Spring break: LA, Vegas & the Canyon

We’ve just returned from our spring break holiday to the U.S. Utilising the weekends on either side, the 9 day road trip took in four American states and 7000 Km! Airfares over the spring break are greatly inflated in holiday deprived North America. When comparing the cost of a single hire car to a holiday including four airfares there is only 1 option for a family of limited means – DRIVE!

The Spring break over here is particularly important for children. In contrast to NSW schools which have 4 school terms coinciding with the seasons, each with 2 week holiday breaks, BC schools have 3 terms, with a spring break of just a single week (NB. Canadian students enjoy an extra long 9 week summer break compared to 5 in NSW). So over 6 months into the Canadian school year, students have had just 2 weeks off over the Christmas Winter break – that’s a long haul. Such a schedule also ties you down, making it essential to make the most of the Spring break. This time of year it’s still problematic to travel (drive) through parts of Canada, so it’s the ideal time to head south over the border to the warmer climes of California.

Los Angeles CA

With an itinerary including destinations in 3 US States we knew we had a lot of driving ahead of us. Heading off on the Friday evening we crossed the US border and kept on driving until we reached the outskirts of LA in the early hours of Monday morning. To put this context it’s about 1900 km from Vancouver to LA, approximately twice the distance of the Sydney/Melbourne or Sydney/Brisbane run (Aussies will know what that means!). Having broken the back of the journey however, we had 5 good days to see the sights.

hollywood

Day 1 was set aside for LA sightseeing. Sunset Boulevard was the focus. It’s the main route east-west across town, taking in many of the sights. Starting in downtown you can look up to the Hollywood Hills for a view of the iconic sign. We drove up into the hills for a better view, taking care not to disturb the locals who understandably don’t appreciate the passing tourist trade. From here you wend your way through Beverley Hills home to the rich and famous. We (or should I say I) sought out the famed Bell Air Hotel. We eventually found it, but it highlighted how in this neighbourhood it’s better to take in the scenery than waste time spotting celebrities and their mansions (sorry guys)

bell-air

Keep driving and you eventually hit the Pacific Coast Hwy (PCH). America’s “Dream Drive” runs virtually the entire California Coast all the way to neighbouring Mexico. Unfortunately we did not have time to get distracted with it’s wonders on the way down, so we connected with it here and continued as far as Malibu.

malibu

Malibu Beach

Malibu Beach

To be honest I was more taken with the architecture than the scenery. Compared to Australia’s pristine Pacific Coast this was nothing to ride home about. To be fair most of the PCH does not run through built up areas and there are stretches north from LA to San Francisco (especially the Monterey Peninsula) and south to San Diego which are reputedly very beautiful. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to return. A bit closer to home, the Oregon Coast in neighbouring Washington state has a reputation & we’ll definitely explore that stretch before our time is up.

malibu-house

malibu-garage

Heading back towards Sunset Boulevard we followed the PCH to Santa Monica and it’s famous pier. Not wanting to get caught up with the pier’s fun park (Disneyland planned for Day 2) we soaked in some musical entertainment before exploring the beach.

santa-monica-pier

santa-monica

Transormed into a memorial to America’s war dead, the beach was laid out like a cemetery with crosses representing the fallen. This display centred on the war in Iraq with some sobering statistics relating to the tens of thousands killed and injured including the Iraqui civilian population.

santa-monica-beach

Heading into town the Third St promenade is where you want to be. We caught a bit of street jazz while wandering. The restaurants and coffee houses are located here (really only one coffee house in America)

Third Street Promenade

Third Street Promenade

One thing that really adds to the ambience of this region are the towering palm trees that line the waterfront and populate the suburbs. They reminded me of the Norfolk Island pines that ring Australia’s pacific coast beaches giving them their distinctive flavour.

santa-monica1

To be cont’d

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4 Responses to “Spring break: LA, Vegas & the Canyon”

  1. Mel_bel:) Says:

    Hi,
    It is 30 degrees Celsius in Las Vegas today! and we are waiting to
    see what you say about Disneyland. Skiing looks like Fun!!

  2. westerncall Says:

    Hello Mel_bel /Bradings! Great to hear from you, looks like you’re having a blast.

    I’m in the New Westminster Library (preparing for a seminar) and just read your email! Amazing how time flies – I guess you’ll be heading off to the the Grand Canyon next? Yeah Disneyland was fantastic definitely the highlight of out time in LA, the boys loved it. What rides did the girls use with the fast pass? From memory the boys chose Space Mtn, Thunder Mtn, Treasure Island and Indiana Jones (latter was their favourite). We started about 10am and went through to a bit after 10pm (stayed on for the fireworks at the end)

    Did you do the other Disney Park – California Adventure, if so how did it compare? Busy time for us at moment so blog taken a back seat, but will post some pics of Berry Disneyland experience as well as Vegas and Canyon etc.

    Cheers
    Dave
    ps Love the BLOG – nice pic outside the Luxor!

  3. Jazzy Says:

    How was it at the Grand Canyon?

    Was it borring for the boys?

    Did you go on the gide walk?

  4. westerncall Says:

    Hello fellow travellers! In response to your questions, it was great at the Grand Canyon and it wasn’t boring. It is true, nothing quite compares to the rides, fireworks and the utter enjoyment one experiences in Disneyland. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the guide walk, but the views from the rim of the canyon were spectacular. I’m looking forward to seeing you really soon. Best wishes, Daniel.

    It was cool – I loved the amazing lookouts into the heart of the canyon. It was disappointing we didn’t get to raft on the raging blue waters. There was a great variety of colours in the rocks. We didn’t have much time so we didn’t do the guide walk but we enjoyed the fabulous desert view of the Grand Canyon.
    Tim

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