Great travel content writing isn’t a matter of sitting a desk and dreaming of far-flung places. It is about experience. Our intrepid team of writers and editors are always on the move, discovering new and exciting places all over the world. It’s this persistent wanderlust that makes our travel content so authentic, evocative and, crucially, effective.
We’re always striving to seek out less-visited idylls like far-flung Easter Island, out-of-the-way Lewis and Harris and the tourist-light Gili Islands, as well as ticking off huge bucket list destinations like romantic Venice, sky-high Dubai and buzzing Bangkok. And that’s only the beginning – you’ll find lots more in the Our Travels blog series archive.
This month, it’s the turn of World Words writer Jemima to reflect on one of her recent travel adventures. Scroll on to read all about her 2019 vacation in San Francisco, including a mini road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway…
Why I went to San Francisco
While I’ve been to many other US cities before, none have ever quite had the same draw to me as San Francisco. Perhaps it was reading various novels set there when I was younger, or glimpsing it in TV shows like Charmed (a particular favourite of mine growing up). Whatever it was, I’d held a decade-long craving to see the city first hand. In the end, it was a last-minute trip in late December that finally took me to the City by the Bay. And though I was nervous that New Year’s Eve might draw in hordes of visitors, I was pleased to find a pleasantly quiet city awaiting.
My highlight of the trip
While there are many obvious must-sees in San Francisco (Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf are strong contenders), it was the quieter spots in the city which really stood out. Hopping on an old-fashioned streetcar was perfect for a first-timer like me: it’s just $2.50 and you can take it all the way through the city, skirting busy Pier 39 with its pods of seals, trundling past hectic Union Square, and stopping at The Castro – the unofficial gay village.
Even on a rainy winter’s afternoon, it was hard not to be cheered by sights such as a rainbow crosswalk, a huge multicoloured Christmas tree and the area’s famous LGBT flag. The Castro was the least touristy place we visited and had some great cafés – the crab cake Eggs Benedict special at Harvey’s is worth a walk through a downpour.
What else I love about California
San Francisco was just the first stop of my week long trip to California. The rest was spent cruising down the coast and making pit stops at seaside cities like Santa Cruz and Monterey, in addition to soaking up beautiful scenery at various State Parks. We opted for the quieter Pacific Coast Highway route, snaking through stunning, untouched countryside and past dozens of gorgeous beaches which, even in the winter, were populated by eager surfers.
I wasn’t expecting much from Santa Cruz, yet it ended up being one of the highlights of our trip. The boardwalk was quiet in winter, so we strolled leisurely along the pier to where holes cut into the wood gave us a clear view of sea lions attempting to drag themselves up onto the beams below. I got chatting to a friendly local man in his eighties who said he had walked down the pier every day without fail for almost all of his life. He encouraged us to come back in the early autumn, when you can spot humpback whales leaping out of the waves just offshore.
Why you should go
There are so many reasons why San Francisco should be on your travel wish list, from its monumental structures to its many different neighbourhoods which each have their own unique personalities. And when it comes to the wider Californian region – and particularly the Pacific Coast – there are so many spectacular natural wonders that make me desperate to return as soon as possible. While I ticked off whale watching and strolled through towering redwood forests, I’d love to trek up waterfalls in Yosemite National Park or learn how to surf in the Pacific Ocean.
How you can visit
You can fly directly into San Francisco International Airport from many other major US airports. There are also daily international flights from Europe, Asia and South America. Once you land in the city, catch a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) train into the centre or order an Uber or Lyft instead – they are not only convenient, but affordable too.
Discover even more great United States travel content on our projects page. Want to broaden your horizons? There’s content on the whole North American region here. And follow us on Twitter for the latest travel news.
– Article and photography by Jemima Forbes.