e’ve visited a whole lot of places in the US during the year when we lived in California and we love that country, especially its stunning national and state parks!
There were so many places which exceeded our (sometimes very high) expectations or unexpectedly surprised us with their beauties and we’ve already written several posts about them: 10 Panoramas In The US To Take Your Breath Away, Our 10 Most Special Hikes In The US, Our Best Travel Moments Of 2015 – see all of our US posts here, I warn you there’s a lot…
With that said, there were some places which didn’t reach our expectations. It’s not that we didn’t enjoy spending time there at all, but still… it was just not that WOW feeling.
Hollywood, Los Angeles
Hollywood is such an iconic place. It was iconic for us, too, growing up in Europe. While looking back now I don’t know what exactly we have expected from visiting Hollywood, but certainly not what we got.
We’ve seen the famous Hollywood sign from Mulholland Drive – and from a distance, of course, because it is on private property, you can’t go close. But we knew that, so that’s fine, been there, seen that.
What else is there?
The Walk Of Fame is one of the highlights, but it was a disappointment for us. It’s just a dirty street – not even a walking street.
Rodeo Drive is another famous place, but we don’t like shopping and it’s not for us anyway, it’s so expensive.
You could take a bus tour to Beverly Hills, but honestly, you won’t see anything special there. A lot of rich and famous people live there in beautiful houses, but those are all hidden from your eyes – what we can totally understand, by the way, who the hell wants all the tourists to take photos of them every day…
What to visit instead?
Though Hollywood itself was a disappointment for us, we spent several fun weekends in Los Angeles.
We enjoyed its theme parks so much! We visited the Universal Studios and Disneyland in Anaheim and I would say if you want some Hollywood atmosphere, just visit one of these parks – or if you simply want to have fun. 🙂
The beaches of Los Angeles are definitely worth a visit as well. Venice Beach is a crazy place you must see. Santa Monica Beach is romantic and it has a nice waterfront amusement park, too.
Laguna Beach is a lesser known beach south of Los Angeles, but it’s the locals favorite and really one of the most beautiful beaches in South California.
San Diego is only about 2 hours drive from Los Angeles and maybe you have never heard of it, but it’s a special, vibrant city with breathtaking beaches and we liked it so much more than Los Angeles. Read more about it here!
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, California
It’s the beach with the colorful glass pieces and we’ve seen tons of astonishing pictures of it – probably you, too.
Glass Beach was the first, but not the last place which made us realize that we shouldn’t allow perfectly taken and photoshopped photos manage our expectations.
It was a very nice beach. But not sooooo beautiful as in the pictures. Even it’s not sooooo full of those colorful glass pieces, people collected a lot since it has became famous (though collecting them is prohibited).
What to visit instead?
In addition to visiting Glass Beach there’s more amazing places to visit in this area. We walked even more along the wild California coastline in Mendocino Headlands State Park and in MacKerricher State Park.
We hiked in astonishing redwoods as well: in Russian Gulch State Park (Russian Gulch Trail) and in Jackson State Forest (Chamberlain Creek and Camellia Trail). These can’t be compared to the Northern Redwoods which are the ultimate giants, but redwoods have that unforgettable atmosphere anywhere in California!
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Does it sound silly if I tell that we hiked in Joshua Tree National Park and haven’t seen any single joshua tree there? It does to me, but that’s what happened to us.
Okay, we hiked only one day in Joshua Tree and that was in the south area of the park in the Lost Palms Oasis – but still. We planned to come back for another day, but we didn’t have time finally.
We’ve seen dozens of joshua trees in Death Valley National Park though. 🙂
What to visit instead?
Palm Springs is very close to Joshua Tree National Park and we enjoyed hiking in the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs so much more than in Joshua Tree.
That’s why we didn’t have time for another hike in Joshua Tree. But we will return someday. A stargazing night could be a good excuse to do so.
Do you guys have any good hikes in mind in Joshua Tree?
Olympic National Park, Washington
Now another “too high expectations” mistake. We have seen so many breathtaking pictures about Olympic and it’s a national park I’ve always wanted to visit. And we had really good time there.
But as you suspect, there is a BUT. But it was not a WOW experience. After hiking so much along California coastline and in the redwood forests, it didn’t seem so unique as we expected it to be.
Oh, yeah, “expect” is a word you better forget if you really want to experience the places you visit. Just open your eyes and don’t expect anything to be like that you have imagined.
We hiked a one day section of the Hoh River Trail in the Hoh Rain Forest and the Sand Point – Cape Alava Loop on the coastline. And we felt that they are very nice… but the Northern Redwoods in California are more lush green than this rain forest and we’ve been to so many state parks in California which have more spectacular coastline than this coastal trail.
What to visit instead?
Apart from our high expectations I also have a feeling that maybe we could have chosen our hikes better. Maybe we could have chosen hikes which show the unique characteristic of this park better.
Do you have any suggestions?
What did we learn?
Forget your expectations so that you can make yourself free to see and enjoy the beauties and specialties of every place you visit.
It’s okay if you don’t like a place. Maybe other people find it special, maybe it’s a popular place, but it’s just not the place for you. We are different and that’s fine (more than fine, that’s wonderful, actually :)).
Don’t be afraid to admit if you don’t like a place and change your plans accordingly. It’s useful if you do some research about the area you are planning to visit. Maybe there’s an awesome place nearby which you haven’t planned to visit initially – but why not give it a chance?
‘Always have more places on your list than what you have time to visit during your trip’ – that’s our rule and it works great especially with sightseeing trips and road trips where you are flexible to change your plans. In the worst case, you will love everything, so you have to come back next time to see the places which you didn’t have time for during your first visit.
Have you ever felt that a place which you were so looking forward to visit disappointed you?
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