By means of a strange acculturation process while growing up, I'm more connected to the American culture than I am to the Portuguese. As a result, the United States is high on my list of countries to visit (and the list of offbeat attractions grows with it). I'm still in the romancing phase, but I'm already liking my odds in Arizona and in Pasadena. I have my eye on several attractions in these areas and more, and I'm interested in the best hotels in each area.

1. Experience Space, the Final Frontier

  Flagstaff, Arizona

I love a good alien story, especially if it mixes an “X-Files” vibe with some futuristic storytelling like H.G. Wells' “War of the Worlds”. However, you can visit some “other-worldly” attractions without leaving this planet. The Lowell Observatory and the Cinder Lake Crater Field are two offbeat must-sees in Flagstaff. I wonder if I can find an alien-themed hotel in Flagstaff? Or at least one with a mysterious alien story behind it.

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona via James Jones

2. The Most Famous Canyon in Arizona

  Page, Arizona

The Antelope Canyon is hardly a secret and it's very high on my list of beautiful sights. The most photographed rock formation in the American Southwest is one guided tour away when you visit Page. To continue exploring the scenery beyond the canyon, check with your hotel in Page for tour recommendations.

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona via Todd Petrie

3. A Bridge (Not) Over Troubled Waters

  Yuma, Arizona

Do you know the Talking Heads' song “Road to Nowhere”? Well, in Yuma, things go a little further with a “bridge to nowhere”. No, it's not a metaphor. The Gila River was diverted in 1968, and today the McPhaul bridge crosses (oddly) over sand and rocks. I have a series of postapocalyptic-themed photos for that bridge in mind, meaning the visit could be emotionally draining. Finding a hotel in Yuma for some well-deserved R&R would do the trick.

4. A London Bridge in Arizona?

  Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Did London Bridge really fall down like in the nursery rhyme? Technically, it was sinking due to structural problems, and in the late 1960's, the city sold the bridge to the highest bidder — a local entrepreneur in Lake Havasu City. Booking a romantic stay at a Lake Havasu City hotel and a stroll on the bridge shipped overseas, block by block, sounds like a great story to tell.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City via Ken Lund

5. Doc's House and Strange Sodas

  Pasadena, California

Hoverboards are not a real thing (yet) but Dr. Emmet Brown's house is. Fans of “Back to the Future” wouldn't the Gamble House be an offbeat must-see? This could (probably) only be topped by a Buffalo Wing soda. I'm not entirely sure I would handle the sugar rush at the Rocket Fizz, the place where these strange soda flavors come from. Tasting wouldn't be a problem; narrowing down the weirdest ones to taste would. How do you top this off? Perhaps with a stay at a Hollywoodesque hotel in Pasadena, where you can pretend to be a star with a quirky taste for strange sodas.

The Gamble House in Pasadena California
The Gamble House in Pasadena, California via Ken Lund

  Cover Photo by Ken Lund via flickr.
  This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign. It was originally published on Tripper by Sandra on June 29th.

Published in United States

The beauty of the U.S. mountain states lies in their diversity. Imagine climbing some of the highest mountains in the country or driving through a wide expanse of desert lands — or hiking through beautiful canyons and jumping into a blue lagoon. You'll fall in love with the beauty. Here are some destinations in both the northwest and southwest regions of the mountain states.

Flagstaff, Arizona: Base of Your Adventures

Flagstaff is a city graced with diverse landscapes: picturesque deserts, serene mountains, and pine forests. It is the entry point for your Humphrey's Peak adventure and the Grand Canyon. Alternative destinations are the Wupatki National Monument and the Walnut Canyon National Museum, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history of the area. Finding great hotels in Flagstaff should be the least of your concern. At DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff, your comfortable bed ensures a sound sleep. Plus, you'll get a complimentary cookie upon check-in.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Home of Canyonlands

For a city, there is none more geographically gifted than Salt Lake City, which lies between the Wasatch mountain ranges and Great Salt Lake. You can explore the nearby Canyonlands National Park to explore. Take in the buttes designed by the Colorado River. If you prefer knowing the city more, check the architecture of Temple Square, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and in Utah State Capitol, to name just three. If you're on a budget, you can find cheap Salt Lake City hotels. For its strategic location, Residence Inn by Marriott Salt Lake City – Downtown makes everything within reach and is affordable.

Saint George, Utah: Love by the Border

Situated in southwestern Utah, Saint George is near the border between Utah and Arizona, making it an ideal location for travelers who have long road trips in mind. Trek through Snow Canyon Park, and wait for the gorgeous sunset. Visit Sand Hollow State Park, the Mojave Desert, or the Pine Valley Mountains. You can easily find affordable hotels in Saint George. For example, The INN at Saint George offers great comfort for a very reasonable price.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado: A Dip in the Hot Spring

Hearing the name Glenwood Springs may make you think of the huge Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Imagine dipping your tired body in welcoming warm water. It's an instant cure for your sore muscles after a day of hiking around the Hanging Lake Trail or enjoying Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. If you're looking for upscale Glenwood Springs hotels, try The Hotel Denver, situated near the train station. This hotel provides great breakfast choices, and its rooms are elegant and comfortable.

Billings, Montana: The Thrill of the Magic City

Billings, the largest Montana city, is not nicknamed the Magic City for nothing. The name came from the city's rapid growth, and Billings continues to grow. For leisure and business travelers alike, there are many things to do here. Pictograph Cave State Park and the Rimrocks appeal to the adventurous, while the Western Heritage Center and the Yellowstone Country Museum interest the history lovers. If you're looking for Billings hotels that fuse the historical and the exciting, the Northern Hotel may be the perfect place for you.

Mountain state destinations are among the most exciting in the U.S. So go ahead and pack so you can find your own adventure.

  Featured photo by Annette Kirk via trover.com

  This post was originally published on Backpacking With a Book by Jona.

Published in United States

Few cities in America are as photogenic as Sedona, Arizona. Here majestic red rocks rise up from the lush pine forests like sand castles carved by a race of giants who have long since disappeared. It is a photographer's dream destination, as well as an ideal place for destination weddings.

The next time you find yourself planning a trip to Sedona, soak up the scenery from one of these amazing hotels:

Sedona Real Inn & Suites

For a really different experience from all the other nearby properties, check out Sedona Real Inn & Suites. This boutique hotel is family owned and is a great way to support locals, instead of international hotel chains. In fact, the place feels so much like home, I loathe to even call it a hotel. They have a variety of room and suite options for both romantic couples getaways and family vacations, plus a swimming pool and playground. And yes, they are pet-friendly as well!

Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort

Coming to Sedona solely for the world-class golfing, but having a hard time finding a golf resort that is budget-friendly? Look no further than Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort in the gentle rolling slopes of southern Sedona. In addition to the 18-hole golf course, the Ridge on Sedona boasts a variety of amenities designed to maximize your outdoor activities, including secluded trails, mountainside hot tubs, heated outdoor pool, BBQ facilities, and picturesque picnic area.

Poco Diablo Resort

Poco Diablo Resort in Sedona, Arizona

Nestled between Highway 179 and Oak Creek on the southern side of Sedona, Poco Diablo Resort is an ideal choice for anyone wanting to bask in the natural beauty of Sedona. With four tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool and spa, heated for year-round enjoyment, nine-hole golf course spread across eight acres, and plenty of hiking trails located just a few minutes away from the resort, what more could you want?

Los Abrigados Resort & Spa

If it's romance among the red rocks that you are searching for, consider the amazing Los Abrigados Resort & Spa, a Diamond Resorts property. Diamond Resorts, with a proven record of world-class resorts, now has locations in over 30 countries around the world. Their expansive Sedona property has 22 acres of walking trails filled with fountains and benches, all situated against the breathtaking scenery of Sedona. After an afternoon stroll, the spa at Los Abrigados Resort is a soothing way to wind down. Plus they even have cottages available, which off a bit more privacy than their basic hotel rooms.

Sedona Rouge Hotel And Spa

The expanded Sedona Rouge Hotel And Spa in the western side of Sedona is a great option for families on vacation. Their spacious rooms are both kid- and pet-friendly, plus the concierge can help arrange babysitting services if parents need some time to themselves, or want to spend a couple of hours getting rejuvenated at the spa. Additional amenities such as a refrigerator, coffeemaker, and free DVD rental service make your family vacation that much easier.

  Featured photo by Don Graham via Flickr.

Published in United States

It was my first time in San Diego, or actually my first time out to the West coast so we wanted to make the best out of our short trip. What a memorable adventure this was. From listening to the waves of the Pacific Ocean, to standing in awe of the Grand Canyon and sliding down the sand dunes in Brawley, this was a trip to remember for a lifetime! A lot of this letter was a reflection of this trip, where in hindsight I should’ve just took more time off to enjoy.

We flew into San Diego where Carl’s parents live and set off to our first stop, Las Vegas. This trip was more for sightseeing and not so much the nightlife so we stayed at a Holiday Inn off the strip (which was still nice and cheaper). We only spent a full day in Vegas so we did some shopping at the Premium Outlet, had a delicious buffet dinner at the Bellagio and toured the hotels at night. Most stores on the Vegas strip stays open till midnight so Carl and I did some damage.

Our next stop was the Lake Mead National Recreational Area, which was only a 50 minute drive away. This area consists of Lake Mead with smaller lakes like Lake Mohave – reservoirs on the river created by Hoover Dam and Davis Dam surrounded by desert terrain and wilderness. On the drive up, you get to see the depth of the reservoirs and the different shades in the rocks. This portion of the trip took around 2 hours just to get out of the car and take some pictures.

Then we were off to check off one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world from our Bucket List, the majestic Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon defined by the Colorado River with nearly 2 billion years of geological history. Also something to keep in mind, we went on this trip in May, and considering the fact that it was more desert areas we only packed shorts with us – this was a mistake! At 7,000 feet above sea level, even in May, the weather was quite chilly. We spent the next day here and stayed at the Grand Canyon national Park Lodges. If this is where you’d like to stay, you must book months in advance!

After a 2 hour drive, we got to my favourite place on this trip, but also a place where my naive 22 year old self I didn’t spend enough time appreciating (instead, we visited a random but decent outlet mall!). Up until this trip, I had never seen naturally coloured red rocks before. As Sedona’s main attraction, the famous red rocks are formed by a layer of rock known as the Schnebly Hill Formation. The Schnebly Hill Formation is a thick layer of red to orange-colored sandstone found only in the Sedona vicinity (wiki). That night, we drove into a small parking area off the main road turned off the car and gazed out in the sky. To this day, I can still remember how clear the night sky was. Given the opportunity, I would definitely go back.

From the red rocks of Sedona, we made our last stop to the Imperial Sand Dunes Cahuilla Ranger Station. The Imperial Sand Dunes are the largest sand dunes open to off-highway vehicle use in the United States. The dunes begin 10 miles southeast of Niland and stretch all the way into Mexico, over 40 miles away (ISDRA Sand Dune Guide). Standing on top of the sand dunes, it felt like the endless Arabian desert minus the heat. The sand was cool to touch and fine to sand on. There is the opportunity to rent an ATV, unfortunately for Carl, it was closed by the time we got there but what we did get to see was the incredible sunset with layers of vibrant colours. This night was also a special night to remember, Carl tried his first heart-attack-Double-Down from KFC.

And this concluded our 7 day road trip to some of the coolest places by the West Coast. We’re quite proud to conclude that on this trip, we drove more than 1,200 miles (that’s almost 2,000 kms) and more than 20 hours of total driving time – talk about a road trip!

Share your road trip route in the comment section below!

Published in United States

Login to The HoliDaze to submit articles and comments or register your blog.