It didn’t take The Mamas and the Papas to start Canadians dreaming about California. Indeed, with visitation numbers from this country expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year – and surpass them in 2024 – many Canadians are ready to turn dreams to reality again and return to the Golden State.
With this in mind a delegation of Visit California partners recently convened in Niagara on the Lake, Ont. to update the trade on the latest and greatest news from the state, with fully three dozen reps present.
The ‘Canada Sales and Media’ was designed to bring a bit of California colour to Canada, and share the state’s “free spirited, you do you attitude.”
But where to start in a destination that is virtually a country within a country and boasts beaches, mountains, deserts, canyons, Redwood forests, charming towns, and urban extravaganzas, along with new restaurants and theme park attractions, plus 127 new hotels since 2022 alone?
Travel Industry Today asked delegates of some of 20 destinations in attendance at the mission to come up with just one thing Canadians should know about the place they represented. Here’s what they had to say:
(Ed. note: This article will cover Los Angeles and points South. Stay tuned for Part II – north of LA and the North.)
LOS ANGELESMassive airlift to Los Angeles brings tens of thousands of Canadians through the City of Angels, which boasts more than 30 culturally rich communities and 120 km of shoreline. This year’s marquee headline is the 100-year anniversary of the famed Hollywood sign (photo), with centennial festivities planned throughout the year, reports Melissa Yunk of the LA Tourism & Convention Board.
Locals call it “secret summer,” the Sept.-Nov. period when the weather is great and the high summer crowds diminish, says Santa Monica’s Canadian PR rep Sana Keller, who adds that there is no better time to visit LA’s “beach city,” which also makes an ideal base to explore the City of Angels.
MARINA DEL REY
Another great base in LA, located about 7 km from the airport, is one of the largest small craft harbours in the world with Marina del Rey boasting a quiet, peaceful, nautical vibe, says Kathrina Jacob of the community’s tourist board. An idyllic oasis in the mega city.
More than 20 km from downtown LA, Pasadena is known for its iconic Rose Bowl parade, the “little old lady from…” and the gang from ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ but it’s also a centre of architecture and gardening, says Christine Susa,
notably The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, the latter encompassing about 53 hectares that feature living collections in 16 stunning themed gardens with more than 83,000 living plants, including rare and endangered species, and a laboratory for botanical conservation and research.
‘Happy Trails’ is a new series of urban walks designed to give visitors a curated look at Beverly Hills. Dubbed “a hike city lovers will like” by the Los Angeles enclave’s CVB, the trail features eight map itineraries designed to guide food lovers, history buffs, and arts and culture aficionados on a personalized journey through the famously fabulous destination. Trails include Caviar & Bubbly; Sweets & Treats; A Step Back in History; Scene and Be Seen; Red Carpet Ready Trail; Around the World’ Trail; An Artist’s Dream’ Trail’; and ‘The Great Outdoors.’ The ‘Happy Trails’ guide, which also features interactive QR codes leading directly to Google Maps for easy navigation, can be found HERE.
Between LA and San Diego, is more water than land in Newport Beach, making it the largest recreational harbour on the West Coast, says Megan Johns. Besides water, the vibe is laid back luxury, but she adds, “We’re still a beach town.” Watch out for The Pendry, an ultra luxe hotel coming in the fall.
“Surf City USA” says it all about the coastal enclave, located about an hour South of the LA/Anaheim area. So ingrained is the sport, says Jennifer Tong, that “adaptive surfing” is available for disabled persons, part of a more extensive program of accessibility that includes wider sidewalks, beach wheelchairs (free to rent), bike-to-shore Mobi-mats, and more.
More or less in the centre of the triangle bounded by LA, San Diego, and Palm Springs, Tecumula Valley is wine country – something most people don’t attribute to SoCal, says the region’s Annette Brown. More than 50 wineries thrive, many so close together as to make a walkable trail. And it’s great wine! she assures. Some of the wineries offer dining, accommodation, and special activities.
Made-up of nine communities (you’ll need a car), coming up with just one thing about Greater Palm Springs is difficult. But pressed, Laura Hunt Little says, “for Canadians coming, we are your best chance at a sunny, warm and dry vacation in California!” In summer it is hot, she concedes, but mainly in the afternoon, so visitors pay taking part in the outdoor-active lifestyle should use discretion.
First published at Travel Industry Today