The West Coast of our lovely United States is supremely and undeniably coated head to toe in adventure opportunities. The pioneers saw it as they headed out west for the Gold Rush, to achieve their version of the American Dream. Get that gleam in your eyes too and hop in the car for an adventure, enlightening and full of fun, for a weekend getaway you won't soon forget!
Tour the Hills of San Francisco - While the city of San Fran can be no cheap date, taking a weekend drive up to the undulating hills, glowing green parks, and iconic landmarks is something every West Coaster should do on a regular basis. Zigzag down the Crookedest Street in America (aka Lombard Street), sample some of the finest chocolate west of the Swiss Alps at Ghiradelli, tour the famous Alcatraz prison out in the Bay, and of course, visit the glory that is the Golden Gate Bridge and Park.
Hike Yosemite National Park - Again, everyone living within five hundred miles of Yosemite should sample her beauty at least once a year. With majestic mountains, daredevil waterfalls plunging several hundred feet, pristine lakes, and an abundance of native wildlife, Yosemite is an adventure waiting to happen. Camp for a couple of days in their designated camping areas or come for the day and hike the trails, snap pictures of some of the most beautiful land in America, and be the envy of everyone as you stand atop a glorious mountain with a bighorn sheep at your side.
Discover the Savanna in Sonoma - Central California is perhaps one of the last places you'd think to find an African savanna but you'd be pleasantly surprised. In brilliantly beautiful Sonoma wine country you'll find Safari West, as they call it, "an authentic African adventure." A resort as well as a wildlife park, here you can stay the night and wake to the sound of laughing hyenas and roaring lions or simply arrive in the morning and spend the day riding in a Jeep, led by an informative guide through the serengeti. Find yourself among droves of giraffes, cheetahs, lemurs, zebras, wildebeest and more!
Kayak to the La Jolla Sea Caves - Sunny San Diego is home to much more than just SeaWorld and a Zoo (although those are both world-wide winning attractions). On the coast is one of the city's most popular beaches, La Jolla, where you can see the Children's Beach covered in sea lions and seals, play beach volleyball on the sand or surf the waves. You can also hop in a kayak and paddle away from the crowds out into the waves and around the cliffside to find sea caves cut into the side of the California coast. Gorgeous, hidden, and scenic, these sea caves offer recreational adventure for you and your team of friends. While you're out there, you'll probably spot some of the area's most notorious sea wildlife as well - whales.
Travel to the Land of Giants - Redwood National Park- In Northern California, where the untouched land has grown for millennia you'll find the land of giants, Redwood National Park. Part of an old-growth temperate rain forest, one of the last remaining in the United States, the Redwood forests are home to the most massive trees on the planet, the tallest of them reaching a staggering 379.1 feet! The coast redwoods of Northern California have belonged to the state for approximately 20 million years and have been massively depleted because of the Victorian logging industry. Nearly 40,000 acres have been saved by the California parks system and you can explore the area, compare your arm span to the width of the tree, step into Star Wars (they filmed scenes on Endor here), and wonder at the majesty of these ancient beings.
Become a Volcanologist - Exciting prospect, right?! Also in Northern California is the remnants of an ancient volcanic system as evident at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen Peak is the presiding feature of the park and is the main volcano here, the southernmost volcano of the Cascade Mountain Range, surrounded by boiling mud pits, geysers, sulfur pools, and hot springs. This amazing park is one of the few places in the world where you can find all four types of volcanoes, and better yet, you can drive right in! Start at the new visitors center and then get on your way, hiking through the amazing geological wonder that is Lassen. Bumpass Hell is one of the richest geothermal areas of the park and great for touring with friends!
Explore the Enchanted Columbia River Gorge - We could spend the whole blog talking about California but why not include Oregon and Washington too? Head a little farther north and find yourself outside Portland at the Columbia River Gorge. Step out of your car and wind your group through the plank wood bridge paths, hugging cliffs and forests, weaving through the fairy-tale like landscape until you find the waterfalls. Home to some of the country's most beautiful waterfalls, one falling an amazing 620 feet, the Columbia River Gorge is a heartbreakingly stunning natural wonder kept clear from the bustle of the city. You can also participate in watersports, bike, hike, and camp at the park.
Keep Portland Weird - If you know anything about Portland, Oregon, you probably know they take pride in their quirky weirdness. There's plenty of places to help out with that endeavor such as Stark's Vacuum Museum (which has a surprisingly impressive collection of vacuums), the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, and the Faux Museum full of falsities. If you're not in the mood for a museum, try the food at the Voodoo Doughnut Shop, stop by the Bearded Lady Competition, or strain your ears to hear the Quiet Music Festival. Or, if you're fans of the show, go on a Portlandia tour of the city to see all your favorite sketch locations.
Get Back to Nature at Olympic - I realize by now you have heard a lot about nature and what you can find on the West Coast but hardly anything can compete with the intense beauty, fragility and stamina of the Olympic National Park in Washington state. Established by President Roosevelt in 1909 as a national treasure, Olympic is unique for its combined ecosystems ranging from alpine forest to temperate rain forest to Pacific coastlines covered in beaches. In the same park you'll find areas covered in snow and sunny shorelines, green meadows where elk graze lazily and forests so thick you can't see far at all. 95% of the park is still considered wilderness, which makes it a spectacular spot for an adventure, don't you think? You could tour all day and not see everything Olympic has to offer!