While I love traveling the world, some of my favorite places are California travel destinations.
For years, I would make at least one international trip a year. If I didn’t, I felt as if I had failed as a traveler. This past year, I got a chance to go to Canada. The rest of my trips? I didn’t leave the United States.
It’s one of the most successful, rewarding travel years that I’ve had.
As I look back on my year in travel for 2011, I’ve visited some fantastic places and met some amazing people. However, there is something about this year that has changed the way I look at traveling.
I’ve learned an important travel lesson – travel is not about how far away you go but the attitude you carry with you whenever you leave home.
Some of the most rewarding travel experiences I’ve ever had came on my College Football Travel Tour. With stops in Seattle, Columbia (SC), and Annapolis (MD), I worked as hard as I’ve ever worked when traveling. And I’ve never enjoyed it more.
Yet there’s no place like home.
2011 Best of California Travel
You don’t need to go far to enjoy the experience of traveling. Some of the best destinations and most memorable experiences were just a car ride away. I’ve learned to appreciate where I live more than I ever have.
So I spent a lot more time discovering places here in California – both old and new. So check out my California travel photos this year and see how fun traveling close to home can be.
California Travel – Sacramento is home
This year, I had the chance to do a number of events in Sacramento. I decided to spend more time checking out what the city and the surrounding area had to offer through my series Explore Sacramento! Here are a few of my memorable moments.
March for Babies
Sacramento Scottish Highlands Games and Festival
Who knew that one of the oldest Scottish festivals in the United States happens every year in Sacramento? I attended the 135th Sacramento Scottish Highlands Games & Festival and discovered what it was all about.
More importantly, I was inspired to do a feature on Scottish games professional athletes. I promise you – you will never read another story about professional athletes like this one!
Who would have thought one of the best California travel experiences would happen here in my backyard?
These experiences inspired me to get out and explore more of the city where I live. So I started a series called Explore Sacramento! where I would learn more about the history and places here.
One of my favorite features was a visit to the grounds of the state capitol here in Sacramento.
This series will continue to expand in 2012 as I bring you more of the city. This series has already gotten some attention as my post on the Sacramento historical timeline was featured by the local newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, in their history blog.
Sacramento Jazz Festival and Jubilee
After 10 years in Sacramento, I had to explore Sacramento and be a part of my first Sacramento Jazz Festival & Jubilee. Rather than share a photo of my experience, here is my camera debut as I talk about the history and events at the 38th annual event.
Fall colors – Markleeville, Hope Valley, Grover Hot Springs
One of my favorite California travel trips every year involves leaf peeping – better known as enjoying the Fall foliage and colors of Autumn. Every year, I head away from Sacramento into the mountains to see what colors and towns I can discover.
I found an old favorite with some beautiful Fall colors in Hope Valley. However, I also discovered a charming alpine town which offered some spectacular views. The Fall colors in Markleeville were stunning and the scenery was even better. You will learn more about this place coming up this year.
I didn’t know much about Markleeville when I visited. However, I discovered some hiking trails in Grover Hot Springs – a place I never knew existed. You will find out a little more about this place in 2012 also.
Check out more photos in the links above – you will see for yourself why I loved them in the Fall.
Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods, and the Redwoods
In all my years here in California, I had never been to the Redwoods. This summer, I went on a hike to Mount Tamalpais State Park and made a stop at Muir Woods National Park (check out my travel and hiking guide for Muir Woods), both of which are just a little north of San Francisco. The hike nor the views disappointed (read more about my Mt Tamalpais hike and visions of ewoks).
My other favorite Fall retreat is a trip to Apple Hill. While the frolicking through the Fall leaves is a journey I do solo, the trip to Apple Hill is one for everyone. I go there every year and have discovered many of the places and fun things to do. It’s an annual trip for many people in the Sacramento area and beyond.
Since this is so close to home, I’ve learned a few things on these annual day long excursions. Here’s a look at my travel tips for Apple Hill and my favorite place to go – Apple Ridge Farm. You can get lots of apples and a lot of pumpkins too – just in time for Halloween!
Oktoberfest at the beach
Nothing is more German than Oktoberfest at the beach! This year, I had the chance to attend the Old World Village annual Oktoberfest festival in Huntington Beach. It’s an event that reaches out to families and adults. Even more entertaining than beer and brats is the story of Hollywood, romance, war, and a German village.
Now this was a California travel adventure!
A trip through California wouldn’t be complete without a day at the beach. Here’s a look at Surf City, USA – Huntington Beach, California. Enjoy these photos and stay tuned for more on Huntington Beach this year.
As I look back 2011 with this travel photo essay through California, I am inspired to explore even more of this beautiful state. And I am thankful that I don’t have to go far to enjoy experiences like this!
What is your favorite California travel destination?