Our California road trip (week 1)

Our California road trip - ByMeryl

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that my boyfriend and I were on holiday for most of September. We always like to plan our main holiday in September, in which we usually go quite far and for a longer period of time. This year’s holiday was a very special one; a three and a half holiday to the west coast of the USA. Today I am sharing everything about our California road trip.

This road trip had been on my bucket list for quite some time and I can honestly say that we had an amazing time. Planning a three week road trip can be difficult and very time consuming, where do you want to go, how long do you want to stay at every stop, where are you sleeping? I took me over a month to put this whole trip together. Is a west coast road trip also on your bucket list? In this post I will share our itinerary, where we stayed, what we did and the best snacks to eat (because it’s America after all). I’ve decided to split the post into three, because it’s going to be enough off a challenge for me to fit 7 days into one post.

Our itinerary for the first 7 days looked like this

  • Day 1: Flight from Amsterdam to L.A.
  • Day 2: L.A.
  • Day 3: Joshua Tree National Park
  • Day 4: Travel day to Grand Canyon National Park
  • Day 5: Grand Canyon National Park + travel to our next Airbnb
  • Day 6: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Day 7: Horseshoe Bend
  • Day 8: Zion National Park + travel to Las Vegas
Our California road trip - ByMeryl


The first stop on our trip was Los Angeles where we arrived after a long day of traveling. After picking up our rental car and safely arriving at our hotel, we were exhausted and headed to bed. Our hotel was conveniently located on Melrose Avenue and with our jetlag induced early 5 a.m. start of the day, we headed to Urth Cafe for breakfast.

We had a chill morning exploring Melrose and the local Farmer’s market, with of course a quick stop at the Glossier store. The main event of the day was the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which was high on our activity list. Although the tour is anything but cheap, we really enjoyed being whizzed around in an oversized golf car to the sets of all the shows we like to binge watch on Netflix. After a trip to Target, a cupcake from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM and a drive through the hills we headed to Joshua Tree the next day.

Where to stay: Palihotel Melrose; great location & design

Food recommendations:

  • Urth caffé, their breakfast food is too good.
  • Sprinkles cupcakes, so well known but for a good reason and they have a gluten-free red velvet cupcake.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is only a 2 to 3 hour drive from L.A. but it’s a completely different world. Yucca Valley is an adorable little town filled with antique stores and quirky coffee places/restaurants. I wish we could have spend a little more time here but we wanted to see the National Park and have plenty of time there. The park was stunning, with amazing views round every corner. The park ranger warned us that it might be too hot to hike so we just drove around the park and stopped countless times to take pictures. We also made our way to the Cholla Cactus Garden, which was worth the little detour.

Where to stay: Yucca Valley is filled with unique Airbnb’s, you can go for tents, airstreams, tiny houses or cabins. We opted for the latter and stayed in this charming old hiking cabin. It was a challenge to find it in the dark but the views were unbeatable.

Our California road trip - ByMeryl
Our California road trip - ByMeryl

Grand Canyon National Park

After Joshua Tree we had a full day of driving ahead of us to get near the Grand Canyon. We stayed the night at Under Canvas Grand Canyon, a glamping chain near all the big national parks. We stayed in the most amazing tent, including a fireplace, king size bed and a complete bathroom. There was also a main tent with food options, games, books and a fire outside for complementary smores. There was no Wifi, but it was a welcome digital detox, spending time at the campfire under the stars. The next morning we headed to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We took some smaller hikes and had countless stops, to enjoy the view on our trip to our next destination.

Where to stay: We stayed at Under Canvas Grand Canyon, which was the most special night of our entire stay.

Food recommendations:

  • We ended up grilling some burgers at Under Canvas but if you are looking for restaurants in the area, I would recommend heading to Williams, Az. Also the restaurant at Under Canvas had really good dinner and breakfast options.
Our California road trip - ByMeryl

Bryce and Zion National Park

The next stop on our itinerary were several national parks. Because we had been staying in quite a few different places already we decided to book an Airbnb in between the parks so we could stay there for three nights. The first day we headed to Bryce, which was about a 50-minute drive from our Airbnb in Glendale. We loved Bryce; We drove to Sunset point were we did the Bristlecone loop and made our way back to the amphitheater, with a stop at all the viewing points along the way. In the amphitheater we opted for the Navajo loop and the Sunset to Sunrise hike. I especially enjoyed the Navajo loop although it’s quite a climb with the 168-meter height difference in just 2.2 km.

The Next day we headed to Horseshoe bend and had a chill day with coffee breaks and a nice BBQ. The last stop before we headed to Las Vegas and started week 2 of our road trip, was Zion National Park. We quickly discovered that it was a busy day in Zion (we were there on the weekend) so we chose to just do one hike. We went for the Canyon Overlook Trail, which was a lot of fun and the view was stunning. This hikes does not have a clear pathway, meaning that a bit of climbing might be necessary. After our hike we hit the road with Las Vegas as our next destination. More on that in part 2 of our California road trip.

Where to stay: Apple Hollow Airbnb, Glendale; loved the design, the location on a apple orchard and had everything you could possibly need, even a washing machine.

Food recommendations:

  • We ended up cooking most of our meals but I would recommend the Rock Stop in Orderville for coffee.

I hope you enjoyed the first post about our California road trip. The post covering our second and third week will be up soon!

For other travel guides be sure to check out this page.

Love, Meryl