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The California Trade and Commerce Agency's Division of Tourism (CalTour) estimates that the travel industry and associated recreation in California generates approximately $55.2 billion annually (6.5% of the gross state product) and supports almost 700,000 jobs statewide, making California first in the nation for travel earnings, domestic visitors and overseas visitors.
Activities such as sport fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, motor boating and surfing are popular along the California's coast.
Ocean and coastal tourism activities in California offer visitors a broad range of opportunities that vary from visits to resorts, bed and breakfast inns, hotels, and campgrounds to more adventurous activities such as coastal cruises, wind surfing, deep sea fishing, backpacking, and hang gliding. Four out of the State's top ten recreational attractions were ocean or coastal in nature.
California's Top 10 Recreational Attractions
Here are some great vacation ideas to check out when you visit California:
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area 14,650,213
- Disneyland, Anaheim 11,610,000
- Old Town San Diego State Historic Park 5,489,015
- Universal Studios, Universal City 4,625,000
- Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park 4,000,000
- Yosemite National Park 3,423,696
- Sea World, San Diego 3,300,000
- Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia 3,200,000
- Huntington State Beach 3,043,278
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk 3,000,000
For more California activities and events, visit California's Tourism & Recreation page.
- Hollywood - An exciting neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, Hollywood is the mecca of movie studios and stars. A vibrant destination for nightlife, shopping and tourism, Hollywood is home of exciting attractions and landmarks, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Bowl, Universal Studios Hollywood, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theater - home of the Academy Awards - and the symbolic Hollywood Sign in the hills.
- Golden Gate Bridge - Connecting San Francisco and Marin County, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is the largest suspension bridge in the world and one of the most famous landmarks of California. As you cross the 4200-foot bridge, below the radiant orange towers, you'll enjoy panoramic views of the entire Bay Area.
- Disneyland - One of the most enchanting destinations in the world, Disneyland Park features hundreds of rides, attractions, shops, and restaurants filled with magic and entertainment. The entire family will enjoy exciting rides such as Space Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure, Matterhorn, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and attractions like the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. California Adventure near Disneyland offers family attractions and shows celebrating California's rich culture. For some adult fun, head over to Downtown Disney, a funky entertainment, dining and shopping promenade.
- California Ski Resorts - Landscaped with snow-covered mountains, California is home to world-caliber ski and snowboard resorts, majestic mountains, cross-country trails, and exhilarating terrain parks. From the volcanic peaks of Mt. Shasta to the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, powder heads discover ski vacation areas blessed with alpine ski mountains, natural snowfall and magical mountain scenery. Hit the Sierra slopes at Bear Valley, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, and Yosemite, or brave California's thrilling snowboard parks and pipes.
- Big Sur - The most spectacular coast of Northern California, Big Sur is peaceful and inspiring. With gorgeous beaches, mountains and redwoods, Big Sur is one of Geographic Traveler's 50 Places of a Lifetime. Drive along Pacific Coast Highway and experience the natural beauty of Big Sur - cliffs melting into the ocean to beaches and coves. Hike along tree-lined valleys overlooking the Pacific. Enjoy endless views of the coastline or explore the Los Padres National Forest. Journey through the Santa Lucia Mountains, Ventana Forest and Andrew Molera State Park where you'll discover miles of scenic hiking and equestrian trails.
- Petrified Forest - Just west of Calistoga in the beautiful Northern California wine country, the Petrified Forest is one of California's most alluring destinations. Follow the trail of majestic, petrified redwood trees on a walking tour and learn about the volcanic activity - more than 3 million years - that caused the petrifaction of this unusual Northern California forest.
- Alcatraz Island - Once a high-security prison, Alcatraz Island is one of the Bay Area's most intriguing tourist attractions. Take the ferry from Pier 41 across the tumultuous waters of San Francisco Bay and experience an interesting self-guided tour of the abandoned prison and dark cell blocks that held America's most wanted.
- San Diego Zoo - The world-acclaimed San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park features over 4,000 animals and 6,500 varieties of exotic plants. The most famous zoo on the planet features attractions such as the Giant Panda Mei Sheng, Ituri Forest, Polar Bear Plunge and the Children's Zoo, where kids can feed the animals.
- San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf - With captivating views of the San Francisco Bay, Fisherman's Wharf is an historic marketplace with trendy restaurants, shops, and street performers. Stroll along the Wharf to attractions such as Ghirardelli Square and Pier 39, a lively marketplace with shops, restaurants, music and San Francisco Bay cruises.
- Lake Tahoe - With its deep azure waters, lakeside beaches, alpine golf courses, casinos, and spectacular Sierra Nevada mountain ski areas, Lake Tahoe is California's ultimate year-round vacation resort. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, fishing, boating, water skiing, and hiking.