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Tyler Florence’s Favorite Road Trips

Tyler Florence’s Favorite Road Trips
Chef Tyler Florence shares his top picks for the best drives and views in California

Chef, winemaker, and television host Tyler Florence fell for California through the movies. He recalls thinking, I want to be that person so bad—I want to ride a motorcycle to the desert. I want to see beautiful landscapes. I want to feel that sense of freedom.

When he moved from New York City to California, he turned that dream into a reality. For Florence, true luxury comes in those transcendent moments on his motorcycle that money can’t buy: the smell of the Pacific coming through the Golden Gate, the rich scent in forests of giant sequoias, and the sweetness of strawberries picked fresh. “I’m just in awe of how beautiful it is,” he says of his adopted state.

Inspired by Florence, here are three road trips and experiences that are guaranteed to create unforgettable California moments.

San Francisco to Point Reyes by Motorcycle

Even if you don’t own a bike to rival Florence’s custom Triumph, you can ride from San Francisco into Marin County and understand why he decided to move to California while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge one night. At Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals in San Francisco, pick up a bike and cruise cliffs along the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Marin Headlands.

Or follow one of his favorite routes over Mount Tamalpais, then drop to Highway 1 and head to Stinson Beach, where Florence’s family rents a house. “The views are breathtaking. The sunset—if you catch it just right—is magic,” he says. From Stinson, continue north on Highway 1 to Point Reyes Station, a hub for the Marin County food scene, including many of Florence’s artisanal purveyors, and the gateway to Point Reyes National Seashore.

Top Down in the Desert

Florence heads to the desert for breaks at the high-style Parker Palm Springs and to savor the region’s intangible magic. “The quality of the air is just so special there,” he says, describing it almost like a fine wine. “It’s sweet and it’s dry.”

Nothing beats a road trip in a convertible through the desert’s otherworldly landscapes. Famed for its golf resorts and sleek Mid-century Modern design, Palm Springs is the perfect place to start, especially if you can explore it from behind the wheel of an exotic car (select rental car locations in California offer premium vehicles).

For a great drive, climb from the Coachella Valley along State Highway 62 into the rugged high desert near Joshua Tree National Park. When he’s there, Florence stops for live music at Pappy & Harriet’s, a honky-tonk in Pioneertown. Then loop back to Palm Springs by driving south through the park, past surreal stands of twisting Joshua trees and giant stacks of boulders that draw rock climbers from all over the world.

Above Los Angeles

Florence enjoyed filming episodes of Food Nework's The Great Food Truck Race in Malibu, where cliffs over pristine beaches make for spectacular sunset views. As gorgeous as Malibu may be on the ground, it’s even more stunning by air.

Book a private flight with Elite Helicopter Tours and fly along the beach, catching glimpses of the Venice Beach Boardwalk and the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier. Once over Malibu, you’ll see the oceanfront retreats of moguls and megastars. You may also spot surfers riding the legendary break at Surfrider Beach near Malibu Pier. Then it’s time for sunset over the Pacific.

For a grand tour of L.A., try the company’s Ultimate Helicopter Tour, a 90-minute adventure that flies over Hollywood and Beverly Hills as well as the coast.