06 JUN 2014: Dream Big is California. You don’t have to think hard. Silicon Valley, Tinseltown and the magical setting of San Simeon aka the Hearst Castle all demonstrate big dreams. The Golden state’s Dreamers’ campaign raps itself nicely around the idea too.

A recent Visit California media reception arranged by Development Counsellors International (DCI) at the Berkeley Field House in Toronto’s east end, saw 20 state representatives showcasing the latest developments in the Golden State.

Here’s why agents need their clients to dream big about California.

Canadian visits

In 2012 Statistics Canada reported over 1.5 million Canadians visited California. According to a Visit California survey this was the highest annual volume of visitors to California from Canada which represents a 4.5% increase from 2011.

The top reason: vacation.

Santa Monica

Claim to fame: The Original Muscle Beach

What’s hot:
Muscle bound and yoga seekers twirl atop the famous rings but now there’s a twist. Add tightrope walking where fitness buffs walk a rope strung between the legendary rings and poles. Jackie Alvarez, PR coordinator at the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau doesn’t want us to forget that before Arnold Schwarzenegger moved Muscle Beach to nearby Venice Beach this was the home of the body builder. “It’s the original,” she smiles.

Tips: Santa Monica is only 8.3 square miles but clients Alvarez assures me will want to walk or bike around town. “About 80 percent of our visitors don’t get into a car. The entire city is walkable. The majority of our attractions are in close proximity.” Starting next month watch the blockbuster 30th summer concert series dubbed the Twilight Concerts.

“Every Thursday night everyone just assumes you are going down to the beach. They bring in awesome bands and perform at the pier. Take a blanket, wine, food and have an awesome picnic with the sun setting on the ocean.” Concert price tag: free.

San Diego

Claim to fame: Military town and the original home of SeaWorld

What’s hot: The Balboa Park turns 100 next year. A cultural jewel this is the spot Joe Timko, international marketing manager with the San Diego Tourism Authority, tells me where so many fabulous productions come.

“We have two theatres, the Old Globe in Balboa Park and La Jolla Playhouse. Both are consistently developing shows with some moving onto Broadway.” Jersey Boys, he notes originated at La Jolla Playhouse years ago.

SeaWorld San Diego just completed a massive entrance renovation in time for its 50th anniversary. Now touch the critters soon after entry. “They have three touch pools,” says Joanne Scalamogna, SeaWorld Parks' fabulous PR rep in Canada.

Tips: You literally fly downtown arriving to the urban airport and once you touch down all the fun is only 10 minutes away.

Los Angeles

Claim to fame: The film industry

What’s hot: Koreatown, the once shady hood in central L.A. is now a fledgling hip destination. Hang at the new Line Hotel, a creation from chef extraordinaire Roy Choi and the Sydell Group. Or head downtown to see what the fuss is about at the new Ace Hotel. Located in the former United Artists building, home of America’s sweetheart, the silent film star Mary Pickford this luxe spot even has a theatre venue.

Tips: Download one of the car-free itineraries (http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/CarFreeLA).

This new tourism initiative adds Molly Morgan, communications coordinator with the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, has caught on more with international visitors who don’t care to drive the city streets.

Hearst Castle

Claim to fame: William Randolph Hearst invested 30 years of his life to see the construction of this dream. Today visitors can marvel at the magnificent estate.

What’s hot: Special party events hosted by the rich’n’famous. Who doesn’t want to book an exclusive private reception there? “We’ve had anybody who’s anybody,” says Jim Allen, director of marketing and public relations of Hearst Castle, about the fancy to-dos.

Tips: Embark on one of the two new tours. Try the semi private Hearst and Hollywood and then post tour hang out at the castle re-enacting what it was like to live there among the stardust. And if you want to overnight somewhere nearby that’s got its own charm hit the landmark Madonna Inn (http://www.madonnainn.com) located on US State 101 in San Luis Obispo. You’ll see what I mean.

Redondo Beach

Claim to fame:
Home of mainland American surfing and filming of TV shows and films like O.C. and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

What’s hot: Only 7 miles south from LAX, this is where sand, surf and most likely chilling it can be done at its fastest pace.

Good for every pocket book (budget up to luxe accommodations). See the charm before the 6.5 sq. mile beach town has been revamped. You could still spot some old motel beauties like Palos Verdes Inn. Whale watching is year round but the winter season runs December through April.


Claim to fame: State Capital

What’s hot:
The Farm to Fork Capital of America (http://farmtoforkcapital.com/). Yes this newly minted moniker says Lucy Steffens, director of travel media with Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau has been proving some street cred.

“We have 1.5 million acres of farmland and 8,000 of this is boutique farming that’s grown specifically for the local restaurants.” Steffens adds even caviar is on the menu. Of course it is. The glitterati crowd don’t have to go far.

“Eighty percent of the domestic caviar is farmed just 15 minutes from Sacramento.” Sterling Caviar produces river sturgeon caviar. A 30 gram jar fetches US$70.

Take a road trip to see the farmers markets then head into wine territory. Just east of Sacramento Steffens adds there is a hefty winery list not known by many Canadians. She says the Sierra Foothills boast 200 wineries.

Find a wine route map at http://sacramentowineguide.com or www.visitsacramento.com and start to explore.

For more travel info http://www.visitcalifornia.com/

(Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmkSUq-yDHI#t=24)

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

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