Tag Archives: California

Top 10 Must-See Spots Along the California Coast

California is a dream for travelers. It’s a synonym for freedom, a state where everything seems possible. The coast, which is probably one of the most beautiful on earth, is not an exception. Renting a car and riding the mythic Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego, driving through Los Angeles, discovering lesser-known, picturesque cities, and exploring some incredible landscapes, that is California. As we want you to have the best experience possible in the Golden State, we listed the top 10 must-see spots that will make for a memorable journey along this spectacular coast.

10 // Santa Cruz

If you’re looking for a spot to sunbath and have some boardwalk fun, Santa Cruz will warmly welcome you only 75 miles south of San Francisco. The city is well-known for its iconic pier. No matter what age you are, you’ll find something here that will put a smile on your face. But Santa Cruz is much more than this strip of beach and plywood. After the pier, be sure to take in the beautiful Redwood Forest and impressive caves that make up the heart of the city.

9 // Monterey

A lot of history belongs to the city of Monterey, a Northern California town situated in the southern edge of the Monterey Bay. It was the property of Spain in the 17th century, prompting one of the only known naval battle on the West Coast in 1818 when Argentina attacked the city to loosen Spain’s hold on California. California pledged allegiance to Mexico when it won its independence a few years later, but of course, the US claimed it during the Mexican-American War in 1946. But this city doesn’t only enjoy a rich history; it boasts beautiful sandy beaches and a perfect balance of city life and sleepy suburbs. This is the place for tourists who want to discover what California really looks like.

8 // Morro Rock

Located in the south of Big Sur, Morro Rock is a volcanic plug that is proudly displayed just off the shore of Morro Bay. Almost like a tiny peninsula, it’s connected to the land by a small road that makes it accessible by foot though climbing on the rock is forbidden. Several types of birds nest on the rock including diverse cormorants and gulls species. The place also serves as a reserve for the endangered Peregrine Falcons.

7 // Carlsbad

Located in northern San Diego County, Carlsbad is somewhat of a seaside resort city that locals like to call “The Village by the Sea.” Not as touristy as Santa Barbara but equally as interesting, Carlsbad enjoys a semi-arid Mediterranean climate. Plenty of cafes and restaurants surround the streets, and as the 5th richest city in the state of California, it’s also full of luxury shopping. Seriously, when you enter Carlsbad you automatically smell the air of a very privileged city. Whether you live there, vacation there or simply pass through during a roadtrip, you’ll feel like royalty.

6 // Half Moon Bay State Beach

Four miles of protected and wild beaches — that’s what the Half Moon Bay State Beach is made of. People enjoy coming to this preserved nature beauty for fishing or just relaxing, enjoying the scenery and sunbathing. If you’re a golfer you will appreciate the world-famous course nestled on a cliff. Next to that, and if you want to stay a little longer, the splendid Ritz Carlton is waiting for you for an unforgettable experience where you are going to spend some magical nights with an incredible view over the ocean. If you prefer to get a real connection with the nature and the surroundings, you will also have the option to camp on the beach. In Half Moon Bay, you are guaranteed to live in a series of timeless moments.

5 // McWay Falls

A little further up than the Bixby Creek Bridge but still in the Big Sur area, you’ll discover another gorgeous landscape known as McWay Falls. Situated in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, it features a 24m waterfall surrounded by a wild and green nature. Get your cameras ready to take amazing pictures worthy of postcards. Fun fact: This place was also made popular Eminem, who featured it in his music video for “I Need a Doctor,” which has almost 300 millions views on Youtube.

4 // La Jolla

The hilly seaside community of La Jolla is a neighborhood in San Diego. Literally synonym of paradise, it showcases a great variety of boutiques, restaurants and lodging. La Jolla is a lovely place to end your Californian road trip if you’re traveling down the coast. It’s also the perfect spot for people who want to experiment in an incredible metropolitan area while also being short drives away from some calm, serene nature.

3 // Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara’s reputation is well-establish. As one of the most authentic and charming cities in California, Santa Barbara is a key venue of your journey through the Golden State. With its white houses and colorful shopping streets we have the impression of being transported directly in the south of Spain. But the high palms and the never-ending beach remind us well that we are in California. Whether you enjoy enjoy hiking, nightlight, water sports or fine dining, Santa Barbara is perfect for the whole family.

2 // Brixby Bridge

Located in northern Big Sur, The Bixby Creek Bridge is one of the most photographed and mythical bridges in California. The only way to go there is by riding the Highway 1. 120 miles south of San Francisco and 13 miles south of Carmel, the bridge suddenly appears on the twisting road as a beautiful surprise. It is surrounded by luxurious vegetation and faces the west coast with it’s expansive blue ocean and picturesque sandy beach. This scenery is truly unique to California.

1 // Carmel

Carmel is probably the most picturesque and bucolic village along the coast. With its iconic brick houses and thatched rooftops that will recall the English countryside, it’s hard not to fall in love with this little jewel of a town that seems living out of time. The famous actor Clint Eastwood used to be Carmel’s mayor and he still owns a ranch with a hotel and restaurant. In the center of the village, art lovers will find several galleries and little boutiques. Carmel’s beach is also one of the most charming in California. In fact, this small city represents the perfect definition for beauty, pleasure and luxury.

SAN FRANCISCO: A CITY FILLED WITH WARMTH AND SURPRISES

I’m Sally Cui, born in mainland China, but I’m also a university student in Hong Kong. I have noticed the differences between mainland China and Hong Kong. This journey to America gives me a totally fresh feeling about American culture. I visited America four years ago. On my first visit, I experienced the Great Canyon, Los Angeles and Yosemite, but in a hurry. This time, as an intern in San Francisco for about two months I got the opportunity to do some deep exploration. My experience will be as a temporary resident in this compact and technological city. I have to say that San Francisco, is like a good brandy; quickly intoxicating and easy to love.

Photo by Florian

Photo by Flickr user Florian CC 2.0

Transportation

Before I arrived here, I was told that America is a country where it is difficult to travel without a car. So at first, I was worried about the transportation in San Francisco. However, from my experience so far, I can say that it’s convenient as well as inconvenient. Why so contradictory? Let me compare Hong Kong and mainland China with America. The metro in Hong Kong is well developed, so much that people prefer to take the metro rather than the car to go out. In mainland China, there’s a huge bus system with many buses arriving frequently. Public transportation in America offers a different convenience. Firstly, all forms of transport have an exact schedule to follow and people can download the schedule from the Internet. Drivers conform to that schedule and are very punctual. Supposing that smooth traffic leads to early arrival, drivers will wait at the bus stop to stay on schedule. In China, you know that you are going to get on the bus only when you can see the bus is coming in the distance—there is no specific schedule. Secondly, all transportation systems aim to maximize the interests and convenience of passengers. On all buses, there’s a movable ramp at the front door of the bus, which can let senior citizens get on the bus without climbing the steps. It is convenient for the people who are not flexible on their legs and for disabled people who use wheelchairs. Caltrain, a commuter train in San Francisco, goes through several cities. Many people take it to get to work. I was surprised to find free wi-fi on Caltrain. It’s convenient for those people who want to do some work during their long commute. There are only some upscale trains which offer this service in China. Muni buses, environmentally-friendly trams and trolleys can always be seen in downtown San Francisco. If you want to tour the downtown area, good news for you– you pay for a timed ticket so if you take other bus within this period, there is no need to pay again. It’s different in China, where if you take a bus, you have to pay the fee for each bus. Also, if you are an avid cyclist, you can take your bike on the bus; every bus has bike racks. I have never seen this in China.

 

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

Atmosphere

The Statue of Liberty in New York is known all over the world and even in San Francisco I feel the air of freedom. City hall is open for all visitors during business hours. You can see the secretaries working, take a picture just in front of the door of the mayor’s office and even see the mayor come and go. In many countries, including China, government buildings are not typically open for visitors, and citizens even seldom see the mayor in daily life.

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

The fourth weekend in June is the celebrated as Pride Parade weekend and I was fortunately enough to attend the festivities. I went to the Pink Party on Saturday night in the Castro with my friend. The Castro is a neighborhood famous for its prominent gay and lesbian community. Various distinctive restaurants, bars and pubs can be found in this part of the city. On the Saturday evening, you can do anything you want to do at the party. There was a sign people held which read “Free Hugs,” you can come forward to hug them. You can sing with someone you don’t know, you can dance with someone you don’t know and you can chat with someone you don’t know. People are totally free, friendly and open in Castro. I definitely saw two different Castros during the day and in the evening. During the day, the Castro is quiet and peaceful, like a shy little girl. However, in the evening, Castro shows her wild side, it is noisy and crowded, like a passionate and dynamic adolescent.

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

 

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

After the Pink Party on Saturday, Sunday is the day for the famous Pride Parade. There’s no such Pride Parade in China, so I have never seen a parade before. People who support gay rights paraded on Market Street.  There were not only individuals in the parade, but also some important corporations including Google, Facebook and Apple. I was moved by some signs people held which read “35 years together, married 2 months ago.” Everyone has the right to love and be loved, no laws and rule should prohibit this. I appreciate that this free city allows people to love each other regardless of gender.

Photo by Glenn Euloth

Photo by Flickr user Glenn Euloth CC 2.0

People

Because people are so free and open, Americans are filled with enthusiasm and energy, and are helpful and honest. I would like to tell an amazing and heart-warming experience which took place when I first arrived in San Francisco. It shows how kind-hearted and friendly Americans are.

It was past 11 o’clock at night when I left the Pink Party on Saturday. Since I don’t have a car, the only way back home is finding the 292 bus stop. I’m a road nerd, so all my sense of direction comes from Google Maps. After 20 minutes, I asked a person who was waiting for a bus. I thought she would say “I don’t know” because her bus was almost coming, but she took me to a big station board with many routes on it and found 292 for me. She didn’t find the bus, but she asked me where I wanted to go. I told her South San Francisco, she asked someone nearby whether knew which bus towards to South San Francisco. Nobody knew, so she suggested me take BART and almost wanted to lead me to BART station and show me how to use the vending machine, and she felt relieved and went back to her bus stop. Thanking her, I continued looking for the 292 bus stop. A kind person riding a bike pulled up in front of me while I was looking at Google Maps and asked if I needed help. I told him I was looking for the 292 bus stop, he said he had no idea but pointed to where it might possibly be. I walked in the direction he pointed and fortunately, I found the bus stop a few minutes later. When I was waiting for the bus, he rode back and told me I could take BART if I still had not found the bus stop. I said I had already found it, and he left with a satisfied smile. Getting off the bus at my stop, I needed to walk 20 minutes to get home. It was 1am and dark as I was crossing the road on a green light.  Perhaps the driver didn’t notice the red light, and almost crashed into me. To my surprise, he stopped and rolled down the window and apologized to me several times, and even asked where I was going and gave me a lift.

In just one night, I met some enthusiastic, proactive and honest people. I have come across nice, helpful people every day in America. That’s a huge difference from busy Hong Kong and mainland China where people hardly stop to ask whether you need help and chat with you. Perhaps they are eager to help people at the bottom of their heart, but everyday pressure and busy crowds push them to live a hurried lifestyle and ignore the beauty of life. I really hope people in my country can slow down and enjoy every day.

Because of these treasure memories, I have really enjoyed these last two months living in America, loving these sincere and unguarded people.

 

California Girls

In our ongoing series written by our interns visiting from Hong Kong, Tiantian explains what it feels like to be a California Girl. Culture-shock, delicious food and good times exploring with friends are all possible in the Golden State.

 

This summer, I spent two months in California traveling and interning at Wcities. I study in Hong Kong and was born in mainland China, so this has been my first time working and traveling in the United States. Along my journey, I found many cultural differences between the East and West which sometimes were beyond my grasp. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being a California girl!

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