Eight months is a long time, and that's how long we had been counting down for this trip.
Then the day finally arrived.
Our California road trip began! First stop was San Francisco, staying in the Mark Twain Hotel, Union Square.
We spent four days there – more than enough to do the 'must sees': Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the zigzags of Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf with all the seafood you can eat, and lastly but most importantly, Golden Gate Park.
Here we found the beautiful Stow Lake with a stunning waterfall, and at the top of the hill superb views.
It was here that my better half decided to pop the question and of course my answer was "Yes"…with 17 days of the trip still left it was a risky plan but it couldn’t have been more perfect!
From there we started the long drive to Los Angeles, with plenty of stopovers. The first one was Carmel-by-the-Sea, a good choice that we would recommend to anyone.
We booked the Best Western Carmel Bay View Inn. A two-minute walk from the shops and restaurants of Ocean Avenue, with a gorgeous beach at the bottom.
Carmel is only a small place but very cute and quirky. With only one night we had a tough choice to make for dinner. We decided on The Grill on Ocean Avenue and we were not disappointed.
One week into the trip, we arrived in L.A.
The Magic Castle Hotel was our home for the next 5 days. I could not praise this hotel enough. Not only do they have a 24-hour swimming pool, on arrival you’re given a snack menu which is available from reception free all day every day, there’s a movie library, take away places they’ll call for you and a free laundry service! And if that isn’t enough you’re less than a 5-minute walk to Hollywood Blvd.
If you love American shows then take a trip to the Warner Bros studios. Being a massive fan of Friends it was unreal to be able to sit on what must be the most famous sofa in television.
On the way to Santa Monica Beach we hired bikes (from Blazing Saddles) and detoured to Venice Beach and back. A lot of fun.
To finish our stay in LA we took a taxi just before sunset to Griffith Observatory. A great place for not only seeing the Hollywood sign but stunning views of the city.
Our last leg of the trip took us to San Diego. Here we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina. Our first mission was laze around the pool (there's a waterslide too).
Venturing out, SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo are definitely recommended. Both are close to the hotel, which also let's guests take a free 2-hour bike ride. We headed to Belmont Park, home of the famous Giant Dipper Rollercoaster.
A rainy birthday was salvaged by my now fiancé, who had arranged a special meal in the hotel restaurant, Red Marlin. The food was delicious and the staff couldn’t do enough for you and knowing that it was my birthday they decorated my dessert and didn’t add it to the bill.
The trip ended at La Jolla, another beach side resort I would call 'upmarket' - very nice, lots of shops and restaurants. A nice choice before the long flight home.
Would I do this holiday again? Absolutely! My three tips for anyone planning a similar vacation: hire a car, spend a night in Carmel, and make good use of Google to plan for things in advance.
A huge thank you to Sharron at Abbotts Travel who helped plan and make the holiday a reality… we’ll be sure to pop in for some honeymoon inspiration!