Recently, Lauren shared her “Today in my mind I’m in…” post about her honeymoon in Hawaii. I loved this idea. After having to cancel our spring break NYC trip and having no clue what we can plan for the summer, I thought I’d look back on our best trip as a family…June 2018 when we spent our time in Arizona and California…also known as #Whitesgowest (Travis thought of the hashtag and was very proud of himself!)
Now, before we could get to California, we had to first spend a few days in Arizona.
Hayden mentioned going to the Grand Canyon, and neither Travis nor I had ever been there. I’ve said it before, but I am grateful that Travis plans our trips because I feel like I plan every other second of our lives! I was down with the Grand Canyon idea, but was hesitant to spend a big chunk of vacation somewhere without an ocean. Travis was steps ahead of me and knew that San Diego, our all time favorite vacation spot, was an 8 hour drive from Sedona. So, we put the wheels in motion to start our trip in Arizona and spend the bulk of it in California.
To say the kids were excited for this trip, would be an understatement. To say I was nervous about being gone so long and it being just for four of us for the bulk of the vacay, would be an understatement! Turns out, we actually enjoy spending time together especially with sunshine and an ocean view.
Ready for Takeoff…
We left on a Monday afternoon and drove from Lexington to Cincinnati for a direct flight to Las Vegas.
Arizona & Grand Canyon
We landed in Las Vegas, rented a car and drove 4.5 hours to Sedona, AZ. Needless to say, we were happy when we arrived, just as the sun went down, at Amara Resort and Spa. We unpacked, and the kids swam while Travis got us a late night dinner. We stayed there Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.
Due to the time difference, even with a good night’s sleep, we were awake pretty early on Tuesday morning. So, we went ahead and decided to visit the Grand Canyon that day.
The kids were excited and ready to roll.
We stopped for breakfast and drove the almost two hours to the GC. Once we got there, we explored for quite some time. We’d follow the map, drive a bit, sight see, get back in the car, drive a bit more, etc. There was lots of “ooing” and “ahhing” and “Don’t take one more step closer!” during our adventure.
It was a hot day, but the views were breathtaking. Of course, the pics don’t do it justice!
After a few hours, we drove to one of the visitor centers where the kids picked out a souvenir, and we picked up some lunch. They had a picnic area where we had lunch and then got ice cream. Then, it was time to drive the two hours back. I will say…there’s not much to look at on the drive to and from!
Once back at the resort, the kids swam (They love a good pool!), we relaxed and then went out to dinner.
On Wednesday, the kids hiked at Bell Rock with Travis while I had a massage at the resort.
Then, we went to nearby Slide Rock State Park where the kids and Travis were brave enough to slide down the rocks in the cold water. I swear I’m fun…but apparently not that fun!
After a couple of hours, we headed back to the resort where the kids swam, we hit up Happy Hour had dinner at one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve ever eaten at, and then headed to bed.
Thursday morning, we were up, ready for breakfast and then 8 hour drive to California!
San Diego Part 1
San Diego has my heart. We’ve been there quite a few times through the years, and I just love it. I would have gone to any part of California, but I was so pleased that San Diego made the most sense.
The kids were fine in the car. They are used to 9 hour road trips when we drive to Kansas City. Much like driving to get to the Grand Canyon, there wasn’t much to see. That being said, the terrain did change to sand dunes which was interesting. We drove through the border crossing which was also an interesting experience.
We arrived in La Jolla late afternoon and stayed at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Travis has lots of California friends due to being in the horse business, so they were able to tell us where to stay. While some of the rooms need updating, they were still nice and you couldn’t beat the location and being steps from the beach.
We were a little bummed that the weather was overcast for our first two days in San Diego, but, for me, the weather and view were perfect for reading, watching the kids play, and relaxing.
Upon arrival, the kids played on the beach and checked out the pool, before we walked to dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant. Then, we headed back and went to bed.
I love this pic of Hadley…one of my favorites pics of the trip. First time seeing the Pacific Ocean and just taking it all in. Also, check out her natural highlights…what I wouldn’t give!
Fun at the pool…
On Friday, we spent much of the day on the beach. The kids went for a run with Travis while I continued reading and sipping my coffee. They bounced back and forth between the beach and the pool and even checked out the tennis courts until it was time to shower and go to dinner.
Ready for dinner.
After dinner at a restaurant on the water, we stopped for ice cream (We eat lots of ice cream on vacation!) on our walk back to the beach club. Then, it was time for bed.
San Diego Part 2
If you haven’t traveled with Travis White, then you don’t know that we like to change hotels during our trips 😉 By the time we booked the trip, he could only get two days at the beach club but then found two days at a hotel on the beach in Carlsbad.
So, Saturday morning, we loaded up the car, made a pit stop for lunch at the Taco Stand and arrived at Beach Terrace Inn in Carlsbad.
After we unpacked, we hung out on the beach where the sun finally out! Later, we walked to dinner at a pizza place in downtown Carlsbad and then headed back to the hotel to watch a few television shows and go to bed.
On Sunday, the weather was again perfect, so it was a beach day.
My kids have been to the beach often, but are used to the calm waves of the Gulf of Mexico when we go to Siesta Key. So, the waves of the Pacific Ocean gave them a run for their money. They enjoyed it anyway!
That Sunday was actually our 13th wedding anniversary. After some hours on the beach, we walked around town for a bit. The English teacher in me geeked out for a minute while seeing the Farenheit 451 Book Store. I went inside for a few minutes while Travis took the kids for ice cream.
Before dinner, we took some quick, informal family beach pics, watched the sunset, and then walked to dinner at Campfire Restaurant.
When we go on a beach vacation, we usually eat dinner early and head back to the beach for the sunset. Beach sunsets really are my fave. Our reservation was late, so we decided to watch the sunset first and then go to dinner.
Campfire provided an awesome atmosphere, wonderful food, and amazing s’mores for dessert. Truly, it was an anniversary I will always remember spent at our favorite place (San Diego area) with our favorite little people.
Monday morning we had breakfast, hung out at the beach for a few hours (again, the weather was amazing) and then drove to…
Travis has been blessed with some amazing business opportunities that have turned into friendships. While in Los Angeles, we stayed with one of Trav’s friends at their amazing house. They have young kids too, so our kids had fun playing with their boys while swimming in their pool.
Monday night, we went to the Dodgers game. Justify had won the Triple Crown of racing and Bob Baffert was at the game to throw out the first pitch which was an amazing coincidence!
On Tuesday, we went to Rodeo drive and then to the Santa Monica Pier where there was a kids exhibit with activities.
The kids had fun at this exhibit.
Tuesday night we went out for a sushi dinner.
I knew we wouldn’t escape without going to the horse track! We went to Santa Anita Park, so Travis could watch some horses work out while also meeting up with friends/clients.
Then, we went to breakfast, checked out the Hollywood sign, said our goodbyes and then headed to Las Vegas which was a 4 hour drive.
After the drive, we checked in at Mandalay Bay, had a snack, took a nap (well, I did!), and then had a late dinner at Giada’s restaurant! I was so excited to eat there, and it was a perfect way to cap off our trip.
While we waited for our table, we took a few pics in her photo booth.
I ordered the scallops and risotto because I feel like that’s what Giada would have wanted me to order! 🙂
We had about 4 hours Thursday morning before our flight and kids voted to go to the pool. We went to the pool that has the lazy river and wave pool. It was perfect for them.
Of course, we soaked up all the sunshine and fruity drinks we could causing us to have to rush to pack up. Too long of a story, but while Travis returned the rental car, the kids and I ran Home Alone style through the airport. Travis was literally the last person on the plane with minutes to spare. I thought he was going to have to spend an extra night in Vegas with our car keys in his pocket as the kids and I would have been stuck in the Cinci airport. BUT…it all worked out.
Thankfully, our flight from Las Vegas to Cinci was uneventful as was the drive back to Lexington. We arrived home around 10:00 pm only to realize we were locked out! haha
Our sitter/dog sitter saved the day about twenty minutes later with a key!
We were gone 11 days, and definitely needed that length of time to pace ourselves for both sightseeing and relaxing! We will forever treasure the memories of this vacation…and it all started with Hayden’s idea to see the Grand Canyon!
If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me through the details. When posts like these come up, it reminds me how much I wish I had started blogging sooner as to have all these memories and details in one place. (And to share with anyone who may be interested!)
Thanks for following along on our favorite vacation. I can’t believe that it’s been almost two years since we made that trek. #WhitesgoWest
Where’s your favorite place to vacation?? We usually stick to Florida or South Carolina, but this trip was definitely one worth taking!
I hope you are having a good week!