From hiking trails to cycling adventures to farmers markets, Zanna Van Dijk’s second California road trip was wild, rugged and full of diversity. Once Van Dijk returned from her epic road trip, we caught up with her to find out what advice she would give others looking to travel around the Golden State.
1. What made this California road trip different from your previous one?
This trip covered completely different terrains to my previous Cali road trip. Last time we focused on sunny beaches, hot deserts and snowy mountain tops. This time we focused on bustling cities, rugged coastlines, lush rolling hills, deep redwood forests and beautiful Yosemite National Park landscapes.
2. What is it about the California landscapes and nature that you love so much?
The diversity. California is such a huge state that you can see all four seasons and all different terrains in one place. You can drive from a beach to a mountain top in a matter of hours, and I love that. One day we were hiking through sequoia trees and the next we were looking at wildflowers on the northern California coast. The dream.
3. Describe Yosemite National Park in three words:
My. Happy. Place.
4. What advice would you give someone looking to hike in California’s national parks?
My main advice is to research a good hiking trail before you get there and then to carry fluids, snacks and a camera with you. The views are sure to be stunning, and you will work up a sweat so you’ll definitely need to refuel. The local tourism websites and the California Now blog have tonnes of suggestions for hiking trails if you're wondering what to see and do.
5. What do you think are the biggest misconceptions of San Francisco?
[That] San Francisco is huge. It is actually smaller than you think and super accessible to get around, but make sure you wear comfy shoes as it is super hilly. You’ll get a good leg workout when you go exploring.
6. Out of all the places you visited, which destination surprised you the most and why?
Timber Cove and the surrounding area. I always associated California with long sandy beaches, but the northern coastline is absolutely wild. Rugged, beautiful and a true force of nature. A treasure trove for outdoor lovers.
7. What advice would you give anyone planning a road trip through Northern California?
I would say to factor in extra time on your drives to pull over on the side of the road. As you drive through the state you end up seeing beautiful and restful look-out points, and you will want to stop at every single one.
8. What was the best restaurant you visited and why?
9. What did you learn about California’s efforts to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious?
I learnt a lot about the sustainable farming culture which is on the rise in California, I loved visiting the local small holdings in El Dorado, touring their farms, tasting their produce and learning about their efforts to tread lightly on the planet. They have some epic farmers markets out their too!
10. What did you think of the farmers markets and how they help support local businesses?
I loved the farmers markets; I’m super passionate about supporting local suppliers and producers. These markets aren't just a fun experience but an amazing way to connect with the community, the farmers and support their work. I saw stalls for organic, sustainable and even veganic farms at the markets I went to in California! The Golden State is definitely paving the way.
11. What was the most interesting thing you learnt about California and/or Californians on this trip?
I learnt that California is almost twice as large as the whole of the UK! Which is mind boggling, this state has so much to explore.
12. Favourite experience from your trip to Northern California?
Probably feeding baby goats at Bee Love Farms in El Dorado. I am a self-confessed goat lover so it was literally my dream experience.
13. Where’s next on your California “wanderlist”?
The far north of California, more national parks and also Mono Lake, all of which entice my inner adventurer!
If that doesn’t inspire you to go on your own California road trip, perhaps this video of her trip will do the job.