You don’t have to be home for the holidays to feel the love this time of year. As anyone who’s ever spent Thanksgiving on the road, Christmas with strangers, or New Year’s Eve in a foreign land can attest, it’s often the people you’re with who make the season bright. And when you spend a holiday in a hostel, you may just find yourself forming a spontaneous family with whoever’s around, celebrating and laughing with new friends you’ve never met.
At HI USA, we firmly believe that travel has the power to transform. Meeting new friends from other cultures, participating in the customs of an unfamiliar country or city, and integrating ourselves into the local community are irreplaceable experiences, and ones that help us to better understand the world around us. And the most rewarding travel experiences of all are those that allow us to affect the communities we visit just as positively as they do us.
We've all heard that there's no place like home for the holidays. But at HI USA, we believe there's a hidden meaning behind the old adage: sometimes, spending the holidays far from your comfort zone can be a great thing! Just ask any traveler who's ever shared a holiday meal with a group of new friends, or anyone who's unwittingly arrived in a foreign country at the start of an exotic holiday season.
Sacramento and agriculture are inextricably linked: each year, the region churns out a huge percentage of the produce consumed in California and the rest of the country. Its dedication to – and skill at – feeding the country has even earned Sacramento the nickname "America's Farm-to-Fork Capital."
In fact, eating local has become such a big deal in Sacramento that indulgence in the city's foodie scene is just as important a visitor experience for as a tour of the Capitol or a stroll around Sutter's Fort.
A caffeine fix, a break from the go-go-go lifestyle of backpacking, a ringside look at the local culture – there are so many reasons we love stopping into neighborhood cafés wherever our travels take us. And here in Northern California, there are endless ways to make a run-of-the-mill refueling stop into a one-of-a-kind experience: from no-frills cups of Joe at corner mainstays, to sweet concoctions in exotic neighborhoods, to artful pours of espresso at high-class hideaways, here a few of our favorites spots for coffee and culture.
It's mid-October, but it still feels like summer in Sacramento. This shouldn't, perhaps, be too much of a surprise: about 80% of days around California's state capital are sunny, often in defiance of the season. But I've come here today to do something specifically, traditionally, quintessentially autumnal, and so it's taking me a while to wrap my head around the heat: who dresses for a day of apple-picking, pie-tasting, cider sipping, and pumpkin patching wearing shorts and a T-shirt and SPF 50?