We’ve been to USA twice together, once to the east coast for our honeymoon in 2007 and the west coast in 2010. Road trips are a great idea in the USA as the roads are wide and the highways are endless. Don’t stinge on renting a GPS, it will save you lots of time and energy quarrelling and getting lost.
We drove Miami – Key West – Florida, and flight to New York
We drove Las Vegas – LA – Carmel by the Sea – Napa Valley – San Francisco
Things to do
(Key West) Drive to Key West
The 150 mile drive from Miami to Key West on Highway 1 is scenic. It is a straight road of bridges with the longest at 7 mile, and at some point of the drive, the road seems endless, and you are surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see. Go on a sunset cruise while you are there and visit the Southernmost point of continental USA for a kick.
(Vegas) Visit the Grand Canyon by helicopter
What better way than helicopter to see one of the 7 wonders of the world? This was my second time visiting the canyon but seeing it from the air and landing in one of the canyons was an amazing experience. We sat right up with the pilot and the views are breathtaking. We landed in the canyon and had a picnic packed lunch.
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters at $300/pax with pick up and return to your Vegas hotel
(Vegas) Be entertained in Vegas
Vegas does not sleep! Your senses are overwhelmed with endless entertainment choices other than parking your bum at the casinos. There are many Cirque du Soleil shows staged at different hotels, magic shows, theatre musicals, the list is endless! We watched O at the Bellagio in awe and Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian. We went out of our way to visit the Rio (not on the main strip) just to visit the WSOP site and buy some souvenirs.
(Los Angeles) Visit a movie studio
Take a tour of a movie studio while in Hollywood. We visited Warner Brothers Studio and they explained all the basics – movie and series making, onsite filming, screenwriters and the costumes. Each tour is different depending our your tour guide and which studios are free that day. We visited the old coffee house set of Friends and the office of The Mentalist. If you are lucky you might chance into a live filming of a series and see some actors.
Warner Brothers Studio VIP tour $48 /pax
(Orlando) Be a kid again
There is no shame behaving like a kid in Disney Land! I wanted to buy a Cinderella costume but it didn’t come in my size. If sugar and spice is not your thing, America is the land of amusement parks so you can take your pick from Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Sea World… there will be something for everyone of any age! We visited Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort in Florida but gave the two a miss when we were in California.
(Monterey) Take a 17 mile drive
Pebble Beach is famous for 2 things: golf and the 17 mile drive. The windy picturesque road starting from Carmel takes you through golf courses, huge mansions, the coasts, the beach and you end up in Monterey. Spare a few hours at Monterey Bay Aquarium – it’s a good way to spend a couple of hours, as there isn’t that much to do in Monterey anyway.
(Napa) Try some American wines
Napa Valley is probably the most famous region for American wineries. Call in advance for wine tastings as most houses require advance bookings. We didn’t find anything particularly exciting about the wines and felt they were overpriced as they had the Napa brand. One winery we enjoyed was Honig, and it’s advisable to drink with your eyes closed to the price.
Honig Vineyard & Winery 850 Rutherford Road Rutherford, CA 94573
Outlets in Orlando Premium Outlet at Vineland Ave, NY’s Woodbury Common and LA’s Desert Hills were the best. These were the outlets that had the most premium brands, and we bought the most in NY.
We didn’t find American food particularly impressive and it’s definitely not healthy! Here are a few places that we liked
Pizza Mozza & Osteria Mozza
The pizzas here were awesome and we were thrilled to know they were opening a branch in Singapore. The potato pizza is surprisingly good – who thought carbs on carbs would work?! The Osteria next door is super packed and we star spotted Jack Black at the bar while waiting for our table.
641 North Highland Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90036
Bazaar by José Andrés
Hands down our best meal in the US
465 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048
We initially wanted to try Cut in our hotel the Beverly Wilshire but it was fully booked out. The concierge suggested Spargo, the flagship fine dining restaurant by Wolfgang Puck. The 2 star restaurant served good food but it was nothing impressive. A bit biased but I find that no one can compete with the French for fine dining. The highlight of our dinner was a surprise visit by Wolfgang himself!
176 North Canon Drive Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Contemporary California cuisine that was heavily Japanese influenced. Tastes were very delicate on the palate and each dish was complex except one which was just an odd egg chawanmushi style.
373 Broadway San Francisco, CA 94133
3692 18th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
Caramel sea salt ice cream is to die for and they have a grocery store that sells quality produce which is well farmed
I tried every humanly possible means to get a reservation at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry but no luck – I had to content with a drive past and a walk around the restaurant. We settled for dinner at his bistro Bouchon down the road, and it was good casual bistro style food and service. Keller also has a bakery next door that had good pastries as well.
6534 Washington Street Yountville, CA 94599