This podcast explores the people, places, and experiences that help make California such a fascinating travel destination. Host Soterios Johnson, a veteran radio journalist and former host of NPR’s Morning Edition on WNYC in New York City, is a relative newcomer to California and uses the podcast to learn more about his adopted home state. In each 20-to-30 minute episode Johnson interviews a variety of insiders—travel experts, chefs, local guides, and many others—as he looks to build out his personal To Do list in the Golden State.
In the first episode of California Now, Johnson speaks with travel expert Samantha Brown about her new PBS TV series, Samantha Brown’s Places to Love. Brown and her crew visited Big Sur and Monterey Bay for season one of Places to Love and they found plenty to rave about.
“I’ve gone there a few times,” Brown said on the podcast, “and it's just amazing that on one side of the street, the Pacific Coast Highway, you have the Pacific Ocean and these huge crashing waves, and then you'll come upon a redwood forest. It is this fantasy world. It really does feel like you are on another planet, and yet you're in your own country. It’s truly one of the most remarkable places in the world.”
The first episode of California Now also features a conversation with Tanya Holland, chef and owner of the Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, as a well as a “lightning round” of waterfall insights from author and outdoor guide Ann Marie Brown.
The second episode kicks off with a conversation with Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras, a journalist who specializes in surfacing curious and wondrous travel destinations. The Atlas Obscura website lists around 13,500 unique—and some might say odd—destinations around the globe, and California is featured in nearly 1,000 listings. Thuras shares insights on a few of his must-see places to visit, including several stops in Sacramento and a small museum in Los Angeles that houses artifacts gathered by the man rumored to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
After that, Pauline Frommer offers up a few packing tricks she has assembled over a lifetime of travel—including her absolute favorite item to bring whenever she leaves home. Lastly, acclaimed wine writer Jon Bonné talks about his latest book on wine culture, The New Wine Rules, before sharing some of his favorite destinations in the Golden State.
In episode No. 3, Johnson chats with veteran travel writer Patricia Schultz, author of the wildly popular book “1,000 Things to See Before You Die” and its follow-up, 1,000 Things to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die. Schultz helps Johnson build out his personal bucket list, recommending a California Missions Trail road trip, a jaunt through Napa and Sonoma, and a quick trip to the Ferry Terminal Building in San Francisco.
Johnson also speaks with documentary filmmaker Jeff Smith about the craft beer scene all across the state, and explores the San Andreas Fault with Bob Schneider, owner of Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tours in Greater Palm Springs.
Visit California is currently in production for nine more episodes of the California Now Podcast. Episode No. 4 is scheduled to go live in June. Please give it a listen, and we'd love it if you would subscribe while you're at it.