Palm Springs, Santa Barbara & Newport Beach

Emma Savage on 22 May 2017
I was lucky enough to be invited over to California by the tourist board & Air New Zealand, here's how I got on!

Flying out in business class with Air New Zealand was a fabulous way to start the trip. The seats were very comfortable and converted at the click of a switch into a flat bed. The entertainment on board was wide ranging and enjoyable and I was impressed with the food offering. I was particularly pleased to find that Air New Zealand carries a lot of their own wine which I felt was a great way to support their country (and I love New Zealand wine!)

Our first destination was Greater Palm Springs, which is around 2.5 hours from Los Angeles. Popular with the Hollywood set, who come there for sunshine when it is cooler in the city, Palm Springs is made up of 9 'cities' and each city has its own merit. I loved downtown Palm Springs with its boutique hotels and shops. The larger resort hotels were further out in other 'cities' but it is very easy to get around for evenings out and you can drive from one end of greater Palm Springs to the other in around 45 minutes. Be sure to take a trip on the aerial tramway during your stay here. At the foot of the mountain, it is around 90 degrees, but by the time you reach the top, there's snow on the ground. From the top, you can go hiking, have a meal in the restaurant and a drink in the bar. A great way to spend some time.

Next up was Santa Barbara; 4 hours from Palm Springs. Santa Barbara is such a pretty place with a lovely small town vibe and fantastic 'Funk Zone' area with lots of bars and restaurants (we ate at The Lark). Santa Barbara is a great place to spend a few days; go on the amphibious Shark Tour and see the resort from land and water - you might even spot some seals! I'd definitely recommend this area as part of a wider tour of southern California.

Final stop was Newport Beach; we were fortunate to be invited to the Film Festival and enjoyed drinking champagne and eating canapés with the other guests! We stayed at the Balboa Bay which was a lovely hotel, with a great location on the Marina. Newport beach itself is a massive expanse of beautiful white sand - the area surrounding it is well kept and so pretty - I would highly recommended visiting Newport beach for a few days.