The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary For The 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon

From its stunning coastline to its mountainous regions, the Pacific Northwest of the USA is home to many incredible natural wonders and some incredible waterfalls. Oregon has undoubtedly some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country. The best thing is, they are relatively easy to explore on an Oregon roadtrip and only a short easy to moderate hike away from your car.

 

Oregon Roadtrip to See Best 5 Waterfalls in Oregon

 

This Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip itinerary takes you to the 5 best waterfalls in Oregon, including the three highest waterfalls in the state! Plus, if you have some extra time we’ve included a few bonus nearby waterfalls and hot springs to take in while you are in the area.

 

Your Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to See the Best 5 Waterfalls in Oregon

 

The best way to start your Oregon roadtrip is from Portland, the main city of Oregon. Portland is known for its independent breweries, great food, and its hip vibes and definitely worth a visit. Spend a few days there to explore its culinary specialties before starting your Oregon roadtrip to explore Oregon’s 5 best waterfalls.

 

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

 

Oregon Roadtrip Map

 

The below Oregon roadtrip map shows you the location of each waterfall and the driving distances included in this itinerary. The map closely follows our recommended itinerary but feel free to switch things up if you would like to explore other places along the way.

 

 

Day One of Oregon Roadtrip - Multnomah Falls and Abiqua Falls

 

The first day of this Oregon Waterfall Roadtrip Itinerary is a big day, knocking out arguably the most famous of Oregon’s waterfalls: Multnomah Falls, and also our personal favorite, Abiqua Falls. With so much packed into the first day, getting an early start is imperative, but getting up early should not at all a problem when you have the best waterfalls in Oregon to look forward to.

 

Multnomah Falls

 

Starting off from Portland, it is an easy half hour drive East along the Columbia River until you reach Multnomah Falls. You can’t miss this one as there are a ton of signs, and the waterfall is easily seen from the highway. The parking lot is actually in the middle of the highway, and from there it is a short 5-minute walk up to the base of the falls.

 

Multnomah Falls in Oregon

 

Multnomah Falls is incredible to see in person. The size of the falls is immense, as water plunges over 600 feet (180 meters) from the top of the cliff. As you get closer and closer you will be craning your neck to see up to the top of the falls! There is an accessible bridge halfway to better take in the falls, though be sure to get the famous photograph from below, including the bridge, before venturing up onto it.

 

Cost to see Multnomah Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Multnomah Falls: 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Easy. The entire walkway to the bottom of the falls is paved.

We recommend you wear: Something waterproof as you might get a bit wet depending on the wind direction. If you are planning to take professional photos here, consider bringing rain protection for your camera.

 

Abiqua Falls

 

As Multnomah Falls is easily accessible on the highway, and with only a short walk to the falls, it is easy to see another one of the best waterfalls in Oregon on the same day. Abiqua Falls is an hour and a half to two hours drive south from Multnomah Falls. You will pass through some of the Southeastern Portland suburbs, which is a great time to fill up on gas, water, and snacks to make sure you are ready for this mini adventure.

 

Bettina twirling at Abiqua Falls, Oregon

 

Abiqua Falls is the most difficult of the best waterfalls in Oregon to access, requiring some driving on gravel roads, and a steep hike down to the falls, but it is all worth it!

 

Start by driving to the town of Scotts Mills and then take the Crooked Finger Road almost 11 miles until you reach an unnamed gravel road. Turn right, and follow the road downhill for the last 2 miles. The road will get rougher as you go and the last 1.5 miles of this requires a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle. You can either park at the top of the hill and hike the 2 miles down the road, or drive as far as they can, and then park on the side of the road.

 

Tree covered in moss at Abiqua Falls Oregon

 

You will know you have reached the trailhead, when you come across a large gate blocking the road. About 100 feet back from the gate is the beginning of the trail, heading down on a forest trail towards Abiqua Creek. The trail gets very steep as you near the creek, and there are a number of ropes to help aid in getting up and down the hill. Use these ropes as they are very helpful!

 

Abiqua Falls in Oregon - Photo taken with Neutral Density Filter

 

Once at the creek level, it is a relatively short hike upstream to Abiqua Falls. The falls are absolutely breathtaking, cascading over a cliff of basalt columns, and reminded us very much of Svartifoss in Iceland. If you are curious to know what we are talking about, check out our weekend in Iceland guide here.

Enjoy your time here, and take in the quietness and solitude at the falls, but don’t enjoy it for too long as you still have to hike back up the hill!

 

Cost to see Abiqua Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Abiqua Falls: 2 hours (add more if you have to hike on the road)

Difficulty Level: Moderate. The hike to the falls is definitely a bit more involved and pretty steep in the beginning.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with traction and pants you don’t mind getting dirty as you will have to climb over tree trunks.

 

If you are hiking in the summer, there should still be a few hours of daylight left after you see both falls. We would recommend the 45 minute drive to Silver Falls State Park in the evening. The park has a great campground, or cabins to stay at, which puts you within walking distance of South Falls, which you’ll explore on day two. If you are new to camping and are worried about sleeping under the stars, make sure to read these Camping Tips for Beginners and you will be all set.

 

 

Day Two of Oregon Roadtrip – Hiking to the South Falls

 

Day two includes another great waterfall, South Falls, located within Silver Falls State Park. The best part about Silver Falls State Park is that there are over ten great waterfalls and you can walk behind 4 of them! We completed the Trail of Ten Falls hike to take them all in, and highly recommend spending the time to enjoy this park while you are here.

 

South Falls and Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

 

South Falls

 

South Falls is unique in that you can walk completely behind the falls! There is something so magical about walking behind a waterfall and seeing it from a completely different angle.

 

Walking Behind South Falls in Silver Falls State Park

 

If you have camped at Silver Falls State Park, South Falls is an easy 20 minute walk away from the campground. Alternatively, if you are driving into the park for the day, there is a very large parking lot near South Falls.

 

You will hear the thundering sound of the water plunging over the edge and see the mist rise into the air, well before you see the falls. The falls are impressive to see from any angle, but the best is surely from underneath the falls, on the narrow trail that circumnavigates the falls. You will likely get wet, but it is totally worth the experience!

 

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

 

While at Silver Falls State Park, we would highly recommend you to hike the Trail of Ten Falls hike which continues from South Falls, and meanders throughout the park, taking in (you guessed it) ten more waterfalls, including more that you can walk behind! The full hike should take about three hours, and is on an easy to follow 7 mile (11.5 km) trail. We really enjoyed hiking through the peaceful backcountry of the park, taking in the waterfalls and meandering river all to ourselves on a brisk March morning!

 

Oregon Waterfall in Silver Falls State Park

 

Cost to see South Falls: $5 park day-use permit

Estimated time to see South Falls: Thirty minutes to only see South Falls. Just over three hours for the Trail of Ten Falls

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate. The ground might be a bit slippery if it rained recently and some of the inclines can get your heart rate up.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with good traction as the muddy trail can be slippery when wet. Also make sure you bring a rain jacket and a protective bag for your camera as you will likely get wet when walking behind the waterfalls.

 

After spending most of the day exploring Silver Falls State Park, you can either stay another night in the campground here, or drive an hour and a half south towards Eugene, Oregon where there are many accommodation options.

 

Day Three of Oregon Roadtrip – Exploring Salt Creek Falls and Watson Falls

 

The third day is the last day of your ultimate Oregon roadtrip to see the 5 best waterfalls in Oregon. Packing in two more powerful waterfalls, this day also requires the most driving. If you spent the night at Silver Falls State Park, it is a two and a half hour drive to Salt Creek Falls, or just over 1 hour from Eugene.

 

Salt Creek Falls

 

Once you reach the Salt Creek Falls they are super easy to access, as there is a parking lot right near the falls. Salt Creek Falls is known for it’s main drop of 286 vertical feet (87 meters), the third highest in Oregon! Third only to Multnomah Falls (check!), and Watson Falls (coming up next!).

 

Cost to see Salt Creek Falls: $5 park day-use fee

Estimated time to see Salt Creek Falls: Thirty minutes

Difficulty Level: Easy

We recommend you wear: Anything you would like.

 

Back on the road, it’s an hour and a half drive to Watson Falls which are in the Umpqua National Forest.

 

Watson Falls

 

Watson Falls involves a short but steep hike up a heavily trafficked path. The hike will take you past beautiful mossy rocks and trees, as well as some small rapids, before Watson Falls comes into view. Watson Falls are the second highest falls in Oregon and are just as impressive as you would imagine. There are multiple viewing platforms and a bridge that crosses the river below the falls, allowing you to get the perfect viewpoint.

 

Watson Falls, Oregon

 

After snapping a few photos, you can take an alternate path back down to the parking lot for some more variety in your hiking views.

 

Cost to see Watson Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Watson Falls: Less than 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Moderate but short. The hike is steep and can be a bit muddy.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with traction.

 

Day Three Bonus - Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs

 

While you are visiting the Watson Falls in the Umpqua National Forest on your Oregon roadtrip, make sure you check out a few other highlights, only a few miles away – namely Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs.

 

Toketee Falls

 

The drive to Toketee Falls from Watson Falls is less than five minutes and the hike to Toketee Falls is relatively easy and less than one mile. The falls are viewed from a platform, high above the river below, and you can feel the power of the water as it cascades over the edge. Toketee Falls is very impressive as it is also surrounded by basalt columns, similar to Abiqua Falls.

 

Toketee Falls Oregon

 

Cost to see Toketee Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Toketee Falls: Less than 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate. It’s a relatively steep but short walk to the platform on forest ground.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes as you climb over some roots.

 

Umpqua Hot Springs

 

The road that the Toketee Falls parking lot is on, also happens to be the road to Umpqua Hot Springs, which is only a few miles further. If you haven’t heard of Umpqua Hot Springs before, they are a series of pools on a hillside overlooking the North Umpqua River which we visited on our first month of vanlife. The pools are filled with natural hot mineral water, pouring out of the hillside, filling the top pool and continuing to flowing into lower level pools. The way the hot springs are situated, you will experience the hottest water at the top. The water temperature cools down the further down the hill you go.

 

Bettina at Umpqua Hot Springs Oregon

 

If you enjoy cold water, you can walk downhill to the North Umpqua River for a short dip and warm back up in the hot springs.

To get to the Umpqua Hot Springs from the parking lot, you will do a short but steep hike. Note that the Umpqua Hot Springs can be extremely popular. We recommend you visit early in the morning or during the week and either in Spring or Fall.

 

Cost to see Umpqua Hot Springs: $5 day-use fee

Estimated time to see Umpqua Hot Springs: Less than 30 minutes hiking time; stay as long as you like in the hot springs pool!

Difficulty Level: Moderate. The hike to the Umpqua Hot Springs is steep on forest ground but short.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with good traction. As the hot springs are completely natural, there are no changing rooms. If you would like some privacy to change into your swimwear, you would have to do so before starting the hike. The area is also popular with nudists so don’t be surprised if you end up seeing more than expected.

 

The drive back to Portland to complete your Oregon roadtrip is 4 hours and if you have spent all day exploring the Umpqua National Forest, you will likely want to camp in the area rather than driving through the night. As an alternative to visiting Umpqua Hot Springs on Day Three, you could also extend your Oregon roadtrip by one day and enjoy the hot springs the next day, first thing in the morning.

 

Kyle Standing at Abiqua Falls, Oregon

 

It will be hard to leave the state after completing the ultimate Oregon roadtrip to see the 5 best waterfalls in Oregon. We were simply amazed at the power of nature, and impressed by the natural beauty of Oregon! The state of Oregon has so much to offer, with these 5 waterfalls, being some of our favorite places to visit! If you are yearning to explore more of Oregon, check out our summary of the first month on the road of vanlife, where we also explored nearby Crater Lake in Oregon!

If you are looking for a road trip adventure in Colorado, make sure you check out these tips for the perfect 6 day Colorado road tip!

 

Bettina twirling at Crater Lake in Oregon

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Your Oregon Roadtrip

 

1) Prepare for Muddy Trails

Most hiking trails to these waterfalls on your Oregon roadtrip are on forest ground and can be quite muddy in spring after the snow melt or after rain. Make sure you have good shoes with good traction to facilitate the hike. Also prepare to have your clothes get dirty on some of these hikes.

 

2) Expect to Get Wet

Expect to get wet! You are at a waterfall after all and any wind gust can transport the waterfall mist and get you soaked. Especially if you are planning to walk behind waterfalls or get close to them, be prepared to get wet and bring a rain jacket. We also recommend bringing water protection for your camera if you are planning to take professional photos.

 

3) Let Someone Know Where You're Going

Many of these places on your Oregon roadtrip don't have any cell reception or only spotty reception. Before you leave, make sure you let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back. That way, in case something happens, they know where to look for you.

 

4) Pack Some Snacks

Some of these waterfalls are remote and there aren't any restaurants or coffee shops nearby. Make sure you pack some snacks for your Oregon roadtrip so that you don't end up being hungry on your hike.

 

5) Plan Your Oregon Roadtrip for Between April and October

Due to the higher elevation in these locations, it can get quite cold and snowy during the winter months. The best time to go on your Oregon road trip to see the best waterfalls is between April and October. Any earlier or later in the year and you might still have snowy and icy trails.

 

Save this post on Pinterest to plan your Oregon roadtrip to chase waterfalls!

 

The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon

 

The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon

 

The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon
The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon
The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon
The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon

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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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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 26

 

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

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Our apartment was just the right amount of space for us to relax in for our trip to San Antonio for the weekend, and included free pool views.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - Pool - The Next Trip

 

We took advantage of the amenities, and spent our Sunday morning suntanning and swimming in the pool.

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio - Pool - The Next Trip

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio is located just off of the San Antonio River, between the downtown core and The Pearl. We rented bicycles for our stay, and were a short bike ride along the beautiful River Walk into downtown or an even shorter bike ride up to the Pearl. It was a great base for our adventures in San Antonio for the weekend.

Check out Stay Alfred for your next getaway and get 10% off any stay using our code YOURPLACE.

Stay Alfred provided us with a free hotel stay for our weekend getaway to San Antonio, however, all opinions and content are our own. 

 

What to Eat

 

San Antonio is basically the birthplace of Tex-Mex cuisine. As a result you will definitely be eating as much chili con carne, nachos, tacos, and fajitas you can find. There is absolutely no shortage of places to eat at, spread all across the city.

 

Pete's Tako House San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Pete’s Tako House complete with more chips and salsa than we could eat, fresh fajitas, and savory enchiladas, all washed down by a margarita or two.

 

Pete's Tako House San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Pete's Tako House San Antonio - The Next Trip

 

Other great options are La Fonda on Main (slightly more upscale, for Tex-Mex) and Rosario’s.

 

What To See When in San Antonio for the Weekend

 

There is so much to explore when you are in San Antonio for the weekend. There does not seem to be enough time to explore the entire city in such a short time, but we compiled a list of our favorite places so that you can get a good feeling of the city in 48 short hours.

 

The River Walk

 

The San Antonio River Walk is specially designed network of pedestrian pathways and bridges surrounding the San Antonio River, running throughout the downtown area. The main area in the downtown core is full of restaurants and bars and is definitely the place to be in San Antonio. However, you won’t be mistaking yourself thinking you are in Venice. That being said, the River Walk is very impressive and you can easily spend a half day walking the pathways and stopping at a restaurant or two.

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

The River Walk is clean and well maintained. It was refreshing coming from Chicago, where most of the city is quite literally crumbling! Extending North and South of the main area, the River Walk pathways total 15 miles of continuous trails to explore. Once outside of the main tourist area, the River Walk widens and is safe and great for bikes. This is definitely one of the best areas to explore when in San Antonio for the weekend.

 

San Antonio River Walk - The Next Trip

 

 
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The Alamo

 

The Alamo Mission is located just a few blocks away from the River Walk and is easily accessible. It sits on a historic location where in 1836 Texans fought for their independence from Mexico and is probably what San Antonio is most famous for.

 

San Antonio The Alamo - The Next Trip

 

Conveniently, the Alamo Mission is free to enter. The only cost of admission for us being a 5 minute wait and the requirement to have our picture taken prior to entry, should we feel the need to purchase an overpriced souvenir at the end. We suggest taking your own pictures instead!

 

San Antonio The Alamo - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio The Alamo - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Purse by Nikki Williams / Top by Chicwish / Skirt by Chicwish

 

The interior is quite sparse, but has a lot of information on this historic site. The best views of the Alamo are without a doubt, facing the front of it’s famous façade. When in San Antonio for the weekend, don't miss the Alamo as it is the most famous attraction! However, with all of the hype surrounding it, actually seeing it is a bit of a let-down as it is smaller than expected. Luckily there are a number of other beautiful old historic Spanish missions around San Antonio to see if you have time.

 

The Pearl

 

We briefly read about The Pearl prior to arriving in San Antonio, and knew that it was something that we wanted to check out. We had no idea how cool it would be!

 

San Antonio The Pearl - The Next Trip

 

The Pearl is centered around the site of a former brewery that operated here for over 100 years, but has since been converted into a (what I can only assume to be) a wildly successfully culinary and cultural hot spot. Basically, The Pearl has a large assortment of dining and shopping all centered around the fascinating old brewery location. There is a culinary school, apartments, a hotel, and some office space sprinkled in for good measure.

 

San Antonio The Pearl - The Next Trip

 

We first went to The Pearl on Saturday night to indulge in some Lick ice cream and devoured our delicious ice cream. Bettina was particularly impressed by the variety of vegan and non-dairy options, of which she sampled almost all of them!

 

San Antonio The Pearl - The Next Trip

 

We liked The Pearl so much that we returned on Sunday and spent part of the day wandering through the Farmer’s Market and going for brunch at The Granary. The afternoon was spent hanging out at Sternewirth in the Hotel Emma lobby, for a drink. This was a great way for us to reflect on our trip to San Antonio for the weekend.

 

San Antonio The Granary - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio The Granary - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio The Granary - The Next Trip

 

If you haven’t tried beef brisket eggs benedict before, you might just be missing out! The Granary also has some excellent drink choices to round out your brunch, celebrating your trip to San Antonio for the weekend.

 

Explore

 

If you are willing to venture all around the city neighborhoods, you will be rewarded with great sites! The King William District is just south of downtown and has a huge collection of majestic 19th century mansions. This area is full of quiet residential streets that are nice to bike through.

On the West side of the San Antonio River, the Historic Market Square is the largest Mexican market in the United States and is very colorful.

 

San Antonio Historical Market Square - The Next Trip

 

San Antonio Historical Market Square - The Next Trip

 

On your way there, don’t forget to stop and check out the San Fernando Cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings in San Antonio.

 

San Antonio Historical Market Square - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Bodysuit by Shein (get 15% off with thenexttrip315) / Skirt by Chicwish / Shoes by Mi.iM / Earrings by H&M

 

Still not sure whether you could conquer everything when in San Antonio for the weekend? Check our top tips below to help plan your visit.

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Exploring San Antonio for the Weekend

 

1) Stay somewhere with a pool.

We visited San Antonio in early June and it was already over 100F (38C). That means it is likely going to be hot when you visit San Antonio, and there is no better way to cool down than with a dip in a pool. The Stay Alfred pool was our respite from the heat. (Use the code YOURPLACE to get 10% off any Stay Alfred stay!)

 

Stay Alfred San Antonio Pool View - The Next Trip

 

2) Rent a bike.

The main tourist sites of San Antonio are located quite close together, and can easily be reached mostly by foot. However, if you want to explore the full River Walk, the King William District or up to The Pearl, we highly recommend renting a bike. We used SWell Cycle, but there are multiple companies available, as well as scooters.

 

San Antonio SWell Cylce Bike Share - The Next Trip

 

3) Spend a half day at The Pearl.

It may be slightly commercialized and a “tourist trap” in some minds, but there is a lot to like about The Pearl. The architecture of the converted brewery is amazing, and the food options are all top notch. A must visit!

4) Skip the rental car.

Not only should you rent a bike to see the sites (see tip #2) but you really don’t need a car at all. The airport is close to downtown and there is just really no need. Save yourself the money for more Tex-Mex!

5) Eat as much as you can.

The great thing about Tex-Mex food in San Antonio is that it is plentiful, very affordable, and located all over the city. And if you are looking for some variety, there’s no shortage of Texas Barbecue and other restaurants to keep you happy during your visit to San Antonio for the weekend.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. city destinations boards to save all your ideas about San Antonio for the weekend!

San Antonio for the Weekend - Your guide for what to see, where to stay, what to eat, and The Next Trip's Top 5 Tips

 

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Top 5 Things to See in Chicago

We are lucky to be able to call Chicago our home for the past 4 years. During this time, we explored the city and all of its beauty, and we truly love everything it offers. Our favorite thing to do is to show our out of town guests around the city and share the top things to see in Chicago while they visit.

Kyle and I receive a lot of questions about what to see and do while visiting Chicago and thought we would round up our 5 top things to see in Chicago in a blog post for you!

We hope this helps you plan your next trip to Chicago and explore some places that may not be on your list just yet. If you're looking for the most Instagrammable indoor spots in Chicago, check out this post.

 

1. Top Things to See in Chicago: Architecture Tour with Shoreline Sightseeing

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

We take all of our out of town guests on the Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Tour and it has easily been everyone's top thing to see in Chicago! It's a 75 minutes boat tour on the Chicago River where you learn all about the history of the windy city. An added bonus is getting up close and personal with some of the most beautiful skyline views.

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

Outift: Two Piece Set from Chicwish / Earrings from H&M

 

The boat tour has two different starting points: Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue. Both are really easy to get to and close to downtown Chicago. Shoreline Sightseeing will take you along the river through downtown, underneath many iconic bridges. The tour continues all the way to the North Branch of the Chicago River, and then turns around to share one of the most recognized buildings from the opening scene of The Dark Night: the post office!

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

In addition to getting incredible views of the city and great photo opportunities, Shoreline Sightseeing shares some interesting facts about the city. I learn something new every time I join my guests on the cruise!

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Tickets are available online here or buy them at the Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue booth  before the tour. If you're visiting in summer, I recommend you purchase your ticket a few days in advance as their tours do sell out.

 

Chicago Skyline from Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Cruise

 

Thank you Shoreline Sightseeing for treating my friend Vivian and me to your Architecture River Cruise!

 

2. Top Things to See in Chicago: Have A Drink at the Signature Lounge

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

If you are looking for incredible views of the city from above, without standing in line or paying admission fees for the Willis Tower, I can highly recommend going for a drink or two (or three!) at the Signature Lounge. The lounge is located on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower in River North. While their cocktail prices might be a bit higher than what you're used to, you don't pay admission to get to the 96th floor. And the views certainly make up for the prices. A tip for all the female readers, by far the best view of downtown is from the ladies room in the Signature Lounge! You read that correctly, plan some extended time to powder your nose! 🙂

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

If you're in town for a few days, visit the Hancock tower on a clear day right before sunset. This way you get the best of the daytime views and nighttime city lights. You might have to wait in line to access the elevators on a busy weekend night, but I personally never waited longer than 15 minutes.

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - View from Signature Lounge

 

If you're looking for a unique place to eat, check out Machine Engineered Dining and Drinks and 3 Arts Cafe.

 

3. Top Things to See in Chicago: Take a Selfie at The Bean

 

Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, is one of my favorite landmarks in the city! It is also one of the most well-known icons of Chicago. You haven't truly seen Chicago without taking a selfie at The Bean. Cloud Gate is beautiful in its simplicity and I love the way it reflects the city and blue skies. Due to this beauty, it's easy to see why it's surrounded by tourists on any given day. You can find it in Millenium Park, off Michigan Avenue, between Washington and Madison Street and it is easily accessible if you take the "EL" (Elevated Train) to Washington and Wabash.

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Selfie at the Bean or Cloud Gate

Outfit: Top from Zara / Jeans from Mint Julep Boutique / Shoes from Aldo / Purse from Nordstrom

 

The best time of day to visit The Bean if you want to avoid the crowds is early in the mornings around 7am. Kyle and I managed to get it all to ourselves on one Friday at 7am. During the cold and harsh Chicago winters, getting a reflection selfie in The Bean without interruption is much easier. You will still have the odd tourist suffering through the cold as well though!

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Selfie at the Bean or Cloud Gate

 

Outfit: Top from Zara / Skirt from Chicwish / Shoes from Aldo / Purse from Nordstrom

 

 

While you're already there, you might also stop by the corner of Michigan and Adams. This marks the beginning of the historic Route 66. Route 66 technically started on Jackson Boulevard, but Jackson Boulevard is now a one-way street East. As a result, the landmark sign was moved one block north to Adams Street.

 

4. Top Things to See in Chicago: Enjoy the Skyline from the Adler Planetarium

 

The first time I visited Chicago in 2013, I was determined to find the best place to take pictures of the Chicago skyline! I stumbled upon a forum which mentioned the view from the Adler Planetarium. Little did I know that a few years later, I would move to the city and live in the South Loop, biking past the Planetarium on my way to work almost every day.

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Chicago Skyline from Adler Planetarium

 

If you love skylines and observing the city from a distance as much as I do, you may not want to pass up this opportunity. On a warm sunny day, bring a picnic basket and enjoy the sunshine, view, and beautiful Lake Michigan.

Getting to the Adler Planetarium using public transport will involve a fair bit of walking. Therefore, our recommendation is to rent a Divvy bike and bike the lakefront trail to get there (more on the trail below).

 

 

5. Top Things to See in Chicago: Bike Along the Lake Front Trail

 

Most people are surprised by the fact that Chicago has sandy beaches. Not only that, but there is a bike and pedestrian dedicated lake front trail for almost 20 miles. On a warm sunny day, rent a Divvy bike and bike along the lake front trail. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the city, starting at the Adler Planetarium, biking north past Navy Pier, North Avenue Beach, all the way to Lincoln Park. You'll get a completely different feel of the city - being away from the hustle and bustle and able to absorb its beauty from a distance. Another top tip is to cool off after your ride by joining the many Chicagoans dipping their toes in the lake.

Have you been to Chicago? What was your favorite thing to see? If you end up taking my advice and sharing your trip on social media, please tag me (@thenexttrip) in your picture! I would love to see how you enjoy the city and maybe share that drink or two!

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago - Chicago Skyline from Signature Lounge Hancock Tower

 

Pin this blog post to your Pinterest board to save all your ideas about the top things to see in Chicago!

 

Top 5 Things to See in Chicago

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

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Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink

If you’re looking to get an incredible and unique Chicago restaurant experience and a bouquet of flowers at the same time, I have the perfect place for you. Yes, you read that correctly, Machine Engineered: Dining & Drink is an experience, not just a place where you get great food. 

 

Machine Engineered: Overview 

 

The restaurant is brand new to Chicago and combines the two concepts of a flower shop and a restaurant in one. It was one of the 10 most anticipated restaurants to open in Chicago and I can see why. It is easily one of the best-designed places in Chicago and I featured it in my post on the 10 Best indoor Instagram Spots in Chicago.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Immediately as you step in, you are greeted by the most welcoming host Mikey and a gorgeous display of flowers.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink 64

 

In addition to including a flower shop within the establishment, it features flowers throughout the entire space. As much as I love flowers,  the highlight of Machine Engineered: Dining & Drink are their uniquely designed drinks.

 

 

Machine Engineered: Space

 

Three uniquely decorated dining rooms make up the space of the restaurant. You can choose between dining in a small European town right next to a flower shop,

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

in a modern American restaurant,

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

or in a luxurious dining hall with blue suede chairs, chandeliers, and walls covered in white roses.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

 

Machine Engineered: Bars

 

The heart of Machine Engineered: Dining and Drink are the two bars – I call them the ballerina bar and the library bar.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

The ballerina bar is the light marble counter bar decorated with a beautiful tulle skirt and floating leaves. In stark contrast is the second bar which reminds me of a library with its green lamps and leather chairs.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

 

Machine Engineered: Flower Shop

 

Next to the European-style street cafe corner and the ballerina bar is the flower shop. (If you're anything like me and love flowers, this corner alone will make you very happy!) Their flower selection includes everything you could possibly wish for.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

You can build your own bouquet by selecting your favorite flowers from the cart and have them arranged by the florist. (This is during the Florist hours only.)

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

If you'll be dining there late, you can order a pre-assembled featured bouquet which changes weekly. Last, if you're looking for something to go, the bottle & bouquet might be your choice which combines a bottle of wine with one of the featured bouquets.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

This gorgeous lace dress was gifted to me by Chicwish and makes the perfect spring cocktail party dress or bachelorette party dress for all brides.

Shop My Brunch Look

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink 65

 

Machine Engineered: Drinks

 

The drinks served at Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink are just as beautiful and thoughtful as the décor. After a quick chat with the bartender, we quickly decided that the Aviation is the drink of the hour  - a very unusual drink choice for me, as I'm not a big gin lover. However, Dine Machine takes their Aviations to the next level by infusing gin with blue butterfly pea flower, lemongrass syrup. It is served with a dome made out of spun sugar which you crack with a little hammer.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

The dome does not just serve as an eye-catcher, it is meant to be cracked with this little hammer. Once mixed with the drink, it enriches the flavor of the Aviation. I was ready to order another round!

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

The aviation is not the only spectacular drink on their menu. Machine Engineered: Dining & Drink is just as inventive with their clear Bloody Mary's,  Cage Old Fashioned, and their gin-based Breakfast at Tiffany's which is served in a diamond!

 

Machine Engineered: Experience

 

I met a friend for brunch at this unique restaurant and had a taste of their deliciously fresh and healthy power bowl with avocado dressing. To all my vegan and vegetarian friends, there are a few options on the menu which could also make your heart beat a little higher.

What started as a quick brunch with coffee, ended up being an hours long experience in this incredible space and has me wanting to go back ever since! You can review my experience on my Instagram stories here.

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Next time you're looking for a place for brunch, a drink, or a place to make your own flower bouquet, check out Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink. You will definitely be impressed!

 

Pin this blog post to your Pinterest board to save all your ideas about the Dine Machine experience in Chicago!

 

Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drinks | The Next Trip

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

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Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink 67
Experience Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink 68

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