Has anywhere in the USA had as many songs penned about it as sun-kissed California?
The Golden State seems to inspire all who come here, however fleeting their visit, and perhaps it should come as no surprise; this is the home of Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite National Park and a dizzying number of world-class beaches. It’s where you can ski snow-heaped peaks, surf warm Pacific waves, tour verdant vineyards and stargaze in the desert – all in one holiday.
If you’ve been California dreamin’, you’re in good company. We have trekked, driven, cruised and imbibed our way around this West-Coast wonder to discover not only the best things to see but also the best ways to see them.
This month we’re teaming up with Abbercrombie and Kent to give you a taster of how to escape to California…
Buggy ride the sand dunes
Forget those perfect point breaks for a moment and ride a different kind of wave – the wind-carved sand dunes of Pismo Beach. Buckle into an all-terrain vehicle and tear around the undulating sandscape of one of California’s most pleasant beaches.
Charter a luxury yacht
San Francisco is gorgeous, whether you’re admiring it from the waterfront, or from the water. Climb aboard an America’s Cup yacht for a unique tour of the Bay alongside an experienced captain and crew. Keep your camera handy as you pass beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz Island.
Kayak to California’s sea caves
Forego the rumble of an engine and climb into a kayak for an immersive experience in the waters off Santa Cruz Island. Kitted out in a wetsuit, jacket and helmet, take a guided tour around one of our favourite stretches of coastline. Paddle in and out of coves and sea caves, spot a menagerie of marine animals, and snorkel amidst the kelp.
Tour the San Andreas Fault in a 4x4
The San Andreas Fault is a 1,300-kilometre long fracture in the Earth’s crust which carves its way through Joshua Tree National Park. One of the most thrilling ways to experience this geological wonder is to hop in a 4x4 and go exploring. During a sunset Jeep tour around the fault, you can watch the sky blaze with colour as you ride in your open-top vehicle along the dramatic canyons.
Hike through Yosemite
Yosemite’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is well earnt. This wilderness is replete with the most stunning peaks, sprawling forests and gushing waterfalls. Do more than simply drive by it – get out and about in it. Take a guided trek encompassing the national park’s most famous spectacles, from Half Dome to Sentinel Fall.
Cycle to Dana Point
Dana Point is a picturesque harbour city in Orange County, equidistant between L.A. and San Diego. It’s been described as the most romantic spot on the coast, and it’s easy to see why; rugged bluffs drop into gorgeous sandy shores, and the pretty harbour is abrim with pleasure boats.
Enjoy a private aquarium tour
Monterey Bay’s beloved aquarium offers a magical glimpse into the world underwater, with everything from jellyfish and shark to penguin and turtle residing here. For an exclusive, crowd-dodging experience, you can book a private tour – just your family, your guide and a whole host of amazing animals to admire.
Be a VIP at Universal Studios Hollywood
Enjoy the red-carpet treatment at Universal Studios Hollywood with a VIP tour. Jump to the front of the queues, secure the best seats and glimpse behind the scenes.
Food & Drink
Wine and ride in Napa Valley
Touring Napa Valley’s picturesque wineries is a dream for any oenophile, but following in the hoof-steps of the region’s original ranchers is going one better. Saddle up for a guided ride tailored to you, trot along the rolling hills and wooded valleys, then round off the experience with a wine-tasting session.
Indulge in a chocolate workshop
Take a detour from Napa’s wineries and spend time tasting a different kind of treat. In Yountville, enjoy an exclusive workshop helmed by master chocolatier Chris Kollar. You’ll learn all about the art of chocolate making – and have plenty of opportunities to tuck in.
Taste your way round San Francisco
The City by the Bay is famous for its gourmet restaurants, but it’s also a street food hot spot. Head out with a guide for a foodie tour tailored to your tastes. You could sample from the eclectic offerings in the Mission district, Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town and more of the culture-rich neighbourhoods of this famous city.
Enjoy VIP access in West Hollywood
An essential stop on your visit to Los Angeles, West Hollywood – or WeHo – is home to Sunset Boulevard, the Pacific Design Center and The Roxy. In the day, take a behind-the-scenes set tour with one of the film and television studios based here. In the evening, head out on the town to party with L.A.’s most glamorous revellers.
Workout with a trainer-to-the-stars
Stay fit and healthy on your holiday with a unique workout session in Los Angeles. Taking place in a state-of-the-art gym or on a scenic outdoor trail – the choice is yours – you’ll be given expert advice from a personal trainer to Hollywood’s A-listers.
Visit Alcatraz at night
The notorious prison island of Alcatraz is now a much-loved tourist destination off San Francisco’s shores. One of the most atmospheric times to visit is after dark. Take the ferry over, then embark on a guided cellhouse tour, learning all about the famous former inmates and what life was like on ‘The Rock’.
…And that’s just the half of it. There’s so much to see and do in California, it’s impossible to fit everything into a single trip.
We proudly offer all the aforementioned experiences, and much more. If you’ve finished California dreaming and would like to experience the real thing, get in touch.