60 miles away and vicinity for their jobs.

Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) is the home of the Air Force Test Center in Lansing. Edwards AFB is also home to three airparks/museums including the Air Force Flight Test Museum. Blackbird Airpark is also there. It is an annex of the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base. Located there is the world’s only display of a Lockheed SR-71A together with its predecessor A-12.

Lancaster has twelve city parks that provide ample access to picnic shelters, barbecues, volleyball and tennis. Also, there are basketball and horseshoe courts, softball fields, swimming pools, playgrounds and walking trails.

Lancaster is one of those unusual cities, along with Palmdale. They are conveniently located within an hour of both prime skiing and surfing destinations. So if you do either one of these activities Lancaster welcomes you in both the winter and summer.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. ~ John Muir  

California has a Long Coastline and Lots of Earthquakes

The state has the 3rd longest coastline of all states (after Alaska and Florida). Earthquakes are a common occurrence. That’s due to the state’s location along the Pacific Ring of Fire. About 37,000 earthquakes are recorded annually.

California State Flag
California State Flag

For those living here in California, we usually take earthquakes in stride. There, so far, in the over 60 years I’ve been living here, maybe just a handful of strong earthquakes that have done any significant damage.

Nearly 45 per cent of the state’s total surface area is covered by forests. Its diversity of pine species is unmatched by any other state.

California contains more forestland than any other state except Alaska. Most noteworthy, many of the trees in the California White Mountains are the oldest in the world.

As a result, one Bristlecone pine has an age of 4,700 years. Many others are hundreds to thousands of years old.

let's go to california
A Google search for “earthquakes in California”

In the southern part of the state is a large inland salt lake, the Salton Sea. The south-central area is a desert called the Mojave Desert.

Northeast of the Mojave Desert in Death Valley. Its the lowest and furthermore usually the hottest place in North America is 282 feet below sea level.

Almost all of southeastern California is arid and hot desert. Consequently, it has routine extreme high temperatures during the summer. The southeastern border of California with Arizona is the Colorado River.

The southern part of the state gets about half of its water from there.

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Immigration in California

In 2010, for the first time since the California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, California-born residents make up the majority of the state’s population.

California Population Map
California population map

In 2011, the state saw a shift in its immigration pattern. As a result, it now has more people coming from Asia and less from Latin America.

The state’s population of undocumented immigrants has been shrinking in recent years. Its due to increased enforcement and a slumping economy.

The number of migrants arrested attempting to cross the Mexican border in the Southwest plunged from a high of 1.1 million in 2005 to just 367,000 in 2011.

Illegal aliens constituted an estimated 7.3 percent of the state’s population. It is the third-highest percentage of any state in the country, totaling nearly 2.6 million. More than half originate from Mexico.

Illegal aliens make up more than ten percent of the population in Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, Imperial, and Napa Counties.

The last four of those counties have significant agricultural industries that depend on manual labor.

travel destination California

Racial and Ancestral Makeup in California

According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011:

  • 74% White (40% Non-Hispanic White)
  • 14% Asian
  • 6.6% Black or African American
  • 2% Native American
  • 5% Multiracial
  • 0.4% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • 38% are Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
  • 62% of the population is Non-Hispanic (of any race)

The main ancestries of California’s residents in 2009 by survey:

Let's Go to California

  • 31% Mexican
  • 10% German
  • 8% Irish
  • 7% English
  • 4% Italian

Major Cities in California

These are some of the major cities in the state.

    • Sacramento – The laid-back state capital with the historic area of the city, Old Sacramento.
    • Bakersfield– The world’s largest Basque population outside of Spain is found here and fine Basque restaurants abound.
    • San Francisco– Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, America’s largest Chinatown, cable cars, and Victorian houses
    • Fresno– Gateway to Yosemite.
    • Los Angeles – The state’s largest city, and 2nd-largest in the nation. L.A. is home to Hollywood, Venice, The Getty Center, and Griffith Park.
    • Palm Springs– Desert recreation with golf, spas, resorts, casinos, and the famous aerial tramway.
visit California
SAN DIEGO (June 4, 2011) Navy and Marine Corps personnel, along with community leaders from the greater San Diego area come together to commemorate the 69th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway aboard the USS Midway Museum.
    • San Diego– Balboa Park, Old Town, SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo, and nearby Tijuana, Mexico.
    • San Jose– South of San Francisco, home of the Winchester Mystery House, and the center of Silicon Valley, which is home to many technology companies.
San Jose California
San Jose California – Silicon Valley self proclaimed capital
  • Santa Cruz – A central coast city. The home of the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Mission Santa Cruz, and the Mystery Spot.

visit California

Other Destinations and Top Attractions

    • San FranciscoSan Francisco should be on everyone’s must-see list. Include the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Quaint neighborhoods, green spaces, historic sites, and cultural institutions are all here. You’ll enjoy the relaxed attitude in this hilly old city.
    • DisneylandDisneyland is the premier family destination. It is packed with rides, games, shows, and entertainment, complete with restaurants and hotels.
    • SeaWorld San Diego — A theme park that is a classic family destination. The park draws people from all over the Western United States to watch orca and dolphin shows.
    • Lake Tahoe — A large, gorgeous lake high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Lake Tahoe has water sports and excellent skiing in the winter.
    • Hearst Castle — This historical monument, was built over a 28-year period starting in 1919. The castle sits at an elevation of 1,600 feet with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Lucia Range.
    • Big Sur — one of the most scenic spots along the Pacific Coast Highway. Hiking and Camping are two of the most popular activities in the area.
    • Universal Studios Hollywood — This movie studio and amusement park is a very popular attraction in California. For families with teens and older children it is a perfect outing.

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10 Best Places to Visit in California – Travel Video

by touropia
Published on Youtube on Apr 30, 2019

There’s more to California than just movie stars and Disneyland. This is a state that boasts a large number of stunning natural attractions, including beautiful beaches, serene deserts and majestic mountains. California is also home to a number of exciting major cities, charming towns and to some of the world’s best wineries.

California’s National and State Parks

  • Channel Islands National Park – five remarkable islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment.
  • Death Valley National Park – A place of legend and a place of trial with California’s most inhospitable terrain. Its extreme heat has left this desert area unusually beautiful.
  • Joshua Tree National Park – The park is 800,000 acres and offers a range of diverse sites and fabulous campgrounds.
  • Santa Catalina Island – It lies about 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. It is a popular destination with boaters and day trippers.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park – witness a brief moment in the ancient battle between the earth shaping forces of creation and destruction.
  • Redwood National Park – Stand at the base of a coast redwood and even the huckleberry bushes tower over you. Walk through a forest of giant redwoods, reaching more than 300 feet above you.
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – These twin parks hold monuments to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity. They are home to the largest trees on earth. A visit to two Parks is a must for your bucket-list.
  • Yosemite National Park – one of the first wilderness parks in the United States. Located in Northern California it is one of the United States most scenic, most visited national parks.
  • Channel Islands National Park – The park is made up of five individual islands. It is a great place to see wildlife and a little bit of undisturbed nature.

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California-Mexico Border

California’s proximity to the Mexican border makes it easy for people to go to Mexico and vice versa. Visitors should be cautious while in areas near the border.

  • Know where you are at all times, follow good safety procedures and use common sense when making decisions.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.
  • Keep valuables, including spare change, out of sight and lock your vehicle.
  • Avoid traveling in well-marked but unofficial “trails.”
  • Avoid hiking or camping in areas of major border activity. If you are visiting a national or state park, consult park staff to help plan backcountry travel in safer areas.
  • Report any suspicious behavior to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Crossing The California-Mexico Border

Thousands of U.S citizens visit Baja California, Mexico from Southern California every year. The majority of travelers are returning from an enjoyable experience. If you are visiting California, especially the San Diego area then Tijuana Mexico is a stone’s throw away. It’s just across the border.

affiliate pgmHowever, a minority of travelers do experience difficulties and serious inconveniences while traveling to Mexico. If you are driving there (probably not a good idea) be sure you have auto insurance that covers you in Mexico.

Before traveling to Mexico, ensure that you have the proper documentation. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a complicated procedure. For example, I went to Tijuana this past August 2019. I walked across the border from Otay Mesa near San Diego California.

Yes, you can walk across the border if you are in the right location. All I needed was my passport and to fill out a very short form. We went to a restaurant there and to a pharmacy. Imagine getting a small tube of paste-like medicine for $10.

That same small tube of medicine costs about $200 in the U.S. It is not covered by health insurance in the United States. So it is almost impossible to get it in the U.S. for a reasonable cost. Many people here order medicines from Mexico and/or Canada if that’s practical for them. There is usually a big difference in cost.

Be familiar with the recommendations for foreign travel. Check with the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Consular Affairs.

There are six border crossings between California and Mexico. The United States operates a consulate in Mexicali.

Mexico operates Consulates in Calexico, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oxnard, and Sacramento. Also in San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Ana.

This is just a small sample of what’s here in California. You might want to visit California your next vacation if you don’t already live here. If you live outside the United States or far from its west coast, then you should visit California.

Maybe it’s time to tell your family, friends or significant other “let’s go to California”. If you’re single then save up a bit of money and make visiting California a must-visit goal. You won’t regret it. There is something for everyone here in the Golden State.


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