When we heard four lucky agents were jetting to Los Angeles with United Airlines for a Visit California SoCal famil, we knew we needed to be along for the ride. Vicariously, at least, via their socials and by secret squirrelling our way into their highly excitable WhatsApp chat (sssh). Keen to know all the goss from the ground? Read on!
Under the guidance of Eva Huezo and Vanessa Fletcher from Visit California, the group has spent the past week revelling in the high vibes of Los Angeles and cool-as Santa Barbara before uniting with the concurrently running Northern California famil group in gorgeous Monterey.
There’s nothing like fresh sea air and a beachside breakfast to rejuvenate you after a long-haul flight (yes, even with an Economy Plus seat). Especially when you are in Manhattan Beach, famous for its expansive beaches, quality surf, and as the birthplace of beach volleyball. A fab tour of Dodger Stadium before shopping in Larchmont (with chance to sample Levain Bakery’s delectable cookies) rounded out an epic first day.
To experience Los Angeles like a local means an early rise and trip to Griffith Park for a Bikes and Hikes tour. Followed by a well-deserved lunch at Sunset Towers hosted by Dennis Zyuzin from West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board. The very Hollywood thing that happened there? Two well-known celebs!
The group spent their first night at the Dream Hollywood Hotel, allowing for fun times around LA’s most famous neighbourhood. John Smallman from Stage and Screen, shared, “I loved Hollywood’s electric atmosphere, not only because it’s Grammy season, because you never know what you’ll find or who you’ll bump into in this showbizz Mecca! The diverse music seeping from West Hollywood’s bars and clubs was invigorating, coupled with a cool breeze carrying the smells of the local restaurants in its path. A true melting pot of people & cultures, what a trip so far!”
Of course, one must always visit Venice Beach when in LA, and the group loved their beachfront bike ride and time spent wandering Abbot Kinney’s famous boutique stores. A walking tour of the Venice Canals revealed a different side to this beachside mecca before exploring Getty Villa and Westwood Village. Marilyn Monroe’s crypt is at the Westwood Cemetary.
TravelManagers’ Dana Brown raved about the fam’s travels outside of Hollywood. “Most travellers are drawn to LA thanks to the allure of Hollywood. However, get outside that 1.3 miles, then add in local hikes, bikes, sporting events, and the hottest bars, restaurants, and shopping, and I promise, you’ll be addicted to LA.”
While only 90 minutes from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara’s upscale vibes, Spanish influence and tranquil attractions proved a fascinating contrast from the City of Angels. While the plan was to take a Lil’ Toot Harbor Cruise and take in downtown (and its yummy local treats) on a Totally Cali tour, wet weather meant the group got to see just how well Santa Barbara is both an incredible indoor and outdoor destination!
Tracy King from MTA Travel took full advantage of free time at State Street in Paseo Nuevo; apparently it’s the place to shop. She said, “Santa Barbara never disappoints Aussie shoppers and today was no different!”
Wine tasting at Hotel Californian was a hit, as was a rejuvenating hour of meditation at the oh-so-chill Salt Caves. A spa treatment at the Ritz Carlton-Bacara left the group floating towards their glamorous meal and ‘villains’ cocktails at the Rosewood Manor Bar. Wish you were there? We do!
Magic Happens Here Travel Samantha Harman loved the rejuvenating activities. She commented, “Santa Barbara is the mental and physical escape everyone needs. It’s my kind of wellness… great wine, delicious food, and spa treatments!”
Tomorrow the group are heading to the timeless coastal jewel on California’s rugged Central Coast: Monterey! The trip gets more exciting as Visit California’s Southern California and Northern California groups merge at this ocean lover’s paradise for a perfect 24 hours in Monterey.
With fascinating marine wildlife to encounter, breathtaking sights to soak in, and Monterey’s charming architecture, the joint fam will soon be able take advantage of it all. Monterey’s most iconic attraction, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is the first stop on the itinerary, followed by the town’s ‘best drink with a view’ spot, Schooners.
The group will also enjoy a drive along the stunning Big Sur Coast to Carmel on Sea and a few rounds of golf at Pebble Beach Resort. We can’t wait to see the pics (have you been following our Stories on Instagram? We’re following their journeys).
The California Agent Advisory Council
So how did this group score such an amazing fam invite? Thanks to their position as key players promoting Australian travellers to the Golden State, they were invited to apply for the golden ticket invite to be part of the California Agent Advisory Council. The council is a collective mission from Visit California, United Airlines, and Infinity Holidays to elevate California to Australian travellers.
Eva Huezo, Visit California’s Tourism Development Manager for AU and NZ, has been having a ball leading the SoCal fam group. She commented, “Embarking on this journey with this group of passionate individuals, whose love for California illuminates every conversation, has been an extraordinary pleasure.
She continued, “Serving as true ambassadors, these travel leaders are profoundly dedicated to showcasing the Golden State as a premier travel destination.”
This California Agent Advisory Council will be annually renewed, meaning you (yes, you) could apply to make a similarly positive impact on the Australian market next year.
Inspired by this epic Southern California itinerary? Infinity Holidays is right this minute packaging it up. It’s almost like they’re channelling the group’s California vibes to make a trip like this one super easy for you to book.
Check out more pics from the trip on our Instagram!
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