We’ve been on the beach for less than an hour and we’ve already seen a dog wearing sunglasses, a souped-up bicycle with built in boombox and more slick, tanned muscles than an episode of Baywatch. But this is not your typical California beach. This is Venice Beach. Big, brash and unashamedly wacky. The sand may be just as golden, but there’s a tantalising unpredictability hanging in the air beneath the swaying palms that sets this place apart from anywhere else on the planet. Anything could happen.
Venice Beach is just one of many incredible places to visit on a holiday to Los Angeles. The city often gets criticised, with words like tacky, smog-filled and botox-obsessed used to describe it. I don’t mind admitting LA was never on our ‘hit list’, it just happened to be our gateway out of the USA. However I’m happy to report that Los Angeles was one of the best surprises of our 8 month round the world trip.
It’s a sheer 1000 ft drop on either side to the canyon floor. One wrong move and it’s game over. Even the condors don’t venture this high but swoop gracefully below, distracting us from the task at hand. On either side the valley stretches into the distance, it’s rich red craggy walls splashed with white like a giant has kicked over the paint tin. Far below us the Virgin River, so tiny from up here, curls like a discarded blue ribbon, dropped and forgotten in the grass. It’s a miracle that anyone keeps their footing on this path with such breathtaking scenery!
We’re walking the Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park, one of the USA’s most beautiful national parks, and the south western corner of America is positively brimming with them! Within a few hundred miles you can travel to world wonders, quirky towns and iconic landscapes. You can start your morning horse riding on a ranch in the Grand Canyon, run like Forest Gump through Monument Valley in the afternoon and watch sunset through one of 2000 natural sandstone arches in Arches National Park.
There are dozens of national parks scattered across southwest USA, all completely unique from one another and packed full of adventure potential.
Here’s our guide to the best in the west!