L.A. is defined by choked traffic and smog, a car-centric place that inspires a headache in people even before they get behind the wheel, right? That’s exactly why the city decided to show locals and tourists alike that there’s another way to explore the City of Angels.

It’s easy to be healthy when you’re on a wellness-centered road trip, but am I going to be able to keep it up when I get home? As I mentioned at the start of my journey – with 16 weeks to plan a wedding, get married, move across country, and prepare to be a Master’s student in coastal…

Prior to setting off, I’d only had one professional treatment in my life — a heavily discounted massage by a student at an Aveda Institute — so I was like a kid in a candy shop on this trip. Check out the top five treatments I experienced on the Road to Wellness.

This was the first wellness-focused road trip I’d ever taken, so I wasn’t sure what to expect or how the experience would differ from past trips — especially from my first Curious Traveler road adventure. Eventually, I got my head on straight and thought about what I might really need. In the end, here’s what made the cut.

After drying my gills in the desert, I decided it was time for some island fun. No, Max didn’t have a snorkel, and I wasn’t attempting to drive to Hawaii. I was simply heading over a bridge to a private Island in San Diego’s Mission Bay.

George Van Tassel built the Integratron years ago as a “rejuvenation machine” that could keep people young — based on instructions he claimed to have received from aliens from Venus. Though this all sounds a bit out there, Van Tassel was actually a respected aeronautical engineer — and scientists have measured a significant spike in the Earth’s magnetic field in the center of the dome.

I would be learning about Reiki, the technique of directing “universal energy” through the hands to promote healing. But there’s a twist. My instructor would be showing me how to practice Reiki…on horses.

Gemology for Beginners

As I headed south from Sedona to Phoenix, I was getting ready to immerse myself in the world of gems. Not gems as simple adornment — though that’s where I began — but as powerful conduits of healing energy.

I had heard that stargazing could be therapeutic, and that the awe it inspired could act as a salve for painful past experiences. But as I stared up at the distant galaxies, I was inching toward being a believer.

I had heard about a grove of trees within the Giant Forest that had been dedicated to National Geographic a long way back. So, to commemorate the Society’s 125th anniversary and to pay homage to an organization that has added so much to my life, I was on a mission to track it down.

YOLO in Yosemite

“We’re all native to this planet, but we’ve made a mess of it by using our intelligence very unintelligently,” Ron Kauk said, as El Capitan towered over us. “It’s just mind boggling how we’ve managed to damage our own home,” he continued — not with condemnation, but a sincere concern for life in all its forms.

Zenned Out on Lake Tahoe

I’d never tried stand-up paddleboard yoga or hot yoga despite their growing popularity — and Mountain Lotus Yoga Studio on Lake Tahoe’s western shore happened to offer both. The only catch was, it usually didn’t offer SUP yoga on the lake until June, when summer had begun to take hold. And I would soon find out why…

The “medi-spa” concept on display at Cavallo Point is relatively new. But over the past ten years, the approach has been catching on as spas work to cater to clients who are seeking a more comprehensive path to wellness. And who can dispute the fact that being ushered into the calming ambiance of a spa is more enjoyable than a sterile old doctor’s office?

Beyond Farm to Table in Carmel

A pregnant doe munched on lavender bushes as I rolled into Carmel Valley Ranch, a 500-acre property in the heart of California’s central coast. After checking into one of the modish earth-toned guest suites and walking through a pool area where families sat around a fire roasting marshmallows, I felt completely transported back to my days at summer camp.

Scent-sual Escapism in Ojai

It’s always a relief to make it through Los Angeles when you’re en route from San Diego. But just a few miles farther down the road in a little town called Ojai, I had even more reason to exhale deeply.

It’s Go Time!

What does wellness mean? How do you get there? That’s exactly what I’ll be exploring as I travel the Southwest in search of places that embody and embrace this way of living.

Our Curious Traveler, Shannon Switzer, is taking a trip down the Road to Wellness to uncover off-the-beaten-path places and experiences that rejuvenate mind, body, and spirit. The adventure begins this Monday, April 8th. Follow Shannon’s journey on Twitter @CuriousTraveler and on Instagram @ShannonSwitzer.

Wine Road Wonderland: Day 3

I’ve done my fair share of wine tasting, but I’m a far cry from a sommelier. Lucky for me, I was about to learn a lot, including fun new terms like sur lie, cordon pruning, and cork hopping. I would also learn that Sonoma is the land of owl boxes, enigmatic dog ambassadors, and fun-loving people who work hard while making it look easy.

Day 3: Dry Creek Valley….

Wine Road Wonderland: Day 2

I’ve done my fair share of wine tasting, but I’m a far cry from a sommelier. Lucky for me, I was about to learn a lot, including fun new terms like sur lie, cordon pruning, and cork hopping. I would also learn that Sonoma is the land of owl boxes, enigmatic dog ambassadors, and fun-loving people who work hard while making it look easy.

Day 2: Alexander River Valley….

Wine Road Wonderland

I’ve done my fair share of wine tasting, but I’m a far cry from a sommelier. Lucky for me, I was about to learn a lot, including fun new terms like sur lie, cordon pruning, and cork hopping. I would also learn that Sonoma is the land of owl boxes, enigmatic dog ambassadors, and fun-loving people who work hard while making it look easy.

Day 1: Russian River Valley….

The Forgotten Zoo

Towards the end of my Curious Traveler road trip last summer, I promised myself I’d spend more time exploring my own backyard. So when I learned that my friend had been hired as a bird keeper at the L.A. Zoo, I jumped at the chance to hit her up for a behind-the-scenes tour.

I’m terrible at goodbyes.

So I’m not even going to say one, because I have a feeling that sometime, somewhere in the not-too-distant future we might just meet again.

Instead, I decided to wrap up my blog with a “best of” rundown, highlighting my top 20 favorites of the trip.

Like many people, I find it much easier to be in a constant state of curiosity when I’m on the road, in new surroundings, than when I’m going about my daily routine. So, as I wound up my epic road trip adventure in Coronado on July 4th, I had to ask myself: How can I continue to be a curious traveler at home?

Candy Land meets Vacation Bible School. That’s what I had expected to find. And I wasn’t disappointed. But it wasn’t all sunshine and happiness anymore.

I was being that person — a creeper. I usually avoid being that person, especially when it comes to celebrities. Yet here I was walking around with my purple camera snapping furtive pictures of people’s homes. But the houses I was hunting didn’t belong to Britney Spears or Brad Pitt, and I wasn’t high in the Hollywood Hills. I was in the California desert searching for low-profile bungalows once owned by some of Old Hollywood’s biggest icons.