Tag: road trip

California Road Trip

California Road Trip

A few weeks ago I went down to Southern California one last time to visit friends and family before departing for the Peace Corps. One of my cousins who had never been to California before came out to visit and I decided to make a fun road trip out of it of all my favorite sights in the Golden State. 

Day 1: Hollywood

Any first timer to California of course wants to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame but honestly it’s a little disappointing and dirty. It’s still fun to drive down Hollywood Boulevard so they can see it, so we decided to do that and head to Melrose Avenue to do some shopping. Be sure to catch the sunset at the Griffith Observatory for a beautiful view of all of Los Angeles, including the Hollywood sign. Once night begins to fall, check out the street lamps at LACMA. Oh, and don’t forget some In n Out, animal style 🙂

Day 2: Santa Monica & Venice Beach

One of my favorite restaurants ever is True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica. It’s more of a trendy vegan eatery, but I love how fresh all the vegetables are and the dishes are so different! From there you can walk over to the Santa Monica Pier and then do some shopping at Third Street Promenade

Venice Beach is only a few minutes driving down the road for all things California and weird. People always say that Californians are crazy, but where does it come from? Yup, Venice Beach. From street performers, to people selling children’s reggae (The ABC song, reggae style? What?), and ridiculously overly buff people working out at Muscle Beach, it’s a must-see! 

Abbot Kinney is only a few blocks away, which has some trendy shopping and one of my favorite ice cream shops, Salt & Straw. Where else are you going to find goat cheese and olive ice cream?!

Day 3: Malibu

Growing up in Thousand Oaks, which is only about 20 minutes away, Malibu is the go-to place for the best beaches. Early in the morning we went surfing at County Line, and even though the waves were small it was great being out on the water. It reminds of the high school days; getting up at 4:30 AM to catch waves with my group of girlfriends before having to go to class. 

I met up with my favorite skin & hair care company, Organic Fiji, to do a photoshoot at Point Mugu beach. Rather than just having product shots they wanted to have someone actually using their coconut oil in the photos. You can get 25% off all their products with my code ‘annaharris25cocotribe’ 🙂 

There are so many interesting rock formations and sea caves in this area to explore! And after a long day at the beach, my favorite smoothie place near Zuma is called SunLife Organics. And to top it off, it’s always fun to grab your best pals and have a bonfire right on the beach while looking at the stars. 

Day 4: Up the Coast

The first place we stopped at road tripping up the coast was Ostrich Land in Buellton, where you can feed all the different ostriches and emus. Kind of a fun little spot to stop at along the way! Close by is the little Danish town of Solvang, and don’t forget to pick up some pastries like Kringle or Butter Ring!

My favorite place to get clam chowder is Splash Cafe in Pismo, where they have bread bowls toasted perfectly with butter. And down the freeway is San Luis Obispo, which is a cute little town and has the famous Bubblegum Alley. I think my favorite part was watching parents freak out as their little ones tried eating the gum off the wall. 

Last stop for this road trip was San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge! You can get a great view of the bridge from Baker Beach, but be cautioned! There are nudists! I had no idea until a large nude man started sprinting towards us out of nowhere…

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

One of my favorite things about California is being able to go on weekend trips to such diverse parts of the state! One weekend you could be skiing in Lake Tahoe, and another weekend you could be camping among the redwoods. In April, Caleb and I decided to spend the weekend surfing in Santa Cruz for his birthday!

We stayed in a beautiful art studio in downtown Santa Cruz, so it was only 20 minutes walking distance from the pier, beach, and some great restaurants. Our first morning we rented boards from a shop for $5 an hour, or $25 for a full day. Since we had planned on surfing the next morning too, we decided to rent them for the day. 

We headed to Steamer’s, which is a great spot for experienced surfers over by the lighthouse near the downtown area. It’s a beautiful picturesque spot where you can see the sun rising over the horizon with the lighthouse on the edge of the cliff, and ocean water like glass with bright green kelp forests swaying below your feet. A good spot for beginner’s is called Cowell’s, which is down the road a little ways. It was pretty packed when we drove by but it’s perfect for those learning how to surf! 

Another thing that I love about surfing at Steamer’s is that there’s a small coffee shop called Steamer Lane Supply in the parking lot right across the way where you can grab an acai bowl, a fresh smoothie, or other fresh treats right after a good surf. Even if you’re not surfing it’s the perfect spot to grab a coffee and walk along the coast in the morning! 

After surfing we rinsed off at our Air Bnb and walked along the pier, which had some great carnival rides and a beach to hang out. It was pretty packed with tourists so we didn’t stay long, but it looked like a fun spot to take kids. My favorite lunch spot was Pono Hawaiian Grill, where they have really tasty poke bowls customized to your tastes along with other great trendy Hawaiian fusion food. A great dinner spot is Lupulo, which is a brewery with all kinds of craft beers along with tapas. And for dessert, you have to check out The Penny Ice Creamery, where they make all their ice cream flavors in-house and have trendy flavors, and can even make ice cream sandwiches! 

Santa Cruz has a great downtown area where you can go bar hopping and check out live music! It’s perfect to start on one end and explore all the different bars down the road. There’s even windows of little pizza places where you can grab a slice before heading to the next bar! After another morning of surfing we headed back home, but it was a great weekend to celebrate Caleb’s birthday, being in the ocean, and eating our way through Santa Cruz!

How to Take Stunning Photos in Antelope Canyon

How to Take Stunning Photos in Antelope Canyon

Hi everyone!

I’m so excited that an article I wrote, “How to Take Stunning Photos in Antelope Canyon,” was featured on the travel website, We Are Travel Girls!

Be sure to check it out for some great tips on camera settings to use and the best time of day and season to visit Antelope Canyon! And, of course, to see my award winning photography 🙂 

Road Trip through the Southwest

Road Trip through the Southwest

There’s something about road trips, camping, and exploring the wilderness with your best friends that makes life just a little bit sweeter. This was my last hurrah in Southern California so we decided to head on a road trip through Arizona and Utah before leaving this stunning landscape behind.

When you look on Google Maps, driving from Los Angeles to Zion National Park doesn’t look so bad. Six and a half hours? No problem. We left LA at 4 PM on a Friday… And we didn’t reach Zion until 4:30 AM on Saturday. I’m always determined for an adventure so I’m fine with doing the full drive, but I feel bad for my compadres who were expecting to get a good night’s rest that night. It didn’t help that T-storms were striking and the rain thundered down on my Jeep, it was so loud.

We had no plan. So I drove to the Zion National Park Visitor Center, put my Jeep in park, reclined my seat, and slept for an hour and a half. I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold in the dead of summer! Granted, this was kind of a last-second trip so I just hopped in the car with whatever clothes I was wearing and was like, “Well we’re camping anyways, who cares!”

There’s a free shuttle from the visitor center that takes you to all the biggest attractions of Zion, so we hopped on and headed to The Narrows. Keep in mind you don’t need a permit to hike The Narrows if you’re going from the bottom-up. You ONLY need it for top-down. Hiking the Narrows was so worth it; the scenery was gorgeous and it was awesome getting to hike through the stream. As it got later in the morning I noticed the water flow was getting stronger and I would lose my balance a little. Good thing we turned around when we did, because there was a huge flash flood warning issued and the trail was closed off when we returned.

After checking out the other sites in Zion, we decided to drive an hour and a half out to Page, Arizona. We did some off-roading in my Jeep for the first time and camped out at Lake Powell right next to the water. It was absolutely beautiful taking a dip in the lake and also climbing onto the cliffs watching the sunset. The evening was perfect cooking dinner over the fire and doing some astrophotography.

We woke up at 5:30 AM to watch the sunrise at Horseshoe Bend (Just a tip if you’re an avid photographer, the sun peaks behind the bend at SUNSET not sunrise. Sometimes I miss little details). We had a photography tour at 8:30 AM at Lower Antelope Canyon, which I highly recommend over the regular tour if you’re into photography. The guides are really great about catering to your photo needs by stopping tourists that might get in the way, give you some tips for perfect photos, and you get double the time down in the canyon.

Last year I visited Upper Antelope Canyon, and out of the two places, although both are stunning, I recommend Lower Antelope. With Upper Antelope Canyon there’s so many people it feels like you’re being shuttled through a Disneyland ride line and it’s super packed. Even though we were on a photography tour in Upper, there were still a lot less people.

After the tour we hopped back in the Jeep and drove back to LA!