About The Atlas Heart
Welcome to The Atlas Heart, a California travel website dedicated to showing you the best of the Golden State from a local perspective.
Whether you live in California or you’re visiting for the first time, our goal is to give you the tools and resources to easily explore the most beautiful, unique, and interesting places in the state.
Our articles feature everything from our favorite underrated and overlooked spots to top must-see attractions, with a focus on getting outside to experience California’s nature to the fullest.
California is huge, 163,696 square miles to be exact, and there’s a ton to discover here. It can be overwhelming to know where to start, which is where The Atlas Heart comes in.
We’ve got your back whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures like camping, hiking, and kayaking in California, or road trips, itineraries, and city breaks.
We’re so happy to have you here! 🙂
The Atlas Heart’s mission is to be your trusted guide for all things California. That can mean anything from giving you our picks for the best redwood parks near San Francisco or a clutch last-minute tent recommendation for that camping trip you’ve been planning to Joshua Tree.
We take that responsibility and the recommendations we give to you, our readers, seriously. You won’t find shoddy AI-written content or articles about California written by people who have never been to California on this site.
All of our California content is written (or at the very least reviewed in detail) by born-and-raised Californians who have spent the past 2-3 decades soaking up the California sun. All of the travel and outdoor gear we recommend is thoroughly researched and/or field tested by our team of adventure seekers who regularly use that type of gear themselves and know what to look for.
We understand that things change, sometimes quickly, so we also have a rigorous updating schedule to make sure all of our content stays up-to-date and factually correct.
You can trust The Atlas Heart to be your go-to resource for everything related to California, written by locals who know the Golden State inside out.
Meet Mimi McFadden
From left to right: Mimi at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park after an 18-mile hike, eating a huge donut at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles, and standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Hi, I’m Mimi! I’m the founder of The Atlas Heart and an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty and adventure that California has to offer.
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, I developed a deep appreciation for the outdoors from a young age. I spent my childhood camping in spots like Kings Canyon, Yosemite, and Big Sur, hiking in redwood forests, and exploring the best parts of the Central Coast.
As an adult, my studies led me south to San Diego, where I discovered a completely different part of the state–from deserts to those beautiful Southern California beaches. I spent weekends finding hidden spots and made it my mission to find the best burritos and fish tacos in town.
Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband, Suneel, I continue seeking out the best of California, from the soaring redwoods of Muir Woods to the towering waterfalls of Yosemite, and everything in between.
Showing our love for the California redwoods with our wedding in Mill Valley, California on April 29th, 2023.
Over the decades, I’ve covered thousands of miles of trails, peaks, and coastline. My goal is to showcase the immense diversity of landscapes and experiences one can find right here in California, all from a local perspective.
As an expert on all things travel and outdoor-related in my home state, I want to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to the Sierra Nevada or finding zen among the giant sequoias, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.
Meet Our Team
The Atlas Heart team spans the globe, bringing diverse perspectives and backgrounds to each article. One thing that unites all of us is our love of travel and the outdoors. Below, get to know the faces behind our team and what makes us tick.
PARTNERSHIPS AND MANAGEMENT
Suneel Jain grew up in San Diego and now resides in Berkeley, California with Mimi. He loves playing any kind of game, although basketball and Agricola are the two he’ll be most excited about. He’ll reluctantly wear shoes instead of flip flops if he has to, is learning that he should wear sunscreen sometimes, and seems to always need more shorts. Before he met Mimi, he worked as a lawyer and hadn’t traveled abroad in over a decade. The traveling abroad part was quickly fixed, but moving on from lawyering to joining The Atlas Heart full-time in 2023 is a new and exciting change.
Elina Ansary is a visual artist, writer, teacher, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, Elina visits artist residencies in locations around the world, including Amsterdam, Finland, Italy, and Australia, and has exhibited her work in galleries and museums in the US and abroad. When she isn’t writing and editing for The Atlas Heart, Elina is pursuing a Master’s degree in Visual Art at Cornell University and splits her time between Ithaca and Brooklyn.
Check out her website.
EDITOR & CONTENT MANAGER
Jodelle Marx (she/her) is an artist, writer, and adventure seeker. One of her earliest travel memories is of a trip to San Francisco and she has been enamored with travel ever since she first learned to read the airport departure boards as a child. After a stint of living abroad in Italy in 2022, Jodelle is now back on the West Coast. Her weekends are full of backpacking, paddle boarding, and finding new reasons to be outdoors. Jodelle’s currently working on a mixed-genre collection of quiet joys, inspired by nature and traveling.
Check out her website, Vivacious Creative Works.
TRAVEL GEAR WRITER
Monroe Dziersk was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She was quickly drawn to the Southeastern coast of the United States after she discovered a world outside of Midwest winters. During her time attending Elon University, she studied abroad in Florence, Italy. A switch was flipped, and she quickly fell in love with the European culture and lifestyle. She has now traveled to more than 20 countries and hopes to continue the tally while testing out new and unique travel gear along the way. You can often find her accompanied by a good book and her calico cat.
Check out her page on Medium.
TRAVEL & OUTDOOR GEAR WRITER
Phillip Anderson is a freelance travel writer, personal trainer, and adventure enthusiast from Virginia Beach. Growing up, he spent most of his days either hiking in the Shenandoah, going to the beach, or working out. He has traveled to 32 countries and has embarked on various challenging multi-day treks in diverse terrains around the world–most notably, in Peru, Ecuador, and the US. These treks have taken him through some of the most pristine landscapes in the world. They’ve also taught him a lot about the importance of having the right outdoor gear to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Check out his website, Jaywalk The World.
CALIFORNIA TRAVEL WRITER
Taylor is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, yoga instructor, and frontline worker. She uses writing to meditate on relationships between the body and nature. These days, Taylor spends most of her time in her van (Vannigan) winding through the coastal and mountain roads of California, finding inspiration from the land and reflecting on her role as a guest on these territories.
You can connect with her work through her website taylorneal.ca or her podcast, Full Bloom, on all streaming platforms.
Amin is a freelance content publisher and editorial/administrative assistant from India. He has a passion for playing PC games, watching movies, and listening to music. Additionally, he’s always interested in the latest tech and gadgets.
The Atlas Heart wouldn’t be what it is today without our past team members who contributed their unique expertise and perspectives over the years.
Outdoor Gear Writer & Sierra Nevada Expert
Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in six states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!
Check out her website.
California Foodie Writer & Bay Area Expert
Sarah McDonald is a travel writer based in the Bay Area. She writes for the national parenting website Red Tricycle and on her own family travel blog, Tiny Trailblazers. She loves exploring California’s outdoors and has a weakness for a national park gift shop.
History of The Atlas Heart
One of the original iterations of The Atlas Heart branding from 2015.
I started The Atlas Heart in January 2013 soon after I graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in psychology and international studies.
This site started as a passion project to share my love for travel. I was about to move abroad to Australia and I’d always loved writing about my travel experiences, and so, The Atlas Heart was born.
I was meant to spend six months in Australia, but that turned into five years of living and traveling abroad full-time. Whoops!
I really loved how much I was able to travel in my 20s, but it eventually took a toll on my sense of community. I started feeling exhausted instead of excited about constantly starting over in new places.
Most importantly, I missed my family and my lifelong friends who had known me for years. I missed my life in California. It took visiting 30+ countries and living in five to realize that, although I love traveling internationally, nowhere ever quite felt like home the way California did.
In 2018, I decided to move back to California full-time and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 2019, I changed the focus of this site to be solely about California and outdoor travel to share my love for the Golden State and the place where I grew up and still reside today.
Join us on our active social media channels below to discover even more places to visit and the best experiences to have in California.
Questions, concerns, or comments about The Atlas Heart? You can contact us below by email, snail mail, or by giving us a call.
– Business email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Business address: 1801 Carleton St., Berkeley, CA 94703
– Business phone number: (415) 517-0622
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