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Blogs California

Hiking Tahquitz Peak via Devil’s Slide Trail in Idyllwild, California

Nestled in the picturesque San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California, the town of Idyllwild-Pine Cove beckons adventurers with its pristine wilderness and stunning vistas. One of the most rewarding hikes in the area is the journey to Tahquitz Peak. You can actually see the mountain peak in a lot of areas throughout Idyllwild. Join us as we lace up our hiking boots and walk you through the ins and outs of this trail. Here is your guide to to hiking Tahquitz Peak via the Devil’s Slide Trail.

AllTrails: 8.3 Miles / Out & Back / 2,309 Elevation Gain

Getting There

Idyllwild is conveniently located within a few hours’ drive from major cities like Los Angeles and San Diego. To reach the trailhead for Tahquitz Peak, follow Highway 243 to Idyllwild. Once in town, continue on the same highway until you reach Humber Park, which serves as the starting point for the Devil’s Slide Trail.

The Devil’s Slide Trailhead

The Devil’s Slide Trailhead is a main hub for hikers in Idyllwild and leads out to other popular trails as well. It’s important to arrive early, as parking can fill up quickly on weekends. Permits are required for hiking in the San Jacinto Wilderness, so be sure to obtain one at the trailhead kiosk.

The Ascent

The hike begins with a steady climb along the well-maintained Devil’s Slide Trail. As you ascend through pine forests, the trail offers glimpses of the surrounding mountains and the charming town of Idyllwild below. The elevation gain can be challenging, but the stunning scenery and fresh mountain air make every step worth it.

Sylvan Meadows and Lunch Rock

After about 2.5 miles of hiking, you’ll reach Sylvan Meadows, a picturesque alpine meadow with a serene stream. This is a perfect spot to take a break, enjoy a picnic, or simply soak in the natural beauty. Nearby, Lunch Rock provides an ideal resting place with panoramic views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

The Final Push to Tahquitz Peak

As you continue along the trail, you’ll encounter some switchbacks and rockier terrain. Keep an eye out for trail markers to stay on course. The final stretch to Tahquitz Peak can be a bit challenging, but the the anticipation of what awaits at the summit serves as motivation to finish.

The Summit Experience

Tahquitz Peak’s summit, at an elevation of 8,846 feet, offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding landscapes. On a clear day, you can see the Salton Sea, the Coachella Valley, and even the distant San Gabriel Mountains. The summit is also home to the historic Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout, a wooden structure built in 1937, which adds to the charm of the location.

Hiking Tips

  1. Weather Awareness: Be sure to check the weather forecast, and be prepared for temperature variations depending on the season. In the summer, temperates can range in the upper 80’s and in the winter you may experience a good amount of snow depending on the week.
  2. Hydration and Snacks: Carry enough water to stay hydrated, and pack energy-boosting snacks to keep you fueled throughout the hike.
  3. Proper Footwear: Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support are essential for navigating rocky and uneven terrain.
  4. Leave No Trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural beauty of the wilderness.

This trail is definitely not for beginning hikers and is a pretty good accent to reach the peak. The views from the top are incredible and oh so worth it. I’d highly recommend planning a little getaway to Idyllwild-Pine Cove and taking on Tahquitz Canyon via Devil’s Slide trail while you’re visiting.

Happy hiking and as always, travel on my friends.

California

Where to Eat & Drink in Monterey Bay

Monterey will always hold a special place in my heart. I went to Cal State University, Monterey Bay and lived in Seaside, CA for a little over 4 years. Visiting here again recently brought back so many of my favorite college memories and we were able to squeeze in so many stops at my favorite local eateries. In this blog, I want to share my personal perspective on some of the must-visit places to eat and drink in Monterey County. Keep in mind, I was a cheap college kid who only went out to “nicer restaurants” when my parents were in town and would take me. Anyway, let’s dig in!

Coffee Mia Brew Bar & Cafe

Coffee Mia is one of my favorites anywhere, not just in Monterey. It’s a delightful coffee shop and breakfast/lunch spot in Marina serving classic Italian food like panini’s. I love their pour over drip coffee and pastries, also be sure to try the Volcano. While their food is delicious, what I love most about this place though, is the family that runs it. Every single time I’ve eaten there the owner, Horace Mercurio has been the one to take my order and prepare my coffee with an energetic, lively mood that you just don’t see very often. His father, Frank Mercurio passed away back in 2016 and was always the one to bring out my food to me with such a warm smile on his face.

Rosine’s Restaurant

Located on the historic Alvarado Street in Monterey, this family-owned diner embodies the essence of comfort food. From their hearty pasta dishes to their legendary homemade pies & cakes, Rosine’s offers a delightful, a filling meal. The warm and friendly atmosphere here makes it the perfect spot to start or end your day.

Captain + Stoker

This place was just a pop up stand at various locations when I was in school. Now, five years in they have their own coffee shop in Monterey that offers a cozy place to work and is the ideal stop to get your caffeine fix.

Papa Chevo’s

No trip to Monterey is complete without a Papa Chevo’s bacon breakfast burrito. My favorite breakfast burrito of all time. Papa Chevo’s is just a little drive through shack in Marina and probably the only place in town open 24 hours. Needless to say, it was a go-to.

Noodle Bar

For those craving Asian cuisine with a modern twist, Noodle Bar in Marina is an absolute must-visit. Their menu is a delightful fusion of Vietnamese flavors, featuring a variety of noodle dishes and boba smoothies. This was always our go to after softball games.

Alvarado Street Brewery

Alvarado Street Brewery in downtown Monterey stands as a testament to the craft beer culture. With inventive brews and a welcoming ambiance, it’s a great location to an enjoy an afternoon of casual sipping with tasty bites. Their beer selection is also largely IPA’s.

Fieldwork Brewing

Fieldwork Brewing Company is a craft brewery originally founded in Berkeley. They have a location in downtown Monterey and it’s always a favorite stop. I love their outdoor patio and chill atmosphere. They also have a great, seasonally changing rotation of craft brews.

From Scratch Restaurant

From Scratch Restaurant in Carmel offers a delicious breakfast experience in the Barnyard Shopping Village in Carmel. Their breakfast menu is filled with homemade dishes made from fresh, local ingredients. Whether you prefer savory omelets or sweet treats like pancakes and pastries, they have something for everyone. When you dine here, you can enjoy a relaxing meal in a cozy setting, complete with great coffee and tasty food that will start your day on a high note. My personal favorite is their homemade biscuits and gravy. *chefs kiss*

Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery

Phil’s is my dad (and many others) favorite seafood place. I don’t even like seafood but I know everyone raves about it and Jordan loves oysters. I was so sad to discover they actually moved locations from their original place opened since 1982 to a new spot in Castroville, not too far from Moss Landing. The seafood was still incredible (or so I heard) and I was pleasantly surprised to see new menu items including more pasta options without seafood in it and a variety of different kinds of baked artichokes because Castroville is the Artichoke Capital of the World. The flavor we tried was so good!

Red’s Donuts

Red’s Donuts is a local donut shop in Seaside and Monterey. They are known for crafting fresh, hand-made donuts daily and have proudly upheld this tradition since 1950.

Mountain Mike’s Pizza

Mountain Mike’s Pizza is a chain of pizzerias mainly along the West Coast but was new to me in Monterey. It was another great spot to got to after softball games for good pizza and salads.

Pizza My Heart

Pizza My Heart is another chain of pizzeria restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area but again, it was new to me and oh so good. The one in Monterey is located in the Del Monte Shopping Center.

Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop

I have only eaten here once but the food and atmosphere was great. I went with my coworkers from when I worked at Gold’s Gym. They were all locals having grown up in Monterey Bay and this was definitely a spot for the regulars and the locals. It’s located up in Carmel Valley.

Revival Ice Cream

Revival’s opened up on Alvarado Street when I was a sophomore in college. It’s a cute little shop that serves ice cream made with organic and local ingredients, handcrafted in small batches.

Sovino Wine Bar & Merchant

This is a wine bar in downtown Monterey that my roommate worked at for a while so we’d go there often. We even participated in one of their paint nights and had a great time.

Compagno’s Market & Deli

If you’re looking for great sandwiches, this is the place. Compagno’s itself is nothing to look at, it just looks like a run down old corner convenience store. It’s truly a “dive”. Bennet, the owner is awesome and if you have the in with him, he’ll serve you a fresh, giant slice of cake with your sandwich. The sandwiches are fantastic and MASSIVE.

Little Napoli

I’ve only been here once and it was on our most recent trip. This Italian restaurant is located in Carmel-by-the-Sea and we enjoyed delicious pizza and wine.

So, the next time you find yourself in Monterey, be sure to embark on your own culinary adventure, and let me know what other hidden gems I need to add to my list. I love you Monterey Bay, ’till next time!

As always, travel on my friends.

Blogs California Joshua Tree National Park

52 Things to Do in the Hi-Desert

I was raised in La Quinta, California and didn’t even know where the little town of Morongo Valley was. Now, 3 years in, I’m officially a “Morogan” and have actually loved calling the swanky Hi-Desert home. The Hi-Desert is an informal designation applied to areas of the Mojave Desert in Southern California, which includes cities like Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms found along Highway 62.  Besides hiking, camping and off-roading, there isn’t a whole lot to do, which is a big part of why I love it out here. It’s open air, beautiful desert landscapes and a place where you can actually see the stars at night. Since moving here 3 years ago I have found a few fun hidden gems and we now have a few regular spots we frequent so I’ve decided to compile a list of all there is to see and do in the Hi-Desert region. Happy reading!

  1. Big Morongo Valley Preserve – Located in Morongo Valley, the preserve is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and serves as an essential habitat for both resident and migrating bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.
  2. Coyote Cone – This is a fairly new ice cream and coffee shop in Morongo Valley. They serve rite-aid ice cream and make date shakes as well as serve coffee they brew themselves called, Desert Dog.
  3. Cactus Mart – A well-known nursery and garden center located in Morongo Valley.
  4. Dillion’s Burgers & Beer – Dillion’s is a local restaurant and bar in the desert with two locations, one in Desert Hot Springs and one in Morongo Valley. It’s definitely a dive bar with an interesting atmosphere but I actually really like their food and recommend trying their jalapeño poppers.
  5. Coyote Ride Stable – Located in Morongo Valley, this ranch offers guided horseback riding tours.
  6. Crazy Horse Ranch – This is another location in Morongo Valley that offers horseback riding tours.
  7. Cottonwood Canyon Ranch – This is yet another ranch in Morongo Valley offering horseback riding tours and lessons. Seeing a theme here?
  8. Sand to Snow Monument Bar & Grill – Another dive bar in Morongo Valley with a pool table and cheap drinks. I don’t care for their food all that much but it’s the only place offering any sort of nightlife if you’re looking to go out for a couple of drinks and a round or two of pool.
  9. Morongo Valley Cafe – A little diner offering breakfast and lunch in Morongo Valley. I actually really like the food here as well.
  10. Spaghetti Western – A new restaurant serving dinner in Morongo Valley with open mic night every Sunday. It’s a bit pricy for what they offer in my opinion but hey, it’s nice to actually have one restaurant in town that serves steak and potatoes.
  11. Yucca Bowl – This is the local bowling alley in Yucca Valley that we’ve been to far too many times for my liking.
  12. Frontier Café – A cozy cafe known for its breakfast items, sandwiches, and coffee drinks in Yucca Valley.
  13. Mojave Flea Trading Post – Explore an assortment of antiques, collectibles, and unique treasures from various eras at this flea market in Yucca Valley.
  14. Pappy + Harriets – A legendary desert roadhouse with live music, delicious barbecue, and a rustic, outdoor concert venue.
  15. Pioneertown – A western-style movie set turned tourist attraction. You can enjoy mock gunfights, explore the shops, and even catch a meal at the famous Pappy & Harriet’s.
  16. Pioneertown Motel – This iconic motel captures the essence of the Old West while providing modern amenities. It’s located in Pioneertown and offers comfortable rooms with a vintage vibe.
  17. Warren Peak Trail – Hike to the top of Warren Peak for panoramic views of the Hi-Desert region. This is an out & back hike in Yucca Valley that is 5.6 miles total with 1,105 feet elevation gain.
  18. Pie for the People – Enjoy a variety of creative and classic pizzas with fresh ingredients in a relaxed atmosphere.
  19. Cactus Wren Book Exchange – For bookworms and literary explorers, the Cactus Wren Book Exchange is a little used bookstore in Yucca Valley! Browse through shelves filled with carefully curated titles spanning various genres.
  20. Hoof & The Horn – A boutique shop offering a curated selection of clothing, accessories, home goods, and gifts with a bohemian and desert-inspired vibe.
  21. BKB Ceramics – This studio and gallery features handcrafted ceramics by local artist Brianna Berbenuik. Explore beautifully crafted pottery pieces that reflect the spirit of the desert.
  22. La Palapa Mexican Cuisine – This family-owned Mexican restaurant serves authentic dishes and great drinks. This is always our go to spot. Enjoy a warm and welcoming atmosphere while indulging in traditional flavors.
  23. Hi-Desert Nature Museum – Learn about the unique natural and cultural history of the Hi-Desert region at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum. The museum offers exhibits, workshops, and educational programs for all ages.
  24. Hi-View Nature Trail -This is a 1 & 1/2 mile loop trail in Yucca Valley. It is rated moderate and has a 325 elevation gain.
  25. Crossroads Café – A local favorite in Joshua Tree, Crossroads Café offers a diverse menu featuring breakfast, lunch, and dinner options made with locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes comfort foods, sandwiches, salads, and vegetarian choices.
  26. Natural Sisters Café – Known for its healthy and vegetarian-friendly menu, offering salads, wraps, and smoothies. I love this place personally!
  27. Joshua Tree Farmers Market – If you’re visiting on a Saturday, check out the farmers market for fresh produce, artisanal goods, and a taste of the local community.
  28. Joshua Tree Coffee Company – If you’re looking for a cozy spot to enjoy a cup of coffee, this café is the place to be. They roast their own beans and make great, traditional coffee drinks and a very strong cold brew. This place is another one of my favorites…obviously.
  29. Joshua Tree Saloon – A classic desert watering hole serving pub-style food, burgers, and hosting live music events.
  30. Coyote Corner – A gift shop that captures the essence of the desert with a range of southwestern-inspired goods, including jewelry, clothing, home decor, and more.
  31. Joshua Tree Dry Lake Bed – The Joshua Tree Dry Lake Bed is a large, flat expanse of dry lake bed located in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. It’s free dispersed camping where many venture out to go off-roading.
  32. Joshua Tree National Park – This is the main attraction. Hike among the iconic Joshua trees, marvel at stunning rock formations, and take in breathtaking desert vistas.
  33. Joshua Tree Music Festival – If your visit coincides with this annual event, immerse yourself in the sounds of diverse musicians, from indie to world music. Enjoy live performances against the backdrop of the desert landscape.
  34. Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum – Wander through a unique sculpture garden featuring art installations made from recycled materials.
  35. World Famous Crochet Museum – Discover the quirky Crochet Museum in Joshua Tree, featuring crochet art installations. You’ve probably seen pictures of the little green shop in Instagram photos.
  36. Giant Rock – This is the largest freestanding boulder in North America. It’s located in Joshua Tree and many locals consider the area to be sacred. Today, people like to go here for off-roading, bon fires and camping.
  37. Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center – Explore the night sky at this observatory in Twentynine Palms that offers stargazing events, educational programs, and telescope viewing.
  38. Twentynine Palms Historical Society – Discover the town’s history through exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia. Learn about the Native American heritage, early settlers, and the marine base’s impact on the community.
  39. City of 29 Palms Visitor Center – Get information about the area’s attractions, trails, and activities at the Twentynine Palms Visitor Center. It’s a great starting point for your desert adventure.
  40. 29 Palms Creative Center and Gallery – Immerse yourself in the local art scene at this creative hub. Participate in workshops, view exhibitions, and engage with artists from the community.
  41. Smith’s Ranch Drive-In Theater – Experience a slice of nostalgia by catching a movie at this classic drive-in theater. Enjoy a film under the stars from the comfort of your car.
  42. 29 Palms Inn – This historic inn provides a charming atmosphere and is a great spot for dining. Enjoy a meal with a view of the oasis, or explore the property’s gardens and art installations.
  43. Rock Climbing – Joshua Tree is a world-renowned rock climbing destination, offering challenges for climbers of all skill levels.
  44. Stargazing: The clear desert skies make Joshua Tree an excellent spot for stargazing. Consider bringing a telescope or joining a local astronomy event.
  45. Off-roading – Off-roading is also a huge activity for locals in the hi-desert and even those visiting. There’s miles and miles off trails to explore with stunning views.
  46. Camping – Camping is another huge activity to enjoy. Aside from Joshua Tree National Park, there’s also a handful of other dispersed camping areas people enjoy.
  47. Vacation Rentals – The VRBO’s and AirBNB’s available to rent are a huge reason why people flock to the Hi-Desert. These placess to stay offer a unique, quiet and remote desert retreat.
  48. Photography – Film fanatics also tend to flock to the Hi-Desert to capture the breathtaking scenery and snag incredible shots of the stars and the infamous Joshua Trees scattered about.
  49. Scenic Drives – Take a scenic drive through the surrounding desert landscapes to experience the vastness and beauty of the Mojave Desert.
  50. Biking – Enjoy mountain biking on designated trails that offer a mix of challenges and stunning desert views.
  51. Horseback Riding – Experience the desert from a different perspective by going horseback riding on guided trail rides.
  52. Sunrise and Sunset Viewing – Wake up early to witness the stunning sunrise over the desert horizon, or capture the vibrant colors of the sunset in the evening. Hi-Desert sunrises and sunsets are some of the best I’ve seen.

So, how many things on this list can you successfully cross off? As always, travel on my friends.

Blogs California

23 Bucket List Places in California (That Surprisingly Aren’t National Parks)

As many of you many know, it is my goal to one day visit all 63 U.S. National Parks. I spend a good amount of my travels and blogging sharing my favorite hikes and adventures regarding visiting these parks. But, there are honestly so many other hidden gems to discover throughout just the United States alone that actually aren’t National Parks! We tend to go on quite a few quick weekend getaways in California destinations and have found so many cool spots along the way. From cute coastal towns to vineyards and wild nature spots, here is a simple round-up of some of the bucket list places we’ve visited throughout California so far!

1. McWay Falls – Big Sur
2. Bixby Bridge – Big Sur
3. Garrapata State Park – Carmel-By-The-Sea
4. China Cove – Carmel-By-The-Sea
5. Lover’s Point – Monterey Bay
6. Big Pine Lakes
7. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs – Mammoth Lakes
8. Ladder Canyon/Painted Canyon – Mecca
9. Abandoned Pier Swing – Davenport
10. Slot Canyons – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
11. Aztec Falls – Lake Arrowhead
12. The Flower Fields – Carlsbad
13. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco
14. The Painted Ladies – San Francisco
14. Healdsburg
15. Elephant Seal Beach – San Simeon
16. Idyllwild-Pine Cove
17. Big Bear
18. Potato Chip Rock
19. Palm Springs
20. San Clemente
21. Panther Beach
22. La Jolla Cove
23. Huntington Beach
Blogs California

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Day Trip

I grew up in the Coachella Valley and have never been to Anza-Borrego, nor did I know so many incredible things were out there. We came across a few social media posts showcasing epic adventures and decided to start researching and planning a day trip. Here’s a guide to all we managed to pack into one fun-filled day!

Location

Anza-Borrego is located in Southern California, east of San Diego, south of Palm Springs, and west of the Salton Sea. If you’re familiar with off-roading, it’s just minutes away from Ocotillo Wells.

Weather

Summers are very hot and dry with temperates often in the triple digits. Fall and spring temperates usually range from the mid-70’s to low-90’s and winter temperates tend to be chilly in the mornings (low 40’s) and perfect 70’s in the afternoons with occasional rain. We visited at the end of January and experienced great weather. If you want to see the wildflowers in full bloom, visit end of February through March depending on how much rain the area has had that winter!

Day Trip Itinerary
Slot Canyons

We began our day bright and early on a Saturday morning in January. We arrived at the slots around 8:30AM. We read a recommendation to start with the slots early morning as traffic through the canyon gets busier come late morning. The slots reminded me of a less bright orange/red version of Antelope Canyon; truly a hidden gem in the middle of the desert

  • Trailhead address: Borrego Mountain Wash, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
  • Distance: 1 mile out & back (or 2.2 miles if you do the full loop)
  • Difficulty: Easy
    Total Ascent: 100 feet (or 330 feet if you do the full loop)
  • There’s a $10 cash only parking fee
  • There are 2 restrooms at the parking lot
  • No dogs allowed
Wind Caves

After Slot Canyon, we headed over to the Wind Caves. Wind Cave Trail is another short hike, about 1.25 miles round trip, taking you to these incredible rock formations with big holes that you can actually climb through. To get to the trail, you’re require to drive on a dirt road for about 4 miles. You will need a vehicle with 4-wheel drive. We drove in a Kia with 4WD and it was still very rocky and bumpy in some areas.

  • Trailhead address: Fish Creek Wash, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
  • Distance: 1.25 miles out & back
  • Difficulty: Easy
    Total Ascent: 250 feet
  • Free parking
  • No dogs allowed
Processed with VSCO with e2 preset
Borrego Palm Canyon Trail

After the wind caves, we headed for our final hike of the morning, Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. If you ‘re familiar with Palm Springs, this trail, just like its name suggests, reminds me a lot of the Palm Canyon trail in Indian Canyons. It takes you to a neat palm oasis in the middle of the desert. My mom printed out this numbered guide that corresponded with 15 numbered markers along the trail that gave information on the surrounding area, which was fun to follow along with. To reach the trailhead, you must drive through the entrance of Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, which requires a $10 dollar fee. If you’ve already paid at the Slot Canyons, show the ranger and they’ll provide you with a pass, no extra charge.

  • Trailhead address: Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
  • Distance: 3 miles out & back
  • Difficulty: Rate moderate
    Total Ascent: 300 feet
  • 10 dollar parking fee
  • No dogs allowed
Lunch in Town

After our final hike of the day we head to the actual town of Borrego Springs to have lunch. We ate at a place called Carlee’s I believe?

Galleta Meadows

From there, we then drove over to the famous sculptures most often seen in pictures of Anza-Borrego. Artist/welder Ricardo Breceda, crafted over 130 metal sculptures scattered around the area. Interesting to say the least.

Fonts Point Overlook

Finally, we ended the day with an incredible view at Fonts Point Overlook. We almost missed it because again it required another 4 miles of off-roading and the directions we had were not correct. We had given up and were driving home when we saw the correct turn off sign and decided to go for it. Wow, was it so worth it. Here you’ll find an incredible overlook into the Borrego Badlands. People also say sunrise and sunset are spectacular there.

  • Address: From Christmas Circle in Anza Borrego, head out on S-22 for ten miles. Right after the 29-mile marker, you will see a dirt road on the right and a sign that says Font’s Point, 4 miles. This is where you will turn and start the off-roading to Font’s Point. 
  • Distance: Requires a 4 mile drive on a dirt road to get there
  • 4WD Needed
  • Free
  • Dog-Friendly

We really managed to pack in just about everything there is to see and do in Anza-Borrego in one day. Such a fun day trip!

As always, travel on my friends.

Blogs California

5 Destinations in Southern California to Visit this Fall

Southern California may not experience the changing of seasons like much of the rest of the country, but we do still have quite a few locations where you can find fall foliage AND we have a few of our own autumn traditions to look forward to each year as well! Below are just a few destinations that we love to visit during fall in SoCal.

Idyllwild

Kicking it off at number 1, Idyllwild Pine-Cove! Idyllwild is small town in Riverside County in the heart of the San Jacinto Mountains. This magical little getaway destination is only about an hour from the Palm Springs area and yet at least 25 degrees cooler. And, the area boasts vibrant warm colors in November and is a winter wonderland come December! If you’re looking to get your fix of fall foliage, a cabin retreat to Idyllwild is the perfect escape.

Palm Springs

I may be biased living here but, the Palm Springs area in and of its self is also an ideal location to visit during fall! Temperatures slowly drop from the rough triple digits of summer into perfect sunny and 75 weather during the day with wonderful chilly nights. One of the best fall activities to do around Palm Springs come mid-October is to hit the trails! The Coachella Valley is home over 100 different trails ranging from easy strolls to very hard and strenuous accents. From hiking up at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to finding water down in a palm oasis at Indian Canyons to trekking through slot canyons at the Indio Hills Badlands or Ladder Canyon, there are endless hikes to explore during fall.

Joshua Tree

Located just outside of the Palm Springs area, in the Hi-Desert region lies Joshua Tree National Park. The ideal time to visit Joshua Tree is, yep you guessed it, fall! With the limited cell service and a chill, desert atmosphere, Joshua Tree is a great place to disconnect from day-to-day life for a bit. Glamping or staying in unique airbnbs are a very popular way to experience the area. We love to make day trips and drive through the park or sit by a nice bon fire while camping just outside of the park at the Joshua Tree dry lake bed (free dispersed camping). Bouldering and rocking climbing are also huge recreational activities to do come autumn here that we’d love to try some day! Entering the park costs $30 for a 7-day pass and camping spots inside are limited, either first come, first serve or reserved/booked 6 months in advance.

Ocotillo Wells

As I mentioned in the beginning, many Southern Californians have their own fall traditions and off-roading is definitely one of them. Come mid-October, as the weather cools off, we enter into what many like to call “riding season”. A great place to disconnect, hit the dirt trails and enjoy riding season is in Ocotilllo. The area is an unincorporated area within the San Diego County, 3 miles west of Imperial County line, near Borrego Springs. Many like to dry tent camp or bring RV’s or trailers out with generators.

Oak Glen

Another great place to find fall foliage is in a little town in the San Bernardino Mountains called Oak Glen. At 4000-5000ft above sea level, the area experiences all four seasons. Oak Glen is most famous for its apple orchards where visitors can pick fresh apples in September and enjoy freshly baked apple cinnamon donuts with fresh hot apple cider year-round.

These are just 5 of our favorite destinations to visit in Southern California during fall but there are many other places to visit and things to do during this time of year. Also consider checking out Big Bear, Wrightwood and Lake Arrowhead for more autumn fun!

Happy fall and as always, travel on my friends!

Blogs California

12 California Hidden Gems

California tends to get a bad rap these days. But, if you put political opinions aside for a minute, and just stop to smell the roses, or the spring poppies I should say, California really is such a marvelous place. As far as a travel destination goes, the state has everything. From the glitz and glam of Hollywood to the laid back, secluded feel of Joshua Tree; from snowboarding in mountain towns to surfing in beach cities, California has it all. Growing up in California, we have had the opportunity to explore quite a few unique areas throughout the state. We love finding off the beaten path hot springs and watering holes and we always seem to find ourselves on new trails so we’ve rounded up a list of a few of our favorites. Check out these 12 must see, hidden gems in California. C’mon, let’s go explore!

  1. Ladder Canyon / Painted Canyon (Mecca)
    Painted Canyon Trailhead, Painted Canyon Rd, Mecca, CA 92254

Kicking off the list with one of our all time favorite hikes, Ladder Canyon! Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon Trail is an epic hike just outside of Greater Palm Springs in the Mecca Wilderness Area. It’s a 4.4 mile hike that has a Utah/Arizona feel to it with the way the red/orange rocks are formulated. The trail takes you through a section of slot canyons where you have to climb man made ladders to continue up to each new section. You eventually drop down into Painted Canyon, named for its prehistoric, colorful rock walls.

Tips to Consider:
– Make sure you drive there in a car that is equip for a little off-roading.
– Always start on the Ladder Canyon side and work your way toward Painted Canyon not vice versa. It’s easy to get lost if you start with Painted Canyon.
– Look for arrows made of rocks, they are there to guide you.

2. Walker Canyon Poppy Fields (Lake Elsinore)
27200 Lake St, Lake Elsinore, CA 92530

This is a hiking trail in Lake Elsinore. Visitors come by the thousands during peak season (March-April) to see the wildflowers. We got to visit back in 2019, during the last California superbloom and the mountains were covered with orange poppies as far as the eye can see. It was incredible. The full hike is about 3.5 miles round trip, but you don’t need to hike at all to see the poppies or get a gorgeous pic.

Tips to Consider:
-The last California superbloom was in 2019 so if you’re looking to visit in the future, be sure to do your research and learn about the current status of the hills as it’s constantly changing.

3. Three Sisters Falls (San Diego)
Three Sisters Falls Trailhead, Boulder Creek Rd, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070

Three Sister Falls is a 4.1 mile, out and back trail located on the outskirts of San Diego County, near Julian, California. When the water is flowing, there are three main waterfalls (hence the name Three Sisters). It is best to visit after a good rain season and we definitely did not visit at the best time. The trail was still beautiful and our pups got to enjoy swimming in the water but unfortunately the waterfall was not flowing.

Tips to Consider:
-Visit during winter or spring.

4. Aztec Falls Swimming Hole (Lake Arrowhead)
Cedar Glen, California 92321

This is a moderate 1-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in Lake Arrowhead. It isn’t much of a hike but rather a steep decent to get down to a refreshing watering hole where you can cliff jump.

Tips to Consider:
-Our biggest advice is to be smart when visiting here. Many young teens and college kids visit here to drink, party and have a good time. We watched several groups of drunk people attempt to make the climb back up and slip and fall.
-The water is deep enough to cliff jump but we watched way too many intoxicated people jump. Be smart and be safe!

5. Abandoned Pier Swing (Davenport)
Cabrillo Hwy and Cement Plant Rd Davenport, CA 95017

The small town of Davenport located near Santa Cruz, California carries a large amount of history. A whale captain name John Pope Davenport founded the city and built a 450 foot wharf in 1867 to load lumber brought down from the city for shipment to Santa Cruz. The wharf site became known as Davenport’s Landing and was considered one of the best landings along the coast. A storm came and destroyed a large portion of the bridge and Mr. Davenport eventually went bankrupt and moved to Santa Cruz. Today, the old pier has a swing chained around it, allowing visitors to swing and enjoy the sound of the waves and views of the vast ocean.

Tips To Consider:
– If you are looking to check out this location, be advised, to get down to the swing, you must descend down a steep cliff with a rope.
-Also consider checking out Shark Fin Cove while in Davenport!

6. Potato Chip Rock (San Diego)

14686-14678 Lake Poway Rd, Poway, CA 92064

This is a 7.3 mile out and back hike in Poway, California that takes you to a rock that looks like, yep you guessed it, a potato chip!

Tips to Consider:
-Photos of people posing on Potato Chip Rock are everywhere on Instagram and so many people take on the hike simply for the photo op without realizing how difficult the hike actually is. It’s 7.3 miles….7.3. For avid hikers, it’s a nice little trek but for those who don’t hike often be prepared for a tough climb.
– There’s supposedly an alternative route to get to the rock that’s much easier and less milage. We haven’t done it before, but consider looking into it if you’re not prepared to hike over 7 miles.

7. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs (Near Mammoth Lakes)

Hwy 395 Benton Crossing Rd Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

This incredible hot springs is located on the outskirts of Mammoth off the 395. We’ve visited twice, once in January with snow on the ground and once in the summer when the weather was a bit hot. The water is about 100 degrees and one of the hot springs is actually shaped like a heart!

Tips to Consider:
-Visit in the winter. The experience was incredible. There was snow on the ground and the temperature was below freezing and we were sitting in hot water in our bathing suits. When we visited in the summer, it was hot outside and the water was too hot for us to want to sit and relax in.
-If you visit in the winter, bring warm clothes to immediately put on afterwards because the long walk back to the car is brutal.

8. Big Pine Lakes (Near Bishop)

The hike to Big Pine Lakes may be one of the best day hikes in California. The water is such a pretty turquoise color. There are 7 Big Pine Lakes, numbered sequentially (we only visited 2 of the 7). The first two lakes are supposedly the most beautiful with views of Temple Crag in the background (featured in this photo). Lake 1 & 2 are also very close to each other. To the second lake and back it’s around 11 miles total of hiking.

Minimum Elevation: 7,824 ft.
Maximum Elevation: 10,291
Elevation Gain: 2,848

9. McWay Falls (Big Sur)
52801 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920

This iconic waterfall is located in Big Sur, California along Highway 1. It’s a short 0.6 mile round trip to the viewpoint of McWay Falls located in Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park.

10. Whitewater Preserve (Near Palm Springs)
9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd, Whitewater, CA 92282

We’ve lived in the desert our whole lives and never realized how beautiful the trails at the Whitewater Preserve are. The mountains during spring time are so green and the trails are dog friendly with water at the beginning/end for them to play and cool off in.

Tips to Consider:
-The gates to the preserve close at 5PM. We like to park on the street in the dirt outside the gates and take the pups to run around in the water in the evenings (especially in the summer when the temps during the day are over 100). For longer hikes it’s also smart to park outside the gates just in case you don’t make it back to your car by 5PM.
-Bring plenty of water, most of the trails aren’t shaded.
-There isn’t much phone reception out there. Be sure to let others know where you are in case of emergency.

11. Salvation Mountain (Imperial County)
  Beal Rd, Calipatria, CA 92233

Salvation Mountain is located about an hour and a half outside of the Greater Palm Springs area just east of the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Salvation Mountain is artist, Leonard Knight’s tribute to God and his gift to the world with the powerful message: “God Is Love”. It’s such a strange, interesting place but definitely worth making a trip out to see once in your life.

Tips to Consider:
-Stop by to see Slab City, East Jesus, Bombay Beach, the Banana Museum and the Salton Sea while you’re there. All these locations are such strange sites but are definitely worth seeing.

12. Idyllwild-Pine Cove (Near Palm Springs)

Idyllwild is a magical little mountain town located just outside of the Greater Palm Springs area in California. The town is only about an hour from the desert floor and yet at least 25 degrees cooler. It’s a great place to get away from the heat, relax and escape the busyness of every day life.

Read our latest guide for insight on where to stay, hike and dine in Idyllwild!


We hope this blog gave you a bit of inspiration and insight for your next California adventure! Travel on my friends!