10 places the royal couple shouldn’t miss in California

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka William and Kate) will be arriving in California on July 8th, spending 3 days in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

What? Only 3 days in California?

With our US office based in Oakland, California we’re the first to tell you that you need a lot more time to properly explore the Golden State. So we asked our staff, all expert travelers and California residents, their suggestions for where Kate and William should visit, if they had the time.

How could you pass up this view?

1. California's castle

They should do the Highway 1 drive, and check out OUR castle: Hearst Castle.  (It might inspire them to get zebras for the grounds at Balmoral.)  And then stay at The Madonna Inn – I prefer the Jungle Rock Room myself, but they may feel more at home in the Old English or Fox & Hound suites. – Karen Finlay

2. Secluded mountain lakes

For the outdoorsy couple, I’d recommend the Lakes Basin area approximately 90 minutes north of Lake Tahoe. It is the most fabulous hiking area that I know of in the Sierras for casual hikers and amazing void of people.  Great, accessible trails, many lakes for swimming; magnificent vistas; it is as iconic California high Sierra terrain imaginable.  It’s a true undiscovered treasure. – Gary Todoroff

3. The land of the giants

My favorite experience in California has been running along the Avenue of the Giants surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  It smells SO GOOD, and if Will and Kate aren’t into long-distance running, I think you’d get a similar feel driving through in a convertible. – Leah Wonski

4. Palms and Joshua trees

I love Palm Springs and bet they would too. They can get a sense of true old school Hollywood glamour at the Riviera Hotel. Kate would love the high-end shopping, and then they can take a tram ride up the cliffs of Chino Canyon – much better than the London Eye, in my opinion. If they’re fans of U2, they can do a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park, which turns 75 this year. – Leslie Davisson

5. The other Channel Islands

To get away from the paparazzi Will and Kate should go to the secluded Channel Islands off of the California coast near Santa Barbara (yes, we have Channel Islands too).  It’s one of the California’s hidden gems.  There are five islands in total which have been in total isolation for thousands of years.  They can hike around the islands and see unique plants and animals scientists haven’t found any place else on Earth.  – Carla Guzzetti

6. Palaces and polo

While in LA, where else would they stay but at the Pink Palace (the exclusive Presidential Ultra Bungalow should suffice)? As a nod to William’s favorite sport, lunch at the hotel’s famous Polo Lounge seems fitting. Kate should take advantage of the fabulous shopping LA has to offer and drop by Fred Segal for some retail therapy. For romance they can head to The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax which regularly shows old classics.  It doesn’t have normal theatre type seats, but big leather love seats, which makes for perfect cuddling conditions. – Jennye Garibaldi

7. Missions not abbeys

The first California mission was built in 1769. Sure, Westminster Abbey was founded in 624, but this is old for us Californians! The California Historic Missions Trail roughly follows Route 101 up the California coast. There are 21 missions, most of which still operate as parishes, all of which you can visit. Duck behind the walls of Mission Dolores, smack dab in the center of San Francisco, or run through Mission San Juan Bautista à la Kim Novak in Vertigo. – Lainey Franks

8. The crown jewel

Alexander McQueen hiking boots? They may not exist, but Kate can’t leave California without exploring Yosemite National Park (and the other eastern parks like Lassen, Kings Canyon and Sequoia if there’s time).  There’s nothing like seeing Half Dome for the first time, whether it’s from a meadow of native wildflowers or a scenic viewpoint from Hwy 41. – Suki Gear

9. Go for the gold

Everyone loves stories of the Old West, and the royal couple would have gotten a kick out of some of the Gold Rush history in Gold Country. Hwy 49 curves through small historic towns, micro wine countries (Amador County zinfandel, yum!) and chilly natural caverns. The weather would be ideal for their visit and Kate might find herself kicking off the espadrilles for a wade into the American River. There’s a perfect spot at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park (where enormous amounts of gold were discovered in 1848, followed by a flood of immigrants). – Katie Coffee

10. Art and architecture

Since William and Kate studied Art History together at Saint Andrews, it’s a shame they’re not touring notable architecture of California. Frank Gehry is based in Los Angeles, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall there is a spectacular example of his work. In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find several of Bernard Maybeck’s masterpieces, like the First Church of Christ, Scientist and the Palace of the Fine Arts. Several Julia Morgan buildings are also located in Berkeley and Oakland, like the Chapel of the Chimes, Berkeley City Club, and Julia Morgan Center for the Arts.  And for California modern, nothing beats classic Eichler cool. – Rana Freedman

What are your favorite California haunts? What do you think makes this state so special?

[Photo: Yosemite Valley and Half Dome by Matthew High]

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