"California is a garden of Eden a paradise to live in and to see"
Woody Guthrie 1912-1967
One of many songs penned in awe and wonder about the splendid Golden State that is California.
When the team at Far Flung asked me to do a feature on California they didn't need to ask twice!! It is,
after all, my favourite place on the planet. A native born Scot from the West coast I often feel that I
have lived in California in a different incarnation. I have spent every spare penny earned exploring the
four regions of the state and with every visit I find a new favourite place to be! My first love is San
Francisco, "Baghdad by the Bay", the glittering jewel of the coastal region and the Golden gate to the
hinterlands of the north. What we will do in this feature is to give you a brief description and potted
history of the state and it's four regions and then go into more detail about the sights and sounds and
places to see in each of them.
The name "California" came from a knightly romance book that was published in 1510. It was about an
island paradise near the Indies where beautiful Queen Califia ruled over a country of beautiful black
Amazons with lots of pearls and gold. Men were only allowed there one day a year to help perpetuate the
race. Cortez's men thought they found the island in 1535, because they found pearls. Later, Francisco de
Ulloa found that the island was really a peninsula.
California has four main regions. The temperate Coastal region, the Central Valley, once an inland sea,
the Desert, and the Mountain region. The imposing Sierra Nevadas caused California to develop in relative
isolation from the rest of the nation.
- Coastal Region
The coastline of California stretches for 1,264 miles from the Oregon border in the north to Mexico in
the south. Some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of California lies along the Pacific coast.
More than half of California's people reside in the coastal region. Most live in major cities that grew
up around harbors at San Francisco Bay, San Diego Bay and the Los Angeles Basin. There is so much to
do on the glittering Shores of California that we have broken the areas down into their natural order,
North Coast, Central Coast and South Coast with a full guide of what there is to do and see plus all
the information on California Hotels, California car hire and Cheap California flights to get you there.
- The Central Valley
The Central Valley lies between the Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevada. More than four hundred miles long
and about fifty miles wide, the Central Valley is the most productive agricultural area in California.
Oak woodlands and bunchgrass prairies once covered the valley floor and great tule marshes extended over
the flood plain. Beavers in the inland streams first lured European Americans across the continent to
California in the 1820s. Overhead is the Pacific flyway, a heavily traveled route for migrating birds.
Beneath the surface of the valley lie rich deposits of oil and natural gas, created millions of years ago
from the remains of marine plants and animals. Irrigated cropland today covers most of the valley and
produces more agricultural products than any comparable region in the world.
- The Mountain Region
Mountains cover most of the surface of California. The various ranges tended to isolate the diverse Native
American cultures that flourished within the present boundaries of the state. The mountains also were
formidable barriers during the early decades of European American exploration and settlement. Mount
Whitney, the highest point in the United States outside Alaska, rises to a majestic 14,495 feet above
sea level in Sequoia National Park, at the headwaters of the Kings and Kern rivers. In southeastern
Siskiyou County is Mount Shasta, a solitary peak of volcanic origin whose summit is 14,162 feet. Just
to the south stands Mount Lassen at 10,457 feet. Mt. Lassen was an active volcano between 1914 and 1921.
The Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges are California's two major mountain ranges. The Klamath Mountains
and the Cascades are located along the northern border of the state. The Transverse Ranges bisect southern
California. The mountainous spine of the Baja California peninsula extends north into the Peninsular Ranges.
- The Desert
Much of the eastern half of southern California is a large desert triangle--a vast expanse of sandy valleys,
dried lake beds, and short ranges of rugged mountains. These southern deserts were as much a barrier to
overland migration to California in the eighteenth century as the steep eastern face of the Sierra Nevada
was in the nineteenth. Among the deserts of California are the Mojave and Colorado as well as the foreboding
The land surface of California covers almost 100 million acres. It's the third largest of the states;
only Alaska and Texas are larger. Within this vast area are a greater range of landforms, a greater variety
of habitats, and more species of plants and animals than in any area of comparable size in all of North
After you have read and digested all we have written about this wonderful holiday destination we will
help you with every facet of planning, booking and savouring that tingle of anticipation that comes with
a major trip to the Golden State. We will offer you the latest offers and best deals for your cheap flight
to California, Hotels in California, best-priced tickets for Disneyland California, all your accommodation
in California if you are traveling, plus the cheapest car hire in California, a guide to the wine country
with a guide to the best California wine to sample. There is an exclusive guide to the national parks at
Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. We leave nothing to chance for your holidays in California so while
you are "California Dreaming"; we are constantly updating the offers in our California guide so that you
can rest happy "on such a winter's day!