10 Best Southwest USA Road Trip Ideas – For When We Can Travel Again

Road trips are by far my favorite way to explore the USA. There is so much vast and remote beauty which is impossible to fully explore without really getting into nature. Given the sheer size of the country, this often involves driving for a few hours. For me the drive is just as much the fun as the destination! With endless roads disappearing over the horizon, roadside diners and classic motels, a road trip will transport you to all these places and more.

 

best Southwest USA road trip destinations

 

One of the most iconic road trip destinations is the Southwest of the US. You can find some of the most beautiful scenery and Instagram-worthy views here. If you’re ready to get out there on your great American road trip, here are our favorite Southwest USA road trip destinations from Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. For each location, we’re sharing the best time to visit, our tips for visiting the location, and the most useful resources.

 

Girl leaning agains canyon walls in Utah

 

Note: At the time of publishing this article, national parks in these states are closed and many of these destinations are not accessible. Make sure you save this post for when it is safe to travel again!

 

Why You Need to Visit the Southwest USA

 

The Southwest has all these natural wonders you usually only see in high gloss travel magazines. Think Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Route 66, and more! You probably already know all of these from popular movies and TV shows but there is nothing better than experiencing these destinations first-hand doing a Southwest USA road trip!

 

Girl walking on rock formation at White Pocket Arizona

 

One note when driving through the Southwest, a lot of these places are very remote and require a fair amount of driving. You will get to see some incredible and untouched parts of nature but on the flipside, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels, are less frequent.

Make sure you fill up on gas before leaving a town if you don’t know where the next gas station will be. And the worst thing to happen on an iconic American road trip is to run out of gas!

 

Best Time to do your Southwest USA Road Trip

 

You will generally find the best weather in the Southwest between December and April. This area of the USA can get incredibly hot and dry and hiking to some of these places will become extremely strenuous in the heat.

Since some of the places in Utah are at relatively high elevation and could be covered in snow, I would recommend planning your Southwest USA road trip for March or April. During this time, temperatures are going to be around a comfortable 65 F (18 C) in the northern areas and 75 F (24 C) in the south.

 

Girl with sand running through hands at White Sands National Park

 

As most of the US Southwest road trip destinations are in the desert, it may get very hot during the day, but cool down substantially during the night. Make sure you bring a warm sweater or hoodie and a scarf for when the temperatures drop at night.

 

Map for an Iconic Southwest USA Road Trip

 

There are so many different attractions throughout Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico that it is hard to decide where to go. The below map shows all of our favorite attractions and the order in which we recommend seeing them in on your Southwest USA road trip. You can use this map to plan out and to figure out the best order these road trip destinations fit with your travel plans.

 

Utah Road Trip Destinations

 

Utah is one of those states that I had incredible expectations for, and you may too. It was the last state I visited out of all 50, and easily became one of my top favorites. You can read about our story on how we crossed into Utah and saw our last state here. These Utah destinations will make your Southwest USA road trip unforgettable.

 

Reflections at Bonneville Salt Flats

 

The Bonneville Salt Flats are exactly what the name suggests; an area with densely packed salt. They are located on Interstate 80 just outside of Salt Lake City, close to the Nevada border, and the perfect start for any Utah road trip.

Given the huge flat area, the salt flats make the perfect background to take photos and be creative. Get out there and have fun! Think about working with different perspectives, play with the reflection off the water, and just enjoy the view.

 

 

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Tips:

  • Given that the ground is covered in salt, don’t wear your favorite leather shoes or anything else that could be easily damaged by the salt. Salt can be extremely difficult to remove from clothing and fabrics afterwards. I recommend wearing rubber shoes or boots.
  • Keep in mind that the salt flats are covered in water which is also extremely salty, but more importantly there may be no dry place to set down a bag or anything you bring with you.
  • Temperatures on the salt flats vary greatly. In Summer, they often reach over 100 F (38 C) degrees and can drop below freezing in winter. Make sure you wear protective clothing and sun screen.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day. The Bonneville Salt Flats are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and open to the public most of the time. During events and/or filming projects, there might be restrictions. You can check out the event calendar here.

Facilities: There are no washrooms at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Cost: Visiting the salt flats is free!

Location: Bonneville Salt Flats

 

Explore Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyon

 

Have you ever heard of two slot canyons called Peek-A-Boo and Spooky? Me neither until I went there. These canyons completely live up to their names, are a lot of fun to explore, and definitely worth adding to your Southwest USA road trip. The canyons are closest to Escalante, Utah and are a 3-hour hike round-trip from the parking lot. The hike starts off on a flat sandy trail and continues to a climb down into the dry canyon area. The steep climb down is over smooth slick rock.

 

View at the Trailhead of Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyon

 

The best way to hike these two slot canyons is in a one-way loop, starting with Peek-A-Boo, traveling cross-country to reach Spooky, and then exiting Spooky in the original canyon area near the Peek-A-Boo entrance.

 

Peek-A-Boo Canyon Loops Utah

 

Once you reach Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon, you need to climb up about a 12-foot (3.7 meters) rock face to enter the canyon. I am 5’5” (1.7 meters) and managed to get up there on the first try. Once you start walking through, you quickly understand where the name Peek-A-Boo comes from.

The canyon has some fun rock loops you can climb through and each corner is hidden – providing the best peek-a-boo game! As the slot canyon is not overly deep, you can also play peek-a-boo with people in the canyon, while walking along up top.

 

Girl in Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

 

Man Standing at Tight Opening at Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

 

When you reach the end of Peek-A-Boo, there is an easy to follow trail that travels cross-country to the entrance of Spooky Slot Canyon. The canyon very much lives up to its name. It is incredibly narrow! In some places, we could only pass by taking off our backpacks, and shuffling sideways.

Spooky also has one technical section halfway through where you need to climb overtop some car-sized boulders, and then crawl back underneath them to continue through the slot canyon. These canyons will definitely make your Utah road trip more interesting!

 

Girl Leaning Against the Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

 

Tips:

  • Please don’t visit these canyons if you’re claustrophobic! Both canyons have some very narrow spots and are dark at times.
  • Bring enough water but carry a small backpack. A large backpack is much harder to squeeze through the tight corners of Spooky Slot Canyon.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyon is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon. The slot canyons are located along Hole-In-The-Rock Road, and require driving about one hour on dusty gravel roads - the perfect adventure on your Southwest USA road trip. The roads are fine for a car when dry, but do not attempt to drive when the ground is wet as it instantly turns to slick mud.

 

Stunning Grosvenor Arch

 

If you love arches but don’t feel like battling the crowds at Arches National Park, Grosvenor Arch is your destination. It is a unique double arch about 150 feet (46 meters) tall and is located within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The double arch is an easy 5-minute walk from the parking lot and is extremely impressive to look at! You can’t climb around or on top of the arch but the view you get from the bottom is definitely worth it!

 

Girl Standing in Front Of Grosvenor Arch

 

Tips:

  • Grosvenor Arch is easily reachable by car but you will mostly drive on a gravel road. Make sure you fuel up before hitting the road as there are no gas stations anywhere close.
  • There is weak to no cell reception at Grosvenor Arch with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Grosvenor Arch is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Grosvenor Arch

 

Running Around at Devil’s Garden Escalante

 

Devil’s Garden Escalante is very much like a playground for grownups and offers so many photo opportunities. It is a perfect addition to your Southwest USA road trip. It is located in the Staircase-Escalante National Monument and known for its countless hoodoos and two small arches. Its location provides for some amazing views and given that it’s possible to climb onto the base of the hoodoos, you can let your creativity run wild.

 

Girl Sitting in front of Hoodoo at Devil's Gargen Utah

 

Girl sitting between two Hoodoos at Devils Garden Utah

 

Tips:

  • Devil’s Garden is easily reachable when driving down the Hole in the Rock road. Make sure you fuel up before your trip and bring enough water and food for the day.
  • Cell reception at Devil’s Garden is spotty with T-Mobile. I had the best reception at higher points.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Devil’s Garden Escalante is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Devil’s Garden This is located on the same road as Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons and is great to combine into the same day.

Arizona Road Trip Destinations

 

Similar to Utah, Arizona is home to some incredible natural wonders and trying to figure out where to go can be a daunting task. These are our favorite Arizona road trip destinations, some of which you may never have heard of and which you cannot miss out on your Southwest USA road trip!

 

Girl Sitting on Rock Formation Wave at White Pocket Arizona

 

Off the Beaten Path in White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

 

White Pocket is an area within the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. It has some of the most amazing rock formations. Think orange lined rocks like the Wave, white pillow-like rock surfaces and sliver thin rock layers. You are free to walk around and explore as much as you like.

The area is a 10-minute walk on a sand trail from the parking lot. It is one of the best kept secrets but a great addition to your Southwest USA road trip.

 

Girl Standing on Rock Formation Wave in White Pocket Arizona

 

View From White Pocket Arizona

 

Getting to White Pocket is a bit more difficult.. It is a 3-4 hour drive from Kanab, UT or Page, AZ. The first hour of the drive is on a paved highway, followed by a maintained gravel road. The last 5 miles are in deeply rutted sand. A high clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive is highly recommended. That being said, most rugged SUVs and pick-up trucks with four-wheel drive should be able to make it without issue.

 

Rock Formations at White Pocket Arizona

 

Girl Jumping at White Pocket Arizona

 

Tips:

  • There are no facilities at White Pocket. It’s very remote so be sure to bring enough water, food, and sun protection.
  • Don’t leave anything behind, not even personal waste. We recommend bringing bags designed to hold human waste.
  • I had surprisingly good cell reception at White Pocket. I had 2 bars LTE with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting White Pocket is free.

Facilities: There are no facilities at White Pocket.

Location: White Pocket Vermillion Cliffs

 

Catching the Light at Antelope Canyon

 

There is nothing quite as magical as catching the sunrays as they shine through a slot canyon! Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in Arizona and a must see on your Southwest USA road trip. It is completely worth a visit. You will need to book a tour to access the canyon and I recommend booking far in advance as the slot canyon is incredibly busy, especially in Summer.

 

Sunrays in Slot Canyon at Lower Antelope Canyon

 

You may not know this but there is an Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Lower Antelope Canyon is slightly less busy and tours are cheaper. We visited Lower Antelope Canyon and loved the tour and the canyon itself.

 

View at Lower Antelope Canyon

 

Tips:

  • The tour moves quite fast and taking a lot of pictures can be difficult. If you’re planning to take photos, consider booking a tour first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • The light in the canyon is best around midday, which is also the busiest time to visit.
  • The descent into the canyon is a very steep staircase. Make sure you wear good shoes.
  • It was incredibly windy when we were there and we found orange sand in our pockets days after we walked through the canyon. Expect to have sand blown everywhere.

Hours: You cannot access Antelope Canyon without a tour. Tour hours are 7:30am – 5:45pm.

Cost: Costs for a tour at lower Antelope Canyon starts at $40 for a 1-1.5 hours tour plus $8 Navajo Parks fee. Cost for a tour at upper Antelope Canyon starts at $54 for 1.5 hour tour plus $8 Navajo Parks fee. If you decide to take a tour of both Upper and Lower, you only pay the Navajo Parks fee once!

Facilities: There is a visitor center at the Antelope Canyon with washrooms.

Location: Antelope Canyon

 

Enjoying the View at Horseshoe Bend

 

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most iconic places to visit in Arizona and on your Southwest USA road trip and definitely worth a stop! We visited the Horseshoe Bend in 2017 and also just recently in March 2020. The river formation is just as stunning the second time we saw it as the first time. The area around it has completely changed though.

You can easily drive up to the parking lot and walk 5-10 minutes on a gravel trail to get to the bend. There are two covered areas where you can get some shade along the trail as it gets extremely hot here in Summer.

 

Guy Sitting on Rock at Horseshoe Bend Arizona

 

Once you get to the very tip of the cliff, there are some areas which are fenced off for safety reasons. However, you are still free to roam around in other areas and the iconic “rock” is not fenced in and you can get one of the most Instagram-worthy photos from here.

 

Girl Sitting and Overlooking Horseshoe Bend Arizona

 

Tips:

  • Take a lot of water! Yes, the hike is short – only 5-10 minutes. However, it gets extremely hot and there is not a lot of shade. We visited in March and didn’t think we would need the extra water but we wish we had brought some.
  • Apply plenty of sunscreen! Even if you’re not planning to stay very long, the sun reflects of the rock surfaces and is very intense.
  • Horseshoe Bend is extremely popular and gets super busy. Consider visiting early in the morning or late in the evening for some amazing sunset photos.

Hours: Open daily from Dawn to Dusk according to the City of Page.

Cost: Entrance fee to Horseshoe Bend is $10 per car. You pay upon entering the parking lot.

Facilities: There are washrooms available at the parking lot.

Location: Horseshoe Bend

 

Grand Canyon Road Trip

 

Any Southwest USA road trip would not be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon! I’m sure you have seen countless photos of the Grand Canyon and might be wondering if it’s worth going there given that you have already seen it in photos. It is absolutely worth it! Standing on the edge of the canyon and overlooking the entire area is an incredible feeling and very much worth a trip.

 

Sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim Arizona

 

The Grand Canyon has a North and a South Rim. The South Rim includes all of the popular viewpoints and it is what people usually think of when you mention Grand Canyon. It is much easier to get to and unlike the North Rim, it is open all year round.

Getting to the North Rim is for those who like to take the road less traveled. It is generally closed in Winter and lodging is only open from May to October due to the snow. Make sure you make a reservation at the North Rim lodge or campground if you’re planning to visit the North Rim, as lodging options are very limited.

 

View of Grand Canyon South Rim Arizona

 

A Grand Canyon road trip can be as long or short as you like. The South Rim is a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas and you can easily see some of it in a day. If you’re short on time and only have one day to spend here, I recommend visiting the South Rim as it is much easier to access. Start your day at Mather Point which is a great place to view the sunrise or sunset.

Continue to Yavapai Point which is very close and make your way West. You can easily drive to all the viewpoints and if you have time, doing the South Rim Trail is an easy way to take in all the epic views. The hike is relatively easy with minimal elevation gain.

 

Golden Light at Sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona

 

Other viewpoints which are easy to get to by car and have an amazing view are Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, and Mohave Point where you can see the Colorado River. If you’re looking for wide views of the canyon, Lipan Point is another great viewpoint.

 

Sun Setting over the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona

 

If you have more than one day here and are planning a longer Southwest USA road trip, I highly recommend waking up early and enjoying a sunrise over the canyon and seeing the sun set behind this majestic landscape. It truly is an experience like no other.

Tips:

  • There is a lot to see at the Grand Canyon, make sure you plan out your time here and know what you want to see.
  • The South Rim viewpoints can get very busy. Being here early in the morning and later in the evening helps avoid the crowds.
  • If you want to make the most out of your Grand Canyon road trip, bring water and food with you so that you don’t have to stop in the village but can chase the amazing views instead.

Hours: The South Rim is open 24 hours daily. The North Rim is closed to all vehicles from December 1 to May 15.

Cost: Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park is $35 per vehicle. Your pass will be valid for 7 days and includes both the North and South Rim.

Facilities: The South Rim has multiple visitor centers and is fully outfitted with facilities, restaurants, and lodging. The North Rim has one visitor center which is open from May 15 to October 15 and limited lodging.

Location: Grand Canyon South Rim, Grand Canyon North Rim

 

Nevada and New Mexico Road Trip Destinations

 

You may not think of Nevada and New Mexico when planning your iconic American road trip. Trust me when I say that both states have some beautiful road trip destinations you absolutely need to add to your Southwest USA road trip!

 

Loneliest Road in America in Nevada

 

The Loneliest Road in America, also known as U.S. Route 50, goes straight across Nevada. It very much deserves the name of being the loneliest road as there is little to no civilization along the way, other than the odd ghost town. This is exactly why it’s the perfect Southwest USA road trip destination!

Fueled up and with plenty of water and food, you can hit the road and explore the vast countryside of Nevada which ranges from salty flat areas to mountains, and grass lands full of hidden hot springs. The road itself goes straight for a large portion and offers incredible photo opportunities, sharing the vastness of the state.

 

Sand Mountain on the Loneliest Road in America in Nevada

 

Stopping in a ghost town is a must if you like the idea of traveling back in time and seeing America as it used to be. I can particularly recommend Austin, Nevada which is full of old-school houses, store fronts, and signs.

 

Girl Walking along Ghost Town Store Front in Austin Nevada along Loneliest Road

 

Other fun activities along the way include enjoying a sunset on Sand Mountain, horseback riding through the wide grass lands, and searching for hot springs. Because of its remote location, the Loneliest Road in America offers the perfect opportunity for some stargazing.

 

Girl Sitting in Heart-Shaped Bartine Hot Springs in Nevada

 

Tips:

  • The Loneliest Road in America used to be only travelable by people with survival skills. While it’s definitely easier to drive these days, make sure you fuel up before you leave and get gas every opportunity you get. Gas stations are few and far in-between.
  • Make sure you bring plenty of water and food with you.
  • Nevada has an incredible amount of hot springs and no road trip across the Loneliest Road would be complete without taking a dip. Make sure to stop at the popular Spencer Hot Springs or smaller heart-shaped Bartine Hot Springs.
  • There is surprisingly good cell reception along the Loneliest Road in America. I had 2 bars LTE with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Driving the Loneliest Road in America is free.

Facilities: There are only few facilities along the Loneliest Road in America, whenever you hit a ghost town.

Location: Loneliest Road in America

 

White Sands Monument in New Mexico

 

White Sands National Park is everything you think of when you hear the name. It’s in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico and is covered in rare white sand. While you may have never heard of it, White Sands is extremely beautiful and definitely worth adding to your Southwest USA road trip.

The white gypsum sand is like nothing I have ever seen before. As you enter the park, you will notice how incredibly quiet it is. There is no sound other than the wind forming new sand dunes.

 

Girl in Dress at White Sands National Monument

 

Girl with Sand running through hands at White Sands National Park New Mexico

 

You can easily access the dunes on the Dunes Drive which is a looped road from the visitor center to the dune field. We were able to park almost anywhere we wanted and just get out of the car to explore the area. If you would like to spend more time in Mexico, you could visit the White Sand National Park in the morning and head to Albuquerque for a weekend.

 

Couple Kissing in White Sands National Park

 

Tips:

  • The White Sands National Park is a desert and as such extremely dry and hot. Make sure you bring plenty of water.
  • You can easily get lost wandering around the dunes as there is not a lot a variety in landscape. Make sure you don’t visit alone and follow trail posts.
  • The sun reflection off the white sand is very intense. Make sure you use sunscreen with high SPF and wear protective clothing. Visiting in the early morning is best to avoid the afternoon heat.
  • There is poor to no cell reception at White Sands National Park.

 

Hours: The White Sands National Park opens at 7am daily. Closing hours vary depending on the time of the year and are generally between 6pm -7pm in winter and 8pm-9m in summer. Make sure you check the current operation hours on the official website as there might be closures for missile testing.

Cost: Entrance fee to the park is $25 per vehicle and $15 per person if there is only one person in the vehicle.

Facilities: There is a visitor center at the entrance of the park with full washrooms.

Location: White Sands National Park

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Your Southwest USA Road Trip

 

1) Prepare for the Heat

The weather in the Southwest US is very dry and hot. Especially during the Summer months, temperatures often rise over 100 F (38 C) and spending time outside can be unbearable. Make sure you are prepared for the heat  during your Southwest USA road trip. Make sure your car has air conditioning and if you plan to visit in Summer, plan accommodation with air conditioning as well. I would recommend doing your Southwest USA road trip in March or April when temperatures are more pleasant.

 

2) Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is key during the heat for safety but also to stay energized. Many of these incredible destinations are very dry and windy and you will end up needing more water than you expect. Make sure you bring plenty of fluids. I add Hydralyte to my water for extra hydration on all of my hikes to make sure I don’t get de-hydrated.

 

3) Bring Good Hiking Shoes

A lot of these Utah and Arizona road trip destinations are in rocky and sandy terrain. Make sure you bring good hiking shoes with great grip on the sole to get around easier. I have done some hikes in normal sneakers which slowed me down a bit as I wasn’t able to climb down rocky sections as easily.

 

4) Bring a Good Camera

You will undoubtedly see some incredible landscapes on your Southwest USA road trip. Make sure you bring a good camera and have it fully charged. You will want to look back to this iconic road trip years down the road and will want photos to remember all the incredible places you have seen. On our trip, we took thousands of photos of the amazing rock formations and continue to enjoy looking back on them.

 

5) Plan Around Sunrises and Sunsets

Generally, the best time to explore these places is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Temperatures are not as hot, there will be less people on the road, and the golden hour provides for amazing photos. Make sure you know your sunrise and sunset hours as traveling in the dark can quickly get very dangerous. I would especially recommend to not do any off-road driving or hiking in the dark.

 

Girl in Dress Behind a Plant at White Sands National Park

 

Have you ever taken a Southwest USA road trip? Let us know if we missed any places we should be adding to our list! We love to explore more and hear from you! What have been your favorite road trips to date?

 

Save this post on Pinterest to plan your future iconic Southwest USA road trip!

 

The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!

 

The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!

 

The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!
The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!
The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!
The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!

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Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter

By now everyone has seen pictures of the beautiful turquoise lakes of the Canadian Rockies. Banff and Lake Louise are the epicenter of the Canadian wilderness, and are equally worth a trip in summer or winter. Here is everything you need to know to visit Banff in winter - where to stay, the most impressive natural wonders, and how to pack for your trip.

 

Sunflare through snow covered tree in Banff

 

Make sure you don't miss our top five tips to make the most of your visit to Banff at the end of this post!

 

Banff National Park

 

Banff National Park is one of the most popular of Canada’s national parks. And for good reason! Banff is full of beautiful glacial lakes, majestic flowing rivers, and towering snowy peaks.

 

View from Fairmont Hotel Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Banff National Park was formed in 1885, making it Canada’s oldest national park. The park encompasses over 2,500 square miles (6,600 square km) of beautiful Canadian wilderness. With this much space, you can definitely find your own picturesque slice of nature.

 

View of Fairmont Springs Hotel in Banff - The Next Trip

 

The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in the early growth of the park, building two of the most famous Canadian hotels here, the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise. These magnificent hotels established Banff National Park as a popular tourist destination.

 

View of Banff - The Next Trip

 

Winter tourism in Banff was fairly limited until 1968, when the Banff Springs Hotel modernized and became winterized! Previously it was only open during the warmer months of the year.

 

Getting to Banff in Winter

 

Even though Banff is in the middle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it is relatively easy to get to any time of the year. If you don’t already live within driving distance, you will most likely be flying into Calgary, which is about an hour and a half drive away. In comparison, our drive from Vancouver, took about 12 hours.

 

Toyota Tacoma driving in the snow - The Next Trip

 

If you don’t want to drive through the Canadian Rockies in the middle of winter, there are a number of shuttle buses driving from Calgary to Banff.  Additionally, once in Banff there is a good public transportation system, and you can visit some incredible off the beaten path destinations with tours, such as the Winter Wonder Tour.

That being said, if you have your own vehicle, or a rental car, you can explore all that Banff has to offer at your own pace! Ensure that you have winter tires, as they are mandatory on all highways during the winter months until April.

 

Bow Valley Parkway

 

The Bow Valley Parkway is the scenic alternative to drive between Banff and Lake Louise. The road stretches 31 miles (50 km) with many great sights along the way. It's the perfect place to start exploring Banff National Park and you can't miss out on what it has to offer.

 

View from Bow Valley Parkway - The Next Trip

 

 

Johnston Canyon

 

One of the best stops along the Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon is dramatically carved into the limestone bedrock with steep canyon walls, and plunging waterfalls. During winter, the falls freeze over, forming dramatic ice features. This is a very popular spot for ice walking and ice climbing and the views don't disappoint.

 

Entrance Gate to Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

Frozen lower falls at Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

The two main falls, Lower Falls and Upper Falls, are a relatively easy 0.7 miles (1.1 km) and 1.6 miles (2.6 km) hike from the parking lot. If you're like us and are visiting in winter, we recommend you wear good traction hiking shoes or bring ice cleats. The path can be quite slippery and difficult to master without the right shoes. The temperatures can be a few degrees cooler at the falls than in the parking lot. Bring your warm jacket to ensure you don't get cold during your hike!

 

Ice Climbers on Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

Morant's Curve

 

This is, not surprisingly, one of the most photographed spots in all of Banff National Park. And for good reason, as you can snap some epic pictures here. Canadian freight trains curve through Banff National Park, with the Bow River in the foreground and large mountains in the background.

 

Girl in Red Dress at Morant's Curve in Banff - The Next Trip

 

Finding Morant's Curve is relatively easy as it is well signed. Once you get onto the Bow Valley Parkway (driving from the North), it is a short five to ten minute drive. There is a small parking lot right across the street from the viewpoint. However, getting an iconic photo with a freight train is the difficult part. The freight trains passing through here do not run on a schedule and run at different times every day. As such, you can wait for hours and not see a train, or you may spot one in just a few minutes. Either way, make sure you're prepared and bring snacks and water, and a lot of patience.

 

Snowy Winterland View from Morant's Curve Banff - The Next Trip

 

We visited the Morant's Curve twice during our stay in Banff. While we did not get to see a full freight train, we did see a small locomotive and snow plough come through Morant’s Curve.

 

 
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Lake Louise

 

Lake Louise is another one of the quintessential Canadian Rockies “must-sees” that should be at the top of your list any time of year. You might know the lake due to its striking blue waters. In winter, the lake is covered in ice and snow, but it is no less beautiful.

 

Ice Hockey Game at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Instead of canoeing, you will find the lake turned into a hockey rink, an ice castle, and the perfect place to snowshoe and cross-country ski.

 

Ice Castle at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Girl Twirling at Ice Castle Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Girl Twirling at Ice Castle Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Lake Louise is easily accessible by car and is a 40 minutes drive away from Banff. If you're planning to visit during the holidays or on weekends, make sure you get there early in the day. It can be very busy and the parking lot fills up quickly. Also be sure to check the weather before you plan your trip there as it can be dramatically different from Banff.

 

Girl Jumping at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Vermilion Lakes

 

The Vermilion Lakes are actually less than 2 miles from the town of Banff, and yet they feel like they are a million miles away! You may have seen pictures of beautiful reflections of Mount Rundle at any time of the year, and this is where the pictures were taken from!

 

View at Vermillion Lakes - The Next Trip

The great part about going to Vermilion Lakes in the winter is that there is almost no one there. We spent a few hours one afternoon at Vermilion Lakes. During our time we only saw a handful of other people out enjoying the beautiful weather. This makes Vermilion Lakes easy to schedule into your itinerary any time of day.

 

Couple standing on frozen vermillion lakes - The Next Trip

 

 

Girl throwing snow at Vermillion Lakes Banff - The Next Trip

 

If you are feeling adventurous, Vermilion Lakes is a great place to test the waters, quite literally, and take a polar dip.  There are a few areas of the vast lake that are not covered in ice, if you are in need of a refreshing dip! Just be sure to have a warm car waiting for you.

 

Girl doing Polar Dip at Vermillion Lakes Banff - The Next Trip

 

Where to Stay Near Banff


We were hosted by  the Grande Rockies Resort and had a wonderful time at the resort. We are excited to share our stay with you. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Girl twirling at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Canmore is a great place to base your adventures of Banff National Park, as accommodation, food, and all other essentials are easier to come by and more affordable in Canmore compared to Banff and the entire town is less busy. We stayed in nearby Canmore, at the Grande Rockies Resort.

 

Driveway at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Sunrise at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Our stay was in a one-bedroom suite which was perfect for our time in Banff National Park as it allowed us the room to relax in the evenings by the fireplace and make a delicious home cooked meal.

 

Kitchen at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Fireplace at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

If you're looking to explore the trails around Canmore, the Grande Rockies Resort has fat tire bikes and snowshoes that can be reserved for free. We took the fat bike on a spin and it's incredibly smooth to ride in the snow. They also have a wonderful indoor swimming pool, indoor-outdoor hot tub, and heated indoor parking!

 

Fat Bike driving in Canmore - The Next Trip

 

What Should I Pack for Banff in Winter?

 

The weather can get properly cold in the Canadian Rockies during the winter. During our visit the nightly low temperatures reached -18C (0F), but -30C (-22F) would not be unheard of. That means you should be fully outfitted in winter gear from head to toe with a toque (Canadian warm winter hat), scarf, warm jacket, gloves, warm pants, and winter boots. If you are spending a few hours outdoors a very worthwhile investment are the glove warmer packets! We used these each day outside, and they easily lasted the whole day.

 

Girl standing on frozen lake with backpack and suitcase - The Next Trip

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Banff in Winter:

 

1) Prepare for the cold

This is winter in the Canadian Rockies, and as we already mentioned it can get really cold! Even if you already live somewhere that has cold winters, it pays to be prepared for your trip to Banff. Often when we travel we spend a lot more time outdoors, so be sure to pack all warm clothing and hand warmers!

2) Stay Hydrated

We noticed that our skin was very dry during our stay in Banff. This is partially due to the cold and dry air outside and the hot dry air inside from the building heaters. Another important factor is that we tend to drink less water when it is cold outside! Packing a thermos with some warm water, tea, or broth on your outdoor adventures is a great way to stay hydrated and warm at the same time!

3) Cook your own meals

While there are some fantastic restaurants in both Banff and Canmore, as they are located in a small remote resort town, they are priced accordingly! The easiest way to save a large amount of money on your trip to Banff is to cook a few meals in your hotel room. Our one-bedroom suite at the Grande Rockies Resort was perfect for us to cook some of our meals ourselves!

4) Hit the slopes

While we didn't have enough time on our trip to get some skiing and snowboarding in, this is a fantastic area for winter sports. Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise are by far the biggest and most popular ski mountains with tourists. Smaller Norquay is nearer to Banff, and can be a great alternative to escape the crowds.

5) Have a flexible schedule

This is the number one mindset to have to enjoy your trip to Banff in the winter. Winter weather is unpredictable, and can be rather unfriendly towards winter travelers. On our trip we encountered multiple road closures, rain, snow, and sunshine. You never really know what the weather conditions will be, but you just have to be able to roll with it. That being said, it's great to always have a secondary plan in the back of your mind if your first plans don't work out due to weather.

 

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Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

 

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

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Explore Banff National Park with Winter Wonder Tour

Banff National Park is a dream to visit in winter! In case you didn't know, Kyle is from Canada (read about our story here), and we love exploring Canada. Read about our Canada East Coast adventures here. However, we have not visited the Canadian Rockies in winter until now. The snow-covered mountains and trees make for the perfect fairy tale getaway. There is no better way to start off your romantic trip than with the Banff Winter Wonder Tour. The tour takes you to some of the main highlights of Banff National Park in winter. Hence, it provides you with a quintessential Canadian experience along the way!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff - The Next Trip

 

All of the below locations and activities were included within the Banff Winter Wonder Tour, which we enjoyed on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were taken between all locations by coach bus. This allowed us to heat up after each outdoor activity and leave our belongings in a safe space when we didn’t need them. Take a seat as we take you through all of the tour activities!

 

Disclaimer:  Our tour was provided by Brewster Sightseeing and we loved it. As always, all of our opinions on our experience and how many Canadian treats you should eat are completely our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Views of Two Jack Lake

 

The first stop of the tour is a viewpoint of Two Jack Lake. The lake is named after two local Jack’s who used to work in the area and frequent the lake. Two Jack Lake is relatively unknown compared to some of the most famous nearby lakes. However, it is no less beautiful!

 

Two Jack Lake Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

The sun reflecting off the frozen lake is magical!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka

 

Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake in Banff National Park, and was one of our favorite stops on the tour! It is very popular in the summer, but equally as beautiful in the winter.

 

Showshoeing at Lake Minnewanka with Pursuit Collection - The Next Trip

 

Here we went on a short snowshoeing walk through the forest and along the lake. It had snowed the night before, so there was fresh snow everywhere. As a result, it was a lot of fun bounding through the deep snow. As the lake was entirely frozen and covered in snow, we even walked out onto the ice!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

Bettina tried using some old-style snowshoes made with a wooden frame and dried caribou hide webbing. However, as they didn’t have the metal ice picks on the bottom like modern snowshoes do, it was slippery! Luckily, she didn't fall!

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Cave & Basin National Historic Site

 

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is an interactive place to learn about the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, as well as local history and culture.

 

Cave and Basin Natural Hot Spring Banff - The Next Trip

 

The site includes access to an underground natural hot spring, which is protected to preserve the habitat of the Banff Springs snail. This minuscule snail has adapted to live in the harsh environment of the natural thermal springs. The snail lives in just five of the nine Banff hot springs, and is considered ‘at risk’ or endangered.  Additionally, there is only one hot springs open to the public (the Upper Hot Springs) to preserve these little Banff Spring snails.

 

Bow Falls

 

These waterfalls on the Bow River are located very close to Banff town center. The viewpoint here allows you to see the beautiful ice-covered falls in the winter, as well as the nearby merger of the Bow and Spray rivers.

 

Bow River Banff National Park

 

We also enjoyed a cup of warm hot chocolate and a traditional Canadian sweet, Nanaimo Bars while taking in the beautiful Bow Falls!

Banff Gondola on the Winter of Wonder Tour

 

The last stop on the tour is at the Banff Gondola. The gondola climbs 2,292 feet (698 meters) to the top of Sulphur Mountain. On your way to the top you will have glimpses of the town of Banff and the mountain views that await.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The eight-minute journey to the top is totally worth it when you arrive to magnificent views like these!

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

At the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Winter Wonder tour includes a delicious sampling of a traditional Canadian snack. We tried bannock with maple butter and a cup of hot apple cider. Both the bannock and apple cider were freshly made upon our arrival. As a result, they were absolutely delicious! So much that we even had seconds!

 

Canadian Treat Bannock - The Next Trip

 

After our snack we had an hour of free time. You could take photos, walk the boardwalk to nearby Sanson’s Peak, or explore the gondola summit.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Igloo at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

After our time at the summit, we took the gondola back down to the mountain base. The coach bus drove back to the town of Banff, and we said goodbye to our excellent tour hosts. The Banff Winter Wonder tour is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon exploring Banff National Park in winter and complete with outdoor winter activities, historical facts, classic Canadian treats, and most importantly all those iconic Canadian Rockies views.

 

Alpenglow Festival

 

The Alpenglow Festival was not specifically included in our Winter Wonder Tour, but we wanted to highlight it as it is a must see if you’re in Banff on a winter weekend. During the festival you can enjoy an evening of more amazing views and live music at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It happens every Friday and Saturday night between the end of January and April.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The festival is included within a Banff Gondola ticket, and provides a warm and cozy atmosphere at the top of Sulphur Mountain. Inside the gondola summit there is the Glow Bar Lounge, with live music, signature drinks, and tasty treats.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

If you feel like venturing out onto the rooftop, don't worry about the cold! You will be rewarded with a heated igloo, where you can eat a delicious s’more after roasting it yourself on the firepits! Our roasted s'mores were perfect! We enjoyed a relaxing Friday night at the Alpenglow Festival and can highly recommend it as an evening out on top of the town of Banff!

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

Pin this post to your Banff and Canada board to help plan your next trip!

 

Explore Banff National Park with Winter Wonder Tour 26

 

Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

Bangkok is one of the quintessential cities in Southeast Asia with its amazing food, huge nightlife scene, crazy traffic congestion, and intense heat – it truly is a full-out assault on the senses. This however, doesn’t mean that your trip to Bangkok needs to be hectic, stressful, or overwhelming. While three days is not quite enough time to see everything, it is the perfect amount of time to get a true sense of the city, so read on for our recommendations on the best things to do in Bangkok in three days. If you are looking to see more of the country outside of Bangkok as well, don't miss out on these ways to explore the beauty of Thailand.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Wat Arun - The Next Trip

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on things to do in Bangkok in three days, click here.

 

Is Bangkok Worth Visiting?

 

Absolutely! Even if you only have three days in Bangkok, the city is worth it as it has a little bit of something for everyone! Bangkok, officially known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, has a population of over 11 million inhabitants who welcome over 20 million visitors every year. This makes Bangkok one of the most visited cities in the world, and it is not hard to see why.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The tropical metropolis is extremely tourist friendly and offers everything from a vibrant street and nightlife, to hundreds of ornate temples and cultural sites, to bustling markets, to relaxing spas and wellness, all topped off by delicious and affordable food. The busyness of the city is exactly why Bettina fell in love with it.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

In addition, Bangkok has two large airports, and is an aviation hub of Southeast Asia, meaning that it is often more affordable than you think to fly here from virtually anywhere on the globe. If you’re interested in learning more on how to book cheap flights, check out our Five Step Guide.

 

Where to Stay in Bangkok

 

As Bangkok is such a huge city with so many diverse sights spread across the city, a hotel with a central location and access to public transit is ideal. For our time in Bangkok we stayed at the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok, which worked out perfectly. The Shama Lakeview Asoke hotel is located in a quiet area of the Central Business District and is an easy 10-minute walk to BTS Skytrain and MRT metro stations, as well as shopping malls and restaurants galore. This location allowed us to take public transportation when we were out exploring for the day!

 

View from Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

What makes the Shama Lakeview Asoke especially great for those on an extended Southeast Asia stay is every room in the hotel is an apartment style suite so you have lots of room to relax, and have some of the conveniences of home. Our one-bedroom lakeview suite included a fully stocked kitchen, comfortable work space, and washer and dryer, all of which we greatly appreciated.

 

Hotel Room at Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

When not relaxing in your room, the hotel amenities include a huge outdoor pool and large gym, and a few fun activities like a ping pong table and indoor golf driving range.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Last but not least, there are two restaurants you can choose from for breakfast! We ended up eating all of our hotel meals at the Coffee Club café. It was so good that we even came back here for late night snacks, dessert, and drinks each night.

 

Breakfast at Coffee Club Cafe

 

If you are looking for a centrally located place to stay in Bangkok, which is comfortable, incredibly clean, and full of amenities, we can highly recommend the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok.

We were hosted by  Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok and had a wonderful time and are excited to share our trip with you. All of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Thai Food

 

Thai food is world-renowned for its diversity in flavors and attention to detail and happens to be one of our favorite cuisines in the world. If Bettina could pick just one favorite meal, for her it is absolutely Thai Green Curry. As a result, we went on the search for green curry every day in Bangkok!

 

Basil Chicken Thai Food at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

With a three-day visit to Bangkok, there is a lot to see in a short amount of time. One thing you don’t need to be too worried about, is having great food. There is amazing Thai food around every corner. For our time in Bangkok we enjoyed every meal, and didn’t really do any significant prior research.

 

Street Food in Thailand - The Next Trip

 

That being said we recommend a quick peak on Google Maps restaurant ratings when you are ready to eat. We found that while there were a lot of highly rated restaurants, there were also a surprising number of poorly rated restaurants (which we would generally say is less than four stars out of five, however there were a lot below three stars when we searched).

Some of our other favorite Thai dishes which are definitely worth trying are Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, a fresh Thai Salad, and so many others.

 

Streetfood in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

You may be wondering "is street food safe in Bangkok?” and to that we can say that we sampled street food too many times to count and we never got sick. We highly recommend you try some local street food as it is an essential part of the Bangkok experience! There are so many street vendors on every corner, you can and should be picky about where you eat. Choose the vendor with a clean looking cart, and where the meat is being freshly grilled, as opposed to looking like it has been sitting in the hot sun all afternoon.

 

Fun Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

 

A trip to Bangkok can be very different for each individual person, depending on your interests.  If you want to party all night long, the city can certainly deliver, but we opted for a visit focused primarily on exploring some of best wats (Buddhist temples) the city has to offer.

 

Temples in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Before you visit any temples, make sure you are respectful to the religion and culture and dress appropriately. For women, this means covering your shoulders and knees. If you are wearing a short skirt and revealing top, make sure you bring a large scarf to cover up your knees and a cardigan to cover your shoulders and chest area. Men should wear long pants and either short- or long-sleeve shirts (no tank tops). No worries if you forget to dress properly though; most wats also have clothes rentals.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun is one of the best known in Bangkok, and is one of the few main tourist sites located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. Getting here is fairly easy as it is a short walk from one of the MRT Blue Line stops. Wat Arun towers in the distance, as its central spire is over 70 metres (200 feet) tall, and is covered in colorful porcelain.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 50 baht (about $1.65 USD). Due to its popularity, we highly recommend arriving early in the morning to avoid the worst of the thick crowds. We also heard that the morning sun reflects off the temple to give a nice pearly glow.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Most people arrive at Wat Arun by taking one of the many ferries that cross the Chao Phraya River, which is another experience worth doing! The ferries are inexpensive, and the quickest way to cross over to the next main attraction!

 

Crossing Chao Phraya River on a Ferry - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

 

In addition to Wat Arun, Wat Pho is another of the best known Bangkok attractions, together with the nearby Grand Palace. This temple has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, and also includes the famous Reclining Buddha, built in 1832 and lying 46 meters long (151 feet).

 

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 100 baht (about $3.30 USD) and is worth it! We again recommend arriving early due to the huge crowds that come to see the Reclining Buddha. Even if you don't arrive early, the entire area is not overly crowded. That means you can easily walk around and enjoy the sights.

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you have enough time and truly are an early bird, be sure to check out The Grand Palace. It is the most famous landmark in Bangkok and Thailand's most sacred site. Tickets to the palace are 500 baht ($16.60).

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

More of Wat You Want

 

During our time in Bangkok, we toured two additional wats, although there are hundreds more that we didn’t get to.  Wat Ratchanatdaram is stunningly beautiful, with a style that is slightly simplified and symmetric compared to most other wats that we saw.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The best part about this wat is that there is no entrance fee. As it is further away from the main tourist area, it is also not very busy at all. We arrived in the late afternoon, and there was only a handful of other people visiting at the same time.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Only a tuk tuk ride away is Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, our favorite wat in Bangkok.  We arrived just before sunset, and had the place almost all to ourselves.

 

Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, Thailand - The Next Trip

 

This wat is also known as the marble temple; and you can see why from the photos! Entrance to Wat Benchamabophit was 50 baht (about $1.65 USD), and definitely worth it.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

 
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Chatuchak Weekend Market

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market is another quintessential Bangkok experience and is one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days. It is the world’s largest and most diverse weekend market with more than 15,000 stalls selling almost everything you could imagine.

 

Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Entrance to the market is free, so you can save your baht for shopping and eating! We purchased a few souvenirs at the market, but since we were most excited about the food, we arrived hungry and sampled as much as we could! If you like coconut, you will love the Thai coconut ice cream! It comes in a coconut and with toppings of tapioca pearls, peanuts, shaved coconut, etc.

 

Dinner at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Thai Coconut Ice Cream at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

We visited Chatuchak Weekend Market on a Friday evening which is less busy than during the weekend. However, not all market stands were open so we didn't get to experience the full size of it. We'd recommend visiting on a Saturday or Sunday for shopping, but Friday night for eating.

 

Accessories at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Food court at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Getting to Chatuchak Weekend market is relatively easy as both public transport systems, BTS and MRT,  have nearby stations to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

 

How to Get Around Bangkok

 

Not only is Bangkok a large city population-wise, but also geographically. This means you will be spending time trying to figure out how to get between the amazing sightseeing opportunities here. Traffic congestion can also be a problem, which can seriously cut into your time enjoying the city.  We primarily used the MRT (metro) to get to and from our hotel to various areas of the city. As the MRT travels underground, you don’t have to worry about traffic.  The same goes for the BTS Skytrain, which travels above the city streets. Another great reason to take the MRT is that it is cheap, safe, but more importantly, air-conditioned which comes in super handy on those hot and humid summer days! As a bonus, with stations looking as pretty, taking public transport is a sight in itself!

 

Metro Station in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you find yourself too far away from a MRT or BTS Skytrain station, we can highly recommend Grab, which functions just like Uber or Lyft. We also used Grab to get to and from the airport, without any issues.

Of course, no trip to Bangkok would be complete without a trip on a tuk tuk! Be sure to agree upon a price prior to getting in, and then sit back, and hold on!

 

Spas and Thai Massages in Bangkok

 

We were pretty jetlagged when we arrived in Bangkok, so decided to pamper ourselves with a famous Thai massage. The Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok offers in-house Thai massages and we couldn't resist to book one for each of us. We both received a set of pants and top to put on before getting situated on the massage bed. Thai massages are very different to Swedish massages and combine acupressure and yoga postures. If you are looking for a relaxing massage, Thai massages may not be your best choice. Bettina chose a "medium" strength massage but I'm pretty sure I heard her say "ouch" at some point! 🙂 The massages can be a bit painful but we felt extremely relaxed afterwards and were able to sleep off our jetlag.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you are looking to get your nails done, Bangkok is one of the best places to do so! Bettina and I picked a place in a nearby shopping center and received and incredibly detailed and gentle pedicure. It is also very reasonably priced, making it another one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days:

 

1) Prepare for an assault on the senses. Sometimes your expectations can make or break a trip. While Bangkok is absolutely amazing, it is not the most relaxing place to be. If you are prepared to experience extreme heat and humidity, smell delicious food mixed with raw sewage nearby, see extreme wealth and poverty juxtaposed, and are prepared to battle the insane traffic congestion, you will have a great time! Part of traveling is just rolling with the local scene, even if it is not what you are used to. It's Bettina's favorite part about traveling!

2) Stay Hydrated. Building on top of our first point, almost no matter what time of the year you visit, it will be hot. Nothing takes the fun out of travelling like a good headache, sunburn, or dehydration. We carried water bottles and sunscreen with us everywhere we went and absolutely needed it. You can buy water bottles almost everywhere from street vendors. However, if you are in tourist area, prepare to pay 2-4x the “regular” price compared to a stand just a few blocks away.

3) Use the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro!  Before arriving, we planned to walk and take tuk tuks mostly everywhere, but after a half day in the heat, taking a tuk tuk spitting out exhaust fumes, while sitting overtop the hot engine in a traffic jam, was less than appealing. Our rides on the MRT were an nice air-conditioned break, rejuvenating our energy for the next activity.

4) Take out enough cash. Cash truly is king in Bangkok.  There were very few places that we went that accepted credit cards, so make sure to have enough Thai Baht currency for all of the wat entrance fees, street food, and market shopping for your trip. ATM machines are plentiful to take out more cash if you run out.

5) Eat the street food. This is absolutely part of the Bangkok experience. If you still have concerns, inspect each street vendors stall carefully to look for reasonable food preparation conditions. Look for stands where they cook the meat in front of you. You can even ask them to cook it longer if you prefer. Another tip is to seek out the food vendor that has the longest line of locals getting food.  If locals line up to eat there it should be delicious and safe.

 

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days 35

 

Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat at Chatuchak Weekend Market, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.

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The Best Weekend in Alaska – The Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to spend a (long) weekend in Alaska. It is perfect for getting a quick taste of wild Alaska, as it is relatively close to Anchorage. Prepare to see majestic mountains, beautiful glaciers, historic towns, and a chance of wildlife during your trip to the Kenai Peninsula. Be sure you have your camera charged and ready at all times! Unlike Bettina, wildlife doesn't pose and wait for you to be ready. 🙂

 

A weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Pursuit Collection to be able to share the full Alaska wildlife experience with you! As always, all our opinions and photos are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us. 

As you may know, it is our goal to visit all 50 U.S. States and Alaska has been a state neither of us had been to yet! You can check out the progress of our states visits on our U.S. States map. You can also read about our previous adventures offroading in Colorado, our cultural immersion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and our weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Laying in the grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We spent the July 4th weekend in Alaska and used the holiday to make it a 4-day trip without missing too much at work. Despite it being the height of summer, temperatures in Anchorage are usually around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius).

Our trip on the fourth of July weekend was unique as a number of record high temperatures were recorded in Alaska that week. This made for a much warmer trip than we expected! For us, summer is definitely the best time to visit Alaska.

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula.

 

Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

What is the Kenai Peninsula?

 

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240 km) southwest from Anchorage and includes mountain ranges with glaciers, many lakes and rivers, historic towns, and the famous sounds and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula doesn’t include all of the popular sights of Alaska, but it is a great starting off point. We highly recommend it for your first trip to The Last Frontier and it makes a great trip for a weekend in Alaska.

 

River in the Summer at Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

 

How to Get To The Kenai Peninsula

 

You will almost certainly be flying into Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, and also has the largest airport. All major US carriers fly here multiple times per day throughout the summer. Flight frequencies drop off significantly once the weather gets cold.

 

Plane Landing at Anchorage Airport Alaska - The Next Trip

 

You can also fly seasonally from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Iceland! Due to the distance from Alaska to the lower 48 states, there are a lot of flights that arrive and depart late in the evening (for example we arrived at 1am and then flew a red-eye back to Chicago leaving at 8pm and arriving at 4am!).

 

Once in Anchorage, we highly recommend you rent a car to explore the peninsula as it makes getting around much easier and you can make the most out of your weekend in Alaska. You don’t need to rent an SUV or truck to get around, as a car will easily reach all of the main sights.

 

Where to Stay in the Kenai Peninsula for a Weekend in Alaska

 

If you are planning to see all of the Kenai Peninsula in a weekend or extended weekend, having a base somewhere near the middle of the peninsula is a great way to go. That way you can explore each day without having to pack up and stay somewhere new each time. We spent the night in a hotel near the airport as we arrived late the first night. For our next night we used Airbnb to rent a cute cabin in the woods! Our cabin was near the small town of Soldotna. There is no better way to experience the outdoors than staying in a cabin for your weekend in Alaska!

 

AirBnB Cabin in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

There are so many other options available all over the Kenai Peninsula on Airbnb. We also saw single rooms, small cabins, or massive houses all to yourself; just pick your favorite! If you haven’t used Airbnb before you can signup using this link to get a $40 discount on your first booking.

 

Our cabin was brand new and included a small kitchen with outdoor barbecue, bathroom with shower, and a loft for sleeping which was super fun!

 

Living Room AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip         Loft at AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

Seward, Alaska as the Perfect Base for Your Weekend in Alaska Exploration

 

The city of Seward, founded in 1903, is located at the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. That means you can get to Seward by car, train, boat, or by air! Seward is an easy drive 2.5 hours south of Anchorage and so we drove there on our first day. We were more than excited because it was the base for our Kenai Fjords tour! Seward’s harbor and location makes it one of the best bases to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Seward has a number of restaurants and other places to stock up on groceries for your visit. One of the major attractions of the Kenai Fjords National Park is just a few minutes outside of Seward and is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska, the Exit Glacier. Unfortunately for us, the heavy forest fires in the area resulted in lots of smoke in the air, so we weren’t able to catch the best view. Also be aware of the mosquitoes here, the hike is not long, but the bugs are all over, be prepared! Getting covered in bug bites is not the best way to start your weekend in Alaska.

 

Exit Glacier in Wildfire Fog Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 
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Kenai Fjords National Park

 

Kenai Fjords National Park Sign Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We partnered with Pursuit Collection to do their Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which was for 6 hours out on the open water. We had the potential to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and puffins! Their tours are a great addition to any Alaska getaway, and perfect for a weekend in Alaska.

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The friendly staff at Kenai Fjords Tours checked us in and as we were a bit early, they were actually able to get us out on an earlier boat. We started off in thick sea fog and wondered if we would see anything at all on this trip!

 

Foggy Harbor at Seaward, Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Lifting Fog at Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

No sooner than five minutes in, we came across a small group of sea otters. The otters were just bobbing in the water relaxing, without a care in the world!

 

Floating Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Our tour continued onward to a few small islands where a large number of birds were nesting, including puffins! Right next to them was a group of Steller sea lions sunbathing on the rocks.

 

Puffins on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions and Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

It was a bit of a longer boat ride, allowing us to dig in to the provided lunch. Once finished, we reached the piece de resistance of this tour, the Aialik Glacier.

 

Lunch on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

As we approached the Aialik Glacier you could feel a great silence come over the boat and stillness in the air. The size of the glacier is unlike anything we have seen before. To fully appreciate it, it should be seen in person.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Bettina and Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The captain turned off the boat motors and we sat in the bay listening to the cracking of the glacier with the odd bit of ice falling into the water. We witnessed some fairly significant calving while we were watching.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Calving is when a glacier suddenly releases a mass of ice. The deep and loud booms of the ice cracking echoed across the bay. This is followed by the silent mid-air fall of the ice, and the final plunge into the ocean. Our boat rocked back and forth from the rippling waves, almost a half mile away.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We captured the calving on video for you to get a better impression of how majestic it is. Click to the right to see the video below.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzmDASpgB1r/

 

Bettina even managed to snag a picture with some glacier ice!

 

Bettina holding Ice from Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On the boat ride back to Seward we came across a few separate pods of whales. However none of them decided that they wanted to do a full 'Free Willy' jump out of the water. As a result we were left trying to snap a few tail photos off in the distance. You might be more lucky though as these are some of the best places to spot whales!

 

Whale Hump on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Whale Tail on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The boat soon returned to Seward harbor, indicating the end of the tour. We were very impressed by how much wildlife we saw during the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour and can highly recommend adding it to your itinerary for a weekend in Alaska.

 

Exploring Homer Spit, Alaska

 

To be honest we didn’t expect much of Homer, it seemed to be just the end of the road, or the end of the Sterling Highway, on the edge of Kachemak Bay. Given that we only had an extended weekend in Alaska, we spent all of our time here at the Homer Spit. The Spit is one of the main highlights of Homer, and is a gravel bar that sticks out 4.5 miles (7.2km) into the bay.

 

Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once you make it to Homer Spit, you can walk around the harbor and stroll along the colorful houses on the promenade. Most importantly, try some Alaskan fish and chips!

 

Bettina in Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Boardwark at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The sea fog was still thick, well into the afternoon, and provided for a magical atmosphere on the beach!

 

Fog at the Beach at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once the sun pokes through, you should be able to see the surrounding mountains which are worth a trip themselves. Bettina on the other hand, was most excited when we found a swing underneath the boardwalk.

 

The Swing Location Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

This may look like the perfect shot; however it was the result of hundreds of ill-timed attempts on the swing. If you want to get the perfect Instagram shot, check out the swing! It's located under the promenade near 4350 Homer Spit Road. It's best to access the swing from the beach.

 

Explore the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

 

With your rental car you can explore a large portion of the Kenai Peninsula, with additional side trips to Whittier, Chugach State Park, or wherever your heart desires to complete your weekend in Alaska trip.

 

Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

During our trip to Alaska there were a number of forest fires burning in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. Smoke drifted all the way to Anchorage. This meant that you couldn’t see the beautiful mountains all around, and sometimes hardly the car in front of you. As a result, we  spent more time on the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula where the sun was shining and the air was much clearer.

 

Laying in grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On our drives we pulled off onto a few side roads and even spotted a few elk out for lunch. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elks in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

If you have time, you can also venture to Captain Cook State Park to take in the late afternoon sun and go for a walk along the beach.

 

View in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Before arriving, we knew that the sun would rise early and set late for the month of July in Alaska. However, we weren’t quite prepared for how much sun there was. The sun rose around 4:45am and set around 11:30pm. That meant never truly became ‘dark.’ The benefit of this is that we were out sightseeing and driving to 9pm, and we didn’t have to rush anywhere to see something before the sun set. There were so many sunny hours in the day! However, falling asleep was somewhat difficult given that it was still broad daylight at 10pm. If you plan your trip to Alaska, make sure to read our 5 top tips below!

 

We loved our weekend in Alaska, exploring the Kenai Peninsula and can absolutely recommend as it is a great beginner’s “taste of Alaska” to start your adventures in the state.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in Alaska - the Kenai Peninsula

 

1) Rent a car.

There is no better way to see the Kenai Peninsula than by driving the open roads for your weekend in Alaska. This gives you the flexibility to stay exactly where you like. When driving, you can stop at any viewpoint along the way, including when you see wildlife! Some tour buses will stop when wildlife are near the road, but you don’t want to be on the one that drives right by!

 

2) Prepare for the sun.

While it may not get as hot as the lower 48 states, Alaska can still have long days of sun during the summer months. Don’t take this to mean that the sun is less intense. It is just as intense in Alaska as it is in other places, and sometimes more so depending on elevation. In addition, as the days are longer you will have more exposure to the sun each day. It helps to prepare with sunglasses and sunscreen during the day. For the night, don’t forget a good sleeping mask to sleep properly when it is still light outside!

 

3) Prepare for the unknown.

Despite the Kenai Peninsula being relatively populated compared to the rest of Alaska, this is still “wild Alaska.” You should always know where you are and where you are going, without relying on any cell service. You should also always make sure to have enough gas in the car and water and snacks, in case you end up stranded somewhere. Even if you don’t end up stranded, it can be a long drive to the next town if you get hungry or thirsty. Furthermore the temperatures can drop drastically. So make sure you pack right for the perfect weekend in Alaska.

 

4) Bring your best camera and a zoom lens.

Moose, deer, and bears don’t generally walk up to your car so they can be nicely framed in your phone’s camera. The animals are generally a bit further away, and if they are close you should probably back away, so be prepared by bringing your best camera with an excellent zoom lens.

 

5) Book a tour.

We are staunch believers in doing your own thing when traveling. However, sometimes it is not always reasonably possible, and a tour is the best way to go.  For Alaska, you are likely here to see nature and wildlife, and the best way to do that can be to go with someone who knows the area best. We highly recommend setting aside time for a whale watching, glacier, or other tour that intrigues you the most. We toured with Pursuit Collection and the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which we can highly recommend for your weekend in Alaska.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. and Alaska destinations boards to save all your ideas about the Kenai Peninsula and a weekend in Alaska!

 

The Best Weekend in Alaska - The Kenai Peninsula 43

 

A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway

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5 Fun Things To Do In Albuquerque In A Weekend

For the last four years that we lived in the United States, we made it our mission to visit all 50 states (check out all of the states here). One by one, we have slowly been crossing them off our list and New Mexico is the third to last state for us to visit!

 

There is some debate about what constitutes having "been" to a state, but we believe that to truly say that you have been to a state and experienced it, you should spend a decent amount of time there. At the very least have one meal there, and preferably enjoy exploring it for a weekend. Neither of us had been to New Mexico before, and having heard so much about the incredible scenery and Native American culture, we couldn't wait to experience it ourselves.

 

Red Dress outfit at Fly Away Project in Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico, so it was an obvious choice to get the first taste of New Mexico. The city is most famous for its Balloon Fiesta which occurs each October, but there are so many fun things to do in Albuquerque year-round. Since Albuquerque has on average 310 sunny days a year - there is really no bad time to visit! If you're in a hurry, skip to our 5 Top Travel Tips to enjoy the 5 best things to do in  Albuquerque or keep reading for the full experience.

 

Bettina at Greetings from Burque Mural in Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Visit Albuquerque to be able to share our weekend getaway with you and were hosted by Hotel Chaco and Nativo Lodge. Our meals and excursions were compensated as part of our Albuquerque experience. We are excited to share our trip with you and all opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Where to Stay in Albuquerque

 

Hotel Chaco

 

We spent our first night in Albuquerque at Hotel Chaco, a brand new luxury hotel, inspired by Chaco Canyon. Located less than a block from the Albuquerque museum and within walking distance of Old Town, it is a great place to stay to take in all the fun things to do in Albuquerque.

 

Hotel Chaco Street View - The Next Trip

 

Hotel Chaco Garden - The Next Trip

 

After a busy day exploring, you can cool down at the pool area and ring in the evening with an in-house wine tasting, or dinner and a drink on the rooftop, which offers expansive views of Albuquerque. These rooftop views are something that I could never tire of!

 

Hotel Chaco Rooftop - The Next Trip

 

Rooftop Restaurant and Bar at Hotel Chaco - The Next Trip

 

View of Albuquerque from Hotel Chaco Rooftop - The Next Trip

 

The rooms are very spacious and thoughtfully designed; perfect for a restful sleep as you prepare for the next day of the best things to do in Albuquerque.

 

Hotelroom at Hotel Chaco - The Next Trip

 

Bathroom at Hotel Chaco - The Next Trip

 

 

Nativo Lodge

 

For our second night, we got to experience true New Mexican Native American artwork at Nativo Lodge. Their uniquely decorated artist rooms feature art work by contemporary Native American artists. No two artist rooms are the same! We stayed in the Essence of Life room which was created by Garrett Etsitty and features two gorgeous wall paintings of a hummingbird.

 

Essence of Life Room at Nativo Lodge - The Next Trip

 

Half way between Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains, Nativo Lodge is a great pet friendly hotel in Albuquerque for those who want to explore the areas around Albuquerque and enjoy local art work.

 

Driveway Native American Art Work at Nativo Lodge - The Next Trip

 

 

Where to Eat in Albuquerque

 

Largest Restaurant in New Mexico - El Pinto

 

Being in Albuquerque, I really wanted to try some New Mexican-inspired cuisine. Saturday evening, Kyle and I went for a romantic dinner at El Pinto - a Mexican restaurant outside the city with beautiful patios surrounded by lush gardens and a very Instagrammable entrance walkway.

 

Walkway to El Pinto Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

El Pinto is the largest restaurant in New Mexico and I was completely overwhelmed by the never ending dining tables and patios! Each of their five patios has a slightly different vibe to them, depending on the atmosphere you are looking for. We just might have to go back to experience all five!

 

Margarita at El Pinto - The Next Trip

 

We toasted to our weekend in New Mexico and enjoyed what felt like three baskets of tortilla chips with delicious house-made salsa. As mains, we tried the stuffed sopapillas - a traditional dish in Spanish heritage regions, and the New Mexican Red Chile Ribs. I couldn't decide whether I wanted my sopapillas with their home-made green or red chile. The waitress suggested I try both which is what the New Mexicans call "Christmas style." Experiencing eating chiles is definitely one of the best things to do in Albuquerque.

 

Sopapillas with Christmas Style Chile and Red Chile Ribs at El Pinto Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Red Chile Ribs at El Pinto Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Both were delicious and we were way too full from the tortilla chips to finish it all or enjoy dessert!

 

Fine Dining in Albuquerque at Ten 3

 

If you're looking for the perfect place to have dinner with an incredible view - Ten 3 is your spot! They opened their doors for the first time on August 17th and we were super excited to be dining with them on their opening weekend! Ten 3 is located at an altitude of 10,300 feet, at the top of Sandia Peak, which provides for the most amazing dining views. To reach the restaurant you need to take the Sandia Peak Tramway (one of the best things to do in Albuquerque!), which you can read more about below.

 

View at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

We started our dining experience with delicious cocktails, a bread basket full of home-made creations, and a goat cheese flan. Fun fact: because there is less oxygen in the air at higher altitudes, it is said that you feel the effects of alcohol quicker. Ten 3 takes this into consideration and serves their drinks with slightly less alcohol content than you might typically find. Don't worry if you think you are getting short-changed, you will still feel the effects!

 

Goat Cheese Flan at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

Red Chile Buffalo Short Rib at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

Kyle and I tried the crispy skin chicken and the red chile buffalo short rib which were both outstanding! If you have never tried buffalo I can highly recommend trying the Ten 3 variation which was so delicious that I was about to steal Kyle's plate!

 

Red Chile Buffalo Short Rib at Ten 3 on Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

While you're at Sandia Peak - make sure you walk around the top and enjoy the views outside the restaurant as well!

 

Things To Do in Albuquerque

 

Albuquerque has so much to offer, it is a shame to not explore the city for at least a full weekend. Here are our top things to do in Albuquerque that you can’t miss out on.

 

Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

ABQ Trolley Tour

 

There is really no better way to see the city and all its sights than from the comfort of a trolley with the ABQ Trolley Tour. The Best of Albuquerque tour is a narrated 1 hour and 45 minutes tour that takes you to Old Town Plaza, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, along Route 66, down Nob Hill, and more! It is an incredibly informative tour and you will get an appreciation of the many different neighborhoods in Albuquerque.

This was a great activity for us to complete at the beginning of our visit as the tour highlighted the many neighborhoods and sights all around activity so that we could properly plan the rest of our weekend of all the great things to do in Albuquerque.

 

 

ABQ Trolley Tour The Best of Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

The highlight of the tour by far was exploring the street where Breaking Bad was filmed and admiring all the filming locations. There is something about seeing famous TV locations in real life that fascinates me - especially if they are from Breaking Bad!

 

Chris' House Breaking Bad in Albuquerque ABQ Trolley Tour - The Next Trip

 

Explore Old Town

 

After you get a feeling of the city with the ABQ Trolley Tour, you get dropped off at Hotel Albuquerque which is only a few steps away from Old Town. Walking through the streets of Old Town felt somewhat surreal as the pueblo style houses are something you don't get to see every day, and one of the great free things to do in Albuquerque.

 

San Felipe de Neri Church Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Hacienda Del Rio Indian Gift Shop Old Town Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Old Town Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

The unique architecture together with the colorful decorations and the blue doors gave me the feeling of being in a totally different country. This is the place to shop the various artisan shops filled with jewelry, rugs, pottery, and other souvenirs.

 

Old Town Emporium Gift Shop Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

Admire Local Street Art

 

Another one of the free things to do in Albuquerque! The city has a rich art scene and the city actively promotes murals and street art. This became very evident as we completed our trolley tour, but also as we walked around the streets of Albuquerque as you could find colorful murals at almost every corner. What is unique about these murals compared to other cities is that many of them represent some portion of Albuquerque's rich history.

 

Street Art Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Street Art Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Street Art Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

Some of my favorite murals were obviously the one’s full of turquoise!

 

Visit the Turquoise Museum

 

One of the best-kept secrets of Albuquerque is the fact that they have their very own Turquoise Museum - all owned and operated by the Zachary family. Now, if you follow us on Instagram, you will quickly understand how spending time at the Turquoise Museum is an absolute must for me. In addition to my love for everything and all things turquoise - seeing turquoise jewelry on display around the Albuquerque Old Town shops peaked my interest in the gem stone even more.

 

Turquoise Museum at Turquoise Castle - The Next Trip

 

If you're not familiar with the gem stone turquoise, you will have to believe me when I say that it comes in many more shapes and forms than you could imagine. The museum presents the Zachary family's own collection which includes everything from raw stones, furniture, weapons, lighters, chandeliers, and all kinds of jewelry.

 

Turquoise Chandelier at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

Turquoise Nuggets at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

Turquoise Jewelry at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

They also have several interactive stations which teach you how to differentiate the different grades, cuts and polishes of turquoise as well as how to tell the difference between real and fake turquoise! At the beginning I struggled to differentiate between real and fake turquoise, but quickly picked up the skills.

 

Turquoise Stones at Turquoise Museum - The Next Trip

 

I learned so much at this museum, that turquoise is part of so many cultures around the world, but is one of the lesser known gem stones. Needless to say that I could have spent all day at the museum - gazing at the beautiful pieces - and splurging on something for myself.

 

Turquoise Exhibit at Turquoise Museum Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

 

Sandia Peak Tramway

 

The best views of New Mexico are from the top of Sandia Peak, which is 10,678 feet (3,255 meters) high and overlooks 10% of the state (that is twice the size of Connecticut!). Getting up there is super easy with the longest aerial tramway in the United States, the Sandia Peak Tramway. It's a short 15 minute ride and the views get better by the minute, easily making it one of the most popular things to do in Albuquerque.

 

View of Sandia Peak Tramway - The Next Trip

 

Sandia Peak Tramway Albuquerque - The Next Trip

 

View from Sandia Peak - The Next Trip

 

On the way up, our guide told us all about the Sandia Mountains. They have some incredibly steep drops, rock walls for climbing, and diverse wildlife. He also highly recommended we watch the sunset from the peak, which did not disappoint.

 

View from Sandia Mountains - The Next Trip

 

As everyone is trying to catch the last rays of the day at the peak, the trams after sunset have the tendency to be very full. As such, we took an earlier ride back and enjoyed stunning views on our way downhill.

 

Sunset from Sandia Peak Tramway - The Next Trip

 

When you explore Sandia Peak, you can buy your tickets at Sandia Peak Tramway online in order to skip the line when you're at the base station. Don't forget to bring an extra layer of clothing, as the peak is easily a few degrees cooler than the city. Even more so once the sun sets.

 

If you're planning a weekend getaway in Albuquerque, make sure you read our 5 top travel tips on how to best explore all of the things to do in Albuquerque below and let us know how you liked the city!

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Things to do in Albuquerque for the Weekend

 

1) Water and sunscreen.

As Albuquerque gets 310 days of sun a year and is located in the desert, days can get very hot. Make sure you always carry enough water and sunscreen with you for all of the things to do in Albuquerque. We know this may seem a bit boring, and there are signs saying so everywhere, but we really mean it! It reached 100F (38C) during our trip!

2) Try the local chiles - yes both red and green!

The New Mexico chile, or Hatch chile, is a big deal in New Mexico. Everywhere you go in New Mexico you will find something on the menu with either red or green chile in it, even at McDonald's. If you can’t decide your favorite, you can always combine them in the same dish which is called "Christmas style." An absolute must-do on the list of things to do in Albuquerque!

 

Drying Chiles in Albuquerque Old Town - The Next Trip

 

3) Start your days early.

As we mentioned above, it gets really hot in Albuquerque. To avoid the heat and still get the most out of the city, plan to start your day with the sun! The heat of the afternoon really takes a lot out of you and is not as pleasant to explore the city. That is if you can bear the heat at all.  Explore in the morning, refresh yourself indoors in the afternoon, and get back out there in the evening for some amazing New Mexico sunsets.

4) Sunsets.

Speaking of sunsets, visit Sandia Peak 1-2 hours before sunset so that you will get to wander around the peak in full daylight and also get to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the desert before heading back down. The sunset from Sandia Peak is incredible and evolves through many different colors and shades as the sun sets over the desert horizon.

5) You’ll need a car.

While Albuquerque does have public transportation, if you plan to explore all the neighborhoods and take in all of the things to do in Albuquerque, it makes the most sense to get a rental car. It makes it so much easier to get around the city, the various neighborhoods, and up to Sandia Peak. Plus, you have your own personal sanctuary of air conditioning wherever you go!

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. city destinations boards to save all your ideas about the fun things to do in Albuquerque!

 

Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!

 

Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!
Fun Things To Do in Albuquerque in a Weekend - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and what Christmas Style Chile is!

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The Best Way to Explore San Antonio for the Weekend

Did you know that San Antonio is the seventh most populous city in the United States? We did not know that before we visited, and we also did not know how much you can do in San Antonio for the weekend. The city is a fantastic size for a weekend getaway, and invites you with warm weather, delicious food, and their beautiful river walk. If you are looking for other weekend adventures, check out our blog posts on Albuquerque for the weekend and Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for the weekend.

 

San Antonio in a Weekend - River Walk

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to make the best of San Antonio for the weekend, click here.

 

How to Get There

 

San Antonio is easily accessible by plane with all major US airlines flying there; for us it was less than 3 hours on a direct flight on Friday evening from Chicago. A huge bonus is that the airport is relatively small, meaning that it is easy to get in and out of, and it is actually very close to the city. As a result you can arrive at your hotel in less than 20 minutes, ready to get your weekend started.

 

Where to Stay

 

For our weekend in San Antonio, we stayed at Stay Alfred San Antonio. If you haven’t heard of Stay Alfred before, they offer travel apartments in almost all major US cities and allow you to have “your own place” but with the amenities and consistent experience of staying at a hotel.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

As our flight was arriving quite late into San Antonio on Friday night, we utilized Stay Alfred’s grocery shopping service and pre-ordered some breakfast items prior to our arrival.  When we arrived the fridge was stocked with our order! We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of coffee, croissants, and strawberries from the comfort of our apartment, however you could order whatever you liked when staying in San Antonio for the weekend.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio Breakfast - The Next Trip