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Add City. Remove Row. Children traveling alone. Discounts Find out how much you can save. Everyday passenger and membership discounts are available. Find out how much you can save. Reduce the number of passenger types and try again. Reservations made on Amtrak. US Dollars Points Placeholder text for testing, this will be replaced with authorable content. Find trains. Train Stations. Find station or route Trip Planning Map See all routes. Sign Out. California Train Routes. California Highlights. Parks Coastlines Cities.

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Question 1 of 2. Please enter a password. Your password must be at least 8 characters long, include at least 1 alpha character, and include at least 1 number or special character -? California sales tax varies from 7. The State Board of Equalization maintains up-to-date charts of sales taxes for all California cities and counties.

Sales tax is charged on all goods but not services. It is not included in prices with the exception of gasoline and is normally calculated and charged at the cashier. California retail receipts always show a "subtotal," then the amount of sales tax, then the real "total" obtained by adding the two. Like most U. Regardless, because sales tax is charged only at the final point of sale unlike a value-added tax which is levied on every producer in the chain , California prices even after tax is accounted for are often still very affordable for tourists visiting from countries that charge high import tariffs and VAT for the same goods.

The first four are considered upscale.

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Macy's is mostly midrange and most stores feature its own store brands. However, Macy's also carries upscale designer label merchandise at select stores in wealthy areas like San Francisco and Costa Mesa.

JCPenney, Sears, and Kohls target a middle-class to working-class market. If you are visiting California on an escorted tour package and will be visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles in the same trip, plan on doing most of your department store shopping at the giant West Coast flagship stores in Union Square in San Francisco. Although Los Angeles is the second largest city in America and the most populous in the state, none of the major chains has ever developed a full-size flagship store in that city comparable to the ones found in New York, Paris, or other world cities.

The closest equivalent in Southern California is the cluster of three Macy's stores women's apparel, men's apparel, and home and furniture at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. The Premium Outlets chain operates several factory outlet centers in California, of which the most important are located at Livermore, Vacaville, Gilroy, Camarillo, Cabazon, and Carlsbad. California is famous as the home of the Fry's Electronics computer retail chain, which operates superstores throughout Silicon Valley and in other suburban areas throughout the state.

Unfortunately, most Fry's stores are not conveniently located from a tourist perspective and are very difficult to reach without a rental car. As in the rest of the U. For basic supplies, try to use supermarkets and pharmacies if possible, as they have better selection and provide better value for your money than convenience stores.


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The state's inland metro areas feature smaller supermarket chains like WinCo and Raley's. The ubiquitous discount store chains Walmart and Target both offer some groceries Walmart Supercenters and SuperTargets offer a full selection of groceries and also usually have pharmacies on site. However, with the exception of the relatively new CityTarget stores in downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco, most of their stores are located in suburbs and are difficult to reach unless you have a rental car.

The culinary style known as Californian Cuisine is noted for its use of fresh often local ingredients and imaginative fusion of several styles. Almost anything you can imagine can be found somewhere in California. Immigration has had a strong influence on California's culinary landscape, with the cuisines of The Americas and Asia heavily represented, and those of nearly every other country available to a lesser-extent.

More "North American" fare includes everything from burger shacks to vegetarian, organic and even completely vegan restaurants; the Californian love for food has left it with one of the most diverse restaurant scenes in the North America. The large cities have the most variety, while things get simpler and more meat-heavy as you get more rural. Upscale restaurants can be found in nearly all large cities, as well as some of the smaller areas. Only the rural areas, which tourists rarely have interest in, are devoid of high-end establishments.

Nearly all cuisines, from French to Japanese, can be found in each Californian city. The legal drinking and purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is Under age drinking is taken very seriously so if you are in a club or bar and appear to be under 30 you should be ready to present identification showing your age.

California is known for its fine wines and gourmet beers. Napa , Sonoma and Mendocino are premier wine districts north of San Francisco, but there are others in the Central Coast region and even the San Diego region where suitable microclimates have been found. The inland Central Valley region has hotter summers and traditionally produced inexpensive bulk wines, but quality has been improving with winemaking innovations.

Californians tend to view wine as a natural accompaniment of food or socializing, overlooking its alcoholic content more easily than with distilled spirits. However police crackdowns on drinking and driving are increasingly severe with roadblocks and random checks. Conviction for driving with a blood alcohol level over. Drivers with lower blood alcohol can still be convicted for DUI driving under the influence if they fail field sobriety tests such as walking a straight line.

For beer, California also has a large population of microbreweries. Sierra Nevada, located in Chico , is one of the biggest microbreweries in North America. In the Central Coast the midsized brewery Firestone Walker in Paso Robles is a good addition to the local wineries in the area. In San Diego , Stone Brewing Company offers a great variety of beers that can be purchased throughout the state. The Russian River Brewing Company, located in Santa Rosa , is home to a wide variety of beers that have received accolades worldwide.

There are over microbreweries in California. Occasionally, there will be an advisory issued for air stagnation, which is a phenomenon involving an air mass that cannot move and therefore stagnates over an area for an extensive period of time. Pollutants are often unable to be removed from the air and this often causes breathing difficulties for those with existing respiratory conditions. If you have a respiratory condition, refer to the National Weather Service website on air quality to see if any such advisories have been issued for the areas you might visit.

Like many western states, California has had cases of hantaviral pulmonary syndrome , 42 confirmed cases in the state since Realistically, however, hantavirus is of very little concern to the traveler; but sensible precautions should be applied. Do NOT venture in a wild animal's den or handle any dead animals; particularly rodents, as rodents seem to be the primary vector of the illness. There is no cure for the disease, treatment mainly consists of supportive therapies. The main defense against the virus is prevention.


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  5. Due to California's proximity to the International Boundary with Mexico, visitors should be cautious while in areas near the border. Thousands of U. S citizens visit the state of Baja California, Mexico from California every year with the majority of travelers returning from an enjoyable experience. However, a minority of travelers do experience difficulties and serious inconveniences while traveling to Mexico. Before traveling to Mexico, ensure that you have the proper documentation and are familiar with the recommendations for foreign travel from the U. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs [31].

    As a whole, California has a relatively high crime rate when compared to many other states. The usual inner city crime can be found in the worst parts of Los Angeles , San Francisco , and Oakland. Central Valley cities, such as Sacramento , Stockton , and Fresno also have gang problems. Northern coastal cities such as Eureka have an ongoing problem with significant drug activity, primarily the prevalence of methamphetamine, and property crimes.

    However, most California cities are very safe. As long as you take basic precautions against petty crime and stay out of obviously run-down neighborhoods, you will probably have a safe and pleasant visit. Be smart and you will be safe. If you are traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway or Highway , you may notice there are a substantial number of hitch-hikers along the way. Most hitchhikers are friendly and present no danger, however, use caution when picking them up.

    Marijuana is now legal in California. Anyone must be 21 or older to consume, possess, or purchase marijuana - it doesn't matter if its for recreational or medicinal reasons and it is strictly enforced. DO NOT bring cannabis into any Indian reservation that has deemed it illegal, nor Federal enclaves as Federal law will be heavily enforced. There are four major types of law enforcement you may encounter in California.

    On state highways and freeways and some rural areas is controlled by the California Highway Patrol. CHP wears beige uniform with blue trim. All vehicles are either black and white or just a solid white color. The decals are a 5 star badge with the Highway Patrol decal lettering on that badge.

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    Some officers also ride on motorcycles. In many suburbs and rural towns, you will encounter deputies of the sheriff for that county. Sheriff uniforms vary but are beige in most counties. Most urban sheriff's deputies drive Ford Crown Victoria cruisers or similar sedan-type vehicles while rural sheriff's deputies drive a variety of sport-utility vehicles or light trucks. In cities, especially large ones, you will encounter police officers from the relevant city police department.

    Police uniforms are usually black or navy blue. All these types of officers are trained to uniform baseline standards set by the statewide Commission on Police Standards and Training POST , and all of them are typically armed with a handgun and sometimes, a nonlethal weapon like a Taser. As with U. Most police scandals in California arise from the use of grossly excessive force often after an officer overreacted to an ambiguous or complex situation. Therefore, if you encounter a law enforcement officer, stay calm, follow directions, and do not make sudden moves which could be interpreted as a threat.

    Unlike with many other states, California has extremely strict firearms laws at the state level. These range from "assault weapons" bans, to very heavy restrictions on carry permits.

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    Open carry of any firearm is universally outlawed with exception for police, military, certain permitted security guards, and hunters on federal hunting land. The state strictly enforces the gun laws, via the CHP. Earthquakes that are large enough to cause extensive damage are rare, but remain a matter of reality for the state.

    The biggest dangers in an earthquake are falling objects and windows which shatter explosively. In the event of an earthquake, face away from windows and hide under any sturdy table or desk that may be available. If you are indoors, do not run outside! Falling building facades are more likely to cause severe injuries than anything inside.

    Contrary to popular belief do not stand in a door frame. It is not safe at all, this is merely a myth. You're more likely to get your fingers caught in the frame from all the shaking and swinging of the door than gain protection from a falling object. If outdoors, stay away from buildings and stay out from under power lines. Along the southernmost portion of the California-Nevada border and the, as well as the California-Arizona border, California has desert landscapes which extend into the south-central regions of the state; the most famous or infamous being the region known as Death Valley , where numerous hapless tourists and hikers have indeed met an unfortunate fate while exploring the region.

    If you are planning on traveling or hiking into these locations, follow desert survival guidelines. Be sure to take plenty of water at least one gallon per person, per day , sunscreen and wear light clothing. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to get return. Be sure to have a full tank of gasoline, a fully charged cell phone in working condition, and multiple bottles of water prior to traveling by car into these regions. Many desert locations are extremely remote and without any services for many miles in some cases nearly miles.

    A vehicle breakdown in the desert is extremely unpleasant in the best-case scenario and tragic in the worst. Also, it is best to hike during the earlier part of the day, as thunderstorms tend to develop suddenly during the afternoon.

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    In the event you encounter inclement weather conditions, seek high ground immediately! Thunderstorms can cause flash flooding in canyons and other low-lying areas. Although Southern California is world-famous for sunny weather, much of California suffers from heavy fog in the morning during certain times of year, particularly the Central Valley and some smaller valleys in Northern and Central California.

    Even coastal areas in Southern California sometimes see fog in the summer the notorious "June gloom". Coastal areas in the Northern half of the state including the Monterey and San Francisco bay areas are even more prone to fog than the Southern half.

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    Although the foggy season usually occurs in summer, fog can occur at any time, any day. Sunny weather at noon can quickly turn into a blanket of pea soup by PM. On some days, the fog never clears out at all. Fog usually causes a massive and often deadly freeway pileup somewhere in the state approximately every three to five years. Exercise extreme caution when traveling in areas where heavy fog is forecast. The incidence of Earthquakes in California raises the concern for potential threats of Tsunamis.

    Though very rare to occur, it should be noted that a great deal of California's coastline is in a Tsunami zone. Wildfires are quite common between May and October. The strongest impact from fires is smoke. Smoke affects areas dramatically exceeding the size of the root fire.


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    4. Travelers with respiratory issues should consult visitor information sites before visiting areas where fires are occurring. This base is a detachment of Area Since this area is under the control of the U. S military entry to the base is restricted and is open only to authorized military personnel and family members. Unauthorized entry will result in arrest. The city is for family members of authorized military personnel inside the base.

      California is filled with a very diverse group of people. Both Northern and Southern California have extremely different cultures, while the rural areas in the Central Valley and Eastern portions of the state differ even more significantly. Like much of the US, sensitive topics include immigration, race, gay rights, and politics.