LA Arboretum

LA Arboretum lush gardenWe landed at the Arboretum by mistake, and I am glad we did. I passed this place many times on my way to hikes close by but never stopped to explore.

On this day, we were heading to Eaton Canyon for a great waterfall hike but were blocked by a roaring stream with a dangerous crossing. So we decided to check out this botanic garden in Arcadia.

The 127-acres beautifully landscaped garden is nestled against the San Gabrial mountains. It provides a sanctuary of nature, where flora and fauna thrive in harmony, and visitors can escape the urban chaos and immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural world.

Honolulu Zoo

A Tranquil Escape to the Animal Kingdom

Following the adrenaline-fueled ascent of Diamond Head, the Honolulu Zoo offered a serene counterpoint, inviting a leisurely exploration amidst the marvels of the animal kingdom. 

Positioned on the fringe of Waikiki, this zoo serves as a vibrant portal into the diverse wildlife inhabiting the tropics and beyond, all set against the verdant tableau of Hawaii's landscapes.

Discovering the Wild

The zoo unfolds as a meticulously curated journey across varied habitats, each designed to educate and captivate its visitors. 

From the expansive African savanna to the dense foliage of the tropical rainforest, every habitat provides a window into the daily lives of its residents. 

The bird sanctuary, a riot of colors and sounds, stands out with its exotic inhabitants from across the globe, offering a symphony of calls and a visual feast of plumage that dazzles the senses.

Oahu Polynesian Cultural Center

A Journey Through Polynesia

Our Hawaiian odyssey reached its zenith with an immersive day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, a place that stands as a testament to the vibrant heart of Polynesia. 

This all-encompassing experience, far more than a mere visit, transported us across the Pacific through a rich tapestry of cultural festivities, a sumptuous luau, and a myriad of interactive activities that vividly brought to life the diverse heritage of the Polynesian islands.

Immersive Cultural Odyssey

Upon our arrival, the center immediately wrapped us in the dynamic spirit of Polynesia. Divided into six distinct village settings, each representing different Polynesian cultures, including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Tonga, the center offered an unparalleled exploration of these unique societies. 

San Jose, California

San Jose skyline at night - by Ben Loomis - WikipediaSan Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley and the third largest city in Northern California. 

The city is home to many of the world's biggest tech firms and is considered one of the wealthiest major cities in the world, with the third-highest GDP per capita and the fifth-most expensive housing market. 

It is home to one of the world's largest overseas Vietnamese populations, a Hispanic community that makes up over 40% of the city's residents, and historic Japanese and Portuguese neighborhoods.

San Jose sits at the southern tip of San Francisco Bay in Santa Clara County and is considered a gateway to the city by the bay.

You can find a lot to do in San Jose, but it could be your base camp for more fun in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Monterey.

Here are some of my favorite attractions in the area:

VR Universe, Buena Park

VR Universe, Buena Park - cagesThe Source at Buena park is four-story shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. 

It is mainly geared towards the Asian population of Orange County, with Korean, Chinese, and Japanese stores and restaurants, but it is becoming more international with American, Italian, and Mexican choices.

If you have a couple of hours to kill while at the source, head to VR Universe on the third floor for some mindless fun.