Readers Share Their Favorite California Travel Tips

Glass Beach.Credit…Megan Conlon

For more than a year, we’ve been asking you for tips on exploring the Golden State — and you’ve been delivering.

California is treasured for its natural beauty, and you’ve recommended hundreds of the best places to soak it all in. The darkest desert campsites to see the stars, the best road trip routes to the world’s biggest trees or just your favorite hiking trails in your regional park.

Today we’re offering a highlight reel of sorts. Recently, many of you have written to us about trips you’ve taken within the state that were inspired by reader suggestions published in this newsletter. It’s been lovely to see how delighted you’ve been to discover, or rediscover, California and all its wonders.

Below, I’m sharing some of the notes and photos you sent in from your trips, which will hopefully provide some inspiration for future vacations. As always, please keep sending us your favorite places to visit in California by emailing us at [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Enjoy your travels.

The Noyo Headlands Trail in Fort Bragg.Credit…Birgit Nielsen

“I followed a contributor’s suggestion, traveled to Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, rented a bicycle and rode the Noyo Headlands Trail. Breathtaking views of the Pacific; beautiful, warm temperature; and an ample supply of benches to stop and take in the scenery. Followed by a double-scoop waffle cone from Cowlick’s Ice Cream. During the Whale Festival in March, you get the chance to view the skeleton of a blue whale that washed ashore in 2009. Highly recommended.” — Birgit Nielsen, Flensburg, Germany

“In mid-October, I met my friend who lives north of Bishop for a few days of hunting for the best fall colors in the Sierra. The first day we went north from Bishop up towards South Lake, and found wonderful colors on the aspen, just after sunrise but before the sun lit up the slope. Nothing can beat the aspen in fall.” — Steve Ziman, San Rafael

Point Reyes National Seashore.Credit…Samantha Kahn

“Although my best friend and I have lived most of our lives in San Francisco, neither of us had spent much time at Point Reyes. We did everything in the recommendation — we walked at Abbotts Lagoon, where we did indeed see river otters as well as great herons and other birds; had lunch in Point Reyes; bought three cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery and T-shirts at Point Reyes Books; and got ice cream at Palace Market. We also drove up to the elk preserve, hoping to see some elk, and half a mile inside the gate we saw a herd just off the road. It was the best day I’d had in a long, long time.” — Samantha Kahn, San Francisco

“My husband and I recently moved from Pennsylvania to San Diego. We traveled to the Bay Area to have Thanksgiving with friends, and we stopped on the way at San Juan Bautista, which was recently described in your newsletter. It is such a quaint and historic town. We walked all around the mission and the state park there. We meandered down the street with its beautiful wood benches and prickly pear trees noticing all the shops and restaurants.

The Botanical Garden at U.C. Berkeley.Credit…Crystal A. Moore

“The San Juan Bakery in San Juan Bautista did not disappoint. I got a beautiful crocheted hat there for $10, and we ordered a couple of the apricot hand pies, which were the best I have ever had! We circled back to the bakery and bought more for our friends. We will definitely go back to enjoy this historic town.” — Celine Evans, San Diego

I visited Lands End trail in San Francisco, inspired by the newsletter. I was living in Chicago at the time and knew I wanted to move to California. My first time in California was so wonderful, confirming my desire to live in this beautiful state, and that hike is one of my favorite memories from my solo trip.” — Hanna Hixson, Los Angeles

More on California

  • Covid State of Emergency: The state’s coronavirus emergency declaration, which gave Gov. Gavin Newsom broad powers to slow the spread of the virus, is set to expire on Feb. 28.
  • In the Wake of Tragedy: California is reeling after back-to-back mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.
  • Fast-Food Industry: A law creating a council with the authority to set wages and improve the conditions of fast-food workers was halted after business groups submitted enough signatures to place the issue before voters next year.
  • Medical Misinformation: A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new law allowing regulators to punish doctors for spreading false or misleading information about Covid-19.

Nancy Pelosi with Adam Schiff at a news conference on Capitol Hill in 2021.Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

The rest of the news

  • Feinstein’s Senate seat: Representative Nancy Pelosi said she would support Representative Adam Schiff’s bid for the U.S. Senate if Senator Dianne Feinstein decides not to run for re-election next year, CNN reports.

  • Tom Girardi: The former high-profile trial lawyer known for winning a record settlement for the environmental activist Erin Brockovich has been indicted by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and Chicago on charges that he embezzled more than $18 million from clients.

  • Vaccine mandates: California officials are quietly ending their plan to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for schoolchildren, EdSource reports.


  • Jill Biden: The first lady plans to visit San Diego this week to discuss details of the administration’s “moonshot” initiative on cancer and her Joining Forces initiative, which helps military families, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

  • Costco homes: The first Costco in south Los Angeles could be built with 800 apartment units, KTLA reports.


  • Police officer killed: An on-duty Selma police officer was fatally shot on Tuesday while responding to a resident’s concern about a “suspicious man,” stunning many in the small city just southeast of Fresno, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Zogg fire: Pacific Gas & Electric will face trial for manslaughter over its role in the Zogg fire, which killed four people in 2020, The Associated Press reports.

  • Olympic Valley may get a makeover: A new proposal for a 94-acre recreational tourist and housing development near Lake Tahoe is being met with hesitation from residents, The Mercury News reports.

  • Farm to table: California-grown fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meats grace the cafeteria menus in the Mount Diablo Unified School District, defying stereotypes of low-quality school food, The Associated Press reports.

Kay Chun’s smoky tomato carbonara.Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times.

What we’re eating

Valentine’s Day dinner ideas and recipes.

Credit…The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles.

Where we’re traveling

In the Fairfax District in Los Angeles, the Original Farmers Market.

Tell us

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’re asking about love: not who you love, but what you love about your corner of California.

Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at [email protected].

And before you go, some good news

At the intersection of the 15 and 395 freeways, where the Cajon Pass stretches out of the San Bernardino Mountains, rows of 18-wheeler trucks are parked behind an A-frame building.

The building is a roadside diner called the Outpost Cafe, with leather booths, turquoise bar stools and the aroma of frying oil and hot coffee. For many truckers, the restaurant, which serves items like chicken-fried steak with eggs and bacon, is considered the best in all of California, Eater L.A. reports.

Truckers will “go 50 miles out of their way to come here because it’s good hometown cooking,” said Sherry Spearow, who’s been a server at the restaurant in Hesperia since 1992. “Mom-and-pop places are few and far between, and most of the truck stops now are taking the restaurants out and putting in fast food.”

Scott Colon, a truck driver based out of Arizona, recently finished delivering a load from Tucson, Ariz., to Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. Tired and hungry, Colon decided to make the trek to what he called “the best food in California.”

“I came 110 miles, even though I have to go in the other direction, just so I can eat here,” Colon said.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Isabella Grullón Paz and Allison Honors contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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