West Coast Road Trip – Part 1

As a kid, I always had a passion for travel. I was ready to take on the world and use to threaten my parents that I would take off and go to Europe with a backpack and no life savings.

Living in Canada, I took the USA for granted. Maybe it was the vicinity, but for some reason I was always more attracted to other continents. It took me moving to Italy to realise that the United States are a beautiful gem of wildlife and breathtaking sceneries.

This summer, I hoped on a plane from Milan to San Francisco, rented a car and embarked on a coveted and terribly cliché American road trip.
Driving around with music blaring, switching hotels and towns almost every night, I had an incredible experience!
This is the ground I managed to cover in 20 days:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Yosemite National Park
  3. Lone Pine
  4. Death Valley National Park
  5. Lake Powell
  6. Antelope Canyon
  7. Monument Valley
  8. Grand Canyon National Park
  9. Palm Springs
  10. Joshua Tree National Park
  11. San Diego
  12. Los Angeles
  13. Monterey
  14. Carmel by the Sea

San Francisco 

As this was my second time in San Francisco, I had a good idea of what to expect when I landed. What I didn’t except was a delayed flight and lost luggages. To make a long story short, almost an entire day went to dealing with the airline company and buying some much needed clothes and toiletry.

Enough with the complaining and on to the good stuff! San Francisco is a forward thinking city also home to many talented entrepreneurs and successful start up companies. If you have only 24 hours in town, I suggest riding a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and hanging over there for lunch. The cable car ride will give you a quick and beautiful tour of the city and you can always hop on and off along the way! Once you get to Fisherman’s Wharf you MUST try the heavenly seafood for lunch!  The crab sandwich is circa 20 euros but I promise it is absolutely worth it!

For dinner or a quick drink, the Haight Ashbury neighbourhood is ideal. This area is home to the hippy movement from the 60’s. Today it welcomes people that rebel against the money making tech corporation hurricane taking San Francisco by storm.

a window reflection of a house a racoon with a birthday hat and a car
hand with glove at fish market with king crab and lobster

After a crazy 30 hours in SF and a happy dance for getting back my suitcase, I went to the airport to pick up my  rental Camaro. You can get a convertible car for circa 900euros if you book early. For the ultimate road trip experience and killer photographs I personally recommend splurging a little to get a convertible.

Useful tip: Search the area where you book your hotel really carefully. You can be downtown but also end up on a sketchy street in neighbourhood where you won’t feel at ease walking around early in the morning or dinner time. To give you an example, my hotel was lovely but the street right across was full of homeless people.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite will blow you away even if you are not the outdoorsy type that owns a top notch camping gear. The immensity of nature and the beauty of the pristine forest are something that is hard to describe in words. If you are not up for a big hike I suggest driving through the park and stopping along the way.
I won’t bore you with detailed information on the trails which you will get upon arrival or simply be clicking here. 

moving view of white rock mountains and pine trees

incredible nature with big mountains with snow on tip a green field with pine trees

blurry view of trees inside a forest with a moving feel

lake with tree branches and forest with mountains in the background

With only 24 hours to discover Yosemite Park,  I decided to embark  on the beginner trail that was circa 40 minutes hike. After the hike I took a two hour drive around the gorgeous park.

First useful tip: if you want to see the amazing view from Glacier Point, get there early! Cars are allowed up there only at the crack of dawn or after 17pm. If you are not physically fit to embark on the hike of your life take that into consideration.

Second useful tip: You don’t need to reserve but if you get to Yosemite after 12h you might have some serious problems finding parking in the main area.

Lone Pine

After Yosemite Park, I needed a place to sleep before making it to the Death Valley. After hours on the road, I ended up in a tiny charming town in the middle of nowhere called Lone Pine. The location was perfect as it circa one hour drive from Monument Valley and has some nice restaurants where you can unwind after a long day driving.

view from shop window of american flag and moving white truck

town with orange truck in front of restaurant and mountains in the background

endless road with yellow cliffs green grass and huge white mountains covered with snow

Death Valley 

Rumours are true the Death Valley is HOT. During the day the temprature can rise up to 47°C. For this reason I recommend coming here early in the morning or very late in the afternoon, Crossing the entire Valley is circa 2 hours by car. I promise you don’t want to be stuck here without fluids if your car ever breaks down.

close up of cactus with pink flowers
small coyote on the side of the road seen from car window
sand dunes with foot prints and tree branches in the death valley

Useful tip: Don’t worry you won’t actually die in the Death Valley but remember you are not a super hero. Don’t take things for granted. Water is precious if you are stranded and heat strokes are common. If you are not an expert, do NOT park you car and venture in the Valley for a stroll.

This is is for now! If you want to find out the rest of my journey on the road go check out the second post and share the love.SaveSave