Beach Boys and Girls Tour
|Coastal Cali': San Diego's water-and-peak-lined horizon (Corbis)|
Wouldn't it be nice if there were more to California than Hollywood and movie stars? Wouldn't it be nice if some parts of the golden paradise called California were not paved over for another parking lot? Guess what? There is. For starters, California has 1,264 miles of beach-fringed Pacific Ocean coastline. This translates into great swimming, world-class surfing, windsurfing, boating, waterskiing, kite sailing, kayaking, fishing, and scuba diving, not to mention coastal hiking, biking, and camping. Better yet, you can do it all on a weeklong coastal tour from San Diego to San Francisco.
Day 1: San Diego to Dana Point/Doheny State Beach (65 Miles)
With its desert, mountain, and ocean environs blessed with salubrious year-round temperate weather, San Diego feels like the world's epicenter of sun, sand, and palm trees. You can wander the beach, hang with the sea lions that sun themselves on rocky outcroppings, or catch the sunset at any number of beach-side cafes. But for a grand-slam family outing, visit the critters in Balboa Park at the San Diego Zoo (619.231.1515; www.sandiegozoo.org). Then on the way north out of the city, stop in Mission Bay to visit SeaWorld (800.257.4268; www.seaworld.com), the home of Shamu the Whale and an assortment of aquatic life to get you into the mood for the coastal tour ahead.
The traffic's pretty rough all the time in Southern California, so you may not want to go too far the first day. A short distance north of San Diego, Dana Point is a good place to get off the road for the night. The Ocean Institute (949.496.2274; www.ocean-institute.org) offers harbor tours, snorkeling trips, and marine-life exhibits. Another oceangoing option is Captain Dave's Dolphin Safari (949.488.2828; www.dolphinsafari.com), which runs trips on a 35-foot sailboat, plying waters that take you into arm's reach of as many as 4,000 dolphins. January to September you're likely to see whales, too.
Camp at Dana Point's Doheny State Beach (800.444.7275; www.dohenystatebeach.org). You've left the city behind in exchange for access to the beach, great swimming, fishing, surfing, and biking trails. There's even a lifeguard on duty.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication