West Coast, Best Coast?

I am from still debating…but this trip made it hard to not want to stay out west.

Being from Pennsylvania, part of me will always have a home here in my heart, but the landscapes and weather out west are unmatched. Maybe it was the combination of seeing and meeting friends that made it so special, but still. After over a year of not really seeing my friends, (and not seeing some of these particular friends in 3-4 years!) I was more than ready to be reunited with them and have some cross country adventures. I am in my feelings all over again just thinking about it!

First, I arrived in Flagstaff and met up with my friend JT, where he was on a weeklong vacation to see the Grand Canyon and some surrounding areas. Together, along with three of his friends (who quickly became mine, too) we visited not only the great Grand Canyon, but took a side-by-side through Sedona, swam in Lake Powell, dared to look down over Glen Canyon Dam, and felt lucky at Horseshoe Bend. (I’m fortunate that JT is a videographer, so stay tuned for some awesome footage of this trip! And check out his wedding videos & website here.)

Grand Canyon:

Glen Canyon/Lake Powell/Horseshoe Bend, etc.

Sedona:

It just so happened that my incredible friend from home, Eli, was also in Flagstaff because he was going to RUN the Grand Canyon. Yeah, you heard right. Bright Angel trail, the rim of almost 50 miles. Insane. Anyway, there was one night of overlap so I got to see him for a couple hours the night before his big run! He does a lot of epic things like this and raises money for the Inclusive Outdoors Project, which you should know about (and donate if you’re able)!

Next, I left Arizona and made my way to California, where my friend from college, Casey, picked me up from the airport and we headed back to his place with his boyfriend Taylor in Venice. It was a couple days of beach walking, hard kombucha drinking, mountain climbing, and sunset chasing, as well as time playing with Hudson, his cute pup! I also walked the famous canals, wandered down the ever-busy boardwalk (even at 7 AM!), and checked out Santa Monica Pier. (Sidecar donuts for the win!)

Before leaving, I was able to meet up with my friend and fellow Madwoman, Karla. We’re both poets that recently left Pittsburgh (she moved out to LA!) and caught up with one another over coffee. If you’re also an artist in LA or looking for one, here is her website.

Last but certainly not least, I arrived in San Diego where I met up with my high school friend Elle and her girlfriend Bria. It’s like we never missed a beat! There were so many evenings of long talks late into the night where we laughed so hard I thought I’d physically hurt myself, and days filled with trying the best tacos and most decadent ice cream, and watching an epic sunset our last night- at a spot literally called “Sunset Cliffs.” We may have talked about me moving to San Diego… and with the beauty that is the seaside, Balboa Park, and weather like that, who wouldn’t consider it? I did a day trip to La Jolla as well, made friends with some chunky seals, and had the best tacos. Check it out:

Can you believe ALL of that was just in one week?!

Like I said, I’m from the east coast and Pennsylvania will always be home, but…nice weather, awesome national parks and unique landscapes, Salt & Straw ice cream…it tugs at my heartstrings.

What do you think? West coast, best coast?

sig2

Day Trips from Vegas

In the time I’ve spent helping my family move to Vegas, (read more about our cross country move here) I have been so fortunate to visit some beautiful places in Nevada and beyond!

Las Vegas is so much more than luxury hotels on the strip, bright lights on Fremont Street, and clubbing or gambling. It is the perfect distance for so many incredible escapes into nature with national and state parks nearby.

Check out some of my adventures below- all doable in a day trip from Sin City!

Red Rock Canyon

-one way drive, 13 miles
-reservation required through May (available online)

This is a scenic loop that is easily doable in a half day from Vegas, as it is less than 30 minutes away.

*High Point Overlook
*Petroglyph Wall
*White Rock
*Calico Hills

**The Lost Canyon- Children’s Discovery Trail was one we took the girls on, but enjoyed ourselves!

***Look out for all the white-tailed antelope ground squirrels 🙂

Valley of Fire State Park

Nevada’s first state park really lives up to its name!

About an hour drive from Las Vegas.

Mouse’s Tank Road winds through the park, and there’s a Instagram-worthy opportunity around every bend.

*Rainbow Vista
*Pastel Canyon
*The Wave (always exposed to sun here, bring lots of water!)
*White Domes (my favorite hike!)

** $10 per vehicle gets you in

***If you’re lucky, you’ll see desert bighorn sheep like we did!

Hoover Dam & Seven Magic Mountains

*The Hoover Dam is truly astounding. It is free to walk or drive across, and located just 30 minutes or so from Las Vegas.

*Seven Magic Mountains was created by Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss-born artist, and it is only open to the public until the end of this year! Also about a 30 minute drive from Vegas.

Death Valley National Park

This is about a 2 hour drive from Vegas, and I simply CANNOT recommend it enough!

*Zabriskie Point
*Artists Palette
*Natural Bridge Trail
*Devil’s Golf Course
*Mesquite Sand Dunes
*Badwater Basin

**One of the hottest places on Earth! I am so glad we went in the winter- I don’t know that I would’ve enjoyed it at 100+ degrees

***Be prepared before you come- that means fuel up (it’s like $6/gallon otherwise) and make sure you have plenty of water and snacks. The park is vast, and shops are few & far between, and can be pricey.

And there you have it– so many options for day trips! Bryce and Zion in Utah are other options, too, but we only had so many free weekends! Hope this gives you inspiration for future travels. If you have others, please drop them below in the comments!

sig2

xoxo,