If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably know that I recently went on the BEST.TRIP.EVER with my side of the family and Cole on a true California Adventure. My family has always been a road trip kind of clan. I have endless memories of making the 15-ish hour drive from Dallas to Colorado with my Gigi and Poppy and all of my cousins, uncles and aunts in between to go on our annual family ski trip since I was in diapers. There’s something about exploring the beauty of our nation from the window from your car with those you love that feels so authentically American. As if the endless conversations, games, snack stopping and music playing is enough to want to go on a road trip every now and then, this drive was absolutely breathtakingly stunning.
From LAX to San Fransisco, read on to hear about each of our stops on our California road trip adventure.
While making the drive from Dallas through Arizona (ahem, the Grand Canyon) all the way up California would have also been amazing, we didn’t have quite that much time on our hands. We flew from Dallas to LAX where we picked up our two rental cars. My parents got the convertible mustang (don’t worry – we convinced them to switch with us a few times) and we got a larger suburban that could carry us four “kids” and all of luggage too. Our first stop: we couldn’t think of a better place to start our California adventure than in Disneyland’s California Adventure park in Anaheim.
The highlights of this park: the gorgeous Paradise Pier where you can ride the California Screamin’ rollercoaster and Carsland is a picture perfect replica of Radiator Springs from the Pixar movie Cars (you have to see it both during the day and at night when the neon lights are lit). Also, the new musical Frozen is at this park and it’s AMAZING. My little sister Tiffany and I wore Frozen-inspired t-shirts by Once Upon a Mickey Tee (how adorable are they?!) since the musical was at the park and got so many compliments on them!
We couldn’t leave Anaheim without a day in the original theme park that started it all: Disneyland. There’s a certain magic that you can feel throughout this entire park – knowing that Walt Disney himself designed the park and walked the streets of it and riding the attractions that were there on opening day…it’s always a little more special! This little dress was perfect for twirling down Main Street.
Confession: you’ll see that I wore more than just one outfit to each park even though we were only there for two days. Don’t judge – it was so I could take photos for a little project I’m working on with Misfit and Run Disney – stay tuned, but in the meantime, you can enter their sweepstakes for a chance to win a free trip for two to run the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World in November.
After two days at the happiest place on earth, it was time to hit the road and head north to explore some of the nation’s most beautiful national parks, starting with Sequoia National Park.
A few notes on California National Parks – first of all, these parks are BIG, like huge. I was thinking we’d drive through a few miles of mountains and trees but it was so much bigger than that. Driving through Sequoia took no less than 8 hours with the few stops we took for photos. Oh and I should also mention, there’s no phone service or wifi, like, NONE. Once I got over this horror, I was able to fully enjoy the beauty of these national treasures. The winding roads up the mountains of Sequoia were absolutely gorgeous (and also terrifying – they are narrow and have no railing and the drop is far). We had to stop to take a look at the beauties that gave the park it’s name: the giant Sequoia trees that are so big you can drive your car through them! The one pictured above is the world’s largest tree named general Sherman.
Here’s a little peek inside my suitcase for the road trip. I went with primary colors and a little Southwestern, tribal flair. A hint to anyone planning to go as far North as San Fransisco, pack warm clothes – it’s SO cold out on the bay!
The next stop on our California adventure was a drive through another one of America’s most beautiful national parks – Yosemite. One of the landmarks of this park is Half Dome, which you can see here in this photo. My parents swapped the convertible mustang with us for most of the day and it was so amazing seeing the gorgeous waterfalls, rivers, mountains and trees with our hair in the wind and the music turned up loud.
Our drive through Yosemite took us right to our next stop, which was probably my favorite of all – Lake Tahoe. This was my very first time to visit Lake Tahoe, and I’ll definitely be back. My family loves food, so our first mission was to find a good lunch spot and Basecamp Pizza was amazing. With their wide selection of unique, amazing pizza’s, this spot is a must whether you’re here for the summer for the lake or the winter for skiing.
I’d heard about the clear water, but seeing it in person was magical. The giant lake has endless white sand beaches and water that varies from emerald to turquoise. The best part – it’s all surrounded by gorgeous tree-topped mountains.
The first day, after we enjoyed pizza, we drove all the way around the lake in the convertible (half of it is in Nevada and the other half is in California). We stopped a few times to check out the gorgeous views of the lake from the mountains. I should also mention how perfect the weather is – sunny and 75! I didn’t miss the Texas heat a bit.
After exploring Lake Tahoe, we went for dinner at a delicious spot for margaritas and Latin American food – Azul Latin Kitchen.
The next day, we rented a boat and spent the entire day out on the lake. I’m not gonna lie, the water was pretty cold, but it was the most beautiful lake I’ve ever been on, so I absolutely loved relaxing on the boat and taking in the view.
Here’s a peek at some of the lake beachy stuff I packed for the trip. Seriously obsessed with this little scallop trimmed bikini from Wala Swim.
Our final stop of the California trip: San Francisco. My only regret was that we had just one night and one full day here, because there’s so much to do! The first night, we took a stroll down Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoyed a San Fran staple: chowder in a bread bowl at the Blue Mermaid – SO yummy!
A definite must-do while in San Francisco is going to see Alcatraz. We took a cruise ship to do the audio tour through the infamous island-prison and chilling as it was (literally – it was so cold!), it was so cool to walk through this historical site. The cruise ship also offered up some amazing views of San Francisco.
Of course, my Disney-loving family and I simply had to stop at the Walt Disney Family History Museum. This is an absolute must-do for anyone who has any interest in Disney. SO many amazing things to see here, from Walt’s Disneyland model to the famous, one-of-a-kind Oscar he received for Snow White.
And that’s a wrap! 8 days through California and we were spent – but there was still so much to explore! My parents actually stayed three days later to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and had an amazing time!
I hope I convinced you to put a California road trip on your bucket list. Stay tuned for more of my traveling adventures here on Vandi Fair.