Our American Family Holiday

The itinerary..

We’ve been back for a week now from our American family holiday and having had time to sit and reflex on what was probably my most favourite family holiday I can honestly say.. I wouldn’t change a thing. So here it is, the itinerary. I can do another detailed blog about each place and what we did and loved but for now this is just where we went and for how long in each! Any questions let me know!

March 25th – Arrived in LA and transferred over to Santa Monica. We stayed at the Hilton Santa Monica. The hotel was in a great spot and was clean and spacious. From Santa Monica you can pretty much go anywhere in LA by car. It’s a great location to visit but personally I wouldn’t stay here again, unless we stayed somewhere right on the beach and were planning more of a beach holiday.

March 28th – Transferred over to Anaheim for the Dancing part of the trip (I actually have no words for how incredible the Dance tour was, I cry just thinking about it.. if your child ever has the opportunity, DO IT)

We stayed at The Anaheim Hotel which is across the road from the Entrance to Disneyland. We have stayed there before and I still think it is a great place to stay when doing Disneyland. It’s across the road so very easy to walk to and from Disney. The rooms are decent, clean and quite spacious. The hotel is set up kind of like little apartment blocks, so you aren’t stuck in a hotel with no natural air etc. There are restaurants and some shops all in walking distance from the hotel. I have another blog on Disney and Anaheim HERE as I really think Anaheim is a great suburb, there is lots to do there if you know where to go! Staying in Anaheim when you are doing Disneyland is DEFINITELY a better option than driving back and forth from LA.

April 6th – Finished the Dancing part of our trip and moved from Hollywood (we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, which Aldo and I had also stayed at on a previous trip) It is an ok hotel, the location is fine if you have a car for LA. It’s walking distance to Hollywood BLVD which as you know, I believe is probably the worst part of LA. You definitely must see it if it’s your first time in LA but there isn’t a need to stay close to it. I have an LA blog HERE where I chat more about what to do and see around LA.

For the next 4 days we stayed in Beverly Hills. We stayed at the SLS Beverly Hills. The hotel is gorgeous, location is great (having a car is best) Beverly Hills is very different to Hollywood even though it’s only a short car ride away. It just feels nicer to be out of the real tacky Hollywood area but once again, everything in LA is a “drive” away so having a car is the way to really see it and also it will save you lots of money, the Ubers add up very fast!

April 11th – Flew to New York. Ahhhh New York. This was my 3rd time in NY and my favourite by far. We stayed at The Manhattan Club. I was a little worried about this accom as I couldn’t really find any recent reviews, but I got a bargain through booking.com and got 12% cash back through Cashrewards when I booked so I was willing to try it! It’s located on W 56th st, up near Central Park. Close to Times Square but further enough away that you don’t get too much foot traffic around your hotel. The room was tiny (but thats standard for NY)

TIP: getting around in NY is so easy with the subway and another tip, if you ever get the chance to go on a holiday with friends… DO IT..

April 15th – Took the train from NY Penn station to Baltimore to stay with family in Maryland. (one of my favourite parts of the trip.) Should you go to Maryland if you don’t have family there, probably not BUT if you were doing an American road trip and you had time I would definitely drive through to see the gorgeous houses and visit Annapolis, a super cute little town by the water.

TIP: using the train on the East coast is such a great way to travel between places and it’s super affordable and the kids loved it.

April 18th – Flew Baltimore to Vegas. This part of the trip was the “sit by the pool for a few days” part and the kids had a ball! We stayed at Mandalay Bay because they have excellent pools and a lazy river and my kids would choose a lazy river every single time. The hotel is incredible, service is exceptional, however the hotel itself is a little further down the main strip so it’s a bit of a walk or you can get Ubers to and from the ‘middle’ part of the strip. On April 20th we hired our car from Enterprise to start the road trip leg of the trip.

TIP: In most cases you need a physical credit card to hire a car in the US, they won’t accept debit cards. You do not need an international license. If you need a booster seat for your child, don’t hire one through the car (hire will cost you about $15 a day), just purchase one from Target or Walmart, it will cost you around $20.

ROAD TRIP

My favourite way to see America is by car.

April 21st – 8:30am we left Vegas and headed to Death Valley. The goal was to head to Yosemite by driving through Death Valley and see as much as we can. AND IM SO GLAD WE DID! I originally had a different route planned but a lot of the roads in California were closed due to snow so the above route was the best way to travel. It was about 2 hours from Vegas to the Visitor Centre at Death Valley National Park. (if you would like a more detailed route of Death Valley please let me know and I can send one to you)

For all National Parks in the US there is an entrance fee. It’s usually $30 per car, however we purchased a yearly pass at $75 since we were going to another 2 National Parks after DV, so saved us money and now I have a California National Park card that I will show anyone that wants to see it 🙂

Highlights of Death Valley were.. ALL OF IT.. this place BLEW ME AWAY and I can not stress that enough. Badwater Basin (one of areas in DV) is the lowest elevation in North America at 282feet below sea level.. But when you look up there are snow capped mountains right in front of you, you have to see it to believe it. It was life changing.. If you can, you MUST visit and if you have the time I would 100% stay overnight in Death Valley National Park, the night sky would be INCREDIBLE!

TIP: NPS is an incredible app you can get on your phone. It has the National Parks, what to do, alerts, maps and since there is no cell service in the parks you can download the maps and use them offline so you don’t get lost!

April 21st – 8:30 pm we arrived at Tenaya at Yosemite. This part of California is like night and day compared to where we had just come from. The lodge we stayed at is 3min from the Yosemite National Parks south entrance and once you get through it’s another 45min to Tunnel View, which is basically the first WOW!

Yosemite National Park is famous for its giant, ancient sequoia tress, El Captain, Half Dome and so much more. I know I keep saying this but WOW life changing. WOW! The moment you come out through tunnel view is something that I can only describe as MAGIC. Our minds were blown. We stayed at Tenaya at Yosemite for 4 nights. When you are there you are basically in the middle of a mountain. Going up is the National Park and going down 20min is the closest town, OakHurst, where you will find a supermarket, some restaurants etc.

April 25th – We left Yosemite early morning and headed back through LA and onto Costa Mesa (which is right by Newport) to see our cousin again. We had planned on driving down the coast of California but at this point in the trip we just wanted to get to our next destination as quick as we called so we followed the route above to Costa Mesa. It’s such a great place and with so many great surrounding suburbs like Orange, Irvine, Laguna Beach.. This is another reason I love staying in Anaheim for Disney because all these places are only a car ride away!

April 26th – We continued on to our final destination, Palm Springs. We left Newport at 2pm which was the worst time, there was a-lot of traffic, which is normal for this highway but it was double because of the time of day (lesson learnt) Driving to Palm Springs was so stunning though, I swear everywhere you look in California is just divine. In Palm Springs we stayed at The Saguaro hotel, which we loved! I read a few reviews before we got there so I was very nervous. I don’t know what I was expecting but the reviews made me believe there would be a thousand people by the pool everyday partying. It was not like that! Given they do throw a lot of pool parties at this particular hotel and it was Stagecoach weekend so yes on the Saturday there was a party by the pool, but we’re not complaining 🙂

The rooms were decent size, the beds were comfy and the bathrooms were clean and functional. I read online that there are hotels better suited to families in Palm Springs but we give The Saguaro 5/5 stars, there is nothing I would change and the food at El Jefe, the hotels restaurant, was 10/10. I will think about that Vegetarian Quesadilla for the rest of my life..

We had 5 nights in Palm Springs and very easily could have stayed another 5. We absolutely loved it.

Visiting Joshua Tree National Park was another highlight for us. If you followed along on my stories you would have seen that I made my family stay out in the park with almost zero light pollution, miles from any other people, just so we could see the true night sky and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Add it to your list of must dos!

I want to do a seperate blog on just Palm Springs because WOW… it is now in my top 5 most loved places in the world. Who knew I would love the desert so much.

May 1st – Home time.. Everyone always asks if you are ready to go home by the end of your trip but honestly, we could have stayed for another month. I think it’s having your own car, it really changes the game and just makes everything so much easier, ESPECIALLY when you are traveling with kids!

We left Palm Springs at around 10am and headed back to LA where we did some last minute sight seeing and shopping before dropping the car off back at Enterprise at 6pm. We got the free shuttle to the airport and boarded our flight home to Melbourne at 10:38pm.. (insert tears)

Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you plan your own American family holiday! Please let me know if there are any questions or anything that I have missed. Also let me know if there is a certain part of the trip that you want more information on and I can work on another blog for you!!

Love you guys and happy holiday planning 🙂

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