Top Ten … 2016 Travel Experiences

Whilst 2016 was a sucky year for many reasons, I can’t help but be thankful for some of the awesome travel experiences I’ve had. Starting a travel blog was a big thing for me and it has really helped to push me out of my comfort zone, appreciate all that is around me and travel more than I would have done. So without further ado, here are my top ten travel experiences of 2016 …

  1. Salvation Mountain
    Salvation Mountain was one of those places I have wanted to go to for a long time and finally making it happen this year was really satisfying. This place is completely magical and I hope everyone gets to experience it at some point.
  2. Moorten Botanical Gardens
    This place wasn’t big or fancy, it was small and tucked away and a complete hidden gem. If you had of told me that one of my highlights of 2016 would have been going to a botanical garden full of cacti I would have laughed in your face, but here I am, writing about how much I loved it.
  3. Santa Barbara
    I didn’t spend long in Santa Barbara but the time I did have there I really enjoyed. I always feel like I’ve seen quite a bit of southern California so the chance to explore somewhere new is always great.
  4. Capitol Hill
    Going back to Seattle and exploring new neighborhoods was apparently all that was needed for me to fall in love with Seattle all over again. Capitol Hill and Ballad were full of “local flavour” and a perfect place to spend a weekend with good friends.
  5. Harrison Hot Springs
    Going back to Harrison this summer for more than an hour was pretty great. It’s such a beautiful place and being able to relax with friends and take it easy was just what the doctor ordered.
  6. Galiano Island
    Any chance to see more of beautiful British Columbia is always more than fine by me, and Galiano sure was beautiful. A perfect place to hideaway from reality for a few days.
  7. San Francisco
    I’ve wanted to go to San Francisco for a long time, and in 2016 I finally made it happen. Luckily, it did not disappoint, even though I did a lot, I feel like I hardly scratched the surface, so I cannot wait to go back there someday and do some more exploring!
  8. Whale Watching
    I’ve been whale watching before and it was very unsuccessful, so when I got the chance to go again whilst visiting family I jumped at it. What I saw was beyobd my wildest dreams; Orca’s, Dolphins and a Blue Whale to name a few!
  9. Redwoods
    In the same trip as whale watching I also got to go and see the world famous Redwood tree’s in the less than famous Henry Cowell State Park. Seeing these trees in person is something amazing, you cannot comprehend the height and width of them without standing next to one and feeling completely insignificant.
  10. Ojai
    Ojai was my “treat yo’self” spur of the moment trip of the year, and I loved it. This tiny little laid back oasis was the perfect place to spend a few days by myself, exploring and recharging my batteries.

Honourable mentions go to the Cabazon Dinosaurs for their sheer quirkiness, my birthday hike in Deep Cove, visiting Carmel, riding in a Seaplane, and finally my amazing Cabin Christmas. 2016 was a great year of travel for me but I’m hoping 2017 will be even better! Happy exploring!


Leah Explores … Palm Springs

I have a confession to make; I have actually been to Palm Springs twice before, but never actually done anything more than sit by the pool and go to Walmart to collect camping supplies for Coachella. I decided it was time to rectify that situation and head into the desert. My mum was here for a few weeks, and as has become our tradition during her summer visits we try to go away as much as possible. We’d already been to Galiano Island and in previous years have gone down to Las Vegas, mainly because it’s cheap to get to from Vancouver and because we can eat, drink and lie by a pool there. This year we mixed it up a bit and decided upon a change of scenery, so we headed into the blistering Palm Springs sun.

Beautiful Palm Springs

I stayed at The Monroe which was pretty conveniently located at the north end of Palm Canyon Drive, which is the main strip in Palm Springs, so to speak. I found the hotel through and it had the dream combination of being reasonably priced and well reviewed! It was absolutely perfect for our stay as it had free parking, decent rooms and a great sized pool – win!

I had so many delicious meals in Palm Springs, which actually surprised me a bit because I wouldn’t automatically think of it as a foodie haven … until now.
Lulu’s California Bistro
This place was huge, and had a menu big enough to rival The Cheesecake Factory, and some very strong cocktails.
Norma’s at The Parker
The Parker is one of the most beautiful places I have ever stepped foot in, and on top of that I had the most delicious french toast here, and it was honestly as thick as a ream of paper, no lie!
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
Super hipster, and super delicous, offering farm to table yumminess, tucked away in a cute little courtyard.
There are a couple of these coffee shops dotted around the city, their muffins and iced coffees were amazing.
Great Shakes
Does what it says on the tin. I had the white chocolate cherry, and it was ridiculous in the best possible way!
Kind of like Lulu’s but on a slightly smaller scale. Their tagline is “Where Palm Springs eats” and that was good enough for me.
Ice Cream and Shop(pe)
Offering unique and delicious ice cream options with some cute gifts to shop at the same time. I had the pomegranate chip and it was beyond good.
Kings Highway at Ace
Cool vibes and a great menu full of food you want to eat. Their BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avacado, tomato) was absolutely scrummy!

* I’d read so many great reviews about Cheeky’s but sadly it was closed for August so I didn’t get to try it this time.

For such a tiny city I was really pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do in Palm Springs. Don’t get me wrong I was more than content to lie by the pool all day in the blistering sun, but also had the urge to go and do a bit of exploring. Looking back I feel like I had a nice balance of exploring and relaxing.
Aerial Tramway
The aerial tramway takes you all the way to the top of San Jacinto Peak. What makes this different from other gondolas and tramways is that this one rotates 360 degrees on the way up providing stunning views of the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountains. Once at the top there are stunning views to take in, as well as some hikes and all the classic National Parks information and learning centre.
Cabazon Dinosaurs
This place is so random and so completely unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The concept is really simple; humongous dinosaur statues by the side of the road. We didn’t bother to pay and go in, but just had a quick look around and took a few photo’s. It’s only about a 20minute drive from Palm Springs and I’d definitely recommend it as something quirky to check out.
Salvation Mountain
It’s a bit of a drive (about 90 minutes each way) but in my opinion, so utterly and completely worth it, plus you get to drive past the Salton Sea which is kind of cool. This place is magical and unlike anything I have ever seen before. I first saw Salvation Mountain in the movie Into The Wild and it’s periodically popped up over and over again throughout the years, I’ve had a hankering to go there ever since. I don’t think I could ever do justice to how special this place is, so I will just say that if you ever get a chance to go there, please do so.
Moorten Botanical Garden
I stumbled across this place whilst doing some Pintrest research before leaving, and it actually ended up being one of my favourite things from the whole trip. It is so unique and being able to look at the hundreds of different types of cacti all in one place is really cool. Plus this place is home of the worlds first ‘cactarium’ which is a beautiful greenhouse filled with cacti bathing in muted light!
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center
We stopped by here on out last morning in Palm Springs, because the bigger Palm Springs Art Museum wasn’t open yet and this place was, plus it was en route to the airport. There is free admission and it’s small enough that you can make your way around in around 30-45 minutes without rushing. This faction of the museum features temporary exhibits, and had some cool mid-century furniture on display whilst we were visiting.

I had such a great time in Palm Springs, and I know my mum did too. Palm Springs is such a bewitching place and is most definitely on the laid back side of things. There was a huge choice of great places to eat, and plenty of things to see and do that were all a bit different to things that you normally find to do when on vacation. To me Palm Springs is the kind of place where you can completely tailor your trip to suit your interests, which is kind of the perfect destination.