California, home to the stars and to some of the best natural wonders, food and wine in the world as well. You can think of Hollywood, Yosemite National Park, the Redwoods and the wineries. But how best to see and better still experience these glories. Here are some of my favourite ways to spend a day.
Beach, oysters & wine trail
This day combines all my loves. You will be collected from your San Francisco hotel by your Evergreen Escapes driver who is also a naturalist guide and driven across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the artistic community of Sausalito and up the coast along the rugged Point Reyes National Seashore. Taste oysters fresh from the clear, crisp waters of Tomales Bay. Visit the Fort Ross Vineyards’ Tasting room in Sonoma County with its glorious views across the hills to the Pacific Ocean beyond. Try the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and its celebrated Pinotage and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. You will be back in San Francisco in time for dinner full of fresh air and bonhomie.
From the Golden Gate to the rolling hills of the Napa Valley
Your Allure limousine will collect you from your San Francisco hotel to Napa Valley for an entire day of private wine tasting among the beautiful, rolling hills of the Napa Valley. Your memorable day with include artisan cheese tasting, a picnic lunch and all the luxuries found in both the Valley and the Bay Area. You will have private tastings, breathtaking views of the valley and of course world-class wines. Finish your custom wine tour with dinner at a five-star restaurant before being driven back replete and happy to your hotel.
Broadway under the stars
Take your reserved seat in the VIP section in the Jack London State Park in Sonoma County to watch famous acts from Broadway perform on one of the most beautiful stages in the country. Past performers have included Broadway professionals from Wicked, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, The Book Of Mormon, Les Miserables, Jersey Boys and many more. The night includes VIP parking, pre-show picnicking, exploring and tasting from the food trucks, wine and your own GoVino glass to take home.
Fashion in San Francisco
If fashion is “your thing”, then this is the day for you. It is not mine, but I can think of several friends who would love it. For six hours, Authentic Luxury Lifestyle will organise your private driver to take you to meet three or four fashion designers in their studios. You will meet a well-established designer, a bespoke designer and a small co-op of young designers. You can talk to them about their work, current trends, what inspires them or anything else that spikes your curiosity. Your day will include a lunch in one of San Francisco’s quirky restaurants washed down, as always in California, with a glass or two of wine.
Drive an exotic car
If you have ever fancied driving an exotic or classic car. This is your moment! Whether it is a 1970s Cadilac de Ville, a McLaren, a modern Bentley or the latest Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, you can drive Highway 1 with the wind in your hair, roll around Hollywood – the choice is yours. There are so many to choose from but I think my favourite from Legends Car Rental is the 1968 Corvette Stingray Convertible. Think Jackie Chan in Rush Hour.
You might even be able to drive this beauty: a 1928 Ford! You can collect it from Los Angeles but I don’t think I would dare to drive it long distance.
Private chef class in Santa Barbara
You, and up to 8 of your friends, can join a top chef in the harbour of Santa Barbara at 8 o’clock in the morning where you will shop for fresh fish straight from the boats. Next stop will be the Farmers’ Market to learn how to shop for the freshest, top quality ingredients and then you will go to the chef’s home for a hands on class. The day, organised by Market Forays, will finish with a delicious feast and accompanied by premium local wines. Due to the early start, I would stay in Santa Barbara for at least two nights. No penance, it is a lovely town with lots of really good hotels.
San Andreas Fault stargazing
I am aware that all my choices so far have been on or near the coast. However, there are plenty of treats to find inland. Go to Palm Springs for lots of reasons, golf, sunshine, tennis and the San Andreas Fault. Desert Adventures organise a private jeep tour of the fault by day, at sunset but my favourite is the stargazing one. The air is so clear around here, the stars are amazing and the fault quite mind blowing. You will get to the area just before sunset so you will be able to watch the light changing and the stars appearing.
During the day in Palm Springs, you might like a private guided tour of some of the amazing mid 20th century houses or a private tour into Joshua National Park. Joshua is one of the newest National Parks and you would spend three hours in the park included a guided hike to Hidden Valley to see the majestic rock formations and the stunning Key’s View Overlook before returning to Palm Springs in your private SUV passing through two deserts.
I hope this has given you some idea of the luxuries that California can provide.