Sadly our California road trip is almost over, but we can still enjoy the final stretch together by exploring Death Valley National Park and San Diego in this third and final instalment of our series. Get ready to learn more about the extremes of Death Valley and the beauty of San Diego!
Death Valley National Park is a place of extremes, and well worth the drive from where we left off in Los Angeles. Not only is Death Valley the driest and hottest place in the USA (the hottest temperature recorded was an astounding 54°C), but you can also experience both the highest highs and the lowest lows. While some of the sand dunes in the vast park reach as high as small mountains, you can get as low as 282 feet (86 metres) below sea level by visiting the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. Astounding nature and geographical formations abound in Death Valley, and there is much to marvel at. For distinct landscapes and fantastic hikes head to Golden Canyon and its rocks that span out in endless hues of yellow. Or try Mosaic Canyon, which, as its name suggests, offers streches of multi-coloured polished marble, created by myriad flashfloods over time.
To take a break from the heat of the desert, stay at a true oasis, the Inn at Furnace Creek. This historic luxury resort within Death Valley National Park has existed since 1927, and offers beautiful vistas, a relaxing pool, as well as a wonderfully pampering experience. On your way back towards San Diego, you should also make a stop at Fossil Falls. Don’t let the name fool you: you’ll find no fossils or waterfalls. What you will see, are alien-like formations, made up of shiny black lava. These natural sculptures were created about 20,000 years ago by the meeting of flowing water and lava.
San Diego offers visitors versatility and natural beauty in a relaxed setting. The city is known for its pleasant sunny weather, and is surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are many places to enjoy the outdoors in San Diego. The Cabrillo Monument on Point Loma offers not only breathtaking views of the ocean and the city skyline, but also a historical exhibit about Cabrillo, the Spanish explorer who is widely considered to be the first European to set foot on the West Coast, having landed in 1542. The high hill is also a good place for whale watching from December to March, when Pacific gray whales migrate. To get even closer to the water, you can visit Coronado Beach on the island of Coronado, right outside the city. The beach is stunning in itself, and the island is also home to Hotel Del Coronado, featured in the classic Marilyn Monroe comedy Some Like It Hot.
Balboa Park is one of the landmarks of San Diego, and is not only a vast public park, but also home to numerous museums, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and the marvellous Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. For a shopping fix, head to La Jolla and explore the boutiques on Girard Avenue, and don’t miss the wild seals that love to sunbathe around the beach. San Diego also doesn’t leave you wanting when it comes to dining options. Thanks to its proximity to the ocean, you will find some amazing waterfront seafood dining in the city, and the growing craft brewery boom has brought some fantastic and innovative beer brands onto the menus.