Road trip West USA Part II – Cali on my mind

In this second part of our road trip through West USA we’re entering the Golden State, California. First stop we made here is Yosemite National Park. Without a doubt this is one of the most beautiful parks in the region!

 Our home for the coming days? A heated tent (Believe me, it gets real cold in the valley at night) at the base of The Half Dome Mountain. Unfortunately for us, heating didn’t work the first night. After a cold night, we were grateful that we made reservations for an epic breakfast at the Majestic Hotel. Beautiful location, good service and a great breakfast, all we needed to charge our batteries again. Once charged it was time for one of the many hikes you can do throughout the park.

Yosemite NP
Glacier Point
If there’s a hike you need to do in the area it’s the Four Mile Trail. On this path, you’ll zigzag your way from the base of the valley all the way up to Glacier Point. It’s quite a hefty hike but the views are amazing. Glacier Point is also accessible by car but I recommend the hike, no pain, no gain! From Glacier Point you see the Half Dome and Three Waterfalls.

After a few days in the heart of nature we drove to The City itself, San Francisco. What an amazing city this is! I always wanted to visit it because I heard it has a nice vibe and is a foodie paradise. Turns out the rumors were true, I love this city!

Fisherman's Wharf
We stayed at the Mystic Hotel by Charlie Palmer near Union Square. This is a nice base to start you exploring of the city, since it’s in the heart of the shopping center. The trip to Fisherman’s Wharf is easy by bus, but take the time (and money) to try the cable cars. They’re unique to the region and fun!

A little tip here if you take the cable car: Don’t wait at that start of the cable line, you’ll wait a half an hour or more. Instead go to the next stop of the cable car (shouldn’t be more than 200m). There’s practically no lines and they still take people on.

Cable Car
San Francisco has a lot to offer ranging from the Painted Ladies (The Full”er” House) to the Rock “Alcatraz” and The Golden Gate Bridge (mostly floating in fog but when the skies are clear you might get lucky and see the whole bridge).

2 landmarks you need to visit here are the specialty shops and architecture at Ghirardelli Square (home of the San Franciscan Chocolate) and the Ferry Building Market Place (an indoor food market). These two places are underrated but more than worth a stop. If you want to know what to eat, check my post 3 Must-Eats in San Francisco

Ghirardelli Square
Market Place
After a few days in this amazing city we pushed on, driving on the Highway One towards LA. This highway will take you on a route that runs next to the sea where you’ll have some insane ocean views. Be sure to take lunch in Big Sur at Nepenthe, great food and an amazing view (sit in the back at the long bar tables).

Big Sur
After a drive with views that can only be described as pure photography art we arrived in Monterey. One of my favorite things about this town? Waking up with the sound of sea lions. What was weird that it took us over 2000 miles before our first contact with Californian wine (on American soil). We drank a red wine from Paso Robles with Zinfandel grapes. OMFG totally did not expect a wine that great! To be honest I wasn’t much a fan of Californian wine, but I only knew the fruity white Chardonnay wines. Really changed my perspective on American wine. Too bad we didn’t have time to visit a few wineries because they have great wines in this region! 

Not a wine lover? Go and visit Firestone Walker Brewing Company, they have a very nice range of beers. For our Belgian readers, this brewery is a part of the Duvel Moortgat group, should say enough ;-)

The view at Monterey Bay
After a day at the beach in Pismo Beach we headed towards our last stop, LA.
The final stop of our 3-week road trip is the City of Angels. I really had no idea what to think of this city. LA has so many faces which makes it an interesting city to visit. Our hotel (Hotel Erwin) is located in Venice, still my favorite neighborhood in LA. From Venice, it’s about 45min walk alongside the beach towards the legendry Santa Monica Pier. Take the time to make this walk, it’s worth it.

Santa Monica Pier
Well known must visits in LA are of course the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame but lesser known things like the lights of the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and the original Farmers Market should definitely fit in your schedule as well. One spot I didn’t want to hold out on you guys is a nice restaurant in Venice, the Rose Café. Great venue with very nice food, the perfect place for a dinner.

Venice Beach
Venice Beach
The lights at LACMA
Nice dish at the Rose Café

As all great stories end we left the next day to go back to Belgium. After 3 weeks crossing 4 States. A trip of a lifetime, believe me, we’ll be back…

If you need more tips or have anything to add please comment! In my next post, I’ll delve into the culture of coffee, stay tuned ;-)

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