We drove 8 hours to get to New Mexico from Dallas, near Santa Fe. There is a nice huge canyon where you can climb. Single pitch, muli-pitch everything is there. From 5c to 7c+, you will find something.
We rented an Air BnB close to Santa Fe for the weekend. The rock is Basalt so it’s not sharp and quite nice to climb on.
No particular season is best, but it can be very cold during winter. We went there in March and it was freezing cold once the sun disappeared. Take a warm jacket.
Also, do not forget to bring and wear an helmet because rocks are falling !
Woke up early to take our flight from Dallas to Chicago, we arrived around 8am in Chicago. We took the subway to downtown and meet a friend. We started our visit with the Millenium park and Grant Park with the Bean.
We went then to rent bikes near Monore harbour. We biked to the Navy Pier and had lunch then.
We biked up north to Lincoln Park Zoo and enjoyed the Michigan Lake. Lincoln Park Zoo is a really nice small zoo, one of the oldest in the country.
We biked back to the hotel Hyatt and had a dinner and drink near our hotel.
Day 2 – Near North and North Side
We started our day by a long walk around downtown to enjoy as much as we could the heart of Chicago. You definitely need to lose yourself in those streets.
Then we had a wonderful lunch with the specialty of Chicago deep dish pizza at pizzeria uno near magnificent mile. Then we did the famous magnificent mile.
Ending our day with a wonderful sunset on one of the highest tower the John Hancock Center. Tips, better than the willis tower because you dont need to pay entrance, you need to have a drink instead but believe me it’s worth it.
To end our day we went enjoying some live music in one of the many bars on Hubbard St. Good streets to go out !
Day 3 – Far south
To finish our wonderful long weekend, we walk a bit alongside the canals near the Trump Tower. We then took the subway to Chicago University up South. Amazing campus, beautiful buildings a must to do to enjoy more about the student life.
If you have one trip to do in the us it would be without hesitation this one. One of the best trip I ‘ve done over united states for nature, big spaces, peace and quietness.
Tip 1 : avoid March/April to visit Yellowstone because 75% of the park is closed.
Tip 2 : Jackson Hole is really expensive so be prepare
Fly from Dallas to Salt Lake City, we rented a car there.
Visit of Salt lake in the morning with the temple square and the capitol. Nice area. You have a great view from the capitol of the whole city.
Afternoon: drive to Yellowstone north entrance and sleep at Bozeman. ~6 hours drive
Direction the north entrance of Yellowstone at Gardiner. Visit of the hot springs at Mammoth Hot Spring and then walk/drive on the the north side of the park to enjoy and admire animals.
If the park would have been open we would have drive south through it but we had to go back to the north entrance.
Direction Jackson Hole ~4h30 drive
Breakfast: at the Figs
Visit of the Elk Refuge at Jackson Hole and afternoon at Jackson Hole shopping, relaxing, walking. The Elk Refuge is a must if you like animals and if you want to approach them. Jackson Hole has plenty of things to shop or just enjoying a drink.
Lunch at the persephone bakery –> nice bakery where you can also have lunch. Out door tables and good service.
Dinner at Bin22 –> Wine and Beer restaurant, Tapas style. Expensive but can be good with friend for small appetite.
Evening at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Nice atmosphere of the country and cowboys. A must to do in Jackson.
Breakfast: Lotus Cafe
Visit of Grand Teton National Park.
Lunch by the river.
Unfortunately many things were closed due to the snow but still you can drive along the lake to enjoy the view and the beauty fullness of the nature. It’s just amazing. Eat by the river and walk down on some small path.
Dinner : Calico Restaurant –> great italian restaurant, affordable price for the region.
Departure from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City. ~4 hours drive
Visit of the Museum of Utah in the afternoon. This museum is more on the archaeological history of Utah than of the culture of the sate. Nice and complete museum. Well explained and well maintain. Great view also of Salt Lake City.
Downtown, epicentre of Dallas, lots of building and museum. The best way to visit downtown Dallas it’s to park somewhere on the Trolley line (http://www.mata.org/schedulesroutemap.html ) and take the trolley until Downtown area (free ride). Then just walk by the building and status. You might enjoy a nice drink at the small but not nice klyde warren park (http://www.klydewarrenpark.org/ ).
Uptown, nightlife of Dallas and especially McKinney Avenue with plenty of bars and night clubs. High select part of Dallas, and rich people are living there. Here is a list of clubs and bars that are good but not only! The Den, Blackfriar, The avenue (very select), So&So, the Concrete Cowboy…
During a sunny day, go and have a walk at Katy Trail. Nice path for bikes; runners or just walkers. If you’re getting tired you can always have a drink on the patio at the Ice House (very nice area, nice beer and average price).
Bishop Art, area in rehabilitation and transformation. Nice bars and expos there.
Deep ellum, I love that place. Great streets with street arts and hipster bars/clubs. If you want to enjoy brewery go to Braindead Brewing (http://braindeadbrewing.com/ ), Pecan Lodge or BuzzBrews Deep Ellum.
Walk in the street of Main Street or Elm Street you will see nice street paintings. Enter in the strange handicraft shops and vintage shops.
Lower Greenville/Knox Henderson, nice area similar to deep ellum but more hip. Nice rooftop with a view on downtown skyline.
Finally, if you feel more fency, you can enjoy a good meal/dinner at the French restaurant: St Martins (http://www.stmartinswinebistro.com/ ), but a meal will cost you around (50$/pers including 2 plates starters and meal plus a glace of wine. For a good affordable brunch you can go to the Old Monk (http://www.oldmonkdallas.com/ ).
If you take your car a drive a little bit outside of Dallas, you can also find really nice things.
Parks and lakes
Close from Dallas: White Rock Lake, you can enjoy a picnic and a nice view of the lake. Path and parking are available for walks, rides…
Duration: 4 days (2 days of ski and 2 days of visit)
Skiing in the us is an expensive trip that you have to plan and anticipate. For our trip we went skiing in Arapahoe Basin next to Keystone. Nice and very good ski resort. Arapahoe is well known for is high altitude (the resort is above 3,200 m and the highest point is 3,900 m). The snow there is light and really good.
There is several things that you need to prepare ahead your trip:
Health insurance : make sure you’re covered while your back country skiing
Credit/debit card: tell your bank that you’re travelling and you will need to pay large amount. Believe me you do not want to have your card blocked the day of martin Luther king and when everything is closed…
Flight : you will need an extra luggage or check in luggage ; pay this in advance
Good deal to know while you’re going skiing in the US:
Lift ticket are much cheaper on the online website! Between 20 to 40% off.
Rental ski are cheaper if you book them online!
The luggage of the skier:
Skiing trouser and vest
Head lamp (in case)
Day 1 – Denver
The first day was more walking and visiting downtown. The tour is around 4 hours.
We began at Millenium Bridge. This modernist footbridge is a bold symbol of contemporary Denver. Look ahead to the river: the city was born when gold was discovered in the currents below.
We pass the rolling hills of the commons Park, nice view of the city and a bit of fresh air.
We descend to the far bank and took the paved path upstream. Then we walked through the Confluence Park, with its swimmable rapids where Platter River meets cherry creek.
We stopped at REI to shop some nice things for hiking, climbing and skiing.
Then we stopped at Tattered Cover Bookstore, nice book store where you can find nice and old book.
After that we went to the Denver performing Arts complex where we can give a hug at I see what you mean. We went eating at a Peruvian restaurant nice and cheap.
Los Cabos II : 1525 Champa St, Denver, CO 80205
After that we headed to our skiing resort.
Day 2 & Day 3 – Arapahoe Basin (Ski)
The day two was for skiing. We skied at Arapahoe Basin which is an old school ski resort. The top lift gets you to the summit (13,059ft), where you can drop into Montezuma Bowl on the back side.
There are really great ride to do powder.
The lift ticket is around 80$ a day but if you go on the website of the ski resort you can find good deals.
We slept in Keystone because there is no lodging in Arapahoe.
Where? Carlsbad, White Sands, El Paso, Santa Fe, Kasha Katuwe Canyon, Cadillac Ranch, Big Texan.
Distance? 1,870 miles / 29hours
How long? 4 days trip
Cost? 200$/pers except some meals include rental car, hotels, gaz, visits.
Starting Wednesday after work, we drove until Carlsbad around 6 hours west from Dallas. Originally we wanted to visit the caves the next morning but unfortunately it’s closed on Thanksgiving Day as lots of things in America. We slept in a motel 6 found on booking.com
White Sands is just lunar pictures, it’s amazing, and coming from nowhere you have this desert of white sands in a middle of New Mexico. The landscape is just gorgeous. The weather wasn’t with us but it was still really nice. I am guessing with a blue sky it must be incredible.
You have to pay the entrance to the park and then you can walk on several trail (from 1.5 miles to 8 miles). Don’t forget to bring water during summer times.
I believe you can also camp, because we saw several tent.
It’s definitely a must to do if you are in New Mexico. <3
Stop to El Paso to spend the night. Strange city across the border of United States and Mexico. You can feel the tension. I cannot say to do not feel save but the atmosphere is special. We spend the night in a nice small bar.
Friday morning, we drove back to Carlsbad cavern, but unfortunately not lucky again, it started to snow so they closed the cavern just few minutes before we got there.
We drove almost the entire day to Santa Fe, because of the really bad weather (snowing and iced road) it took us forever to reach Santa Fe.
Starting the morning visiting Santa Fe. Nice small city with lot of charm. Typical houses made and nice streets. We went to the local market. Santa Fe has plenty of art selling, hand craft, jewels… I really loved this city.
Santa Fe has also the oldest church in the US. San Miguel Chapel. The adobe walls were constructed around 1610.
And you can also see the famous stairs that nobody knows how it stand! Lorreto chapel: unusual helix-shaped spiral staircase (the “Miraculous Stair“).
To end the day, we went to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, located 40 miles southwest of Santa Fe. Beautiful canyon, that worth the trip! You can have a nice walk in the canyon and reach the view point to enjoy a nice view of the canyon.
To end our trip, let’s finish with the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo and a big burger at the Big Texan.
Cadillac Ranch is not a ranch but a public art installation and sculpture. It was created in 1974. It consists of what were either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
I am a big fan of climbing so I’ve looked for somewhere I could go climbing from Dallas. Not that much choice but you can go in Austin or in Arkansas. I think they are the two closest spot where you can have fun routes.
With my climbing group, we went up to Arkansas, in horseshoe canyon in early October, I went back in late November for a second weekend of climbing. The temperatures were still okay but cooler during evenings and night (32/34° F – 0/2° C).
Beautiful background, nice area to camp and to climb.
You can find everything you need in the camp, toilet and water, shower with hot water and a small store where you can buy few climbing things.
The area to climb is important over 300 routes and provide many different level of climbing from beginners to expert.
We drove for 8 hours to reach our hotel at Baton-Rouge
Monday – Baton Rouge
We spend sunday morning at Atchafalaya Basin. Nice walk around the lake before our swamp tour, one of the greatest river swamps. It was a really good swamp tour, different from the one I did ( 3 days in Louisiana), but interesting also. The boats are bigger but the river also. ~20$
After our tour we stopped at Baton-Rouge to visit the capital of louisiana.
Stop at the Louisiana State Capitol; you cannot miss it it’s the tallest building 137m. We also stop at the louisiana state museum, really good museum that explain the history of louisiana and the cajun culture. Well explained. ~6$
Then, we drove around 2 hours to reach News Orleans in the beginning of the evening.
Tuesday – New Orleans
10:00 a.m. – Visit of the Treme quarter.
A really nice quarter just buy walking and losing you in the narrow street with colourful houses.
10:30-12:30 p.m. – Visit of the French Quarter.
Jackson square nice central place of the french quarter with street muscician, souvenir stores and an important statu of andrew jackson.
Saint Louis Cathedral which one the first catherale of north america.
French Market, nice market with lot of souvenir of new orleans to buy.
12:30-2:00p.m. – Lunch time in the French Quarter at the french market : aligator sausage and smothies.
2:00 p.m. – Visit the Aquarium of the Americas, one of the top five aquariums in the U.S.
4p.m – Coffee break at Café Du Monde for coffee and beignets in the French Market near Jackson Square. Nice ambiance, it’s been from 1862 that they served the famous french doughnuts with sugar on it. Really cheap and traditionally accompagned with coffee. ~3$
6. p.m – night at Bourbon Street. You can enjoy live concert of jazz, blues or other kind of live music. Just walk and enter in any bar you want. You will find something nice !
Wednesday – Plantation
Nottoway Plantation Restaurant & Inn, the largest plantation home in the South. Built in 1859, this Greek Revival and Italianate mansion boasts 53,000 square feet.
Thursday – The coast
On our way to Houston we made few stops, we stop at Lake Charles by hoping to find a nice beach but it was not the nice beach you can have in Florida. It’s next to the highway and not clean.
We stop later on at Holly Beach and this was unexpected nice white sand beach ! No clear water because of the floor but nice place to relax. Must go if you want to see some ghost village and have a stop on your way.
Houston, we reach houston during the afternoon. We stop at down town district. Houston is not a touristic city, you have few museum but nothing amazing to do.
We ate in a nice fish restaurant with the form of a boat. The food was really good and the portion were big.
Friday – Houston
Let’s go Nasa center 1h from Houston and discover the nasa museum. Nice place, well explained but maybe too much for the children. Must do the visit of the real installation of the nasa center. Take around 4 hours to do everything.
For this three days weekend (labor day) we did a road trip in Tennessee.
Distance: 665 miles
Duration: 9h39 min
Total cost : 150$ / per pers
First day: Memphis
We made a first stop in Memphis to visit the house of Elvis Presley (Graceland). Nice visit, you have lots of souvenir store and the explication inside the house about the life of Elvis are great. The audio guide is well done and really good.
After this stop, we went in Memphis at Beale street which is the heart of Memphis music and entertainment. This street is a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and gospel.
Second day: Nashville
We drove 1 hour before we stopped in an hostel on the road to Nashville. The next morning we drove 2 hours before heading up to Nashville.
First stop Green Hills, nice area, kind of hipster with shopping and fancy bar/restaurant. Nice place to stay and chill out.
Second stop ; downtown Nashville. We walk around, there is a nice street Broadway street to listen to some live music.
Third stop; Midtown Nashville. There is a reconstitution of the Parthenon. There is a nice park with a lake where you can enjoy a dinner or lunch on the grass.
Last stop; back to Broadway street to enjoy more live music and country music.
Third day: drive back to Dallas.
The last day of our 3 days weekend is the drive back to Dallas -> 7 hours of driving is waiting for us.