As many of you will know by now, I spent this Christmas and New Year in the US. If you need some ideas for a quick jaunt around Southern California and Nevada, here’s a précis of our trip:
Day 1: Auckland to Los Angeles with American Airlines. We landed before we took off thanks to the international date line. We spent the first day (our Sunday version 2.0) strolling around Santa Monica.
Day 2: While the rest of the whānau hit Disneyland, we hit the shops at the Citadel Outlet Mall and had lunch at Dukes in Malibu. Warning: it took 2 hours to drive back to Anaheim in the evening rush hour. It was pretty much the same every morning and evening that we were there.
Day 3: The iconic LA Farmer’s Market during the day and a basketball game at the Staples Center in the evening. Go, LA Clippers!
Day 4: Pancakes for breakfast at the IHOP in Anaheim, followed by a bus tour of Hollywood. Warning: the Hop On Hop Off bus must be booked at least 24-hours in advance. The printed receipt can be redeemed for tickets with the driver.
Day 5: Universal Studios! This was such fun. Warning: Get there early! We arrived at 8.30 a.m. and had done all the big rides by 10 a.m. By the afternoon, the Harry Potter ride had a 240-min wait!
Day 6: Driving from Los Angeles to San Diego, via Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. It’s about a 2 hour drive, without stopping.
Days 7 & 8: chilling in San Diego. Warning: if you’re planning to eat out in San Diego on Christmas Day, book early!
Day 9: LEGOLAND! The models were cool, but that’s about the only thing for adults. If you don’t have small children, think twice about LEGOLAND. In the evening, we watched an ice hockey match at the Valley View Casino Center. Go, San Diego Gulls!
Day 10: Holiday Bowl Parade, visit to the USS Midway museum, and a ball game at Qualcomm Stadium.
Day 11: San Diego Zoo. I was really disappointed with the zoo. It has a reputation for being one of the best zoos in the world; however, some of the enclosures were tiny, and we saw quite a few animals pacing backwards and forwards as if they had gone insane. Wellington Zoo is much nicer!
Day 12: Mexico, baby! We went to Tijuana for the day. We drove to the border, parked, and walked across. Tijuana is a fairly rundown border town, so don’t expect too much. But it was fun to cross an international border on foot. Plus, I got a stamp in my passport!
Day 13: Driving from San Diego to Las Vegas. It took about 6.5 hours, with toilet breaks.
Day 14: Hoover Dam. More time-travelling!
Day 15: New Year’s Eve Las Vegas – style, plus a very weird Cirque du Soleil performance. #Zumanity
Day 16: Chill-out day. We saw Rogue One at the movies and had dinner at the Stratosphere. Rogue One was superb!
Day 17: Driving back to Los Angeles. Took about 7 hours.
Day 18: Last day. Grammy Museum, Madame Tussauds, and home!