Tag

California

Browsing

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park were stops on one of our epic Missouri to California road trips. As we planned the trip, we couldn’t wait to experience the majesty of the enormous sequoia trees. Like many people, we’d seen the pictures and videos of these amazing trees. Now it was time to experience them for ourselves. Though we only spent two nights in the park, it’s an experience I won’t ever forget. We stayed at the only lodge within Sequoia National Park–Wuksachi Lodge. This one is a little different from some of the classic lodges we’ve stayed in because the check-in building is in a completely separate location from the actual lodges. While the lobby is often in a different building from the actual rooms, this was the first one we’d encounter in which our building was a short drive away from the lobby, gift shop, and…

When I realized our summer road trip in 2022 would take us right by the Winchester Mystery House, I knew what we had to do. That’s right. We had to stop. The History of the Winchester Mystery House The Winchester Mystery House is a historic mansion located in San Jose, California. Its construction began in 1884 and continued for almost 38 years until Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester, passed away in 1922. The house is renowned for its unique architectural features and its intriguing history. Legend has it that after the death of her husband and infant daughter, Sarah Winchester sought solace in the belief that she was haunted by the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. To escape their vengeful spirits, she began an extensive and continuous construction project on her family’s unfinished farmhouse. Over the years, the mansion underwent constant renovations, resulting…

When we plan our long road trips, Kristin is always hoping for a chance to see some animals. She was super excited to learn that we’d be visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, during one of our road trips out west. We love a good aquarium, and Monterey Bay is one of the best in the country. This aquarium is right on the water, which makes a visit there all the better. It’s also on a road in town known as Cannery Row, an old sardine packing district. These details make Monterey Bay Aquarium a unique place to visit. Arriving at Monterey Bay Aquarium At the time of our visit, the aquarium was still operating on a reservation system due to reopening restrictions after Covid-19. We scheduled ahead of time to be sure to get an opening reservation so that we could explore some other attractions later in…

Yosemite Valley Lodge turned out to be the perfect place to relax on our trip. When planning our trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the first things we narrowed down was lodging. Since national park lodging can fill up early, it’s best to plan your trip a year out or more. And though I would’ve loved to stay at the flagship lodge, The Awahnee, it’s a little pricy. Since we were on a three-week road trip, we chose a more economical choice this time–Yosemite Valley Lodge. On this road trip, we’d already had several adventures that included four national parks–Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Death Valley. We’d also been to some great cities (and towns) in California–Lone Pine, Monterey, and San Francisco. Even after all those experiences, we still were awed by the sheer beauty of Yosemite. It’s like no other place we’ve seen. Arriving at Yosemite Valley…

As we learned about visiting Alcatraz, it was soon apparent that the Alcatraz Night Tour was the option for us. We initially weren’t planning to stay in San Francisco on this road trip; we planned to drive through on our way to Yosemite National Park from Monterey, California. But as we planned our trip, we realized we’d need to stay a night near San Francisco. So why not check out some of the attractions in the city? And though the Alcatraz Night Tour isn’t technically a ghost tour, the description sounded close enough. After all, we love a good ghost tour in a new city. Planning Our Alcatraz Night Tour To visit Alcatraz, you need to buy tickets for a tour, and the tickets are only available through the Alcatraz Island Tickets website. If you purchase tickets from another source, they may not be valid. If you visit Alcatraz during…

If you’re heading to San Francisco, you simply must plan to spend some time in Chinatown, the oldest in North America and the largest outside of Asia. San Francisco’s Chinatown is a sensory delight; the art, the food, the music, the shopping–China’s culture is a fantastic experience and was a highlight of our road trip. Though we only spent a few hours there, it’s one of my family’s favorite memories. Planning Our Visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown We only spent one night in San Francisco, but our limited time was packed with experiences. Honestly, as we planned this three-week road trip from Missouri, we didn’t initially plan to stay in San Francisco; we intended to drive on through. I thought San Francisco would be its own trip for us one day. As we continued to plan, we realized that we’d be staying somewhere nearby anyway as we drove from Monterey…

The Fantasmic! Dining Package can save you some time by allowing you to explore the park rather than stake out a spot to view Fantasmic!. As we planned our first Disneyland trip, we knew we wanted to see this nighttime show. Though we’d seen the Walt Disney World version several times, Disneyland’s Fantasmic happens right in the middle of the park on Rivers of America rather than in a separate outdoor theatre. We knew we didn’t want to miss this, and we knew we didn’t want to spend time staking out a viewing spot early if we didn’t have to. The solution? Booking a Fantasmic! Dining Package. Disney Dining Packages and Dessert Parties When we go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, we like to find ways to minimize waits for some of the special experiences Disney offers. Sometimes we book a dessert party in order to get special viewing…

If you’re into amazing national parks, eventually you’ll find yourself in the Redwood National and State Parks in northern California. We really only spent about 24 hours among these magnificent old trees, but any time you can make for one of the most awesome places on earth is totally worth it. One of our first experiences in the redwoods was taking a hike in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We’d stayed the night in a cabin at the KOA in Crescent City, California, the night before. Besides sleeping among these enormous trees, we hadn’t had any redwoods experiences yet. Since we drove down from the north, our first experiences were with the Redwood National and State Parks. Unlike most national parks, this national park merges with three California state parks to preserve and maintain the area. This is a rather recent development; the merge happened in 1994. Farther south, the…

What do you think of when you think of Malibu? Hollywood stars? Expensive homes? Barbie? (Yes, I’m a child of the 80s.) I think of all of these things, so when we had a chance to make a quick stop to Malibu Beach, we took it. Malibu: The Plan or More Accurately, the Non-Plan When we planned our first trip to California in 2019, we knew we wanted to include some beach time. Kristin and I had never even been near the Pacific Ocean, so squeezing in a beach visit or two was definitely a goal. There are a lot of choices, of course, but in the end, we chose Malibu and Santa Monica Pier.  One reason we chose Santa Monica is that it’s the end of Route 66, and we live blocks away from the historic highway in Joplin, Missouri. If you want to check out more about our…

Pin It