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By The Numbers

THE GOLDEN 15 / 15 BEST/WORST

November 18, 2007|Christopher Reynolds

1. Best beach: Coronado Beach (San Diego County): In his national best-beach rankings this year, Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University ranked this spot eighth, this state's only beach in the top 10.

2. Best bed-and-breakfast: The Simpson House in Santa Barbara ([800] 676-1280, www.simpson houseinn.com) has been the only AAA five-diamond B&B in California for several years. It's a 15-room Victorian house. Rates start at $235 per night. 3. Best big-city destination: In October, San Francisco was the top-scoring U.S. city in the Conde-Nast Travel Readers' Choice Awards. That's 15 years in a row.

4. Best big-city airport (for getting away on time): It's San Diego's Lindbergh Field. In 2007 through July 31, federal statistics show, 82.89% of San Diego's departures were on time.

5. Worst big-city airport (for getting away on time): The laggard among the state's four biggest airports is San Francisco, with a 76.41% on-time departure rate in the first seven months of 2007.

6. Best flight (within the state, based on timeliness): JetBlue Flight 241, Oakland to Long Beach. From September 2006 through August, this JetBlue flight was 96.75% on time -- 11 late arrivals in 338 flights.

7. Worst flight (within the state, based on timeliness): Southwest Airlines flight 336 from Oakland to LAX. From September 2006 through August, this one was late 110 times (and canceled once) out of 174 flights. That's a 36.2% on-time rate. Average delay: 26.68 minutes. 8. Best hotel service: Among small hotels, the California Hotel & Lodging Assn. gave its top "guest relations" prize last year to the Glorietta Bay Inn in Coronado, citing exultant guest reviews and a return rate of 51%. Among large hotels, the prize went to Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa in Anaheim.

9. Best hotel taxes: Holtville (Imperial County), Sanger (Fresno County), unincorporated Modoc County; and Exeter (Tulare County) all have hotel taxes of just 4%.

10. Worst hotel taxes: Anaheim, where taxes add 15% to your hotel bill.

11. Best major-league baseball value: For $5, you get a Park Pass, allowing standing-room or centerfield lawn access to the San Diego Padres' Petco Park. (Los Angeles, Anaheim, Oakland and San Francisco all cost more.)

12. Best train ride beyond California: Amtrak's long-distance Southwest Chief (Los Angeles-Chicago) ran 60% on time (that is, within 45 minutes of schedule.)

13. Worst train ride beyond California: Amtrak's California Zephyr (Emeryville-Chicago) was on time just 9.9% of the time. (Emeryville is in the Bay Area, north of Oakland.) 14. Best train ride inside California. Over the year that ended Sept. 30, Amtrak's short-distance Pacific Surfliner service between San Diego and San Luis Obispo was on time 74.8% of the time (that is, within 15 minutes of schedule).

15. Worst train ride inside California: Amtrak's San Joaquin service between Bakersfield and Oakland (or Bakersfield and Sacramento) was on time 67.9% of the time.

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