As a family, we have been dreaming about and planning for a special trip to America for a long time now. Many of my clients design a holiday around a milestone, such as a birthday, anniversary or life event. We are no different – my husband’s 40th birthday has been our “Californian Dream” for five years now, and we are finally getting closer to making the dream trip a reality. There is a lot of pressure in getting this itinerary just right for my significant other. He tolerates me jetting off around the globe for conferences and familiarisation trips without him, so when we get the chance to travel together as a family I want it to be a really great experience for him and the kids. So what makes the perfect Californian holiday? Where should you go and what should you include?
Well, in our household San Francisco is a kind of mecca for us. It has something to do with a certain almost-40-year-old’s love of the 49ers (San Francisco’s football team for those non-NFL followers), plus I also think it is a fantastic city. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and its amazing dimsum, the eclectic atmosphere of the Haight Ashbury neighbourhood and the overall relaxed vibe of San Francisco puts in high on my list of America’s best cities. I wouldn’t mind day trips to Sausalito and Alcatraz while we’re there too.
It’s also impossible to skip Los Angeles when you have children in tow on a Californian holiday. There is the inevitable lure of “The Happiest Place on Earth” – AKA Disneyland – which means at some point on your trip you will end up in Anaheim wearing Mickey Mouse ears.
There is so much more to LA than Disneyland though. I plan to spend some time at Santa Monica & Venice Beach, taking a walking tour of Hollywood and venturing to The Grove for some clothes shopping as well as sampling local produce from their famous farmers’ market.
Linking San Francisco and Los Angeles is one of the most stunning coastal roads in the world. Highway Route 1 is commonly referred to as Big Sur Drive, and it weaves along clifftops and coastal towns along the edge of California. Some people drive it in a day, others take several days to cover the 750km, stopping in towns like Santa Cruz, Carmel, Monterey and San Simeon to name just a few. We’ll take a little more time to include a visit to Hearst Castle on our drive.
There are plenty of other places on our wishlist to include, such as Yosemite National Park, Santa Barbara and even Legoland in Carlsbad (again, for the kids… OK maybe for the birthday boy as well!) – but I would love some ideas of must-see insider tips for this trip too. Have you been for a driving holiday through California? Or maybe you’re a local? Where do you suggest? I’d love to hear! Meanwhile, it is back to the planning, listening to the Beach Boys on repeat and simply California dreaming…
x Sonia x