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Solo trip to Northern California

Its been a while since I’ve been to LA or San Fransisco. but Pier 39, Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard St, Alcatraz (need to book ahead now I believe) all come to mind.

Essex UK

I used to travel to Silicon Valley. and it isn’t that interesting, though there are some things that are worth your time. If you’re a football fan, the tour of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is fabulous! Hakone Gardens are beautiful Japanese gardens that are open all year round. the Stanford campus in Palo Alto is lovely and worth a stroll, and the wonderful little museum on its campus is free. There are a few nice hotels in the area, including the Orchard Hotel in Palo Alto. I have stayed a few times at the Inn at Saratoga, in Saratoga. I liked it because it’s set back from the street and it’s very quiet. It has a nice patio next to a creek and all the rooms have private balconies. It’s very serene.

Monterey/Carmel and Big Sur are beautiful. The adobes have a lot of history associated with them—they were part of the California missions. The Monterey Aquarium is stunning—don’t miss this! There’s a really nice hotel in Monterey that overlooks the water, the Monterey Plaza.

Some years ago I did the trip the other way round – from San Francisco to San Diego – and it’s stunning.

Highlights – La Jolla and Santa Barbara (I don’t have a map in front of me – they may be south of LA) -

Carmel/Monterey are lovely (though a bit twee in places). I really loved Santa Cruz (once full of old hippies, and still a laid-back sort of town),

It’s worth a detour into Salinas if you’re into Steinbeck (I re-read the Grapes of Wrath while I was there).

And Bug Sur – it’s worth taking the coast road and lingering as long as you can. But accommodation is expensive and often booked well in advance (I just turned up, and found a small motel – but the coastline is so rugged that there is little land flat enough for motels).

Buy yourself a polystyrene picnic box before you set off from LA (you can find them in supermarkets) and have bread, cheese, butter, apples etc with you. That way you’re not scrabbling around trying to find a town with a lunch-stop.

And then tell us all about it when you get home!

I’m taking a trip to northern California in late fall. I’m driving up the coast from LA, and I want to spend some time in the Silicon Valley area and San Francisco. I also want to visit the Napa Valley. I’m doing some research about things to see, and the Carmel/Monterey area looks interesting, with a lot of beautiful scenery and history. I’d love some suggestions on special points of interest along the way. I’m not in any hurry . . .

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