Highlights of Our Great Landscapes Road Trip
The southwestern corner of the United States is one of the most distinct and diverse landscapes anywhere on the planet. From the natural beauty of California’s Pacific Coast and Grand Canyon National Park to the man-made marvels of Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, there’s plenty to see — and do — in this part of the USA. Here are the places and experiences we loved most in our travels in the region.
Paddleboarding With Surf Divas — San Diego, California
The Pacific Ocean surf in San Diego, California, was tantalizing, so we went paddleboarding with Surf Divas. Standing up on a surfboard-like vessel, using the waves and our paddles to propel ourselves toward shore, was a challenge. It took a bit of time to balance on our boards, but we loved paddleboarding after only a little instruction.
Gaslamp Quarter — San Diego, California
There was much to explore in the Gaslamp Quarter, a historic San Diego neighborhood with more than 200 shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Taking advantage of the warm weather (the average temperature is 21 degrees Celsius in San Diego), we grabbed outdoor tables and enjoyed some fine people watching against the backdrop of Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers.
Wine Tasting — Temecula, California
California is one of the world’s foremost wine regions. At Leoness Cellars, Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Winery and Doffo Winery, we learned how wine was made, from planting seeds to bottling. And, of course, we tasted the delicious finished product at each winery.
Joshua Tree National Park — Joshua Tree, California
Located 264 kilometers northeast of San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park, is a unique place where two deserts meet. The nearly 320,000-hectare park is home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife beyond the famous Joshua trees. On our guided tour, we saw wildflowers, a natural rock arch, birds and cacti. The nighttime stargazing was amazing.
Neon Museum — Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas’ neon signs are as iconic as its slot machines and wedding chapels. On our tour of the Neon Museum, we saw more than 150 signs from the 1930s through today and learned about the design and technology that went into them.
High Roller Ferris Wheel — Las Vegas, Nevada
At 158 meters in diameter, the High Roller is the largest Ferris wheel in the world. Would you expect anything less from Las Vegas? Our ride lasted a half hour, so we had plenty of time to look around in all directions. Ride at sunset for the best views.
Hoover Dam — Arizona/Nevada border
Located on the border of Arizona and Nevada, 54 kilometers southeast of Las Vegas, stands the tallest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. The Hoover Dam rises 221 meters above the Colorado River. Our tour took us into the hydroelectric plant and through interior passageways, allowing us to peer out of the dam itself.
Grand Canyon — Arizona
The Grand Canyon will amaze you, no matter how you see it. But the aerial view on our helicopter tour with Sundance Helicopters gave us a particularly stunning look into this 1.6-kilometer-deep natural wonder. Afterwards we hiked around the South Rim and gazed across the 16-kilometer-wide canyon.
Lowell Observatory — Flagstaff, Arizona
On our tour of the Lowell Observatory, we saw the telescope that was used to discover Pluto as well as the recently restored Clark refracting telescope. We also got to view the sun through a specially equipped solar telescope. We’re eager to return for a nighttime visit, too, so we can look through one of the telescopes at planets, the moon and star clusters.
Hot Air Balloon Ride — Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona, is renowned for its soaring red rock buttes, pine forests and deep blue sky. And we were able to take in all of it from the unique vantage point of a hot air balloon Lifting off early, we got to see the morning light splash upon the rocks and trees.
Experience more of what San Diego has to offer.
Visit four parks located within three hours of Las Vegas.