There's just something about California.
As a native of the state, I know of its allure for visitors all too well: the sun beating down on crowds during lazy rooftop poolside days, how desert terrain can turn to lush vineyards in a span of a few hours. Though I may be a bit biased, I believe California is the most diverse state in the country. Where else can you go from surfing in January to hiking between 350-foot redwoods year round? Because of its rich terrain, getting the most out of Cali is key. I recently experienced my home state in a matter of just four days, beginning in the south. Here's how you can do it, too.
Start in the south in San Diego, where coastlines and Mexican food alone make a visit worthwhile. In the heart of the city, art galleries, Old Town architecture and surfing lessons on 17 miles of beaches are just a few of your options. For a more intimate experience, L'Auberge del Mar represents the model southern Cali lifestyle; with the beautiful seaside village of Del Mar right outside its door. As part of the Destination Hotels collection, guests are certain to be in good hands. Bars, restaurants and some of the coast’s best beaches are in walking distance to the property. Treat yourself to a hot stone massage at Auberge’s spa, then let the ocean right outside wash away any worries. If that doesn’t work, you can’t go wrong with their spicy watermelon margarita. Promise.
Los Angeles (Proper)
Everyone has a story about Los Angeles, but it's the city's surrounding areas that really give you some space to breath and feel the true California vibe. Driving up the coast from the south, rugged cliffs give way to some of the most gorgeous views of sunsets and sea. Keep going and you’ll reach Terranea Resort, an eco-friendly haven containing four pools, eight diverse restaurants and stunning Pacific Ocean views. The Palos Verdes peninsula represents the best of California coast life with a warm village feel. In fact, it is my favorite drive; the roundabouts that lead to an endless ocean, the sound of flip flops against cement and rows of palm trees towering above. At Nelson’s restaurant, oceanfront dining lends views to Catalina Island and, if you’re lucky, dolphins in the distance. A favorite weekend getaway from many locals, Terranea’s location provides the perfect option for those wanting to see more than just the city of Los Angeles. In fact, you could easily never leave the property, though, if you do, L.A. is less than an hour away.
With a taste of true California beach life in your belt, it’s time to climb near Lake Tahoe. Just an hour flight from Los Angeles International Airport, Lake Tahoe is located on the border of California and Nevada, and 6,225 feet above sea level. Mountain terrain towers above cool lakes and hiking trails on the journey. Outdoors lovers can enjoy a variety of activities, including bike riding, rock climbing, paddle boarding and world class skiing. A family friendly getaway can be found at the Resort at Squaw Creek, located just minutes from the Lake and nestled at the bottom of the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains. Heated outdoor swimming pools are available year round and there is a kids club and golf course for children. In the evening, a glass of wine fireside is the perfect end to a day full of activity. Do not miss a lift up to Olympic Village, where the 1960 Winter games took place. At the top, a stunning view of the valley below and Lake Tahoe in the distance will leave you marveling over this wondrous state.
Kristin Braswell is a travel writer based in Brooklyn. You can follow her travels around the world and certified wanderlust on Instagram