13 August 2019 by George Clissold
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to California multiple times and it’s the state’s sheer diversity that keeps me coming back for more. Put simply, it’s got everything, from superb cities to national-park wonders. So, without further ado, this is my recommended route for first-timers.
I’d suggest starting your trip in San Francisco – a true world city. Alcatraz, Victorian architecture and its famous food scene await. Indeed, there are more restaurants and farmers’ markets per capita here than anywhere else in North America. My top tip? Make like a local and indulge with the best Mezcal menu in town at Presidio Social Club before getting out of the city for some gorgeous coastal walks and golden sands. My favourites include Ocean Beach and the Coastal Trail’s views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Inspired? I've put together a bookable itinerary:
Golden Gate Bridge
From here, hop over the bays to drive into wine country. Napa Valley’s acres upon acres of rolling vineyards are served by both boutique and big-name estates, offering some truly world-class wines. I particularly like the region’s first fine-dining establishment, Auberge du Soleil, where gourmet delicacies come paired with superlative varietals and gorgeous views.
Then, continuing through sweeping plains, head on to the World-Heritage-listed Yosemite National Park. Here, over 800 miles of hiking trails criss-cross forested cliffs, plunging waterfalls and flower-filled meadows. It really is a natural jewel, and a complete contrast to my next recommended stop – Death Valley. As its name suggests, it’s a lunar landscape of shifting dunes and gaping canyons, animated only by the likes of kangaroo rats and mountain lions.
It’s then well worth hopping over the state line into Nevada and Las Vegas. Between the neon strip, ultra-luxury hotels and glitzy casinos, it really does live up to every expectation and is somewhere everyone should visit at least once. The same goes for the Grand Canyon, my final recommended port of call. It’s one of nature’s great spectacles and a fitting end to your road trip.