California Dreamin’ On An All-American Road Trip

16 April 2014

Conjuring up images of beautiful coastlines, winding open roads and verdant national parks teeming with wildlife, it’s easy to see why a holiday in the Golden State isn’t exactly the path less travelled. Not to mention the culinary offerings and eccentric neighbourhoods that beckon visitors to the hilly streets of San Francisco, or the awe of eclectic Los Angeles where it seems almost everyone is camera ready.

I was fortunate enough to spend three weeks travelling across California on the quintessential all-American road trip. Ironically, I completely underestimated how much time would actually be spent on the road – 1702 miles over 30 hours to be exact!

Sometimes there are travels that are so incredible and action-packed that, when you return home, you struggle to put into words the incredible things you've seen and done. This was certainly one of those holidays. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are 10 favourite memories of my time spent California Dreamin'.

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Badger’s Pass, Yosemite National Park

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 Snow news is good news!

The thick fog and pouring rain that welcomed me into Yosemite National Park turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The much-needed change in weather meant the ski fields of Badger Pass were blanketed in six-inches of fresh powdery snow. While I was up early for a ranger-guided snow shoe walk, I unexpectedly spent most of the day snowboarding!
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Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

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 Enjoying Cali's natural playground

The heavens opened up again on my last day in the national park, making for Yosemite Valley explorations wonderfully picturesque in the drizzling rain. Those limited for time will enjoy the easy 15-minute trail to the thundering base of Lower Yosemite Falls.
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Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

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 An iconic San Fran institution

I think this photo of "The Rock" perfectly captures the essence of San Francisco Bay. It was the ideal welcome to the city!

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Painted Ladies, San Francisco

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 Lookin' good, ladies!

Fans of the 90s sitcom Full House may recognise this iconic panorama from the opening credits. More beautiful in person, "The Ladies" are immaculately maintained and, with a backdrop of San Fran city, made for a very memorable moment.
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Coastal drive, Highway 1

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 The Pacific Coast Highway is primed for road-tripping

Travelling down Highway 1 along California’s spectacular coastline is something to tick off the bucket list. Bonus points if you’re cruising along in a Mustang with the top down!
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View from the Cordiano Winery, San Diego

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 It's always Happy Hour at the Cordiano Winery!

Perhaps one of San Diego’s best kept secrets is that the North County is a leading grape-growing region, with boutique wineries dotted around the mountain valleys. The perfect San Diego weekend itinerary: wandering the stalls of the Little Italy Farmer’s Market, hopping on a ferry to explore the affluent village of Coronado Island and happy-hour-hopping through the Gaslamp Quarter, a lively district boasting the city’s best bars and restaurants.

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Venice Beach, Los Angeles

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 Venice: the place to see and be seen

Once a seaside resort town, now visitors to bohemian Venice Beach will come across buskers, skaters, gym junkies and performers along quirky Ocean Front Promenade. A bike ride through this three-mile stretch is a must-do!
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Sunset at Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles

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 The sun sets on a perfect LA day

Hermosa Beach, one hour’s drive or bike ride from Santa Monica, is a coastal Los Angeles community with a buzzing nightlife on its pier. Plus, incredible beach sunsets are a given.
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Spinning teacups ride at Disneyland, Los Angeles

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 "Up above the world you fly, like a tea tray in the sky"

The happiest place on earth completely lives up to its moniker. The Mad Tea Party spinning teacups ride is a classic, inspired by the Unbirthday Party scene from Alice in Wonderland.
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Central Perk, Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank

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 Where's Gunther when you need him?

A tour through the Warners Bros. Studios simply cannot be missed for those movie or television aficionados. Offering a rare insight into the behind-the-scenes movie magic on a real working set, visitors are taken through backlots including ‘Small Town USA’ and ‘New York City’, and the museum to see iconic props and costumes from The Dark Knight to Harry Potter. F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans are in for a treat, with a stop at the original recreated Central Perk set. Could I BE any more excited?

 

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.