The West Coast Of America: The Trip Of A Lifetime!
It is already about three years ago that I made this trip, but hey it's never too late to share! It was an epic road trip that took us from LA up to Yellowstone and back in exactly one month. We drove around 8000 miles, went camping in Yosemite and glamping in Las Vegas and really had the best holiday ever. Sooo, if you are thinking of making a trip over there, I have summed up some must-sees and must-does!
I want to start off with some tips and tricks for travelling in the US. First of all, rent a car. The public transportation system in the US sucks and renting a car is really pretty cheap. Make sure one of you is over 25, otherwise you will have to pay a pretty high insurance fee. We had a good experience with Avis, but before you take out the car, make sure you take pictures of it before leaving. So the rental company cannot charge you for scratches that were already there.
Secondly, take the time to write down a daily report of your trip. So much fun to read afterwards! Thirdly, eat a lot of Mexican food and drink daily margarita's! The west coast of the US is highly dominated by Mexican cuisine, and if you love it as much as I do, you have to embrace it to the fullest! What else? If you like camping, have a look at the 'KOA's' that can be found all over the US. Great, cheap camping sites that offer you a home away from home.
Some final advice! America is the land of Jack Kerouac, the pioneer of the beat generation and writer of the famous novel 'On the Road'. If you visit the US you must pinky swear to me right now that you will embrace the spirit of exploration and fully devote yourself to the road trip culture. Put on some ACDC-tunes, fill the tank up and ride it until sun down. Only eat at dingy looking shacks near the road, let the windows down, let your hair ride the wind and enjoy the epic scenery.
Let's get started!
The most mythic of cities is without a doubt Los Angeles, where the stars shine all day in the glamorous Hollywood. When in Los Angeles you have to start out with spending an afternoon at Venice Beach. Go roller skating, surfing, visit the boutiques, walk the boulevard and have a laugh at muscle beach where the men are plenty, scarcely dressed and very butch.
Next stop is Universal Studios, a must-see amusement park with a tour of the Hollywood studios. A fun day out, even without children, but always very very crowded. So go early!
Other stops would be the Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood sign, the Santa Monica Pier and the Dodger Stadium. Also take your time to get lost in LA, but never on foot. Try and find hidden places, parks or beaches that are not quite so popular yet.
When I arrived in SF I did not like it too much, we had to trade in the sun from LA for wind and clouds and I wasn't too happy about that, but boy was I mistaken. We had booked a room at the Hayes Valley Inn, a really cute English style inn with a great breakfast(!!). The owner gave us some great tips for sightseeing and off we went. We started stereotypically with biking the Golden Gate Bridge that has the surprising length of 1.3km. A great way to start! On other trips out we went to the SF Golden Gate park, with its beautiful gardens like the Japenese Tea Garden. Another fun trip is the Marina District with the famous Fisherman's Wharf, were you must eat some seafood and maybe take a boat to Alcatraz. (To see the ghosts of prisoners past)
Another great feature of SF are the famous cable trains, which you can ride up and down to your heart's content.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite national park is a must. No arguing here. If you cannot bring your own tent, which is what we did, you can rent a cabin in the park itself, but don't wait too long in summer. The biggest attraction at Yosemite is undoubtedly El Capitan, but the valley and the many waterfalls are just as impressive. We did a fantastic hike to Vernal Falls and swam in the ice lake at the top. Sooo cold, but so worth it.
Take two days at least to visit the beautiful and adventurous Yosemite. And have a look at the other national parks like: Zion, Death Valley, Sequoia and Bryce Canyon.
Las Vegas is an iconic city is the middle of a dessert scenery. You have to stop here for sure, but do not stick around too long. A part from the 'Strip', the gambling and the shows there is not much to do and it all gets very 'cheap' very quickly. If you need some glamour after spending time at one of the national parks, then take a day at the swimming pool and order some cocktails.
Book a hotel on the strip to get the full experience and if you plan your visit during the week you will pay a lot less money for your room. The Venetian and Ceasar's palace stand out the most. And catch a show while you're in town, that's a must. Las Vegas is also the best connection to visit Grand Canyon and the Hoover dam. You can do many arranged trips starting in Las Vegas or just drive up there yourself. Fair warning, it can get up to 50°C out there.
There is quite a distance between Las Vegas and Yellowstone, but if you have the time to spare it will be a definite highlight of your trip. (Visit Salt Lake City on your way there) Yellowstone is most known for its geysers, which are a fun attraction, but I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the idyllic landscapes. As you can see here above. What is there to do? Enjoy nature, hike, sit by the fire and relax. It is a sight for soar eyes!
If you want to do some animal spotting, to see bears for example, get up at 4am and go to one of the sightseeing spots. Be careful not to wander off, because you might actually run into a bear.
Our final stop was San Diego, really drenched in Mexican culture. When you are here, you must visit the harbor, the Old Town, USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and wander around as much as you can. In Old Town go to Cafe Coyote, where the atmosphere is pretty authentic and the food is delicious.
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Life is too short not to enjoy it to the fullest.