April 05, 2019

My California Innovation Tour: Road Trip Recommendations

I promised I would write a full list of all the things we did and recommend in California, and so *takes a deep breath* here it goes!

February and March this year (2019) were a couple of pinch-myself months, spending a month in America which I absolutely loved. I spent 10 days in New York in February shooting a project and then I flew to San Francisco to start a California road trip in collaboration with Visit California. Whew! It was amazing being in America for a month. I was really craving some time away from my normal life.

First things first, I wanted to say a huge thank you to Visit California for working with me on this project. I recorded six episodes of my podcast Ctrl Alt Delete in partnership with Visit California and we called it #TheCaliforniaInnovationTour which has had a really exciting amount of listens! You find all the episodes HERE.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Hertz, without them we would have struggled because they equipped us with a brilliant car! We drove around California for two weeks in a big Ford Galaxy Explorer. Check out their American Road Trip Planner here. If you are interested in booking a car with Hertz, click here.

SAN FRANCISCO

We stayed in Hotel Zephr, which is fun if you want to explore Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s probably not the best option if you want to stay within the city itself, but it’s a fun hotel and has easy access to the Golden Gate Bridge cycle ride (you can hire bikes from Blazing Saddles) or and ferry to Oakland or Alcatraz. For that reason, it was a great location for this particular trip as we got the ferry back from Sausalito too. (I LOVED Sausalito, we also did the bike ride on the sunniest day.) If you go to Oakland you can either get a taxi or ferry, we loved Brown Sugar Kitchen for breakfast (I think it was my favourite breakfast) and the Oakland Museum of California was cool to look around. We loved going to the Boudin Bakery every morning for breakfast for it’s iconic sourdough bread! We changed it up every morning as the options are endless, but I recommend getting some sort of breakfast burrito, YUM. We absolutely loved exploring the LGBTQ Castro District and had a mouth-watering burrito in the Mission District, at La Taqueria. We also loved sitting on the rooftop of El Techo and having mexican snacks and cocktails. If you love modern art I really loved pottering around the SFMOMA. In terms of restaurants, we loved DOSA (eco-friendly upmarket Indian cuisine) and Seven Hills for authentic Italian food.

MONTEREY

Obviously the big recommendation is the excellent Monterey Aquarium. It really is special, from the whale-spotting to the sharks to the turtles and I like how they look and save poorly creatures and set them free again into the sea. Dedicated to marine research and conservation, the former sardine cannery is a top attraction on historic Cannery Row with more than 35,000 creatures representing over 550 species. For food and drinks, we loved Schooners – great for a tasty salad or burger overlooking the water.

BIG SUR

It was a shame about the rainy weather but the views were incredible and my favourite stop off was at Nepenthe which was still as magical as I hoped it’d be. We sat and drank wine under blankets and looked out at the gorgeous views.

CAMBRIA

My favourite thing about Cambria was walking along Moonstone Beach, very close to our hotel The Fogcatcher Inn was pretty basic but very welcoming. We might have preferred something with a balcony or seating area to enjoy the seaviews. The town was also really picturesque but I’d only recommend one night here.

LOS ANGELES

I *love* LA, and feel lucky that this is my fourth trip there in a row. My favourite place in LA is probably West Hollywood. I love eating at Crossroads for dinner, and Spartina on Melrose for lunch, and staying at The Mondrian hotel for it’s location and the pool and Sky bar area outside. We also explored Silver Lake this time round, and enjoyed hiking in Griffith Park and looking at the Observatory (my favourite bit in the film La La Land!). We ate VERY good breakfasts in Silver Lake and recommend Flore for vegan, Millie’s for a big breakfast, Sqirl for something healthy-ish, and Cafe Stella for delicious French inspired breakfast (Croque Monsieur etc!) If you want to explore Downton, I really recommend The Freehand hotel, incredible rooftop pool and the rooms are really cool. Similar in style to the Hoxton Hotel. We also spent the day in Santa Monica before our flight home (sob) and walked along the beach, ending up in Abbot Kinney, a street I love for all the different chic shops.

HUNTINGTON BEACH

I cannot stop thinking about the food in Huntington Beach. Unfortunately the weather was a bit too cold and windy to fully enjoy the beach, but we still loved exploring the area. We had an incredible breakfast at The Watertable the breakfast spot within the Huntington Hyatt and we ordered our new favourite thing: Avocana bread (like banana bread but with avocados!) We loved Ola Mexican Kitchen for delicious quesadillas and tacos and for something a bit more special LSXO, a ‘speak-easy’ type dining room over-looking the ocean with only 28-seats so book ahead of time! It is the sister restaurant to Bluegold (also amazing, order the brussel sprouts) and has a fantastic menu of home-style Vietnamese cuisine. I will never forget it.

For more information on things to do and to help plan your own California road-trip check out www.visitcalifornia.co.uk, it has really in-depth travel guides, as well as a loads of content to inspire you if you’re thinking of booking a trip, including California Now, which is the tourism boards own podcast blog and their tv channel Dream365. Have a look online and on their Instagram page (@visitcalifornia) for more inspiration.

Hertz car hire starts from £360 for a week. For further road trip inspiration, head to the Hertz American Road Trip Planner and discover iconic and off-the-beaten track routes, downloadable maps and insider guides.

Also check out Visit California’s own podcast, ‘California Now’, where listeners can learn more inspiring travel tips about California. https://www.visitcalifornia.com/podcast


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