This article is brought to you in partnership with Visit California
This last year (and a bit) changed the way we lived everywhere in the world. If we were told at the beginning of 2020 what was to come, no one would have believed. One of the things that I miss the most (and all my readers) is, of course, travelling.
One of the things I am looking forward to the most, once travel restrictions are lifted is to get on a 12-hour British Airways flatbed to one place: my beloved California.
As you may know (or now you do), it is, undoubtedly one of my favourite places in the world, and one we keep returning to year after year. For the last 15 years, my husband and I only skipped 2020.
But once we are able to travel (borders reopen on November 8th 2021), it will undoubtedly be our first long haul journey will be to the Golden State. Vaccination levels are one of the highest in the world (we are double vaccinated ourselves, so we are literally waiting for the green light – and in our case, permission to travel as our adoption is not yet final).
Once this is all over, I want and need a proper California blowout trip – I want to see the Pacific Ocean (and even swim in it), I want to feel the heat of the Palm Springs desert on my bones (I really miss it), and I want to fill suitcases which the incredible shopping. (Top secret: I have been indulging during the last year and some dear friends have kindly been shipping boxes of my online purchases to us. Recently, all our new outdoor cushions were shipped from Newport Beach, California. Napkins and tablecloths are coming from San Luis Obispo and Manhattan Beach. I could be making this up, but I am not!).
I want to eat some wonderful California Mexican food. I want to have an epic seafood meal with an outdoor fireplace in La Jolla. I want to have sunset cocktails in Malibu. I miss the pool (and the martinis) at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. I want to have blow-dries (or blowouts in local lingo) before a fabulous dinner in Newport Beach. I want to have pizza and pinot in Sonoma. You get the picture. I miss California dearly and I know many of you do too.
So in the spirit of ‘preparing for much better things to come’, Visit California has asked me to share some of my favourite moments and ideas from two very special places: San Diego and Greater Palm Springs.
These two places have something quite interesting: there’s a road connecting them (literally), direct flights with British Airways from London Heathrow, and the contrast couldn’t be starker: the ocean and the desert.
We have been to San Diego 4 times before and have always really enjoyed it as it offers something quite different: the excitement of the downtown (perfect for the evening), and the beach proximity, which is obviously a must in California.
On our last trip, we stayed at The Pendry (which really sexy, modern and very grown up). Located in the Gaslamp District, we were spoiled for choice of what to do each evening. We enjoyed a great Mexican meal at Puesto at The Headquarters (probably a little bit too much as the spicy margaritas were really something) and ended our evenings at The Shout House (a place we always seem to visit on each trip).
We loved returning to La Jolla, where we had an epic drone flight (see the video below) and another staple meal (which we always repeat when we visit): epic seafood and views at Eddie V.
But my favourite surprise? Returning to Coronado. The legendary hotel is having a refurbishment and the new restaurants looked very good but I discovered something that you don’t see often in California: sun loungers at the beach. Open to non guests, it meant that we returned to this little island every day for a few hours so enjoy some sunshine. It really added to our San Diego experience (and I know it will appeal to most of my European readers).
Greater Palm Springs
Palm Springs is one of ‘our’ happy places. We religiously return every Summer (when it is super hot – something we love) and I literally cannot wait.
We have been renting the same house for a few years now – because there are some truly amazing villas to rent and we have enjoyed the concept of not sharing a pool or anything with anyone. In current times, it is a very valid proposition.
But there are quite a few new hotels, and we will check them out on a future trip.
We have discovered one of the best reformer pilates instructors in the world in Palm Springs: Sean Bergara at Ecore Fitness will be seeing us daily during our stay (I highly recommend booking a class as he is out of this world). See? Palm Springs makes us better people! ha!
The food in the Greater Palm Springs area is really good – plenty of variety and the shopping is also excellent. From El Paseo in Palm Desert to the fab Desert Hills Premium Outlets under an hour away, those empty suitcases will have no trouble filling themselves.
And when it gets hot, I shall take a trip up the aerial tramway and enjoy the stunning views.
In the video below you can see some glimpses of a previous trip.
And top secret: Marilyn is back!
When can we return to California?
Borders open on 8th November 2021 to vaccinated UK travellers (and other nationalities) and even this late in the year, California’s weather will not disappoint anyone.
You bet we will be on the first plane and the first flat bed from London Heathrow to San Diego with British Airways.
So when I hear California calling me, you bet I will take that call.
Check out my California Guides below:
- California Travel Guide
- Best Things to Do in California
- Best Places to Visit in California
- Best Places to Stay in California
- When to Visit California
Need to know:
Start planning your California trip and get some inspiration straight from Visit California
Book now and you can change later with British Airways’ flexible booking options. If your plans need to change and you were due to complete your trip before April 30 2022, then you can claim a voucher to the value of your booking that can be used as full or partial payment for your next trip, valid for travel until April 30 2023.