California Photo Gallery

 
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Hills of golden poppies prompted early sailors to dub California La Tierra del Fuego, or 'Land of Fire.' In 1903 California chose the golden poppy as its official state flower.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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Like many of Los Angeles' celebrity residents, palm trees are not native to the 'city of angels.' Most of the trees were planted during the 1920s and 1930s to enhance the glamour of Tinseltown.  
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L.A. is California’s largest city, and most notably known as the home turf of the rich and famous. Known for its hillside sign that spells out this Los Angeles neighborhood’s name in 45-foot white letters, Hollywood is famous worldwide and infamous in the pages of gossip magazines. Its history goes back to 1911, when the first studio opened on Sunset Boulevard. Film stars like Jean Harlow and Judy Garland took up residence there in the 1920s.  
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San Francisco is considered to be the world’s largest land-locked harbor, most notably known to many for their cultural acceptance. The city’s laissez-faire attitude dates back to the boom-or-bust days of the California Gold Rush, and today it remains as raucous as ever. Some of the most famous tourist attractions of the city include their historic cable cars, Ghiradelli chocolates, and the expansive Golden Gate Bridge. More than 41 million people cross the 1.7-mile bridge per year.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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Alcatraz, San Fran’s other notable landmark, is the former stomping grounds of some of the world’s most hardened criminals. Some of the island’s most notable prisoners include Al Capone, George 'Machine Gun' Kelly, and Robert 'Birdman' Stroud.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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Napa and Sonoma are classic locales synonymous with the vino crowd, but Paso Robles has more recently perked oenophiles' taste buds with its rich cabernets, merlots, and syrah. The climate—with wild mood swings between warm days and cool evenings—is perfect for producing varietals that boast intense character; it also makes for ideal biking conditions in late spring.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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In northwestern California, Redwood National Park houses some of the oldest trees in the world. Growing more than 350 feet, it isn’t uncommon for them to outlive 2,000 years.  
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Heaven for tree huggers is extraterrestrial for Star Wars fans. Several scenes from Return of the Jedi were filmed in Redwood National Park. George Lucas selected the site for its unusual flora.  
Credit: PhotoDisc 
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Death Valley National Park’s record high is a long way off in the winter months; the park remains comfortably mild for the outdoorsy craving a break from the chill. Death Valley's low-elevation hikes are usually off-limits to summer hikers because of the heat, but in the winter, all 3.3 million acres are fair game.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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Located in southeastern California, Joshua Tree National Park covers nearly 800,000 acres of land. The unique moniker comes from the Joshua tree forests that cover much of the defined park areas.  
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The joshua tree's twisting form spooked early desert emigrants, but Mormon pioneers saw the spirit in the wild flora. The Bible's Book of Joshua inspired the tree's name: 'Thou shalt follow the way pointed for thee by the trees.'  
Credit: LA INC. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau/Robert Landau 
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Yosemite National Park's 8,842-foot-high Half Dome is a mysterious natural wonder. Some believe the exposed face of its other 'half' is stained with the profile of an Ahwahnee Indian.  
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Formed by glacial erosion, Yosemite is one of the most-visited parks in California. Nearly 4.5 million people drive through the hanging valleys, waterfalls, and lakes each year.  
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Big Sur comes from the Spanish language, meaning “the big south,” and its vast beauty certainly is deserving of its name. A treacherous two-lane highway runs the length of the coast, and though it is breathtaking, it can be dangerous during dense patches of fog or at night when there is virtually no light but the stars.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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The affluent city of Santa Barbara has become a getaway for the rich and famous residing in Los Angeles. Quaint streets and trendy boutiques still give way to one of California’s best beaches, where taco stands and beach chair rentals are evidence that a laidback beach town still exists.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
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Napa Valley is California’s quintessential wine country, located just off of San Francisco in Napa County. There are around 400 different wineries in Napa County, and the area is estimated to make some $10.128 billion in gross revenue from its wine.  
Credit: Hemera/Thinkstock 
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A closer look at Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the largest in California with more than 500 miles of dusty desert roads, reveals more than dozens of species of cactus, but also golden eagles, mule deer, kit foxes, and bighorn sheep. The 3.5-mile Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail runs through mesquite and ocotillo and offers an enticing introduction to the subtle charms of the desert.  
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 
 
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