Australia via America – California dreaming on the way Down Under

So first up I have to confess, I have been to California twice and each time not on the way to or from Australia (more’s the pity!). I spent a few days in San Francisco on the way back from (shh) New Zealand a couple of years ago, and last week I was in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Confession over, I did want to share a few fun things to do and great places to stay in California if you decide to head across the pond (Atlantic) before the Pacific.

And if you want to know how to combine California with Australia have a look at these options just for starters from Round the World Flights – they’ve got fares that include California stops in America on the way Australia from £998 (including tax) so it won’t cost you as much as you might think to do two fab continents in one trip.

Here’s my round up of hotel recommendations and things to do for California city stopovers:

Argonaut Hotel, San Francisco www.argonauthotel.com

Interior image of the Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Our room at the boutique Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

This hotel is lovely! I picked it for a few reasons:

  1. It was by Fisherman’s Wharf but not right ON it. Only a few minutes walk away from the hustle and bustle, but just the right distance.
  2. It was also easy to hire a bike from the Argonaut to cycle along the paths to near the Golden Gate bridge. The hotel was really nicely done, and fun! The attached restaurant – the Blue Mermaid – was pretty good (nice chowder) and child-friendly too. The hotel is also right next to a ‘turning’ point for a cable car that went right into the centre of the city.
  3. Oh, and the free wine every evening had nothing (ahem) to do with my decision making.
Image of me and small person on bike ride to see Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Me and small person on our bike ride to see the Golden Gate Bridge through the mist...!

Things we did in San Francisco: hired bikes and cycled along the marinas and paths to by the Golden Gate bridge, ate lots of Sourdough, went to the Aquarium, walked down Lombard Street (the super-steep zig-zag street of Steve McQueen”Bullitt” fame), explored China Town, went to Union Square.

Sheraton Delfina, Santa Monica, Los Angeles www.sheratondelfina.com

Image of the view from Sheraton Delfina, Santa Monica,  towards the beach

Early morning view from my room at the Sheraton Delfina, out towards Santa Monica beach

I chose the Sheraton Delfina after I decided it was too much of an indulgence (and twice the price!) to stay at the iconic Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica :) Was a good choice though as the Delfina is only 4 blocks away (a 5-minute walk) from the beach (and Shutters) so easy to head there for brunch or just to stroll on the prom (boardwalk) and pier.

The Sheraton has a pretty cool looking lobby, with a nice bar area and super cute pool out the back. Super-friendly staff, and the views from the sea view rooms are pretty good! I was on the 8th (out of 9) floors and could see all the way to Malibu and the hills beyond, across LA for a long way and to the sea which was great.

It’s a short walk to the beach and also near to the new Santa Monica Place shopping mall (which has a great ‘Dining Deck’ with sea views on the top floor), and then 3rd Street promenade after it (shops, restaurants, bars and movie theatres).

Image of Lucy at Santa Monica beachThings I did in Los Angeles: went to Hollywood and walked the walk of fame. Went to the Hollywood Hills for a photo with the Hollywood sign (if I’d had enough time I’d have hiked and gone horse riding too!), walked Santa Monica boardwalk to ‘muscle beach’, learnt Trapeze on Santa Monica pier (really!), had cocktails at the Viceroy, ate at Whole Foods, shopped…

Other hotels… Next time I may stay at the Viceroy as the cocktails and food were absolutely incredible, the location is brilliant (it’s literally behind Shutters on the beach, so one street back from the sand), and even nearer to the shops :)

Hyatt Mission Bay Spa and Marina, San Diego www.missionbay.hyatt.com

Image of Hyatt Mission Bay Spa hotel San Diego view and pool

Hyatt Mission Bay Spa and Marina hotel view and pool from 4th floor 'Tower' room

Now I didn’t choose this resort as we were attending an event here but I have to say: well done event organisers! What a lovely resort for a ‘big’ hotel. The arrival experience is great – views through a breezy open reception to a beautiful tropical garden with cabanas.

I had a room in the ‘tower’ which meant fantastic views across all the pools and the bay beyond. The hotel is right by a gorgeous marina, and there are lots of rooms directly onto the water too. Also makes for a nice running route in the morning (looking out for Pelicans and the resident seal).

Service was brilliant. We ate in the hotel every day (lots of options – Red Marlin especially good) and the food was all delicious. The rooms were also HUGE. And the beds super comfy.

Things I did in San Diego: erm, not a lot… we were at an event that had a super-packed agenda so didn’t get much chance to explore… if we had had time though Sea World was practically next door, and I could see the roller coaster at Belmont Park from my window :)

Image of our SD Luxury Transportation car and driver

Our SD Luxury Transportation limo and driver Joey (AKA Robert Downey Junior...?)

Getting from Los Angeles to San Diego is easy. It only takes around 2 hours to drive between the cities and if you like to arrive in style get a driver (we did – from these guys)

So there’s my quick California roundup for stop over cities on the way to Australia.

I realise its not a comprehensive guide! So if you need some more help and ideas for what to do and where to go on a West Coast America stopover to Australia then have a chat with Round the World Flights, Freedom Australia or Bridge & Wickers.

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