The Midwest

Moving on from the mountain states, it was time to travel through part of the Midwest region of the US. We didn’t spend much time in each place, lots of just driving through. First state, Nebraska. Here we found a nice lake to camp at. Next, Iowa, followed by Illinois. Next state was Indiana, here we spent a day exploring the capital city, Indianapolis. Last state, Ohio.

1175588_10151841789499976_629467640_n1238036_10151841789774976_1271525271_n1175572_10151841789129976_179663830_n1238742_10151841790819976_622717025_n545903_10151841790034976_1819420576_n1174992_10151841790889976_1437865557_n1004930_10151841790704976_1527411052_n1185849_10151841789949976_318758879_n1184939_10151841790009976_319821141_n1233440_10151841791514976_11470850_n1013465_10151841790994976_1601807815_n1236740_10151841791234976_1072194468_n564406_10151841790254976_4150415_n993368_10151841790314976_262637492_n577275_10151841791159976_1108337682_n

Mountain States

After a beautiful road trip through California and camping in the amazing Joshua Tree national park, it was time to continue the journey towards New York. Next up, the fabulous Las Vegas! Driving through Nevada was amazing, with stunning views of the desert. It is unbelievable to drive through a desert, with not much going on, to hit a hectic city in the middle of a desert! Las vegas is like no other place. It is hard to describe ‘sin city’, you just have to absorb the atmosphere. Time was spent, relaxing under the palm trees in the pool and shopping by day. Night we spent exploring the hotels, casinos and bars. A very different experience, but still very enjoyable.

After Vegas, it was time to get back on the road. Next, Arizona. We stopped by the beautiful Lake Mead and Hoover dam (highlighted in a different post), before moving on to the breathtaking Grand Canyon national park, where we camped and hiked park of the park (also, highlighted in a separate post). The views driving through Arizona are beautiful! After the visit to the Grand Canyon, the next main stop was the four corners. A very remote area, the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point. The Northeastern corner of Arizona, Southeastern corner of Utah, Northwestern corner of New Mexico and the Southwest Corner of Colorado.

Next, the gorgeous Colorado. Driving through, we saw some of the most scenic views. One of the highlights, was a stop in Sliverton, with its breathtaking mountain views and being one of the highest towns in the United States. Next was camping at Elk creek, which was a great way to relax and enjoy nature. Colorado is a state that I need to visit again, perhaps during winter time, to hit the slopes.

Driving through the desert and mountains was a memorable journey, enjoying the varying environments that the US has to offer.

1186316_10151820423879976_1650252092_n1011658_10151820423914976_173234670_nLas vegas sign17789_10151820422749976_1980475654_n1000234_10151820422009976_453119109_n998067_10151820423494976_445374563_n1002186_10151820424574976_14573208_n1208958_10151820424684976_1745983544_n1209207_10151820423009976_105281466_n1174792_10151820424099976_1902522352_n1157674_10151820424134976_836122801_n1150379_10151820425754976_909346077_n1150134_10151820425119976_1928375990_n1098512_10151823338884976_1112984557_n1170693_10151823338994976_1047498713_n1185170_10151823345934976_1580878972_n1185026_10151823345144976_638143187_n11170_10151823345264976_1578404741_n1098411_10151823347519976_211917850_n15386_10151823344854976_148426429_n1094954_10151823346174976_1793311470_n995166_10151823346284976_1427013519_n522403_10151823346054976_899060257_n1174684_10151823344384976_1366862288_n1184830_10151823345809976_1813386317_n1186068_10151823345614976_1878952099_n1011649_10151823347259976_324798410_n1157734_10151823344244976_2013015257_n1175205_10151823344454976_653931852_n1185879_10151823344379976_1697134663_nColorado534018_10151823344604976_158250909_n1157705_10151823346324976_237900148_n1174721_10151823346999976_1857913408_n1173638_10151823344514976_609659078_nElk creek

California dreaming

Road trip down highway 1

We made it to continental USA!  First stop, the charming San Fransisco, we spent a few days exploring and absorbing the great food, city vibes, stunning scenery and hiking some beautiful state parks. In amongst exploring, we brought a van, removed the back seats and transformed it into a bedroom ready for the road trip across the country! Starting point, California and to finish in New York City!  The first part of this trip was a road trip through California.

From San Fransisco we decided to take the most scenic route to reach Los Angeles, highway 1 (Pacific coast highway). The views along the Pacific coast were breathtaking, California is a beautiful state. Our first stop was Big Sur, and what a surprise we got here…colonies of elephant seals laying out on the beach! Did not expect to witness this, and it only occurs a few months annually for the elephant seals to birth, mate and molt.  So grateful to witness. After Big Sur, the next big stop was Santa Barbara. What a gorgeous place!! Ocean and Mountain views. The final destination was Los Angeles, before hitting the city center we ventured first to Malibu, this place is stunning. Next was the famous Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, so picturesque and just like in the movies! We spent a couple of days exploring LA, visiting Venice beach, downtown LA,  the Hollywood walk of fame and hiked as close to the Hollywood sign as possible. An amazing road trip, visiting some beautiful places.

From LA we drove to Joshua Tree national park, this place is breathtaking and will be featured in a different post. I have loved everything about California that I have seen so far. Cannot wait to visit this dreamy state again, hopefully soon.

994251_10151788968484976_1606629767_n543773_10151788968329976_1347246488_n548932_10151788968439976_380946509_n954664_10151788968879976_2134231993_n946699_10151788969219976_257177070_n954676_10151788969379976_189631794_n553094_10151788969604976_869198674_n971021_10151788969489976_386659671_n970321_10151788969434976_1417695199_n561493_10151788969149976_2085058186_n1014186_10151788969934976_568288306_n581711_10151788969984976_669182878_n270321_10151788969694976_106036096_n17762_10151788970139976_107590344_n972322_10151788970289976_1637740962_n644204_10151788970389976_1958117693_n1000259_10151788970249976_1819657695_n988676_10151788970414976_976363536_n1005674_10151788970194976_1222614418_n1014183_10151788970104976_1580135797_n1098493_10151788970269976_1058520677_n1017574_10151788969074976_1711329675_n557926_10151788970629976_2113007080_ndriving through beverly hills1003910_10151788970584976_364072496_n998731_10151788970534976_1434887971_n988282_10151788970494976_396071650_n1012446_10151788970784976_1353896796_n1014373_10151788970804976_1222140615_n225221_10151788969909976_1121270016_n523408_10151788971354976_805312442_n946314_10151788971249976_1564019172_n999711_10151788971009976_1460097497_n1017082_10151788971859976_148566002_nCali desert1013074_10151788972659976_917217470_n1016985_10151788971769976_2007132390_n

Honolulu

544509_10151785712014976_669521004_n (1)

Oahu

Before reaching continental USA, we took the opportunity to have a seven day stopover in Hawaii. Breaking up the flight from Melbourne to California. And, what a wonderful seven days this was. Oahu ‘the gathering place’ is a beautiful Island, providing amazing sunsets, white sand beaches, culture, the hustle of city life, and the beauty of Island life. Beaches, forests, gardens, scenic views, a nature lovers paradise.

 

Highlights and must sees

  • Diamond head state monument: A Volcanic tuff cone.  This is a great hike, once you reach the top you can witness breathing taking panoramic views!
  • Manoa falls: Hike through a lush green forest to view this beautiful waterfall.
  • Iolani Palace: A beautiful historical landmark. The Palace was the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
  • Waikiki: The main touristy area for the Island. Famous beaches with high rise hotels and resorts. Perfect for shopping,  and a range of restaurants  along the beach.
  • Pearl harbour, USS Arizona: A national memorial.
  • National memorial cemetery of the Pacific: 
  • Honolulu museum of art: The largest single collection of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the US.
  • Waimea bay: Beautiful beach and a popular surfing area.
  • Kailua beach park: Breathtaking turquoise waters. With calm water, this beach is great for swimming.
  • Polynesian cultural center: A Polynesian-themed theme park and museum.
  • Hanauma bay natural preserve: 

 

Oahu is a U.S Island located in the Pacific ocean. The third largest Island of the Hawaiian Island chain. The capital of Hawaii, Honolulu is located on the south shore, and is the main gateway to Hawaii. Temperatures are warm year round, with two main season, wet  (November to March) and dry (April to October). We stayed in a hotel close to Waikiki beach and could easily entertain ourselves walking around and exploring this area. We also rented a car to get around Oahu to see more of the beautiful beaches and sights. The seven days on Oahu was a great introduction to Hawaii, with a mix of relaxation on the beach and exploring the sights and culture of the Island. I would love to see the other Islands and spend more time on exploring the stunning Hawaiian Island chain.

 

248256_10151785710264976_1366943938_n548913_10151785711084976_2113858183_n (1)1002909_10151785710549976_1040288543_n1098211_10151785709454976_589705503_n1005684_10151785711499976_758070816_n (1)1005185_10151785710114976_1657085289_n945772_10151785709859976_1540264565_n1017170_10151785710929976_546239583_n (1)12579_10151785712634976_1957409650_n (1)270341_10151785712719976_1919479343_n (1)45616_10151785711634976_917774320_n531787_10151785712379976_812567483_n547142_10151785711814976_1090501152_n (1)934666_10151785711879976_1694237752_n946336_10151785713159976_1953397834_n67638_10151785713824976_301536849_n523999_10151785713794976_1017640675_n312337_10151785713749976_2014081631_n934662_10151785713439976_430386282_n969409_10151785713214976_536056642_n998058_10151785708654976_1083165567_n1098117_10151785709719976_510245106_n (1)

 

 

 

 

Niagara falls

Beauty

Niagara falls is as magical as expected. Whilst I was staying in Toronto for 10 days, I took the opportunity  to visit Niagara falls for a day trip.  A highlight of my visit to Canada. The views are breathtaking. Niagara falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that serve as the international border between Canada and the United States of America. These three water falls are named Horseshoe falls (The largest), American falls and Bridal viel falls (the smallest of the three).  These waterfalls are located on the Niagara river. Niagara falls formed, when the glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation about 10,000 years ago (the last ice age).  It is well worth the trip to visit this magnificent place.

 

Highlights and must sees

Canada side: 

  • Maid of mist: Breathtaking, close up views of the falls. This 20 minute tour departs every 15 minutes.
  • Niagara falls history museum.
  •  Skylon tower: Provides indoor and outdoor observation of the falls.
  • Niagara IMAX theatre: Showcasing true stories about Niagara.
  • Bird kingdom: The worlds largest free-flying indoor aviary.
  • Niagara parks butterfly conservatory.
  • Niagara skywheel.
  • Niagara parks botanical gardens.
  • Rainbow bridge: Stunning views of Niagara falls.
  • Floral clock.
  • Journey behind the falls. Close up view behind the horseshoe falls.

USA side:

  • Maid of mist tour.
  • Cave of the winds. Takes you close to the falls via the hurricane deck.
  • Niagara falls state park. Visit the discovery center. Take a hike along the trails through the Niagara gorge.
  • Old fort Niagara.
  • Aquarium of Niagara.

As I was based in Toronto, I took a day trip tour from the city to Niagara falls. The bus ride is about one and half hours. The first stop is Niagara falls. Here  we where given a few hours to explore the falls and town. From the Canadian side, you can see panoramic views of the three falls, which are amazingly beautiful. I was also able to get close to the horseshoe falls. After visiting Niagara falls, we traveled to the historic town of Niagara on the lake. A very pretty town to walk through, with its boutique shops, historic streets and victorian era charm. The final stop on the tour was visiting a vineyard with free wine samples. We had a tour walking through the beautiful vineyard. Here was my first time tasting ‘ice wine’ which was delicious! Ice wine is a dessert wine that is produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the wine. I Would recommend a day trip (or longer) to Niagara falls!

 

greenwaterThe fallsGreenBeautyBoth fallswowBridgeStreet viewTown viewwineIce wine

Toronto Islands

Escape the city for a relaxing and care free experience at the Toronto Islands. Only a 15 minute ferry ride, the gem of the Islands is must do. The Toronto Islands consists of a small chain of small islands located on the stunning Lake Ontario, south of mainland Toronto. The largest Island is Centre Island. Algonquin (Sunfish Island) and Olympic Island are the other major Islands. The Islands attractions are open from May to October, with the summer months being the most popular. The ferry leaves approximately  every 15 minutes during the summer months and less frequently during winter.  A round trip (for adults) costs $7 and is a perfect day trip from mainland Toronto.

Where to stay:

Looking for somewhere to stay in Toronto? All The Rooms have various accommodation for all budgets and traveling parties from families to solo travelers! Visit this link to view the range of accommodation options: Toronto accommodation  

Highlights and must sees 

  • I would recommend biking around the Islands to get the most out of the day. You can either bring your own bike on the ferry, or rent a bike once you arrive on the Islands. You can go from each Island by bike (or by walking).
  • A visit to the 200 year old lighthouse is a must see! Gibraltar point lighthouse is the oldest landmark in Toronto!
  • The centerville amusement park.
  • Far enough farm. A petting zoo on Centre Island.
  • Franklins children’s garden. This park is inspired by the popular children’s book.
  • Have fun on the water, with opportunities to canoe, kayak and paddle board on the lake!
  • BBQ or picnic either on one of the beaches or the lawns.
  • Explore the beaches across the Islands. Hanlan’s point beach. Ward’s Island beach and the Centre Island beach.
  • Photograph the Toronto skyline from the ferry.

I spent one summers day exploring the Toronto Islands. It was a cloudy day with periods of light rain. I left mainland Toronto around 9am to make the most of my time on the Islands. I took the ferry to the Centre Island ferry dock and walked the Islands, departing from the Hanlan’s point ferry dock around 6pm.  Centre Island is the most crowded and buzzing of the Islands. After exploring Centre Island I started my journey towards Ward’s Island. I made my way back through Center Island towards Hanlan’s point beach, spending the afternoon here. Stopping to see the Gibraltar point lighthouse. The atmosphere of the Islands is very calm and relaxing, a must see if you are in Toronto for a few days.  A highlight for me was the views of mainland Toronto from the ferry. Also, a fun fact; the Islands are car free making the Islands very pedestrian, cyclist and eco friendly!!

 

LighthousePierBoatDistanceOceanRocksLake viewlakeView2ViewsCity view