An American Road Trip. Part Two

by Anna Hilley on 05 November 2015, 11:11AM

Anna's Californian Adventure

The second installment in Pricing Executive Anna Hilley's blog series following her recent Californian road trip.

San Diego and San Francisco

From Palm Springs we decided to drive to San Diego through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Park instead of sticking to the interstate. Although not the quickest route, the scenery was definitely worth it. We stopped off at Coachella Valley Vista Point where you can see for miles down to the Palm Desert and look back at the roads with their hairpin bends that wind up the mountains.

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There is so much to do for everyone in San Diego. The Word Famous San Diego Zoo is definitely one of the best I have visited before. We spent a morning walking around the huge park, seeing everything from pelicans to pandas. 

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We stayed for two nights at the Handlery San Diego, which was just a short trolley car or cab ride from all the main attractions. We did a two hour harbour cruise with Flagship cruises which I wuld highly recommend to anyone visiting. The guide on board was an ex servicemen for the U.S Navy and was full of very interesting facts and stories as we sailed around the harbour passing dozens of Navy warships and submarines.

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After seeing what the city had to offer, we spent an afternoon in La Jolla - a beautiful seaside neighbourhood just north of the city centre. The views from the beach out to the pacific were unbelievable and we spent the whole afternoon watching the world go by, a whale breaching far in the distance and seals sunbathing and playing on the rocks just metres from where we were sat.

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When the sun sets, the famous Gaslamp Quarter comes alive. With a huge selection of bars and restaurants, you will be able to find something for everyone.


From one end of California to the other, our next stop was the city by the bay - San Francisco. Just over an hour flight from San Diego, San Francisco is full of architectural gems, world famous landmarks and very very steep hills!

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One of the best ways to get around this great city is on the iconic cable cars that glide up and down the hills from the Union Square and downtown area, to the seafront and Fishermen’s Wharf. We got a San Francisco city pass which meant we could ride on them free of charge for seven days. This was a great way to get around and saved us lots of money, however, one thing we did learn - don't spend an hour and a half queuing at the busy terminals, walk one stop up the street and they usually stop and let you on!


A visit to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without a trip to its two most famous landmarks - Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.


We spent the morning over on Alcatraz Island, home to the world famous prison. Having closed its doors as a prison over 50 years ago, and after almost ten years being occupied by Native Americans, it eventually opened up as a fantastic exhibition, showing visitors what it was like to be held there in the years it was a federal penitentiary. You can take an audio tour of the cell-house, learn about the prisoners who tried (and failed) to escape, or spend time walking around the grounds learning about the land during the Native American occupation.

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One of the most iconic and photographed landmarks in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, really doesn’t disappoint. Having sailed underneath it on a one hour harbour cruise, we had to see it from another angle- so we cycled over it! We hired bikes from one of many vendors at Fishermen's Wharf and set off along the cycle route, passing a beautiful marina full of luxury yachts and the long stretch of beach where locals were playing volleyball.

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After this fairly easy start, we soon hit the hardest part of the ride- the steep hill that takes you up towards the bridge! Even if it means getting of your bike to push, keep going - the view from the top is definitely worth it. Once on the bridge the cycle path continues, making it really safe, with points along the way where you can hop off and take in the magnificent views of both the city and the Pacific Ocean.

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We continued on to the little seaside town of Sausalito just three miles on from the bridge itself, the perfect place to stop, catch your breath and grab a drink. It is from here you can get a ferry back to San Francisco, which a lot of bike vendors included in the cost of the hire.

We were really fortunate with the weather in San Francisco, so spent an afternoon in the Golden Gate Park. This huge park has everything from museums and botanic gardens to grazing bison and Dutch windmills. We walked from one end of the park to the beach at the other in the late afternoon and we rewarded with a beautiful sunset whilst sitting on the sand dunes.


In the evening we visited the bustling China Town where the food was some of the best I have had. Between China Town, Union Square and Pier 39 there is a real buzz everywhere you go in San Francisco.


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