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Immersive Travel in California

The trend towards slow travel is continuing to emerge as people start planning future trips. In an effort to engage in safe, low-contact and meaningful experiences, visitors are likely to spend more time in one place, diving into local experiences, food and culture. From slower-paced cities to immersive yet safe travel options, the following California destinations offer a glimpse of what it’s like to “live like a local” while getting away.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

One Day Itineraries by Locals in Redding
When it comes to planning a great day in Redding, there's no one better at it than locals. From perfect picnic spots and hidden waterfalls to the best of local shopping and dining, Redding locals helped put together a series of specialized one-day itineraries that will help visitors discover why so many people choose to call Redding “home.”

The Small Town Getaway in Kelseyville
Increasingly popular for its rolling vineyards, mountain hikes and local eats, Kelseyville is a Lake County paradise. Stay in the center of town at SuiteOnMain for private, upscale condo accommodations. Grab a morning coffee at Studebakers, shop for local artisan goods at Maker then wine taste at Fore Family Vineyards. Hike the 4,304-foot peak of Mount Konocti and then recharge with some handcrafted ales and seltzers at Kelsey Creek Brewing and locally sourced food at Saw Shop Public House.

Wine & Woof...Dogs Welcome in Downtown Napa
Digital nomads and remote workers can enjoy an extended stay in Downtown Napa without needing a dog sitter. The Andaz Napa features a Paws Out Package that includes a dog walk customized to your pet’s preferences, a bath and pet fee discounts. The staff at the Archer offer a fully-stocked pet program including toys, biscuits, Archer bandanas and more. Pet parents can wine and dine at Dutch Door or Angele, among other patio restaurants.

An Immersive Trip to Sonoma County’s Guerneville
Rustic and elegant, sophisticated and quirky, the LGBTQ+ friendly town of Guerneville in Sonoma County is a traveler’s delight. Start the day at Big Bottom Market for their biscuits. Explore downtown Guerneville before heading to Korbel Delicatessen & Market for lunch. Taste some bubbly at Korbel California Champagne Cellars, the oldest continually operating champagne house in North America. Dine at boon eat + drink and go glamping in a custom airstream trailer at AutoCamp Russian River.

Experience Life in the Gold Rush Days in Tuolumne County
Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging in Tuolumne County is taking it back to the pioneering era with overnight stays on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park. Sleep in the all-new Conestoga Wagons for the ultimate rustic and unique Old West experience. Hike park trails during the day, and watch the stars at night for a fully immersive experience in the great outdoors.

Beach Town Getaway in Marina
Escape to the beach town of Marina, located 15 minutes from Monterey. Stay at the Sanctuary Beach Resort for direct access to Marina State Beach. Explore scenic trails, hang glide or skydive above the stunning Monterey Bay, or grab a bike and visit historic Fort Ord National Monument. Considered one of California’s most diverse towns, enjoy a variety of cuisines – from Korean to African and Mexican to Italian. End the day at Urban Wine Row for some of Monterey County’s award-winning wines.

A Week in America’s French Countryside: Carmel Valley
With its rolling hills of vineyards, olive trees, lavender fields and more than 300 days of sunshine, Carmel Valley offers an escape similar to the French countryside. Enjoy an extended stay at Carmel Valley Ranch, which offers activities including golf, archery, culinary garden tours and more. Visit Carmel Valley Village to explore more than 20 wine tasting rooms, plus culinary delights like French-inspired Roux, Earthbound Farm’s fresh produce stand or the new Mika Sushi bar.


CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Slow Down in San Luis Obispo
Experience California’s laid back lifestyle in San Luis Obispo. Stay in Hotel Cerro or Hotel San Luis Obispo, the newly opened luxury hotels in the heart of downtown. Walkable attractions include Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and tours of historical Victorian homes. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy panoramic views of the valley and coastline from the top of Cerro San Luis or Reservoir Canyon. Foodies are encouraged to explore the local farmers markets and Santa Maria style tri-tip sandwiches.

Coastal Getaway in San Simeon
With an abundance of open spaces to explore, San Simeon is the perfect destination for sun lovers. Schedule a beach day at dog-friendly W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach to swim, hike, fish and beachcomb. Pack hiking shoes to climb the coastal bluffs and remember binoculars to spot whales and sea life offshore. Stop by the Piedras Blancas Rookery to view the elephant seals as they bathe in the sun. Leave time to relax and recharge at Hearst Ranch Winery and San Simeon’s premium restaurants. For those interested in a longer road trip adventure, San Simeon is part of the Highway 1 Discovery Route, spanning from Ragged Point to Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley.

Stay Awhile in Paso Robles
Immerse yourself in all Paso Robles has to offer, including the charming downtown square, 250 wineries, art galleries and the great outdoors. Paso’s craft breweries are always a must starting with Barrelhouse Brewing Co. at Tin City, the outdoor beer garden The Backyard or the Paso Robles Distillery Trail. Enjoy the scenery on the golf course, at the hot springs or at Field of Light at Sensorio, a walkable outdoor light display highlighting the city’s rolling hills and oaks.

Experience Small-town Charm and Local History in Atascadero
Atascadero offers small-town charm, wide-open spaces and a multitude of itinerary activities. Whether staying for two days or a week, one of the best ways to get a lay of the land is a driving tour using a custom Historical Drive Map. Learn about Atascadero’s rich history, from the California mission system to Mexican rancheros. Relax with dinner on the patio at The Carlton Hotel. Traverse the local land like explorers of the past on horseback with a daytime or sunset ride with Central Coast Trailrides.

Exploring Goleta’s Wine, Beer and Outdoor Scenery
Goleta, located in Santa Barbara County, is nestled between rugged beaches, craft breweries and scenic trails. Outdoor lovers can enjoy coastal views while hiking More Mesa and the Ellwood Bluffs. Beer enthusiasts can have a flight at Captain Fatty’s and M. Special Brew Co. Sample wine at SAMsARA, which produces limited releases from carefully selected microsites from Sta. Rita Hills’ vineyards. History buffs will appreciate Rancho La Patera, where California’s first commercial lemon trees were planted.

Land, Air and Sea Adventures Along the Ventura County Coast
Embark on a 50-mile road trip along the seaside coast of Ventura County starting at San Buenaventura State Beach for surfing or a picnic lunch. Head to Oxnard for a day at the beach or take to the sky with Channel Islands Parasail. At Port Hueneme Beach Park, try casting a line at the Port Hueneme Pier for some fresh fish or to Channel Islands National Park, known as the “Galapagos of North America,” to learn about nature preservation. Round out the trip with a birds-eye view over Camarillo during a flight with Skyrider Ultralights.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Visit the Alps of Southern California in Lake Arrowhead
Lake Arrowhead has been one of the West Coast’s best kept secrets since the 1920s. Located within a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, the mountainous region has panoramic views of nature and countless recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Head to Lake Arrowhead Village for outdoor shopping along the lake where wine, craft beer tastings and picnics are encouraged. For an in-depth experience, take a Lake Arrowhead Queen narrated boat tour around the lake.

Health and Wellness at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, a hacienda-style 10-acre property minutes from the beaches of La Jolla has created several wellness offerings to align with longer and more flexible stays for guests. Start the weekend with morning yoga on the garden lawn or experience in-room wellness activations from spa treatments to fitness classes. Guests can take their wellness to the next level with Estancia's Wellness Suite, complete with MIRROR Interactive Fitness.

San Diego’s Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara
Bright, airy and exquisitely appointed, the villas at Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara in San Diego exude Southern California’s relaxed lifestyle. Embark on a luxury paddleboard experience at Agua Hedionda Lagoon or cruise historic Highway 101 in a vintage Ford Woodie wagon. Enjoy s’mores by the fire pit, movie night on the lawn or gather at Seasons Restaurant Chef ’s Table. Wellness seekers can indulge alone or with friends at Driftwood Spa.

Extended Family Getaways Made Easy at Campland in San Diego
San Diego's iconic RV campgrounds, Campland on the Bay and adjacent sister property, Mission Bay RV Resort offer affordable waterfront RV camping along the shores of Mission Bay. Families are welcome to use the resorts' new Open-Air Study Halls as a convenience for school-aged children to complete assignments and attend school virtually. Take a stroll or bike the Mission Bay Bike Path or for an all-day excursion visit nearby SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo.

Note: As communities re-open after COVID-19-related closures, some parks, businesses and attractions may still be closed or have new protocols in place. Please verify local guidelines and regulations for all destinations and hours and availability of individual businesses before publishing. Check out Visit California’s Responsible Travel Hub for guidance on how visitors can travel within California safely.

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