Category Archives: California

Guide to Planning a Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66 road trip

A Route 66 road trip is a driving adventure along what is probably the most famous road in the world. Historic Route 66 spans over 2,400 miles and crosses 8 states, starting in Chicago, Illinois and terminating at the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California. Given its “66” designation in 1926, it became a well-traveled highway, bringing together people from all walks of life. John Steinbeck would refer to Route 66 as “the mother road, the road of flight” for those trying to escape the Dust Bowl and ravages of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Later it would support a countless number of vacationing families from the Midwest heading to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. As more Americans took to the highway, a roadside culture would spring up along Route 66—motels, diners, gas stations, tourist attractions—to cater to a population that was increasingly mobile. Today it is that classic road Read the Rest…

Planning a California Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles

JUCY RV campervan California Pacific Coast Highway 1 road trip

Driving along the California Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is perhaps one of the greatest road trips in the world. Over the past five years, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit many of the towns and city’s along the Golden Coast. But it was not until this past summer that we did the full road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles following Highway 1 coastal route the whole way. We did the road trip in style, driving a bright green-and-purple JUCY campervan! Along this famous route, you’ll drive through big metropolitan cities and tiny coastal towns, gliding by redwood forests, classic California beach towns, lighthouses, major wine regions, marine wildlife, Spanish colonial sights, outdoor adventure opportunities, state parks, and even Hearst Castle. Not to mention the wonderful scenic views that will have you pulling off for impromptu ogling and photo ops all along the Pacific Coast Highway! Read the Rest…

A Walking Tour with San Francisco Native Tours

Corona Heights view San Francisco Native Tours

San Francisco Native Tours is a new walking tour company in San Francisco that focuses on locally-led walks around this popular city. They strive to be different from many other walking tour companies by only hiring native guides who have grown up in the city, being actively involved in the local community, and keeping the group sizes small and friendly. Now, of course, there are dozens of walking tours companies in San Francisco and visitors have a large range of options. Although the large array of tour company choices can be overwhelming, it is great that there are options available to suit every taste and preference. We’ve taken a number of tours in the city over the years, and we’ll give you all the information you need to learn more about San Francisco Native Tours to find out if they are a good fit for you, and Laurence will provide Read the Rest…

Cambria California: Planning A Visit to This Central Coast Gem

Sunset Moonstone Beach Cambria California

Between Los Angeles and San Francisco lie many of my favorite oceanside spots in California, including the seaside town of Cambria. Cambria actually lies right smack in the middle of California’s two great cities, 240 miles from both Los Angeles and San Francisco along the scenic Highway 1. Cambria has a lot to offer visitors, including great shopping, beaches, scenery, outdoor recreational activities, and excellent dining spots. It is also located a very short drive from the popular Hearst Castle and the elephant seal rookery near San Simeon. If you are planning a trip along California’s Central Coast, be sure to consider spending some time in Cambria. It is both a great weekend getaway for those of us living in California and a great stop for visitors wanting to explore the Central Coast. We’ll share our tips for planning your own trip to Cambria as well as our favorite spots in Read the Rest…

A Weekend in Redding California: Romance, Local Culture, & Outdoor Adventures

Burney Falls weekend in Redding California Shasta Cascade

We recently spent a lovely three-day weekend in Redding California, which lies within the Shasta Cascade area that covers a large portion of northern California. Redding is an approximate 2.5 hour drive from Sacramento or 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco, a perfect distance for a weekend getaway. Redding and the surrounding area is definitely most known to travelers for its scenic natural wonders and the opportunity to engage in a multitude of outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, sailing, and biking. However we wanted to combine a healthy dose of outdoor activities and natural scenery with some local culture and romance. During the days, we hiked, explored caves and dams, visited museums, and gushed at majestic waterfalls, but in the evenings we dined well, gazed at romantic sunsets, and stayed in a cozy bed-and-breakfast. Keep reading for our tips on how to plan your own weekend in Redding and Read the Rest…

Avital Food Tours: Eating Our Way through North Beach San Francisco

Avital Food Tours North Beach San Francisco tour review

Taking a food tour in San Francisco is really a no brainer as San Francisco is a city full of culinary delights from artisan coffee to fresh caught seafood to old-fashioned ice cream. We didn’t hesitate when Avital Food Tours asked us to review one of their walking food tours. Currently, this small company offers food tours in several iconic San Francisco neighborhoods including the Mission District, Haight-Ashbury, North Beach, and Union Square. What is unique about the company is that not only do they take you to local culinary destinations and allow you to meet restaurant owners and chefs, but they also focus on providing participants with local history and little known local lore about the neighborhood. We’ll share our experience of eating our way through San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood and also provide readers with a chance to win 2 tickets to experience an Avital Food Tour of Read the Rest…

Safari West: An African Safari Experience in Sonoma California

giraffes at Safari West Santa Rosa CA

I was really surprised to learn that there was an African wildlife preserve called Safari West located only 75 miles north of San Francisco. Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve containing over 100 species and over 700 individual animals, including giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, flamingoes, rhinos, cape buffalo, lemurs, and wildebeest. Opened in 1993 by Peter and Nancy Lang, Safari West strives to promote wildlife advocacy and conservation through breeding, education, research and public interaction. The preserve shares similar environmental features to an African savanna and guests can take open-air guided wildlife safari drives to see many of the animals roaming the expansive property. The smaller animals are kept in enclosures that are reachable by a walkway and you can also visit the open-air aviary containing all sorts of exotic birds. Guests can even stay overnight here and see and hear many of the animals in the evening once the daytime crowds leave. After hearing Read the Rest…

Outdoor Adventures in Scenic Los Osos California

Spooner's Cove Montaña de Oro State Park Los Osos California Montana beach

Los Osos is a peaceful bayside community that is home to a number of outdoor activities along Central California’s coast. Los Osos is conveniently located just off scenic Highway 1, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Located just south of beautiful Morro Bay and its famous giant rock landmark, Los Osos lies along Estero Bay and is the gateway to Montaña de Oro State Park, one of the most beautiful oceanside parks in California. If you enjoy hiking, water activities, bird watching, and other outdoor adventures, this lovely area of Central California is the perfect place for a weekend nature break. Ethan and I were very excited to be invited to spent a day and a half in Los Osos exploring the lovely parks, estuaries, nature preserves, and bays surrounding this lovely town. We’ll tell you all you need to know to start planning your own visit to Los Osos, Read the Rest…

Vintage and Antique Shopping in Morro Bay California: Perfect Place for a Recycled Holiday

Morro Bay is a charming seaside town with a bustling waterfront, charming old town, and an enormous landmark in the form of Morro Rock which sits in the harbor. You’ll likely first notice this large iconic rock from miles away as your approach the city. Morro Bay sits along the Central California Coastline just off of California’s scenic Highway 1, located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. While perhaps best known for its waterfront activities, outdoor adventure opportunities, and rock landmark, Morro Bay also sports a downtown shopping district in its Old Town, and this was the reason for our first visit to this little charming town. The town sports dozens of antique malls, thrift stores, gift shops, and local speciality stores that beg to be explored. What would you do if you were given $500 to spend to buy gifts for a “recycled holiday”, where instead of buying Read the Rest…

Top 10 Things to Do in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco CA

Golden Gate Park San Francisco things to do

For such a compact and populated city, San Francisco sports a number of green spaces, including the famous Golden Gate Park. Most visitors are surprised by the sheer size of Golden Gate Park, which is 20% larger than New York City’s Central Park, consisting of over 1,017 acres of land. Golden Gate Park is the city’s lungs and is more than just a giant patch of grass destined for picnics and frisbees. Where else can you see great art, ride a carousel, row a boat, observe American bison, stand in a Chinese pavilion, smell exotic flowers, and sip Japanese tea all in one day? Spending a day in Golden Gate Park is easy, but given all the options, choosing what to do can be difficult! We’ll tell you why a visit to San Francisco should include a visit to this sprawling green space and share 10 things you might consider Read the Rest…

Alcatraz Night Tour: Our Visit to The Rock with Alcatraz Cruises

Alcatraz Night Tour Alcatraz Cruises tour of Alcatraz prison

After over 3 years of living in the San Francisco Bay area, we finally made it to Alcatraz Island last week and did the Alcatraz Night Tour and explored the famous prison. While primarily known and visited because of the 29 years it served as the home for the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, the tiny island has a rich and varied history. Long ignored by native people, the island would in turn serve as a strategic place for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, a federal maximum-security prison, the site of a 19-month occupation of Native American protesters, and finally a national recreation area and top tourist destination in San Francisco. Ironically, while for many years people would have done almost anything to get off and escape from Alcatraz, Hollywood celebrities now come here to shoot films and paying tourists line up in droves to come over and Read the Rest…

California Roadside Attractions: Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton CA

Pea Soup Andersen's Pea Soup Andersens Buellton California review near Solvang

Pea Soup Andersen’s is one of those quirky, roadside restaurants that has a strong cult following in California and its fame can be attributed to the humble pea. For generations, locals and travelers alike have swung by this old-fashioned restaurant for friendly service and a hot bowl of pea soup! The restaurant is probably one of the largest purchasers of peas in the world, serving thousands of bowls of the hot green stuff each day, and is known as the “Home of Split Pea Soup”. What began as a small roadside café in 1924 opened by Anton Andersen and his wife Juliette has morphed into two restaurants, an inn, gift shops, and even a small museum. However, the primary reason to stop is still to try a bowl of their homemade pea soup made from Juliette’s original French recipe. If you’ve driven Highway 101 along California’s Central Coast, you’ve probably Read the Rest…

Segway Tour in San Francisco: Our First Segway Tour Experience

Segway tour in San Francisco best segway tours San Francisco Electric Tour Company segway rides

Ethan and I took advantage of the recent holiday and spent the day off work doing a Segway tour in San Francisco. Segways are those 2-wheeled battery-powered contraptions where riders stand up and navigate through body positioning and a handlebar and you’ve likely seen them being used by mall cops, police officers, park officials, theme park visitors, or other people who need to cover long distances. This was our first time taking a Segway tour and we thought that Golden Gate Park might be the perfect place given its vast size. Golden Gate Park is actually 20% larger than New York City’s Central Park, consisting of over 1,017 acres of land. We had recently walked across the park in search of the American bison on the west end and it was a long trek from the east to west side on foot, so we figured we could cover a lot Read the Rest…

The Ruth Bancroft Garden: An Amazing Garden of Water-Conserving Plants

The Ruth Bancroft garden

The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California is a nationally recognized public dry garden that contains a variety of rare and extraordinary cacti, succulents, trees, and shrubs from around the world. The 2.5 acre garden is unusual in that it focuses almost entirely on water-conserving and drought-resistant plants and was the first garden in the United States to be preserved by The Garden Conservancy. As water conservation becomes increasingly more important (e.g., California is facing the worse drought in recorded history), this non-profit garden hopes to not only preserve its current collection but to serve as a model for similar gardens. Ethan and I were invited as local travel writers to do the Valentine’s Day themed “Lover’s Day Aloe Tour” at the garden. We were not really sure what to expect as a collection of “drought-resistant” plants doesn’t really fit with our stereotypical image of a pretty flower garden. Read the Rest…

The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite: A Christmas Tradition at Yosemite National Park

The Bracebridge Dinner at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee) is a long-held Christmas tradition at Yosemite National Park. Each December, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel dining hall is transformed into a 17th century English manor where guests are invited to join Squire Bracebridge for a Christmas celebration. This 4-hour Yuletide celebration is a dazzling whirl of singing, acting, and pageantry which revolves around a 7-course feast. Obviously, I had been wanting to attend this venerable dinner pageant since I first heard about it two years ago. This year for Christmas instead of exchanging gifts, Ethan and I spent three days and nights in Yosemite and attended the Bracebridge Dinner at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. If you are interested in attending or just want to find out more about this event, read on and we’ll tell you how to attend and share our experience of attending the Ye Olde Bracebridge Read the Rest…