Places that make my heart glad: California

Our recent trip down to Southern California made me think about this state we live in and how much I love it. We’ve lived in California for two years now – and we thin it’s amazing. We love the weather, the food, the wine and the lovely people! We love how laid back it is, how no-one blinks an eye at anything, how every park has toilets which are clean, open and non-vandalised (try finding that in the UK).  We’ve travelled round pretty widely within California, but its familiarity that make me love places. So there are a couple of places that we go back to time and time again. These are the places in California that make my heart glad.

Lake Tahoe

This is my favourite place in the entire state. It is so beautiful, looking so much like Sweden. I love the tiny little town of Tahoe City on the North Shore (I would honestly move there in a heartbeat if it were possible for the Husband to work from there). I love the cabins lining the lake, the Firesign Cafe on the West Shore and the endless hiking. The Husband loves the skiing. Neither of us love the glitz of South Lake Tahoe with its neon and casinos…but the rest of the place is my California heaven!!

Snowman with a view

Autumn leaves



I’ve talked about Sonoma before but this little town is so cool. It’s a great mix of ‘wine country’ (i.e. swanky, elegant, maybe a little pretentious) and basically an agricultural town with roadside taquerias . It has a fantastic Basque bakery which does the best baguette I’ve had in the States, and a lovely playground in the central park which the Dude adores. It’s set in a wonderful, beautiful valley lined with vines, where you can taste good wine – we discovered Pinot Noir here! I really love small-town communities and Sonoma is one of my favorites.

Rolling hills of vineyards

Autumn vines

Sonoma Old Town Square

San Francisco

It goes without saying that we love San Francisco but my favorite spot is the Warming Hut cafe right under the Golden Gate Bridge. The location is fantastic and the cafe does great coffee, cake, sandwiches and soups…and the gift shop is fantastic! I love it here.

My lovely Warming Hut on a sunny day (with fog)

Gold Country

A  fantastic little part of California, the foothills to the Sierra Nevada. We love camping in Coloma, the tiny town where the original nugget of gold that started the 1849 Gold Rush, and also Murphys, a pretty town in Gold Country where we spent a lovely weekend last winter. It’s set in an area that boasts mountains, forests and vineyards. Three things that make me very happy.

Lovely Murphys

Coloma, scene of the finding of the nugget that caused the Gold Rush

And finally…Huddart Park. We are lucky enough to live on the San Francisco Peninsula, which boasts a range of forested hills as its backbone. That’s actually basically the San Andreas Fault, but I try not to think about that. The steep sides are covered with redwoods, which I love and there are loads and loads of State Parks up there. My favourite is Huddart Park which we’ve hiked many times…and I’m going to start my trail running career there when I finally get my bum into gear!!! I adore it here – its SO peaceful, empty, lush and beautiful. It’s my local happy place!!

Little Boy in the Big Woods

If you’re a Californian…what have I missed? Where do you love? I’m always up for new places. Let me know.


PS… HOW could I have missed this place? Alice’s Restaurant – a biker cafe on Skyline Blvd, near Huddart Park and one of my favourite places to eat here!!! Apologies Alice. We love you!

Garlic fries to die for


About Cathryn

I'm from Wiltshire, a beautiful rural county in the south of England. My husband, son and I moved to California in August 2010 with my husband's job, whilst I stay at home with The Dude, our gorgeous five year old son. I love running and cycling. I'm a Christian. I am finally learning to cook (about time too). I'm loving exploring this new part of the world and meeting its wonderful people.
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11 Responses to Places that make my heart glad: California

  1. We went to a motorcycle rally in Sonoma. It was called Sonoma Fest or some name like that. You should check it out if you guys are into motorbikes. And who isn’t? 🙂 Super gorgeous there. I love that any time someone tells me that their friend is on a raw foods diet, I can say, “Is she/he from California?” And the answer is always yes. I wish we were as healthy in Alabama!

    • Cathryn says:

      I’m eating a raw carrot at the moment – clearly I’m a Californian!!! There’s also a motorbike show here in my town at the moment…the Dude gets so excited whenever we drive past it. You should come.

  2. Wow, those pictures are all stunning. Makes me really sad to be stuck here in the Midwest! LOL

  3. Jen says:

    I love Mendocino. You should definitely put it on your list for road trip vacations.

  4. i grew up in Cali, but not one of the most exciting parts so i’ll instead add to the list more places u SHOULD go…hehe. 🙂 i’m in LOVE with Santa Cruz, if I could live in any city in the world that may be the spot. u’ve hit San Fran which another that is close to my heart. if u go further south san diego is beautiful too. 🙂

    • Cathryn says:

      You know, I’ve never been to Santa Cruz…I keep meaning to and we never get there. Should I wait for the summer again or is it good in Winter too? We’ve been to SD, it was lovely, I agree.

  5. Bean says:

    If you get a chance you should head to the Monterey, Carmel and the Big Sur area. You can drive down highway 1, go hiking in Big Sur, head to Cannery row for clam chowder in a bread bowl and the aquarium in Monterey. Hit the beach in Carmel and hit the swanky shops for some window shopping. I love it there! Would be a fun weekend adventure. If you go to Monterey you should head to Compagno’s deli and split a sandwich, get the broccoli/grape/bacon salad and a huge slice of cake on the beach. So fun!:)

    • Cathryn says:

      We’ve been there before but just driven through, I think we need to go hiking as well!! Hopefully in the Spring we can do that – great idea!! And I LOVE clam chowder so much.

  6. Pingback: My first trail run. | My Heart's Content

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