For information on wildfires in California, please click here.
California is situated on the southern end of the west coast of the United States.
California is the ultimate dream holiday playground. The state is compact and diverse, from snowy peaks, through rocky deserts to the immaculate coastline. No matter your passion, the Golden State has something for everyone, whether you’re travelling on a family road trip, a gap year tour of iconic destinations and events, or a luxury culinary adventure, California showcases the best of the United States.
Once international travel resume you will find that California is a year-round destination, with weather that has something for everyone, from sun worshippers to snow bunnies. The best time to visit really comes down to what you want to see and do.
On the coast, the average daily high hovers around 21°C and up, but can occasionally spike to 27°C or more on the hottest summer days. At higher altitudes, the weather reflects more of a four-season cycle, with beautiful summers, striking autumn colour, and cold, snowy winters followed by snow melt springs (waterfall season!).
Summer (July – August) is peak season for travellers heading to the state. To avoid peak rates, and longer lines, you may wish to avoid this time of year.
California has two major entry points from Australia and New Zealand, San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX). Flight times range between 12-14 hours direct from Australia and New Zealand.
Once international travel resume you will find that here are a number of airlines flying direct to California from Australia and New Zealand.
Qantas operates daily services from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles, as well as multiple services weekly from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to San Francisco.
Virgin Australia fly daily from Sydney, and multiple times weekly from Melbourne and Brisbane to Los Angeles.
Air New Zealand flies daily from most major Australian cities to Los Angeles and San Francisco via Auckland.
United Airlines operates services from Sydney and Melbourne to both LAX and SFO.
Delta Airlines and American Airlines operate daily services between Sydney and Los Angeles.
Please note that flight routes and schedules have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and currently, non-essential travel to the United States is restricted from both Australia and New Zealand.
Regularly, Visit California runs two to three group famils throughout the year. To be in the loop to know when famils and incentives are coming up, sign up to the California STAR digital training platform. These programs are currently postponed.
Once international travel resumes we will begin working with media on famils to California again. Visit California runs a number of PR fams throughout the year, both in groups, and for individual journalists. All PR fams must visit a minimum of three distinct areas within the state. Visit California runs influencer and new media content trips as well as traditional media famils.
The Visit California team has full discretion over the number and range of media titles, content creators, and journalists that it may invite on a famil.
Once international travel resumes, Visit California can assist journalists, content creators and influencers in a range of ways, including providing flight, accommodation, on-ground transport, and itinerary and planning support. This can extend to a fully sponsored trip.
The Visit California team maintains discretion about which trips it supports, and to what extent.
Typically, Visit California hosts trade roadshows every two years in Australia and New Zealand, typically in October. These missions invite California delegates in-market, commonly, up to 15 California delegates will come to the market.
In addition to these roadshows, Visit California hosts Club California Agent training events four times per year, visiting capital cities in Australia and New Zealand. In order to know when these events are coming up, sign up to the California STAR digital training platform.
Note, many of these programs are currently postponed.
We’re working on it! While we don’t have a list of which of our suppliers offer agent discounts, we can supply you with direct contacts for your targeted suppliers.
While we don’t recommend having a car in either of our gateway cities of L.A. or San Francisco (Ubers/rideshare/taxis and public transport are ever-abundant), picking up a hire car is the best way to explore the compact diversity that the state offers. In two hours on California’s extensive state highways, you can go from surfing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, or on Santa Monica beach, to skiing at Lake Tahoe or Big Bear, so road trips are an absolute must-do for any traveller.
There are many places we recommend to try star-spotting, especially in LA. Obviously, Hollywood can be a hotspot, as can the bars and spas in West Hollywood, and shops in Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills.
Keep your eyes peeled all over the state though, as many stars live away from the big city, and holiday in the towns and cities across California.
California boasts nearly 20 major league professional sports teams from L.A. to San Francisco, San Diego, Anaheim, Oakland, Sacramento. No matter whether you want to see Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey or Soccer, you can find local teams all over!
No! California has an incredible depth of culinary offerings from quirky food trucks to Michelin-starred restaurants. California also boasts some of the freshest produce in the United States, and many of the restaurants focus on a farm-to-fork philosophy.
Family holidays are when some of the most treasured memories are made, and Kidifornia is an amazing place to create yours. The Golden State has something guaranteed to amaze everyone, aged one to 100.
An adventurous Yosemite hiking expedition in the wild High Sierra, zipping down the snowy peaks of Lake Tahoe, hands-on learning at the California Academy of Sciences, or the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills; there are endless opportunities for kids and adults alike to dream big in California. Learn more at Kidifornia!
California has an incredible compact diversity, which means you can get from surfing to skiing, or from deserts to forests in just two hours’ drive. Great places to start your exploration are in California’s nine National Parks, which include Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, the Channel Islands, and way more!
For the adventurous travellers, California is also a paradise for extreme sports lovers, with options available all over the state.
Tipping is common practice in the US and part of the hospitality culture. Below is a general guide to follow:
Restaurants: 18-20% of the bill total.
Taxis: 10-15% (many taxis in the US aren’t equipped with credit card machines, so ask before you get in)
Tour guides: 20%
Bell desk: $2/bag
Valet: $2 when they bring your car around (nothing when you drop it off)
Valet loading luggage into your car: $2/bag
If hotel delivers anything to your room: $3
Housekeeping: $3/day on the bed
Courtesy shuttle: $2 per person
Doorman if they call you a cab: $2
Access hard copies of the International Visitor’s Guide and Road Trips Guide from Visit California.
Visit California’s website is a great resource for additional information.
Visit California Helps Travellers Holiday Safely with new RESPECT Acronym and Resources
The California Responsible Travel Code asks visitors to travel with RESPECT. The code serves as a quick resource for travellers on how to stay safe and be respectful of others and the environment when visiting the state.
Curtis Stone Turns his Restaurants into Community Markets
When California issues a stay-at-home order, acclaimed chef and restaurateur Curtis Stone knew he had to make some quick changes. The directive meant that Stone’s two California restaurants, the Michelin-starred Maude in Beverly Hills and Hollywood’s Gwen, would have to close to dine-in customers. The restaurants’ walk-in refrigerators were filled with food and suddenly there was nothing to do with the highly perishable inventory. Stone’s solution? He launched the Maude Marketplace and Gwen To Go.
Hearst Castle’s Neptune Pool Has Been Refilled
After a mysterious crack was found in Hearst Castle’s Neptune pool’s shell in 2014, a four-year $10million restoration project saw nearly 900 square metres of marble tiles replaced and repaired. The whole project was painstakingly undertaken to protect and preserve Julia Morgan’s iconic 1.3million-litre pool. Visitors can once again book tours of the whole Castle and take in the pool.
Keep California Dreaming with Inspiration Piped Directly into Your Ears
The California Now podcast brings guests from across the state – and the world – to talk with host Soterios Johnson about their Golden State favourites. From the best street eats to the hidden natural wonders around the state, the podcast brings every corner of California to life for thirty minutes every fortnight.
Visit California’s California STAR online training platform provides agents with the information, facts, stats, and tools that they need to confidently and effectively sell the state to their clients.
California STAR graduate agents also receive a range of benefits, including additional access to Visit California events, incentives, and competitions.