Renaissance Magazine interviews Active City Travel on their favorite California experiences.
Why did you visit California?
Primarily, because of the variety of experiences available. It’s possible to cycle the Golden Gate Bridge and miles of beach/river trails in Orange County, golf local and PGA courses and do a Silent Stay retreat in Napa, stay at a private condo with Catalina Island Vacation Rentals, discover new wine regions like Temecula and the Tri County area, try foot golf and walk among the dunes in Oxnard (just north of LA) and visit top museums in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
What was one of the highlights of your trip?
Of the many highlights, I would have to say meeting other travelers while sampling local wines at the free, evening wine receptions offered at hotels like The Executive Vintage Court, Fairmont Ghirardelli Square and Half Moon Bay Inn (in/near San Francisco), The Willows (Palm Springs), Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay (Oxnard) and the happy hour at The Kona Kai Resort in San Diego.
Is there anything you would have done differently? If yes or no, provide your reason.
I would have spent even more time sampling local products like lavender and olive oil goodies in Temecula, strawberries and local wine in Oxnard and the micro breweries sprouting up all over the state along with locally made cheeses like burrata.
What did you learn about California?
Considering it’s the land of the car, cycling routes are numerous and well established particularly in Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco. Many hotels like The Fairmont and Kona Kai offer free or low-cost bikes.
How did this visit to California change you?
I am more open to new experiences after spending three days at Silent Stay, a meditation retreat in Napa, camping by the ocean in a mini RV camping van and visiting an aquarium via a glass tunnel under the San Francisco Bay.
Will you be back? Explain.
Yes as I feel there is still so much to see, do and eat. San Francisco alone has so many great and diverse restaurants – historically significant places like Scoma (seafood) John’s Grill (classic American) and new places like Pica Pica (Venezuelan). It would take years just to try the restaurants alone.
Please provide five tips or interesting facts about California.
1.In addition to admission to top museums, boat and open air city bus tours, the San Francisco CityPass includes seven days of unlimited public transportation aboard MUNI (cable cars, buses and the light rail system).
2. The normally $70.00 return ferry to the beautiful Santa Catalina Island (off the coast of Los Angeles) is free on your birthday.
3. You can get daily/monthly memberships at high-end resorts such as the Kona Kai in San Diego which allow full day use of all facilities including beach, pool and gym access and happy hour prices on food and drinks– a real bargain even if you are only in town for a few days.
4. Consider home renting services such as ownerdirect.com,catalinavacations.com and the Fairmont Heritage Place in San Francisco for a homier experience and more square footage than a regular hotel room.
5. Before buying that RV, test drive converted Dodge Caravans from Jucy Van Rentals, a new camping van rental service from Australia with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.