Taking the Open Road in the USA

Is there a place on earth that can beat the vast expanse and wild beauty of the USA for a totally unforgettable road trip?  We’re not sure there is.  Road trips are becoming increasingly more popular with couples and families and there is no better way to switch off from the stress of work and mundanity of everyday life, than to drive through this mammoth country, with the windows down (and preferably roof off), the wind blowing through your hair as you sing along with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.  In the USA, you are spoilt for choice with awe-inspiring rock formations, immense national parks and rugged coastal roads.  Everything here happens on a huge scale; not only the vast open road and seemingly endless horizons, but the cars themselves and the portions served in the restaurants along the way.

A great drive, and one of our favourites, is through the Golden State of California on a loop from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  Taking in the incredible Yosemite (Yo-sem-it-ee) National Park with its oversized mountains, mighty waterfalls and stunning hiking trails.  Stop in Monterey for whale watching and the notable Monterey Bay Aquarium before shopping in the quaint town of Carmel (famed for having Clint Eastwood as its Mayor).  Don’t miss 17 Mile Drive just outside Monterey which runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach (the exclusive area where various celebrities live in their oversized mansions) and widely recognised as one of the world’s most scenic drives.  Head out of Carmel on Route 1 which hugs the coast all the way down to Los Angeles, with endless photo opportunities of waves crashing into the rocks and California Condors and Red Tailed Hawks circling above you.  Make a stop in Big Sur for lunch and a deliciously chilled glass of California Chardonnay at The Post Ranch Inn, which is adult only, and offers some of the best clifftop views in the area.  Explore Hearst Castle which was once the home of William Randolph and now a historical monument.  Enjoy an adrenalin-fuelled sand buggy adventure on Pismo beach before having a go at paddle boarding along the shore at Santa Barbara.  Finish in Los Angeles for some star spotting in the Hollywood hills, incredible shopping on Rodeo Drive and fun on the beach in Santa Monica.

Know before you go:

  • Drive on the right hand side of the road!
  • The colours on the petrol (gas) pumps are the opposite to the UK i.e. green = diesel and black = unleaded
  • Don’t attempt to pay at the pump as international credit cards don’t work. You either have to pay upfront in the office or leave your card with the cashier while you fill up the car.
  • You can turn right on a red light (unless it specifically says you can’t) giving way to pedestrians who might be crossing.
  • At a four-way junction, whoever gets there first has priority over others.
  • Definitely get a sat nav, but have a map/directions as back-up. There’s always a chance the sat-nav will let you down, especially as you get further out into the sticks.

Contact Melissa Matthews for more information and advice on holidays to California on +44 (0)1242 787800.

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