Do you like water or mountains?
Snow or surf?
Shopping or relaxing?
Yeah, I like all of them all too. Now, you’re probably thinking that California is a pretty big place and not really a very specific topic. You’re right. It’s huge and that why it inspired me. Some parts of the gorgeous Golden State are falling into the ocean whilst others are seeing less and less snowfall every winter. California inspires me because I don’t want to see it ruined as a result of what we’re doing to the planet.
San Francisco is my favourite city in the world and I don’t even really like cities. On the 4th of July, the fireworks over the bay are visible from every rooftop. Back in 2010, I watched from Telegraph Hill as the fog rolled in and blocked out half of them. The micro-climate that holds San Francisco tightly in its grasp is difficult to predict. Some days you can go out and get too hot in shorts and a T-shirt, then two days later you’ll need to take a sweater. Its the unpredictability of the city which always moves me. Whether it’s the weather, the people, the politics or the food, San Francisco never fails to show all of its visitors a good time.
Now, if you’re into your hippy chic and 80’s cult movies, you need to hit up Santa Cruz. Famed as the filming locations for The Lost Boys, Santa Cruz abides by the plot line and has remained strange for what seems like forever. The towering Giant Dipper Roller Coaster has been in the same place on the boardwalk since 1924 and has played host to over 60 millions visitors. Or if rides aren’t your thing, take a hike amongst the redwoods or surf the famed Steamer Lane instead. The nights in Santa Cruz are dedicated to great seafood, live music and sporting your excellent new thrift shop bargain. Everyone is welcome and the stranger the better.
Perhaps surfers, hippies, the whole alternative lifestyle isn’t really your thing. Perhaps you like glamour, glitz and name dropping. If this is you, then you need to get to Los Angeles. This sprawling country encompasses eighty-eight cities including popular tourist and celebrity hot spots like the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, Venice Beach and Santa Monica, for all your shopping and celeb-spotting needs. The last time I was in LA, I accidentally stumbled across the Gumball 3000 Ralley on Hollywood Boulevard. It’s a pretty surreal experience, all these amazing cars all lined up, their owners chilling outside the Kodak Theatre. Los Angeles is great for thrills. With every turn you’ll be faced with something being created for your entertainment. It’s not every city that goes out of its way to make sure it’s inhabitants are never left bored.
Finally, my favourite place in California is a little off the beaten track. It’s usually forgotten in the mix of huge cities and famous little towns that surround it to the north and south. When I stumbled across it, I realised that California is always out to surprise its visitors and its locals.
Situated on the central coast in San Luis Obispo county, Morro Bay is home to barely 10,000 inhabitants. I first visited in 2008 with my parents. Within about two hours of being there I met people I still speak to almost every day. It’s small, quiet but so full of character and personality that simply passing through isn’t enough for me.
Morro Bay is my home away from home. I decided to do my geography degree, get into journalism and start my company as a direct result of wanting to be able to start my life there. I can’t quite pin point the exact moment I knew this. I could have been when a cute guy behind the counter at the Top Dog Coffee shop gave me an extra half hour of internet for free. Then again it could have been when I ate my first shredded beef taco in Taco Temple.
I think it was probably the first time I watched the sun set over the rock. It was a beautiful evening, I’d had a wonderful day at the beach with some locals I’d met the day before and I felt a peace within myself I’d never felt before or since. It was my soul realising that this was the one place on the planet that I wanted to wake up every morning, have my children and give my contribution to the future sustainability of the planet.
Wherever you go in California you’ll find somewhere tailored to your needs. I hope you find it. I hope you’re all as lucky as I was to find that one place you never want to leave. I hope you all of your California Dreams become a reality.
About the Author: Kay Smythe – I’m a geography student at Plymouth University with an aim to do a masters in journalism after graduating. In my spare time I run the website GreenGen where we promote sustainable living. I also host M.A.D Nights to raise money for sustainability projects all over the globe.
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