1. San Francisco
Rent a bike to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Visit Alcatraz Island and its famous prison. In Golden Gate Park, tour the new California Academy of Sciences (an ultra-green building, with eye-catching exhibits), then walk to the glorious de Young Museum. Visit colorful Fisherman's Wharf. At Pier 39, get more sightseeing ideas at the California Welcome Center.

2. Muir Woods national Monument
See the awe-inspiring, sky-scraping Coast redwoods in this peaceful nature reserve, named after California's premier naturalist, the Scottish-born John Muir. Ranger-led educational programmes include spellbinding evening walks.

3. Bodega Bay
Explore the seaside town where Alfred Hitchcock filmed his 1963 classic, The Birds. Luxuriate at the Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa; try their ultra-relaxing hot stone massage.

4. Mendocino
Stroll through this seaside town overlooking the Pacific Ocean, sampling its boutiques, galleries, romantic inns and restaurants.

5. Avenue of the giants
Drive along Avenue of the Giants, the spectacular route through towering groves of coast redwoods (some over 350ft/ 107m tall). Hiking trails abound; try the majestic Rockefeller Forest, in Humboldt redwoods State Park.

6. Weaverville
Visit an authentic Chinese Joss House, a Taoist temple that has been in continuous use since the 1850s Gold rush, when thousands of Chinese immigrants first arrived in this remote region. Rafting companies run trips (from easy to challenging) on the nearby Trinity River.

7. Mount Shasta
Lace up your hiking boots or walking shoes and take a hike on trails around this picture-perfect, snow-capped extinct volcano. Afterwards, enjoy delicious local foods at the Trinity Cafe in Mount Shasta City.

8. Shasta lake
Tour the crystal-filled chambers of Shasta Lake Caverns (the tour includes a boat ride across the lake). Do as the locals do and rent a fully equipped, easy-to-drive houseboat for a fun and unique lodging option.

9. Redding
Tour Native American exhibits, learn about local wildlife and stroll across the elegant Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Take a guided tour on an electric motorized Seaway scooter, along the wide and pretty Sacramento River.

10. Napa valley/Calistoga
Look for unique gifts in this charming town, also known for gourmet dining and, of course, its great wine shops. Visit local spas, many of which boast soaking pools fed by the region's natural geothermal springs.