Research Report: Rebecca's Trip to California

Research Report: Rebecca's Trip to California

With two-week October half-terms becoming more commonplace in schools, our head of PR, Rebecca, decided to make this the time for her main family holiday. She discovered that this was a great time to visit destinations which are either too hot, too busy or out of season in the British summer. After considering Oman, Morocco and Sri Lanka, Rebecca decided California was the perfect place to visit with her boys, six and nine. Read on for the lowdown on her trip...


  1. Where did you visit?
  2. What did you get up to?
  3. What made your trip special?
  4. What’s your favourite thing you ate?
  5. What new things did you learn?
  6. Did you learn about any hidden gems?
  7. What’s one thing that can’t be missed?
  8. Did anything surprise you about the destination?
  9. What’s a top tip you’d give to clients?


Where did you visit?

My husband and I were lucky enough to have visited California before (albeit pre-kids) and had already driven the Pacific Coast Highway. It meant that this time, we could keep the driving to a minimum and maximise our time there, splitting the two weeks between LA, San Diego and Palm Springs, with plenty of beach time factored in.


What did you get up to?

From our base in LA, we visited the beach and pier of Santa Monica, went to Universal Studios (the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park rides were a highlight – well, for the boys anyway) and hiked up to the Griffith Observatory for a view of the surprisingly elusive Hollywood sign. San Diego was all about the zoo and the beach, and we rented bodyboards to make the most of the waves, while we used Palm Springs as a springboard for Joshua Tree National Park and a chance to enjoy the sunshine before heading back to rainy London.


Los Angeles, California


What made your trip special?

California is one of my happy places – my best friend lives in LA, so I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times and have great memories of spending time there. It was wonderful to finally share it with the kids and see it fresh through their eyes. We’ve been wanting to go for a while, but I think we were right to wait until we did; the boys are the perfect age as they can travel pretty well, but they still have their childish excitement for everything, which is contagious. A particular highlight for us as a family was Joshua Tree National Park – the kids loved climbing the rocks and we loved the scenery. It’s so unlike anywhere any of us had ever been.


What’s your favourite thing you ate?

Brunch is our favourite of all the meals, and nowhere does brunch better than America. We feasted on pancakes, bagels, waffles, muffins and eggs in all their forms! My vegetarian son even made an exception for American bacon because it’s just too crispy to resist and my other son was in burger heaven.


What new things did you learn?

We had five days at the beach, and we started each of them by bodyboarding together, something none of us had ever done before. A few knees were scraped and plenty of sea water ingested, but we loved it. We also learned that our boys can cope very well with long flights and jet lag, so it feels like the world has truly opened up!


Did you learn about any hidden gems?

We stayed in Carlsbad, which is about half-an-hour north of San Diego. It felt a bit of a punt as we’d never heard of it, but I took the advice of our Americas team who told me it was much better value than most places along the coast. Not only that, but it’s a really sweet town on the line for the Pacific Surfliner, a train that connects San Diego with northern California and which comes whistling down the tracks to much excitement. There are some seriously impressive Victorian buildings and loads of great restaurants, microbreweries and ice cream parlours. We just loved it. It’s also home to Legoland but shhhhh, because we didn’t tell the kids that!


What’s one thing that can’t be missed?

I have always wanted to go to Palm Springs because I’m a bit of an architecture geek and mid-century modern design is a particular favourite. It didn’t disappoint and luckily I had watched Olivia Wilde’s film, Don’t Worry Darling on the flight over, which is all set in and around the city. I did an architecture tour on my own, leaving the kids and husband back at our hotel, La Quinta Resort & Club, where they had a happy day exploring the 41 pools, ordering elaborate smoothies and asking all the staff whether they’d seen a rattlesnake. Let’s just say we all had a great day that day.


Did anything surprise you about the destination?

Palm Springs was a surprise because all I really knew about it was the architecture, but it has so much more. It’s one hour from Joshua Tree National Park which is nothing short of spectacular and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a fantastic family day out. You take a cable car – the world’s largest rotating tram car as we discovered – up over 8,500ft to Mount San Jacinto State Park, where there’s a natural history museum, amazing views and miles of hiking. It’s much cooler up there and the kids loved climbing the rocks at all the viewpoints.


What’s a top tip you’d give to clients?

Just go (and go for October half-term). I can’t imagine a better time to visit; the temperatures are steadily in the late-20s (Palm Springs was hotter in the mid-30s) and it doesn’t clash with any American school holidays, so family attractions are at their quietest and cheapest. San Diego Zoo was offering a ‘kids go free’ deal and we got the cheapest tickets that Universal Studios offers. Even better, you can time a trip to Palm Springs with one of the city’s bi-annual Modernism Weeks, when houses are opened to the public and tours run daily.

Written by Rebecca Lowe