Fodor's California 2014 Paperback – 19 Dec 2013
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California is one of America's most popular vacation destinations, and for good reason, Fodor's full-color 2014 California guide covers all corners of the state, from the northern coast to wine country to Los Angeles to the Mojave Desert.
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Fodor's helps you unleash the possibilities of travel by providing the insights and tools you need to experience the trips you want. While you're always at the helm, Fodor's offers the assurance of our expertise, the guarantee of selectivity, and the choice details that truly define a destination. It's like having a friend wherever you travel.
Resources that you'll want to read as well as reference, our guide books offer current and discerning shopping, dining, hotel, and culture recommendations, as well as compelling features and articles that convey the essence of each destination. And we are confident that we're giving you the best information because our products are written by people who live there. We seek to hire local writers who know their destinations better than anyone else. Our worldwide team of over 700 travel writers bring you the latest, most accurate coverage, and like trusted companions, reveal local treasures and everything you need to know before you arrive.
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I think the book is generally very well organized, going along the coast from San Diego to the Redwoods and then inland from Southern to Northern California, but it irks me that Big Sur is grouped with Santa Barbara and comes before Channel Islands National Park, which is actually south of Santa Barbara and way, way south of Big Sur. I personally would have grouped Channel Islands with Santa Barbara/Ventura and then put San Luis Opisbo and Big Sur together in the Central Coast section, but even grouping it the way they did the Channel Islands chapter is out of order. Otherwise, I think the organization is very clear and logical.
I've been to most areas of California and generally found, as I have with most Fodor's guidebooks, the information about the area and the tips about what to do were very comprehensive and accurate. The one thing I have been very disappointed with in other Fodor's books is the restaurant recommendations, but I thought the ones in the book for San Francisco and Wine Country (the areas with which I am most familiar) were very good. Most of the restaurants marked as Fodor's Choice in these areas are places I would highly recommend to out-of-town visitors.
The book is very long (950+ pages -- more than twice as big as a Fodor's about the entire COUNTRY of Greece that I bought) and as a result is very detailed and comprehensive. All but one of California's National Parks, even the off-the-beaten path ones like Channel Islands and Lassen, have several pages or more devoted to them. The exception to this is Pinnacles, the US's newest national park, which gets a mere paragraph. I'm not sure if this is because it was only recently made a national park and there wasn't time to include an extensive write-up, but having been to Pinnacles I don't think it's a huge oversight. There are many non-national park areas in California like Big Sur and Tahoe that are much more deserving of multi-page write-ups.
As a bay area resident, I have to say I'm disappointed that the "East Bay" (Oakland and Berkeley) received more than TWENTY pages of space, but Palo Alto (home to Stanford University), Silicon Valley, and San Jose (the largest city in the bay area) do not even warrant a mention. I also think the omission of coastal areas on the peninsula like Half Moon Bay and Pacifica is an oversight. I understand that Oakland is perceived by certain people as "hip" but it doesn't draw nearly as many SF locals for dinner as the guidebook suggests it does, and I think the twenty pages devoted to the east bay could have been very well divided between the peninsula and the east bay and covered each area well. In reality, most SF tourists who want a daytrip will go to wine country or the Monterey area, only those who have friends in the peninsula or east bay are likely to visit those places, so the omission of the peninsula area is not likely to be a huge loss for most visitors, but as a local, the imbalance really annoys me.
I do recommend the guidebook for those traveling to California, particularly if you'll have a car and are looking to see multiple different areas of the state.