Hi friends! I’m Carrie. I’ve lived in the Southwest United States my entire life, and I’m excited to be here today to share some of my favorite places with you from Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas.
I know that most people still imagine the Southwest to be filled with Cowboys, Indians and tumbleweeds, but we are so much more than that! The Southwestern States are filled with busy cities and gorgeous desert.
Must go in the Southwest
The red rocks in Sedona are said to have healing power, and you can definitely believe it after visiting this serene place. There’s an awesome downtown area with shops and restaurants (you must try the fudge from the fudge shop there!), and some breathtaking landscapes. I highly recommend finding Crescent Moon Park for a picnic and a light hike – it’s one of my favorite places in the world.
If you’re not into drinking and gambling, you will love Las Vegas. If you’re into drinking and gambling, you will LOVE Las Vegas. It’s full of glitz, glamour and money, and boasts tons of awesome shows every night. There’s plenty to do if you’re with your family or on a Bachelorette party weekend. Make sure you check out my favorite hotel on the strip – the new Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Located about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, Marin County is a gorgeous, tree-filled area filled with really awesome Earth-loving people. Tons of celebrities have houses in the area, and George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch is there too. There are some beautiful scenic roads to take and some really fun places to shop for gifts.
Must do in the Southwest
Visit a theme park
One word: Disneyland. Hang out with the Mouses and make sure you eat a Disneyland churro. If Disney isn’t your thing, there are tons of other cool theme parks in the Southwest. Six Flags Magic Mountain in California and Six Flags Over Texas are great if you’re a thrill-seeker, because they’re filled with some really awesome roller coasters.
Watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean
The Southwest has some beautiful sunsets, and the best place to watch it is on the beach, obviously. Walk on the boardwalk while enjoying the crash of the surf and the pink and orange sunsets. Flip-flops are not required, but highly recommended.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta takes place every October and is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Make sure you get there early (before the sun rises) to see the “glow” – where balloons are lit up and start taking off. Before you know it, the entire sky will be filled with balloons, and you’ll be in the middle of even more taking off.
Must eat in the Southwest
Authentic Mexican food
Oh my yum. You can’t get more authentic Mexican food unless you cross the border to Mexico (which is totally possible for a day trip from most of the Southwest). You have to try a mom-and-pop restaurant (or should I say “madre-and-padre restaurant”) while in town.
The strawberries…oh, the strawberries. The California sun gives life to many delicious plants, and you can find farmers markets on almost every corner during weekends.
There’s a reason why the entire country has Texas brisket on the menu! Finger lickin’ good food is to be found in the Southwest.
Cultural tips for traveling in the Southwest
We can often have a nice breeze blowing through (and by “nice breeze,” I really mean it feels like a hairdryer), and sometimes it’s hard to remember how potent the sun rays are. Keep your skin young and pretty and lather up with sunscreen often.
Drink tons of water
This goes along with the previous tip, but it’s even more important. Even when you’re swimming in one of the many pools in town, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Drink more water than you think you need!
Cheap travel tips for Southwest US
If you’re feeling brave, there are plenty of rideshare options listed on Craigslist. The bus systems in the big cities are usually really great if you can figure out how to navigate them.
Of course, Airbnb is usually cheaper than a hotel and a great way to meet locals! Here’s a $40 tipi in Madrid, New Mexico and here’s a gorgeous studio apartment with a pool in Tucson for $85 a night! If you haven’t used Airbnb before, here’s $40 off your first booking.
Thanks so much for sharing, Carrie! I’m sure tons of you guys live in the Southwest – what else should we do/eat/be aware of or other Southwest US travel tips?