Yosemite National Park
The images of Yosemite are iconic--from the spray of the stunning falls to the massive rocks of the valley. But up close and personal there's plenty of ground to cover and lots to see in this jewel of a national park.
Yosemite provides opportunities galore for the artist or photographer, but if you want to be a little more active in your pursuits, you can explore the miles of backcountry trails for day hikes and backpacking expeditions. The paved roads and bike paths of the park offer cycling with a magnificent backdrop. And of course, the rock climbing opportunities of Yosemite are legendary, with climbs for the most advanced to beginners.
For a different take on Yosemite, come in the winter and enjoy solitude while cross-country skiing beneath the peaks.
Since the "Rat Pack" days of Frank Sinatra and his buddies, Lake Tahoe has been synonymous with "mountain getaway." The vibe around the lake is a lot different now than it was then. There are still hotels, casinos and headliners, but there's a new emphasis on the outdoor beauty and activities of the mountain playground.
The mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe provide ample spaces and opportunities for hiking, camping and mountain biking, while the roads surrounding the lake are heaven for road cyclists. Just give yourself time to get acclimated to the altitude before hitting the roads or trails.
If you're into watersports, you'll enjoy the options for kayaking with many miles of secluded and quiet coves and inlets for paddling and exploring.
Winter provides plenty of chances for fun with more than a dozen ski areas located in the vicinity of the lake.
Nestled off the coast of southern California, Catalina Island offers an experience in wildness and solitude that belies its close proximity to the megalopolis of Los Angeles.
After a short boat ride by high-speed catamarans from the mainland, you'll have your choice of hotel accommodations in one of the two towns on the island--Avalon and Two Harbors--or camping on the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The surrounding waters offer ample opportunities for scuba and snorkeling, while the rugged hills of the island are perfectly suited for hiking, mountain biking and nature watching.