The drive through Death Valley National Park was yet another highlight along the route of our South West US road trip. In complete contrast to the majestic granite cliffs, verdant pines and babbling streams of Yosemite, Death Valley possesses a sun-bleached grandeur, and desolate sense of vastness. There really is nowhere else like it on earth.
Yosemite National Park is known for its incredible natural beauty, giant sequoia trees, iconic vistas, gushing waterfalls, green meadows and the towering granite giants of El Capitan and Half Dome cliffs. Set within California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range a day exploring Yosemite was our next stop after Monterey Bay.
A visit that I’d been looking forward to since we first started planning our US road trip. Yosemite is a place that needs to be seen first-hand to be truly appreciated. Soak up nature’s glory, breathe deep the pine-scented air and feel very small amid the grandeur of Yosemite’s great outdoors.
Monterey Bay in California was the second stop on our US road trip and was a huge highlight. One thing that struck me about the scenery was how incredibly blue the sea and sky is. When I hear Monterey mentioned I get a memory flash of dazzling cobalt blue so it doesn’t surprise me that Monterey has been described as the ‘greatest meeting of land, sea and sky’. I feel the same could be said for that whole stretch of Californian coastline.
September saw us head off on our road trip to America’s South West. I’ve written a little bit about what we did in our starting city ofSan Francisco, but here I’m going to share our road trip itinerary and how we planned it. We went with friends, coincidentally another Mr and Mrs Jones, so there were four of us and four different wish lists. We started with a map and wine. Wine is always a good place to start. After agreeing on a do-able radius we all pitched in with an orange marker pen and circled our ‘must sees’. From there it was just a case of joining up the dots. Well, sort of.
San Francisco packs a huge amount of sights into a small, compact area. The city is only seven miles by seven miles but that’s not to say it’s an easy walk because it’s built on a staggering 43 hills. And stagger you will after hiking some of those steps and steep inclines! I’ve visited the city three times in the last few years, twice in sparkling sunshine in January and February and again last month, at the start of our road trip, when the city was fabulously foggy. It was fascinating to see the city take on a misty persona.
There are certain things every visitor to the city should see and do; get up close to The Golden Gate Bridge, check out the best views, take a boat across the bay to visit ‘The Rock’ home of Alcatraz. You’ll want to trundle up the city’s hills on an iconic cable car for both the experience and the views. And that’s just for starters. There are also some fun and unusual activities if you’re looking for something a little off-beat. Here are my tips on what to see and do in San Francisco, the ‘City by the Bay’ for the first time visitor.
Spiking the San Francisco skyline and perched on top of Telegraph Hill is an odd-looking concrete tower. The Coit Tower. Shaped like the nozzle of a fire hose, the column stands at 210 ft and can be seen from many parts of the city. Head up to the top of the tower in its Art Deco elevator and you’ll get to take in the 360 degree views. Famous San Francisco landmarks like Alcatraz, Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge can be spotted from its windows. On the ground floor are a series of colourful 1930s murals depicting detailed aspects of San Francisco working life at the time. (more…)