Taking a trip to California? Dreaming of cruising down Highway 101 along the Big Sur coast in your very own Cadillac? Search for your favourite stars in Hollywood? Snow board half-pipes in Tahoe? Surfing on San Diego’s famous Ocean Beach? You can do all the above so Join our whistle-stop trip below in our guide to our top hostels in California starting with the lesser known state capital Sacramento and download our mobile app to make booking in the sunshine state easy.
Sacramento – Gold Fever
Although it’s the state capital, it’s only the 7th largest city in California, built along the Sacramento River. The town grew during the Gold Rush of the 1800’s, attracting 1,000s of prospectors from all over the world. From Sacramento, go rafting or cycling, or further afield on a day trip to the Napa/Sonoma wine valleys.
Yosemite National Park covering almost 1,200 square miles of mountainous terrain is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Why not stay in Yosemite Springs, just 20 miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. From there you can explore the park and visit California’s Gold Country to pan for gold and get a taste for what the California Gold Rush was really like.
400 miles north of Los Angeles on the Californian pacific coast lies San Francisco. Settled by the Spanish in 1776, San Francisco grew rapidly in the 1800s during the Californian Gold Rush. Today the city is most famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and of course “the rock” (Alcatraz prison located in the middle of San Francisco Bay). There is also a vibrant and diverse culture mix in the city; from the “little Italy” in North Beach to Chinatown to the more bohemian Haight-Ashbury, Castro & Mission districts. The best way to see the sites is to jump on the rickety old cable cars that still shuttle people up and down the city streets. Just 45 minutes from San Francisco is Sonoma Valley the world’s fourth largest producer of wine where you can sample some of their award winning Syrah and Pinot Noir wines!
Only a few hours from San Francisco on the California and Nevada border lies Lake Tahoe the highest lake in the US. This alpine lake setting is a perfect place to enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities including hiking, swimming, mountain biking, casinos & nightlife. Popular for escaping the city in the summertime, but probably more widely known for some of the best skiing and snow boarding anywhere in the world during the winter.
Point Montara – Stay in a lighthouse
On the rugged pacific coast 25 miles south of San Francisco, stands the Point Montara Fog Signal and Light Station. There is no better location to explore this spectacular coastline. Between November and April you can enjoy the annual migration of gray whales. Just north of the lighthouse is Mt. Montara, just the spot for hiking and biking. For you water babies, there are great beaches for swimming, surfing, kayaking and windsurfing.
Monterey – The Big Sur
Monterey is the starting point for the famous Big Sur drive, 90 miles of dramatic coastlines and scenic beaches along the pacific coast. Before you hit the road, you can enjoy whale watching, scuba diving and kayaking in scenic Monterey Bay or just rest and relax in this area of stunning natural beauty.
Another 180 miles southwards along Highway 101 is Santa Barbara, affectionately known as the American Riviera. Santa Barbara boasts year round sunshine and warm weather. For those adrenaline junkies choose from surfing, kiteboarding, scuba diving, hiking, rock climbing and hang-gliding.
America’s second largest city is a must for all you stargazers out there. Your first stop should be Hollywood Boulevard where you will see the famous handprints of all your favourite celebrities. There are several guided tours that bring you right by the homes of the rich and famous. From LA you can visit Disneyland, Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain. If the beach is more your thing, then Santa Monica or Venice Beach away from downtown Los Angeles is the place for you.
Just north of the Mexican border, San Diego is by far the most laid back of California’s big cities and a great place to chill out. There are many places to laze about during the day and the city itself is in a compact grid means getting around is a breeze. Some of the most popular beaches are Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.