Regions of California

California Maps & Regions

California, which is unofficially divided into three regions – Northern, Central, and Southern California – is among the few places on the planet that has beaches and snow, deserts and high mountain peaks, and some of the world’s richest farmland.

California actually has twelve unique regions each with its own personality. Each of these regions offers many different and exciting destinations. California has nine National parks including Yosemite National Park in the North and Joshua Tree National Park in the South. California also has hundreds of state parks preserving the the history and beauty of the State. Traveling through these areas you will discover the hidden treasures of the Golden State.

Northern California – San Francisco Bay

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the states best tourist attractions including the Golden State Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. San Francisco makes a great starting point for many different day trips.

San Francisco best tourist attractions

The San Francisco Bay is located in northern California and is home to the metropolitan areas of Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose, as well as Silicon Valley, a world-famous region that includes tech companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Apple. Inland climates range from cool coastal temperatures and fog to hot summers and cold winters. The San Francisco Bay Region is also known for its beautiful beaches, fine dining, lively theater, and the world-famous vineyards of Napa and Sonoma.

Northern California – Shasta County

Shasta Cascade has many outdoor recreation activities, camping, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, swimming, and boating. This region includes three National Parks: Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Road Trip Shasta Cascade

The Shasta region in northern California is home to Redding as well as outdoor attractions such as Shasta Lake, Lassen Peak, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, and Sundial Bridge. Shasta County, established in 1850, was one of the original counties of California, and its rich culture includes arts, museums, music, and year-round recreational opportunities.

Northern California – Gold Country

Explore historic gold mining towns as you drive Highway 49. The Gold Country region is rich in California history and gives true meaning to the words “Golden State”

Gold Country California

Gold Country is a region in central and northeastern California known for its mineral wealth and gold mines, which drew hordes of immigrants during the 1849 California Gold Rush. Sacramento, the state capital, is located in Gold Country, as are numerous festivals, monuments, and museums that highlight the region’s rich history. You can still pan for gold in streams and rivers, which are also popular for fishing, kayaking, and rafting. The climate is ideal for grape cultivation, and wine is one of the region’s primary industries, with over 100 wineries.

Northern California – North Coast

The North Coast is home to sunny vineyards, redwood forest and the foggy coast. The region includes the the counties of Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Del Norte.

Northern California road trip

A large part California’s northernmost region is farmland, with wildlife reserves, redwood and other woodlands, and numerous trails. Fine dining, music festivals, and vineyards can be found in the area’s cities. The climate on the North Coast ranges from mild winters and summers near the coast to hot summers and snowy winters inland.

Central California – High Sierra

Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are both located in the High Sierra region. Some of the most dramatic scenery in the world can be found here. From crystal clear mountain lakes to worlds largest trees.

High Sierra things to do

The High Sierra region, which includes Kings Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain, Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, and Mt. Whitney, is filled with spectacular views. There are fascinating festivals, world-class ski resorts, and an arts and music heritage. The High Sierra also has Sequoia trees, which are the largest and oldest trees on the planet.

Central California – Central Coast

Located between San Francisco and Southern California the Central Coast region has dramatic ocean views as you drive down coast highway. Hearst Castle and Monterey Bay are excellent day trips.

California Central Coast

The Coastal Region stretches for more than 800 miles north and south along California’s western coast. The Coast Ranges are a collection of small mountains in the Coastal Region. The Coast Mountain Range rises east of the coastal plain in Southern California, an area of low land with sandy shores along the coastline. The mountains in Northern California extend all the way to the ocean, where steep cliffs plunge into the Pacific. The Coastal Region of California has three large harbors that are important for trade: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Finally, the Coastal Region of California extends from the north to the south coastline all along Pacific Ocean.

Southern California – Los Angeles County

Hollywood, Movie making and the glamour are all part of this region. There are also many other locations to explore including Olvera Street, Griffith Park, and the many museums.

Los Angeles Vacations Family Friendly

This Southern California destination is known best as the entertainment industry’s capital. Here, movie stars actually work in Hollywood, surf in Malibu, and shop in Beverly Hills. The region’s looping freeways make the car king, but it also has a surprisingly good system of buses and light rail — a convenient way to explore.

Southern California – Orange County

Home to California’s top amusement park Disneyland the Orange County region also has some of the best beaches in the State. Many great days trips can be found using Orange County as your starting point.

Road Trip Orange County

Orange County is located in southern California and is home to the cities of Anaheim and Fullerton. It is the 6th most populous county in the U.s. Orange County is mostly urban, with classic beach towns, film festivals, fancy restaurants, museums, ballet and opera, music venues, shopping malls, Disneyland and other theme parks.

Southern California – Inland Empire

The Inland Empire region is growing rapidly but is rich in interesting places. Mixed in with the sprawling housing tracts and malls are many hidden treasures to explore.

With impressive alpine vacation spots in the San Bernardino Mountain Range, such as Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, as well as the alluring Temecula Valley wine region and university town, Riverside, on the sunny eastern side, this Southern California region has something for everyone. San Bernardino, the region’s second-largest city, has museums and excellent shopping, while Fontana is known for NASCAR racing.

Southern California – San Diego County

Home to one of the best Zoo’s in the world this area also offers excellent opportunity for day trips. Mountain towns famous for apple pies or wine county with miles of vineyards are all nearby places to explore.

San Diego piers

This sun-and-surf destination is known for having some of the state’s best weather and warmest water. The San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, one of the world’s great urban parks, in San Diego, the state’s second-largest city. SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California are great places for family fun. Discover unexpected mountain towns like Julian, renowned for orchards and apple pie.

Southern California – Deserts

Two National parks Death Valley and Joshua Tree as well as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park make up the desert area of California. Looking for a more civilized place to visit try Palm Springs with it’s world class accommodations and golf courses.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The Desert Region, located in southeastern California, is a hot, dry environment. It consists of the Mojave (High) and Colorado (Low) Deserts. Irrigation is used by people who live in the Desert Region to get water for farming and for their homes. Special adaptations help plants and animals survive in this harsh atmosphere. At 282 feet below sea level, Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest areas of the United States. The harsh environment of the Desert Region makes it difficult for living things to survive.