You are here

How to Make the Most of Your Time in California

Cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles is one of the most iconic experiences in California. But when you’re not behind the wheel, or soaking up the rugged coastal views, how else do you make the most of your time in the Golden State? We’ve been chatting to Flight Centre’s California Experts about their favourite things to do here – here are five ideas to kick-start your inspiration:  

Join the ‘Sips of Old Hollywood’ tour by Urban Adventures

“Rich Hollywood history was poured over us from beginning to end,” explains Flight Centre Concierge Jennifer, talking about her latest trip to Cali. “Starting at the Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – with the hand prints and stars on every paving slab below – we saw where the Oscars take place, where Marilyn Monroe lived, celeb-spotted in the oldest grill, learnt mob history and visited dive bars.

“With ghost stories and old movie trivia, we were shown places to look and letterboxes to open which we would never have known about.” This tour is not to be missed – after all, why be in Hollywood and not see and learn about it?”

Stay in Napa

Napa Valley is a Mecca for wine lovers. With over 400 cellar doors (and that’s not even touching on neighbouring Sonoma) there is a varietal for every palate. Ditch the car and stay for a night (or two) at the Meritage Resort & Spa. Here you can really unwind while discovering the nine-acre vineyard. As the name suggests, there’s a spa here too – housed in an underground cave no less – not to mention the wonderful Crush Lounge, which offers cocktails and a six-lane bowling alley.

Embark on the Fogcutter with Alcatraz tour

No San Francisco Fogcutter tour is the same. In fact, the places visited on this epic tour changes depending on the time of year you visit, as well as what is open and accessible. “In the summer it gets really cold and foggy on the coast and in San Francisco in particular,” explains California Expert Mahul Patel. “The guide brings the sunshine into the tour and cuts through the foggy gloom with jokes, humour and interactive storytelling on a colourfully decorated bus.”

The tour gives a great overview of this lively city. Frequently visited places include Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Presidio, Twin Peaks, San’ Fran’s neighbourhoods, Alamo Square Park and the famous ‘Painted Ladies’. And of course the tour includes entry to the island of Alcatraz, where you can learn all about the history of this former prison.

Be a big kid at Universal LA

Don’t miss a day at this park and don’t waste a minute either – be sure to pick up fast track passes so you can jump the queue. Jennifer says the thing that makes Universal Studios different from every other theme park is its Studio Tour: “Pass by the props, scenes and even a few stars (our group was lucky enough to spot Steve Harvey).

“The Waterworld and special effects shows are great for those who don’t enjoy the rides as much or, if you’re really feeling brave, head to The Walking Dead attraction!”

Experience the Apple Farm, in San Luis Obispo

“Apple Farm is more an experience than a hotel,” says Mahul. He describes it as an “all-American” experience. “The hotel management and staff don’t see you as guests but more like family,” he adds. Each room is individually designed to ensure no two stays are the same; there’s even an on-site mill that has been converted into suites! For foodies, the Apple Farm restaurant serves classic American dishes – think delicious pancakes and the Californian speciality tri-tip steak. The town of San Luis Obispo (pictured) is nearby too and offers plenty of activities, so a two-night stay here is a must.

Chat to a Travel Experts about our range of California holidays, or about tailor making your own adventure.

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

More articles from this author >