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California Dreaming: A First-Timer’s Journey from LA to San Francisco

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

Over winter break, I flew to California for the first time, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The scenic views when you’re driving in California are to die for. There’s absolutely nothing like it on the East Coast. During my trip, I explored the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, each filled with its own unique buzz and energy. In no particular order, here are my TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills:

  • A stroll through this iconic fashion paradise is a must for anyone who loves glamor and luxury shopping. You’ll see brands like Prada, Dior, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, and more.

Santa Monica Beach at Sunset: 

  • The Santa Monica Beach provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Witnessing the sun dipping into the Pacific Ocean here is an unforgettable, picture-perfect moment. 

Hollywood Sign & Griffith Observatory:

  • Hiking up to this landmark offers stunning views and a close-up of the famous Hollywood sign. The Griffith Observatory also holds surreal views of Downtown Los Angeles.

Hollywood Walk of Fame:

  • Walking on the Walk of Fame and seeing your favorite actors and actresses on a star is a cool and uplifting experience. 

Universal Studios Hollywood:

  • A thrilling day of entertainment and roller coasters. My favorite rides were Jurassic World and Revenge of the Mummy.

Road Trip from LA to San Francisco:

  • This 8 hour drive along the coast is a journey through diverse landscapes and breathtaking views.

ATV Riding at Pismo Beach:

  • On the road trip to San Francisco, stopping by Pismo Beach and going ATV riding is a must. The sand dunes in the area are incredible and provide a completely incomparable driving experience.

Ice Skating at Union Square:

  • A Winter Wonderland activity in the heart of downtown San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Bridge: 

  • An engineering marvel that has astonishing views of San Francisco. Taking a ferry to go under the bridge and visit Alcatraz Island is a must. It is also a great place to go on a morning walk.

Exploring Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Chinatown:

  • These iconic spots are a must to visit when in San Francisco. It’s a combination of unique, charming, and culturally rich spots in the city. One of the best parts is that you can take a Cable Car to visit these spots! 

California has captured a piece of my heart. If you’re visiting California soon, use this as a travel guide for your trip! 

Kanika is a writer for Her Campus and is excited to explore the art of writing. This writer was born in Mumbai, India, but she's been in the U.S. almost all her life, except for a few years she spent living in Toronto, Canada. She currently lives in Cary, North Carolina and would love to move to Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or even back to Toronto post-graduation. Outside of Her Campus, Kanika is an engineering student at NC State University. She is currently in her third year and is majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Business Administration. Her goal is to become a software developer at a tech firm. Through her academic journey, Kanika has completed numerous internships at companies like Fidelity Investments, HP Tech Ventures, and Atticus. She was also selected to compete in a 24-hour Coding Hackathon at JP Morgan Chase & Co in Chicago, Illinois. Currently, Kanika works part-time as a Consultant for a edu-tech startup company and is a Student Brand Ambassador for Fidelity Investments. Some of her favorite things to do would be working out at the gym, playing sports, reading, listening to music, and watching TV shows on Netflix or Hulu. Some of her favorite TV shows are Friends, White Collar, Bridgerton, and Breaking Bad. Her all time favorite music artists are Travis Scott, Tate McRae, and SZA.