An Expert Travel Guide to California
Our curated itinerary to the Golden State.
Traveling to the Golden State? Our fastidious Plum Guide home critics have scanned Cali from North to South to find the absolute best accommodation worthy of someone as
spoiled refined as you are. We know you want the comfortable mattress, the serious water pressure, the views for days, the contemporary kitchen and the chic designer touches. We also know you want to be well located and only travel to the very best places California has to offer.
This expertly curated California travel guide will take you from the city lights of Los Angeles to the starlight of Joshua Tree. All you have to do is pack your bags.
It would be almost foolish to put together a California travel guide and not start it with Los Angeles. The City of Angels is an absolute must-visit on the west coast, or as it’s lovingly known by most usually good-hearted and always overly enthusiastic Angelenos, the best coast. When you can stay in this trendy Los Feliz Mediterranean-style home complete with a dazzling swimming pool, we’re inclined to agree.
Wake up and head out for a hike because nothing screams LA like putting on your best designer workout clothes and hitting the trails. Enjoy a delicious smoothie breakfast and then make your way to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to exercise your most prized possession – your credit card. Next up is lunch at popular and beautiful Los Angeles institution The Ivy, a meal that will have you sighting celebrities and Hollywood heavyweights as you delicately stab at pieces of lettuce from their signature Grilled Vegetable Salad.
Spend the afternoon at the LA County Museum of Art or if that sounds like your personal idea of holiday hell, Malibu beach. Let the waves lap over your toes, watch the sunset over the Pacific and count your blessings that you didn’t end up extending your gap year to join a band.
Drive two hours east of Los Angeles and you’ll experience an entirely different landscape. Palm Springs, a relaxed city in the Sonoran Desert is famous for its healing hot springs, swanky spas, mid century-modern architecture and sprawling golf courses. One look at Palm Canyon Drive, its main shopping street, will have you running not walking to its many vintage boutiques, interior design stores and restaurants.
The nearby Coachella Valley offers visitors hiking, cycling and horseback riding trails. It is also home to the yearly music festival your teenagers have likely been begging you to let them attend for at least two years. Don’t miss dinner at local Mexican spot Las Casuelas Nuevas, serving up the best food in town since 1973.
Just a few minutes from the centre of Palm Springs lies this desert dream abode. A sociable outdoor space makes the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail while your kids swim in the refreshing pool. A fire pit will keep you warm on cool desert evenings after eating a family meal prepared on the Webber barbecue in the yard.
Just 40 miles northeast of Palm Springs is Joshua Tree, a magical place not to be missed when it comes to a California travel guide. Stay at this phenomenal, entirely mirrored glass house and you’ll be surrounded by the same nature that will mesmerise you when you visit the eponymous National Park. There’s even a 100-foot indoor pool so you can swim off the formidable amounts of alcohol you guzzled the night before at local saloon and live music hotpot, Pappy and Harriet’s.
While in town make sure to visit the Sky Village Swap Meet for real bargains on fabulous vintage fare. You may have to search a while to find the gems, but as the biggest shopper in your family will no doubt remind you when you tell them you might die if you stay another second, that’s all part of the fun.
As for the Joshua Tree National Park, it will require at least one dedicated day of your trip. Spend hours getting lost amongst the alien surroundings and make sure to bring a picnic from town for when you no doubt get hungry – walking all day is a real workout, especially at your age.
For relaxed beach vibes and a true California ambiance, San Diego is a must on our travel guide to California. Located about 90 minutes south of Los Angeles, this chill coastal city is known for its killer beaches, expansive parks and year-round temperate climate – in other words, sign us up.
Make sure to visit Balboa Park, home to the world famous San Diego Zoo, 17 museums, artist studios and beautiful gardens. Head to the harbour to get patriotic at the USS Midway Museum, housed on an actual aircraft carrier (is your inner nerd screaming yet?).
This adorable beach house in the posh La Jolla area makes the perfect pad to call home for a few days. You’ll be within walking distance to the sand and pro tip, your kids will give you extra love if you let them start their day with a surf lesson. You can get involved too if you’re
foolish brave enough.