Taking a trip to & through California? JUST SAY YES.
I had the luck of traveling 3 times to & through California with a local who grew up in sunny California. Someone who is so proud on his state that he took great pride in showing me all the typical Californian places and made sure I had no reason to dislike California. And I need to pass the knowledge on!
After those trips to the state of sun, sea, smiling people, did I already mention sun?… here is a list of places and things you can’t miss out on when you are roadtripping through California from +- Nord to South California.
(you can find a map with all these spots on the bottom of this posts! Scroll away baby!)
1. Placerville and surroundings
Not only the city life in California is great. The nature in California is absolutely amazing. When I stayed in Placervile, I noticed the beautiful hills with vineyards. It’s a very nice & cute green area where you can spot deers and even bears. A great place to go hiking or ride a bicycle (if you have a good condition). The town of Placerville is excellent to taste the small town life in California. There is a shopping street with mainly vintage and antique stores and it’s so authentic you could spend all day wandering around and talking to locals. Have breakfast at Sweetie Pie’s where they serve delicious french toast & eggs. Wander around in the town, listen to the stories of how gold got discovered in the area, have cocktails at Bricks and get lost in the surrounding areas/hills while hiking through nature.
2. Winetasting in Napa valley
After you’ve spend some time in Placerville direct your car to Napa valley. World famous for its wine and for the beautiful location. It’s a cool valley where you have zillion of wine tasting possibilities. Just make sure you pick out the right places to go. We found the Andretti Winery extremely pleasant discovery. Not only do they have great wines, we also got 3 or 4 extra tastings and the guy behind the counter knew so much about the wine and the history of the vineyard. Recommendation! Keep in mind that you pay (+- 10$) for every tasting you do. We stayed in Motel 6 for a night just to be able to explore the town of Napa before driving to San Francisco. It’s one of those shabby motels where you are afraid to use the blankets because who knows what happend with those the night before, but we had a great time in the motel! I wouldn’t want to stay in another place. The city of Napa is not a big thing. It’s a small city and it looks very touristic.
Oakland is a relaxing city just outside San Francisco. I really liked the atmosphere of the city although apparently the murder rate is the highest of America. It also has a nice big lake!
4. San Francisco
I’ve already been in San Francisco so I didn’t feel the necessity of visiting all the touristical attractions anymore. So my excellent guide took me on a trip through his memory lane. He lived her before, but moved away a couple of years ago. Go to the touristy (but well worth it!) Boudin to taste the sourdough broad with crab soup inside of it. Dé-li-cious! Stroll along the coastline, walk into the city. Discover the Ghirardelli chocolate factory to taste how the chocolate differs from our Belgian chocolate.
5. Route 1 from San Fransisco to Los Angeles
When you saw everything in San Francisco you needed to see, take Highway 1 down to Los Angeles. It’s an amazing trip besides the coast line. You can’t drive very fast, but the views are absolutely stunning. Especially because you’ll drive past very cosy & nice beach towns/cities where you should definitely stop to relax a little. Just keep in mind it takes a long time to drive from SF to LA via Route 1 so make sure you have enough time & you have enough food with you. When you’ll drive along Route 1 you’ll pass Big Sur. We haven’t seen it because we didn’t have enough time, but apparently is is absolutely stunning. The nature should be amazing.
6. Carmel beach
If you drive on Route 1 to LA you’ll pass Carmel. Carmel beach is the perfect place to have a sunset picknick and watch all the beauty that California has to offer: nice beaches, great sunsets, cold oceans, fresh breeze…
7. Los Angeles
The City of Los Angeles is an attraction on itself. You should definitely spend some weeks here to get to know the real city life. Make sure you get to know locals. They can show you all the best spots and show you the local life. If you have the possibility to play Dodgeball, do so! And go watch a movie on the big ass screen of the Chinese Theater too!*
*Editorial note: as I went back to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I am going to dedicate another blogpost to Los Angeles in the next weeks. A blogpost about all the different parts of the city and what to explore. Stay tuned!
8. Las Vegas*
This place is absolutely horrific and still you have to see it. It is possibly the most ‘fake’ place on earth, but it’s a lot of fun if you change your mindset and just enjoy the ride. Enjoy an all you can eat breakfast in a hotel. Book a room in the Pink Flamingo-hotel. Walk through all the casino’s in your most fancy outfit. And an absolutely fantastic tip: leave your hotel room at 4 at night. So you’ll see the true gambler (those who lose 500 dollars in 5 minutes – true story!) and you’ll be able to watch sunrise over the desert hills. Important: you won’t get an elliptical seizure because all the lights will already be turned off.
* Editorial note: Las Vegas is not in California, but in Nevada. However it’s so close you really need to see it!
9. San Diego
One of the closest city to the Mexican border so it’s not surprising it comes with a very chillaxing and warm atmosphere. It gets you in an exotic mood instantly! Take bikes with you and ride around the city. Have some drinks at the Gaslamp District. Get appetizers at the port and stare to the ocean. But please, do not go to the ‘old town’. It’s fake and stupid.