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    A California Road Trip Part I: Northern California

    Welcome to the first instalment of our three-part blog series, giving you a rundown of the Californian cities and landmarks you will want to stop at on your trip through “the Golden State”. This time, we are focussing on Northern California: San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite National Park, and Santa Cruz. There are many routes that cut through California and allow for great road trips, but perhaps one of the most iconic, and most scenic, roads to take is Highway 1. It snakes its way along the state’s beautiful coastline, and most of our stops lie near this road. So put your sunglasses on and picture yourself in that convertible with the top down…

    San Francisco

    Let’s begin in “the City by the Bay”. San Francisco is an excellent place to start your road trip – you can conveniently pick up your car at the airport and make the quick drive to the city. Once in downtown San Francisco, you may be better off leaving your car parked at your hotel and discovering the city on foot or using its historical modes of transportation. San Francisco is a fantastic mix of old and new, with much of its old-world charm still intact in the elegant historic buildings of the Financial District and Victorian beauties such as the Painted Ladies. All this is then juxtaposed with the new skyscrapers fueled by investment from technology companies. Though the city’s weather can change quickly, the skies are for the most part a typical Californian blue.

    San Francisco is definitely worth a visit of multiple days. Take the historic cable car up and down the picturesque hills, and discover the wonderful trendy shops and eateries popping up around town at an incredible pace. For a great sampling of delicacies ranging from innovative ice cream flavours to clam chowder, make your way to the Ferry Building Marketplace. Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing views of the bay and its sparkling blue waters while you are visiting the harbour! And no visit to San Francisco would be complete without crossing the astounding Golden Gate Bridge. Not only is the bridge a remarkable architectural achievement, but it also affords those crossing some breathtaking views of the bay and the city’s skyline.

    For a change of pace, head to nearby Napa Valley wine country. Sample world-famous wines, or simply enjoy the scenery. Napa Valley has also made strides in gastronomy to become a top destination for foodies.

    Yosemite National Park

    Whether you are a hiking enthusiast or not, you are sure to have heard about Yosemite. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the park is synonymous with the natural beauty of California, which is often overlooked by visitors heading for the big metropolitan centres. Though visiting the park will require a detour from Highway 1, you will not regret it. Walk, hike, or do some rock climbing – whatever way you wish to traverse the park grounds, the vistas are sure to impress you. Must-see highlights include the 2,199-meter Glacier Point, a towering granite precipice. Yosemite National Park is also home to three of the world’s top ten tallest waterfalls!

    Santa Cruz

    What would a visit to California be without a little downtime by the beach? There are few places more suited for a laid-back beach break than Santa Cruz. The town is decidedly relaxed, and has much to offer families as well as older and younger groups. Surfing is probably the main attraction of the town, and Santa Cruz is said to have been the place where surfing was first introduced in California. Enjoy the amusements and snacks offered on the Beach Boardwalk, or dig into some organic fare in downtown Santa Cruz. A short drive away, you will also find Big Basin Redwoods State Park, where you can marvel at the stupendous, ancient coast redwood trees.

    Stay tuned for next time, when we drive down to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and more!

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