This was the first summer holiday that I went on after I had graduated as a teacher. I travelled California with four of my friends for just over three weeks and we had a fantastic time. I’d definitely recommend it!
- San Francisco: 4 nights. We stayed for 4 nights so that we could recover from our jet lag as it does take a long time to get there! San Francisco is a beautiful city but it is COLD!!! So bring a jumper or two. I’d recommend going to visit Alcatraz. Book it before you go to America as the queues are so big and it’s really worth seeing. Visit the Haight, which is a neighborhood outside the city that is full of the 60’s hippie culture! There are plenty of markets about the place and nice restaurants and diners to eat in. We booked our flights and some accommodation with trail finders in Dublin before we left. We arranged accommodation through them for here and Las Vegas. We stayed in the Hilton in San Fran. It was a great location and we loved the little bit of luxury.
- Santa Cruz: 1 night. The coastal drive here was just beautiful. Lots of pictures were taken. We stayed here to break the long journey to Monterey. It was fine. We had a nice motel with a pool, walked the beach and relaxed for the evening. It didn’t offer anything spectacular for tourists but was a pleasant stop all the same.
- Monterey: 2 nights. We stayed in a Quality Inn Motel here. It was perfect. This is a sleepy seaside town that is very pleasant to stop in. We visited the local aquarium and also went to see an amateur show in a theatre on the wharf. That was one of the highlights of the trip as the director was a 90 year old man! He was great craic! We also took a day trip to Carmel, a beautiful French inspired town with Clint Eastwood as town mayer. We drove along the picturesque ’17 mile drive’ and had a glimpse at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course where the US Golf Open has taken place in the past.
- Santa Barbara: 4 nights. We stayed in a hostel that has since closed and had a fantastic time! We booked 5 beds in an all female dorm and it was just fine! Santa Barbara is a beautiful hispanic styled town and is definitely worth a visit! It’s a great place to shop and socialize! Lots of bars full of people traveling the west coast. We went whale watching here which was great fun. Some people that we had met along the way visited the Channel Islands from here and Yosemite Park.
- Santa Monica: 3 nights. We stayed in a great hostel here, a member of the Hostel International Group: http://hilosangeles.org. This hostel is in a fantastic location – near to the beach and social hotspots. The hostel is clean, modern and has lots on each day. The hostel offered lots of free walking tours each day. We went on one to visit the amazing Getty Art Museum. A retired teacher ran the tours at the time. She accompanied us there and back and offered lots of local information along the way. We only needed money for the local bus and the museum entry. The museum is located at the top of a hill. It was well worth the visit to see the spectacular view from the top. The beach in Santa Monica is a bustling place with lots to see and do. There was a free music concert on there when we visited so it was really nice to sit on the beach and listen to some music as the sun set.
- San Diego: 4 nights. We came across a real gem during our stay in San Diego – our hotel The Bahia Bay Resort. You know when you watch those rom com movies where the characters end up at a resort and everyone is wearing a Hawaiian shirt? And there are theme nights with cocktails and a pig on a spit?? Well this place is just like that!! We absolutely adored our stay here! We had a beautiful room overlooking a bay with palm trees. The hotel grounds are dotted with hammocks. There was a tennis court and a beautiful outdoor pool. The beach is fabulous and at night time, the hotel had a Huckleberry Finn style boat that sailed around the bay and stopped at a certain time so that you could see the nightly fireworks that were let off from Sea World. If you were a hotel resident, then the boat trip was free. The resort served excellent food and provided a fabulous environment! There is so much to do in San Diego. You can check out the city itself, do some shopping or visit Sea World. Or relax on one the endless beaches. There is a great night life here. And if you’re feeling brave enough, take an organised trip to Tijuana. Bring your passport, stick with the group that you’ve travelled with and don’t leave the bar that your group is in. Be sensible and you’ll be fine.
- Hollywood: 3 nights. We stayed in a USA Hostel in Hollywood which was located just off Hollywood Boulevard. The only downside of this hostel was that it was located next to a Postal Distribution Centre. The workers started quite early each morning and it was pretty loud. However, if you had some ear plugs I can imagine that you’d be fine. If I stayed there again I would ask to be in a room to the front of the building. We did all the usual Hollywood activities here. We visited the Walk of Fame, the Kodak Centre, Universal Studios and we did a celebrity spotting bus tour through some of Hollywood’s famous neighborhoods. We took a hike through the Hollywood hills and got as close to the Hollywood sign as possible. This was organized through the hostel. It was really good fun and once again we only had to pay money for our bus journey.
- Las Vegas: 4 nights. This was definitely the highlight of our trip!! We stayed in The Venetian Hotel and went all out with our room. We got a great deal on this as we had pre booked it with trail finders before our trip. We shopped, we ate, we danced..it was fantastic! Go see a show when you’re there and check out the enormous night clubs!!
I hope this has been helpful! Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions! Itineraries of India, Nepal, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, South America, Inter railing around Europe, Boston, New York and general city breaks to follow…. If you have any itineraries from your trips that you would like to upload and share, please do!