Road trip West USA Part I - Into the Canyons

A few months ago, me and my GF went to the Western US States (Arizona – Utah – Nevada – California) for a road trip. When I’m travelling I’m always looking for the perfect blend of culture, food and nature, so it speaks to reason that we did a lot of research for this awesome trip. Ranging from hotels to food hotspots and must visits. It took me some time but here is my post about our road trip hope this helps you out if you go and visit. ;-)

Our trip took us from Vegas to Arizona (Kingman-Page), Utah (Bryce-Zion), back to Nevada, through Death Valley and California (Yosemite-San Francisco-Monterey-Pismo Beach-LA).

When we began our trip driving from Nevada to Arizona we came across a wonderful diner in Kingman named Mr D’z. This is really an amazing place to have lunch. Great food and a real American old school diner feel as well. This little venue took us to a part of the Route 66. This route stretches from Chicago to Santa Monica and is now officially added to my bucket list! The small towns on the Route 66 like Seligman just have that authentic feel that make this trip more than worth it!

Must do on the road: Historic Seligman Sundries (finally no Starbucks, but some real coffee here!)

Driving from Kingman to Page we saw the majestic Grand Canyon. This is without exaggeration a sight you’ll never forget. This whole region has a lot to offer, 3 must see landmarks in the region are:

1 Grand Canyon
We started our trip in the Grand Canyon with a flyover in a chopper. It’s not cheap but worth every penny. The view is just amazing! There are two options to fly, by plane or by chopper. I recommend the chopper since you’ll have a far better experience than on a small crowded plane. Believe me, you’ll be grateful later. If you want to see the Grand Canyon and all its splendor from the ground I recommend taking the Rim Trail. This 19km long road will take you past different vantage points where jaw dropping views are waiting for you…

2 Lower Antelope Canyon
The Lower Antelope Canyon is on the Navajo Reservation and certainly worth a visit. The Lower Antelope Canyon is a bit less touristic that the Upper Antelope Canyon but still crowded, so, book ahead! Come on time as well because there might be a waiting line to enter the reservation. Make sure you have hiking shoes for the trip, the guided tour takes about an hour and the ground is far from flat…

3 Horseshoe Bend
This landmark used to be off the beaten path, now however it has become quite touristic. From the parking it’s a small hike (1km) to the bend. Watch out for loose stones since there is no safety wire near the view and it could be a longgg fall.

So, what about food here? Well we had dinner at Big John’s Texas BBQ in Page. This was an absolute feast! Image it’s a warm day and you sit shoulder to shoulder at long tables with a band playing in the back and great spare ribs to eat! Felt very local and was pure ambiance.

Road tripping further from Arizona to Utah we first went to Bryce National Park! This was one of my favorites, how the sun could make such a difference on the landscape, insane.
We held up at Springdale for a small hike in Zion National Park where I took this amazing shot of the weeping rock, beautiful! The day after we had a lunch at Oscar’s Café which is more than worth a visit, great burgers and very nice people.

Bryce Canyon

The Weeping rock

Little tip in Bryce: Drive all the way to the furthest point and come back you’ll have the best views and won’t lose any time that way.

From the heart of nature we went back to the city life, Vegas baby! This is a city without an off switch, it was like a pure form of chaos, but I loved it. We stayed at the Bellagio hotel which is real nice and very comfortable. The popular fountains attraction in front of the hotel was a bit of a letdown for me since it only takes a few minutes…

If you want a good night out in Vegas take some gambling and raise it with a dinner at Carson’s Kitchen and a cocktail at Commonwealth, you’ll have the time of your life.
If you want to try some hotspot in food you should try Carson’s Kitchen in downtown Las Vegas near Fremont Street. A bit hard to find but wow what an ambiance! These Vegas style tapas are a treat to the taste buds!

A few of my favorites were the BBQ Burnt Ends, Gyro Tacos (lamb, tzatziki, feta, tomato) and the Bacon jam baked brie with toasted baguette. Besides this they have a great Cocktail and Craft beer menu! Loved the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale by the Lagunitas brewing company.

Gyro Tacos
After an amazing dinner we wanted to go for some pure Vegas gambling.
If you want to go gambling I recommend trying the old strip on Fremont. Odds are more in your favor and it does have a more authentic feel than the “New” Strip. We had a blast here at the Golden Nugget Casino home of the biggest Golden Nugget!

After draining our wallets in the casino’s we wanted to have a drink in a nice and quiet spot. Commonwealth bar is far from that but their speakeasy is the best. The Laundry Room serves great cocktails in a setting that goes back to the early 1900’s. Best to make a reservation for this one...

The old Strip
One more tip for the coffee lovers, go and visit Sambalatte Torrefazione and ask for the rainbow latte, pure coffee art!

From the city to the desert we drove through hot plains of Death Valley to the small town of Bishop. Drive past Bad Water Basin here, hot as hell but beautiful (bring plenty of water, it gets hot!).

Foodtip: Another great BBQ joint you must try is Holy SmokeTexas BBQ where Patty makes a mean potato salad and corn bread, best sides for BBQ ;-)

Before we headed out to Yosemite Valley we stopped by Eric Schat’s bakery (the bakers of the original sheepherder bread). Without a doubt this bakery had the best bread I tasted in the States. What a range! Real savory sandwiches and great cookies. Thus far we travelled in 3 states and are about to enter our final and fourth state.

Next part of this post I’ll be guiding you through the last part of our trip in The Golden State, California, stay tuned! If you have questions regarding this post or our trip be sure to comment.

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