With the highest and lowest points in the contiguous United States, more parks than any other state, nearly 900 miles of jaw-dropping coastline, world-class vineyards, and Disneyland, California’s seemingly endless possibilities make the CA STAR program a boon for navigating the destination’s greatest hits and undiscovered gems alike. Travel advisors can use the resource—Visit California’s cornerstone educational programming for industry insiders—to gain optimal access and support when planning immersive and sustainable trips throughout the Golden State.
Featuring an online training program that advisors can complete to boost their knowledge of California and become certified California STARs, the platform also boasts a content hub with additional information and tools that unlock at each level. For example, at Level 1, advisors receive a unique media-rich unit that they can easily share with their individual clients to showcase destination highlights and close bookings. With the help of the CA STAR program, travel advisors can uncover California’s most distinctive under-the-radar experiences, like an American buffalo safari on Catalina island and an afternoon of wine tasting in Temecula Valley. Here’s a sample of the type of lesser-visited highlights you can discover using CA STAR.
Explore a volcanic wonderland
Home to steaming fumaroles (vents for gas and vapors), acres of bubbling mud pots, meadows dotted with summer wildflowers, and crystalline mountain lakes, Lassen Volcanic National Park boasts the largest plug dome volcano in the world, as well as three other types of volcanoes: shield, composite, and cinder cone. Feel the heat while hiking the aptly named Devil’s Kitchen and Bumpass Hell Trails, which end at the park’s biggest hydrothermal areas.
Discover a little-known wine region
Napa and Sonoma are just two of California’s counties devoted to the art of winemaking. Look south to Temecula Valley, named a Wine Enthusiast Top 10 Wine Destination, for more than 40 wineries serving every popular California variety, including Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Grenache, as well as less common grapes that thrive in a warm climate like Sangiovese and Tempranillo.
Escape to a secluded island
Catalina Island will make you feel like you’re on the Amalfi Coast. Accessible from Southern California via a one-hour high-speed ferry, it’s filled with outdoor experiences, restaurants, and other delights, much of which you can explore by foot once you arrive. The small island offers lots to do in its 76 square miles. Search for grazing American bison—the descendants of a small herd left by a movie crew in the 1920s—on safari in an open-air biofuel Hummer. Scuba dive alongside playful sea lions in a flourishing kelp forest. Shoot across Descanso Canyon on a zipline for epic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Enjoy a picture-perfect beach day
The oldest beach resort on the West Coast, Capitola Village continues to pack plenty of charm into its colorful galleries, welcoming cafes, and scenic ocean panoramas. The Mediterranean-inspired Monterey Bay beach town is an ideal spot to catch some waves, go fishing, and spend an afternoon browsing the family-owned shops. Jewelry made with abalone shell, surf apparel, and handmade pottery make ideal souvenirs.
Visit a natural wonder
Nicknamed the “eighth wonder of the world” by President Teddy Roosevelt, Burney Falls isn’t just one of the most majestic waterfalls in California, but in all North America. Located 60 miles northeast of Redding in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, the 129-foot-tall, fern-covered marvel flows at 100 million gallons every day. To see the falls at their most spectacular, come during the spring, from early April through October, when snowmelt is at its peak.
Become a kid for a day at a theme park with a purpose
California doesn’t have a shortage of theme parks, but not all of them teach as well as they entertain. Family-friendly and with an agricultural and environmental focus, Gilroy Gardens aims to help children discover the magic of the natural world through more than 40 rides and attractions, carnival-style games, lush gardens, and upwards of 10,000 trees. Don’t miss the renowned “circus trees,” giant, living sculptures that were grafted nearly 100 years ago by a talented arborist.
Hunt for sea glass
Full of smooth, frosted glass, Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach is the best place in the state to look for the colorful maritime treasure. Originally a dumpsite for trash in the mid-1900s, the ocean eventually broke down the discarded bottles and other glass into the beautiful pebbles you see today. While it’s illegal to remove any sea glass from Glass Beach, travelers can experience the joy of looking and snapping pics. The rugged shoreline, carved out into countless tidepools, coves, and rocks, has also become a popular location for photographers.
Challenge yourself on a canyoneering playground
A geological wonder located in the Sequoia National Forest, the Seven Teacups has earned a reputation as one of the best Class C canyons in California. Named after the route’s seven circular pools linked by small waterfalls, Seven Teacups is best descended in summer or fall when the water flow is not too high.
Sign up for the CA STAR program today to learn more about the Golden State and start on the path of becoming a certified CA STAR!