This is also an old post as after graduation the boy and I were lucky enough to spend four weeks traveling around California. I am sure a lot has changed since our adventure but our itinerary was a good one so I thought I would quickly share.
We flew direct from London Heathrow to San Francisco with British Airways and spent our first four nights in the city staying at the San Francisco Downtown Hostel, which was cheap and conveniently located. Whilst here we ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square, we took a drive down the steep and windy Lombard Street. We cycled over The Golden Gate Bridge, we took a boat tour to Alcatraz. We supported the San Francisco Giants during a Baseball game and we rode on a tram. We also made sure to check out China Town and Little Italy as well as ate at the garlic restaurant The Stinking Rose, which was a great experience. Finally we dined on clam chowder on Pier 39 and watched the Sea Lions in action. San Fran can be cold during British summer so consider this when packing!
Next we hired a car and drove to Yosemite National Park where we spent two nights at the Wawona Hotel. The bathrooms here are shared but the atmosphere of the hotel is great. Each night you can sit on a bench on the veranda outside your room and order drinks and nibbles. It's a lovely experience. Whilst in the area we made sure to dine at the Mountain Room restaurant in Yosemite Lodge looking over the falls. We took several hikes and we went to see the giant Sequoia trees. We also took a cute little tram tour, which is a two hour tour around the park conducted by rangers. It's called the Yosemite Valley Floor Tour and is well worth doing to see the major sites.
Next up was an early start and a long drive to Las Vegas. We stayed for four nights and checked out Cirque du Soleil 'O' at the Bellagio hotel. We partied the night away at both Pure at Caesars Palace and XS at the Wynn and ate at the incredible all inclusive buffet at The Mandalay Bay. We also had a couples massage at the hotel and used the spa facilities. Finally we took a champagne lunch helicopter ride over Hoover Damn and the Grand Canyon with Papillon. You will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the air field where you will board your helicopter. After a ride over the amazing scenery you will land in the canyon for a champagne picnic before being whisked back to Vegas. This is an incredible experience and one I would highly recommend.
After Vegas we headed to LA for nine nights with some friends. Whilst in LA we checked out the LA Dodgers, spent a day in the original California Disneyland as well as a day trip to Universal Studios. As we were behaving like theme park junkies we also went to the famous Six Flags Magic Mountain! We spent a day sunbathing in Laguna Beach and grabbed pizza at the famous BJ's. We wandered up the Hollywood boulevard checking out the stars, were wowed at Ripley's Believe It or Not and took a Hollywood Hills tour of all of the famous houses. We even caught a movie at the Chinese Theater. We ate lunch at Mel's Drive In and also snacked on the West Coast only In-N-Out Burger. A day was spent checking out the Orange County Fair and another driving down to Malibu to visit The Getty Villa. We of course didn't miss the opportunity to wander down Rodeo Drive and headed to Santa Monica to see Muscle Beach. On our final night we treated ourselves and our host to dinner at the trendy and packed The Lobster, which is at the entrance to Santa Monica pier.
After a crazy time in LA we took the drive down to San Diego for some relaxation. We stayed for two nights at the charming Half Moon Inn. We took a Duck Tour and also visited the incredible zoo but aside from that enjoined the sunshine. From here we did drive to the trendy and expensive La Jolla for a treat dinner! We only had two nights in San Diego and really regretted not having longer. From San Diego we took Pacific Highway 1 and started the journey North stopping in Santa Barbara for a night of partying with some friends and relaxing on the gorgeous beaches. We stayed at The Wayfarer Hostel, which was pretty good for the price. Next we drove to Carmel-By-The-Sea and completed the beautiful seventeen mile drive. Our final night was spent in Santa Cruz, which wasn't the best. We went to the famous theme park by the beach and had some dinner but it felt a little like Blackpool!
On our drive back to San Francisco airport we stopped in San Jose for some lunch. The drive up Pacific Highway 1 is absolutely breathtaking so make sure you take this windy route and not the quicker toll road. If you can stop off in the Big Sur National Park for a couple of nights of hiking and camping.
I promise this trip will leave you forever dreaming of California. Make sure you take at least three weeks worth of holiday to experience this state properly. We hope to come back one day and finish what we started, including heading up to Napa Valley but until then I will remember the sunshine and the smiling faces and live in hope that one day my dream will again become reality.