Travel Tips

California is in the Pacific Time Zone (GMT minus 8 hours). The state observes daylight saving time.

  • In 2011, daylight time begins on March 14 and ends on November 7.
The state sales tax is 8.25%. Local taxes may be as much as an additional 1.5%.
Directory Assistance
For local numbers, dial 411; long-distance, 1 plus area code plus 555-1212; toll-free, (800) 555-1212
Area Codes
Many area codes have recently changed. Call directory assistance if the number you have doesn’t work.
Toll-Free Calls
Not all 800, 877, and 888 numbers work outside the U.S. Try a direct toll number or a fax.
Emergency Assistance
You can call 911 toll free from any public telephone to obtain police, fire, or medical assistance.
Liquor Laws
Alcohol is sold throughout California. Legal drinking age is 21.
Smoking Rules
You must be 18 to purchase tobacco products. Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings (including restaurants, bars and casinos) and enclosed spaces throughout California. It is illegal to smoke within 20 feet of doorways or windows of government buildings. Most large hotels have designated smoking rooms; if you smoke, request one – most hotels will fine guests who smoke inside a non-smoking room. Many cities in California (including half the cities in San Diego County) have passed ordinances prohibiting smoking in all public places. It is even illegal to smoke on certain beaches in Southern California – watch for signs!

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