Cousin Barbara, the queen of the Berkshires, asked me to suggest a few highlights on her proposed trip to California this winter.  So I thought I’d let you all in on it as well.

Remember, this is a highlight tour along the coast.  There are dozens more things to do and see.  California has a wealth of wonderful cities, towns and activities.  Whether you have a week or a month, here we go:

San Diego

Areas to see and/or stay – Mission Bay/La Jolla/Downtown

–—good overview of the city

–        Balboa Park—trolly tour and two outstanding museums—Mingei International and San Diego Museum of Art

–        Other areas to see—Point Loma/Del Mar/La Jolla

On the way north about 120 miles to L.A.

–        Flower fields of Carlsbad Ranch—40 acres overlooking the Pacific east of 115 on Palomar Ranch Road—March/April

–        Dana Point—stay at Blue Lantern Inn (B&B), Ritz-Carlton or Montage Hotel

–        Laguna Beach—picturesque beach town—good galleries and the best Chico’s on Forest Avenue

–        Lunch at Hotel Laguna patio

–        Pageant of the Masters (summer)—unique theatrical experience

–        Newport Beach—delightful town of the rich and famous—harbor tour about one hour plus is terrific

–        Brea—the Nixon Library

–        Garden Grove—Crystal Cathedral now a Catholic church—not sure if they have tours yet

–        Santa Ana—Bowers Museum—a hidden gem—great patio lunch

Los Angeles area

–        Getty Museum—beautiful gardens, good cafeteria

–        Getty Villa—Roman mansion overlooking the Pacific

–        Frederick Weisman home—fascinating, eclectic art and furnishings—reservations required 310) 277-5321

–        Venice Beach on the weekend

–        Hollywood Bowl—summer nights

–        Downtown Los Angeles—Music Center, Disney Hall, Catholic Cathedral, Olivera Street

–        Huntington Library, Art and Gardens in San Marino

–        Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

–        California Science Center in Exposition Park—Endeavour Space Ship

–        Annenberg Space for Photography—Century City

–        Rodeo Drive—you know what’s there

–        Southwest/Gene Autry Museum


–        Beverly Hills—SPECIAL—Xian and Mastro’s Steakhouse

–        Café del Rey and Joe’s in Marina del Rey

–        Cheesecake Factory (lunch) in Marina del Rey

–        Century City Center—Seasons 52, Gulfstream and Toscanova

Stay at

–        Marriott or Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey

–        Century Plaza

On to San Francisco—on the coastal route about 382 miles—a great scenic drive along the Pacific Ocean.

The first stop can be Morro Bay, where Morro Rock jumps 570 feet out of the Pacific Ocean.  Great spot for biking or kayaking.

Cambria—33 miles north of San Luis Obispo, a delightful small town to stop at.

Next is Hearst Castle in San Simeon, a Mediterranean-style mansion built by the legendary William Randolph Hearst.  There are three different tours of this unbelievable, palatial European extravaganza.

Big Sur, in the heart of big trees and a dense forest, was the home of the actualization movement.  Nepenthe on the coast is a great lunch spot.

Next and a must see is the Monterey Peninsula.  It includes Carmel, Pebble Beach, the 17-mile drive by car and Monterey itself with the outstanding aquarium and Steinbeck’s Cannery Row (or what’s left of it).

Then it’s on to famed San Francisco, a treat in every direction.

Must see areas:  Fisherman’s Wharf—cable car to Union Square (both nice places to stay), and then there is Lombard Street, de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and Alcatraz.

Just north of the city you will find Muir Woods and Sausalito.  A little further north the Napa Valley with Oakville and St. Helena, and a host of wineries and outstanding restaurants.

Two very special treats a little further away are Lake Tahoe (188 miles) and Yosemite (197 miles).  If you have the time, both are very much worth seeing and experiencing.

Obviously you can break this up into two or three trips.  Each of the places I’ve mentioned has their own websites for up-to-date info.

If you need more help/info or want to make reservations, call Marlene Leitner at Plaza Travel 800) 347-4447.



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  1. what a great list. This is a real gem to be saved and shared.

  2. You should have been a corporate meeting planner.
    Oh Yeah, that’s what you did, duh!

  3. Art Schwartz

    Hey Jay … glad we found something you didn’t take me to task for. … ART

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