Travel blog

California road trip – our travel diary: week 1

All aboard the Nissan Rogue – our road trip has begun and we have left Vegas! First stop on our trip is just a quick one at the Hoover Dam. We decided to stop here as a) it’s supposed to be amazing (and definitely didn’t disappoint!) and b) it’s en route to our first overnight stop in Williams, AZ. The Dam itself is incredible, and overwhelmingly big! We arrived during golden hour which meant our views of the dam and the Colorado river were even more beautiful – definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Vegas area! After our short stop off at the Dam, we crossed the border into Arizona and headed for our first overnight stop. We chose Williams (approximately 50 miles south of the Grand Canyon south rim) because of its convenient location and cost! Whilst Williams was not the most exciting place we have visited thus far on our trip, it was the perfect stop over before the busy day ahead.

Day two of our road trip – an early wake up call the following morning meant we were very quickly in the car and heading towards the Grand Canyon. WOW!!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!!! Nothing can prepare you for how jaw-droppingly incredible this natural beauty is. It is so vast and the rocks are beautiful in both shape and colour! We arrived around 10am to a pretty overcast view, shortly followed by some snow, and then sun… very bizarre, but also spectacular. We took a short walk along the south rim trail (left from the visitors centre), noticing quickly that the number of tourists thins out the further you walk along the trail (perfect opportunity for photos!). We stopped at a smaller viewpoint / museum further along to learn a bit about how the Canyon was formed before heading back to the car to start our long drive across Arizona back to Nevada (via Route 66!!). That night we had plans to stay in Laughlin, NV – a small town right on the boarder of California and Arizona, and a location that is situated almost half way between the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park (our next big stop).

Again, we decided to have another early start to fit in everything we wanted to do. Joshua Tree was around a three hour drive from Laughlin and then we had a further 3 hour drive from Joshua tree to San Diego later that day. After a lovely drive into California via a VERY bendy road we arrived at the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. The drive through the park was beautiful, we stopped multiple times along the route to see the Challa Cactus Garden and skull rock – not forgetting the beautiful Joshua trees themselves that are dotted all over the park. When we made it to the north of the park, we went for a brief walk around the Barker Dam trail before getting on our way. Three hours driving ahead and it was already getting dark! We arrived in San Diego later that evening so weren’t able to see much, but had plans to explore the following day.

Woke up to beautiful day in San Diego – sunny with blue skies!! We headed to the Gaslamp Quarter first, exploring the surrounding area for part of the morning before driving to Pacific Beach.

Our first taste of Californian sun, and it was lovely! We did a bit of sunbathing before having lunch at a little seafood restaurant on the beachfront. After lunch we drove up to La Jolla cove. We arrived in La Jolla early afternoon and were lucky enough to see nearly 100 seals and sea lions basking on the rocks and playing in the shallows. They were amazing to watch (despite being very smelly!!). We took a short walk around the cove, taking in our surroundings and watching all the seals and sea lions. After spending a bit of time in La Jolla we headed a bit further up the coast to Torrey Pines Nature Reserve where we found another lovely beach, the perfect spot to watch sunset (and avoid the horrendous Californian traffic on our drive to LA). Once the sun had set we began to make our way to Venice. The drive was pretty painless, albeit quite busy, but we arrived at our Airbnb in good time and very excited to be in our next destination – Los Angeles.

First morning in LA and we didn’t have the best weather. Our Airbnb was located in Marina del Rey, just a few blocks from Venice beach. Due to the overcast weather, the morning was spent finding a barbers for Marcus, and exploring a bit of Venice – very edgy!

That afternoon we decided to walk along Venice beach to Santa Monica pier. The walk along the ocean front was lovely, and after a few stops en route, we made it to the pier – just as the sun began to disappear. Exploring the pier was fab and we were able to watch sunset there as well (maybe one of the best we’ve seen yet!!). We had a quick monkey around on the swings and gym equipment before starting the long walk back to our place. On the way back we stopped for drinks at a bar right on the beach which was great – such a Cali vibe!

Last morning in Venice before heading over to Hollywood for the rest of our LA stay. The morning consisted of a cycle along the Venice promenade to Santa Monica pier again and a sunbathe on the beach (yay for some more sun!), we had lunch at a beachfront restaurant before packing up the car and driving over to Hollywood.

The 14 mile drive took us just short of an hour – LA traffic is crazy! When we arrived in Hollywood, the sun was very close to setting so we decided to head up to the Griffith observatory to make the most of the nice weather and watch the sunset over the city. Parking was a real struggle when we arrived – we drove around for at least 10 minutes trying to find somewhere to park before settling on somewhere a slight walk away – but the view was so worth it when we got to the observatory! Everyone obviously likes to watch sunset from here when the weather is good as it was super busy! It was great watching the sun disappear as the city lights emerged – what a beautiful place.

First full day in Hollywood and the weather was fantastic. We headed back to the base of Griffith Park for a ‘short’ hike up Mount Hollywood. We hiked up passed the Griffith observatory before following the Mt. Hollywood trail up to a few viewpoints. After a couple of detours we made it to an amazing viewpoint of the Hollywood sign – it’s huge and quite a spectacle, the views of the city are equally as good!

Once returning from our not so short hike, we went back to the room to shower and change before wandering out to explore Hollywood (the walk of fame was right on our doorstep). It’s amazing – all the stars and street artists. We’re really getting a good flavour of what LA has to offer.

That afternoon we headed to downtown, more specifically to the Staples centre for the Clippers vs Cavaliers game. Quite a contrast to the previous basketball game we went to, but equally as fun! We got a foam finger and loved the excitement of all the timeouts / half time show. What a great evening.

Second full day in LA and the weather really wasn’t on our side. It rained ALL day! We attempted to do a bit more sightseeing but rain stopped play and we quickly returned to our room. That evening we made the most of the jacuzzi (despite the downpour), and did some research into the rest of our trip before heading to bed early… how boring!!

Final day in LA before we headed up the coast and a week since we started our road trip – time is really flying!! The rain stopped so we did another hike, this time around Runyon Canyon only to realise how unfit we were – it was so tough! After packing up the car we drove to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive for our last bit of LA exploring – definitely where the rich and famous go! Rodeo drive was full of flash cars driving up and down the beautifully pristine boulevard! That afternoon we left LA and headed for Malibu – the sun had finally decided to make an appearance which was great as we got to see the start of a beautiful sunset on our drive up the coast, eventually watching it set on Malibu beach!

Time for us to leave the Los Angeles area and head up the coast! We will write another blog post next week once we have made it all the way to San Francisco and beyond!

Updates to follow… 🚘🏖

Adios for now,

Love Char & Mar x

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