California Dreaming



The last few weeks have been tough.  For those of us who were here last term, we had finals, a short break and then straight back for summer.  For our newcomers, the last week or two have no doubt been dominated by trying to figure out room locations, textbooks, where to buy a cheap lunch and trying to remember numerous new names and faces.

So, I thought that this week, we’d have some light relief in the form of a whistle-stop tour of some of the most breath-taking and spectacular summer mini breaks away from the Bay Area.  And where better to start, than with…


  1. Yosemite

Go.  Just go.  Some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever get to see in your life.  Make sure you’re well prepared for hiking.  I wore trainers and took a tumble, so boots are advised.  We hiked the Upper Yosemite Falls and it’s not for the faint-hearted, but totally worth it if you’re fit enough. Which, by the way, I wasn’t…. The downsides are crowds, parking (we had to park and shuttle everywhere) and prices.  Check accommodation prices carefully – we found a beautiful hotel just outside the park for significantly less than anywhere inside.  But all the hassle was worth it; an experience that I – and you – will never forget.


  1. Tahoe

More accessible than Yosemite and, to my mind, plenty more to do.  South Lake Tahoe is my favourite summer destination – horse riding, hiking, paddle boarding by day and the shiny lights of the casinos by night. We stayed at the Hard Rock just last weekend, but do check dates carefully – as with anywhere, the hotels prices vary enormously depending on when you go.  Sometimes just a week’s difference can dramatically cut or increase costs….and there’s also the ubiquitous ‘resort fee’ to look out for.  North Lake has some beautiful towns too – the beaches around Incline Village are spectacular and you’re just a short drive from the historic mountain logging town of Truckee.  And if you’re car-less and just fancy casino time, I’ve also taken the Flixbus to nearby Reno.  Stay tuned to Facebook for Tahoe events over the summer – Lederhosen 5K, anyone?


  1. The Central Coast

Hearst Castle, elephant seal pups, crazy cocktails and a hotel bathed in pink.  Easter weekend was spent at the Madonna Inn near San Luis Obispo and my senses have yet to recover.  Everything was over the top; pink, garish, kitschy and utterly fantastic.  All rooms are themed – choose between time of your life (mardi gras), jungle rock, country gentleman or swiss belle to name just a few, When your eyes can focus again, make the short drive to the college town of San Luis Obispo, then head down the coast to immerse yourself in the pure joy that is Hearst Castle (but don’t step off the carpet.  They don’t like that).  Then end the day in Morro Bay, the quaint seaside town dominated by a massive rock and the smokestacks from a now defunct power plant.  Doesn’t sound like much.  But it really is.

Happy trails!  Where’s your favourite?  Email

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s