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CA Visitor’s Guide, Maps and Travel Brochures

Not only will a bit of advance trip planning allow you to get the most out of your visit to California, it can also help you save you money and avoid travel missteps. Below are some resources that will help you get your planning process started.

The State of California’s tourism website provides both a digital brochure you can access for immediate review and a method to request that a magazine-like travel guide be mailed to you.

When you click here, you’ll see a circle and within it is a link to the guide’s digital versions (it’s available in several languages) and another link to a handy road trips guide (English-only for that one). Both include overview-style maps.

If you live in the U.S. or Canada and prefer to have the state’s official printed tourist guide sent to you by mail — freshly updated for 2021 and hot off the presses! — simply look a bit to the right of the digital version’s circle, and proceed through the steps to complete and submit their form. In our experience, processing and delivery within the U.S. can take anywhere from two to eight weeks.

The State also provides California Tourist Information Centers at various locations – click here for the list complete with physical location, email addresses and phone numbers – where you can obtain free brochures, maps, attraction offers and lodging information once you arrive in the area.

All of the California National Parks also have facilities to help travelers make the most of their visits. Additionally, in February 2021 the National Park Services released a new smartphone/ipad app wherein you can access maps and information about all the Parks; app details and download access can be found at the link.

California Tourism Maps

For each of the California Tourist Guide’s areas (see the navigation buttons at the top of the page) you’ll find a map within an article that provides a general overview of what there is to see and do there, and you’ll also find links to maps that have been created by other websites in many of our articles. Most of those maps — some are for self-guided walking tours, others are for wine appellations, etc. — are made available as downloadable and printable pdf files.

When it comes to mapping out a specific route to locations that you plan to visit in California, we always use Google Maps and the associated free smartphone app. One thing worth noting here is that there are areas where you may lose cell phone reception, so if you’re traveling to an off-the-beaten path location it’s a good idea to search for the map(s) you may need before your trip and either take a screenshot or otherwise save them for offline use.

The State also provides online map resources: this one is useful if you’re wondering about current road conditions (weather, accidents, etc.), and here’s a good map for an overview of California cities and highways (again, though, we think Google Maps is the best travel planning resource for all your mapping needs, including accessing information about public transportation options).

Tourism Resources in California Cities

Elton John wax figure at San Francisco CVBAll the major California vacation destination cities – and even many of our smaller cities – have visitor information centers that are funded and staffed by the local tourism authority. These local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) also provide travel information (brochures, maps and sometimes even discount coupons), and they are typically staffed with knowledgeable local residents that are happy to help you. You can check out our CVB list here, and if you don’t see your destination listed there you can try an online search for the name of the city + CVB to see what may be available.

Photo of Elton John wax figure at SF Welcome Center by gérard via flickr (Creative Commons).

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