The week after Christmas we spent 8 days traveling to California and back. By car. That’s over 50 hours driving. You may think I’m crazy, but it was one of my favorite vacations ever. It was my first time to the Southwest. And through those 8 days I covered more ground than some people do in their lifetime. I drove through the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. I got to see the Saguaro Cactus, which is native only to the Sonoran Desert. I hit all 4 seasons. Felt the warm Cali sun and played in the snow all in one week. It was a mix of things. It was life changing.
1. Scottsdale, Arizona
I loved Scottsdale. Beautifully landscaped, impressive bike trails, gorgeous mountain views. Make sure to check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Taliesin West and Old Town.
2. Jerome, Arizona
Blink and you may miss it. It’s that small. Off the beaten path, you’ll find a hillside artists’ colony that may be one of Arizona’s best kept secrets. Jerome popped up on the map as a mining village, and is now home to some great art galleries and boutiques. Ghost lovers take note: word is it’s haunted!
3. Sedona, Arizona
Gorgeous red rock formations. Photos never do any justice. We were just passing through, but I want to go back, explore, hike and shop in this colorful town.
4. Flagstaff, Arizona
Not even a couple of hours north of Sedona we hit snow! If you love skiing or sledding, this is your place. In recovery from my initial shock, it was hard for me to believe we were in Arizona still!
Drive on the other side of the mountain and you find grassy plains of nothingness. Sometimes a whole bunch of nothing can really be cool.
5. Grand Canyon and Historic Route 66
Doesn’t really need much of an explanation. A must see!
6. Laughlin, Nevada
We don’t have much footage but Laughlin is like a desert oasis. This casino town is built on the river that borders Arizona and Nevada. Rumor has it that it’s one big party in the summer, with jet skis, boats, and of course gambling. Here’s a pic I found online of it’s high season:
We stayed the night at the Golden Nugget. I’m not too much of a player (I just crush a lot), but I played Black Jack for the first time and turned my $5 into $50 in 5 minutes. This creeped me out and we left.
7. West Hollywood, California
We stayed in WeHo for 2 nights at the Farmer’s Daughter & loved it. I did my happy dance after eating heavenly Chicken & Waffles at Tart.
To sum it up, W. Hollywood was lots of excellent food, trendy vintage boutiques, and great design shops. The picture below is from my favorite, Style de Vie. Check it out. It’s awesome. Just saw a couple weeks ago Lonny named Style de Vie one of their “Next Big Names”.
8. Pasadena, California
If the Rose Parade or Rose Bowl wasn’t already on your bucket list, you should add it right now. What a great experience! (It helps when your team wins of course.) I had been to LA a few times before and never realized just how cool Pasadena is.
9. Los Angeles Beaches, California
This trip we hit Venice, Santa Monica, Manhattan, and Redondo.
The first two pics are from quirky Venice. Probably one of my favorite places in existence. Everyday it’s different – you never know who or what you’ll see.
The next 2 shots are from the Manhattan Beach Pier. It was my first time here. Definitely won’t be my last.
Next is Redondo Beach. We spent some time walking the boardwalk and checking out the harbor. The boardwalk has a pretty amazing arcade in it. I rode the Tilt a Whirl and felt 13 again. But then I got off and almost threw up. Some things are not better with age.
10. White Sands National Monument – Alamogordo, NM
Ever since Boyz 2 Men shot the video for “Water Run’s Dry” at White Sands, I put this landmark on my Bucket List. Because if B2M does it, it must be cool. And it surpassed my every expectation. It was truly amazing. Can you believe it’s the largest gypsum dunefield in the world? Just one big white beach in the middle of nowhere with a mountainous backdrop. Bring the family and play on the dunes, or bring your camera and become an instant photographer.