Being born and raised in California, I get a lot of questions from my friends and colleagues here about what to do on their trips to California. If you are European, you are probably either remembering the great roadtrip you had around California, planning it, or dreaming of it. Yes, my fellow Californians, people here flock to California to drive Highway 1.

Although I’m sure there is plenty out there to read up on for your roadtrip to California, I’ve attached some of my personal tips on my favorite places to recommend. Again, just as with the Amsterdam post, so I selfishly don’t have to continually write the same email to friends!

Luckily, I visit my homeland every year, so this list is a work in progress. My tips are mostly Northern Californian skewed of course, so bear with me.

San Francisco

1. Hiking near San Francisco – with an unbeatable view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge! : I always give the tip to my friends to hike at the Marin Headlands. There are tons of great places to hike in the Bay Area (Mt. Tam, Redwoods, Point Reyes, etc), but I personally love going to the Marin Headlands. It is located on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and you can make your hike as long or as short as you like. Plus, when you are done you can drive your car to the scene lookout points and take some epic pictures of the bridge – enjoy!

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Marin Headlands

2. Sausalito : After you’ve hiked around the Marin Headlands and taken your Golden Gate Bridge selfies, you will have worked up quite the appetite. Head to Sausalito (same side of the bridge) to have dinner and enjoy this quaint little town! After all, what is better than eating in San Francisco? Eating in Sausalito with a view of the city, of course!

View from the Spinnaker restaurant in Sausalito

3. Hiking/Walking in San Francisco – Lands End : Lands End gives you a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the SF side of the bridge. This is a really easy walk with killer views that lead you down to a visit to the beach with crashing waves. Another place I love. There is a great gift shop there that I have had to tear myself away from for fear of buying too much National Park paraphernalia. You’ve been warned!

Land’s End, San Francisco

4. Wine Tasting : California is known for its famous wines and beautiful wine region you will be spoilt for choice. For the the typical experience, visit the Napa Valley. Here you’ll need a car to visit all the different wineries, or take the Napa Wine Train. There are so many wineries here I really wouldn’t be able to recommend one specifically. For a trip a little bit off the beaten track, and cheaper than Napa Valley, check out neighboring Sonoma Valley. For an even more off the beaten track experience, head to the foothills above Sacramento and visit Amador County. This is where you can the the cheapest wine tasting experience in a unique environment – this is really the route less taken by wine tourists.

Below: Wine tasting at Domaine Carnernos in Napa Valley

Champs tasting in Napa Valley

Los Angeles

5. Hike Runyon Canyon : Anyone who lives in LA knows Runyon really well, and for good reason. This is the place to get your exercise in LA, and not only that, it offers an incredible outlook. If you’re hoping to run into a celebrity, or get a glimpse at a hillside estate, this is the place to be. It might be hard for you to find parking, but once you find a spot it’ll be worth it.

Below: Runyon Canyon Panorama

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6. Getty Museum : The Getty is a must see in LA. Not only does it house some of the world’s greatest artwork from across several centuries, its also perched atop a hill with gorgeous views of the city, and a beautiful museum garden.

Getty Museum garden
View toward Brentwood from the Getty Museum

 

7. Santa Monica : Santa Monica has a much different vibe than the rest of LA. Its not too crowded, you can walk most places, and of course, its got the beach. Visit 3rd Street Promenade to do some shopping, then check out the Santa Monica pier.

Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica, California

8. In and Out Burger : last but not least, anywhere you are in California, you’ve gotta stop at In and Out. I love this place so much that in high school writing class I wrote a how-to on properly eating a burger

Heaven… better known as In & Out burger

 

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