Travel Thoughts by Kim

By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 19 February 2022 at 3:00 pm

Let’s go on an adventure together….Along the West Coast!

A beautiful arch in the gardens at the Mission at San Juan Capistrano near Long Beach, CA.

The first time I visited California was many years ago on a work related trip to Los Angeles. I spent three or four days there for a seminar and during my evenings I did all the touristy stuff in Hollywood – Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Griffith Observatory (where Rebel Without a Cause was filmed), downtown (Rodeo Drive), etc. I had upgraded my rental to a Mustang convertible and drove a ways up the Pacific Coast Highway – wow that was amazing! I also took a drive up Mulholland Drive – I’d seen it so many times in movies. Then, I tacked on a couple vacation days to take a side trip for a long weekend visiting a friend near Sacramento. We took day trips to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and another day to Lake Tahoe – so beautiful. Until 2017, that was my only taste of the West Coast. 

In 2017, I took about 15 days and did the West Coast top to bottom. What a trip that was! I originally was just going to take a West Coast cruise. But, I kept adding onto it….you, know….while I was out there and all!

If you’re ever in San Francisco, be sure to include a visit to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It is a stunning walk through gardens and architecture.

I flew out to San Francisco on March 25th and got on Princess Cruise Line’s Grand Princess cruise ship. The cruise was one week long and made stops at Santa Barbara, Long Beach, San Diego, and Ensenada, Mexico. It was wonderful! I think it is up there as one of my top three cruises. When we left the port, we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was pretty cool. I saw so many wonderful things on the excursions at each stop. In Santa Barbara I did wine tastings and time at an authentic Dutch village. In Long Beach, I skipped the LA/Hollywood attractions because I had done them before. Instead, I took a tour that included time at The Mission at San Juan Capistrano and lunch in Laguna Beach – both were incredible! When we got to San Diego, I chose a harbor cruise and saw lots of critters, sky divers over the harbor, and sights along the shore. I didn’t get off the ship in Ensenada – there were only a couple excursions offered and none really interested me and some of the other passengers who had been there before said there wasn’t much to do on your own. I kind of regret that decision – I really should have done “something” other than lounge pool-side for the day, but that’s OK, I’d been to Mexico before, so wasn’t passing up the chance to say I’d been there.

The cruise returned to San Francisco and I spent a few days there. I stayed at a wonderful hotel called the Cow Hollow Inn on the corner of Lombarde and Steiner Streets – GREAT location and very nice rooms! I did a lot of wandering around on my own and taking hop-on-hop-off tours to see the city – including the Golden Gate Bridge, an awesome Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, the Haight-Ashbury district, Fisherman’s Wharf, China Town, all the stunning architecture, and so much more! I took a couple day bus trips – one to Napa Valley and Sonoma and one to Muir Woods and Sausalito. Both tours were amazing – wonderful wineries, gorgeous landscapes, and those magnificent, massive trees!

A must see in Seattle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum – simply incredible. It is located near the Space Needle and you can get a combo ticket that includes admission to the Observation Deck on the Space Needle and the Chihuly museum.

Then, I took the Coast Starlight Train from San Francisco to Seattle. It is an overnight train ride through northern California, Oregon, and ends in Seattle, Washington. It was a wonderful experience. The train actually starts in San Diego – someday, I’m going to do the entire trip. I spent two days in Seattle, staying at the Hyatt Seattle Downtown – another perfect location! I was able to walk to the Space Needle, where I took the elevator to the observation deck and had lunch in the revolving restaurant. In that same area, I popped into the Museum of Pop Culture and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum – that was stunning!!! I spent a day at the Public Market and watched the fish mongers throwing fish at Pike Place Fish Co. I also took an impromptu Duck Tour – an amphibian vehicle that took us around the city and splashed down in the harbor for a cruise. 

So… about 15 days, I saw the west coast from top to bottom, covered three states and two countries, and did it all using planes, trains, automobiles, ships, and boats!!! Can’t beat that with a stick, huh?

Visit these blog posts for more information and photos from my West Coast Adventure: 

The Overview

Santa Barbara

Long Beach

San Diego

San Francisco

Japanese Tea Garden 

Napa Valley / Sonoma 

Muir Woods / Sausalito 

Coast Starlight Train


Happy Adventuring,
Kim Pritt