Welcome to California
The legend of California, the embroidered image portrayed by
Hollywood's worldwide film and television industry, really does
exist. Days are warm and sunny, the mansions of Beverley Hills are
the height of luxury, beautifully-sculpted bodies roller-blade
along the beachfront boardwalks, blonde-haired surfers compete for
waves and the allure of Hollywood's fame and fortune is as strong
Everyone either adores or despises the Golden State, the 'spoilt
kid' of the USA, who brushes off the barbs of envious resentment
with indifference, confident in the knowledge that California
offers one of the most varied and exciting places to live in
America. The world-renowned cities of the West Coast are strung
along miles of magnificent coastline with cliffs, soaring redwood
forests and beaches. The high snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountain
Range and the magnificent glacier-carved valley of Yosemite
National Park contrast with the shimmering heat of spectacular
desert landscapes and the neat rows of leafy vineyards in the Napa
Valley, one of the world's best-known wine growing regions.
The Golden Gate Bridge, steep roller-coaster hills and the
formidable island of Alcatraz are instantly recognisable images of
San Francisco, while the welcoming beach lifestyle and family-fun
attractions make San Diego a popular vacation destination.
Undoubtedly the city with the most razzle-dazzle is Los Angeles, a
high-energy conglomeration of wealthy neighbourhoods, beaches and
excessive standards of living. It lives up to its reputation as
'the entertainment capital of the world' presenting the attractions
of Hollywood, Universal Studios and Disneyland, as well as
first-class shopping, fine restaurants and a lively nightlife.
As the most populous state in the USA, California is blighted by
pollution, congested freeways, crime and overcrowded attractions,
but it remains a leader in social tolerance, as well as being a
forerunner in the film, entertainment and music industry. The state
also lives with the constant threat of earthquakes, being cut
through by the San Andreas Fault. Despite the ever-present fear
that 'the big one' will strike, California remains one of the most
popular states in which to live, work and play.
Information & Facts
In general, summers are hot, winters are mild and humidity is
low. Offshore breezes keep the beach communities of Los Angeles and
San Diego cooler in summer and warmer in winter than those further
inland. Temperatures in the summer can get well over 90°F (32°C)
and smog can become a problem. In winter temperatures get down to
around 55°F (12°C) and rain is a possibility. San Francisco, a
little further north, is a little cooler and breezier and there is
regularly fog over the harbour until about midday. Generally the
weather is warm and dry in all seasons, with 354 days of sunshine a
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
GMT -8 (GMT -7 from March to November).