Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Travel Bug

Uh oh.  I'm getting a travel bug... again.  Hate that.  Ok.  Not really.  The whole time we were in Mexico we discussed traveling.  I dream of traveling the world.  I really do.  But when I really think about it, we are so stinkin' lucky to live in such an amazing country!  I feel like I could spend my whole life traveling just the United States and not see it all...  So rather than feeling bad that I'm not currently getting more stamps in my passport, I decided to come up with my top 10 favorite places I've visited in the Untied States.

10. San Francisco, California
Maybe if I visited this place when it was actually warm and sunny and not windy I'd put it higher on the list.......... but that's saying something, even with the wind, cold, and rain I still think it'spretty amazing.

9. Oahu, Hawaii : Crazy thing.  Hawaii has not been my favorite travel destination.  I know, I am weird.  Hopefully when we go next week this will change. Some of my favorite things:
Beaches: Waiamea Bay, Sunset Beach, Turtle Bay, and for snorkeling: Shark's Cove

Two Hikes:
Waimea Falls
Maunawalil Falls

Shrimp Truck, Fresh fruit street venders, Kahuku Grill, Pineapple Dole Whip, Turtle Bay Cafe
and of course lots and lots of shaved ice.

Things to do:
Laie Temple (and PCC), Dole Plantation, Segway around Turtle Bay, Stadium Swap meet, Waikiki

Things I hope to try this trip:
Diamond Head
maybe Stairway to Heaven... we'll see....
and I'm sure I'll be doing a lot more rock climbing ;)

8. San Antonio, Texas
I am far from an expert on Texas but from what I've experienced the few times I've been there I think that San Antonio is AMAZING!  The River Walk is the most charming area.
And of course we had to throw in a little history with the missions and the Alamo.

7. Yellowstone/Jackson/West Yellowstone

This area of the world will always own part of my heart.  Things I love in this area:
Jackson Hole: white water rafting, the famous antler arches, alpine slides, and my favorite not pictured things.  The art galleries.  Trailside Gallery is a must any time we visit.
Mesa Falls and my favorite fishing/rafting of all-time below the falls.
West Yellowstone has the Playmill and Arrowleaf Ice Cream.  And through Yellowstone Park you can end up in Cooke City the most charming little seasonal town at foot of the Beartooth Mountains.
Oh...... and the sunsets up there.  You can't beat the sunsets.
But besides the people and the nostalgia, my favorite part of this area are these dang mountains.  I don't know why but the Tetons will always be my favorite mountains.
(Notice I talked very little inside of Yellowstone National Park, there are cool things in there but dude a day drive through the lower loop of that park (which is what most people commonly do) is a long painful day.)

6. Victoria, Canada.

I know I know.  It's not United States.  But technically, seriously, it's not really Canada either. It's an island! And it was amazingly beautiful.  It's the closest thing I've felt to the East Coast vibe I love in my #2 pick on the West Coast.

Sadly, if I hadn't gone to Victoria before visiting Seattle, this is probably where Seattle would fall on the list, but honestly, Victoria blew Seattle out of the water.  After seeing Victoria, Seattle just seemed grungy... like I needed to listen to Nirvana and wear flannel shirts the whole time I was there.

Back to the most beautiful real life Disneyland I've ever seen..... Victoria.
Oh how I am a sucker for sail boats and beautiful architecture.  Throw in some amazing flowers with that and for me, it's heaven.  
The Butchart Gardens were like a real life Story Book Land ride at Disneyland.  Everything was perfectly manicure with picturesque scenes every where you turned.

5. Miami, Florida

Florida might have the best beaches, just for beach sake, I've ever been to.  They are close, they are everywhere, and the water is WARM! (I could turn into a geography geek right now and explain that the water is always warmer on the East Coast because the water currents are flowing north from the Equator where as on the West Coast the water currents are coming from the North so California ocean water... just think Alaskan Glaciers) Anyway, I went to Miami after Christmas one year.  And it could not have been more beautiful!

We went to Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park.  Who knows why it is called Shark Valley because you go there to see alligators.  And it was a shocking experience.  You just walked along this bike path and there were alligators everywhere.  I had no idea they weren't very dangerous.  (Here's a group taking their yearly family picture right in front of an alligator.)  Yes, looks nutz for us Westerns that aren't used to such large reptiles.  
Like I said, the beaches were amazing.  Beautiful.  So fun to run on, so fun to watch the sunrise, it was great. This beach I am pretty sure was Hollywood Beach but we experienced many different beautiful beaches.
South Beach was a great adventure.  Lots of shopping in the day time but at night the highlight was my first experience with restaurant hosts trying to bargain to get you to eat at that restaurant.  They offered free alcohol or free appetizers.  The restaurant we finally ate at that night was the one that offered two for one lobster dinners.  Amazing.

4. Havasupi, Arizona
Well, the pictures pretty much speak for themselves on this one.

The 12 mile hike down.
Seeing Havasupai Creek for the first time.  Unbelievable.  And then Havaupai Falls.
Mooney Falls and then hiking below the falls in a tropical wonderland with another green lush with turquoise blue pools around every turn.  

It's pathetic my image of Chicago before I had the chance to "live" there with my parents the summer of 2010.  I honestly had this image that Chicago was Gotham City.  I imagined dark and grey.  And with the nickname windy city.... I thought this was a place I never cared to visit.  Boy was I wrong!!!!! *At least in the months of June and July.
I've struggled with what I would suggest someone to do if they are visiting the city for just a few days.  But here is what I've come up with.
First: stay in downtown.  This is one of those times where I think getting a hotel right in the action is really important.  Like the Drake.  (Yes, referencing My Best Friends Wedding).

An Architecture Boat Tour.  It's so awesome how Chicago has this huge river running through the city.  The boat tour shows you the cool buildings but it also shows you the city in a way you probably wouldn't see any other way.  It was so awesome!
The thing that shocked me the most about Chicago is how in the summer it turns into a beach town.  Lake Michigan is huge so it creates an amazing beachy vibe.  Running or biking around the lake was one of my favorite things to do every day.  I would run passed the Aquarium and the Bears beautiful NFL stadium every day.  Beach Volleyball happened every night.  They had leagues that I was a part of that was so much fun!  Of course a trip to Chicago would not be complete without a game at Wrigley's Stadium.  And Lincoln Park Zoo was fun because .... it's free!

Other must dos: from left to right: visit the United Center if for no other reason than to pay homage to the best basketball player of all time, (sadly United Center was the one place that you couldn't visit using the Metro, kinda annoying), Miracle Mile (awesome window shopping or real shopping and super cool architecture, just a couple blocks from the Lake, it's amazing) Millennium Park: to see the bean and take a selfie like everyone else and during the summer during lunch hour and most nights there are typically free concerts going and yoga in the morning, Buckingham Fountain isn't far away either is Lincoln Statue, but of course I had to through in the best McDonald's I've ever been to! Not only a statue of the Man but an escalator!

Not pictured but fun: Navy Pier and Chicago Art Institute is pretty darn amazing.

Food in Chicago!
This breakfast place was AMAZING.  I went there multiple times.  As for Chicago's famous pizza... we tried it a few times but really, not our thing.

2. Annapolis, Maryland
The interesting thing about the top three of my favorite places in United States is, I've lived in each of them for a bit.  There is such a difference between visiting a place for a couple of days and really getting to live there.  Hence I dream of some day living in Sorrento, Italy (here) .....someday.  But until then, back to the list.

Annapolis.  Seriously, most people, especially out West probably only know it because it's the capital of Maryland (if they even know that much. :(  Maybe it was my first really exposure to East Coast living... or maybe it really is the dream I think it is.

I feel like Annapolis is probably what Washington DC once was but now can't be because of the tourist traffic.  Annapolis is the crown jewel of East Coast Colonial living.  It's small and quaint, the architecture is top notch, and most important the sailing... oh the sailing.

Now what to actually do in Annapolis?  The tour of their state capital was amazing, of course Maryland is famous for their crabs, but my favorite thing is their Main Street.  I love it.  It makes me want to put on khaki shorts, a button down shirt, Sperrys, and wave around the American Flag.
(I can't find my Annapolis pictures anywhere)

1. Southern California.  Shocking, I know right.  But seriously there is no where in the world that can compete with it.  (Or at least clearly that's what I believe seeing how I have probably traveled there close to 100 times in my life.)

Los Angeles:
There are so many wonderful things in LA.  But I think my favorite is the art museums.  So let's start there.  Oh LA how I love you.  Hands down my favorite Art Museum of all time is The Getty.  The location, the view, the unreal majestic buildings, and of course some pretty darn good art make it my favorite of all time.  The only real downside of the Getty, it's even free!  well besides parking, is the horrendous traffic to get there.  It is located right off of the 405 AKA the worst freeway in the universe.

Next, the Forest Lawn Park, Getty VillaHuntington Library, LA County Museum of Art, and my favorite Rembrandt painting located in the Norton Simon Museum are all top notch.  Forest Lawn his many amazing art pieces but my personal favorite... the replica for Michelangelo's David and Pieta.  The Getty Villa up the PCH is also pretty darn wonderful.  It focuses more on Greek and Roman art which never really tickled my fancy but the gardens are pretty spectacular. And the drive to get there.... gorgeous.  Anyway, back to the pictures.The Huntington Library has some decent paintings but the real reason to go there are the gardens.  Oh the gardens.  My personal favorite are the rose gardens but they have all sorts of gardens.  The downside of the Huntington Library, unlike Mr. Getty and his foundation, the Huntington foundation did not see the need to make his attraction free. And LACMA always has interesting traveling exhibits.... but the lamp posts are pretty iconic.

Shopping in LA can definitely be an adventure.  Going downtown to the Flower District and Fashion District is always beautiful and cheap.  Old Town Pasadena is probably my favorite place to window shop.  The Farmers Market is a super fun place to check out.  And The Americana Glendale outdoor mall is always a favorite.

Some of my favorite things to do:
Eat at a beach front pub in Belmont (next to Seal Beach), Pasadena City Hall, Santa Monica Pier, and of course Dodger's Games!
Random peacocks especially at LA Arboretum, and ride the 40 mile bike path that end at Seal Beach.

Orange County:
It's crazy how a place so close can feel so totally different.  Orange County to me is only good for  2 two things. But don't get me wrong.  These two things are my favorite things on earth.  The Beach and Disneyland.

Here's my thoughts on beach.  If you want the whole beach experience, you know with the pier, the shops, easy/expensive parking and the huge vast beach Huntington Beach Pier is the place.  It is wonderful.  For a more entertaining beach with tide pools, gorgeous houses to gawk at, and even a rock climbing wall Corona del Mar is unreal. (Free parking with a little bit of a hike or $15 parking right next to the beach)  But there is something perfect California Beach about Newport Beach.  Parking can be an absolute nightmare, but the cute little houses, so close to Balboa Island is awesome.  And then of course there is Laguna Beach, which to me is almost a completely different world.  Oh and Salt Creek....... beautiful.

Oh Disneyland.  How in the world can one try and describe the magic of this place.

San Diego County:
Now here's the crazy thing.  If Orange County is a different country compared to LA then San Diego county is another world.  It really is crazy how different the vibe is in each of these places.  Sadly San Diego county is my least explored area.  But some of my favorites are:
 La Jolla Cove, Potato Chip hike, Oceanside Pier, and of course the Braithwaite house.
Sailing and Paddle Boarding.
And oh Balboa Park.......... how I love that place.

I guess I should also explain that some of my favorite LDS temples are located in Southern California.  Having to pick between the three as a favorite would just be too difficult for me.  So let's just put them together to create the most beautiful favorite temple of all time.

Phew.  Creating this post was more exhaust and time consuming than a vacation!  Good thing only two more days until Spring Break!!!!

1 comment:

goddessdivine said...

I love that I'm in a few of those pics! :-)

Haven't been to Maryland, but I will soon! Now you've got me more excited about it.

(San Francisco's always chilly. It's a rarity if it's not.)