Our Epic West Coast Family Road Trip

We’ve done a cross-country family road trip or two (or three) in our time but this west coast road trip in 2013 is by far the most epic. We crossed several things off of our west coast bucket list.


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.


A ridiculously awesome road trip


The full trip is mapped out below. More than two weeks on the road and only 1 night in a hotel! Read this post to find out how we did it. In this post I’m going to round up the highlights.


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.


Camping in Northern California


Camping among these epic trees was … well, epic. If you ever get the chance to visit the redwoods, don’t miss it.


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.


Visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium


And revisiting our old stomping grounds around the Monterey area. There are lots of free things to do in Monterey but we had the aquarium in our sights. We used to visit all the time when we lived in Monterey. In this post I share my insider tips.


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.


Embracing our Inner Tourist at the Grand Canyon


YOLO and all that. :D Seriously, don’t come home with the same picture everyone else has. Make a memorable memory. The best road trips involve a balance of beautiful and silly pictures.


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.


Discovering an Ancient Meteor Crater


Best accidental find ever. With all my research looking for road trip ideas you’d think I’d have come across this sooner. This whole section of Arizona is amazing. Painted deserts, giant canyons, petrified forests, ancient craters. Trust me, not all deserts are created equally and Arizona is where it’s at (we once lived in Tucson for a year).


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.



Good Old Fashioned Graffiti


Turns out, it takes some actual skill to make Cadillac Ranch look good. This iconic road side attraction is neat but doesn’t quite live up to the hype. But, hey, great family road trips are made up of the good and the bad, amirite?


An awesome west coast (ish) road trip.


It takes a lot of planning to pull off an epic road trip on a budget but it’s worth every minute.

Have you visited any of these places? What’s your favorite road trip memory?

Looking for US road trip inspiration?




The Grand Canyon Picture You Need

Going to the Grand Canyon? Let me give you some advice.


During our big west coast road trip the Grand Canyon was an obvious stop we needed to make. We had been a decade earlier when we only had one toddler.


The Grand Canyon

Before the digital photo age.


Since then we had added three boys to our family and everyone was finally old enough to actually remember the trip. Always a plus. Our oldest has been to so many places she doesn’t remember and always feels kind of gypped. I don’t know how many times we’ve been like “Oh, Barcelona – you’ve been there!”


But I digress.


You're tourist. Be a tourist. The cheesy picture you need to take a the Grand Canyon.


The Grand Canyon is an absolutely gorgeous place. And like most gorgeous places, that beauty doesn’t transfer to camera very well. You just can’t capture that kind of scope and depth with a lens. It’s so frustrating.


So, instead of coming home with the exact same picture everyone else has (which you could find for free online, btw) make some memories at the canyon by taking cheesy tourist pics.


The Perfect Grand Canyon Picture


You're tourist. Be a tourist. The cheesy picture you need to take a the Grand Canyon.


The grandparents may or may not love it depending on their aversion to heights. ;)


Let’s call a spade a spade. You’re a tourist. Be a tourist. Whip out that selfie stick if you need to. I find that I’m much less self-conscious being a tourist in my home country than I am abroad.


Disclaimer: No boys were harmed in the making of this photo. They were standing on a ledge and were no where near the edge of anything. :)


Grand Canyon


What is the cheesiest tourist picture you’ve ever taken? Did you travel when your kids were too small to remember destinations?