California is like a giant playground for entertainment, great wine, unique experiences, and unforgettable urban and natural settings that are bathed in sun for a good portion of the year. Whether you are looking for a bit of adventure, a much-needed relaxing getaway, or something in between, three of California’s major cities and surrounding areas have everything you are looking for and more.
If you are looking for a fun vacation for grown ups, consider San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego.
San Francisco is more than hills, trolleys, and tech start ups – although these definitely make the city distinctive.
For a uniquely San Francisco experience, check out the Golden Gate Bridge, visit Alcatraz , or ride one of the iconic San Francisco cable cars. Then visit Union Square for some of the best known shopping in the world. From the luxury stores on Maiden Lane to smaller boutiques, there really is something for everyone. You can also visit Fillmore Street that is lined with local boutiques and a surrounding vibrant nightlife. Or if you are in the East Bay, visit the Livermore Outlets for a luxury shopping experience in the oldest wine region in California (hint: pair your shopping with a wine tasting!).
The city also has great bars and lounges. But at 46 stories above street level, Cityscape San Francisco at Hilton San Francisco Union Square is the tallest sky bar in the city and something you don’t want to miss. After you are done shopping at Union Square, grab a cocktail and feel like you are flying high above the rest of the city.
While the city itself is fantastic, the surrounding areas offer a quieter experience where you can either get in touch with nature or find yourself in the lap of luxury. If you are looking for a bit of adventure, you might find yourself on any of the surrounding hiking trails. Lands End Trail is over three miles of nature and history within the city, Mt. Tamalpais (AKA Mt. Tam) is a local natural landmark, Marin County trails have gorgeous views and the historical 1855 Point Bonita Lighthouse overlooks the ocean.
What is a trip to Northern California without a visit to a winery? When you are staying in San Francisco, you are less than 90 minutes away from both Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley. Both are perfect for a day trip to experience good food and even better wine. You can choose something a little more lavish in Napa Valley or something a little more down to earth in Sonoma Valley. Rent a limo for the day, or join a tour, so you don’t have to worry about driving. There are almost 900 wineries to choose from between these two locations so all you will need to worry about is swirling your wine in the glass before you take that first sip.
For sunshine, beaches and all the glamour of Hollywood, there’s really no place like Los Angeles. Whether it’s your first time or 50th, there’s something new to discover in L.A. when it comes to planning your SoCal vacation.
Start with the renowned shopping in Beverly Hills and find your perfect souvenir photo among the palm-tree lined streets and the world’s most famous zip code. Visit the luxury boutique shops on Rodeo Drive and Canon Drive and see and be seen among the Italian-inspired architecture and Italian fast cars that line the street. There’s a shopping experience for every different type of fashionista (and some pretty wonderful places to dine too). Then, once you’ve shopped an icon, stay at one too at The Beverly Hilton . Marked with a storied past and present that includes the home of the Golden Globes and numerous Hollywood parties, follow the footsteps of many great entertainers that have passed through the halls of this celebrated hotel.
Nothing makes you feel more grown up than an AWOK (adults without kids) trip to The Happiest Place on EarthTM. A visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park ® proves it. From themed cocktails to upscale dining experiences, cap it all off with a ride on the Millennium Falcon or the newly opened Rise of the Resistance experience. Hop back and forth between the original Disneyland® Park and Disneyland® California Adventure Park and don’t forget the MaxPass (and the single rider line, just because you can) to make the most of your magical adventure. And speaking of magic, did you know that the magic shows you loved as a kid have gotten a makeover? Visit The Magic Castle where magic is taken to the next level at this exclusive, private clubhouse. Enjoy a wonderful steakhouse dinner with magic shows and surprises at ever turn at this classic Victorian-era mansion in Hollywood. You have to be a member or know one to make a reservation, but if you don’t know any magicians, don’t worry, we have a little secret for you.
After spending time exploring the city, don’t forget to take time to enjoy the best part of the west coast: the sunsets over the ocean. Los Angeles (and even further south into Orange County) has miles of beaches to choose from and depending on what you want as your backdrop, take time to explore them all. From the Santa Monica Pier to the sleepy beach cities in South Bay, there’s no better place to ask yourself the question again of why aren’t we living here already? Maybe it’s the state tax, or possibly the traffic but once your feet can touch the sand almost any day of the year, it’ll surely make you stop and wonder again. Pro tip: some of the beaches even allow you to hire a personal bonfire butler. When was the last time you had s’mores? Treat yourself at the Waterfront Beach Resort and enjoy them on the beach around your own private fire ring with a butler to take care of the mess.
After a late night on the beach, what could be better than some of the most amazing brunch options in the world? Nothing says grown up like great brunch and a table for 2 (or 10). More than just avocado toast (but mind you, we do that very, very well), Los Angeles has some incredible brunch spots to choose from, no matter what part of the city you’re in. République, Adamae (they even have bottomless mimosas!), Sqirl and Gjelina. Go fancy and make a reservation or find your way to the incomprehensibly delicious tacos at Leo’s taco truck at Venice and La Brea or wait your turn to try NBC Seafood with old school dim sum carts in San Gabriel Valley. Last, but not least, any discussion of brunch absolutely must include Drag Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s Bar and Grill – iconic in its own right and truly the perfect way to round our your fabulous L.A. itinerary.
Take advantage of the fact that San Diego is known for its great weather, beaches, and parks by planning a more laid-back getaway.
Balboa Park is a cultural hub within the city. While you are free to explore the park in its entirety, there are more than 16 museums, 19 gardens, and plenty of other opportunities to learn about San Diego’s rich history. There are a couple of spots you should in the park you should check out. At 37 meters wide and 24 meters tall, the Moreton Bay Fig Tree is one of the largest in California and it was planted in the garden in 1915. Of all the gardens, the 1935 Cactus Garden and the Japanese Friendship Garden have the most historical significance. One was developed by the park’s founders and the other is a symbol of the international friendship between San Diego and Yokohama, Japan with koi ponds and water features among centuries-old Japanese garden techniques. If you’re feeling artsy, check out the Photographic Arts Building and its galleries featuring local photographers.
One thing San Diego is known for is its craft breweries – there are over 215 breweries and tasting rooms in the city. One of the best places to visit in the city if you are looking for amazing, local craft brews is Miramar (AKA Beer-A-Mar). Twenty-five minutes from downtown San Diego, pick one of the local spots or hop around to a few breweries in one night. Local beer connoisseurs have their faves and a few that come up often are 32 North Brewing Co., AleSmith, Ballast Point Brewing, Mike Hess Brewing, and Pure Project.
We mentioned the great weather and what’s the point in visiting San Diego if you’re not going to enjoy it? Even if you aren’t a big fan of nature and the outdoors, you can still enjoy the many rooftop bars in the city. From incredible views to incredible cocktails, you’ll want to try somewhere new every day.
Located in the Carté Hotel San Diego Downtown, Above Ash Social is a rooftop pool and bar serving hand crafted cocktails. King and Queen Cantina brings a bit of modern Latin flavour to the area and a dance party vibe in its outdoor bar. Check out Fairweather, a cocktail bar overlooking Petco Park, and a great stop before watching the Padres play at home.
Regardless of whether you are looking for something a little more low-key, something that takes you closer to nature, or a luxurious getaway, California has three perfect options for your next grown-up vacation. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego offer something for everyone.