Day Ten – Hawaii – San Fran – LA – 19 Days, 3 kids, 1 MIL

Written in US DESTINATIONS

Day 10 is a cornucopia of beach and surf lessons. The guys who teach kids how to get at it in the waves are seriously chilled. I guess if my life was spent earning decent money whilst scrunching sand between my toes for 6 hours a day, I’d be pretty chilled too.
The surf lessons can be had at 3 locations up and down the beach – take your pick dependent on your hotel location (see Cheap Rooms for deals). The trainers are excellent – feel quite assured with their skills as they take your wet behind the ears prodigy and put some salt in their game!
After a day of surf, it’s back to the Ala Moana shopping center. A shopping mall, no biggie – but, and it’s a big one if two or three generations are with you. There is something here for everyone – bored dads, teenage girls, boys, mom’s and MILs. Plus, the food options will cater for those mid-shop munchy needs. There are healthy choices as well as the usual.
Later that evening we took a cab up to Diamond Head. This park cum volcanic crater is at the end of the broader Waikiki beach and it’s a lovely way to finish the day. We took a picnic with us (and the cabbie offered to go off, have his dinner and then come back in 45 minutes to pick us up – needless to say, he got a big tip!). It was a delightfully scenic change to the somewhat neon buzz of Waikiki.
We have also discovered what beach lovers everywhere already know – the absolute pleasure in walking along the sand at night after sun down with flickering tiki lights and the gentle crash of surf on a beach.
Tomorrow is an exciting day – a final swim and then off to San Francisco!

 

Places locals love in Vegas

Written in US DESTINATIONS

Las Vegas is so well known as are all the famous things to do – but what do the locals get up to? What are their favorite haunts?

If it’s called the Dive Bar, does that imply a certain… seediness? Well no, not really in the case of the Dive Bar at 4110 S Maryland Pkwy. Yes, it’s cheap in terms of drinks, but you’ll find such exotica as a Chocolate Pretzel Martini here…not typical of a “dive bar”. Prices are great, drink specials are good, and it’s a fairly big place with plenty of tables and room to sit. There are always bikes and classic cars parked outside and interesting characters parked inside. And if you catch it on a good night, you might see good local music here too!

You’re likely staying on the Strip and maybe you’ve done all the big shows. If you want a little fun with your food, try The Evil Dead The Musical show at 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. It’s served rare (ie plenty of blood) and the show is a loving tribute to one of the best zombie movies of all time.

If you’re after really, really good seafood try Tide’s Oyster Bar at 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. They do southern seafood – blackened catfish, grilled trout, fried oysters as well as a couple of northern specialties like clam chowder.

 

Day Nine – Hawaii – San Fran – LA – 19 Days, 3 kids, 1 MIL

Written in US DESTINATIONS

Day 9 and I’m getting used to pancakes and fruit and lashings of coffee for breakfast. I’m getting used to a fast pre-breakfast walk along the bits of Waikiki that you can safely navigate without running up against a salubrious hotel’s fenced off area. And I’m definitely used to that bath-like water! Ahh Hawaii, you have made a believer out of me.
Today is a brilliantly relaxing day. Spend the morning on the beach and then, with due regard to our delicate skin, we head to downtown Waikiki for the rest of the day. It’s really just the back section a block or two back from the grand hotels on the beach, but there’s entertainment for all. Even a grouch who’s over shops and shopping. If I see one more stupid brand name…
The International Market is a wondrous little place to explore. There are little havens of craft type people inside and a bunch of indie boutiques selling a particularly cute style of Hawaiian beach wear and casual wear. There’s a couple of buskers and the parrot guy. You’ll see this fellow on the beach and around the malls. He has a coterie of brightly colored parrots that will sit atop your arms and shoulders as he takes a photo – and there you are, a memento of your Hawaiian adventure.
Take time out to visit the Cheesecake Factory mm mmm and there are some very good restaurants in the upstairs area along the main drag. Japanese restaurants are superb here and the prices aren’t too bad.
If you’re over paying hotel prices for hotel food, can I suggest a simple trip into the back streets every so often will be a treat for anyone wanting a little hole in the wall place that serves great food at good prices.
The hotel you stay in on Oahu will define your trip here. We stayed at the Hawaiian Hilton Village and it was huge – perfect if you like a really well-catered and seamless, if little impersonal experience. See Cheap Rooms for good hotel deals and all the choice you need.