I’m a motorbike nut and driving a Harley solo through California was a bucket list item I was recently incredibly lucky enough to tick off. Here are my favourite 7 places to go on a road trip in California.
1 – VENICE BEACH & SANTA MONICA
I expected LA to be glamorous. I was expecting babes. Bikinis. Bling. Venice Beach -especially first thing in the morning when I was there – is something quite different. Catch the sunrise and witness gangs of inebriated people stumbling around as middle class joggers and dog walkers dodge them nimbly. Not to mention some weird and wonderful street musicians and performers. It’s quite a sight. Rent a bicycle and ride (or walk) up the beach to Santa Monica and you’ll see things become more like that glam image you might have in your mind.
2 – SANTA BARBARA
90 mins up the coast, Santa Barbara is a college town by the sea and home to some insanely good Mexican food as well as some awesome craft breweries. The students give it a lively atmosphere without it becoming too much, and the drive in (especially if you take the road from Ojai) is awesome.
3 – BIG SUR
As you progress North, Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway or PCH) gets better and better. Sweeping turns, dramatic cliffs and the sparkling Pacific ocean as your backdrop – it’s perfect motorbiking territory. Big Sur is the most rugged stretch, and you’ll see why it’s known as one of the world’s best drives.
4 – CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA
Carmel is a hippy seaside town (but it feels more like a village) with tonnes of character. If I am ever a millionaire, I am buying a place here. Super cute, great bars and restaurants and really chilled. A lovely place to spend a night. And killer sunsets!
4 – SAN FRAN
Needless to say, San Fran is a must. My personal fave moments were the drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (which I did 4 times on account of how Rock n Roll I felt, even though to get to Yosemite I didn’t technically need to go that way), Little Italy (seriously incredible food) and the awesome street performers right on the bay. Seeing a dude simultaneously play drums, guitar, bass, keys AND sing was rather humbling for a second-rate musician (well, drummer) such as myself.
5 – YOSEMITE
To be honest Yosemite was the place I was looking forward to most on this trip and it totally exceeded my expectations. Hiking El Capitan was great, but it was really all about the drive. Yosemite is truly a wonder. I’ve never seen landscapes like it – and the coolest thing is how quickly and dramatically it changes from one corner to the next. This was the best days of the trip and I’ll never forget it.
6 – DEATH VALLEY
One minute you’re driving through forests and lakes. Next minute, miles upon miles of baron desert. That’s Death Valley – just down the road from Yosemite en route to Vegas, with straight, flat roads that go on, and on, and on. But what an amazing place to ride through.
7 – VEGAS
To be honest, the reason I went to Vegas was purely so I could achieve my life-long dream of driving a Harley Davidson into Las Vegas at night. And that I did – about 12 times in total. Other than that, Vegas was kinda what I expected. Party central and loads of gambling (neither of which being remotely my cup of tea). Aside from pretending to be James Dean driving in on my Harley, without a doubt my fave experience was Downtown Vegas. It’s obscene. It’s mad. It’s bizarre. I bought a beer and walked up and down Fremont Street, observing the craziness. I loved every minute of it.
I did my road trip on a Harley from Eagle Rider. This is not an ad! They were really nice and helpful and very efficient. It wasn’t cheap, but ticking driving around California on a Harley off my bucket list was totally worth the expense.
If you have been lucky enough to drive California on a motorbike, feel free to add any cool places you came across so others can go explore them too. Make a comment below!