An Expert's Guide to California

16 Jul 2018

Flight Centre’s California Expert Rachel Newton has worked at Flight Centre for four years and has been to California five times. She says: ”Anything you want in a holiday, you can find in California: world-class vineyards, incredible cuisine, skiing and hiking, beautiful beaches, exceptional diving, vast national parks…”

Here she shares her top tips and advice for visiting the USA's Golden State:

Fly direct

It’s easy to get to California from the UK, with direct flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego and San Jose.

Hire a car

Behind the wheel of your own car you can take on the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. If you’re strapped for time, from San Francisco you can day trip to Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Monterey, Big Sur and Napa; or from LA you can get to Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Joshua Tree National Park. Car rental starts at £34 per day.

Dine out

Californians are in to the ‘farm-to-fork’ concept, so food is usually fresh and healthy – I love fish tacos from southern California. In San Francisco, try street food from The Codmother at Fisherman’s Wharf. 

Hike the Hollywood Hills

From the Hills you'll get great views of the city and the iconic Hollywood sign. For film fans, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour gives an authentic insight into the movie industry. 

Stay somewhere fun

My favourite place to stay is Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, a historic property where Hollywood classic Some Like it Hot was filmed. At Hotel Zephyr in San Francisco, upgrade to a bay-facing room for an unforgettable view.

Keep an eye on the weather

Check the forecast for each destination before you go, as places close to each other can have such different conditions.

Choose when to go wisely

May and September are great times to go, but prices reflect it. Southern California in February is cheaper, less busy and still sunny.

Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a must, with incredible hiking trails and alien-like scenery. It is less touristy than other national parks and yet so accessible. Day trip from Palm Springs or LA.


Embark on our California Coast Journey. Pass through famous cities, sample the wares at wineries, marvel at the marine life and beaches, and soak up dreamy views on this self-drive trip – 9 days' fly-drive, with hand-picked accommodation, from £1,599pp.


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Discover the California Coast

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