Three weeks is a long time to be living in a hotel. Not only did I find myself being an outfit repeater on several occasions, but elements of home were missing as well. However, there were no real down point while visiting California. The weather was a cross between summer and fall, and the brunch was always perfect. While I was there, I tried to explore every part of California on the weekends from the golden gate bridge to Yosemite. Here are some of my many adventures!
Golden Gate Bridge
We got a group and took an Uber to the view point on the other side of San Francisco. The lookout there was really nice, but I personally liked the view from the San Francisco side better. Walking or biking the bridge is a must, as you get to fully appreciate the view from all angles. If you go, make sure the day is clear and not foggy! We had slight fog, but nothing too unbearable.
Overall, I like New York City’s China town the best. DC and SF can’t beat it. However, their China town is still pretty cool to explore! Of course you run into the tourist-y shops and classic Chinese food, but what I found particularly nice was the architecture. One of the buildings has terracotta soldiers lining the roof. Furthermore, the Chinese lanterns and murals make the street complete. While you’re there, you might as well pop into a karaoke bar and sing your heart out. Coit tower is not too far away and is something you may want to do if 360 views of San Francisco is an interest (It's $8 to go up).
I found this cooler than China town. First of all, you MUST get the ramen while you’re there. The day we went, Japan town was throwing a festival with Japanese street food and music which was super fun. Overall, it’s a clean and booming place to go…and yes, it also has karaoke bars. Make sure to throw some sake bombs down!
This street is very funky! It has cool consignment shops, hippy stores and great food. You may even see a parade of nude people marching on the sidewalks (which is what we experienced). I found some boutique clothes stores that I liked as well. Overall, it’s an area with a lot of spunk. Mission is also a cool area to go to for a fun bar experience.
Piers (Fishermans Wharf and pier 39)
I’m not a huge fan of tourist-y things, so obviously this wasn’t really my scene. Personally, I found the pier to be quite dirty and VERY crowded. The food is not great and overpriced. If you go to the piers, you want to see the views, ships and maybe shop for souvenirs. I must admit though, sometimes they have cool exhibits going on. It gets cold by the water, so make sure to always bring a coat!
You get what you came for: some colorful Victorian buildings. However, the history behind it is quite intriguing. It was made/created for just a couple thousand and is now worth a couple million.
YNapa and Sonoma Wine tour
One weekend we took a wine tour to 3 winery’s and stopped in a cute village for lunch (Yountville). Click here for the tour we took. I thought it was a great tour for the price and what’s included. My favorite winery was the Andretti Winery. It is very Italian, has gorgeous views and a fantastic villa. (They also weren’t skimpy on the wine tastings!) All 3 are cool though and let you explore different areas of how wine is made. For example, the Madonna Estate Winery gave us a tour of how they barrel wine and the proper etiquette on tasting it. The village we stopped in was very scenic and had multiple Michelin star restaurants, along with shopping. It is an all-day activity, but well worth it!
Yosemite National Park and Big Trees State Park
Another weekend we decided to hike. In Yosemite we hiked the Mist trail up to the first waterfall and the Mirror lake trail. I 100% recommend the mist trail. It's a steep hike with hills and steps, but the waterfall is something to look at. Take lunch up there and eat it at the top! (Be careful of the squirrels though, they are quite friendly …and fat) On the flip side, I do not recommend the mirror lake trail. What you think will be a lake is a stream. California is known for droughts, and this trail confirms it. On the bright side, it’s a flat trail and has a good view of the rocks.
Big Trees State park was a cool surprise! The trees there are HUGE (and when I say huge, I mean 26 ft across). Visit the big stump and the tree you can walk under. Another place within the park I would recommend is the river! After the hike, it’s a nice place to go to cool off.
Mori Point and Millbrae
Last but not least, I would recommend Mori Point. This is in Millbrae and is a short, beautiful hike. At the top you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of ocean and mountains. This is a hidden gem for sure. Also, (to give some context) I stayed in Millbrae while I was in California. Some cool, nearby places to check out if you ever stay there are San Mateo and Burlingame. San Mateo has some great Japanese and Chinese restaurants and Burlingame has some fun bars (Vinyl room, Steelhead brewery and Barrel House) and a worthwhile shopping scene. It also may be worthwhile to checkout some beaches while you’re there too! (I went to Baker’s beach, but it was a bit cold) Though if surfing is your thing, go for it!
Thanks for reading and hopefully this can help you decide where to go on your next trip to California! If you want to see an awesome video of 5 guys biking California, click here to check it out! The video captures some amazing views of CA!
By: Erica Amatori | Twitter, Snapchat, Insta: @ericaamatori