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California Royalty

California Royalty
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Enjoy an audience with the state’s unique collection of kings, queens, and princesses.

California has its own brand of “royals”—Disney princesses, historic riverboats, basketball kings, drag queens, a king of beasts, and a queen of the high seas. In fact, visiting California’s pseudo-monarchs is a south-to-north journey fit for, well, a king.

Disneyland® Park . From winsome Princess Jasmine to the evil Queen of Hearts, Disneyland knows royalty. At Fantasyland’s Disney Princess Fantasy Faire, hang out with Belle, Pocahontas, and the ultimate fairy-tale princess, Cinderella. Bend the rules a bit and consider Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, on show in Tomorrowland’s 3-D extravaganza, Captain EO, or take a spin on the King Arthur Carousel.

King Kong 360 3-D . He’s bigger and badder than ever, an ape at the apex. Thanks to the genius of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, King Kong comes alive at Universal Studios Hollywood in the largest 3-D projection installation on the planet. Watch as King Kong battles a T-rex just in time to save your tram. The 30-foot-tall, 6,000-pound Kong isn’t just the king. He’s the heavyweight champion of the world too.

Queen Mary . From its maiden voyage in 1936 to its 1967 arrival in Long Beach, the Queen Mary ruled the waves. The ship offers endless opportunities to experience the romance of ocean travel. Take a tour and see vintage Art Deco design or let a psychic guide you into the ship’s haunted past. Dine or have cocktails in a host of venues. You can even spend the night—as Hollywood and British royalty when the Queen plied the Atlantic.

Mission Santa Barbara . From its commanding throne above the city and coast, Mission Santa Barbara justly bears the title of “Queen of the Missions.” The tenth of California’s 21 missions, the graceful building with its distinctive twin bell towers presides over 10 acres of grounds, including exceptional gardens and some of the best views around. Take a tour to learn more about Mission Santa Barbara's history and distinctive artwork, including original carvings by Chumash Indians.

Pacific Grove . Monarch butterflies must have a nose for prime real estate. Every fall, thousands of monarchs wing on over to Pacific Grove, one of the coast’s most appealing towns. These orange-and-black beauties flutter amongst the eucalyptus trees in the Monarch Grove Sanctuary—a seasonal show so spectacular it earned Pacific Grove the title of “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.” Monarchs even get their own Butterfly Parade every October.

Kings Canyon National Park . Home to one of the country’s deepest canyons, the world’s largest sequoia grove, and 14,000-foot peaks, the park merits its exalted name. Kings Canyon doesn’t share nearby Yosemite National Park’s renown—or crowds. And that’s just fine with us. That way you can walk beneath the world’s largest single living organisms in the General Grant Grove, find a private campsite, or drive the spectacular (if a little white-knuckle-inducing) Kings Canyon Scenic Byway almost by yourself, surrounded by scenery as majestic as this park’s noble title.

Tahoe Queen . Catch a glimpse of this riverboat all-aglow, and you might mistake the historic paddle wheeler for a floating palace. You’ll certainly enjoy the royal treatment when you come aboard for a lake cruise. Restored to its early 1900s grandeur, the Tahoe Queen offers daytime trips to Emerald Bay and sunset dinner cruises.

Kings Beach . According to legend, Joe King won the rights to this Lake Tahoe area in a poker game. King certainly played his cards right: Kings Beach boasts a spectacular setting, with the lake’s lapis-blue waters surrounded by alpine peaks. Despite its regal name, Kings Beach is anything but pretentious, and has a kickback way of life that seems best suited for a cooler and an inflatable raft. Hang out at the white sands of Kings Beach State Recreation Area and you may never want to leave your beach towel.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet of San Francisco . Hailed as “a San Francisco treasure” by former mayor Gavin Newsom, Alonzo King has staged innovative ballets in the city since 1982. Collaborating with everyone from Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart to Shaolin monks from China, master choreographer Alonzo King expands classical ballet’s boundaries. His works embrace diverse traditions to deliver a royally good time for performers and audience alike.

AsiaSF . You can dress them up with names like “gender illusionists,” but the haughty and naughty performers—some astoundingly beautiful—at the San Francisco institution are really just top-notch drag queens. This restaurant/lounge/dance club knows how to strut its stuff (or let the “ladies” do it) and deliver command performances. If you can take your eyes of the entertainers on the red-topped runway, order a signature cocktail and dine on memorable Cal-Asian cuisine in a setting as lively and colorful as San Francisco itself.

Delta King . An extensive renovation converted this broad-beamed riverboat into a floating hotel with restaurants and theaters. Come aboard and marvel at the paddle wheeler’s ornate woodwork—much of it original. The Delta King’s currently pristine condition is even more remarkable when you consider that after its heyday traveling between Sacramento and San Francisco in the 1800s, the riverboat spent decades in disrepair, including 15 months partially submerged. Splurge on a stay in the decadent Captain’s Quarters—it’s worth the king’s ransom.

Sacramento Kings . Although it has been 60 years since the franchise won an NBA championship (when it was the Rochester Royals), the Kings inspire a fervent local following. Ranked among basketball’s top fans, these faithful subjects have sworn their allegiance to the Kings since 1985. While the home court in Power Balance Arena is no palace, its fan don’t seem to mind, and rock the house as hard as any home team in the NBA.

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