Things to Do in Northern California
If you're considering taking a vacation, then Northern California should definitely be top of your list. I'm originally from Florida and spent most of my life there. I also lived in Pennsylvania for a few years, and have stayed in many other states and traveled across most of the United States. In my opinion, Northern California is the most beautiful when it comes to natural scenery, and has the most things to do. Keep in mind that I'm in my 30's, so most of the ideas I suggest on what to do here probably appeal mostly to people in my age demographic, but Nor Cal has something for everyone.
San Francisco In the Bay Area, you have 3 major cities. San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. San Francisco is definitely the city with the most things to do. It's been rated as America's Best City for Tourism by countless polls and magazines. The city has so much to offer, from historic scenes like the famous houses seen in the intro to the show Full House, to excellent nightlife and tourist activities. The Golden Gate Bridge is a must see attraction for anybody visiting Frisco. It's something that can only be appreciated when experienced up close. Photos can't capture the magnificence of this massive bridge.
Another must see thing to do is Alcatraz. There are daily tours running almost every hour. You can take a ferry over to Alcatraz and tour the insides of this famous prison. The view of the San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz is another reason to go over to the island, it's simply amazing.
China Town is another venture worth attempting. San Francisco's China Town is so authentic and culturally significant, that when you walk down the street, you will feel like you just got off the plane in Beijing. The streets are lined with shops in Chinese Language, and most of the shops are closely similar to the types you would find in Shanghai or Hong Kong.
Fisherman's Wharf is the city's main attraction. You can stroll along the water and walk out on the pier and look at the sea lions that bask in the sun there, or stop in one of the restaurants to eat the world famous clam chowder and chili bowls the wharf is known for. Street venders line the sidewalks, some selling artwork, others breakdancing for change.
Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid are iconic buildings that represent San Fran to the world. They can be viewed from virtually every point in the city, but the Coit Tower is more easily seen along the wharf.
Castro Street and the Haight Ashbury corner are both heavily associated with activism. Haight Ashbury was the most famous corner during the Hippie era. In the 60's and early 70's, you could find hippies smoking marijuana and playing guitars on the sidewalks here, engaging in free love and peace. Castro Street was an instrumental street when it comes to the gay rights movement. If you've seen the Sean Penn film Milk, then you know what this street is all about. Today, both streets share little resemblance to what they once were, but may worth a visit for those who enjoy walking down famous streets just to say they did it.
San Jose San Jose has a decent downtown area, a Great America theme park and a Raging Waters water park. There are always festivals in the streets or in the parks in the downtown section, such as Music in the Park, but it in no way compares to the excitement of San Fran. If you do engage in the festivals, be careful of the police in the downtown area, they have a reputation for exceeding their authority to meet weekly quotas. If you're an internet buff, you may be interested in checking out the headquarters for companies such as Ebay, Cisco, Yahoo and similar Silicon Valley staples. But you may want to skip San Jose if you don't have much time in the Bay Area.
Oakland Oakland is known mostly for it's crime, but it does have some nice areas as well. Historically, it served as the birthplace for the Black Panthers, and is also the area where Tupac Shakur was living when he first became famous as a rapper. In addition to it's crime, it's also known for it's lenient stance on Marijuana, which it shares with San Francisco. Both cities have Cannabis Clubs, which are places where people with marijuana prescription cards can pick up their medical marijuana. Many people with health problems move to these 2 cities exclusively for that reason.
Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay Santa Cruz is famous for two things: For the Beach and Boardwalk, and for serving as the scene for the movie The Lost Boys which starred child stars Corey Feldman and the late great Corey Haim. The Beach and Boardwalk itself was the centerpiece for the film. It's basically a theme park on the beach, and most of the original rides that were in the movie are still there to be experienced by tourists and California residents. The Beach and Boardwalk serves as the location for the Bands on the Beach Festival, which is an annual free concert series that runs once a week during summertime. You don't need to pay anything to enter the B & B, however the rides require tickets which can be purchased.
Half Moon Bay is mainly for those who enjoy sight seeing and scenic beauty. It's a location in the Bay Area that lies along the coast, where people can enjoy nice views of the ocean from rocky cliffs that overlook the beach below. Be careful though, many people have fallen to their deaths in this area accidentally, the cliffs are quite high in some spots.
Lake Tahoe and Humboldt County If you're into the great outdoors, you may want to check out Lake Tahoe or Humboldt County.
Tahoe is a massive lake surrounded by mountains. In summertime you can go jetskiing, in winter you can ski on the snow that formulates in the peaks of the mountains. If you're with a lover, you can rent a cabin for a romantic stay.
Humboldt County is known for their redwood trees and their outdoor marijuana cultivation. Nature lovers will be amazed by the height and width of the giant redwoods in Humboldt, while stoners may find friends with similar interests. Humboldt County serves as the location for the largest outdoor marijuana cultivation area in the country, majority of it is for medicinal dispensaries. The pothead culture in Humboldt County was detailed in the major motion picture of the same name, Humboldt County.
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