Read about statewide activities and attractions, download state maps in PDF, and access detailed information about California's 12 regions, including the San Francisco Bay Area. You can also place an order for a free visitor's guide, courtesy of the California Division of Tourism.
This site is a unique resource that highlights the many travel opportunities in California to celebrate arts and heritage. It focuses on the state's cultural destinations with an overall goal to add depth and dimension to vacations in California. Eleven searchable categories include everything from fun stuff for kids to cultural community and from visual arts to sports.
California State Parks
California State Parks contains the largest and most diverse natural and cultural heritage holdings of any U.S. state. It is responsible for nearly 1.3 million acres, with over 280 miles of coastline; 625 miles of lake and river frontage; nearly 18,000 campsites; and 3,000 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Find-A-Park offers three search options or search by region, county/city, or activities. There is also a weather tab to view conditions at a State Park.
The Bay Trail is a recreational corridor that, when complete, will encircle San Francisco with a continuous 400-mile network of bicycling and hiking trails (240 miles have been completed as of 2007). The trail provides recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts; access to points of historic, natural, and cultural interest; and connects with more than 130 parks totaling 57,000 acres of open space. The site provides free downloadable maps of the trail.
California Coastal Commission
The Commission carries out an extensive public education program that includes annual statewide coastal clean-up events, the Adopt-a-Beach program, and the whale-tail license plate program. It was established by voter initiative in 1972 and made permanent by the California Coastal Act of 1976.
The Travel Industry of America developed a one-of-a-kind portal to every major U.S. travel provider--from attractions and hotels to airlines, car rentals, and bus and rail options. The site links to state tourism sites as well as sites for hundreds of cities and exciting destinations. Additional resources include money-saving travel deals, trip itineraries, local/national travel information, and more.
National Park Service
This site is a major portal to every national park where you can find out about activities, upcoming events, and fun things for young people. Search options include viewing a complete alphabetical listing of parks; locating parks on a map by state, region, or zip code; and searching for parks by recreation and special topics. The NPS also works with teachers to create unique opportunities for students to learn about history, and helps individuals plan National Register of Historic Places travel itineraries.
Although it is intended for foreign audiences, this site from the U.S. Department of State provides a comprehensive overview of American society, political processes, official policies, and culture that serves as a nice refresher for U.S. citizens. The site also provides links to a number of travel-related resources (click on “Resource Tools” for consular information, visas, and study in the United States).
Sierra Club Outings
Sierra Club Outings offer outdoor adventures to unique destinations around the world for people of all ages. The site provides a searchable schedule of more than 350 annual trips--from backpacking to family trips to global trekking--as well as trip-leader background information, policies, and online reservations.
STA Travel provides travel services to more than six million students and young people at retail branches worldwide and via call centers and the Internet.
Official Travel Guide
This is the official travel portal for vacation planning and buying from the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus. It connects travelers with 1,200 visitor bureaus for up-to-date tourism information in top destinations throughout the world. Features include concise destination information, vacation planning, discount rates, vacation packages, and virtual tours.
Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory
This guide to official tourist information sources has been operating since 1994 and contains 1,400 entries of government tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, and similar organizations. Travel agents, tour operators, hotels, and related businesses are not included in order to maintain accurate and unbiased travel information for the public.
Country Studies/Area Handbook Program
An online retooling of studies from the Library of Congress that span 102 lesser-known areas of the world. Current data is from 1998 but Congress appropriated funds in 2004 to update the series annually. Country and regional topics include history, geography, society, politics, economic issues, and much more.
With headquarters in Washington, DC, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on four continents to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in hot spots, major tropical wilderness areas, and key marine ecosystems. The nonprofit organization provides a number of special websites that address such conservation topics as ecotourism, sustainable tourism, and biodiversity.
The International Ecotourism Society
Ecotourism is thoroughly defined on this site from TIES, a membership organization of ecotourism professionals (tour operators, lodge owners, conservation professionals, etc.) from more than 70 countries. Members all work to make tourism a viable tool for conservation, poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and educational travel.
With a team of 100 forecasting meteorologists, AccuWeather provides customized and accurate weather information for locations worldwide. Visitors can access current conditions, 15-day forecasts, satellite images, real-time local doppler radar, and more.
Rand McNally isn't just that Road Atlas you can't reach in the glove compartment; it has evolved into a navigation company that provides maps in any format: print, software, online, or handheld. The website includes a travel store, driving directions, help with planning a road trip, and membership access to additional content.
This site includes travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State when it recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. When a country is added to the list, consular fact sheets are added to help individual travelers make their own decision.
Access more than 15,000 publications quickly with this site's user-definable search, point and click maps, or text listings options. The site includes U.S. and international publications; specialty publications for business, entertainment, industry, etc.; college newspapers; state and national press associations and news services; and TV and radio listings.
The Money Page
A true currency resource with links to worldwide ATM locations (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express), exchange rates, and currency converters. The site also includes a global reference section and a monthly e-magazine for people who want to restart their life overseas.
The world's diplomatic offices (embassies and consulates) are all accessible from Embassy World along with a few random resources like world maps and international telephone and voltage directories.
The World Fact Book
The official print edition from the Central Intelligence Agency is an annual publication, but this in-depth online version is updated weekly with basic intelligence on all areas of the world. Country profiles include the following categories: geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues.
World Health Organization
This bookmark-worthy site provides up-to-date info on disease outbreaks, vaccination requirements, and travel risks from the World Health Organization. The United Nations established WHO in 1948 as a specialized agency aimed at achieving the highest possible level of health--physical, mental, and social well-being--for all people.
The National Center for Infectious Diseases provides worldwide health information and vaccination recommendations to the public. Tips like how to avoid illness from food and steps to take before bringing children abroad make this a must-visit site for the global traveler.
Amtrak provides rail service to more than 500 stations in 46 states, and serves 66,000 passengers daily. The site features special pages for international travelers, as well as trains and destinations in California. Amtrak offers everyday discounts for students, seniors, veterans, and children, in addition to other specials and packages.
Offering a safe and economical distance-travel option, Greyhound's bus service is the only means of regularly scheduled inter-city transportation in most markets, serving more than 2,500 destinations with 17,000 daily departures across the country.
International Airport Guide
This guide to major U.S. and international airports focuses on how to efficiently use airports during a busy travel schedule. Information for each airport includes parking, car rental options, driving directions, area maps, and details of the airport terminals including the airlines and destinations.
Bay Area Rapid Transit
BART, the Bay Area's rapid-transit line, runs through the East Bay and San Francisco, and down the peninsula to Millbrae. BART is a convenient option for getting to and from the San Francisco International Airport, and also provides service to the Oakland International Airport (via a shuttle bus link). The website includes a trip planner tool to generate a personalized itinerary from your computer or download the Palm version. It also has a fare calculator to determine how much it will cost to ride BART (the confusing fare structure is built on a mileage-based formula) and a rider guide that includes information about airport and transit connections, parking programs, and disabled access.
San Francisco Municipal Railway
MUNI is San Francisco's unconventional public transportation system that includes a light-rail system, historic streetcar line, nostalgic cable cars, and a hybrid-bus system. The website is somewhat difficult to maneuver, but an offsite link takes you to the 511 TakeTransit Trip Planner where you can create a personalized itinerary.
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District
The district includes three transit divisions: Golden Gate Bridge, a daily portal for 40,000 people who commute to San Francisco; Golden Gate Transit, a regional bus service in San Francisco and Marin and Sonoma counties; and Golden Gate Ferry, a frequent service between San Francisco and Marin County. Many visitors to the city board the Golden Gate Ferry simply to take in the stunning panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, and the San Francisco skyline.