Road Trip USA

We thought it would be a nice idea to see our own country before we went to visit others’, so set out to discover the beautiful wonders of the U.S. over the course of 17 days. We saw a lot, ate a lot, and were able to share it all with great people along the way!

1st Stop: San Diego

Must visit

  • Ballast Point Brewery Test Lab in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. “Serves as the “lab” for research and development. Here, all employees have the chance to brew on the system and our brewers experiment with new recipes, while the restaurant crafts food inspired by the same adventurous spirit we bring to brewing and distilling.”
  • Modern Times Brewery. This is an industrial warehouse with a contagious hipster feel that serves as a brewing and R&D tasting facility with a niche in coffee roasting as well. Take notice of the massive wall mosaic made solely by post-its. Look closely and you’ll see Michael Jackson and his monkey. Also see the quirky knick-knacks hiding in and above the bookshelves and 90’s comic book pages as wallpaper.

Must imbibe

  • Ballast Point’s Habanero Sculpin Indian Pale Ale with Habanero Peppers, with Mai Tai mix and Grapefruit Sculpin Indian Pale Ale with Grapefruit brews
  • Modern Times’ beer flight for $10 will give you a good sense for the mash-up style that is the brewing technique for most Modern Times beers and the Coffee Roasty Stout (stout infused with Modern Times brewed coffee)

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Must go – happy hour

Bali Hai Restaurant in Ocean Beach. This is a beautiful Polynesian /Hawaiian themed restaurant (a San Diego favorite for over 50 years) with stunning views of the San Diego bay and skyline. A must for their incredible views at sunset and Mai thai’s (one is enough, we promise!)

Must wine taste

Blue Door Tasting Room. Charming little tasting room where we were lucky enough to catch an unplanned improv show. Order the wine tasting flight. It will give you the opportunity to try their full library of wines.

Must dine on the beachfront 

World’s Greatest. Famous for their burgers, but the steak salad is delicious as well!

Experience cred: Thank you to Matt and Sarah (and Fin), Shirley and John for your warm hospitality!


2nd Stop: Zion Canyon, UT

Must hike

  • Riverside Walk: Temple of Sinawava
  • Lower Emerald Pool Trail. Enormous waterfalls sprinkle this entire trail and you’ll get the chance to walk underneath a few your hike
  • Kayenta Trail. Insider tip: Along this trail you’ll stumble upon the most stunning hidden waterfall!
  • The Narrows are widely recommended but if you happen to go when you can’t access them, head up to the Canyon Overlook Trail. You can get a sense of them from above.

Experience Cred: Ann Marie


3rd Stop: Bryce Canyon, UT

We visited in February, just after a snowfall, and felt like the park was our private winter wonderland.

Must hike

Queens / Navajo Combination Loop. We went off the beaten path and hiked untouched areas of the Canyon but only because we didn’t see another way and it was too cold to turn around. Although we can’t officially recommend you do the same, we’ll say off the record that it was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences we’ve ever had. Although we could’ve faced a hefty $150/person fine if we were caught!

Must see

Inspiration Point

Insider Tip: Rangers are highly strict and unforgiving so do mind your driving (we can tell you from first hand experience!) 
Experience Cred: Ann Marie

4th Stop: Grand Canyon, AZ

Must experience

Grand Canyon at sunrise. It’s a breathtaking site to see.

Must wear

Warm clothes are needed year round but with temperatures dropping into the single and negative digits in the winter, wear extra and double check with the Visitor Center or weather.com for exact sunrise times so you don’t have to wait, hopeful, while your toes freeze!
Experience Cred: Ann Marie

Must see En route…

On our drive from Grand Canyon, AZ to Amarillo, TX you’d never think to find, but you will:
  • Meteor Crater (off of route 40)
  • Petrified Forest (off of route 40)
  • Continental Divide
  • World’s best burrito in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Taqueria Mexico (bias opinion)
  • Russell’s Truck and Travel Museum Gallery: Antique and collectors car museum inside a gas station on historical Route 66

5th Stop: Amarillo, TX

Must see

Must eat

Peach Cobbler at Hoffbrau Steaks, a local, family owned steakhouse


6th Stop: Grapevine/Dallas/Fort Worth

“Everything is bigger in Texas”

Grapevine

Must imbibe

Flight of beer at micro-brewery Grapevine Craft Brewery in Grapevine, TX (right outside of Dallas). The mico-brewery/craft brewery scene is very new to Dallas but this is one of the favored amongst locals. With a menu of names beers such as The Nightswatch, and Stocking Stuffer, the taproom has a playful atmosphere with board games readily available. Large floor to ceiling windows allow you to see into the brewery while you go through your flight as well.

Must eat texas bbq 

Meat U Anywhere BBQ. This is a new, but highly authentic BBQ gem. The jalapeño Mac and cheese, pulled pork and brisket were among our favorite dishes. The guys who work there are truly BBQ experts and will offer you a few tasty samples while you ponder your order as well.

Fort Worth

Must experience

Stock show in Fort Worth. Filled with handmade horse saddles, cowboy hats made to custom fit, and the most tractors you’ll see in one spot in your life. Don’t miss the rodeo. It’s quite the show!

Must visit

Stockyards. This is a historical western town that was once the world’s epicenter for stock showing and selling. A great detailed write up of its full history can be found here. A few of our favorites within the town were:
  • Stock Yards Hotel: Sprinkled with historical artifacts and true western flavor. More information about the hotel can be found here.
  • White Elephant: Historical saloon in downtown Stock Yards. Cowboy hats decorate the walls and ceilings in addition to a collection of white elephants. Local musicians play daily to entertain while enjoying a pint or two. A full history of the bar can be found here. 
Experience Cred: Chris

Dallas

Must dine

LTO (Limited Time Only). An experimental kitchen where two chefs compete for the chance to trial their restaurant concept for a limited time only. Diners choose the winner by tapping their forks against their glasses, and if successful, the chefs move on to a more permanent location in the downtown Dallas metro area.

Must tour

AT&T stadium. Currently the most expensive stadium ever built to date, with a price tag of $1.3b, I’d recommend the self guided tour as you have the flexibility to explore at your own pace. Tour Guides are at the various sections within the stadium to answer any questions you may have. Remember to bring a football to throw a few passes while you’re there! Pro tip: Check the website in advance to ensure the date your planning to go isn’t a blackout date. Also, mid-February is “dirt” month in which the stadium field is covered with dirt for the monster truck series.

Must know – Dallas Fun Facts

  • Home to the longest light rail in the country
  • Home to the largest concentrated area dedicated to the arts (19 blocks)
  • Home to the most expensive football stadium in the world (AT&T)

Experience Cred: Thank you, Laurie & Chris for your warm hospitality!


7th Stop: Austin, TX

Austin is a unique and novel, filled with hipster friendly bars, restaurants and food trucks. With miles of waking/running trails around local lakes, large parks, and emerging restaurants, bars, and food trucks galore, it is a foodie’s dream, and a truly desirable place to get back to.

Must dine

Radio Coffee & Beer (coffee shop, bar, and food truck park). Pouring Stumptown coffee, they also offer a cold brew via a beer tap using nitrogen to power which makes for a tasty carbonated morning treat. They also have a food truck that serves the most incredible breakfast tacos that are well worth the wait.

Must party

Rainey Street. This is a formerly residential street where all the homes have been converted into bars, each with their own unique and quirky flair! A true novelty.

Experience Cred: Thank you, Brian & Jenna for your warm hospitality!


8th Stop: New Orleans

We passed through New Orleans at the peak of Mardi Gras, but beyond that, there were a few gems we wanted to share from our short time there:
We passed through New Orleans at the peak of Mardi Gras, but beyond that, there were a few gems we wanted to share from our short time there:

Must dine

Commander’s Palace. A staple and a landmark of New Orleans, famous for its creole food and antiquely fashionable French decor, this was a five star experience on the eve of Mardi Gras.
Suggestion Cred: Brian Fox

Must eat 

Cafe Beignet on Royal Street. The garden seating was so pleasant- a saxophone player’s music filled the air as we enjoyed warm fresh beignets and coffee mixed with chicory.

Must experience 

Mardi Gras. Don’t miss the parades! Our tips:
  • Dress up! The people throwing beads are more inclined to share some with you if you have a costume of sorts on. There are costume shops sprinkled throughout the city so you shouldn’t have a problem finding your flair of choice.
  • As the night wears on, doormen are inclined to let you up to the balconies if you slip them a few extra dollars ($50/person should be plenty). It’s certainly worth a shot to see the festivities from above!

9th Stop: Orlando, FL

If you’re looking for something to see outside of Disneyland, check out these places:

Must visit (outside of Disneyland)

Kennedy Space Center. Informative and affordable if time allows. A full day would be recommended for everything available to see.

Must dine

Pelican’s Bar & Grill at Cocoa Beach Pier. Great views at sunset!


10th and Final Stop: Miami, FL

Last and final stop! We were only in Miami for a short time, but we went to a few great spots that we’d love to share.

Must dine

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. One of Miami’s newest hot spots in the popular art district, Wynwood offers a tapas style menu, craft cocktails and an ambiance of beauty and class.

Must party

Brick House. This is a newer, more hipster scene, veering from the glitzy South Beach standard. Christmas lights adorn the patio and the DJ spins all the best hits from the 90’s, early 00’s and today. Much fun and great dancing!
Experience cred: Thank you, Janna & Brandon!

Finally, if you do a road trip of your own and are looking for oddities along the way, check out this great site! Roadside America

 Our full photo album can be found here

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