Hola all! Last month I had the opportunity to go on one of the most amazing trips of my life, which was to California! I’m so lucky that my career gives me the opportunity to explore and experience some of the best destinations in the USA and there is no denying, that after my most recent trip, California is my favourite of them all!
When I think of California, I think of the iconic coast, the piers, the palm trees and the weather. Growing up in Ireland, and watching shows like The OC, made California a real dream destination for me. And, getting to experience this wonderful state first hand as part of my job is literally, quite special.
I visited some of the most incredible destinations on my trip: Ventura, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Oakland and San Francisco. And, throughout each of these wonderful destinations, I got to enjoy some pretty spectacular experiences. So, if you’re planning a trip to the Golden State, keep on reading as these are 10 things you MUST do in California!
1. Sea-Cave Kayaking – Channel Islands / Ventura
Sea-cave kayaking was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I simply don’t know how else to explain it! I was nervous as we boarded the ferry to Santa Cruz Island from Ventura in the early morning sun, but I was excited as well. I had minimal kayaking experience and I have never kayaked at sea before, but luckily, I had nothing to worry about!
Kayaking through the caves on Santa Cruz island was incredible and while parts were challenging, kayaking through the chambers of various caves, all of which were different sizes, was such an amazing experience. The larger ones, were of course less scary but some of the smaller, more challenging caves, turned out to be the most magical, so I was thrilled I overcame any fears I had and explored them.
If you’re visiting Southern California or perhaps driving the coast from San Francisco to LA, a nights-stay in Ventura is essential to enjoy this experience.
2. Coastal Cycle – Ventura
Is there anything more iconic than exploring the coast of California!? While most choose to drive the route, we took adventure into our hands and cycled approximately 10 miles of it! Aided by electric bikes (it had to be done lol! :D), we started in Ventura and made our way North. It was so safe and the views were just spectacular. I loved every minute of our cycle.
3. Paint in a Vineyard – Solvang
Picture this. Its morning, the sun has just come up and you’re standing in the centre of one of the most stunning vineyards in the Santa Barbara Mountains under a large, beautiful tree. But you’re not only there for the view, you’re there, and you’re sampling a local wine produced on-site while you paint the incredible view you’re looking out at. Yep, I did that. And my painting was only lovely! 😀
4. Take in every Sunrise/Sunset you can!
This is essential to ANY California trip because believe me, the only way California scenery gets better is with a stunning backdrop of oranges, pinks and purples. No matter where I travel, I always get up to watch the sunrise and California was no different. The Californian sunsets are just as magical.
5. Visit Solvang
I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of Solvang before my trip but my word, its a destination that needs to be known! Nestled in the mountains, about 40 minutes from Santa Barbara, Solvang is a Danish town that’s strong on charm and delicious food! Stroll around and experience its unique architecture and you won’t feel like you’re in California at all. Its the cutest place and sprinkled with great accommodation options, delicious restaurants, numerous wine tasting rooms and delicious danish bakeries, you’ll no doubt love Solvang as much as I did!
6. Do a food tour in Santa Barbara!
I love to sample foods and try new things while away and I think food tours are a great way to do this. Not only that, they are great for learning about a destination and you get lots of opportunities to take Instagram, perfect photos! The one we did took in food vendors, craft beer breweries and even wine tasting rooms and it was a lot of fun! The lobster bisque and fish tacos below were SO good.
7. Enjoy a Harbour Cruise in the Sunshine
I’m a sucker for a cruise! Whether it be a large cruise ship or a smaller boat and I really enjoyed the harbour cruise we took in Santa Barbara. It was a short cruise but the perfect way to take in the stunning coastline while relaxing in the sunshine.
8. Enjoy a Wine Tasting
As I mentioned, I don’t drink myself but if you are a fan of wine, California will be like Christmas for you! Throughout the State, you will find wineries and tasting rooms everywhere and they are so nice to visit and experience. I really enjoyed each of the ones we visited, for the experience, even if I didn’t personally have the wine….although I did enjoy the cheese! 😀
9. Redwoods Segway Tour – Oakland
Our trip ended in Northern California in the San Francisco Bay area and one of our last days was a surprise day out! What Visit California surprised us with, was an incredible segway tour through a Redwoods forest!
Riding the segway was a little daunting at first, but after a couple of minutes training, we were well on our way! The tour really was a lot of fun and really informative as well. Its something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do but I’m so glad I did.
10. Get a selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge
I’ve saved one of my favourite California must-do’s til the very end – and that is, getting a selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge! Visiting San Francisco is one of my lifelong dreams and before our flight home, I got to see a little of it. Aaaaah! It wasn’t apart of our itinerary so it was such a lovely surprise and the perfect way to end the adventure of a lifetime. Of course with the free time we had, we headed straight for the Golden Gate Bridge to snap a few iconic photos and it was just the perfect end to our perfect, adventurous trip!
California has become my favourite destination and I can’t wait to go back and explore it all over again!
Have you ever been to California? What did you love about it?
Disclaimer: This post is in no way endorsed or paid for by Visit California. I visited California as part of my professional job, which has no affiliation to my personal blog. As always, all views and opinions are my own.Google+