Picture it: in the dark, wet days of winter I plan a sunny SoCal family getaway 3,800 kilometres from our chilly, rainforest home. The goal: a few days spent staying in a stylish, bright boho disco Airbnb while we explore the increasingly not-so-hidden gems north of Joshua Tree National Park.
In my head: we’re heading to the slower-paced yet ever-so-funky Yucca Valley to stay to soak in some California sun. According to my research (and advertising by local tourism marketers) the average temperature in February is 24C. Balmy. Warm. Pool-friendly. Full of Joshua tree-filled hikes, visits to outrageously thrift stores, stars gazing events under sparkly, black skies. But the universe had other plans.
As road trips go, it’s safe to say that taking a journey along the Pacific Coast Highway on the California coast is one of the best around. Not only do you get to benefit from the glorious California sunshine, but the 1000 kilometres or so that you get to explore is a natural paradise too.
Incredibly scenic, the California coast drive sports some of the most amazing coastal views the USA has to offer. But you’ll also spot smaller villages, forests, and a vineyard or 10 along with way. If you were to take your time, the drive is around ten hours not stop. But if you’re hoping to make a few stops along the way, then here are five that you should think about going with.
Each Labour Day weekend for about five years a group of us would flee Vancouver to escape to a chain of lakes called the Shuswap. The agenda: three days of low-key, fun-as-heck cabin time. The chain of warm, clean lakes were ideal for fishing/boating/ kayaking/swimming and were a major draw for vacationers from B.C. and Alberta. Unlike, say, the Okanagan, the Shuswap area hasn’t been completely developed and polished. There are still trailer parks and gas stations that also pose as liquor stores/bakeries/ andgrocery stops. The chain of tiny lakeside unincorporated towns that fringe the north shore of the Shuswap are rough around the edges: they have volunteer fire departments, dusty community halls, karaoke-filled pubs and not a time share in sight (for the most part).
One such gem of an area is Celista, where my friend Lindsay’s family owns a cute little two bedroom cabin that’s straight out of the late 1970s/early 1980s. To get there, you have to drive through some tiny towns, past must-stop bannock seller, across some salmon bearing rivers and around a few hectic narrow turns to arrive at one of the best cabins I’ve ever hung my hat(s) in. Every Labour Day weekend, Lindsay’s family would let a gaggle of us carouse at the cabin while her and her then-partner James would play host and boat captain(s). Read more