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Feeling Great in the Golden State – U.S. Explorer

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After our beautiful drive through the desert, the sun welcomed us into the one and only city of Las Vegas. After a quick photo-op in front of the “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign, we relaxed at our hotel and cooled down in one of the four amazing pools. Our Egyptian themed hotel was in the shape of a pyramid and even had a sphinx outside the entrance. Following a delicious buffet dinner, the group explored the bustling streets and liked walking through the themed hotels. It wasn’t long until all of the trip members saw first hand the bustling streets of Vegas. Our trip arrived at the Bellagio to watch the awesome water and light show.

We kicked off the next day at the Stratosphere, the tallest structure in all of Nevada. Everyone had the option of going on The Big Shot, X-Scream, or Insanity rides.  Whether they chose a roller coaster hanging over the observation deck, shooting up and down a tower, or spinning over the edge of the building, everyone had a very thrilling experience with amazing views! After visiting the observation deck, we had a great time walking around and eating delicious food at the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops.

Everyone was excited to head towards San Diego and we had a pleasant time in Seaport Village for dinner and an ice cream treat. In the morning, we visited the San Diego Zoo that houses over 3,700 animals and over 650 species! It is one of the few zoos in the world that successfully breeds pandas and we learned more about their conservation practices. Our trip had a fantastic day seeing many unique animals; the orangutans were definitely our favorite!

The following day we arrived at Moonlight Beach for our surfing lessons! The surf school provided us an informative tutorial before we hit the waves and the instructors even commented on how impressed they were with our trip’s abilities. Everyone also had loads of fun playing frisbee, football and Kanjam on the beach. For dinner we went to Liberty Station, San Diego’s formal naval training center, before playing laser tag. The high-tech interactive maze with targets, power-up stations, black lights and fog was an experience none of us had ever seen before! Congratulations to Ago and Adam, who ranked the highest scores.

In the morning, we headed to the film and television capital of the world…Los Angeles! Before living like college students at the UCLA dorms, we walked around Westwood for lunch and visited Diddy Riese for a famous ice cream cookie sandwich. Later in the day, we checked out some celebrities at Hollywood’s Madame Tussauds and explored the Hollywood and Highland area and spotted the famous Hollywood sign. The next day, the group volunteered at the Los Angeles Food Bank, where everyone did an amazing job sorting and packing food for the community. It felt amazing to work together as a team and perform a good deed with our friends. Afterwards, we pulled into Buzz Lightyear’s parking lot at Disneyland! The group had a magical day collecting free pins, going on rides and meeting various characters. Our trip was especially lucky to be visiting the park during Pixar Fest, where we were treated to special Pixar characters, signs, and parades. An incredible firework show was the perfect end to our unforgettable day.

The next day our group visited the Museum of Tolerance, where we participated in educational and interactive activities about topics such as responsibility and acceptance. Following our inspirational morning, we visited the Original Farmers Market and The Grove. With endless vendors, food stands, stores, and entertainment, this place was definitely one of our favorite lunch spots. Afterwards we explored Beverly Hills and walked around Rodeo Drive, where some of our trip members took a picture with Madelaine Petsch, from the show Riverdale. The good times continued at The Hollywood Improv Club during dinner and a hilarious show.

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It was off to the buzzing Venice and Muscle Beach in the morning and we liked strolling down the boardwalk watching the talented street performers and skateboarders. In the afternoon, several trip members had a friendly basketball competition in the UCLA gym. Then we visited Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica and rode the famous Ferris wheel.

On our last day in L.A. we visited Universal Studios! Upon entering the park, we spotted Mario Lopez and crew filming live, so be sure to check out a bunch of our trip members in the background of an “Extra” episode! We had a blast visiting Hogwarts, Jurassic Park and Krustyland. The Mummy, Walking Dead, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey were definitely some of our favorite rides. However, the best part of the day was the tram tour that took us around different stages, television sets and 3D simulators. We capped off the night with an awesome group dinner at the Hard Rock Café and exploring the Citywalk.

Everyone is looking forward to more exciting times together in Tahoe and San Francisco!

Do you want to meet friends and feel great in the Golden State? Check out our 40-day U.S. Explorer!