What are the Best Cities in California to Visit? Travel Guide

Best Cities in California to Visit - Main Picture

If you’re traveling and looking for the best cities to visit in California, you’ve come to the right place.

There are so many great places to see and things to do in this wonderful state, and we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for the best cities to visit.

From the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles to the beautiful beaches of San Diego, there’s something for everyone in California.

So whether you’re looking for a city to explore, travel or just a place to relax and enjoy the sun, be sure to check out our list of the best cities in California to visit.


1. San Francisco

San Francisco is a city that needs no introduction. It’s one of the most popular tourist travel destinations in the world, and for a good reason.

There’s something for everyone in San Francisco, whether you’re interested in history, culture, food, or just taking in the sights.

San Francisco is one of the best cities in California to visit due to its positive vibes, and an abundance of the many things to do in the city.

First, its rich history dating back to the Gold Rush era gives the city a unique charm. Second, its position on the water makes it a beautiful place to explore.

Finally, its diverse population and cultural offerings make it a great place to experience new things.

Historically, San Francisco was founded during the Gold Rush era in 1849. Since then, it has been through a lot of ups and downs, but always manages to maintain its charm.

The city has been through two devastating earthquakes, multiple financial crises, and even served as the backdrop for a number of movies and TV shows. However, its resilience is one of the things that makes it so special.

San Francisco’s position on the water is another reason to visit. The city has an incredible Bay Area that offers breathtaking views. There are also a number of beaches and parks to explore.

As far as historical landmarks go, few places are more iconic than Alcatraz Island. Once home to some of America’s most notorious criminals, the island is now a popular tourist destination.

You can take a ferry from Pier 33 to the island and tour the former prison. Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as they often sell out.

If you’re interested in culture, San Francisco is home to a number of world-renowned museums. The Museum of Modern Art and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor are just a few options available to visitors.

For something a little different, check out the Cable Car Museum or the Museum of Ice Cream.

Of course, no visit to San Francisco would be complete without taking in the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of the most recognizable landmarks globally, the Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see. You can walk or bike across the bridge or take a tour on one of the sightseeing buses.

Some of the top attractions in San Francisco include the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. If you’re looking for a more unique experience, you can also check out the Mission District or Haight-Ashbury.

When it comes to food, San Francisco has something for everyone. From casual cafes to Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.

If you’re looking for a quick bite, be sure to try one of the city’s famous sourdough bread bowls.

For something a little more upscale, reserve a table at one of the city’s many fine dining establishments.

San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California. The city is rich in history and culture, and is known for its diverse food scene. There are plenty of things to see and do in San Francisco, making it a great place to visit for all types of travelers.

2. Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a city that has something for everyone.

The city is located in southern California on the west coast of the United States. The city sits right on the Pacific Ocean, which gives it a mild, Mediterranean climate. This means that LA enjoys warm weather all year round with very little rainfall.

Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It is named after the Virgin Mary, Los Angeles meaning “The Angels”.

Angelenos originally referred to the settlers of the city as pobladores, or townspeople. The city grew rapidly due to an influx of settlers from Northern Mexico and remained under Spanish rule until 1822.

In 1848, during the Mexican-American War, Los Angeles was occupied by American troops. After the war ended in 1848, California became part of the United States and Los Angeles began to grow even larger and more quickly.

The metropolitan area of Los Angeles covers a large swath of land, stretching from the mountains to the sea. Within this area there are many different neighborhoods, each with their own unique flavor. From the hipster haven of Silverlake to the ritzy enclaves of Beverly Hills, there’s something for everyone in LA.

Whether you’re interested in checking out the latest Hollywood blockbuster release, taking in some culture at one of the many world-class museums, or just soaking up some sun on one of the city’s many beaches, LA has got you covered.

If you’re looking to do some shopping while you’re in town, be sure to head to Rodeo Drive, where you can find all of the high-end designer stores that your heart could desire.

Or, if you’re in the mood for something a little more low-key, take a stroll down Melrose Avenue for some great vintage and second-hand shops.

And no visit to Los Angeles would be complete without taking a Hollywood studio tour.

You can see firsthand how your favorite movies and TV shows are made, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a celebrity or two.

So if you’re looking for a city that has it all, be sure to add Los Angeles to your list of best cities in California to visit.

3. San Diego

San Diego was founded in 1769 by Spanish settlers. It is the oldest city in California and was the first European settlement on the West Coast of the United States.

San Diego has a long and rich history that includes being part of Mexico, being annexed by the United States, and being home to many different cultures.

San Diego is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California. It is known for its beautiful weather, sandy beaches, and diverse attractions.

While San Diego does have a lot to offer visitors, it can also be a very expensive city to visit. Here are some tips on how to save money and still enjoy all that this city has to offer.

-Visit during the off-season. The months of April through June and September through November are typically the cheapest times to visit San Diego. Rates for hotels and flights are often lower during these months, and there are fewer crowds at popular tourist attractions.

-Stay outside of downtown San Diego. Downtown is where most of the expensive hotels are located. If you stay in a more affordable neighborhood, such as Mission Valley or La Jolla, you can still easily access all of the city’s attractions.

-Take advantage of free activities. There are plenty of things to do in San Diego that won’t cost you a dime. Visit Balboa Park, home to museums, gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Or check out one of the many beaches, such as Coronado Beach or Mission Beach.

-Eat like a local. Restaurants in touristy areas are often overpriced. To save money on meals, eat at casual eateries and food trucks instead of upscale restaurants. You’ll find plenty of great options for Mexican food, seafood, and burgers throughout the city.

-Use public transportation. San Diego’s public transportation system is reliable and inexpensive. A day pass costs only $5 and gets you unlimited rides on the bus and trolley. This can save you a lot of money if you’re planning on doing a lot of sightseeing.

4. Oakland

Oakland, California, is a city rich in history and culture. Founded in 1852, Oakland was originally a small town located in the San Francisco Bay area.

In the early 1900s, Oakland began to grow rapidly, becoming a major hub for business and industry.

Today, Oakland is a vibrant city with a diverse population and many different things to see and do.

If you’re looking for an exciting place to visit in California, be sure to add Oakland to your list! Here are just a few of the many reasons why Oakland is one of the best cities in California to visit:

-Oakland has a rich history and culture.

-There are many different things to see and do in Oakland, from exploring the city’s many museums and historical landmarks to enjoying its diverse selection of restaurants and shops.

-Oakland is home to a vibrant arts and music scene. There are many different festivals and events held in Oakland throughout the year, celebrating everything from local art and music to international cuisine.

-Oakland is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. The city has many parks and green spaces and access to the San Francisco Bay for swimming, fishing, and other activities.

5. Monterey

If you’re looking for a place to visit in California that has a rich history and plenty of things to do, then look no further than Monterey.

This city is located on the central coast of the state and is home to a variety of different attractions.

One of the most popular things to do in Monterey is to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

This world-renowned facility is known for its incredible displays of marine life, including sharks, sea otters, and jellyfish.

Visitors can also take part in educational programs and behind-the-scenes tours.

No trip to Monterey would be complete without taking a stroll through Cannery Row. This area was once home to a number of sardine canneries, but today it is a bustling tourist destination.

There are a variety of shops and restaurants to explore, as well as the Monterey Maritime & History Museum.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy the outdoors, then head to Point Lobos State Reserve. This beautiful park offers a variety of hiking trails, scenic lookouts, and tidepools to explore.

You might even spot some wildlife, such as whales, seals, and otters.

6. Palo Alto

Palo Alto is a city located in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. It is one of the best cities to visit in California because of its beautiful scenery, diverse culture, and abundance of things to do.

The city was founded in 1849 by a group of pioneers from Oregon. They named the city after a tall tree that stood outside of the city limits.

The tree was cut down in the late 1800s, but its legacy lives on in the city’s name.

Palo Alto is home to Stanford University, one of the world’s leading research universities.

The university is located on 8,180 acres of land that includes rolling hills, meadows, and forests.

The campus is also home to museums, art galleries, and a performing arts center. Stanford University is one of the main reasons why Palo Alto is such a great city to visit.

In addition to Stanford University, there are also many other things to do in Palo Alto.

The city has over 30 parks, including Foothills Park which offers hiking, biking, and picnicking opportunities.

There are also many shops and restaurants located in downtown Palo Alto.

And for those who are interested in the nightlife, there are several bars and clubs located in the city as well.

Santa Barbara

7. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is one of the best cities in California to visit. It’s known for its beautiful weather, stunning beaches, and exciting nightlife.

There’s something for everyone in Santa Barbara, whether you’re looking to relax or party. The city has a variety of activities and attractions to keep you entertained, including museums, art galleries, hiking trails, and golf courses.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from.

-Visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

-Explore the Santa Barbara Zoo

-Take a walk or hike through one of the city’s many parks, such as Alameda Park or Mission Canyon Park

-Check out the local nightlife scene

-Spend a day relaxing on one of Santa Barbara’s beaches, such as East Beach or West Beach

-Play a round of golf at one of the city’s golf courses, such as La Cumbre Country Club or Sandpiper Golf Club

Palm Springs

8. Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a great place to visit for its many attractions and activities. Some popular things to do in the city include hiking, biking, golfing, and shopping. The city also offers a variety of museums and art galleries.

One of the best things about Palm Springs is its weather. The average high temperature in the winter is a warm 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius).

In the summer, the average high temperature is a hot 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius).

Because of its location in the desert, Palm Springs often has very little humidity. This makes it a great place to visit year-round.

Another great thing about Palm Springs is its proximity to other California cities.

Los Angeles is only about two hours away, and San Diego is only about three hours away.

This makes Palm Springs a great place to visit for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.

9. Berkley

Berkley is a city located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It is the site of the University of California, Berkeley, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States.

The city is also home to a large number of technology companies and startups, making it a center for innovation in the Silicon Valley.

Berkley was founded in 1868 as a college town for the University of California. The city quickly became a hub for progressive politics and culture, with many notable residents including writer Jack London and civil rights leader Dorothy Day.

In the 1960s, Berkley became a center of the counterculture movement, and it has remained a popular destination for travelers from all over the world.

Today, Berkley is known for its vibrant arts scene, diverse population, and commitment to sustainability. The city is home to dozens of art galleries, museums, and performing arts venues. And with its mild climate and proximity to the San Francisco Bay, Berkley is a great place to enjoy the outdoors year-round.

Whether you’re interested in exploring Berkley’s rich history or enjoying its contemporary culture, there’s something for everyone in this California city. Here are some of the best places to visit in Berkley:

– The University of California, Berkeley: This world-renowned university is one of the main reasons to visit Berkley. With its beautiful campus and excellent academic programs, the UC Berkeley is a must-see for any traveler.

– The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: This museum is dedicated to the art and film of the 20th century. It houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and films from around the world.

– The Tilden Regional Park: This 2,000-acre park offers visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature. Tilden Park is home to hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, lakes, and more.

– The Berkeley Rose Garden: This five-acre garden is one of the most popular attractions in Berkley. With over 8,000 rose bushes, the garden is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the fragrant flowers.

Downtown Berkeley: This vibrant area of the city is home to many shops, restaurants, and theaters. It’s the perfect place to wander and explore or grab a bite to eat.

10. Sacramento

Sacramento, California’s state capital, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a rich history and plenty of things to see and do.

Located in the heart of the Central Valley, Sacramento is surrounded by farmland and has a thriving farm-to-table restaurant scene.

The city is also home to a number of museums, art galleries, and historical sites.

Some of the best things to do in Sacramento include exploring the Old City, visiting the State Capitol Building, checking out the Crocker Art Museum, strolling through Old Sacramento State Historic Park, and seeing the Tower Bridge.

Visitors can also enjoy Sacramento’s many parks and green spaces, such as McKinley Park, William Land Park, Fairy Tale Town, and Sutter’s Landing Park.

Sacramento is a great destination for a weekend getaway or longer vacation with so much to see and do.

11. San Jose

San Jose is the cultural, financial, and political center of Silicon Valley and as such, is one of the most important cities in California.

The city is home to numerous tech companies and startups, as well as major corporations like Cisco Systems, eBay, and Adobe.

San Jose also has a rich history dating back to the 18th century when it was founded by Spanish colonists.

Today, San Jose is a vibrant city with something for everyone. Visitors can enjoy world-class museums and art galleries, experience the lively nightlife scene, or explore the city’s many parks and green spaces.

There are also plenty of great activities for families, such as visiting the Children’s Discovery Museum or taking a ride on the historic Roaring Camp Railroads.

12. Santa Ana

Santa Ana is one of the best cities to visit because it is home to some of California’s most popular tourist attractions.

These include Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios Hollywood. Santa Ana is also a great place to shop, with its many malls and outlets.

And if you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, Santa Ana has plenty of parks and beaches.

Santa Ana was founded in 1869 by a group of settlers from San Francisco. The city was named after Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary.

Santa Ana quickly became a thriving community, thanks to its location near the Santa Ana River.

The city grew, even more when it became the county seat of Orange County in 1889. Today, Santa Ana is a diverse and vibrant city with a population of over 330,000.

Whether you’re looking for history, culture, or just a great place to have some fun, Santa Ana is worth visiting.

13. Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States.

Santa Monica is bordered on three sides by different neighborhoods of Los Angeles: Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south.

The Census Bureau population for Santa Monica in 2010 was 89,736.

Santa Monica is one of the most iconic beach towns in California and is a popular tourist destination.

The city is home to many famous landmarks such as the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade.

There are also many cultural attractions such as the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Some of the best things to do in Santa Monica include spending time on the beach, exploring the Santa Monica Pier, shopping on Third Street Promenade, and visiting the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Santa Monica is also a great place to eat, with many excellent restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.

If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing vacation destination, Santa Monica is definitely worth considering.

14. Napa

Napa, California is a beautiful city located in the heart of Napa Valley.

It is known for its world-renowned wineries and vineyards, as well as its stunning scenery. Napa is also home to some of the best restaurants in the state, making it a perfect place to visit for foodies.

There are plenty of things to do in Napa, from exploring its many wine caves to taking a scenic hike through one of its many parks.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an exciting adventure, Napa is the perfect place to visit.

15. Fresno

Fresno is the fifth largest city in California and the 34th largest city in the United States.

Fresno is in the center of the San Joaquin Valley and is known as the “City of Trees.” The city was founded in 1872 by the Central Pacific Railroad and has a rich history.

Fresno is home to many different cultural attractions, including the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Forestiere Underground Gardens, and Meux Home Museum.

There are also numerous parks and recreation areas, such as Woodward Park, Roeding Park, and Shinzen Japanese Garden. Fresno also has a lively arts scene, with several museums and theaters.

And of course, no visit to Fresno would be complete without enjoying some of the delicious food for which the city is known.

From fine dining to casual eateries, there’s something for everyone in Fresno.

Best Cities in California to Visit - anaheim

16. Anaheim

Anaheim is a great city to visit for a number of reasons.

First, it is home to Disneyland, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Second, Anaheim is located in Orange County, known for its beautiful beaches and sunny weather.

Third, Anaheim has a variety of other attractions, including the Anaheim Convention Center, the Anaheim Packing House, and Angel Stadium. Lastly, Anaheim is a relatively affordable city to visit, with various hotel options to choose from.

Anaheim was founded in 1857 by German immigrants. The city was originally called “Annaheim,” meaning “home by the Santa Ana River.” Anaheim became a thriving agricultural community known for its produce, wine, and dairy products.

In 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, quickly making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Today, Anaheim is a bustling metropolis with over 350,000 people.

It is home to many major corporations, including Honda, Boeing, and AT&T.

Anaheim is also a hub for sports and entertainment, with professional teams like the Anaheim Ducks (NHL) and the Los Angeles Angels (MLB).

17. Sonoma

Sonoma is a small city located in Northern California’s wine country.

The city is home to dozens of wineries, as well as restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

Sonoma is also a popular tourist destination for its many historic sites, including the Mission San Francisco Solano, the Sonoma Plaza, and the General Vallejo Home.

Visitors to Sonoma can enjoy wine tastings, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.

18. Long Beach

Long Beach is one of the best cities in California to visit. It’s a beautiful city with plenty to do.

The beaches are stunning, the restaurants are great, and there’s always something to do. There are also many things to do for families, couples, and individuals.

Some of the best things to do in Long Beach include visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific, going on a whale watching tour, exploring the Queen Mary, and checking out the Long Beach Museum of Art.

There are also plenty of great places to eat in Long Beach, including The Pike Restaurant & Bar, Joe Jost’s, and Mongolian BBQ.

19. Irvine

Irvine is a city located in Orange County, California. The city has a population of over 250,000 people and is considered one of the safest cities in the United States.

Irvine was founded in 1971 and is home to the University of California, Irvine.

The city is also known for its large corporate presence, with companies such as Samsung, Toshiba, Kia Motors, and Mazda having their American headquarters located there.

Irvine is a great place to visit for its many attractions. The city has a large number of parks, including the William R. Mason Regional Park and the Irvine Regional Park.

There are also several museums in Irvine, such as the Irvine Museum and the Heritage Park Historical Village.

For those interested in shopping, Irvine is home to the Irvine Spectrum Center, a large outdoor mall.

And finally, no visit to Irvine would be complete without checking out the University of California, Irvine campus.

The university is known for its beautiful architecture and extensive grounds.


20. Riverside

Riverside is a city in southern California located in the Inland Empire region.

It is the county seat of Riverside County and is the largest city in the Inland Empire. Riverside is also part of the Greater Los Angeles area.

Riverside is a great place to visit for its many attractions and things to do.

There are several museums and historical sites to visit and a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. The city also has a great selection of restaurants, bars, and nightlife options.

Some of the top attractions in Riverside include the Riverside Art Museum, the Fox Performing Arts Center, and the Mission Inn Museum.

There are plenty of parks and hiking trails for those interested in outdoor activities to explore.

And for those looking for a night out on the town, there are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.

Santa Cruz

21. Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a world-famous attraction, and for a good reason. The Boardwalk has been around since 1907 and is full of historic charm.

It’s also home to great rides, like the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the Logger’s Revenge log flume.

And, of course, no visit to Santa Cruz would be complete without taking a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

There are plenty of other great things to do in Santa Cruz for those who prefer to stay on dry land.

The City Lights Theater Company offers great live entertainment, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is a must-see for history and art lovers.

For nature lovers, the redwood forests in nearby Henry Cowell State Park are a must-visit.

travel to newport city california

22. Newport Beach

Newport Beach is a city in Orange County, California. It was founded in 1906 and incorporated as a city in 1923. The city is known for its beautiful beaches, yachting, surfing, and luxury shopping.

The Balboa Pavilion, built in 1906, is the oldest structure in Newport Beach.

The Balboa Island Ferry transports cars and passengers to and from the island. There are three public piers in Newport Beach – Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, and Dory Fish Market Pier.

Balboa Pier is the busiest pier with fishermen, shoppers, and tourists alike. At the end of Balboa Pier is the famous Ruby’s Diner. The Newport Pier is also a popular spot for fishing and has a beautiful view of the city.

The Dory Fish Market is a seafood restaurant located on the pier – it is popular for its fresh fish and chips.

The Newport Beach Boardwalk is a 2.5-mile path that stretches along the shoreline. It is a popular spot for walking, jogging, biking, and rollerblading. There are also many restaurants and shops along the boardwalk.

Newport Beach has many beaches, including Corona del Mar State Beach, Crystal Cove State Park, and Balboa Beach.

Corona del Mar State Beach is known for its tide pools and cliffside views. Crystal Cove State Park is a 3.2-mile stretch of beach with hiking trails and tide pools.

Balboa Beach is a popular spot for surfing, bodyboarding, and sunbathing.

There are many things to do in Newport Beach, making it a great place to visit. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the city,


23. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California.

Every year, people from all over the world come to enjoy its beautiful scenery and partake in its many recreational activities.

There are plenty of things to do in Lake Tahoe, no matter your interests.

In the summer, you can go hiking, biking, or swimming in one of the many crystal-clear lakes.

And in the winter, you can hit the slopes at one of the world-renowned ski resorts.

1. Go Hiking: There are many trails to explore in Lake Tahoe. You can find a trail that is perfect for your skill level.

2. Go Biking: Biking is a great way to see the sights of Lake Tahoe. Many bike trails wind through the forests and along the shores of the lake.

3. Go Skiing: Skiing is a popular activity in Lake Tahoe. Many ski resorts offer a variety of trails for all skill levels.

4. Go Boating: There are many lakes and rivers in Lake Tahoe that are perfect for boating. You can rent a boat or bring your own.

5. Explore the Towns: Many small towns around Lake Tahoe are worth exploring. Each town has its own unique charm.

6. Take a Scenic Drive: There are many scenic drives in Lake Tahoe that you can take to see the area’s beauty.

24. Bakersfield

Bakersfield is one of California’s hidden gems. Although it’s not as well-known as some of the state’s other cities, there’s a lot to see and do here. Bakersfield has something for everyone, from hiking and biking trails to museums and art galleries.

If you’re looking for a city to explore on your next vacation, add Bakersfield to your list. Here are some of the best things to do in this California city:

Visit the Museum of Art and History: The Museum of Art and History is one of Bakersfield’s top cultural attractions. Housed in a beautiful historic building, the museum features a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Explore the Kern River: The Kern River is a popular spot for hiking, biking, and picnicking. Several rafting companies offer trips down the river.

Visit the California Living Museum: The California Living Museum is a great place to learn about the state’s diverse wildlife. The museum features animals from all over California, including bears, bald eagles, and mountain lions.

Take a scenic drive: Bakersfield is surrounded by some beautiful scenery. For a fun day trip, take a drive through one of the city’s scenic highways, such as Highway 58 or Highway 99.

Visit the Bakersfield Zoo: The Bakersfield Zoo is home to more than 150 animals, including lions, tigers, and giraffes. The zoo also has a variety of educational programs and events.


The best cities to visit in California are San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Each city has its own unique attractions and activities to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for a bustling metropolis or a laid-back beach town, there’s a perfect destination for you in California.

So pack your bags and head to the Golden State for an unforgettable vacation.

One thought on “What are the Best Cities in California to Visit? Travel Guide

  1. I have never been to America, but after this exhaustive announcement, I would like to visit San Francisco, San Diego and Napa. So many wonderful sights, historical monuments, beautiful vacation spots. And Berkeley University, famous in America, comes into consideration. Just buy tickets, pack a suitcase and the first plane, heading to America

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