Watch our day in San Juan Caspistrano in my YouTube video below:
Here is how we spent our day plus a few things we planned to see that we didn't get to:
Shopping on Los Rios Street
Los Rios Street is the oldest street in California! It still has 40 original structures including a few native adobes. Most of the area is a residential street, but there is one section of shops and restaurants.
We wandered in and out of all the artists’ store fronts and bought clothes inside Las Catrinas.
My mom and I made reservations at The Tea House on Los Rios, and it was the most adorable place. We sat in the back garden and absolutely had ourselves a time enjoying round after round of tea and champagne, finger sandwiches, salad, and of course dessert.
This restaurant was great for an adult mom and daughter day. We saw lots of kids and teens there, bachelorette parties, and husbands and wives. It was a place for everyone with good food and an even better atmosphere.
Learn about The Mission
The Mission is a church that was built to help evangelize the natives. Due to its early closing time, we did not make it in time to visit during our day in San Juan Capistrano.
Learn more about The Mission and purchase tickets on their website here!
Visit the Train Station
Another landmark in town is the train station. We essentially did not cross the train tracks during our day. The town is practically split in two by the tracks, and we primarily stayed on the one side.
See more about the now Zephyr train station here.
I hope to get back to San Juan Capastrano one day to learn more about this beautiful site of California.
Until then, read more California guides below!
Hollywood and Los Angeles can be a bit overwhelming. There are lots of people on the streets and lots of cars on the road. It isn’t necessarily the easiest city to get around, but here is where we managed to go during our short time in Hollywood:
Read exactly where we found this picture-perfect spot in my “How to See The Hollywood Sign” blog post here!
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Start on the east side of Hollywood’s famous Walk of Fame and see all the stars of famous celebrities like Shirley Temple, Audrey Hepburn, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, and dozens more. Walk west towards The Chinese Theater to see handprints in the concrete and see the world famous theaters.
While on the walk of fame or driving around nearby, here are a few famous spots I recommend checking out and learning more about:
Drive the famous Rodeo Drive, or go shopping if you can afford it. There is a lot to do and see in Beverly HIlls, and we did not stop long enough for me to write enough. We drove Rodeo to say we did it and took a picture at this sign on Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica Pier
The last thing we planned to do was visit The Santa Monica Pier ro ride the ferris wheel, play arcade games, and grab dinner overlooking the water. Sadly, we didn’t make it because of traffic and the sheer amount of other things we had done during the day.
As I stated earlier, this is by no means the complete guide to a day in Hollywood, California, but it was a really fun and eventful day for us!
To see more things to do around the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, along with weekend guides to Palm Springs, visit my California page here!
Until I looked into seeing the sign myself, I had no idea it required a hike to get to! If you want to get up close to the sign, it is a two-mile walk on a hot, exposed, uphill trail.
I had seen so many glamorous pictures of the landmark that I thought it would be so much easier to access. Turns out that most of those pictures are taken on private property, and unless you have permission, it is highly frowned upon.
In fact, even stopping along the road where you can see the sign is frowned upon. The Hollywood Sign sits high up in the mountains of Beverly Hills, and the roads are narrow, winding, and not ideal for stopping and for photos.
Please do not do this. It is extremely dangerous!
This tiny neighborhood park has a nice and open grass space ideal for a picnic, frisbee toss, or pick up football game and an outstanding view of The Hollywood Sign.
My mom and I enjoyed the view and fresh air from the park for a while before continuing on with our day in Hollywood. We were so happy to have found this spot and to have avoided the hike to see it, because we had much more to do that day, and we were not dressed for a strenuous hike.
If you want to see more of what we did during our day in Hollywood, read my blog post “How To Spend a Day in Hollywood”
Read about our entire vacation to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park in my “48-Hours in Palm Springs” article here!
Joshua Tree National Park is roughly two hours from Los Angeles depending on where in the city you are and which entrance of the park you choose. It’s also only about an hour from downtown Palm Springs making it the perfect one or two-day vacation spot from either one!
We stayed at The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs before visiting the park. Check out my, “Where to Stay in Palm Springs,” post to learn more!
We woke up before the crack of dawn to drive out and get to the desert before sunrise. It should go without saying, but the desert gets especially hot in the summer, and that’s when we visited.
Here are a few tips before visiting the desert:
We only spent one day in Joshua Tree National Park, so this is by no means a complete list of things to do, but we saw some amazing highlights during our drive through the park, and here is a list of where we went:
Sunrise in The Cholla Cactus Garden
We started at the south end of the park and worked our way north. As I mentioned above, we started early to beat the heat of the midday sun in the desert. The first place we stopped, aside from the welcome sign, was the Cholla Cactus Gardens.
We continued up the road and pulled over at any viewpoint and parking lot that looked cool. Arch Rock was really amazing, because the rocks were right up close to the parking lot, and we were the only people there.
Finding Joshua Trees
The ecology of this National Park is absolutely fascinating. It’s the convergence of The Colorado and The Mojave Desert surrounded by The Little San Bernardino Mountains.
The Cholla Cacti are in the Colorado Desert, and the Joshua Trees are in the Mojave Desert. When you cross from one to the other you can really tell; the landscapes look completely different, and the Joshua Trees are very different from the cacti.
Visit The Visitor Centers
I always recommend visiting Ranger Stations or Visitor Centers in National Parks. We stopped into The Western Entrance Station of Joshua Tree National Park and learned all about the different deserts and landscapes, the wildlife living in the harsh ecosystem, and finally figured out the names of the plants we had been seeing all morning.
Ending at the visitor center made me want to explore the park more with my newly learned information. Instead, I will just have to keep it in mind until my next trip back.
After our day in the national park we stopped at The Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum of Assemblage Sculpture and then Pioneertown. Read both of my guides below to check out these cool roadside stops!
This was quite a wild place to discover in the middle of practically nowhere. It was almost as if the artist found all these things in a landfill nearby and assembled it into an interpretive art project.
Assemblage art is the art of putting pieces together to make them into something else altogether. An example is the infamous toilet thrown!
There are over 30 installations at this interactive art museum. I will say that it doesn't seem to be as well kept as it maybe once was when the owner, Noah Purifoy, was alive. The harsh desert really seems to be taking a toll on some of it.
See more of the two days we spent in The Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Areas in my guides below, and comment if you find them useful in planning your own trip!
The coolest part of the ride was that the car rotated! It's actually one of the largest rotating tram cars in the world.
The ride takes you from the desert floor to a wooded, rocky wilderness that is completely different from below. It’s an incredible change of landscape to go from one to the other in such a short time.
We hopped off the tram at The Valley Station at the top, and immediately started taking in the views from all around. We spent a good amount of time staring out into the desert then turning around and admiring the forest behind us just absolutely baffled the two could be this close together.
Being atop the mountain also means a change in temperature from the desert below. It can sometimes be up to 20-30 degrees different from Palm Springs. While sitting and enjoying a snack we actually wished we had brought wind breakers with us, even though it was well over 100 degrees down below!
Until next time, read what other things we did in Palm Springs below!
We spent just one night in Palm Springs, but after doing a lot of research, we found, hands down, the best hotel in town to stay at!
The Saguaro Hotel has been rated the best pool, best atmosphere, best restaurant, and a dozen more titles in Palm Springs. We just couldn’t pass it up.
Plus, our weeknight stay only cost us $200 for the night making it one of the more affordable hotels in Palm Springs.
Book your own stay directly on The Saguaro's website, here!
Even on a Monday afternoon, the pool area was full. It is one of the best pools in town, and that is saying a lot, because...
Fun fact: Palm Springs has the highest concentration of recreational pools in the entire United States!
See what's on the menu and make a reservation for the weekend on their website here!
Check out these other things to do in Palm Springs:
Pioneertown is located on the edge of The Mojave Desert making it the perfect backdrop for any American Western story. Sadly, it seemed that the town is rarely used anymore for movies or really much of anything.
I visited in the middle of the day on a Tuesday in mid-June. It probably wasn’t the most “happening” time to visit a ghost town. Even the saloon was closed!
For us, it was just a quick stop and walk through time and history instead of a true taste of a wild-west town.
We were really hoping to see a shootout on Main Street or get a shot of whiskey at Pappy and Harriet’s, but unfortunately, those things didn’t happen.
Even though tumbleweeds could have rolled in front of us, it was still a great stop, and I would recommend stopping on your way out of Joshua Tree National Park and seeing if you can have a better time than we did.
While you’re at it, read all about Joshua Tree and other things to do in the Palm Springs area in my guides below!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!