Don’t worry. This is not just another travel advice or a ‘10 places to visit in California’ article. This blogpost is to share how I personally perceived some of the places I visited in Southern California during the last couple of weeks.
It’s been some amazing weeks of Los Angeles, beautiful coastlines, iconic national parks, majestic mountains and dramatic deserts. Here’s a collection of places that I feel are worth sharing with you.
Hiking up the Griffith Observatory is such a Los Angeles must-do for me that I have done it like a dozen times. If you are drawn to heights and need open spaces from time to time, Griffith Observatory is the place to go (or at least it is my place to go). Already the observatory building is extremely majestic and the vibrant city beneath feels almost close enough to touch.
The real magic begins however when you hike Mount Hollywood further up and get to see the whole dimension of this place. As soon as you reach the upper part of the little trail leading to Mount Hollywood’s summit, Los Angeles lies spread out at your feet with the Griffith Observatory sitting atop. With the whole city unfolded, it feels as if you could finally read some pages of this giant book.
The Griffith Observatory and Mount Hollywood are definitely my most favorite places to watch the sun go down in LA. When the night falls, you can watch the city’s enormous veins lying open and get a grasp of how all these people in their cars are pumped through the streets.
Venice is this famous beachfront neighborhood I have mixed feelings about. Abbot Kinney Boulevard unites gorgeous design shops and cafés and is definitely a must-do in Los Angeles. The beach boardwalk, on the other hand, generally tends to be crowded and packed with somewhat crazy people. It clearly is the hangout for artists and creatives it is known for. It is home to body builders, street performers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, bike riders, street vendors and fortune tellers. There are tons of little touristy shops and places to eat with a hand-me-down touch. Venice is a mix of many things and can definitely be overwhelming. The nice thing is though that you can escape to its vast beach and wait for sunset to watch the beach haze wrap up the ocean boardwalk until it gets dark.
El Matador Beach
El Matador is a picturesque beach in the Malibu area that has it all: cliffs, seaweed, rocks, sand, all kinds of birds and (if you are attentive) dolphins. You have to be pretty lucky to get a spot in the small parking lot on top of the cliff, which probably makes this beach a little less accessible and cut off from the rest of the world. The steep stairwell leading down the cliffs offers amazing views. El Matador is a perfectly peaceful place with little caves and fascinating rock formations. And as in every place in California – the sunset mood is amazing.
Huntington in three words is: pier, surfing, sunsets. It is full of surf shops, little restaurants and surfers. Whenever you enter Huntington, you feel like accessing the surf life. It is a vibrant little town with an endless beach stretch (similar to Newport Beach) and people in wetsuits around every corner. There are good beginner surf spots for surfing amateurs like me and somehow the feeling of ‘yes, I have caught some waves’ fills the air. The huge pier is the perfect vantage to take in the beach, skillfull surfers, the sunset and the easy-going good vibes of this place.
With no expectations at all, I was completely blown away by the amazing sceneries Highway 1 has to offer. Road tripping down from San Francisco to Los Angeles will make you realize how diverse California really is. Dramatic coastlines and cliffs, colorful and lush mountain landscapes, dry and vast flats – you name it – this road leads you to all of it. The area around Big Sur feels like from an old romantic movie and offers jaw-dropping views. Other parts of the steep coast remind me of Southern Italy and still others make me feel like I was in Ireland. Highway 1 is like driving through central Europe in only a few hours, except that it’s California.
Yosemite National Park
Arguably the most breathtaking place I have ever been to. You have certainly realized by now that I am more of the outdoorsy kind. Yosemite has therefore been on my bucket list for some time. Looking back now, I can say for sure that Yosemite is a place that should be visited at least once in your lifetime. Words or images cannot do any justice to this perfectly composed piece of nature. The views are stunning from about every angle. Granite icons and waterfalls seem to be everywhere you look. The combination of mountains, forests, rivers, meadows, lakes, valleys, rocks, trees, and waterfalls even seems surreal. Yosemite is a magical place. It’s like a window to another world. GO THERE and see for yourself!