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10 Best Places to Visit in California

Best Places to Visit in CaliforniaThe third-largest state in the U.S., California is full of fun things to do and see. From its beautiful beaches and relaxing countryside to its electric nightlife and trendy attractions, there’s something for everyone.

California’s diverse offerings makes it a must-see for any traveler, but it also presents a challenge. How do you narrow down the choices into a manageable and well-rounded trip?

To help you plan your next adventure, our Geeks compiled this list of 10 cities you can’t miss when visiting the Golden State:

1. Alameda

Located on an island in the Bay Area, Alameda, or “The Island City,” is full of fun things to do and see. If you’re looking for a little time in the sun, Crown Memorial State Beach is the perfect destination. The 2.5-mile beach offers the chance to swim and kayak in the warm waters of the San Francisco Bay. It also gives you the chance to explore some of the history of the area.

The Crab Cove Visitors Center is situated on the north end of the beach, and contains displays focused on the plant and wildlife native to the San Francisco Bay. The Memory Lane trail is accessible from Crab Cove, too. The self-guided journey takes you from the area’s origins to the present, with insights into its Victorian era and military history.

Outside of the beach, some other interesting attractions include the USS Hornet Museum, the Pacific Pinball Museum, and the Altarena Playhouse.

2. Chula Vista

Chula Vista, meaning “beautiful view,” really lives up to its name. This Californian city is set between the San Diego Bay and the coastal mountain foothills.

Visitors will love the scenic views at the Chula Vista Marina and along the city’s many hiking trails, like the Rice Canyon Trail, which is doable for all skill levels. Both families and adventurers will enjoy the Aquatica water park, which is affiliated with SeaWorld, and the Living Coast Discovery Center, a nonprofit aquarium and zoo featuring more than 350 plant and animal species.

Additionally, Chula Vista’s downtown district offers an array of dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities, like the Third Avenue Village and the Otay Ranch Town Center.

3. Culver City

Known as “the heart of screenland,” Culver City is a haven for movie aficionados. The Sony Pictures Studio Tour takes guests through one of the most well-known studios in the world. After getting a glimpse behind the scenes of iconic films like “The Wizard of Oz” as well as current productions, check out the Sony Pictures Museum for information on both the studio’s past and the techniques they employ today.

Spending the night? Stay at the Culver Hotel, a 1920s flatiron building and national historical landmark. It has appeared in shows like “Bones” and “7th Heaven” and has housed celebrities like Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Ronald Reagan. It now boasts 46 elegantly designed rooms with views of the downtown area, dining options, and nightly live music.

4. Lincoln

If you’re looking for a more luxurious trip, look no further than Lincoln. First, try your luck at Thunder Valley Casino Resort. Gambling, fine dining, live entertainment, nightclubs, swimming—this venue has it all.

Afterward, you can relax and unwind at one of Lincoln’s beautiful and sophisticated wineries, the perfect place to experience the comforts of California’s countryside. Wise Villa Winery & Bistro’s 26 acres includes a full-service, Tuscan-style bistro, European architecture, and wines made from organic grapes. Tour the facility, or enjoy their parties, events, and candlelight dinners. Ciotti Cellar is a family-run winery that describes their wines as “a little sunshine in a bottle.” Savor a sip while admiring the amazing view.

If that’s not your taste, visit one of Lincoln’s many breweries. The Goathouse Brewing Company’s handcrafted ales are made on-site. Visitors can see the hop fields and orchards the ingredients come from before stopping by the tasting room. Dueling Dogs Brewing Co.’s farm-fresh beers, ciders, and meads are known for their unique flavors. Guests can also pick up the ingredients behind the brews at their farm stand.

5. Long Beach

The coastal city of Long Beach, California, offers a great opportunity to have some fun on the waterfront. Start by booking a room at The Queen Mary Hotel, which is actually a real ocean liner. The ship has been docked in the city for more than 40 years and gives travelers the unique opportunity to step back in time and experience ocean life as it used to be.

Then, return to the present to enjoy marine life as it is today. Rent jet skis, boats, kayaks, and more to spend some time in the surf, or rent bikes or walk to enjoy the views and check out the shops. You can also get up close and personal with more than 11,000 creatures at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The facility is a great way to unearth more information about the Pacific region.

6. Nevada City

Dating back to the Gold Rush, Nevada City’s Victorian-style homes and historic buildings give this area a cozy, small-town vibe. There’s always live music and entertainment at the bars and restaurants in the downtown area, and live productions at the Nevada Theatre. Additionally, movies and film festivals can be enjoyed at venues like Off Broadstreet and the Miners Foundry Culture Center.

One of the best times to visit, however, is around Christmas. Described as “a Christmas card come to life,” Nevada City really gets into the spirit of the season. This Victorian celebration includes horse-drawn carriage rides, minstrels, carolers, and street vendors offering traditional holiday foods and goods. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their Victorian best.

7. San Jose

Set in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is at the forefront of culture, technology, and innovation. A great way to experience all this bustling city has to offer is the South First Fridays Art Walk. As the name suggests, this event occurs on the first Friday of every month and allows a unique glimpse into San Jose’s creative soul. Businesses, galleries, and museums open their doors for the free, self-guided tour. Some participating venues include the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Art Ark Gallery, and the Hammer Theater, among many others.

San Jose is also a great place to catch a game. The San Jose Sharks play in in the SAP Center during hockey season (September through April), and the San Jose Earthquakes play at the Avaya Stadium during the soccer season (March through October). The San Jose Giants, a minor-league baseball team affiliated with the San Francisco Giants, also play in the city.

8. Santa Clara

Santa Clara, only a short ride away from San Jose, has also felt the effects of the technological revolution. To learn about it and the people behind it, check out the Intel Museum. The 10,000-square-foot facility is interactive, informational, and great for the whole family.

Experience technology in action at California’s Great American Theme Park, which is constantly updated with the latest and greatest rides. Most recently, in 2018, the park added the RailBlazer, a coaster with a new, single-rail design.

9. Torrance

This Southern-California gem is a food-lover’s paradise. With more than 400 eateries, there’s something to suit every palate. Got a sweet tooth? Torrance Bakery dates back to 1984 and is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Creamistry specializes in ice cream prepared with liquid nitrogen, which makes it exceptionally creamy. Even better, each scoop is made fresh and is completely customizable.

Beer enthusiasts will revel in Torrance’s 11 breweries, each with their own spin on the popular beverage. Zymurgy Brew Works even offers customers the chance to make their own style and flavor. They provide the ingredients, recipes, and insight into the process.

10. Union City

Union City is another great spot for foodies. Niles Pie Company hosts classes ranging from pie baking to pasta making using all locally-sourced ingredients. Little Sheep Hot Pot offers a unique taste of Mongolian cuisine, and Chaplin’s Sports Bistro is the perfect spot to grab a bite while cheering on the Golden State Warriors. For more of a romantic vibe, Tomatina can’t be missed.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of attractions in California. Plan your trip today!

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10 Best Places to Visit in Alabama

Best Places to Visit in AlabamaNicknamed the “Heart of Dixie,” the “Cotton State,” and the “Yellowhammer State,” Alabama is known for its rich history, agricultural leadership, and small-town vibes. It’s the perfect place for travelers seeking a taste of Southern charm. There’s so much to experience that planning the perfect trip can be tricky. We’ve narrowed down 10 of the best places to visit in Alabama to help you get started.

1. Birmingham

The most populated city in Alabama, Birmingham definitely tops the list. It’s got a little bit of everything, meaning there’s also something for everyone. History buffs will enjoy the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and families and animal lovers will enjoy exploring The Birmingham Zoo. The Alabama Theater is great for a range of interests; the facility was built in 1927 and is one of America’s last functioning movie palaces. Visitors can both take a tour and catch a show. Additionally, Birmingham features live music venues, hundreds of great eateries, and a hopping nightlife.

2. Enterprise

Known as the City of Progress, Enterprise embraces its roots while leading the charge in cultural innovation. Every year, it hosts events like the Piney Woods Arts Festival, the Summer Fest, and the Boll Weevil Festival to showcase and celebrate the region’s art. Other opportunities to experience art in the area include the Enterprise Performing Arts Center and the Coffee County Arts Alliance, both of which regularly bring in a variety of shows and live entertainment.

Notably, the city is also home to the only monument of an insect in the world, the Boll Weevil Monument, which recognizes the bug’s significance to agricultural history.

3. Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores is one of the best places to enjoy the water in Alabama. Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, this beach city is a hub for boating, sailing, kayaking, swimming, diving, and other watersports. One of the things that makes it so unique is the fact that it makes up part of the largest artificial reef program in the United States. There’s a whole other world beneath the waves.

While you’re there, don’t miss out on a chance to charter a boat and see what you can catch. Lazy Line II Charters, Lost Bay Guide Service, and Lost Key Charters all offer an array of fun fishing excursions for the whole family.

4. Huntsville

Want a vacation that’s both fun and informational? Look no further than Huntsville, Alabama, otherwise known as Rocket City. It has sat at the forefront of aerospace engineering for decades and continues to lead the pack via the Marshall Space Flight Center, which is still an active lab. Learn more about what they’re working on and about the history of space exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the world’s largest space museum. It features exhibits like Explorer I, the first American satellite, and a Saturn V rocket, and experiences like the G-Force Accelerator and Space Shot. It also has an IMAX theater and a space camp.

When you return to Earth, discover all our world has to offer at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. Besides the 120 acres of natural beauty, the facility is also home to the country’s largest open-air butterfly house.

5. Madison

Located only miles away from Huntsville, Madison is the perfect place for a small-town experience. The quaint downtown area features a variety of shops and restaurants with a strong emphasis on family. The community encourages both residents and visitors to shop locally and support local businesses.

One of the best times to visit is October. Every year on the first Saturday of the month, the Madison Street Festival brings everyone together for a celebration of fall. The event includes hundreds of vendors, performers, artists, musicians, and, of course, great food.

6. Monroeville

Literature lovers will revel in the opportunity to explore Monroeville. This city has produced famous writers like Truman Capote and Harper Lee, and it has come to really embrace its storied past. Harper Lee famously based the setting of her books, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman,” on Monroeville; the building where the inspiration for Atticus Finch still stands there, as does the courtroom and clocktower. Notably, she grew up next door to Truman Capote, the author of “In Cold Blood.” Visitors can get a glimpse into their world at the Old Courthouse Museum, which has photos, exhibits, and stories based on the pair.

To see “To Kill a Mockingbird” come to life, make sure to stop by between April and May to see the annual production, “Mockingbird.” The play starts on the lawn of the Old Courthouse Museum and concludes in the actual courtroom used for the trial.

Haven’t gotten your “To Kill a Mockingbird” fill yet? Check out the Birdhouse Trail, featuring 25 birdhouses inspired by the book. Each was carved by local artists.

7. Montgomery

The capital of Alabama, Montgomery is packed with fun things for the whole family to enjoy. The Montgomery Zoo provides the unique chance to see and interact with creatures from around the world. Feed river otters and giraffes, ride on the horse trails, and meet babies like the zoo’s African pygmy hippo, born in 2018, right in the middle of this sprawling city. The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts contains thousands of beautiful pieces, and the Shakespeare Gardens & Amphitheatre is famous for hosting one of the largest Shakespeare festivals in the world.

8. Orange Beach

Neighboring Gulf Shores, Orange Beach offers a different take on the Alabama coast. The Wharf is the city’s premier entertainment destination. Centered around the city’s beautiful marina, The Wharf combines shopping, dining, and amusement for one big celebration. The Ferris Wheel provides unique view of the Gulf of Mexico, while the Hummingbird Zipline allows riders to soar over it. The Sunny Lady Dolphin & Sunset Tour will even take travelers out onto the waters in search of the area’s native dolphins.

9. Pelham

For a more sports-centric trip, try Pelham. This small city rests in the foothills of Oak Mountain, creating the outstanding views the Ballantrae Golf Club is famous for. Kick back, relax, and enjoy the scenery as you make your way through the 18-hole course. Further, the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena is a premier destination for ice sports, and Pelham Racquet Club offers 25 tennis courts in a beautiful outdoor facility.

10. Prattville

With an abundance of parks, Prattville is the perfect place to get in touch with nature. The Autauga Bluebird Trail has hundreds of houses for these special birds, and the Autauga Creek Canoe Trail is known for its calm and enjoyable waters. The creek is also the source of Prattville’s famous artesian wells. Although many are no longer operational, some still produce gallons of water. Residents and visitors often wait in line to fill up containers with it to consume at their leisure.

Steeped in history and culture, Alabama offers experiences like no other. Start your journey today!

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Do You Have To Contact The Police After A Car Accident In California? 

Getting into a car accident is a stressful experience that can leave you not knowing which way to turn. Unfortunately, many drivers in California are not sure what to do in the immediate aftermath of a collision, and failing to take the right steps could increase the risk of a subsequent accident and impede your ability to file a successful car insurance claim.

Your top priority after any collision is to get medical assistance for yourself and for anyone else who was injured. But what if nobody was injured? Do you still have to contact the police?

The answer to this question varies by state. In California, drivers are required to report any accident that results in death or injury to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the city police within 24 hours. Even if nobody was seriously injured, it’s a good idea to contact the police anyway so an officer can compile an accident report. This report will be valuable evidence if the other driver or the insurance company disputes your account of the collision. Also, some injuries take several hours or even days to manifest symptoms, and it will be harder for you to file a successful claim if you do not have an accident report.

Reporting An Accident To The State of California Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Besides reporting the collision to the CHP, you are also required to file a report (called a Traffic Accident Report SR 1) with the DMV within 10 days if you are involved in an accident that results in death, injury, or property damage in excess of $1,000. The form can be mailed in or submitted electronically. Failure to submit this form could result in license suspension.

 

Do You Have To Contact The Police After A Car Accident In California? 

Your driver’s license could be suspended if you fail to report an accident that caused an injury, death, or significant property damage.

Reporting A Collision To Your Insurance Company

Many drivers wait too long to report a collision to their insurance company, often because they don’t want their premiums to increase or they simply do not want to deal with the hassle of filing a claim. This could prove to be a costly mistake since your insurance company will likely dispute or flat-out deny your claim after a certain timeframe has passed.

The exact amount of time you have to report a crash to your insurer depends on the language of your policy. A good rule of thumb is to notify your insurance company about your collision as soon as possible.

Common Mistakes To Avoid After A Car Accident

Your actions and statements immediately after a car accident will have a major impact on your ability to file a successful insurance claim. Unfortunately, many drivers in California know very little about the claims process until they are involved in an accident.

Here are a few common mistakes that could cause your claim to be undervalued or denied:

  • Forgetting to contact the police at the crash scene;
  • Not writing down the contact information of eyewitnesses;
  • Waiting too long to file a claim;
  • Not gathering evidence at the scene;
  • Delaying or failing to visit a doctor for a medical evaluation; and
  • Posting information about your car accident on social media.

Were there any important points we missed? Feel free to share them below. If you’re looking for car insurance in California, Click Here to see the results of our quote comparison study.

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5 Ways Drivers With An Accident History Can Save On Car Insurance

Your car insurance rates are ultimately based on the likelihood that you’ll file a claim and the potential cost of that claim to the insurance company. Although each insurer takes a different approach to calculating premiums, there are some criteria that are fairly consistent from one carrier to the next. One of these criteria is accident history.

If you were involved in a recent collision, your insurance company will most likely consider you to be a higher liability and will therefore increase your premiums. Fortunately, in an effort to attract more policyholders, some insurers are more lenient on drivers who have an accident history.

If you were involved in a collision and noticed an uptick in your premiums as a result, here are five potential ways to get your premiums reduced:

1. Take A Defensive Driving Course

Some insurance companies offer discounts to policyholders who take a defensive driving course. The idea here is that such a course will reinforce good driving habits and will therefore reduce the likelihood that you’ll end up filing a claim.

Some defensive driving courses must be taken in-person while others are available online. Your insurance company may only offer discounts for taking a course that meets specific criteria, so speak with your provider before comparing your options.

2. Opt For Less Coverage

If you currently have add-on coverage like comprehensive insurance, collision insurance, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, consider reducing your policy limits or removing those coverages from your policy. You may also be able to lower your premiums by opting for less liability coverage, though you should bear in mind that the lower your coverage limits, the higher your financial liability in the event of a major accident.

Another way to get your premiums reduced is to opt for a higher deductible. This is the amount you will have to pay before your insurance coverage pays out.

3. Consider Other Discounts

There are numerous insurance discounts available, but some insurance companies won’t offer them unless you ask. Common discounts include multiline discounts, multi-vehicle discounts, good student discounts, and discounts for paperless billing.

4. Purchase A Vehicle That Is Cheaper To Insure

Some vehicles have particularly high rates of theft and accidents, so they tend to cost more to insure. You may be able to get your insurance rates lowered by purchasing a vehicle that has a low claim rate and low horsepower.

 

5 Ways Drivers With An Accident History Can Save On Car Insurance

The year, make, model, and horsepower of the vehicle you drive could have an impact on your insurance rate.

5. Compare Quotes From Multiple Insurance Companies

Since each insurance company takes a different approach to calculating premiums, the rates you get from one provider could be significantly different from another. If you noticed an uptick in your rates after a collision, try comparing quotes from multiple providers to find one that caters to your particular driver profile.

To help you save time, our team conducted a study that compared estimated auto insurance quotes from multiple providers in each state for drivers who had an accident history. You can find the results of that study here.

If you know of any other strategies for reducing car insurance premiums after an accident, feel free to share them in the Comments section below.

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Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better When Buying Car Insurance In California

Everybody likes to save money, but purchasing the cheapest car insurance available in California comes with inherent risks. If you cause an accident and your policy limits aren’t enough to cover the damages, you might have to foot the bill out of your own pocket, which could lead to overwhelming debt and possible bankruptcy.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider buying auto insurance in California that exceeds the minimum required limits:

1. The Minimum Liability Limits May Not Cover All Of The Damages

According to the California Department of Insurance (CDI), all drivers must be able to show proof of financial responsibility for any vehicle they drive. Most people do this by carrying auto insurance policies.

In the state of California, drivers are required to carry liability insurance that meets certain minimum limits. Those limits are $15,000 for the death or injury of one person in an accident, $30,000 for all injuries and deaths caused in one accidents, and $5,000 for property damage. As you may already know, these limits often are not enough to cover all of the damages caused in a major collision.

 

Why Cheaper Isn’t Always Better When Buying Car Insurance In California

The minimum liability coverage often is not enough to pay for all of the damages caused in a major collision.

2. Premiums Are Not The Only Cost

When you’re looking at how much your insurance will cost, the premiums are not the only expense to consider. Although cheaper premiums might reduce your monthly expenses, you will likely have a high deductible to pay if you are ever forced to file a claim.

A deductible is the amount you have to pay before insurance will pay out. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, you will be required to pay the full $1,000 before your insurance will cover the remaining damages up to your policy limits. Ultimately, you might end up paying more in the long run if you carry the cheapest insurance and wind up having to pay a high deductible.

3. Optional Coverage Can Save You From A Big Bill

Although the minimum liability coverage is mandatory in California, there is add-on coverage available that could protect your financial security. It is important to remember that liability insurance only covers the expenses of other people in a collision that you cause; it will not cover your own medical bills or property damage.

Here are a few types of add-on coverage available in California:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This type of insurance covers you if someone who is uninsured or does not carry enough insurance hits you.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: This coverage helps pay for medical expenses if you or passengers in your vehicle are injured.  MedPay will go into effect no matter who is at fault in the crash.
  • Collision Insurance: This covers vehicle repairs after a collision, even if you hit an inanimate object.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: This covers damage due to bad weather, theft, fire, vandalism, or other types of non-accident related events.
  • Additional Insurance Coverage: California drivers also have the option to purchase coverage for amenities such as stereos or custom wheels. You can also buy insurance for towing, road service, or a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.

Although cheap auto insurance in California might have an attractive price tag, it’s important that you have a full understanding of your financial liability before you commit to a policy. It’s a good idea to invest in extra liability coverage, a low deductible, and optional add-on coverage if you can afford them.

Did we miss any important points? Feel free to leave a comment below.

 

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