When you live in California, and you are the adventure/outdoor type, you hopefully have amassed an extensive knowledge about things to do in California.  You’ve also had many friends visit that want to experience as much as they can on their trip to California.  Inevitably you have participated in their agenda and often cringed at some of the so called “attractions” you were forced to see.  From Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to Disneyland to The Gas Lamp District in San Diego; you have experienced these tourist traps and asked yourself, Why the hell did I burn a vacation day for this ?!”

This article is more of a guide for The Rugged Male, or the rugged family that’s visiting California for the first time.  We aim to provide some insider trading on some of the more popular attractions in California and some to avoid.

Lets start up north in the San Francisco Bay Area.

North Lake Tahoe  – There is a big difference between South Lake and North Lake, most notable is that they are in different states.  South Lake is on the Nevada side and is all too close to Reno, a city that looks like a bomb went off 15 years ago and the only creatures that survived are wearing fanny packs, smoking cheap cigarettes and pulling a slot machine handle.  North Lake Tahoe is where the outdoor enthusiasts live and where the legit ski mountains are located – Squaw Valley & Alpine.  All the local businesses are run by mountain enthusiasts hustling to keep their dream lifestyle alive.  South Lake is littered with casinos, high rises & night clubs – nuff said.


Merlot or Meth ? – Planning a vacation to Napa?  You may want to consider Sonoma instead.  The Napa Valley is a strange mix of two very diverse cultures.  The locals have a huge meth amphetamine problem and the wineries are owned by insanely rich silicon valley wine snobs.  As soon as you step off the reservation and start looking for a bourbon or tequila, you will be in for a whole different experience.  I’m not sure which group is less fun to be around.  Instead, spend the morning hiking in Muir Woods, then pop down to Stinson Beach for lunch, a magical and secret destination for locals.  Pick up a bottle of your favorite Napa wine at Safeway beforehand, its cheaper than purchasing at the wineries.


Yosemite  – This is the word you have heard before but have never seen written.  It’s not some new species of termite, this is Yoh-Sem-it-tee.  As John Muir says, “It’s where nature has gathered her choicest treasures”.   Not even three hours from San Francisco or San Jose, Yosemite is truly God’s Country and you don’t have to be in great shape to experience it.  Yosemite is best in early spring so you can see the majestic waterfalls flowing, but go any time you can, even in the winter.


Santa Barbara is a wonderful place to visit in California, perhaps the most beautiful beach town where the mountains touch the beach.  Santa Barbara has a rich history too, with roots going back to the 1600’s when Spanish explorers set up missions to spread Christianity.  Now it’s chock full of great restaurants, top notch surf, hiking and wineries.  It’s a must see when visiting California, especially because so many people skip it when traveling North to South because they take the 5 instead of the 101.  You’re first thought when you arrive will be “Why didn’t I go to college at UCSB ?!“.


In an effort to keep this article web-friendly we will end it here.  It’s just impossible to list all the cool things to do in California.  We do our best to be ambassadors and try very hard to to steer tourists in the right direction, as long as they are friendly and try to speak our language .. like any other foreign country.

Drop us an email if you have any questions about your California Vacation, and please leave comments on your favorite places to visit in California.  Our readers would love to hear them!

Thank You For Reading!

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