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I'm Gabriella Wisdom, welcome to the Postcards from Hawaii travel blog, an online vacay for the well-organised traveller

Round the world trip activities itinerary Part 2

Round the world trip activities itinerary Part 2

Welcome back to my Round the World activities itinerary! Thank you for reading part 1 and just in case you missed it here’s the link Round the world trip activities itinerary Part 1. It features a road trip down the North Island of New Zealand, diving in the Great Barrier Reef and jungle trekking to waterfalls in Malaysia, go check it out if you haven’t and if you have, read on!

Just to refresh your memories in 2016 Michael and I went on a 16 week long round the world trip instead of saving for a house or a ring or whatever else people told us we should have done at the time. Our trip planning began with us picking out destinations based on where we had friends and family that we could visit/mooch free accommodation off. Those ended up being Australia, New Zealand, California and New York, the rest was decided by places close by and ones we had always wanted to go to. 

The full list of where we went and for how long goes as follows:

  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia x3 nights

  • Singapore x3 nights

  • Palm Cove, Queensland, Australia x10 nights

  • Sydney, New South Wales, Australia x14 nights

  • Auckland, New Zealand x2 nights

  • Rotorua, New Zealand x4 nights

  • Taupo, New Zealand x2 nights

  • Tongariro, New Zealand x2 nights

  • Masterton, New Zealand x8 nights

  • Napier, New Zealand x3 nights

  • Wellington, New Zealand x3 nights

  • Ohau, Hawaii, USA x2 nights

  • Maui, Hawaii, USA x12 nights

  • Las Vegas, Nevada, USA x2 nights

  • Grand Canyon, Nevada, USA 1 night

  • Los Angeles, California, USA x7 nights

  • Santa Maria, California, USA x1 night

  • San Francisco, California, x6 nights

  • Seattle, Washington, USA x5 nights

  • Portland, Oregon, USA day trip

  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada x7 nights

  • New York City, New York, USA x8 nights

  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil x3 nights

Due to the size of this trip and the amount that we did I decided to split this itinerary into two to prevent information overload. In part 2 I will be taking you through our two week-long unwind in Hawaii, a road trip that took us up the west coast of America, our first experience of Canada, summer in New York and our first time to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Michael’s favourite country).

As I mentioned in part 1 I was not blogging and had hardly used Instagram up until that point, stories didn’t even exist back then. All of our photos were taken on a GoPro and phones, not a professional camera which means there are far less photography-based locations on the itinerary, you can expect wide-angled warps and awkward compositions though. 

It’s been three years since embarking on this trip so things have changed but I have made sure to give you all the current 2019 information and ticket prices. 

Are you ready for part 2? Let’s go!

USA

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

4th July Fireworks

Of course I realise this isn’t something you can do 364 days of the year but just in case you find yourself in Honolulu on the 4th of July I want to let you know where you can catch a firework display. The biggest display in the area can be seen from Ala Moana Beach Park.

Pearl Harbor Visitor Centre

Visiting Pearl Harbor was definitely one of the most poignant things we did on this trip. It isn’t an easy place to be, especially when you stand at the The Remembrance Circle and Waterfront Memorial looking out over the water and the USS Arizona Memorial. In fact it’s rather harrowing to imagine the devastation that took place on 7th December 1941, but it is also humbling and it’s impossible not to be overwhelmed with gratitude for those incredibly brave people who fought for our freedom right until their untimely death.

The centre will take you through Pearl Harbor’s past, the events that happened in 1941 and its journey to today through documentary films and exhibitions. There is also an opportunity to visit the USS Arizona Memorial which again is free but tickets are in high demand and will become unavailable very early on in the day. 1,300 tickets are given out for free from 7am and if you are not there for when it opens, chances are you won’t receive a ticket. You can however reserve one online by paying a non refundable $1 booking fee here.

The USS Arizona Memorial is closed until March 2019 whilst repairs are being made to the visitors loading dock.

Open daily from 7am to 5pm excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Admission into the Pearl Harbor Visitor Centre is free.

However as Pearl Harbor is still an active military base, you are not allowed to bring any bags onto the premises. If you do, you are required to pay $5 to check it in, the queue for this can be long so arrive early or just don’t bring one and have your purse/wallet and phone in your pocket.

Please keep in mind that this is a memorial and that it is important we respect those who gave their lives fighting. I cannot tell you how many people I saw taking selfies there, it’s not right.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is on the South shore of Honolulu and is possibly one of the busiest beaches I’ve even been to, Waikiki is lined with high-rise hotels and designer stores. The atmosphere is buzzing as surfers fill the azure water and beach bunnies speckle the sand. Even if a busy beach isn’t your jam, you have to pay it a visit if you are there just to stand in the famous waters that have hosted many legendary surfers and Hawaiian royalty!

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King Kamehameha I statue

It’s one of many statues that honour the monarch who founded the islands of Hawaii but it’s probably most famous for standing outside of the Hawaii Five-0 HQ in both the original 1968 TV show and 2010 remake. Tickets? No need to book ‘em Danno, they’re not required.

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Kāʻanapali Beach

Kāʻanapali beach is one of the best I have ever been to. Even in the height of summer it was so quiet. Palm trees line the golden sand, the turquoise waters hold the promise of sea turtles and their friends and the sky is graced with a rainbow or two at least 80% of the time. No joke! There’s a reason Hawaii is called the Rainbow State. There’s a breeze not strong enough to create waves to surf, but it is enough to cool you down as you lay under the sun. The waters are calm so it’s great for families, but there’s not enough of them there to disturb the peace.

I am not aware of it being a public beach which is probably why it is so quiet, so if this beach tickles your fancy, consider a hotel along Kāʻanapali beach.

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Lahaina town

Having not stayed anywhere else on the island my opinion is rather bias, but Lahaina was the perfect location to stay in Maui. It’s quiet, the beach is beautiful and there are two shopping malls and a town just a stone’s throw away. 

Lahaina town is right on the seafront which is sparsely lined with restaurants so you can grab lunch with a view of the ocean. I can’t say it isn’t aimed at tourists as your restaurant selection includes Hard Rock café and Bubba Gump but there are some local options available too. 

Outlets of Maui is their outlet mall so just in case you have an itch for those good old American bargains you can pick one up at all of the classics: Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Gap etc.

Open daily from 9.30am - 10pm.

Opposite the outlet mall is a supermarket where we picked up food for our hotel room to save money on meals.

Take a stroll along the front street for an array of boutiques and craft shops selling every thing you could ever want to buy from Hawaii, from ukuleles and Hawaiian shirts to spices and soaps.

Whaler’s Village Shopping Mall

Whaler’s Village was just a short walk from our hotel, Royal Lahaina. It’s a small outdoor shopping mall that has a stark contrast of shops from Kate Spade and Tommy Bahama to craft shops selling goodies made on the island. There is also a good selection of restaurants should you grow tiresome of your hotel’s menu.

Furthermore, what’s great about Whaler’s Village is that it offers the following classes should your hotel not:

  • Hula dancing

  • Ukulele

  • Lei making

They also have Hula shows and live music, check it out here.

Open daily from 9.30am - 10pm.

Haleakala Crater National Park Sunrise Tour

If you read part 1 you will know by now that we did not have much luck with weather on this trip, and it’s actually becoming a thing for me that no matter where I go in the world, if I’m up a volcano, the weather is going to be awful! 

The Gray Line Haleakala Sunrise tour started at 2am when we were picked up by bus and driven 2 hours to the crater. There was no hiking involved in our tour, it just required a very short walk from the car to the viewing area. We then waited 2.5 hours in the freezing cold for the clouds to disperse and reveal a sunrise that filled the sky with oranges, pinks and yellow. Unfortunately for us that never happened and so we stood in the rainclouds for 2.5 hours to see more rainclouds only to be called back to the bus to thaw out and head back down for the breakfast (included at a nearby golf club) before returning to the hotel. 

PFH Top Tip: Never go up a volcano with me if you actually want to see something from the top!

Having seen photos of the sunrise I would recommend trying this excursion because it could be beautiful, it just wasn’t for us. Though it is rare for the weather to be bad, it does happen and unfortunately in our case we were not refunded our $200 for the tour so just keep this in mind, but don’t be discouraged, I just have really bad luck on volcanos. 

This is very important to take note of. Even in the middle of summer, it can be very cold at the top of Haleakala. Do not be deceived by the warm weather you have most likely been experiencing whilst in Hawaii. When we went it was about 30˚C the day before and 28˚C when we got back down but whilst up there we were soaking wet and frozen because we had been standing in a raincloud waiting for a sunrise that NEVER showed! To give you an idea of how cold it was the well informed girls next to us had an actual duvet wrapped around them.

What to wear:

On top of Haleakala.

  • Thermals

  • A fleece

  • A light raincoat or windbreaker

  • Trainers or hiking boots

  • Thick socks

  • Hat and gloves

For when you get back down:

  • T-shirt

  • Shorts

  • Sundress

  • Sandals

If you do this tour, book out the evening for catching up on sleep on the beach or poolside.

Ticket costs are:

$176 aged 12yrs and over.

$113 per child aged 3-11yrs.

Children under 2yrs go free.

Molokini Crater and “Turtle Town”

Hands down our snorkel excursion with Pride of Maui was my absolute favourite day of the entire trip for three reasons: 

  1. We got to swim with green sea turtles in the wild!

  2. We made friends with a couple from Canada who have become some of our closest friends! (They’re the people we stayed with in Toronto last summer.)

  3. We got to freaking swim with green sea turtles in the wild!

The tour lasts about 5hrs and includes breakfast, a BBQ lunch, cocktails or soft drinks, snorkel equipment and they take you to two snorkel sites: Molokini Crater to swim with the fishies and “Turtle Town” to float with the green sea turtles.

In the spirit of listing things, here are three great reasons to book an excursion to Molokini and Turtle Town with The Pride of Maui:

  1. They have a BBQ on the boat and will make you the best lunch you can have out on the ocean.

  2. They are incredibly conscious of the environment you’re in, they do not and will not allow chasing or touching of the animals, and they provide ocean friendly suncream which doesn’t release harmful chemicals into the reefs.

  3. The crew are great company and they make good cocktails! 

What to bring: 

  • Water (more is provided on the boat)

  • Sun cream for after the swim and when you’re sitting out on the boat in the sun

  • Swimwear

  • Mircrofibre towel

  • Dry bag

  • Change of clothes

Ticket costs are:

$99 per adult aged 13yrs and over.

$69 per child aged 3-12yrs.

Children under 2yrs go free.

Tickets are $25 cheaper (the price quoted above) if you book online. Fuel cost and tax not included.

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Luau

A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian party that centres around a huge feast which feature poke and Kahula pig, Poi, Haupia and so much more. Hula dancing and live music takes you into the night as you sip on your Mai-Tais under the stars.

Luaus aimed at tourists usually consist of a giant one-visit-only buffet serving up traditional dishes en masse, a complimentary lei, a show that tells the story of Hawaii though music and dance, an open bar serving up your classic tropical cocktails and the chance to get up and dance.

Though we really enjoyed ours, there were a lot of people so if you want something a little more intimate you don’t have to stick to the one in your hotel, shop around to see where you would like to go.

Ti Leaf Lei and flower lei making class

We actually did both of these with our hotel, Royal Lahaina, they had someone come in and teach us how to make both the Ti leaf and Orchid leis. At the time our class cost $5 per person to do and you got to keep what you made afterwards. Take a look at what your hotel offers because we really enjoyed them and it’s a hands on way to get to know the culture better.

Lomi Lomi Massage

Check with your hotel or a local spa for a Lomi Lomi massage, a traditional Hawaiian treatment. The technique uses long strokes in a gentle motion and includes light stretching. Everyone needs to look after their mind and body and where else better to do than on the massage table?

Las Vegas, Nevada

I’m going to prepare you for disappointment now, we are not party people. I’ve been to Vegas twice now and both times I intended to party like Stu and the guys from The Hangover but alas, both times I failed and probably saw less nightlife than Carlos (the baby with the sunglasses). It’s not all disappointing though, I can still share the basic tourist must dos! 

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Gamble

I have only done this once in Vegas and I had no idea what I was doing. We paid $5 into a random machine, lost a bit, lost again, won a little more than we put in, argued because I wanted to take our winnings and Michael wanted to play them, Michael pressed the button, we lost again, again and again until we wished our $5 sayonara.

I do not recommend gambling your money away, however, spare $5 for the experience so you can at least say you tried!

Fountains of Bellagio

You may know them from the Hangover Part III, Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic music video or, most famously, Oceans 11 (2001).

The $40 million Fountains of Bellagio is a show that anyone going to Vegas must see! The show lasts 15mins as the jets of water dance along to opera, classical, Broadway and pop tunes, the most popular being Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas.

On Saturdays and Public Holidays the show is every 30mins from 12pm - 8pm and every 15mins from 8pm - 12am.

On Sundays the show is every 30mins from 11am - 7pm and every 15mins from 7pm - 12am.

From Monday - Friday the show is every 30mins from 3pm - 8pm and every 15mins from 8pm to 12am.

Fremont Street

Fremont Street is the second most famous street in Las Vegas and is home to the classic casinos such as 4 Queens, Fremont Casino and Golden Nugget. The main attraction is now the Fremont Street Experience where a light show is projected across the world’s largest video screen which is suspended 90ft over the street creating a tunnel of light. The show begins by turning off all of the building, street and casino lights - which is unheard of anywhere else in Vegas. 

The show lasts a mere 6mins and runs every hour from 6am - 1am.

Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Did you even go to Vegas if you don’t have a photo with the Fabulous Las Vegas sign as proof? 

Hit up this spot as early as first light for two very important reasons:

  1. There is ALWAYS a queue, this city also never sleeps.

  2. It’s the desert, it’s hot and there is NO shade in the queue.

Bring water!

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Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace

Oh my goodness gracious me! You want it? They’ve got it! There’s a reason this unbelievable spread has been been ranked the No. 1 Las Vegas buffet by USA Today. The buffet runs nine individual cuisine stations with a large amount of food being cooked fresh in front of you. This is definitely not your typical stale and bland all inclusive buffet, this buffet means business. Choose from crabs legs, oysters, steak, ribs, pizza, pasta and SO much more. The dessert station won’t disappoint you either. There’s everything from over the top ice cream sundaes to dainty macrons! 

Be prepared for a queue and not being able to eat straight away unless you pay top dollar for the reservation package. You are allocated time at the buffet entrance and depending on peak times, you might have to wait a while. Luckily there’s a bar and casino right behind, how convenient. 

Open Monday - Friday from 7.30am - 10pm and 8am-1pm on the weekend.

Buffet cost is:

$54.99 per person for the weekday brunch served 7.30am - 3pm.

$54.99 per person for the weekend brunch served 8am - 3pm.

$64.99 per person for the weekday and weekend dinner served 3pm - 10pm.

$15 per person for the all you can drink Draft Beer, House Wine or Mimosa package.

For guaranteed entrance, book the VIP Reservation package here for $98 per person. It includes a dedicated reservation time, full access to the buffet, the all you can drink package and a VIP seafood tower.

Heads up, you only get 2 hours to enjoy your time at the Bacchanal Buffet so good luck trying to balance your time between stuffing and not running out of steam at the beginning. On this trip Michael fell asleep at the table and when we went again last year I got meat sweats half way through!

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Saddle n' Supper package

We decided to experience the Grand Canyon in a more immersive way, so we booked a night at the Grand Canyon Western Ranch and boy did we get an experience! 

We added on the Saddle n' Supper package which includes a horseback ride (western style) through the desert to a look out point where you watch the sunset from your saddle whilst sipping on a glass of bubbles! You then ride back down arriving back at the ranch as the light is just about hanging on to head into the dining room for a steak dinner which you can enjoy whilst being serenaded by an actual cowboy. It doesn’t end there either! After dinner, everyone heads outside for what was one of the most memorable nights of my life. Gathered around a campfire, you can toast as many s’mores as you can stomach, watch the moon rise, yes rise! We actually saw the moon rise from behind the mountains high into the sky whilst the same cowboy continued to sing and play any song we requested. Of course I wasn’t brave enough to request Britney Spears, so I don’t know that he could play every song, but he played every song that everyone else requested.

Package cost:

The Saddle n’ Supper package with one night stay $225.65 (including tax) per person.

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Helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon

We did our Grand Canyon helicopter ride through the Western Ranch and it was a decision made literally on the day. We had planned to do the Skywalk before driving 370 miles to Hollywood but we had been informed by people who did it the day before that it’s very time consuming and you don’t get to take your own photos whilst you’re on there. Looking for a quick way to experience this natural wonder we arranged with the ranch to take a ride in their helicopter. 

The tour lasts 25 mins and takes you over and into the Grand Canyon and you’ll forget just how pricey it is when you look up to find the Skywalk miles and miles above your head! It really is a spectacular way to experience the Grand Canyon.

PFH Top Tip: Don’t wear anything that you’re going to have visible sweat patches in. I wore a green strappy vest and I had sweat marks across my chest, stomach (where the seatbelt was) and back. The helicopter will have a lot of glass so you can see as much as possible but it also means you’re in a green house in the desert! Bring water and suncream!

Contact the Grand Canyon Western Ranch for a helicopter ride quote, but keep in mind that Grand Canyon helicopter rides are also operated from Las Vegas if you’re strapped for time or don’t fancy the drive out to Arizona.

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Los Angeles, California

Take a look at PFH’s 10 Best Instagram spots in L.A. for a list of where to get the best photos.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?” - Pretty Woman, 1990.

Over 2,600 stars cover 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, belonging to world famous musicians, actors, comedians, presidents, astronauts and more! To find out exactly where your idol’s star resides check out this awesome website where you can search any star’s whereabouts. The star ceremonies are free to attend (if you don’t mind crowds), they start at 11.30am and the dates are released here 10 days prior.

The stars aren’t the only thing worth visiting on Hollywood Boulevard. Pop your hands in the imprints of the greats at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, marvel at the home of the OSCARs ceremony, Dolby Theatre, feel Marilyn Monroe’s presence at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel and purchase just about any Hollywood souvenir you can imagine in one of the multiple shops.

Are you a Disney fan? No? Then read ahead. If you answered yes, take a look here to see which Disney film is showing at El Capitan Theatre, Disney’s interactive cinema. From current Disney films to classics showing on “Throwback Thursdays” every film has a little something extra to get you in the mood, whether it’s a musical show or prizes, it’s fun for all ages! We went to see a showing of Lilo and Stitch “(of course we did) and before showing the film the writers came on stage to talk about their creative process, there were prizes being given out left right and centre and everyone got a free lei made of candy (that’s sweets in American)! Check it out!

Take a moment to look here for any premieres that might be happening on Hollywood Boulevard, you might catch a glimpse of a movie star. The last time we were in Hollywood they had the premiere of Ant Man and the Wasp. If you’re not interested in film premieres look it up anyway because you do NOT want to get caught up in that traffic when the road gets shut down.

Celebrity Home Tour

You just can’t go to Hollywood without paying good money for a tour of the closed gates and walls blocking the homes to the stars! (If I could I would have put the cry-laughing emoji). I couldn’t not do this during our first time in Hollywood, but I mean, I’m pretty sure it was NOT that easy for us to do a U turn in Justin Bieber’s driveway, you get me? It’s good fun though and a quick and easy way to tour the city. The 2 hour tour takes you down Hollywood Boulevard, the Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive, past the Beverly Hills sign, the Playboy Mansion, the Beverly Hills hotel and a bunch of star’s homes. I must say though, the commentary from your tour guide is worth the ticket price anyway, they’re so sassy!

The Ultimate Hollywood Tours’ tours are currently starting at 9.15am and are running every hour until 3.45pm. 

Celebrity Homes Tour tickets cost:

$39 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$29 per child aged 2-12yrs.

Children aged 2yrs and under go free.

Basketball at the Staples Center

The basketball season was over when we arrived in LA so we couldn’t watch any Lakers or Sparks games at the Staples Center which is what we would have done. However, thanks to the build up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, there were a few non league games going on so we bought a couple of tickets for USA vs China which was an AMAZING game! 

If you do go during the NBA or WNBA season check out tickets here, prices vary, a lot.

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The Grove

The Grove is my favourite shopping mall in L.A. for two reasons: celeb spotting and the farmers market.

The doughnuts at Bob’s Coffee in the Farmers Makert are THE BEST DOUGHNUTS I HAVE EVER HAD! They’re open 6am - 9pm and take cash only.

The Grove hours are:

Monday - Thursday 10am - 9pm.

Fridays and Saturdays 10am - 10pm.

Sundays 10am - 8pm. 

Click here for the shop directory.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier marks the end of the Route 66 trail and after all that driving you’ll be rewarded with an afternoon of fun. It not only offers views of the beach, it’s also jam packed with restaurants and souvenir shops and it has Pacific Park, an amusement park that sits right over the Pacific Ocean.

The park hours vary so check ahead here for opening times.

There’s no admission fee for the Santa Monica Pier or Pacific Park but ride and attraction tickets are individually priced between $5-$10.

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Venice and Muscle Beach

Stroll along the promenade from one to the other, snap a photo under the Venice sign along the way and witness super-human strength at the outdoor beach gym.

Hollywood sign.

For everything you need to know about hiking to the Hollywood sign check out my very popular post How to hike to the Hollywood sign.

Long beach

Dang that beach is long, no joke. We went - with only a few hours to give - hoping to catch a glimpse of RMS Queen Mary, we parked and walked for an hour and she was still a dot in the distance! My advice is park wisely depending on what you want to do, but know that there is plenty to do and it’s a lovely beach so set aside a day for it.

PFH Top Tip: Use the toilet in a restaurant unless you’re cool with having only a few feet of wall between each toilet. I walked in, I walked out, not cool.

Rodeo Drive

“Rodeo Drive, baby” - Pretty Woman, 1990. 

Name a designer store, go on. Yeah, it’s there. This 2 mile long road oozes money from Prada to Gucci to Chanel and Dior! Stop me there, my mouth is watering. Don’t judge me! Aside from shopping and celeb spotting you can also see the store from Pretty Woman, you know the one, and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

PFH Fun Fact: as we were leaving L.A. to drive up to San Fran, we decided to take one last cruise down Rodeo Drive and lo and behold, who do we see? Only the freaking Kardashians, Khloe, Kim and Kris to be precise, filming the episode which turned out to be when the girls take Kris to the “Pretty Woman” penthouse suite at the “Bev Wilsh” (yes, I’m milking my Pretty Woman quotes). Michael threw me out of the car and after waiting outside Rolex for 10mins this is what I got…

Kardashian
Kardashian

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I haven’t put in a section for Santa Maria because it was just a place to stay overnight to break up the road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

San Francisco, California 

Golden Gate Bridge

A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without catching a glimpse of the world’s most photographed bridge, Golden Gate Bridge. Check out my blog post 3 of the best places to get photos with the Golden Gate Bridge to see where you should be going!

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Sausalito

If you do decide to drive over the bridge to take photos at Battery Park, come back down to have lunch in Sausalito. It’s a pretty little seaside town with a bunch of independently owned restaurants and shops. Last time we were in Sausalito we went to a little Indian restaurant called Sartaj India Café, it was the little pink flowers climbing the wall outside that drew me in but the menu that made me stay. I strongly recommend an authentic curry here. Another place I definitely recommend going is Sausalito Stationery, it is the sweetest little stationery shop selling a huge selection of cards (better than Paperchase and Scribbler combined, yeah I said it) and design based souvenirs - by this I mean hand drawn designs on prints and notebooks, not bog-standard keyrings etc - and there’s even a party section with so many unique goodies the whole room looks like a well thought out Pinterest board.

Painted Ladies 

“Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, There’s a heart, a hand to hold onto…” 

If you know that song then you’ll recognise these very ornate Victorian houses from the opening credits of Full House. Of course they were famous long before that though which is why they’ve been featured in an estimated 70 films, TV programmes and advertisements. 

Located opposite Alamo Square why not pack up a picnic or bring along a good book to read whist you take in all the fabulous details of these magnificent ladies.

Golden Gate Park

Get lost taking a stroll through Golden Gate Park and you won’t be disappointed. The park is just over 3 miles long and has a science museum, a fine art museum, a music hall, a boat lake and so much more.

Union Square

Union Square is the central shopping and theatre district in San Francisco. It’s also the area to be in to pick up one the cities famous cable cars. To get the most out of your trip Pick one up from Powell St and take it all the way up and down (and up and down) to Fisherman’s Wharf.

PFH Top Tip: To avoid the ridiculously long queue that builds up at the turn table, pick up a cable car on the corner of Powell and Ellis Street, right outside of Urban Outfitters. It must be one of San Francisco’s greatest secrets because I’ve never seen more than 6 people get on from there and they always got on!

Cable cars run every 10mins from 6am - 12am.

Click here to see a really dodgy GIF of the routes. 

Tickets for a cable car journey are $7 per person per journey.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is undoubtedly the most popular and busiest tourist area in San Francisco and for a good reason too, just check out all the things below that attract people to the area:

  • Views of Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz

  • The best clam chowder you’ll ever eat, and it’s served in a bowl made of bread!

  • Pier 39 which is packed with shops, restaurants, cafés, street performers, souvenir shops and a carousel

  • Sea lions - dozens of Californian sea lions have made pier 39 their social hang out spot

  • Bay and whale boat tours

Yosemite National Park

As booking our RTW was out first experience of booking flights en masse and we had no idea Skyscanner existed we booked our 18 flights with STA (can’t say I would recommend it). We also booked one tour with them from their USA brochure which was this tour. In hindsight I would recommend renting a car because it’s a long day and most of it is spent cooped up on a bus which isn’t fun. Renting a car means you get a better view out of the window, you can stop whenever you want and you can stay as long as you want. We didn’t get much time once we actually got to Yosemite which made us hesitant to go walking too far in case we missed our bus ride back.

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Just in case you want to know about our tour it was the Yosemite Giant Sequoia Tour with Extranomical Tours and is $179 per adult aged 12yrs and over and $165 per child aged 12yrs and under. It picks up from central San Francisco between 6am-7am and lasts 15 hours. The first stop is at Tuolumne Grove* to see the giant Sequoia trees, the second is at Tunnel View lookout which is probably one of the best photo spots in Yosemite, the final stop is in Yosemite national park. It does not include food.

Like I said though if it’s a possibility for you, rent a car and drive yourself. If you do decide to do that the vital information for the park is as follows:

Yosemite National Park is open 24/7 for all 365 days of the year. 

The entrance fee is:

$35 for a seven day pass for a non commercial car, RV or van with 15 or less seats.

Click here for alternative transport fees.

What to bring

  • Knee-length sports shorts or cropped running tights

  • Quick dry short sleeve top

  • Hiking boots

  • A complete change of clothes if you don’t want to drive home sweaty

What to bring in a backpack

  • Water - 1 litre at the very least

  • Lunch

  • Snacks

  • Insect repellent

  • Sunhat

  • Microfibre towel (for mopping sweat)

  • Camera

*Tuolumne Grove involves a 1 mile hike down from the car park to the Sequoia trees, the hike back up has an elevation of 500ft and is rather strenuous for some people. Bring plenty of water.

Alcatraz

Take a tour around the most notorious maximum security prison in America. Alcatraz State Penitentiary otherwise known as “The Rock”. 

The tour of Alcatraz is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever done. It departs from pier 33 for a 15mins boat ride over to the island. Upon arrival a National Park Ranger will give you a brief introduction of the island before directing you on to your 45-minute Cellhouse Audio Tour. I have to say out of all the audio tours I have listened to, this was the best. There’s a good mix of fact, myth and personal accounts from both prisoners and guards, plus the directions are very clear.

Some of Alcatraz’ infamous inhabitants include Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, Frank Morris and Alvin Karpis (America’s first Public Enemy No.1).

If you were to watch one film featuring Alcatraz to enhance your experience touring the prison it would be “Escape from Alcatraz” (1979) starring Clint Eastwood. It’s Hollywood’s adaption of the true story of how Frank Morris and twin brothers Clarence and John Anglin broke out of inescapable Alcatraz.

As the tour dates are seasonal and subject to change, please click here for up an updated schedule of tour departure times. Alcatraz is closed: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.

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PFH Top Tip: Alcatraz is a very popular tourist destination and the island fills with people pretty quickly. I advise going as early as possible to be able to move freely around the cell blocks. We went on one of the early bird tours and it was significantly quieter compared to when we were ready to leave.

Tour prices:

Day tour:

$46.35 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$31.50 per child aged 5-11yrs.

Children under the age of 5yrs go free.

$44.10 per senior aged 62yrs and over.

Night tour:

$53.50 per adult aged 17yrs and over.

$52.50 per junior aged 11-17yrs.

$35.05 per child aged 5-11yrs.

Children under the age of 5yrs go free.

$50.25 per senior aged 62yrs and over.

Seattle, Washington

Kerry Park

At just 1.26 acres it might be the smallest park you step foot in but it offers the best view of Seattle hands down, even better than the Space Needle because the needle is in it! Worth a visit, trust me. Plus it was a location for season 14 of Grey’s Anatomy!

Pike Place

You know when the elevator doors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital open in Grey’s Anatomy and nine times out of ten there’s a big photo of a red Public Market sign? Well that’s Pike Place, a waterfront farmer’s market. Established in 1907 it’s a beloved piece of Seattle’s history and a great place to eat! For Pike Place’s full history click here.

Space Needle

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Built for the 1962 World Fair, this flying saucer inspired building is a testament to how the Space Race took the country by storm. The 185 metre tall building located in Seattle Center (an education centre) is one of the most photographed structures in the world and has featured in many films and TV programmes such as Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and the title sequence of Frasier (1993-2004).

Open Monday - Thursday 10am - 7pm and 9am - 7pm from Friday - Sunday.

Ticket costs vary based on the time of day you visit:

Morning (10am - 12pm)

$32.50 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$24.50 per child aged 5-12yrs and over.

Children under 5yrs go free.

$27 per senior aged 65yrs and over.

Afternoon (Midday 12pm - 5pm)

$35 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$26 per child aged 5-12yrs and over.

Children under 5yrs go free.

$30 per senior aged 65yrs and over.

Evening (5pm - 6pm)

$35 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$26 per child aged 5-12yrs and over.

Children under 5yrs go free.

$30 per senior aged 65yrs and over.

The Original Starbucks

Whilst you’re at Pike Place join the longest queue for a coffee you’ll ever stand in. Why? Because why go around the corner for a Starbucks coffee without a queue when you could get the EXACT same coffee in x10 the time at the original Starbucks. (Ooo I’m so salty, must be the pretzels I’m eating whilst I write this). You do get the chance to have a picture with the “First Starbucks Store” sign and it’s the only Starbucks that you can buy the Pike Place collection.

PFH Fun Fact: The Original Starbucks isn’t actually that! The first ever Starbucks was actually at 2000 Western Avenue from 1971–1976. They moved to the current location (1912 Pike Place) and it has been there ever since.

Pier 57

It’s somewhat similar to Pier 39 in San Francisco, in that it’s a tourist attraction with great seafood! Check out Miner’s Landing at the end which now has shops and restaurants or take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel.

Canada 

Vancouver

Gastown

Gastown is Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood having been founded in 1867. The area is best known for its steam clock which is one of very few remaining in the world.

The quaint streets of Gastown are full of Victorian houses, fashion boutiques, shops selling homeware, souvenir shops, art galleries, some of the best restaurants in Vancouver and multiple cocktail bars.

Stanley park

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Our bike ride around Stanley Park was such a lovely day out. It didn’t take long to pick one up from Spokes Bicycle Rental. We took a couple of bikes around the outer cycle path of the park and up to Prospect Point Lookout for views of Lion’s Gate Bridge. 

We took a picnic out with us so we could sit and eat looking over the water but there are cafés and restaurants dotted around the park.

Spokes Bicycle Rental is open daily from 9am - 4.30pm. Bikes must be returned one hour before closing.

Bike rentals at Spokes are charged by the hour, I took a speed cruiser which is currently $8.57 per hour and Michael took a city bike which is now $10.48 per hour. 

We had our bikes for just under 4 hours from pick up to drop off.

Wild Whales Vancouver

By far my favourite thing that we did in Vancouver was take a tour out to watch wild Orca pods out in open water. We took a tour from Granville Island with Wild Whales Vancouver

The really great thing about this tour was their true love and respect for the whales. Crew members have studied them for years and will be able to answer all of your whale related questions. Plus they come loaded with cereal bars to keep your energy levels up and ginger sweets to settle your stomach - it’s a rough ride out there. Furthermore, whale sightings are guaranteed and if you don’t see one on your tour you are given tickets for a second tour for free.

As wild animals are unpredictable the tours can last from 3-6 hours to give you the best chance of seeing either orcas or humpback whales. Laws prohibit boats from hanging around a pod for longer than one hour so the whales don’t feel threatened by the boats or people so once your time is up you will head back to shore. Before finishing though, you will be taken to other wildlife sites for the opportunity to see seals and eagles. 

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Tours depart:

April - May at 10.30am11am and 12pm.

June - 12th September at 8.30am, 9am, 10am, 12pm and 2.30pm.

12th September - 31st October st 10.30am, 11am and 12pm.

Tickets cost:

$135 per adult aged 12 and over.

$85 per child aged 3-12yrs.

Children under 2yrs go free.

$110 per seniors and/or student.

All ticket prices above do not include tax.

Granville Island

Grab breakfast, lunch or dinner on Granville Island and you won’t be disappointed. This little peninsula is bustling with artisanal cafés, restaurants, bars and pubs each specialising in something delicious. Imagine if Wholefoods was a village, that’s Granville Island.

Take a tour around Granville Island Brewery or The Liberty Distillery, grab lunch from one of many delicious spots, follow it up with a donut or crêpe, grab a drink at one of the bars looking over the harbour and finish with a trip to the Public Market to buy more freshly made sweet or savoury treats to take home.

For a full listing click here.

Lynn Canyon park

Lynn Canyon park is 617 acres of forest and has several trails, waterfalls and a 50 metre high suspension bridge at the entrance. If you’re active it’s easy to spend a day here walking around, bring a picnic, a swimsuit for cooling off on a hot day in one of the natural swimming holes, and a sense of adventure. 

Lynn Canyon park is located in North Vancouver and will take about 30min by car or 1hr by bus.

The park is open daily from 10am - 5pm June - September and 12pm - 4pm October - May. It is closed on Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s Day.

Entrance to Lynn Canyon park is free.

SkyRide Grouse Mountain

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Take the cable car up to the top of Grouse Mountain where you’ll find views of the city, hiking trails, bird shows, bears and a lumberjack show that will put a smile on everyone’s face. 

In summer you can catch a tan at the top of Grouse Mountain, enjoy all of the shows and catch a glimpse of a grizzly bear. Come winter though snow transforms this mountain into a maize of ski trails. 

Mountain admission is:

$56 per sold aged 17-64yrs.

$29 per child aged 5-16yrs.

$49 for seniors aged 65yrs and over.

Children under 4yrs go free.

For a full seasonal list of what you can do up Grouse Mountain click here.

Poutine 

Poutine originates from Quebec and is made from french fries topped with cheese curd and gravy.  A real stodgy treat for those who love it.

I googled a list of the best Poutine places in Vancouver and La Belle Patate Vancouver came up. Their elaborate menu offers over 20 varieties of the classic Canadian dish. You can pick up an original for under $10.

USA 

New York City, New York

Statue of Liberty

Originally named “Liberty Enlightening the World” the Statue of Liberty represents freedom and hope. It took nine years to create the 305 foot statue in Paris, where it was then disassembled into 350 pieces, shipped to New York City, and reassembled in four months. She was finally unveiled on October 28, 1886.

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There are many options for tours to the Statue of Liberty, the standard is the Reserve ticket which includes: 

  • A round trip ferry service

  • Ellis Island Immigration Museum

  • Statue of Liberty grounds

  • Audio tour

Check the ferry schedule here.

Reserve ticket costs are:

$18.50 per adult aged 13yrs and over.

$9 per child aged 4-12yrs.

Children under 4yrs go free.

$14 per senior aged 62 and over.

For other ticketing options click here.

PFH Fun Fact: The internal structure of the Statue of Liberty was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower.

Empire State Building

Without a doubt the most famous building in NYC is the Empire State Building. The 1,454 foot Art Deco sky scraper offers unparalleled 360˚ views of the city from the highest open air observation deck in New York.

Open every day, including all holidays, come rain or shine, from 8am - 2am.

Ticket costs are:

Standard

$38.15 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$31.95 per child aged 6-12yrs.

Children under 6yrs go free.

$36.05 per senior aged 65 and over.

In-season

$39.15 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$33 per child aged 6-12yrs.

Children under 6yrs go free.

$37.10 per senior aged 65 and over.

Peak

$40.20 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

$34 per child aged 6-12yrs.

Children under 6yrs go free.

$38.15 per senior aged 65 and over.

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PFH Top Tip: Aim to be at the top for about half an hour before sunset, that way you will get daylight for clear views of the city, sunset for pretty photos and nighttime for the magical sight that is NYC lit up and sparkling all for one ticket price!

Times Square

Times Square it the theatre district in Manhattan. It’s a beautiful thing to see the faces light up of those who are seeing Times Square for the first time. It’s hard not to get swept up in the magic of the city that never sleep when you’re standing under the bright and ever-changing screens feeding you everything from fashion to the weather, news headlines and food! These lights are on 24/7 365 days of the year with Earth Hour being the only exception! It’s Sat 30th March this year if you’re interested in experiencing lights out at Times Square. 

Coney Island

For a classic day out, spend a whole summer’s day at Coney Island! Spend the morning lazing on the beach. Chase hot dogs down with milkshakes followed by candy floss for lunch. Play a round of crazy golf and try to bring up the hot dogs on the Wonder Wheel or Cyclone. Then cosy on up for the Friday night firework display at 9.30pm which runs from the last weekend in June to the Friday before Labor Day.

Open every day from Easter to Halloween from midday until late, (sorry guys, I couldn’t find what time late was).

Entrance to Coney Island is free but rides and attraction tickets are individually priced.

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Ground Zero

Pay your respects to the lives lost on 9/11 at the memorial fountains that mark where the iconic Twin Towers once stood.

5th Avenue

5th Avenue is the most famous street in all of New York. Why? Because it has everything! Shop ’til you drop from the likes of H&M to THE Tiffany & Co from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). Get your culture fix at one of the many museums on the avenue. Head to a concert or game at Maddison Square Gardens, take an exit off it to go for a stroll in Central Park or go to the Top Of The Rock for the best views of the city WITH the Empire State Building.

For a full list of what 5th Avenue has to offer click here.

Central Park

Central Park is an urban park in Manhattan, it’s the fifth largest park in New York but most definitely the most popular one attracting nearly four million people every year. There’s so much to see and do in the park, the most popular being Strawberry Fields, boating on the lake and Bethesda Terrace. Click here for the full list of attractions.

Open every day from 6am - 1am.

Lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen

“I’ll have what she’s having” - When Harry Met Sally (1989).

Have lunch at the EXACT seat from the “YES! YES! YES!” Scene in When Harry Met Sally, how will you know which one it is? Easy, there’s a sign above it pointing it out, oh and there will be queue of people who are desperate to sit in it next!

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PFH Top Tip: Don’t eat a big breakfast, there’s about four inches of meat in their sandwiches, no joke!

Brooklyn Bridge

Head to the intersection of Water Street and Washington Street in Dumbo to get one of the most iconic angles of Brooklyn Bridge.

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Museums

We visited the following museums for various permanent and temporary exhibitions:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The MET is the largest museum in America and is home to more than two million pieces of artwork.

Open every day excluding the first Monday in May, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Sunday - Thursday 10am - 5.30pm.

Friday and Saturday 10am - 9pm.

Ticket costs are:

$25 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

Children under 12yrs go free.

$17 per senior aged 65 and over.

$12 per student with a valid ID.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Founded by Solomon Robert Guggenheim, an American businessman and art collector. What was once his private collection of modern and contemporary art became a public museum, The Guggenheim, in 1937 after setting up his non profit foundation for the arts.

Open daily from 10am - 5pm except for Tuesdays and Saturdays when it’s open until 8pm.

Ticket costs are:

$25 per adult aged 12yrs and over.

Children under 12yrs go free.

$18 per senior aged 65yrs and over.

$18 per student with a valid ID.

Every Saturday, from 5pm - 8 pm, you can pay what you wish for admission with cash (only). The last ticket is issued at 7:30 pm.

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt is the only museum in the nation which is entirely devoted to historic and contemporary design.

Open daily from 10am - 6pm with Saturdays open later until 9pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Ticket costs are:

$18 per adult aged 18yrs and over.

Children under 18yrs go free.

$12 per senior aged 62yrs and over.

$9 per student with a valid ID.

Every Saturday from 6pm - 9pm you can pay what you wish for admission.

Buildings

Buildings? What do I mean by buildings? Here’s a list of buildings that we didn’t actually go in but we made a point to visit the exterior either for the design or most likely because it was featured in a film I love! The list is as follows:

  • Rockefeller Centre

  • Radio City Music Hall

  • Grand Central Train Station

  • Chrysler Building

  • New York Public Library

Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Before I tell you about what we did in Rio I feel like I need to explain it. We went in the week between the Olympics and the Paralympics (not on purpose, it just timed out that way) and although we realised it would probably be the safest time to go because the security would undoubtedly be high, we were still nervous about what we would encounter. Though I had travelled plenty before it was our first solo trip (excluding Paris) and we were being cautious so we didn’t go up Sugarloaf Mountain or visit Christ the Redeemer, and therefore it isn’t mentioned below. I do regret it somewhat but we also do plan on going back one day so that we can do it.

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Copacabana 

Located in the south zone of Rio, the 2.5 mile long Copacabana Beach is the most famous beach in Brazil. It has hosted musicians from the likes of the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart, the 2016 Olympic volley ball matches and each year it hosts the country’s biggest NYE fireworks display.

Sit back and enjoy local food and caipirinhas bought from one of the many pop up shops along the beach. 

FYI: Contrary to popular belief topless sunbathing is not actually permitted on the beaches of Rio. No one will bat an eye if your bum is out though, so there’s that.

Head into town too for some great restaurants and street food serving up national treats such as Pão de queijo or coxinha.

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema is about a half an hour walk from Copacabana and a fairly safe one. We went out with very little and walked there in the morning and didn’t encounter any trouble. It’s another beautiful beach lined by one of Rio’s famous black and white tiled Portuguese promenades. The beach was made internationally popular with the release of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s classic The Girl from Ipanema. Tall and tanned, his statue stands on the tiled promenade as a tribute and in honour of the 30th anniversary of his death.

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Feira Hippie de Ipanema

Translation: Ipanema Hippie Fair. It’s the best open air market around for souvenirs and handmade local goods. Stalls selling goods in every colour under the sun by characters just as colourful buzz as people all around are laughing, bartering and shopping ’til they drop. There are so many good crafty bits that are so unique you know no one else will have anything like it at home.

PFH Top Tip: Bring small notes to hand over after you’ve bartered your price down.

The market is less than a 10 minute walk from Ipanema beach.

It is only open on Sundays from 7am - 7pm. On the plus side it’s open come rain or shine, Feira Hippie de Ipanema has been open every Sunday since 1968.

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So there you have it, all of the best activities from our round the world trip! The idea of this post isn’t to brag, I’m well aware of what a “once in a lifetime” trip it was. It’s here to help inspire you to tick some of these adventures off your list and help you plan your itinerary or see more of the world.

If you have any questions on our trip please feel free to email me here or DM me on my instagram @gabriellawisdom.

Aloha, Gabriella

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All prices were correct at the time of publishing but are subject to change in 2019.

PFH’s 10 best Instagrammable places in Paris

PFH’s 10 best Instagrammable places in Paris

Round the world trip activities itinerary Part 1

Round the world trip activities itinerary Part 1