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  • The Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco): More tomato red than golden, the famous bridge remains the cheery hallmark of the San Francisco skyline. It's also an excellent expanse to walk.
  • The Painted Ladies (San Francisco): The so-called "Painted Ladies" are San Francisco's famous, ornately decorated Victorian homes. Check out the brilliant beauties around Alamo Square. Most of the extant 14,000 structures date from the second half of the 19th century.
  • Winchester Mystery House (San Jose): The heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, Sarah Winchester, created one of the major "Believe It or Not!" curiosities of California, a 160-room Victorian mansion. When a fortuneteller told Sarah she wouldn't die if she'd continue to build onto her house, her mansion underwent construction day and night from 1884 to 1922. She did die eventually, and the hammers were silenced.
  • The Carson Mansion (Eureka): This ornate Victorian is one of the state's most photographed and flamboyant Queen Anne-style structures. It was built in 1885 by the Newsom brothers for William Carson, the local timber baron. Today it's the headquarters of a men's club.
  • The California State Capitol Building (Sacramento): The Golden State's dazzling white capitol was built in 1869 and renovated in 1976. Its dome -- which looks like a Fabergé egg from inside -- and original statuary along its eaves remain, and antiques from the original offices furnish its historic rooms. The collection of California governors' portraits is strangely compelling.
  • Mission San Carlos Borromèo del Río Carmelo (Carmel): The second mission founded in California, in 1770 by Father Junípero Serra, is perhaps the most beautiful. Its stone church and tower dome have been carefully restored, and a garden of poppies adjoins the church.
  • Hearst Castle (San Simeon): William Randolph Hearst's 165-room abode is one of the last great estates of America's Gilded Age. It's an astounding, over-the-top monument to unbridled wealth and power.
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles): You would have to fly to Spain to see Frank Gehry's other architectural masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and this one is sufficiently awe-inspiring. And the dramatically curvaceous stainless-steel exterior houses one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in the world.
  • The Gamble House (Pasadena): The Smithsonian Institution calls this 1908 Arts and Crafts landmark one of the nation's most important houses. Visitors can tour the spectacular interior, designed and impeccably executed, down to the last teak armchair, by Charles and Henry Greene.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.