Festival season is well underway and we really are spoilt for choice every year! Looking for something new to head to this summer or in the future? Well here’s your answer! We caught up with one of our old friends Leigh Travers @leightravers – who’s a vintage, travel & vegan food blogger. She’s also a festival and music enthusiast, so she’s give us her low down on her top 5 favourite European festivals and why! Enjoy Guys!
Wednesday 26th June – Sunday 30th June
I couldn’t start with anything but my favourite festival in the world, the world-famous Glastonbury Festival. Glastonbury, or Glasto as it’s fondly referred to by regulars, is a household name across the globe, whether you’re a festival-goer or not. Every festival fanatic should have this five-day music and performing arts festival at the top of their bucket list, because there’s no where in the world quite like it. Dating back to its first edition in 1970, the festival still holds its original bohemian, free-spirited ethos transporting its citizens from the everyday mundane to a tight-knit community.
From the iconic Pyramid stage, that has seen sets recently from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Rolling Stones, Beyonce and more, to the depths of Shangri-La, a completely immersive, dystopian wonderland, to the sacred Stone Circle where people gather in the evenings and the monstrous fire-sprawling robotic spider of Arcadia, Glastonbury really does have something for everyone of every age.
12-14 June 2020
Tucked away in the woods of Hilravenbeek is one of Europe’s best kept secret festivals, aptly named Best Kept Secret. Every June, BKS sets up in the grounds of a safari park, so if you take a stroll beyond the festival you might bump into some of the furry locals. The lineups are notoriously good and indie-focused with headline sets from The Libertines, Radiohead, The National and more in the past. The stages and festival site are set up alongside a vast open lake meaning that you can go for a swim between sets if you fancy!
4-7 June 2020
MITM is a festival unlike no other, taking place above the clouds in Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains – it truly is a festival unlike no other! It’s a hedonistic festival that aims to create an unforgettable experience for its festival-goers, taking them far, far from their everyday life and transporting them to an other-worldy, serene setting for a few days. Despite its hedonistic tendencies, it’s a socially and eco-conscious festival that encourages its festival-goers to be as sustainable as possible (it’s completely plastic-free) and gives back to the local community – you can even choose to stay at a local’s home during the festival.
17-22 July 2019
Electric Castle takes place within the grounds of Banffy Castle in Romania and it’s a truly unique setting for a festival. Nestled within the rolling green hills of Transylvania, this festival invites a glut of international talent every year making it one of the biggest festivals in Romania. Whilst I’ve only been once, I absolutely fell in love with it; the setting, the production, the setting and the welcoming people. Work your way through the trees to discover a man-made beach or head into the castle for an all-night rave.
7-13 August 2019
Sziget – the Hungarian word for island – is a festival that sits on Óbuda Island, surrounded by the Danube river in Budapest. Reckon you could hack a seven-day festival? Because that’s exactly what Sziget is. For a week, the island is taken over by 400,000 “Szitizens” to indulge in non-stop music from a pool of artists from across the globe spanning across different musical genres.
Sziget proudly prizes itself on its community and its ethos of celebrating diversity, inviting people from different backgrounds and festival-goers from all over the world to join them in their celebrations.
Our first stop in Texas was in the tiny little town in the desert called Marfa. I loved this place for a night or 2. Such an unusual place full of cool buildings and old American signs. It’s also known for the mysterious Marfa lights which you can also view there at night. Unfortunately we were in Marfa early in the week when a few places are closed, so best to visit at the weekends if you can.
Where To Stay
We stayed at the most amazing Airbnb there called the Love House. The decor is absolutely unreal with bohemian rugs lining the bedroom floor and all the amenities you need. It also has a beautiful outside space perfect for chilling in the evenings with a glass of wine or sunbathing in the day. It really was the perfect hideaway to relax and central to everything you need in Marfa.
A lot of people recommended El Cosmico aswell which is a 21 acre camp ground in Marfa which has all different types of quirky accommodation for you pick from tepees, trailers, safari tents and yurts. . El Cosmico is a hotel and campground for adventurers and wanderers and they often have various events on too which are well worth checking out!
After Marfa we then headed to a very humid Austin! I fell in love with Austin straight away it has such a magical vibe to it. Very relaxed and so many amazing live music venues everywhere. And of course where you can walk around in cowboy boots everyday and it’s completely normal which is great in my eyes!
Austin was sooo humid so one evening we headed to Barton Springs and it was such a lovely experience. It’s a common thing there to go for a evening dip to cool off and it definitely worked and cooled us off! Highly recommend this.
ABGB Brewery is a popular hangout in Austin where they often have live music. They have a gorgeous outside area too all lined with big festoon lighting. They also brew all different types of beer and apparently banging pizza, definitely worth checking out!
Gruene is a historic town with lot’s of western influence. It has lot’s of really cute shops, bars and places to eat and generally a great place to stop of and take photos and explore!
Spider House Cafe
Spider House Cafe is great for cooling of from the Austin sun. The food is also delicious! Lot’s of cool outside area with amazing kitsch decor. They have lots of events and musicians on here, a great place to check out!
Where to stay
This place was such a wonderful oasis in the city. It’s like staying in your own private jungle. We stayed in the tree house which is kitted out with a full kitchen too. The decor is gorgeous and electic and was so peaceful.
The next night we stayed in a vintage airstream which was located very close to ABGB brewery. It’s in the lady’s back garden but feels like your own space and is so magical! I always loved staying in air streams in America it makes it so fun. Also very well kitted out with kitchen, toilet and a double bed!
Our last night in Austin we headed a bit out of town to another air stream which was really bohemian and beautiful. It also has a bell tent so you can stay in either which is lovely or just use one as a chilling space.
After Austin we then headed to Houston for a few days. We didn’t do that much here as we were in the middle of planning shoots for New York so got a bit of down time planning. But none the less we stayed in one of my favourite places here!
The most beautiful loft I have ever seen! The decor and every little detail in their flat is so perfect and we felt at home straight away. They really do have impeccable taste and I’m sure the photos reflect this! It’s also walking distance to some really cool bars around the corner so handy for popping out for a drink. We’re definitely noting this down for major house inspo!
After Vegas we then made our way through Arizona. First stop was Seligman a tiny little town which has alot of historic Route 66 diners and fun things to check out and alot of photo opportunities! We stayed overnight here in a cute little motel and it was a great place to see and check out on our way through. The next day we headed towards Monument Valley and Page.
Monument Valley & Horsehoe Bend
Monumenet Valley was well worth the drive it’s so stunning. We didn’t pay the charge to go in though we just drove as close to it as we could and it was just as breath taking. We then headed to Horseshoe Bend in Page which in my opinion was much more beautiful than the Grand Canyon and it’s free! Very scary close to the edge though, we went at sunset and the light was just beautiful.
Where To Stay
We stayed here for one night whilst on one of our long drives and it was so beautiful and peaceful. Near a town called Sedona which is really adorable and definitely worth a visit. Don’s Airbnb is connected to his house so he shows you around, stuff to do in the neighbourhood. We met his lovely dogs and the place is wonderful. Beautifully decorated, comfy and with everything you need. Would definitely recommend If your driving through the area.
Galaxy Diner In Flagstaff
On the way to Cave Creek we stopped of in Flagstaff where we came across Galaxy Diner! It was one of my favourite diners we went to on our trip. Its super Americana with a great menu and perfect photo opportunities!
Macalpines Diner & Soda Fountain
Our next stop was Cave Creek which was a proper little western town where you can even ride up to the bars on your horse! We loved it here, very desert with amazing cactus everywhere. We also stayed in a few incredible places here!
Where To Stay
We stayed in a lot of airstreams on our trip and this one was very special. So well equipped and with the comfiest bed. It’s in front of the lady who helps run it’s house and also on a small farm which she runs to help sick and homeless animals. We had a tour of the farm from Brittany who’s house and farm the airstream is on and it was just so wonderful hearing about all she is doing for the animals she has rescued and feeding the baby goats was a highlight. We really did have such a lovely stay here and fell in love with the airstream life.
Phoenix Desert Paradise Airbnb
Our next stop just out of Phoenix in the desert was one of our most luxury stays at the most incredible house which has 3 bedrooms, a jacuzzi and 2 bathrooms. The place is just huge and so well kitted out perfect if your travelling as a big group. This was so luxurious with the most comfiest bed and all the mod cons you need but also decorated so well so it feels homely. The views outside are breathtaking you are surrounded by desert and the sky lit up at night with all the stars.
We then headed into Phoenix and stayed at the amazing Urban Desert Atelier. Sabina was such a wonderful host and I think it’s magical what they have created their. It’s there home but also with 2 guest bungalows and now a film processing studio too! The bungalow we stayed in was decorated so beautifully and we loved the bed up the ladders! The outside courtyard was really wonderful so chill in especially at night when all the lights come on, so pretty. Also in a great location with lot’s of cool places to visit.
One place I absolutely fell head over heels for and will always have a special place in my heart was Bisbee. Right at the bottom of Arizona is this tiny little bohemian town and it’s like time has stood still there but in the most charming and inviting way. I honestly felt like there was some kind of magic in the air there and would love to return one day. If you’re visiting you must visit Lowell which is a street of old buildings and retro cars which is an unreal photo opportunity! Also there is Bisbee Breakfast club which do a banging breakfast you do not want to miss out on. A visit to the Shady Dell is well worth it to see all the incredible different air streams, boats and contraptions which you can actually stay in overnight it’s a wonderful place. Last but not least visit Classic Rock Couture on the high street for your vintage fix wonderful shop!
We stayed at The Rooming House which is such a charming 8 room place which was originally a rooming house for miners and rumored brothel and bakery. Tiffany and Ryan have done such a wonderful job with this place it’s decorated to perfection and gave me some serious house inspo, they really do have some great taste! I just loved the record room full of amazing records and record player. We felt very lucky to have stayed here and experience the few days we had in Bisbee, it will always have my heart.
After we left Bisbee we had a long drive into New Mexico where we stopped in Albuqurque. We had a few days of chill here and stayed in some lovely places. But we did visit the old town which is full of nice restaurants and shops and lovely to walk around. The first night we stayed at Salley’s gorgeous home which is a huge open plan house with lovely garden area and even a jacuzzi! We had a wonderful stay here and really relaxed. We had a BBQ and slept amazing in the huge comfy bed. The place was so well decorated and thoughtful. Salley even left us cider in the fridge.
The second night we stayed at another Airbnb just around the corner. It was a lovely studio with everything you could need. Kitchen area, garden, gorgeous bathroom with a big bathbub and sofa chill out area. The perfect place for a couple if you’re visiting Albuqurque.
What to do
Meow Wolf is a immersive and interactive experience that over 200 artists built and created. Its a visual treat with something new to explore round every corner. We absolutely loved it here and felt like children again running around exploring! It’s honestly worth visiting, I think they are actually opening one soon in Vegas too!
Where To Stay
Our last place we stayed at in New Mexico was at Suitable Digs. We had such a lovely few days here we stayed in the sunroom on the first night which is fully kitted out with kitchen, living area and bathroom and is decorated beautifully we had a lovely nights stay here. The second night we stayed in the wonderful 1948 spartan which was so fun. Surrounded by gorgeous nature the spartan is kitted out perfectly with kitchen, tv, bedroom and bathroom. It was so lovely chilling on the deck with a drink watching the sunset. If your visiting Santa Fe I can’t recommend suitable digs more theres so much choice for rooms and it’s also supplied on solar power!
On our way up to San Francisco we stopped in San Luis Opisbo at The Madonna Inn! Conveniently it was about a half way on our journey and the perfect relaxation. There are also lot’s of cute places to visit around Madonna Inn although you might not want to leave the hotel If you stay there as it’s so magical!
Solvang is a town about an hour away from Madonna Inn so if you are coming from LA/ Santa Barbara it’s definitely worth stopping here for a few hours. It is such a pretty place full of bakeries, wineries and Danish-style architecture.
A fun thing to visit whilst around Solvang is Ostrichland! You can buy food to feed them and it was very entertaining, there such unique animals! It’s also only about 5 dollars a person so a cheap fun thing to do whilst in the area!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed for 2 nights at the Madonna Inn, which was such an amazing experience. All the rooms are decorated different with some really retro and out there décor, which we loved! We stayed In The Madonna Suite which boasts a bright floral carpet, waterfall shower and fire place! The place has so much going on with an incredible outdoor heated pool and Jacuzzis which are open until 10pm. If your looking for something a bit different and memorable on your trip this is the place to visit, It’s one we will never forget!
We then headed up to San Fran! We stayed in SF for 4 nights which was a perfect amount of time to see the sights and get a feel for the wonderful city! I really loved SF and it really is just as beautiful as in the photos with such a great vibe and so much history. There is so much to do and see here you won’t get bored, but you might run out of money. It’s a very expensive city BUT worth every penny!
THINGS TO DO SAN FRAN
One of my most favourite things we have done on the trip is the SF Love Tour! You get picked up in a painted hippie campervan which inside has shaggy carpet and beads galore. The tour guide takes you around to all the best places in San Fran and they tell you so many interesting stories and facts about the city but in the most fun and engaging way, we were laughing along for the whole tour. This was such a great way to see the city and all the things we learnt and saw made me fall in love with it more, a lot of great photo ops as well!
Another must do whilst your visiting is the Alcatraz tour. I didn’t really know what to expect but I found it so incredibly interesting. You get a headset and you walk around as it talks you through the tour, it was definitely worth the visit and you get the ferry over aswell which has really pretty views of the city.
PIER 39 SEAL LIONS
If you get chance after the Alcatraz tour head to pier 39! It’s full of seals lazing around and swimming. We were only meant to quickly stop by here and ended up spending ages here watching the fascinating creatures trying to scramble over eachother to get into the sea, it was highly amusing and worth standing the smell of them for!
One place I have wanted to visit for a long time because of the history with music and the 60s/70s. Also once home to Janis Joplin, Hendrix and The Grateful Dead which you can still visit there houses. The street has such a vibe full of cool vintage shops, hangouts and a lot of amazing spots. Definitely checkout Decades Of Fashion and also Aemoba Records!
Also on Haight Ashbury is Club Deluxe, I was recommended this place and it didn’t disappoint! Get there early for happy hour and to get a table as the music starts around 7pm. They have 2 acts on a night every night of the week. We had such a fun night here, we watched Mitch and the Royal Deuces and it was so much fun with people dancing and great cocktails!
THE PAINTED LADIES
High up on the things to see is the painted ladies. They are a row of beautiful houses in the city which are definitely worth it for the photo op. There is also a really nice park opposite them so on a nice day take a coffee or some lunch and enjoy the beauty of San Fran.
One very instagrammable place to eat is The Melt. The best grilled cheese I have had so far, everything is cheese related! I also had a side of Mac & Cheese which was equally as delicious. They also have burgers, fries etc. It’s also really reasonably priced its like a fancy fast food place but definitely worth the calories.
WHERE TO STAY
San Fran is a super expensive city so we opted for Airbnb’s as you really do get more for your money here and we stayed in two dreamy places which are both perfect for a San Fran visit in great locations.
The first night we stayed at a private room in an amazing Airbnb which is located really near Mission Doleres park so a great location in Mission. The room is decorated like a bohemian temple and is insanely beautiful and so relaxing. Gorgeous lighting, hanging fabric, mood lighting and the bed is on the floor, but we had the best night sleep here, it’s so comfy and we now want to recreate this at home! They also have a rooftop upstairs which is perfect for having a glass of wine and watch the sunset. This is such a great place to stay in the city at a great price.
The second night we stayed at Castro Villa Verde in the Castro neighborhood it was so homely and welcoming. You have the lower level of the house with your own private entrance. A big lounge at the front then the bedroom and toilet and full kitchen with patio and bonus Jacuzzi! The perfect home from home with great location and utilities! We decided to cook as the kitchen is so well kitted out and it was nice to have some home comforts when away on our trip. You feel at home straight away here!
One place I have always been fascinated by is Vegas! The bright lights, the casinos and the OTT of everything made me super excited to visit here! I actually didn’t know what to expect coming here, but it’s so much fun if you get stuck in and enjoy it. Everyone’s there to have a good time and it just makes you want to join in and do that too! We stayed in Vegas for 4 nights which was enough time to party and to chill as the weather is so nice, so some pool days were just what we needed after lot’s of driving!
ELTON JOHN AT THE COLLESUEM
This was a surprise, we went to see Elton John a the Collesuem in Cesears Palace and it was so fun! They have so many great shows in Vegas I definitely recommend doing one as it will be a highlight no doubt. Cher is also touring there at the moment, which would be another great show to see!
You have probably seen this a lot of Instagram if you have done some Vegas research. The Neon Musuem is a boneyard of old neon signs from around Vegas and is actually really interesting! We went in the day but I can imagine the night tours are really great as everything lights up! If you do go in the day take sunscreen and lot’s of water It was super hot! Top tip: don’t go on a hangover!
LITTLE WHITE CHAPEL
You can’t visit Vegas without going to check out the wedding chapels! We went to see the famous little white chapel where you can get married by Elvis in a pink Cadillac, we didn’t see any weddings unfortunately but it’s well worth visiting to get some snaps!
Probably one of the most touristy streets in Vegas is Fremont Street the under cover street which you can zip wire over and has a light show every night. The street is lined with endless bars, casinos and restaraunts and you will see some crazy characters here! Worth visiting if you are looking for a night out.
Another super touristy spot but well worth the visit especially at night is the Bellagio Fountains. It was actually so impressive and felt kind of weird as you always see it on TV and in the movies, very surreal being in Vegas in real life I feel like I spent my whole time with my mouth open in awe at everything.
HASH HOUSE A GOGO
I’m sorry to say we ate a lot of fast food in Vegas but probably the best breakfast place I went to in America was Hash House A Go Go! Perfect for hangovers and the most insane portions. So many different breakfast options aswell as main meals too, but the breakfast really is next level, you have to see for yourself. You will definitely be leaving with a box from here!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at Circus Circus which my Dad actually stayed at in the 70s! Vegas is the perfect place to chill by the pool so I definitely advise booking somewhere with a pool. Circus Circus is huge and has restaurants inside, an adventure dome and live circus acts at night. All the hotels on the strip seemed really well kitted out aswell with everything you need under one roof to really experience Vegas!
When we left LA we stopped overnight at The Wigwam Motel, which is in San Bernardino, and it’s on route to the desert. It’s a perfect place to stop overnight with lots of good cafes and diners around AND you get to stay in a retro wigwam!
This was such a unique place to stay. You sleep in your own concrete wigwam, which is super retro inside with a bedroom, sofa, TV and bathroom. The signs outside the reception are great photo ops with Route 66 signs and they also have a lot of old cars around. I thought the rate was actually really good here for a fun night stay with lots of good photo ops for your road trip album!
The next day we headed to the desert, first on the list was Pioneertown, which is an old western town built by the owners of Hollywood for a movie and now is a great place to visit for photos and to explore. We went early in the week but apparently the best time to visit is the weekends as the place is a little more alive. It’s a must see especially if you’re in the Joshua Tree area.
We had been recommended Pappy & Harriet’s by lot of people and I honestly think it’s a must do if you are in the area, again the best time to visit is the weekends as its closed earlier in the week. I advise you to book tickets if there’s a gig on as it was sold out when we went so good to be prepared, also if your grabbing dinner get there early as there’s often a queue for a table. The vibe was really special when we went lots of people enjoying the music and the food it was a really fun night and definitely a highlight for us. Lot’s of locals still come here so it has an undiscovered by tourists vibe although it’s getting really popular now and I can see why. It also has a beautiful outside area when lit up at night it looks magical.
PLACES TO STAY
Whilst we were in Pioneertown we stayed at The Pioneertown Motel. It was so beautiful all the rooms are so stylishly decorated, it almost has a Soho Farmhouse vibe. The hotel is very relaxed and everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay. It’s walkable distance to Pioneertown and to Pappy & Harriet’s, so you can go and explore by foot. The main office is so cute; the whole place is beautiful I can guarantee you will be taking lots of photos here.
After Pioneertown we headed to Joshua Tree for 4 nights. The scenery is so breathtaking with Joshua Trees and sand for days. Joshua Tree is home to a lot of artists and creative people with unusual installations dotted everywhere. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax and we were lucky enough to stay in such an amazing mix of places, which were really unforgettable!
PLACES TO STAY
The first night we stayed in the most beautiful purple gypsy wagon. The décor inside was stunning and it has a couch and a kitchen! The secluded bedroom area accessed only by the ladder, was a lot of fun and felt like your own little bohemian den. The outside of the wagon has a cute little chill out area which we took advantage of and played cards in the evening. And above it is a stunning awning which was so nice for shade in the desert sun, and amazing for our mini collection shoot there. There’s also a fire pit which is awesome for chilly evenings. The whole place was so magical, they have really thought about every little detail in the wagon. It made for the perfect desert stay, so if you’re a bohemian at heart then this one’s for you.
One of my favorite places we have stayed in our whole trip was La Bonito Cassita. The owners who live here are artists so every area is incredible with huge sculptures and beautiful art inside and out. You have your own studio with an outside area with a BBQ, huge open plan living studio and the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The place is vibrant, creative and quirky and we really loved all the being immersed in the art of local Joshua Tree artists. The chocolates on your pillows, a welcome note and wine were a cute touch and made us feel right at home. Michele was such a great host, you get the privacy you want but if you need anything she’s always there to help. We watched the sunset at the sculpture car at the front of the building, which is called ‘The Sunset Lounge’, and with the sculptures in the background it was a truly spectacular evening. Just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Michele, Eric and their son for saving our bacon when we got our car stuck in the desert in the middle of the night!!! They were on hand to come and tow us out and guide us safely back to the Casita – our heroes!
I have always wanted to stay in an Airstream so it was very exciting to finally get to do so in the desert! The Airstream has an outside stargazing bed with lots of blankets and cushions, which was such a nice touch as we lay there watching the stars at night. The views are breathtaking with just desert around you for miles. The airstream was super comfy and we had a good night sleep in there. It keeps warm at night, which was good as it can get chilly in the desert. It was decorated so thoughtfully inside. It has running water, a compost toilet and kitchen area with a hot plate to heat a saucepan or frying pan, which meant we could make pancakes in the morning! All in all a great first experience in an Airstream!
This was such a cute little spot to stay in. The 70s trailer is kitted out so well with a kitchen area, double & single bed, huge outside area with a BBQ and it’s decorated so retro and homely. The perfect place to chill and relax, especially in the evening with a BBQ on and a glass of wine in hand. It’s also located in a beautiful area which is surrounded by gorgeous scenery but also close to the town if you need to pop to the shop or head out for dinner.
THINGS TO DO JOSHUA TREE
This pizza joint is definitely worth a visit! They have incredible pizza concoctions such as the ‘David Bowie’ and the ‘Barry White’ . It was really delicious and moderately priced.
This place is adorable and so random! It’s a tiny museum full of crochet toys and animals, like the ones you used to have as baby! It’s on the main road right by the The Beauty Bubble Salon, which is also a great retro photo opportunity!
An outdoor art museum full of unusual sculptures and installations created by Noah Purifoy where he lived for the last 15 years of his life creating ten acres full of large scale sculptures on the desert floor. It’s such a random place and definitely worth a visit. It’s also free (but you can donate) so if you are travelling on a budget it’s a good thing to do for a few hours. Definitely captures the the uniqueness of Joshua Tree.
The next stop on our journey was Palm Springs. Our aim was to get to Salvation Mountain and this was a great stop off in between. We wanted to chill out here, which was easy as there are so many spas around!
THINGS TO DO:
There are so many spas and amazing pools in the Desert hot springs area, which are perfect to visit for a day of relaxation and pampering in the heat. We spent the day at El Morocco Inn & Spa, which was so beautiful. It has a Moroccan themed pool with Jacuzzi, complimentary coffee, cold drinks and snacks. You also have the option to book spa treatments. It was the perfect place to chill and relax and have a swim and you can book a day visit or they have rooms to stay overnight as well.
One day we also visited the Moorten Botanical Garden which is really pretty and perfect for strolling around on a sunny day with all types of cactuses and plants.
WHERE TO STAY
This was one of the most unique places we stayed on our whole trip. What used to be a water tower is now converted into a wonderful colourful Airbnb with bunk beds, a fridge, toaster and full bathroom upstairs. It also has coloured glass windows, which is so pretty with the light coming through. The décor is really special inside and it really was a magical stay. The outside was painted by an 80 year old artist which I found really impressive and each side of the tower represents a season. If you’re looking for something memorable and fun I can not recommend this place enough!
The last leg of this part of our journey was Salvation Mountain. I have wanted to visit here for a long time after seeing people post about it on Instagram and we made the long drive from Palm Springs way out into the desert to see what it was all about!
After Palm Springs we drove out to Salvation Mountain and Slab City. You have probably seen this on Instagram as it’s fast becoming a popular tourist spot. It was definitely worth the journey to visit and walk around. Slab City is a community in the desert who live without laws, running water or electricity. There are loads of cray art installations around it was super interesting to explore!
After 3 months amazing months in Australia we flew from Sydney to start our American road trip in LA. I was super excited and couldn’t wait to see all the sights, collab with people we’ve admired for a long time and thrift a lot along the way.
Our ‘Retro Guide To The US’ will feature our pick of some of the most retro things to do in America and the most unique places to stay along the way!
I absolutely loved LA it has such a great vibe with so much creativity and flair. It was really fun visiting all the iconic places I have seen for so long in photos and in the movies such as Beverley Hills, Hollywood and Venice Beach.
Here are a few of my favourite things we did here..
THINGS TO DO
BIKE RIDE ALONG VENICE BOARDWALK
A very touristy thing to do but 100% worth it! We hired bikes and rode from Santa Monica to Venice and back again. It was so fun riding around on the beachfront on the bikes in the sunshine. We used the Metro bikes rather than a hire shop which is definitely the way forward if you’re on a budget. You just need to download the Metro Bike app which was really easy and it shows you where to pick up and drop off. We did it on a Monday afternoon so it wasn’t that busy and we were riding back when the sun was setting which was really beautiful. We also had a look around Santa Monica Pier after which is really lively and definitely worth a visit.
We were on the fence about going to Universal as the tickets are quite expensive around $100 each, but it was definitely worth it and I’m so glad we went. Universal opened as a theme park in 1964 so it’s super retro itself and has a magical vibe. The rides are incredible with a lot of 4D visual rides and Harry Potter World!
It was a really fun day out with lot’s to do and see, we arrived around 10.30am and left around 7pm. We went on a Monday so it wasn’t that bad with queues but I can imagine at the weekends it gets super busy and you could need a two day pass to get around everything. You also have Disneyland in LA too, but we made the decision to do Universal.
My favourite ride was Jurassic Park – which is a water ride with an 85 foot drop at the end!! They have shows such as Waterworld which is an outdoor theatre show with water and visual stunts. They also have an hour long studio tour which takes you around some of the movie sets at the back of the park which was really interesting with 2 4D rides along the way- King Kong and Fast & Furious.
WATCH A BASKETBALL GAME
We went to see the Lakers at the Staples Center in LA, which my husband Ben was really keen to do. It cost us about $40 a ticket but they really vary in price depending on how close you want to get the the court.. It was really fun and the game had a great atmosphere! Lakers played the Houston Rockets, but unfortunately lost. Its something nice to do in America as Basketball is such a huge sport especially if you are visiting or on holiday here.
SHOPPING ON MELROSE AVENUE
Melrose Avenue is famous for vintage shopping so I spent the afternoon looking around and exploring. I headed to Wasteland and all the famous spots along the Avenue. The vintage shops were really good but on the higher price bracket, I preferred to go thrifting. There are a lot of cool wall murals to take photos including the rainbow and peace sign, a nice way to spend the afternoon.
DRIVE ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY AT SUNSET
We did this drive a lot as we were staying outside LA in Oxnard and it was quite possibly the most beautiful drive we have done so far on our trip. You drive along the coast passing Santa Monica and Malibu’s stunning beaches and it really is something else. The sunsets are always so beautiful and golden and the beaches have this special haze that looks so magical. If you have a car take some blankets and a beer and stop to watch the sunset here, you will not be disappointed! We also stopped at one of the beaches in Malibu one afternoon and saw a group of whales near the shore!
HIRE A RETRO CAR
Another fun thing to do whilst in LA is to hire a classic car, this has been something I have always wanted to do. We hired a red 1970 Buick Electra from 777 Exotics and it was so fun! The car was so beautiful with red interior and immaculate condition. The guys at 777 Exotics were also super helpful making the process really easy. They also have newer sports cars on their site, but we loved there classic car section, it was so hard to pick!
RETRO DINERS / BARS
I am fascinated by all the old school American diners so was super excited to visit a few. The food was great, the portions were big and the décor was just as retro as I expected, here are my favorites!
Café 50s was one of the first diners we visited in LA and I think it has to be my favorite. I really loved the whole vibe and they have a great menu with vegetarian options and savory / sweet whatever your feeling! This place is kitted out to the max inside, old signs, retro merobillia and lots of colour. The outside is super cute too and perfect for that insta shot!
One of the most famous diners in LA is Mel’s Diner in Hollywood, they have 8 different diners in America and the first one was opened in 1947 in San Fran! This place is decorated so perfectly retro with mini jukeboxes at your table, retro seats and all the American food you could want. A must visit if you’re visiting Hollywood with a great retro light up sign outside. Keep an eye for our interview feature with the Grandson of Mel who founded the Diner chain!
GOOD TIMES AT DAVEY WAYNES
An amazing retro bar to check out is Good Times At Davey Waynes. This bar is super 70s and retro where you walk through a fridge to get inside. It’s such a popular place and they play 70s all night long, even the toilets are retro as hell! So put on those flares and head here any night of the week for a guaranteed good time!
FAIR OAKS PHARMACY
I found this place on Instagram; it’s in Pasenda, which is a really nice area in LA especially the old town. This place is worth visiting for American diner food and they also have the best ice cream with all sorts of sundaes and combinations! The outside and the inside are perfect for some retro shots.
There are a lot of In-N-Out Burger joints around and it’s definitely worth a visit! There is always a queue in there because it’s so cheap but really good and fresh, you even see them slicing the potatoes in a machine behind the counter! The staff all wear retro uniforms and the whole place has a really retro vibe, it’s been around since 1948! I’m vegetarian so always get the grilled cheese which is really great and only around $3, I’m super sad to say I was really disappointed by the fries here though but my husband really enjoyed the burger!
Our next stop is out to the desert to Pioneertown & Joshua Tree which we are super excited about to finally get on the road and explore!
Our next part of the journey started in Brisbane, we only past through for one night but managed to go to the Botanical Gardens in the day which was really magical and to the Gallery Of Modern Art to see the ‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ exhibition which we had seen advertised everywhere. It was really captivating and colourful definitely worth the visit!
We stayed at Tryp in Brisbane which is located in Fortitude Valley. The hotel is very cool and modern with lots of graffiti and outside courtyards in your rooms. The rooms are super modern with cool coloured lighting, colourful bathroom sinks and futuristic decor. Super comfy beds and rain showers are also very important! I loved how all the rooms have different graffiti in them so the whole place is very colourful and urban. Also downstairs they have burger chain Churr Burger where we went for dinner. Best burgers ever! I had the veggie burger and added Mac and Cheese and it was incredible. Churr also has graffiti and an amazing outside courtyard area. The whole place was really well thought out decor wise, a great place to stay if visiting Brisbane!
We stayed for one night at the beautiful Mt Warning Rainforest Retreat. We stopped in the Water Lodge which is open plan with a beautiful Balinese feel. The decor is really something else and you are set amongst trees and nature so it’s so peaceful. The Water Lodge boasts an open plan BBQ area with an outdoor hot tub, fully equipped kitchen and a suspended king size bed. All the decor is Balinese with beautiful ornate doors and details everywhere. They also provide fresh bread in the morning which is a really nice touch. This is the perfect place to go to chill out and relax in a beautiful space, it would be amazing for a honeymoon! We found it so hard to pick which one to stay in as all 3 lodges look amazing, they have Water, Air and Earth which are all beautiful in their different ways. I found on our east coast trip the hotels were missing some uniqueness that we found in other countries so this was really special, you actually feel like you’re in Bali in your time at Mt Warning Rainforest Retreat which was really nice!
We had heard lot’s about Nimbin and it’s hippie vibes so we were excited to visit. It’s a colourful small town full of shops and cafes. You can easily pass through here on a day trip to see everything but a definite must see whilst doing the East Coast. Lot’s of photo opportunities here, colourful shops, hippie campers and a cottage full of sunflowers, so pack your camera and your hippie attire!
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at The Two Figs Retreat in Nimbin which was a 2 bedroom cottage with stunning grounds and a lake. The house has very art deco vibes which is really cool and the outside looks super 70s. The place is really well equipped with a full kitchen and washing appliances. Such a nice place to go and chill out, by the lake, having a BBQ in the courtyard or dinner parties with friends. It’s also really close to Nimbin about ten minutes drive so you can go out and explore in the day. The place has two rooms so perfect for families or friends to stay. They also have a compost loo which is very rare and so good for the environment!
Where do I start with Byron Bay. One of my favourite places I have been on the trip and hands down the best place in Australia that we visited. It has the coolest vibe and the most amazing beaches I have seen in Australia. Everyday we would go to the hill by the main beach and watch the live music and sunsets. My favourite beaches were The Pass and also Whites Beach in Broken Heads which is about a 20 minute drive, but worth the walk down the cliff! Also check out Folk coffee shop in the day and Tree House for dinner, both super Instagrammable! What I loved about this place was you can walk around the town by foot which is really nice after travelling to places that are too big to do this.
WHERE TO STAY
This was one of the best hostels I have stayed in, such a nice vibe and with clean and good facilities. It’s right on the beach and they have lot’s of activities to do including a surf school at the hostel that does daily lessons. We did one and it was so much fun it definitely give us a taste for surfing, we even managed to get up on the boards in a few hours thanks to the great teachers. Ben who runs the surf school was super helpful so ask for him if you go! The hostel also has a swimming pool and a super cute cafe where you can get breakfast and lunch. It’s also walkable to the shops and restaurants which is great for travellers as you can get around so easily! We had the best few days here!
The next stop was Jagundami Guest Resort near Coffs Harbour. This beautiful retreat was exactly what we needed for a night of luxury and relaxation. It boasts beautiful bohemian decor and an open plan feel. The gardens are beautiful with lot’s of bamboo and gorgeous plants it also boasts an amazing outside hot tub which is perfect for summer evenings. The host Judith is the most wonderful lady who runs the retreat and leaves items in the fridge for you to enjoy such as butter, bread, bacon, eggs, chocolates, wine. So thoughtful! The kitchen is so well equipped with everything you need to cook so we went shopping before, enjoyed dinner and then a glass of wine in the hot tub, heaven! We only stayed one night so didn’t get to explore the area (we have heard it’s beautiful) but when your in such a wonderful place as Jagundami it was nice to just kick back, relax and enjoy our stunning surroundings.
Our first stop in Sydney was at Veriu Broadway situated super central the hotel is modern in style and super sophisticated. The rooms are super spacious with all the mod cons you need! Large kitchen area, huge TVs, balconies. Was such a nice hub to have after a long day exploring the city. The cafe downstairs is also super trendy and a great place to work, plus the coffee is amazing! We had such a good stay here, the perfect place if your travelling with work or visiting the city on holiday.
Set right in the heart of Newtown we are so glad we stayed here at the start of our Sydney journey as we fell in love with Newtown it’s very similar to east London with its cool vintage shops and trendy bars. This place is like an urban jungle inside with the courtyard covered in greenery and with a neon graffiti floor, all the way up to the open ceiling is graffiti and plants it has a really urban feel. The rooms are so well equipped with full kitchens and big TVs. The beds are also super comfy! All the decor, paintings are so on point. You also get a free mini bar if you book online now! Which included beers, wine, soft drinks and snacks which was such a nice touch! It’s such a great place to stay if your coming to visit Sydney as it’s in such a cool place with so many places to eat, shop and drink and so easy to get around the rest of the city from Newtown station!
Our last stop in Sydney was at YHA central hostel which is set in the middle of the city right by central station so super convenient for getting around. The hostel itself had a really great set up with lots of activities and entertainment. On the top floor they have a pool and sauna which has amazing views of the city. On the 5th floor they have a huge kitchen, eating and chilling area along with cinema which is free and has movies on every night. They also have different activities on each night which is great for meeting new people in the city. They also have a cafe on ground floor which has really reasonable and good food and is open all day. This hostel is perfect for experiencing Sydney city easily whilst you can still get to the beach in under an hour aswell. The rooms were spacious and clean as was the whole place, one of the best hostels we have stayed in on our trip!
Our next route along the east coast was from Airlie Beach to Noosa I was really looking forward to this part of the trip as we were doing Whitsundays and Fraser Island trips so we were super busy!
Airlie beach is a small place which is really nice as you can walk around everywhere it has a cute little beach and a free lagoon which was very popular when we went! They also have lots of restaurants and bars with a big party scene if you are after that. We stayed here for one night before heading on our Whitsundays trip would definitely recommend stopping here for a few days. We stayed at the YHA hostel which is situated right in the middle of everything you need and has great facilities.
One of our highlights was the 2 day Whitsundays trip we did. We went with Red Cat ride to paradise and spent a little extra where we actually stayed in a resort rather than on a boat and it was incredible. The place you stay as is a millionaires mansion with a pool, hot tub, free kayaks and paddleboarding and so many chill out areas. I could not recommend this more! You also get a cooked dinner which was amazing! You go out snorkelling one day and the other day you do Whitsundays Beach. Because it’s slightly more expensive you get a crowd aged 25+ we met some amazing people and everyone was up for having a laugh in the evenings and sitting by the fire.
1770 / Agnes Water
After Whitsundays we did the 7 hour drive to 1770. We had crazy storms while we were there but I found there wasn’t a huge amount to do here so only advise staying a day or 2. We did the paperbark forest walk which was really beautiful. Also recommend The Getaway Garden Cafe such a cute vibe!
We stayed here for 2 nights, the staff are really helpful and you also get free toast and coffee in the mornings. You can book lots of trips through the hostel such as kangaroo sanctuary visit, surfing and sunset trips. We had an apartment which was super clean and spacious with good facilities and kitchen area. There isn’t many places to eat in the area we found so advise staying somewhere where you can cook or if you have a car definitely head to The Getaway Garden Cafe.
We then did our trip to Fraser Island which was one night 2 days and we went on the Fraser Dingo tour. This tour is really good as you get to self drive the 4×4 on the beach and for the whole trip which is an incredible experience! You can either camp or stay in a hostel for the night we chose the hostel which was really fun. We did the 2 days one night tour which was a perfect amount of time to see everything. On the first day we got the ferry over to Fraser and then drove the 4×4 off and to start the journey. We then headed to the lagoon which was really fun as you can float all the way down it and relax. The next day we went to Lake Mackenzie which is really beautiful with super clear water and saw the shipwreck on the beach. It was really fun driving around in the pink 4×4, a must do if your doing the east coast!
One my my favourite places along the east coast was Noosa! The most stunning beaches, definitely recommend doing the coastal walk it was beautiful. Go to dolphin point to see if you can spot any dolphins and jump into the fairy pools. There are so many beaches here and they are all stunning, the town is also full of amazing places to eat and drinks. We stayed at Harmony Hill which was really near Eumundi and I absolutely fell in love with the place. They have the famous markets on Saturday mornings which is really hippie and they have lot’s of live music and amazing stalls. The whole town is very picturesque!
We stayed at the beautiful Harmony Hill B&B whilst visiting Noosa which was really beautiful and peaceful. They have gorgeous grounds with amazing views of Noosa. The guest house is an old restored railway cabin which is so cute and it has it’s own kitchen so you can cook and relax. It’s decor and the whole place is really special and the owner Fizzie was the kindest and most helpful lady we have met along our travels. They also have an outside pool if you fancy a dip and outside bbq for hot afternoons. I recommend having a car so you can go out and explore the area in the day, Eumundi is so beautiful and your only 20 minutes from Noosa. This really was one of our favourite areas along the east coast, so much to see and do. A very relaxing place to stay and unwind!
We started our Australia trip by flying into sunny Cairns. We hired a car straight away for the 3 week trip along the east coast which we definitely found the easiest and best way to get around as you can just stop wherever you want and it meant we weren’t carrying our backpacks round as much anymore, bonus! We only stopped here for one day so we didn’t have chance to explore much but they lots of restaurants and things to do. We did the Great Barrier Reef snorkelling tour from Cairns which was a really good trip, definitely advise this!
We stayed at the Abbott Hotel in Cairns which was a very pleasant stay. The rooms are super big large comfy beds, great air con and in a great location so you can walk to most places. The hotel was very quiet and peaceful so we got a great night sleep! They also have a sister hotel down the road where you go to get breakfast in the morning. They had such a big buffet with everything you could ever wish for!
We stayed at the stunning Daintree Eco Lodge for one night which is situated right in the Daintree Rainforest one of the oldest rainforests in the world. The rooms were large and spacious with all the luxuries you need including a big bath tub on your private balcony. We did the guided rainforest walk which was super fun learning about all the plants and animals they have in the rainforest including trekking to the hotels private waterfall. The eco lodge boasts an outdoor pool, restaurant and natural swimming hole. The breakfast was one of the best we had, we both had the waffles which were delicious!
Port Douglas is such a cute beautiful place. As you drive In there’s just rows and rows of palm trees. The place itself is small but easy to get around with really nice parks to chill in and watch sunset. There’s also good lookouts to visit and a really cute Church called St Mary’s By The Sea. A very relaxing place to visit for a couple of days.
We really loved Port Douglas it’s a small place which is easy to get around with lot’s of beautiful areas to visit. We stayed at the Pink Flamingo where we had such a fun few days. You have your own villa or studio which is so well kitted out with everything you need. We used the BBQ each night for dinner and spent a lot of time lounging around the gorgeous pool. The whole place is super bright and colourful it has a retro 90s American vibe which I really loved! A great place to come and relax and have everything you need. They also have lots of entertainment, table tennis, bike hire, lots of DVDs and a pool table.
We stayed one night at Tropical Bliss b&b which is a quaint place with gorgeous lush green surroundings and it’s own natural creek to swim in. The owners Peter & Steve made us feel so welcome at all times including making us breakfast before we headed of to Paronella Park. It’s a super quirky place which we really enjoyed.
We had a quick stop over here before heading to Magnetic Island which was very pleasant. It’s a beachfront holiday park which has cabins and villas or caravan and camping spaces if your on a budget. We stayed in a cabin which was really well equipped and had an outdoor pool, BBQ area and a shop. It’s right across the road from the beach which is super convenient. A great place to stop before heading to Magnetic Island and also a great place for family breaks.
We had heard amazing things about Magnetic Island so we were really looking forward to going here. We stayed at YHA Bungalow Bay which was near horseshoe bay. We rented a 4×4 jeep for the 2 days which was a great option for seeing everything and also meant we could get around the island really quick. The hostel is really well equipped and very big. They have activities on every night with a bar and chill out area. We also did the Koala breakfast here which was really fun. You get to hold different Lizards, snakes and koalas. You then get a large buffet breakfast which was really really good there was so much food and variety including pancakes and bacon rolls. Definitely recommend this if your there when it’s on. The little huts are YHA are everything you need plus really comfy beds!
Bali has always had such a special place in my heart so I was really excited to go back and explore more and go to new places. We spent one night in Kuta and then got the boat to Gili Trawangan where we spent 3 days then onto Gili Air for 2 days then to Nusa Lembongan for 3 days, then to Seminyak for 2 days and finally to Ubud for 4 days before flying to Australia. I absolutely loved Nusa Lembongan to beaches were so beautiful and Gili Trawangan was so much fun. We were really unlucky in Ubud we had really bad rain for nearly the whole 4 days which was such a shame as I purposely came back here to explore more never the less we got out on a scooter in the rain and managed to see some beautiful sights.
Gili Air is very quiet and peaceful especially as we had just come from Gili Trawangan. I think the volcano affected tourists coming as the whole of Bali seemed way quieter than last time I came. Gili Air is tiny but has a good choice of restaurants and a lot of places to stay. I wasn’t actually that impressed by the beaches here but we stayed in the most amazing accommodation with a great pool which was so nice to laze around.
This places is like a little haven tucked away behind wooden gates. The grounds are stunning and green full of flowers and a beautiful pool which is perfect to laze around in the sun. The rooms are very natural, beautifully decorated with a bohemian rustic feel and with a day bed on the balcony which is perfect for reading or chilling. You have breakfast on the veranda which is really beautiful and also a very nice area to chill or catch up on emails. The staff were super friendly and helpful. The whole place is so peaceful and zen and also moments away from the beach. When we came back from dinner one night they had lit candles all around the grounds which was beautiful and such a nice touch. Would definitely recommend staying here if visiting Gili Air it’s the perfect package.
This island has started becoming more popular with tourists over the last few years and I can see why. The most stunning beaches I have seen in Bali and lots of hidden beaches / caves and areas to discover. It’s also connected to Nusa Cennigan by a big yellow bridge which is really fun when driving by scooter. The secret beach and dream beach were my favourites and devils tear was truly spectacular especially at sunset. A very beautiful island.
We stayed at Palm Grove Villas which is really near Mushroom Beach in a great location near lots of restaurants, shops and atms. We really loved our 2 day stay here the spacious rooms are all individual light washed wooden with outside bathrooms and super comfy beds! The pool was divine set amongst beautiful lush grounds, you could stay here and relax all day. We would go out in the day on our scooter then come back to relax by the pool. The staff were super friendly. Breakfast was really good with lots of choice for everyone.
We decided to do 2 nights in Seminyak to explore the area. It’s full of trendy cafes, hangouts and beach clubs. We went to La Laguna which is a bohemian dream, a bar and restaurant which has gypsy wagons and beautiful decor everywhere. We also visited Nook for brunch which is overlooking the rice fields it was really beautiful and do a great English breakfast! Motel Mexicola was definitely worth a visit very instagrammable and also at night they have a DJ so people dance on the tables in the courtyard worth checking out! We also did a Saturday night at Potato Head Beach Club which was great to go in the afternoon as you can go in pool and have a few drinks, then at night they have a dj and dance area.
Kamar Kamar is a beautiful boutique hotel with a very Balinese feel. Gorgeous decor and a stylish edge. The owner also has 2 gorgeous dogs which we had lots of cuddles with! The rooms are spacious and comfy with a living room / kitchen area, bedroom and rain shower bathroom. The pool is beautiful and perfect for a dip when getting hot and sweaty exploring the area. It’s a bit further out so we hired a motorbike to get us around which was the best way to see the area and they have them to hire at the hotel. Really beautiful hotel with lots of nice touches all around would definitely stay again when visiting seminyak.
One place I was looking forward to staying at most was Bali Bohemia which is super bohemian and quirky. All the rooms have paintings and quotes on the walls and the decor is so perfect with colourful cushions, seats and touches. The restaurant is also AMAZING! Super healthy but filling menu and the breakfast which is included with the room was one of the best I have had since being away. The hotel is also situated right by monkey forest so you can see them running around the grounds of the hotel and on the roofs which is pretty amazing!