3 Great Summer Hot Spots in California

California is a flurry of tourist activity during the summertime. Most of those tourists flock to places like Hollywood and Los Angeles, but the west coast has more to offer than celebrity sightings and expensive inner city hotel rooms. For a real California vacation you will never forget, try visiting one of these great locations.

Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta is a volcano that is unconnected to any other mountain range. It is the fifth highest peak in California and stands 14,162 feet high. It offers everything from white water rafting and climbing to fishing and cave exploring. There are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, kayaking, camping, water skiing, water tubing, rock climbing, horseback riding and there’s even indoor tennis courts as well as other organized indoor activities for adults and children alike. The climbing season on Mount Shasta starts in late April and continues through October. The most popular trail is Avalanche Gulch, or the John Muir route. Mount Shasta is home to a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display that is launched over Lake Siskiyou. The celebration usually has things like wine tasting, craft vendors, live shows and concerts and an all you can eat breakfast. Teresa Ambord details the event in her associated content article, “For a Real Fourth of July Celebration, Visit Mount Shasta, California.”

Santa CruzBeach Boardwalk
This is one of my personal favorites. I spend as much time as I can in Santa Cruz and the boardwalk makes it so very hard to leave. Santa Cruz’s boardwalk is California’s Coney Island. It was first opened in 1865 when John Leibrandt opened up a public bathhouse at the mouth of the river. People began flocking to this destination to bath in the salt water. From there vendors began setting up shops and eateries and by the end of the century it had become a popular western vacation spot.

Today Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an amusement park of sorts filled with roller coasters, carnival games and shops. Tickets are fairly reasonable and coupons can be found year round at grocery stores, the sides of soda cans and scattered amongst credit union discount tables. An endless summer season pass will run you about $65 per person but that’s for unlimited rides and attractions plus one free all day unlimited rides pass. Individual day passes for rides is $28.95 and individual all day attraction passes cost $36.95. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, Santa Cruz is on the beach so you can spend your vacation taking in the surf. Anthony Scannell of Santa Cruz, Ca. calls this coastal town home and has provided a wealth of information on what to see, where to go and what to do in Santa Cruz.

Just 6miles away is a charming little village called Capitola. The village is a separate part of the city of Capitola and is by far more fun than the city itself. You can actually see the boardwalk from MargaritVille’s back deck. The village is very small and best explored on foot. You will find some of the most unique jewelry and handmade clothing you’ve ever seen featured in the local’s shops. John Domenic has a lot of inside knowledge about the area and recently wrote an article titled, “Visitors Guide to Capitola California.”

Monterey/Carmel
Although these are two separate towns, you can’t visit one without visiting the other. Cannery Row sits in the heart of the Monterey Peninsula. Here you will find the Monterey Aquarium, tide pools, shops, restaurants and museums not to mention special events, concerts, shows and exhibits being regularly scheduled. The aquarium is one of Cannery Row’s main attractions. It houses a one million gallon ocean-like tank that contains otters, penguins, starfish, sharks and much more. It is very much a learning experience and introduces sea life to small children through a hands-on approach in tidal pools.

17 Mile Drive is a beautiful scenic ride along the coastline. It’s a must see for anyone visiting Monterey for the first time. You will see immaculate golf courses, magnificent homes, and huckleberry bush covered mountains and of course the crashing waves as they hit the rocks rising up out of the ocean. 17 Mile Drive takes you past some of the most famous golf courses like the Pebble Beach golf course where Bing Crosby started the Pebble Beach National Pro Am.

Carmel which adjoins Monterey and is the ending spot of 17 mile drive is commonly known as Carmel by the Sea. It’s known for its European charm, hundreds of art galleries and magnificent homes. This is another one of those little villages that you will want to explore on foot. There are so many nooks and alleyways with shops, galleries, diners and restaurants in them that you won’t be able to visit all of Carmel, as small as it is, in just one day. If you get a chance to see this quaint city by the sea be sure to stop into Jack London’s Bar and Grill for some calamari.