The California coast is breathtaking. I’ve been driving it all my life and I still can’t get over how beautiful the beaches and boulders are. Today I’m especially in awe because I’m heading up the Pacific Coast Highway to Mendocino County, one of the highlights of the state. My Mendocino road trip is part of an epic drive to Seattle, and there are three places I have to stop before I continue north.
Hiking is in my blood. My home town in Northern California has more trails than roads, and I spent my childhood roaming the golden hills. But if there’s one place I enjoy hiking more than home, it’s Yosemite National Park. Famed for its dramatic natural scenery, it’s one of the best places in the world to get outdoors. Given this year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, I’ve traveled out to take on the best hikes in Yosemite.
People always ask me for San Francisco travel tips. Having lived there for years, I love sharing recommendations for my favorite off-the-tourist-trail neighborhoods, sights, and restaurants. Now that I’m in town again, I’m excited to share my guide to 24 hours in San Francisco. Forget the visitor attractions. This is how locals do the city.
Can expats ever know a city as well as natives? I was asked that as part of a panel discussion at London’s World Travel Market last week, and I felt a bit of pressure to justify my answer in front of 200 people. Thankfully I had just been to San Francisco, where as a native I realized I had done fewer of the must-do things in my city than many American transplants, expats, and even visitors. While there, I got to experience 5 unmissable highlights of San Francisco for the first time.
Every time I travel to Sonoma County I wonder why I haven’t moved here yet. The rolling hills, miles of vineyards, and pretty town squares draw me in, and the warm California sunshine begs me to stay. With each successive visit, I discover more about this region that makes me love it, and now that I have 48 hours in Sonoma County, I find more to tempt me.
It’s sweltering in San Francisco. Normally I wouldn’t be surprised by heat in summer, but this city is anything but normal when it comes to the weather. In fact, one of the most famous quotes is “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It’s usually foggy here in July, but San Francisco surprises sometimes, and you have to be ready for anything. Which is why, as a native, I’m going to share with you A Lady in London’s guide to summer in San Francisco.
One of the great things about living in a city is that there’s no shortage of neighborhoods to explore. So why is it that I always end up in the same ones? In London I sometimes get stuck in a routine of going out around where I live and work, and it’s no different back home in California. But I’ve had such a good time exploring new neighborhoods in London over the past few years that I’ve decided to do the same in San Francisco. And I’ve found a few secret places…
One of the most difficult things about being a Californian in London is the winter. I can usually get through December with Christmas lights standing in for sun, and I’m able to get excited in January about the start of a new year. But come February, I’m out of ways to trick my sun-starved self into remembering why I live in London. Which is why every February I seek winter sun. And there’s no better place to do it than San Diego.
California is full of surprises. For one, a lot of people don’t know that you can ski here. For another, my home state is so big and geographically diverse that even natives like me discover new places in California all the time. Like Mammoth, with its snow-capped mountains, eerie ghost towns, and spectacular lakes…