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Visiting the big cities and national parks of California and the Golden West was a dream come true for Product Executive Katy. She’d heard so much about them and seen them in so many films and TV programmes that she’d longed to see it all in person - to walk along The Strip in Las Vegas, and amongst the mountains, lakes and woodlands of America’s vast wilderness. Donning a good pair of shoes, she explored famous streets and lesser known nooks, and told us about her favourite moments.

Las Vegas

I’d always wanted to go to Las Vegas, you see it all the time in TV programmes and films and, even though all the hotels look big on screen, I never expected them to be on the grand scale that they are - it was incredible. Each hotel is completely different than the other (although they all have casinos, of course, it is Vegas!). It’s so difficult to pick a favourite. There’s Caesars Palace decorated with Roman Empire themed statues throughout; the canal running through the Venetian; the Paris Las Vegas with, of course, an Eiffel tower. One highlight was the seasonal flower displays in the Bellagio. My visit coincided with a special Chinese New Year display of fairies, tigers, butterflies and foxes, all made out of flowers. It was absolutely amazing! And then there’s famous fountains, best seen dancing to music after dark when you then get the full effect of the lights, which also change in time with the music.

Comfortable shoes are a must - we were on our feet all day and walked miles exploring each hotel!

 

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Such perfect views, no matter where you are in the park. It’s also off the beaten track so when I was walking around during free time on the valley floor, it was so peaceful with only the sounds of nature. At certain times of the year there are also many waterfalls but, even though they were dry when I visited, it was still absolutely stunning.

 

San Francisco

San Francisco is now firmly on my list of favourite cities! I loved that, even in places where there were lots of people, it never felt crowded, and I felt safe walking around even late into the evening.

I highly recommend the harbour cruise excursion which sails past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge, with amazing views of San Francisco, the bridge and Alcatraz – it was a great experience.

You can also get a fantastic view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from Pier 39 if it’s a clear day, and visiting the huge pod of seals next to Pier 39 is a must. You’ll be able to hear them before you can see them! They were great fun to watch, especially when too many try to fit onto a platform at once knocking others off!

We took a walk along the bay, ended up in Fisherman’s Wharf and stumbled across an arcade called Musée Mécanique which was filled with old arcade games. We spent a good hour there exchanging money for quarters and going round all the unusual machines to see what they did. I also loved Lombard Street. Featured in lots of films, it’s famously steep with eight hairpin turns that I definitely wouldn’t want to attempt to drive down!

 

17 Mile Drive and Big Sur

The 17 Mile Drive and Big Sur really are the most beautiful coastal roads I have ever seen. I couldn’t stop staring out the window at the picturesque views the whole way along. We stopped at Point Piedras Blancas, home of an Elephant Seal colony. The majority of them were sleeping when we got there; snoring away they all looked so happy and content. It was incredible how many are there - definitely worth getting off the coach to have a look, although I must warn you they do smell a bit! It was timed perfectly with sunset, so the scene was amazing as the sun was setting over the sea.

 

I have fallen in love with California - it’s such a big state and each place is different. I still have so much more to explore so I’ll definitely be going back!

 

Do you also dream of the amazing experiences you could have in and around California? Click here for more information.

Article published on: 25th November, 2019

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Jenny

Jenny’s passion for culture and wildlife has taken her across the world. Favourite experiences so far have included snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, sailing on the Ganges in Varanasi, hiking through Norway and spending many hours on safari in Kenya and India spotting a menagerie of wonderful creatures.

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