With Europe in our backyard, Trans-Atlantic travelling is something of a treat for us Brits. However we just had to check a few of our favourite locations off the list. The West Coast state of California is famed for its’ surf, summers and high celebrity population however America’s third biggest state has so much more to offer including stunning architecture, breath-taking nature trails, pop culture history, fine food and a little something for everyone…
Ahhh San Diego.. According to Ron Burgundy it was discovered in 1904 by the Germans. In actual fact, San Diego is a city located on the most Southern Coast near Mexico and was established by Spanish invaders around 1769. Filled with idyllic beaches, beautiful Spanish architecture thanks to its’ history as part of independent Mexico and the visually stunning Balboa Park, San Diego is a wonderful place to visit in Spring, Summer or Fall. One of the main attractions in this city is San Diego zoo which houses over 3,700 animals. Located in Balboa Park which is home to number of San Diego’s best museums and cultural landmarks, San Diego zoo provides a Skyfari aerial tour of the zoo, forest trail exhibits, a Panda Trek featuring giant panda’s and an Arctic ‘Polar Bear Plunge’. The spacious, Award winning San Diego zoo is also famed for its’ conservation and species-preservation efforts and makes a great day out for all the family.
Palm Springs is the luxury escape for Hollywood’s finest thanks to its’ permanent summer climate. Located in the desert, Palm Springs has a unique ecological nature which has been capitalized on by the rich and famous who want to take advantage of the fine Californian sunshine. Golf courses and driving ranges are easily accessible for sports lovers whilst the trendy bars, restaurants and casino’s make it the perfect adult playground. The best part is that usually Palm Springs is host to the most fashionable festival around, Coachella in the Spring so you can do plenty of celebrity spotting whilst watching the beautiful coloured sunsets over Palm Springs.
Yosemite National Park
Truly one of the most stunning locations in North America; it is one of the States’ finest World Heritage Sites. Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains and covering 747,956 acres, Yosemite is home to spectacular granite cliffs, volcanic springs, clear streams and waterfalls, green woodland and a biologically diverse wildlife reserve filled with rare Giant Sequoia groves. With over 800 nature trails to explore, historic locations, unique geology and the most breath-taking view of the valley from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park is not just worth a visit for nature lovers, but for anyone to discover the great outdoors.
Certainly one of the more interesting and unorthodox locations on our list, is the famous Death Valley in the Mojave Desert. It earns its name due to being one of the hottest, driest and lowest areas in North America. Taking up most of the Death Valley National Park, Death Valley has a hot and dense atmosphere, vast salt planes and colorful sand-dunes as well as the stunning snow-capped mountains which surround. There are of course historic activities and abandoned ghost towns to visit within Death Valley if you want to learn a little more about the history of this unusual and quite spooky location however, the views alongside the unique wildlife make for an interesting visit to say the least.
One place that’s never far from our consciousness is L.A. which is the home of Hollywood, show-business and celebrity! Located near the Pacific coast and surrounded by the Californian mountains, Los Angeles is frequently referred to as the anti-New York. Vast open streets, a wide range of picturesque beaches, luxurious locations such as Malibu and Beverley Hills and health bars for as far as the eye can see; LA lives up to its’ reputation as the land of the successful and beautiful. Thanks to its’ celebrity populous there are a number of great Hollywood tours that will take you to the Walk of Fame, Sunset Boulevard and the iconic Chinese Theater as well as being able to visit many of the nearby production studios and drive past some famous celebrity homes. Downtown Los Angeles is filled with stunning Art Deco buildings for culture fans whilst the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is impressive on both the inside and out. The Griffith Observatory is also a great tourist spot whilst Venice beach is the number on hang-out for fitness fanatics, skateboarders and LA’s cool kids .
A slightly more chilled vibe is to be found in Napa Valley which is a must-see destination for wine lovers. Sprawling with vineyards, Napa is understandably a popular haunt for wine connoisseurs as well as being host to charming boutique hotels, rustic B&B’s, luxury spas and impressive camping grounds. The rolling hills are particularly pretty and guided wine tours are on offer as well as hot air balloon trips, horse riding and exploration of countryside trail. However, if you want a true taste of California, Napa Valley has more than its’ fair share of gourmet restaurants and eateries which will allow you sample the fine wines of the land.
This beautiful coastal city is a chilled out hot spot frequently referred to as ‘The American Riviera’. A popular getaway from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara has a serene feel thanks to its’ stunning beaches and Mission style architecture. You don’t have to seek enjoyment in Santa Barbara, the enjoyment surrounds you with excellent shopping locations, historic buildings and the luscious green Botanical Gardens. The Maritime Museum and Santa Barbara Zoo are always worth a visit but what’s really stunning and unique about this location is the colonial Spanish influences including the beautiful Mission Santa Barbara Church. Restored in 1829 following an earthquake in 1912, the Church was originally built to feature a Roman Temple facade by the skilled Chumash Indians. The Presido and County Courthouse which were also restored after the ‘quake are also visually stunning with Romanesque, Islamic and Byzantine features that are note-worthy for any travelers diary of photo album. Life may be much more relaxed in Santa Barbara, but you’ll never find yourself bored.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
There are many great nature trail locations in California thanks to its’ sub-tropical climes and biodiversity, however the Sequioa and Kings Canyon National Parks’ rival Yosemite for beauty and grandeur. Located within just a few miles of each other near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, both are magical retreats thanks to the giant Sequioa trees which can grow up to more than 300 feet in size. With Mount Whitney, one of the highest points in the United States, being a central attraction and the Kings Canyon also being the deepest in America, you are sure to be wowed by the natural wonders that these parks’ have to offer. The wildlife is exceptional and the campground is ideal for nature lovers so pitch up a tent in the stunning sprawling wilderness of these sensational National Parks.
It’s the (second) most happiest place on Earth and its’ located right outside the center of Los Angeles; it can only be the original Disneyland Theme Park! Located in Anaheim, the park opened in 1955 and is the only one to have been built under direct supervision of Walt Disney himself. An enchanting day out for all the family, you could spend a week there and still not manage to see everything that Disneyland has to offer. From Cinderella’s castle to Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country, this is one theme park you will never forget. With over 58 unique attractions including iconic rides such as The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Pirates Of The Carribean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain, there’s also some great recreational areas where kids can play and restaurants where adults can dine. New rides and features are introduced every year thanks to Disney’s ever expanding repertoire so no two visits are ever the same giving a truly magical experience for all.
No trip to California is ever complete without a visit to its’ most beautiful city, San Francisco. Located in the North and famous for its’ pristine San Francisco Bay, this picturesque coastal city has a little bit of everything. With old-school trams lining the streets, stylish Art Deco architecture and Victorian houses, San Francisco is a photographers dream. The Golden Gate bridge is obviously the number one attraction of this cosmopolitan city however tourists can also take the opportunity to explore Alcatraz prison which housed notorious criminals such as Al Capone as well as Alamo Square, the iconic Lombard Street and Chinatown which is the largest outside of Asia. The boulevard’s are lined with plenty of boutique’s and hip restaurants to boot for those who want to relax whilst bike rides are available to those who want to explore the city with a little more adventure.