An American road trip has been one of our most popular holidays during our relationship. However a little bit of our heart was always left in California during our honeymoon, we ALWAYS said we’d visit again with our children someday. Well, we done it, and we done it good!
If you want to know all the best spots (in our opinion) to visit on a two week California road trip, keep reading. OR, if you like epic family photos, keep scrolling 😉
We jetted over to LA where we picked up our mustang, it was TOTALLY worth upgrading it to the mustang with two littles. No no, a mini van is not needed with kids. Especially when your kids don’t need leg room, a mustang is pretty damn perfect. We brought their car seats along with us for the first time and it worked out better actually, I much preferred using seats that I was used to and knew how to fit correctly! We were all pretty knackered so headed straight to the hotel where we went for a swim and sleep!
Okay so the main question we get asked is ‘how do we afford our travels’. The main thing is knowing where to spend your money, and for us, hotels isn’t that. We go as cheap as cheap can get, think of Bates motel, yeah, that’s us right there. Some of the places aren’t ideal, they are in some of the worst areas in a city, in the middle of nowhere with their road sign hanging off broken, or we even had some crack heads living in the room next door to our room one night. One morning we woke up to see that where our car was parked some of the car windows had been smashed – luckily not ours 😅. Thing is, we turn up late and leave early on these road trips. There is absolutely no need for us to pay any more than we have to for a room. Plus, all those things makes us laugh and it’s those times that we remember and talk about years to come. We’d much rather save $30 and put that towards an experience each day! As a guide, throughout the 48 states we’ve visited we would give $90/100 per night as an average. Oh and incase your wondering How we plan and book our trip, we don’t. We literally just drive, see where we get to, and then look around for the nearest/cheapest motel. Which are usually everywhere, there was only one time on this trip we had to drive quite a bit further to find a cheap hotel, other than that you really don’t need to book ahead.
Places not to miss
LA – you wanna be doing all the touristy things here, it was nice doing it at the beginning of our trip and getting it out of the way actually. The walk of fame and the Hollywood sign we done on our first morning in America. We were all jet lagged, woke up at 4am and left our room. We used it to our advantage which meant we didn’t hit ANY traffic going through downtown LA (the worst traffic we’ve ever had to deal with – all day everyday). There was not a soul in sight to see both of these, apart from the odd homeless person. So this was just 👌🏼 don’t forget to get a milkshake from mels diner too!
PALM SPRINGS – we had high hopes for Palm Springs to begin with but when we first arrived we wasn’t sure how we felt about it. We ended up in an English bar watching the World Cup, where we had a great experience, got taking to the most loveliest couples. After that we started to really love Palm Springs, it’s super cheap to stay there, super fricken hot, nice cool place to come if you live in LA and need a short break. If you’re travelling through, maybe staying one night is all you really need, we only spent the day there before leaving to the next place.
BIG BEAR LAKE – wowwwww, our most favourite place on this trip! So we actually prebooked this hotel in advance because it was July 4th and we knew we had to book ahead incase everything sold out. It actually worked out amazing because we found an amazing deal on this incredible log cabin, with cooking facilities too!
Also an outdoor bbq and the best pool ever! So lovely and warm – a lot of pools in America can be pretty cold, so check them out before you book if that’s a must for you! Not all lakes you can swim in throughout America because most lakes are full up by the melted snow from the surrounding mountains, meaning it’s freezing. However this year they didn’t get much snow which meant the lake water was beautiful, and boy did we jump in that lake! It was incredible.
We hired out a boat for about $120 for a couple hours which was just awesome, we met another family too which were so kind and let us join them on their boat too, we then spent the evening by their bbq chilling as the sun went down 👌🏼. There are some stunning hikes all around big bear, we didn’t get a chance to do on this trip but we did get to the BIG SLIDE and had a game of bowling between us, which was hilarious as the 1.5 year old Phoenix beat Stu 😂. Then of course watching the fireworks for July 4th was incredible too, the kids were just mesmerised.
SEQUOIA – sequoia national park is home to one of the worlds oldest trees in the world, which is like 2,700 years! It’s fricken huge and crazy beautiful. Getting a picture next to this tree, the General Sherman is a must. So something you should know about sequoia, it’s a fricken long drive to get in and out of both entrances. We did not expect this and thought we could do it in a couple of hours. It actually took nearly 5 hours to get completely out, in the dark because we drove in as the sun was setting. We also came 4 miles away from running out of fuel, we were freaking out as we were driving through the windy roads through the woodland (where we had just seen bears) with the idea we were about to run out of fuel! Fuckkkk. So yeah, make sure you have a full tank 😅
BASS LAKE – this place was a total fluke coming across. We didn’t want to go to Yosemite on a Sunday(too busy). So we held off and had a chilled day, we Googled a couple surrounding areas and came across this place. We parked the car and I explored the area a little before coming across a little bride with a natural rock slide that just liked incredible, so I gathered the family and told them to come to this spot. We spent the WHOLE day there until the sunset and it was beautiful. The water was so beautifully warm, so many spots to jump in off rocks, the slide was awesome, the kids loved it. Just great, a great day!
YOSEMITE – Yosemite is incredible. It truly is, we had looked at staying inside but it just wasn’t possible at short notice on our budget. We spoke to a guy that had booked his stay a year previous! I would say staying inside the National Park will give you a complete different experience. For us we found the drive in a LONG drive, and although the kids were asleep because we entered the park at 5am, we weren’t looking forward to doing it again another day. So we planned our day packed out, and made sure we were there early before it got busy. The car parks for each ‘attraction’ aren’t huge so going midday you’ll struggle to get a space straight away. We managed to visit Yosemite falls, a hike to mirror falls, tunnel view and Bridalveil falls without seeing anyone in the car parks, that was bliss. Then we drove up an hour to glacier point which was just spectacular, it started to get pretty busy by this point so we were glad that was our last attraction and then we made our way out. Oh not forgetting the two fricken Wild bears that we saw! One just in the woodland as we drove past, we stopped and watched him/her for a little. Then another as we were walking back from Yosemite falls had just walked across the road in front of loads of people and we saw it walking off in to the woodland! 😱
LAKE TAHOE – Seriously one of our highlights of all the places we’ve ever been to. It’s a little town located on a border of California and Nevada. With half of the town full of casinos (Nevada side), and the other side with beautiful log cabins. We hired a boat out here, which was very reasonably priced too. The stunning views was incredible to witness. We also got a Gondola in to the mountains which takes you 9,100 feet above the lake, bringing you out to the most breathtaking landscape.
SAN FRANCISCO – one of the most famous cities in the world, and for good reason. Although we’ve visited San Fran before we had an even better experience this time. We saw more of the residential area this time as we took a bit of a detour on a bike ride, this meant we saw all the cool little corners of bars, cafes and a little pop up markets, it made us feel at home rather than being in a busy city. Of course we done the touristy things like the golden gate and Pier 39. For us hiring a bike out to do these things is the best, you get to see everything at your own pace, stopping whenever (regularly because we got tired quick 😂) and take photos or to just take the views in. So the route that we done and we’d totally recommend would be to head along the beach in San Fran towards the Golden Gate, ride across the bridge and then in to Sausalito, where we then got an ice cream and hopped on the ferry back to San Francisco, that will take you right to Pier 39 where,if it’s not too hot, it’ll be covered in Seals!! On that ferry you also go right past Alcatraz. If you want to go on to the island of Alcatraz make sure to book it well in advance! Oh and we found a fantastic park for children right next to the city hall, it’s pretty new (2018) and it’s actually guarded by security so that it stays on top form! We spend a good couple of hours there, ideal!
ROUTE 1 – so if you want to do a road trip in California you HAVE to travel up/down this road. Rather than going on and on. I’ll just list our tops places we’ve visited along route 1, always do your own research and look up what YOU would like to see but here are some beautiful places we’ve loved spending time at. You can do route one as quick or as slow as you’d like, there are so many weird and wonderful places to stop off along the way too. Here’s a list of some of the places we’d 100% recommend.
So there you go, after travelling to 48 States, we can say that California has been our most favourite state, Colorado coming close! There are so many wonders all over California that we haven’t visited yet, Joshua Tree/Death Valley being just a couple of them. Happy to answer any questions you have about road tripping america or travelling California. Just send me a message 🙂