Lake Havasu City vacation rental

Lake Havasu City, Arizona is a town built on tourism. As such, it has its share of the basic hotel chains, along with a handful of resorts and boutique hotels. When I visited, we stayed at a vacation rental we found through VRBO.com. The price was right, the high speed internet was fast and reliable, and pets were allowed. Plus, the owner of the home was easy to work with and on top of every detail. For example, while we were there, the air conditioner failed and she had a workman out to the house as soon as we let her know about it. It was fixed before we got back from our morning walk.

The place itself was clean and perfectly acceptable for our needs. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We had five adults staying there, so there was plenty of room for everyone to stretch out. We all fit well around the dining table and in the sitting areas, and there were plenty of little nooks to go hide out in if somebody needed the space.

Working on vacation

Hubby was able to set up shop in the front room and work while we were there.

Pets allowed at vacation rental in Lake Havasu City

Pets are allowed! Our guy got comfortable right away in his little bed next to Hubby’s work station.

Vacation rental kitchen in Lake Havasu City

The kitchen needs a good overhaul–the interior of the cabinets is a little scary–but it served our purposes just fine.

Vacation rental pool in Lake Havasu

There is a huge diving pool in the backyard. None of us used it while we were there, but it would be great for families and larger groups.

Vacation rental back patio grill and shade.

The back patio was a favorite spot throughout the day for those who wanted to relax with a book. It also is fully equipped with a massive grill and chiminea.

Vacation rental Lake Havasu City back patio

The back patio was such a hit with us that it deserves two photos.

Lake Havasu City vacation rental perfectly located

Finally, the house is perfectly located–just minutes from the lake and anything you’d want to do in town. If there were more sidewalks around for safe walking, we would be there all the time!

Overall, I give the place three stars out of five. I would give it more, but even though the owner seems to have updated it with new windows and laminated wood flooring in a couple of the bedrooms, it really needs more updating in the kitchen and bathrooms. There was also a musty smell, but it was mostly hidden by the surprisingly loud automatic fragrance sprays. While I’m glad something was there to cover up the mustiness, the sprayers “sneezed” loudly whenever anyone walked in front of them. I never got used to it and jumped nearly every time it sprayed.

If that’s my biggest complaint, then there’s not much to complain about. Cleanliness is number one in my book and this place was clean. I would recommend it to anyone going to Lake Havasu City, especially people with kids who want to use a pool and/or grill out.

Have you visited Lake Havasu City? If so, where did you stay? Post your favorites in the Comments Section below.

Lake Havasu City converts desert dust to tourist gold

Upon first arriving in Lake Havasu City, it seemed like any other dusty desert town in Arizona, in need of a good hose-down and a fresh coat of paint. The town was incorporated in the early 70s and it looked like it hadn’t been touched since.

But first impressions are often wrong and this one definitely was. Just below that dusty surface is a whole treasure of experiences to be had.

For starters, there’s the London Bridge. You read that correctly. Lake Havasu City is the proud owner of the original London Bridge. It was brought brick by brick from London to Lake Havasu by Robert P. McCulloch, a chainsaw magnate and the town’s founder, to act as a draw for tourism–and it worked! There are boat tours, walking tours, and Segway tours, all based around the bridge as a focal point.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu Arizona

The London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

We were there to walk the 5K in the annual London Bridge Half-Marathon and 5K. The race trail took us over the bridge twice and we got to see other parts of town as well.

London Bridge Half Marathon and 5K

Team Dryja ready to walk the London Bridge 5K!

The lake is what really brings people to the area, though. It is a big boating community, so you can bring your own, rent one, or take a tour on one. We were told by several locals that Lake Havasu is the second-most visited place in Arizona, thanks to the lake. The Grand Canyon is the first, of course. But for the lake, the bridge probably wouldn’t be there either. It is a reservoir lake, made up of water from the Colorado River which is contained by the Parker Dam.

Since the water is why people visit the area, most of the activities revolve around it, but boating isn’t the only way to experience it. There are hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides, and ultralight aircraft tours. Hikers can explore the surrounding hills. Gamblers can check out the casinos. Campers can roll out their tents and sleeping bags in one of the campsites dotting the lake. If you like lighthouses, take a tour that points out the many replicas of North American lighthouses around the lake. There’s lots to do.

Lake Havasu lighthouses

Lake Havasu is dotted by replicas of lighthouses that can be found in their original forms in other parts of the world.

Did you know that this town of just over 50,000 people is also home to three pretty spectacular breweries? One of our favorite things to do while in Lake Havasu City was the brewery tour we took through Arizona Brewery Tours. Mike Moreno, Regional Salesman for Northern Arizona at College Street Brewerhouse and Pub was our tour guide. He made us feel like VIPs as we rolled from brewery to brewery in our private SUV. Mudshark, Barley Brothers, and College Street all made us feel like honored guests as the owners and brewmasters shared their stories, served tastings of their current offerings, and showed us where the magic happens.

Beer tastings at Mudshark Brewery

Just six of the 14 tastings Scott Stocking at Mudshark served.

Scott Stocking with tour group at Mudshark Brewery

Scott Stocking with our little tour group at Mudshark Brewery.

Tour group with brewmaster of Barley Brothers.

The tour group with Keith, Barley Brother’s brewmaster. We think he looked like George Carlin.

Colby Hansen, head brewer at College Street Brewery with tour group

The tour would be incomplete without a bearded brewmaster and Colby Hansen at College Street Brewery fit the bill to a tee!

Table of beer tastings at College Street Brewery.

Our table of tastings at College Street! We were the talk of the restaurant.

Mike Moreno gave a tour of Lake Havasu City breweries.

The tour would not have been as enjoyable if our guide had been anyone other than Mike Moreno. Thanks, Mike!

Let this be a lesson. Don’t let the “vintage” look of a place fool you, especially this place. Lake Havasu City is a first-class charmer. Whether you’re there for the gorgeous lake, the London Bridge Half Marathon and 5K, the busy brewery scene, or any of the other activities around town, this is a place worth visiting more than once.

Lake Havasu sunset surprise

Lake Havasu is known for its lake–a reservoir of the Colorado River. It is also known as a Spring break party town with boats so jammed into the lake that you can walk from one to the other without a life jacket. Who knew, though, that it could boast a peaceful and enchanting sunset cruise as well?

Last weekend, my husband, parents, and mother-in-law took one of the most memorable cruises any of us have been on, thanks to Captain Kenny Samp at the Sunset Charter & Tour Company.

sunset cruisers on a boat

We arrived for our three-hour cruise and Captain Kenny immediately made us feel welcome with comfy chairs and bottled water.

Sunset cruise wildlife

On the cruise, we saw rams, owls, herons, and lots of other wildlife.

Rock formations at Lake Havasu.

We also saw interesting rock formations and learned about what made them so unique.

Lake Havasu lighthouses

Lake Havasu is dotted by replicas of lighthouses that can be found in their original forms in other parts of the world.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu Arizona

Of course, a lake adventure in Lake Havasu is incomplete without the London Bridge.

Sunset on Lake Havasu

But the reason we were on the lake to begin with was to experience the sunset. Weren’t we in for a treat!

Every person on the boat agreed–our three hour cruise melted into one of the most peaceful, satisfying experiences we could remember. Captain Kenny’s sunset tour left us feeling like we had been in a sweet dream filled with rippling water, beautiful vistas, and enchanting stars.

To see more photos of our sunset cruise, watch the slideshow below.

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Quick trip to the London Bridge

I have just arrived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. This is my first time visiting the city in the desert where the original London Bridge resides across a man made lake. Hubby and I will be walking across it on Saturday for the London Bridge 5K. I have to admit, it seems a bit odd to have a lake in the desert, much less the London Bridge, but it makes for some good tourism to a place no one would otherwise visit.

More to come!

The Botany of Brews, and the witches and warlocks who make them

SR Dryja:

October is known worldwide for being all about beer. I’m not a big chugger, so I celebrate by taking brewery tours and botany classes.

Originally posted on The Great Experimenters:

October is the month of beer festivals. Inspired by the season, my Beer Experimenter husband, Mike, has declared October the Month of Beer. Although I’m no beer aficionado  I am an experimenter, so I have been tagging along to learn with him.

Learning about the botany of beer (and much more)

Our first stop on this frothy tour was a class at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix called Brewing and Botany. It was taught by award-winning home brewer, Danny Foley. This class helped our knowledge of beer to expand from novice to true hobbyist. We learned the underpinnings for the variety of beers–why stouts have a coffee-like flavor, why IPAs are so bitter (it all has to do with the sweetness or roast of malts and the bitterness of citrusy hops). We learned a bit about the history of beer and how the different varieties got their starts (different…

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Worldwide Recess Day is here!

Today is the big day: Worldwide Recess Day! What are you doing to get your 10-minutes of recess?

KEEN footwear is encouraging everyone to get out and play for at least 10 minutes today. Take a picture of your fun, upload it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TAKE10, and you could win a pair of KEEN shoes!

Here are five ideas for a fun day of recess.

1. Walk the dog!

If you don’t have a dog, volunteer at a rescue organization and walk some dogs who need it most. Better yet, adopt one of those dogs if you have the love and time to give a sweet pooch. You’ll receive far more from a rescued dog than you can ever give.

Don’t forget water and poopy bags to make sure your friend is well-hydrated and a good doggie citizen.

2. Invite a friend to coffee, and then walk there together.

Or, if you’re in Austin, Texas, walk to Gordough’s for a giant, made-to-order donut, then see if either you or your friend can finish one together.

You don’t feel so guilty about eating at Gordough’s if you walk there.

3. Play tourist for a day in your own town.

Put on some shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and sandals with black socks, and go check out the sights! Don’t forget your camera!

If you’re in San Diego, Washington, DC or Stratford, Ontario, take a walking tour. You can also Segway around the hot spots of San Diego if you opt to go with Another Side of San Diego Tours.

One of the many memorable moments we had during a walking tour of La Jolla, California with Bridgette of Another Side of San Diego tours.

4. Do a photo scavenger hunt with friends.

See who can find all the public art in your town first. If you’re in Chicago, you may need a whole weekend for this!

Agora in Chicago.

5, Make today a day of courage by doing something you’ve never done before.

Bonus points if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, such as riding in a hot air balloon or learning what it takes to be a dolphin trainer.

One of the most memorable days of my life was spent in a wet suit–and I’m afraid of the ocean!

Those are some of my ideas. Now, how are you going to play?

For more inspiration, check out KEEN’s Postano page.

New reason to get outside for Worldwide Recess Day

My husband and I have a new reason for getting outside on September 14th, which is Worldwide Recess Day. We just adopted a new dog!

Meet our newest traveling companion!

AZ R.E.S.C.U.E is an organization that rescues cats and dogs from the euthanasia list at the local pound. Our little guy came to them in very bad shape, in need of lots of medical attention, besides needing to be neutered. Three months later, he is shiny, happy, and hopefully ready for a life of love and adventure with his new bi-peds.

On the couch together, just a paw’s touch away.

Thank you to Vicky and Phil, his foster parents, for taking such good care of “The Big Guy”, giving him the love and attention he needed, to be ready to meet a new family. Your strength, compassion, and blessing on the world are beyond measure. Without the commitment of organizations like AZ R.E.S.C.U.E and foster parents, we would not know the pleasure of feeling his particular warm paw pads press against our elbow as he sleeps next to us, or the belly laugh that bubbles out when he races to the couch and bounds into our laps. May you all experience the rich blessing that you give to others.

5 ways to play in San Diego

A path along the beach on Coronado Island is one of the many places to play in San Diego.

For those who live in San Diego, there is always a reason to get out and play, but for those who are only allowed short visits, how do you pack all of paradise into a single weekend? Below are five ideas on how to get the most out of a weekend of play in San Diego.

1. Take a tour with Another Side of San Diego

If Another Side of San Diego doesn’t have a tour to fit your interest, time frame, and preferred mode of transportation, it doesn’t exist! Whether you’re in the mood for history, art, nature, food, or even beer, they’ve got a tour for it. Not only that, but you can pursue your interests by Segway, on foot, in a hot air balloon, on horseback, on a bike, or even in a boat! As long-time resident of La Jolla, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

To explore their tour options, visit their website. To book a tour, you can use their website or call them at 1-619-239-2111.

Another Side of San Diego tours has tours by land or sea. In La Jolla you can walk, Segway, or kayak to learn about this jewel of a town where seals and sea lions call home.

A tour of Balboa Park will introduce you to the natural wonders of Southern California, but you may also catch a concert at one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs!

2. San Diego Botanic Gardens

To get outside and get away from it all, head up to Encinitas and visit the peaceful San Diego Botanic Gardens. There you can walk to the music of nature: birds chirping, lizards rustling in the brush, lacy bamboo swooshing in the breeze. Find a bench alongside the waterfall in the Tropical Rainforest, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of water carry all your troubles away.

San Diego Botanic Gardens brim with life in all shapes and forms. Some shapes have more form than others, like this incredible statue made up of succulents.

On Saturdays at 10:30am, the gardens provide docent-led tours of the splendid variety of plants living in each section. Also, check their calendar for classes and other events, such as making your own succulent art work or cooking with an opera singing chef.

3. Take in a play at the La Jolla Playhouse

If you’re in San Diego to explore the beauty of their outdoor paradise, but you wouldn’t mind taking in a play while you’re there, you can combine the two by attending a Without Walls play through the award-winning La Jolla Playhouse. Over the last year, their Without Walls program has literally led audiences out of the theater and through garden paths or into the intimate surroundings of cars and martini bars.

“The Car Plays: San Diego” was a part of the Without Walls program and one of many brilliant plays hosted by the La Jolla Playhouse.

If there isn’t a Without Walls program running when you visit, it is still worthwhile to see one of their plays with traditional-style seating. It should be stated, however, that none of their plays can be considered “traditional”. Better words might be provocative, cutting-edge, soulful, and unforgettable.

4. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

With two locations to choose from and plenty of docent-led tours available, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego you can discover just how much you have in common with contemporary art. Take, for example, the current exhibit downtown by local artist Margaret Noble entitled “44th and Landis”. If you’re used to art being oil paintings hung on walls, you may wonder what you can get out of her paper dolls hanging from the ceiling and the wild noises crashing from her handmade speakers. But stop and look at the paper dolls. Listen to the sounds. Suddenly, you see familiar things, like the logo of a Peeps Marshmallow box or the chase of Ms. Pacman through a maze. You hear familiar sounds that take you back to 1982, when you lived for Space Invaders and chased the ice cream truck on your bike until it stopped.

If you didn’t grow up in the 80s, you may still connect with the artists that use light and space to evoke a feeling. Whole rooms are devoted to the sensations and emotions light can have on us. And, if that doesn’t do it for you, then perhaps you will marvel at the wall that breathes or connect with the massive iron heart that looks like a prison.

This Light and Space piece by Doug Wheeler is one you participate in simply by showing up and experiencing what shifts within you as a result of this space and its lighting.

5. FOOD!

San Diego is not only charmed with sunny weather and stunning ocean views, it is home to more than its share of talented chefs, fresh produce, and inspired craft beer brewmasters.

If you only have time and budget for one special restaurant, go without delay to Georges at the Cove in La Jolla. Chef Trey Foshee has won tons of awards for his California Modern cuisine, including the San Diego Chefs Hall of Fame and the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. There’s a reason for all these accolades. His food is consistently knock-your-flip-flops-off delicious; the kind of delicious that you remember and dream about weeks and months later. Even vegetarians can get in on the making of great food memories because they offer an entirely vegetarian menu and many of the dishes can be made vegan.

Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling 858-454-4244.

Georges on the Cove is definitely high-end food, but you gotta love a place that rolls up its sleeves with The People by serving donuts and coffee for desert.

If you go to Encinitas to visit the San Diego Botanic Gardens for an afternoon of peaceful retreat, spend your evening having dinner at Union Kitchen and Tap just down the road. They offer a variety of high-end tavern food (including vegetarian and vegan options) and they offer about 20 craft beers on tap, many of which are locally crafted.

Depending on what time you go, reservations may not be necessary, but if time is of the essence, it may be worthwhile to secure a table by giving them a call at 760.230.2337(BEER).

Where to stay

Hotel Parisi in La Jolla offers elegant and convenient accommodations for almost any sized group and any length of stay. The main sights, restaurants, and shopping opportunities are located just beyond the doorstep of this hotel.

Hotel Parisi also offers Parisi Apart, corporate apartments decked out with full-sized refrigerators, microwaves, silverware and dishes for travelers needing extended stays or those wishing to eat meals in the comfort of their own apartment.

The convenience of this hotel does come at a price, however. Prices start around $300 a night for a basic room and go up to over $400 a night for the extended stay apartments. Parking is an additional $15 per night and other fees may apply.

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These are just a few ideas. The possibilities are endless.

How do you like to spend time in San Diego? Comment below or email me at srdryja@jetplanesandcoffee.com with your ideas! With your help, we can put together a comprehensive list that will help others plan their weekend at play in San Diego!

Recess in La Jolla

KEEN’s Worldwide Recess Day isn’t for another week, but I thought I’d get a jumpstart by playing on the rocks in La Jolla, California.

One of the many stunning views in La Jolla. This one was had standing just beyond the wave’s reach atop the continental shelf at low tide.

Stay tuned for more photos from my weekend at play, along with tips and ideas for how you can enjoy “The Jewel” of California!

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Don’t forget to upload your photos to Twitter and Instagram on September 14th with the hashtag #TAKE10, for a chance to win a pair of shoes by KEEN footwear! And, although I can’t offer you a pair of shoes, I would still love to see what you’ve got planned for recess, so be sure to go to my Facebook page and post your photos there too!

Waiting for the recess bell

Worldwide Recess Day is just 10 days away!

Here are some inspiring ideas from readers on Twitter and Facebook:

Becky from Arizona will spend the whole day in recess that day. She’s taking the husband and kids to Disneyland!

What better place to spend a whole day of recess than Disneyland? (Photo by Wikipedia User: RAGB.)

Maryellen from New York plans to go old school playing hopscotch and jump rope.

Magpie hopscotch at Morecambe Pier, England. Taken by Wikipedia User:Lupin, 11/Apr/2004.

She also liked the idea of calling all the school chums together for a rousing game of kickball.

Girls playing kickball in Central Park in New York in 1973. (Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.)

I like the idea of walking to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone.

Vintage neon Dairy Queen sign, Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Ian Muttoo.)

Or heading to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum to spy lizards and hummingbirds.

A trek through the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is my idea of recess!

Or how about a hot air balloon ride?

How about a hot air balloon ride?

How will you get out and enjoy being a kid again on September 14th? Send in your ideas and I’ll post them here!

For more excitement, upload a picture to Twitter or Instagram on the 14th with the hashtag #TAKE10. You may win a pair of shoes from KEEN footwear! KEEN will announce one winner every hour.

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Jet Planes and Coffee is not affiliated with KEEN footwear and will, therefore, not be giving away shoes. We do love a great opportunity to get outside and play, though, so get out there, have some fun, and share your experiences!