Road Trip!! - Southern California to Colorado

somewhere in the desert

This year we took our summer vacation at the very end of our kids summer holiday, so we were practically the only ones on holiday... it seems our school in Rhode Island started at least two weeks after everyone else! (but to make up for it they were not done with last year until the END of JUNE!) Honestly it was a bit of perfection... none of the crowds that normally present themselves while on a summer vacation, so mark your books - summer vacation the last weeks of August and you are GOLDEN!

managed some surfing with family in LA

a few breakfasts at AXE (for me)

We started out in Southern California, El Segundo to be exact, it is where my husband had a stint as the Artist in Residence at ESMoA (El Segundo Museum of Art) - we found El Segundo to be a secret little paradise, in the craziness that is LA! For me it's perfect since it's only minutes to my favorite street... Abbot Kinney at which I had two breakfasts at AXE and one at Gjelina and a delightful celebratory dinner at AXE... you might say I am all AXeD out.. but I'm NOT! (toast w/hummus and Avocado... with so much garlic you could kill someone.. mmmm... still dreaming of it!)

car window photo!

Enough of that... onto the important stuff... R  O  A  D    T  R  I  P.....

I am telling you NOW this is the PERFECT road trip for someone who does not like a road trip, we DO and this was the EASIEST road trip EVER. You think you can't hang with your kids in the car for more than an hour... I promise this is the trip for you... it's never more than five hours in the car at a time and the view is so GORGEOUS that you will never even turn on the music!! It's possible our kids watched one movie but I really don't think they did... (I don't remember because I was too busy looking out the window at the B  E  A  U  T  Y!!)

Start your trip with a bit of Southern California - pick your spot and stay wherever... we love anywhere in LA! (well just about...) But I would suggest a visit to LACMA (Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art - see my post here) it's great for kids and it's a great place to spend the DAY. I would also suggest a day at the beach... maybe Manhattan Beach or something easy like that... There are so many places to stay I can't even start - but I might suggest something near the beach with kids so that you can start the day with a nice walk around, anywhere, maybe Santa Monica (we have stayed at the Viceroy in the past and that is a really nice location).

Then on we go to Las Vegas - it's an easy, less than 5 hours drive from LA (including a couple of pee breaks). Everyone has their own variation on Vegas... mine is to stay the hell away... but my husband, he likes to see the people... there you go, the spectacle, so we compromise. I get to stay at The Palms Place which is just off the strip, with a view of it, but you are not IN it. DO NOT confuse the Palms Place with The Palms... totally different. It's chic, a kitchen, big rooms, great tubs... all you need for kids to have the feeling of crazy Las Vegas and not really be in it. The pool is kinda cool (smoothies available) and the restaurant serves organic food (wha..!?) yes organic, it's quite nice. I like to have dinner at Paris and sit outside so you can see the water show at Bellagio (for me, this is the only reason to go to Vegas... the Bellagio water show - I'm SO boring!).

ONWARD! Next is a delightful destination Zion National Park. We left in the morning so that we would have the day in Zion, it's only about 3 1/2 hours from Las Vegas. As you enter there is a wonderful little town, we heard that there were possible flash floods that night so we found a place to stay in the village instead of camping. The hiking in Zion is great with families of any age.. you can easily choose your trails, kids can get a Junior Ranger kit at the visitors center and learn all about Zion on their own (it's great when they get to tell you about things... ) We spent two days in Zion - you can easily spend a week on various hikes or just a day to check it out - but it's an amazing place.

this guy saved our A** -- he told us what to do, where to go, what time to go, everything in about 10 minutes he set us UP for Zion!

you will see a lot of this!
in Zion you will need: water shoes, hats, hiking gear, water bottles (none of which we had so you can also improvise! But you will probably get wet, at least from the knees down but maybe more)

you see that tiny white spec, that's my husband! this is such a VAST vista its amazing!

The drive out of Zion to Bryce Canyon is equally amazing! So make sure you take that drive in the daytime, you won't believe your eyes. One turn after the other... it's the most beautiful drive I have ever seen. We happened upon a time when we were practically the only ones on the road, amazing! We stopped quite a bit to check out the rocks, and really to just stop and stare! I think this was my favorite part of the trip, it all just keeps unfolding in front of you! As you get closer to Bryce the topography totally changes and you will see antelope, deer and lots of wildlife. We even managed to see a flash flood in action, although the only rain we had on the trip was a few drops here and there, and only for a few minutes.

I could throw down a hundred more of these shots... I took so many and I loved this part of the trip - but I love the way the road winds through this photo

The drive from Zion to Bryce is approx. 1 1/2 hours so we even hiked in Zion and then went to Bryce in the same day. BUT Then we had a bit of a crazy drive out of Bryce through Utah on our way to Arches that was spooky night driving in canyons... PITCH DARKNESS. We hadn't really done any research and found ourselves driving through these little towns, no starbucks, no mcdonalds, just mom and pop motels... it was too bad it was so late and dark but we were not ready to try these places so late at night. My suggestion, stay near Bryce and then head out the next morning to Arches National Park (the next stop).

whoa... and this is just the start....

Antelope (I think!?)


Bryce Canyon is a mystical place, it really makes you wonder what the heck happened to make this canyon the way it is... I think a tour would be a GREAT idea, there must be so much to learn about how this happened, I just hope my kids will explain it to me one day... fascinating! You can also hike through Bryce Canyon which I would image may be easier than Zion. You drive through the park and stop at each of the 'views' and then at the end is an amazing Amphitheater of all of it... I suggest seeing IT ALL! You will never in your life see something like this again. And obviously photos do no justice to the Majesty of it all!

Bryce Canyon reaches 9000 ft.
There are no fast food places here in Utah... SO refreshing... we had ice cream at this delightful roadside stop!

From Bryce Canyon we were on our way to Arches National Park, which is a 5 1/2 hour drive (again super easy with kids). We hit some road construction delays so we had to turn around and skip Arches for our next trip. I have family in Colorado so we will be nearby again, we chose to get to family and save it for the next trip, we had already seen such amazing things I thought it was a good idea we save some for another trip, besides I'm really excited for Moab and I don't want to rush it. But if you decided to take this trip in a week you could easy take on Arches and Moab for a final look at some amazing landscapes!

Sander fly fishing

I would suggest this trip as a week-long trip, we did it in four days because we were on to see family. I'll just mention that an easy stop after Moab would be Aspen, you could even fly out of Aspen without ever going into the big cities (like Denver).  We flew out of Denver, another gorgeous drive, after staying near Aspen for a few days of Fly Fishing and fun! (more on that later!)

Road trips are THE BEST of ALL!