Well, 2016 has been pretty awesome as far as travelling goes. Rewind to the beginning of June, summer was fast approaching yet I didn’t really have anything planned aside from work and dissertation writing – exciting stuff, I know. However, whilst chatting with my friend who was discussing her West Coast road trip plans,the travel bug hit me hard and I couldn’t help but browse for some last minute flights. And yep, with one click of a button, I was heading to the states with my friend from uni to join her. With my final research paper not due until the beginning of January, I simply though “why the hell not”. Life is too short.
Our road trip began in Joshua Tree National Park. As I hadn’t really carried out any research on the history of the park, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. However, if it looked anything like the Instagram pictures that I had stumbled upon (no shame), I knew that I was going to love it.
After a few hours of dessert driving, we reached our destination. The park itself was absolutely stunning. Whilst walking through various areas of the park, it almost didn’t feel real – like we were in some sort of I-max movie experience or something. We were in legit Flintstones territory. As I spend so much time in busy cities, I feel that National Parks provide that little bit of peace and tranquility that city life lacks and Joshua Tree was no different.
One must see area of the park is the “Cactus Graveyard” – a field of cacti as long as the eye can see – Urban Outfitters, eat your heart out. However, I do have one word of warning for anyone planning on visiting the park – do not bring any sweet snacks / beverages or wear sweet perfume. To our surprise, upon arriving, we found out that the park is inhabited by thousands of “thirsty bees”, which tend to swarm around the central tourist points. I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t slightly terrifying. Attempting to walk through a swarm of bees to get back into our car was seriously not my idea of fun – but the beauty of the park more than made up for this.
Next Stop – Laguna Beach
Okay, I have to admit, when it comes to holidays, I am definitely more of a city gal than a beach gal. However, our day at Laguna was just perfect. In the morning we picked up a picnic of snacks from Trader Joes and headed to the golden sands of Laguna to chill for a few hours. Sitting on the beach’s toasty floor whilst munching on California rolls, drinking ice cold lemonade whilst listening to the crashing of the ocean waves was honestly sheer bliss. During our time at Laguna we also wandered around the oceans edge and explored the quaint little seaside shops which the town had to offer. I feel like this day has definitely changed my opinion on beach type holidays and showed that sometimes the most simple of plans, turn out to be the best ones.
Next on our trip was Palm Springs,where we stayed at the fabby Hard Rock Hotel. After a long day of travelling, relaxing by the hotel’s pool in the toasting hot valley was heavenly. The hotel itself was a music lover’s dream, filled with unique memorabilia, awesome music and quirky art pieces, it was definitely one of the most unique hotels which I have ever spent the night in. As we only had only planned to stay for a day, we didn’t explore much of Palm Springs other than the central area in which we were staying. However, with its quaint little cafes, eateries and luxurious hotels, it was a fab place to rest our heads and refuel for our travels.
Serendipity; luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.
A few years ago whilst reading through various travel blogs, I stumbled across what was probably one of the most striking art pieces that I had ever laid eyes on – Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is a huge multicoloured mound situated, literally in the middle of nowhere, in the Southern California Dessert. The piece, created by an artist called Leonard Knight was designed as a tribute to “Gods Love” / “Universal Love” and is now maintained by volunteers using paint donated by admirers of the mountain. Whilst looking at our travel route, my lovely friend Annabelle noticed that the mountain wasn’t a million miles away from our next destination – San Diego. Before we knew it we were standing in front of one of the craziest sights I have seen throughout all of my travels. While I have to admit that the religious element of the art piece just isn’t for me, you can’t deny the beauty of this unique, vibrant spectacle.
San Diego was the first major city on our route. On our first night here, it was my lovely friend Karen’s Birthday (woop woop), so what did we do? We headed straight to The Cheesecake Factory to fill our faces (duh).I opted for the chic-chip cookie dough slice, which was an absolute dream. The amazing staff at The Cheesecake Factory also made Karen’s night extra special by serenading he as her cheesecake arrived, I’m sure that this will be a birthday night that she will remember for years to come.
The second day of our San Diego adventure saw us drive to Point Loma Park where we admired beautiful views of the city whilst munching on yet another picnic al la Walmart. Sometimes you just can’t beat some fresh fruit and healthy food whilst travelling and when avocados are just $0.25 a piece, can you really say no? We wandered around the Point Loma coastline and watched the waves crash against the waters edge. I would definitely recommend visiting Point Loma if you are looking to escape the busy city vibes.
After point Loma, we headed to a little gem of an area called “North Park” – a neighbourhood renowned for it’s quirky eateries and ultra cool stores. Whilst researching places to visit, Karen came across a shop called “Pigment’ which was hailed as ” Instagram IRL” and what can I say? It was magical! The shop was an 21st century Aladdin’s Cave filled with the most beautiful stationary, homeware and jewellery you ever did see. I could have honestly stayed there all day.
Well, I have to say that the excitement of Pigment really took it out of us, so naturally, next on the agenda was refreshments -in the form of monster sized milkshakes. As we strolled down the beautiful art filled streets of North Park, we were immediately drawn to a milkshake bar aptly named, The Milk bar. The Milk Bar offers a crazy large variety of mouthwatering shakes and cookies. I opted for the Peppermint Patty shake with a Snickerdoodle cookie. Its safe to say, there were no regrets.
On our last night we visited San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter – an area renowned for its abundance of amazing eateries and bars. This was a great way to end our time in the city. I really enjoyed our time in the city and would love to go back to do some more exploring!
Have you visited the West coast of America? Do you have any recommendations for us?