Last week we wrote a list of 50 things we most wanted to do when the USA reopened for travel again, and it got us thinking about the fantastic memories we have already made in our favourite country!
So in response to last week's blog, as promised, here are 50 awesome things we are lucky enough to have ticked off our US bucket list.
Yosemite National Park - we truly think if you could have a place as a spirit animal, Yosemite would be ours. It's the most beautiful place we've ever been!
Walk the Las Vegas Strip - checking out all the amazing themed hotels and seeing the neon lights come on at night was amazing! Hot though... concrete and desert sun is not a good combo...
See the Grand Canyon - confession time... Em cried when she first saw the Grand Canyon, it was so overwhelming!
Monterey Aquarium - Best aquarium in the world, hands down. They have a kelp forest tank and sea otters!!
Raft round Horseshoe Bend- don't just see the Horseshoe from above (although definitely see it from above, it's amazing), float companies like Wilderness River Adventure will take you around it as well. Towering orange cliffs either side, gorgeous reflections... this was one of our Arizona highlights!
See a manatee - We so hoped we'd see one of the shy, mysterious sea cows, and we were lucky enough to have several hanging around in Flamingo Marina while we sat and ate our breakfast at a nearby picnic table! So special.
Swim under a waterfall in Hawaii- we spent a day with Wailua Kayak Adventures that involved kayaking up river through lush trees, followed by a jungle hike to a stunning waterfall complete with a pool underneath for swimming. Dreamy.
Drive around Monument Valley and watch the sunset over the buttes - our most expensive but most amazing campground on our roadtrip, it's not called The View for nothing! This was also the first time Emma saw the Milky Way
Explore Alcatraz- The Rock! This iconic prison in San Francisco Bay was 'home' to Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and 'Bird man' Robert Stroud. The NPS runs the site and your ticket includes a fantastic audio tour as you walk around the prison. They even open and slam all the cell doors periodically... eerie! I guess that's why they call it the slammer!
Drive the causeway to Florida Keys - this was so cool - driving for miles and miles on a narrow highway with blue Floridian water on both sides! Key West at the end of Highway 1 (which stretches all the way up to Maine!) is the southern most point in the US.
Winslow Meteor Crater - if you're a big space nerd like us, you will LOVE Barringer Meteor crater, just outside Winslow, AZ. It's HUGE!
Cycle over Golden Gate Bridge- Not satisfied with driving into San Francisco over the Golden Gate, we also hired a tandem bicycle and biked back over it to the arty town of Sausalito. You can catch the ferry back again with your bike.
See the Hollywood Sign - travel aside, in the real world we're both actors. While we were in LA we thought we'd invoke some Hollywood luck and go see the famous sign! You can get good views from Griffith Observatory.
Go to a baseball game - let's go Dodgers!!! We watched a Californian clash between the LA Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants while we were in LA which was so exciting - hotdogs, beer and home runs, what more do you need?
See a bald eagle - the most American bird imaginable. We saw one in the most unlikely place- not in a National Park, at Kennedy Space Centre!
Bellagio Fountains - as soon as we'd checked into our Vegas hotel we walked down the strip to see the Bellagio fountains. We were jetlagged, exhausted, so happy to be on our honeymoon, that as soon as the music started (it was Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, Time to Say Goodbye) we both burst into tears!
Walk beneath Giant Sequoias - there is nothing more magnificent than the giant redwoods of California. Nothing prepared us for how unbelievably massive they were, and it was humbling to walk beneath them. We felt very privileged.
Zion National Park - the oranges, blues and greens of this park are other-worldy. This was another honeymoon highlight, fabulous hiking (more on that later) and we saw a beaver!
Grafton ghost Town- just outside Zion NP, we visited Grafton. Used as the film set for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, we felt like we were walking through the Wild West.
Key Largo Snorkelling - hands down, the best snorkelling we've ever done. EVER!!
Kennedy Space Centre - we are both massive massive NASA fans, so while we were in Florida we made the journey up north to Cape Canaveral. The massive Saturn V rocket, the Atlantis shuttle, and we met an astronaut!!
Whale Watching - while we were in Monterey on the California coast, we watched humpback whales from the shore, and then went out in a boat to get much closer. These gentle giants are just awe inspiring.
Camp on the beach - Thornhill Broome is a campsite just outside Malibu where you can pitch up right on the beach. Light the firepit and BBQ your dinner while pelicans fly low over the surf...
In n Out Burger - it had to be done, we'd heard so much about this fast food chain! Truth be told, the chips were terrible... but the burgers were very very good.
Lowell Observatory - in Flagstaff, AZ, this is where Pluto was discovered. They hold an amazing programme of night activities with laser guided constellation tours, telescope viewings and a chance to look through historic telescopes at Jupiter and Venus.
Standin' on the corner park - biiiiig Eagles fans here. We love us some Americana soft country rock and the Eagles are the best of the best. If you've listened to their hit Take it Easy, verse 2 describes a small town called Winslow, Arizona. Nearly wiped off the map by the bypassing of Route 66 in the late 70s, you could say that this song saved Winslow! In the 90s, the town formed the Standin’ on the Corner Foundation, determined to use the popularity of Take it Easy to re-attract tourists to Winslow by creating a beautiful art installation faithfully incorporating elements of the Eagles’ song. Basically, if you're a fan, it's awesome. There's a real red flatbed Ford truck, a statue of Glen Frey and a gorgeous mural, plus heaps of merch shops that are all playing Eagles music... anyway it's just up the road from #s 11 and 25 on this list, so go!
Everglades National Park - down in Florida, this national park is really special. A World Heritage Site, the sub tropical landscape has great trails and incredible wildlife: gators galore, an amazing variety of birds, manatees... taking the road train at Shark Valley Visitor Centre is like going on safari, or walk round Royal Palm and lose count of how many alligators you see.
Stand up paddleboard in Hawaii - we have ALWAYS wanted to try SUP, and where better than the serene waters of Hanalei Bay? We spent the final week of our honeymoon on Kauai, and hired a board several times. It was easier than we thought it would be, and very relaxing.
Drive Big Sur - the Pacific Coastal Highway was very high on our list of road trips we most want to do, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Stop at McWay Falls, Bixby Bridge, Carmel on sea, Monterey, Hearst Castle and be prepared to pull over CONSTANTLY just to drool over the blue sea.
See the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign - cheesy? Maybe. But it wouldn't feel like a trip to Vegas without getting a photo at the famous sign!
California wine tasting - ah that sweet sweet Californian white zinfandel... we haven't made it up north to Napa Valley yet, but we had a lot of fun visiting wineries in Los Olivos.
Clam chowder in Pismo Beach - this is a must must must. If you're driving the PCH (see #29), Pismo Beach is a really fun surf town. While you're there, head to Splash cafe and order a steaming sourdough bread bowl of award winning clam chowder. So popular, they serve about 40,000 gallons of it a year!
San Francisco China Town - San Fran's China Town is the oldest in North America and the largest outside of Asia. Enter through the Dragon Gate and enjoy great restaurants, a fortune cookie factory, chic bars and tea shops.
Tuba City dinosaur prints - about an hour's drive from Flagstaff, AZ in the Navajo Nation, you can literally walk with dinosaurs. A large slab of rocky plain is covered with loads of actual dino footprints, dated about 200 million years old. Mind blown.
La Brea Tar Pits - while we were in LA we really wanted to see the tar pits. If you've seen the 90s disaster film Volcano, this is where the lava comes out. It's really interesting to watch the bubbling tar (often, sections of grass have to be fenced off as new pools emerge), and you can even watch excavations taking place. There is also a (ticketed) museum where you can see many of the amazing fossils found in the tar pits, like sabretooth cats and mastodons.
Drink a mai tai in Hawaii - while in Hawaii we wanted to drink this tropical tipple in a tiki bar, and we found one in Hanalei Bay, complete with live ukulele music.
Snowcap drive in, Route 66 - visiting Seligman, AZ on old Route 66 is like stepping back in time. Retro motels, cars, restaurants and shops line the road, and we stopped for lunch at Snowcap drive in for burgers and shakes. 50s Americana at it's best.
Lombard Street, San Francisco - this zigzagging street in San Francisco is world famous. Walk up and down it and watch cars carefully navigating the bends!
Stay in a suite in Las Vegas and order room service - Visiting Vegas doesn't have to break the bank (in fact we've written a blog about how to visit Sin City on a budget here), but some experiences just scream Viva Las Vegas. We booked a spa suite at the New York New York (a good budget friendly option!) which had a jacuzzi in the room (awesome!), and ordered most of the room service menu. Having our breakfast arrive on a trolley under a silver cloche felt so fabulous!
Saloons on Whiskey Row - swing those saloon doors and mosey into a bar or two on Whiskey Row, Prescott, Az. The block got its name because of the high number of saloons - we especially liked the Bird Cage and the Jersey Lily.
Go to a NPS Ranger talk - while you're visiting a national park, check the programme to see what Ranger talks are scheduled. These are a great way to learn about the wildlife and geology of the parks from people who really know their stuff!
Eat key lime pie in the Florida Keys -we bought the tasty treat in K-Mart and took it to the beach on Key Biscayne. That was a good day...
Window shop on Rodeo Drive, LA - and also hug the tall skinny palm trees and go see the Beverley Wilshire Hotel, as featured in Pretty Woman.
Ride the street car in San Francisco - this one took us a long time to tick off - the trolleys are very popular and every time we tried to get on one, the lines were crazy. Eventually we tried at 10pm at night, from Fisherman's Wharf back inland and we were 2 of only 4 people on board! Success.
See Elvis in Las Vegas -
Date night at a drive in cinema - while you're in Pismo Beach (see #32), drive up the road to San Luis Obispo to the Sunset Drive in for an old school date night. The sounds tunes in through your car radio and it's so much fun! There were people sat in the backs of their pickup trucks with pillows and blankets which looked brilliant.
Gamble in Las Vegas and keep a chip as a souvenir - top tip, for table games, head to Fremont Street and play some black jack or roulette in vintage casinos like Golden Nugget and Four Queens. The minimum bet limits are way lower than the strip hotels! We had this vision of sitting down somewhere fancy like the Bellagio, but they wanted $15 minimum or so to play... if you have any winnings to cash in, hold onto one $1 chip to keep as a souvenir, with some magnetic tape they make cool fridge magnets!
Celebrate the sunset in Key West - in Mallory Square every evening, people gather en masse for the sunset celebration. Fiery pink/orange skies, street entertainers, food carts, and a great atmosphere as the crowd cheers and claps as the sun disappears into the Gulf of Mexico.
Buy some cowboy boots - thank you Las Vegas outlets. So comfy!
Hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park- possibly the best hike we've ever done. Equal parts epic and terrifying, the views from the top are unreal.
So that's our 50 favourite USA memories, add them to our 50 things we most want to do in the US blog and you've got the ultimate US bucketlist!
Do you have a favourite memory from the States? Let us know below!