Hey! My name is Alix and I went to a wonderful Camp in California! After camp finished, however, the adventure didn’t stop! It was time to travel and explore the West Coast.
I’ve made a list of bucket list sights you have to see when you are travelling the West Coast of America!
Los Angeles is a great start to as West coast trip. It has some amazing sights and attractions as well as some super beaches.
If you’ve seen La La Land, then this first recommendation will be familiar. Griffith Park Observatory was an amazing place to see all the sights of LA, you can see the Hollywood sign, the mountains, the beach and the Hollywood basin including downtown LA. On top of this the telescopes, planetarium and other exciting experiences are not ones to miss.
My favourite place was the Warner Brothers Studio Tours, if you like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Big Bang Theory, Batman, and much more it is the place for you. You can explore the backlots, soundstage, sets and get great pictures like this one!
LA is also home to my favourite Californian beach, Laguna Beach. It is full of coves, beaches and tide pools. It’s also a great place for surfing and the area is full of galleries, hikes and restaurants.
If you like rollercoasters, you should go to Six Flags Magic Mountain! An hour outside of LA this theme park has the largest number of rollercoasters in an amusement park in the world, its a daredevil’s paradise full of world-class rides and is you are an adrenaline junky this should definitely be on your bucket list.
Most well known for the Catalina Wine Mixer mentioned in Step Brothers, the channel island of Santa Catalina is my favourite place on the West Coast (I may be a little biased because the summer camp I worked at was based on the island and I now think of it as my home from home).
Catalina can be found off the Southwest Coast of Los Angeles, it’s known for its wildlife, dive sites and hiking trails.
To the south of the Island is the city of Avalon, it is a beautiful city on the waterfront with a range of shops, restaurants, spas, and resorts. You can snorkel, scuba dive, paraglide, sunbathe and play mini golf, and is truly a little oasis away from the busy LA city.
One of the best things to do on Catalina is hiking, with over 165 miles of trails you have so much to choose from. If you want to challenge yourself you could enjoy exploring the 37.2 miles of the Trans Catalina Trail, or if you want an amazing view head up to the top of Mt Orizaba and enjoy the views above the clouds, you can see over the entire island and to the ocean over Shark Harbour (the best time to go is sunset, the views are incredible).
A highlight for me on the West coast is San Diego and I would recommend that it should be on everyone’s bucket list!
For my camp friends and I, San Diego was a perfect place to relax and explore. In general, it is full of indie boutiques, cafes, and thrift shops. It has an abundance of Mexican food as it is just on the border. With so many Neighbourhoods to explore there is always something to do.
If you take the train from LA to San Diego there are a number of awesome stops you could take along the way. Maybe stop off at Oceanside or Encinitas for bohemian beach towns and lovely restaurants, surf shops, outdoor cafes and even yoga studios.
Once you are in the heart of San Diego you have to head to Balboa Park (if you are like me, we hopped on an electric scooter or bicycle to get there). It is a beautiful park full of fountains, gardens, forests, Spanish architecture, museums, and galleries.
If you want to head to another beach La Jolla should be your next stop. It has nice restaurants, a downtown lined with murals, rock pools, hiking trails and even has seals permanently chilling on the rocks.
I loved heading down to Pacific Beach from my Air BnB, it was full of so many surf shops, amazing food places and was generally so easy going. If you are a foodie, then Little Italy is for you, it has so many buzzy restaurants, trendy bars and lots of indie music venues. And the Gaslamp Quarter was also interesting with lots of independent restaurants, comedy and drama venues, and awesome architecture.
Everyone that I spoke to before leaving for the US told me that if I were on the West Coast I had to travel to San Francisco! And they were right to do so, it felt like a completely different place then the rest of my trips and I would suggest going on everyones travel bucket list.
On my trip from LA to San Francisco I took a bus trip through the main land, half way we stopped at Danish town called Solvang, its off the beaten track and really different to the beach towns I was used to. It is know for its amazing Danish-style architecture and often has a vintage motorcycle and car show on. I really enjoyed the food and building and would suggest for people to go if they want something a little different for their adventures.
The heart of San Francisco was beautiful, with the incredible Victorian architecture and amazing food trends there was so much to do. Of course I headed to the Golden Gate Bridge before heading to the Fishermans wharf for a boat trip (with the seals) around Alcatraz. I tucked into some amazing shrimp, crab and loved the crusty sourdough bread!
I also visited some less well known sites in San Fran. The palace of fine arts was full of history and beauty. I also really enjoyed my excursion to UC Berkley which was a beautiful university campus that made me super jealous that I didn’t attend. I also really enjoyed hoping on the San Francisco cable cars and heading to Lombard street and was very glad I didn’t have to drive the hairpin turns.
California has so many incredible National Parks like Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley and Joshua Tree. So far I have only made it to Yosemite and Sequoia but they were brilliant. With views for days, and hiking trails that could keep me entertained for years I was overwhelmed with the beauty and excitement. My favourite part was the Sequoia trees, I have truly never seen trees so big, they towered over me and the ones that had fallen down were fun to climb, and some had even been made into tunnels.
There are so many other places on the West Coast which I know are on my bucket list. My Californian friends never stop telling me how incredible the Pacific Coast Highway is, they are often taking road trips up the coastal road and making me very jealous. With sites like Malibu, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey and Rio Del Mar there is so much to do and see that I cannot wait to go back. I would also love to explore up the West Coast further, travelling by train to Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington. The other surrounding states like Nevada and Arizona are also on my bucket list with so many exciting places to go.
Going to camp is a fantastic opportunity to get to travel to all of these wonderful places! I can’t think that I would have been able to do so much travelling around if it wasn’t for Camp and the 30 day travelling time I had on top of my Visa! If you want to experience some of the same fantastic sights (and hopefully more!), you can start your journey with AmeriCamp here.