Layovers like these are few and far between. A long layover in the US is pretty much unheard of so myself and a few of the girls on the crew took advantage of our three nights in California and set off on the ultimate layover adventure.
Our layover was actually in San Jose but we had other places on our list that we wanted to tick off before Silicon Valley. Our first day of exploring started with a road trip to San Fransisco.
It was a whirlwind day trip where we tried to see as much as of the city as possible.
Starting with coffee in Tartine in the Mission District. My obsession with almond croissants continues, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.
Followed up by a visit to the classic Painted Ladies.
Next up on the list was the tour of Alcatraz. Make sure to pre book tickets as it always sells out.
We got the ferry over to Alcatraz Island and did the two hour audio tour. After a fascinating insight into the history of this eerie island and prison we docked back in SF and grabbed some lunch.
First time trying the famous bread bowl clam chowder soup at Pier 39 was the next thing we wanted to tick off our list. We walked off lunch with a wander to see the seals frolicking by the docks.
Next up we put our car to the test by zigzagging our way down Lombard Street singing Phantom Planet’s “California” from the top of our lungs.
This brought us to just before sunset where we made it in time to the Golden Gate Bridge for the most perfect view of the stunning landmark.
We couldn’t leave SF without a visit to my favourite Mexican hole in the wall, Taqueria. Honestly I’m yet to find a place that serves better burritos than this joint. Their sign does not lie!
We started at dawn with a sunrise drive to Yosemite. Jet lag working in our favour we left San Jose bright and breezy at 5am. The drive to Yosemite National Park takes 4 hours. This takes you to the edge of the park, depending what you want to see in the park can take a further few hours driving.
Naturally that meant a few pitstops for coffee along the way. How cute are the service stations in California?!
We had three points we wanted to tick off on our Yosemite list.
A beautiful lake right on the Western edge of Yosemite and the nearest point to drive to from San Jose. We were visiting in off season so everything was closed, so we just enjoyed our time chilling by the lake before jumping in the car and heading to the next view point.
Yosemite Tunnel View:
This is one of the most iconic views of Yosemite National Park. The excitement level was sky high as we arrived out of the tunnel and the vista unfolded in front of us. We parked up and enjoyed the spectacular views of Yosemite Falls.
We also pulled over a few miles before the tunnel to take in the view without the crowds, as be prepared to wait your turn for a picture without hoards of people in the background from the constant bus tours stopping by.
Shortly after the Tunnel View, the Four Mile Trail is the next point you’ll want to stop at. You can walk as little or as much of this trail as you like. We got slightly distracted by the stunning waterfall about ten minutes into the walk.
Back in the car we drove to our next point:
The parking point is about a mile from the lake which is a great excuse to get out the car and stretch your legs for a good while. The round trip walk took us about an hour and was totally worth it.
Walking amongst the stunning forest which opens up to the beautiful Mirror Lake with the backdrop of towering rocks. California is experiencing a drought at the moment and unfortunately we didn’t get to see the lake in all its glory as it was about 30% full. It was however, still stunning.
The drive back through the park was a shorter journey this time as we were heading directly out West. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you’ll actually spend in the car driving. We set off from our hotel at 5am and didn’t return until 9pm that evening. Most of our day was spent in the car driving either to and from the park or driving through it. Although it was completely worth it for the rugged landscapes and raw beauty that stood before us.
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This is an epic road trip! I love how everyone who visits Yosemite can have a special experience! This definitely makes me want to visit again and San Francisco!
Aww love it! Yeah it’s so true because its so big that I feel like if I returned my next experience will be totally different. Would love to see it during proper winter with all the snow too!
Wow this looks great. We were thinking of doing a day trip to Yosemite whilst staying in San Francisco last month, but ultimately decided to do Yosemite another time rather than ‘wasting’ a full day driving. But it is still on the bucket list and part of me wishes we’d done it regardless.
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