Make the most of your Californian adventure – hire a car, customise your adventure, and kick up the dust on one of these incredible road trips. Local writer Mark Ellwood shares three of his favourite routes.
Northern California Triangle
Best for… natural world wanderers
The journey: San Francisco – Lake Tahoe – Yosemite (8 nights)
Begin in the city by the Bay – San Francisco for three nights. Remember to pack a pair of comfy shoes to tackle the notoriously undulating hills, or hop on one of the three remaining cable car lines to scale the steepest slopes. The least-crowded is the California Street car, which easily rides high to Nob Hill with spectacular view, including the so-called Painted Ladies on the southeast slope of Alamo Park – they’re superb examples of San Francisco’s gingerbread house-like Victorian dwellings.
Indulge in some outdoorsy pursuits in Golden Gate Park, where the winding paths and landscape studded with copses make ideal terrain for jogging or biking. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, hit the foodie mecca of the Ferry Building Marketplace, an erstwhile commuter terminal repurposed as a gourmet mall – try the tantalising bourbon and cornflake ice cream at Humphry Slocombe.
Where to stay: Take a break at the cool and quirky Hotel Argonaut, set along Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran. Rest easy at this four-star waterfront retreat, before getting back on the road.
Arrive to the scenic 72-mile shoreline of Lake Tahoe, it’s beautiful whatever time of year you visit.
Hire a car and make tracks north-west to Lake Tahoe for a two night stay. The sat-nav might try to take you across the Oakland Bay Bridge, but be sure to drive across the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and hairpin back as soon as you reach the other side – the viewing area there is the best vantage point for snaps of both bridge and city. Arrive to the scenic 72-mile shoreline of Lake Tahoe, it’s beautiful whatever time of year you visit.
Come summertime, cruise along to find an epic picnic spot. Check out the glistening Emerald State Park and grab a paddle board, or glide across the turquoise waters by kayak. Whether you want to go on a couple’s hike or make a splash in the lake with the family – adventure awaits everyone. Looking to rejuvenate? Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Taste of Tahoe events along the south.
In wintertime, discover powder-pillow skiing in the Squaw Valley and mesmerising resorts beyond. Discover this premier ski destination, with an abundance of snow-covered resorts surrounding the largest alpine lake in the US. Soak up the laid-back mountain lifestyle, hire a pair of skis or hop on a snowboard. In March, join the Winter Wondergrass festival in North Tahoe, bursting with music and great beer.
Where to stay: Choose the beautiful lakefront Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, in the north of Lake Tahoe. Savour a lavish sanctuary for the perfect year-round stay. Or venture to the south of Lake Tahoe and stay at Harveys Lake Tahoe, surrounded by enchanting scenery – brilliant for both summer fun and winter ski, with the Heavenly Ski Resort on your doorstep.