Our three-state treasure hunt for crystals and rocks

On our recent spring break trip, one thing became abundantly clear: our kiddo is obsessed with crystals and gemstones.

Z has always loved rocks since day one. As a wee tyke, they would pick up pebbles in every stream, rob neighbor’s flowerbeds of pretty rocks and zero in on the tables of polished, colorful rocks at every gift shop. Gem mining has been a favorite family outing for more than a decade.

This year, our natural affinity for rocks and crystals has escalated into a hobby – and then some.

During our spring break trip, every time we got to a new destination, we looked for the closest rock and gem shop so we could pore through endless magical, healing crystals, rocks and treasures until Z found the perfect one or two for their collection.

Z’s not the only one; I love going to crystal shops, too. This quickly became our mutual obsession on the trip and has continued since returning home to Columbus. Our favorite souvenirs from spring break are not tacky touristy items, but the stones and rocks we discovered at these four unique shops.

Road trip rock shops

1. Thunderbolt Spiritual Books in Santa Monica, CA was the first rock shop of our trip. We woke up that first morning in Hollywood, had lunch and visited some stars’ homes. We then headed toward the ocean and found ourselves in Santa Monica, where we aimed our GPS first for the nearest crystal shop, at Z’s request.

Yes, Z asked to visit a crystal shop BEFORE the beach – that’s how important rock hunting has become to our kiddo! #RocksFirstShellsLater

Thunderbolt is the kind of place where you want to spend hours. The soft chimes, subtle incense fragrance and wonderful collection of rocks, crystals and other treasures were enchanting. Z focused their attention on finding the perfect rocks and crystals, while I took a video of the entire shop including towering walls of bookshelves, colorful hanging prayer flags and amazing vibe.

Z ended up getting a few stones that spoke to them. I picked up a gift for a friend, a stone or two for myself and got one more for Z that really seemed perfect. I just love when crystal stores have little cards you can read about each crystal’s uses and benefits. On we went to the beach!

2. Kalifano at the Shoppes at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV is the shop that E and Z disappeared into and then just never came back out. The store didn’t look that interesting to me from the outside, so I sat on a bench to wait. I was waiting for what felt like forever, wondering what could possibly be in there to keep them this long. Then I wandered in, saw the whole wall of crystals and stones, and I was like ohhh, okay. Makes sense now.

The prices here were Vegas mall steep until we realized there was a great special on crystals that day, making everything even more tempting. E got Z and I each several very special stones that I know we’ll always treasure. Crystals from Vegas just seem so elegant and fancy somehow!

3. Rocks and More in Williams, AZ was the place we hit immediately after the Grand Canyon. Z was snoozing in the back seat when I saw the big “ROCK SHOP” sign and cried, “Honey, pull over!” It was a very fun place to stretch the legs and browse through rocks and crystals. The prices were about what you would expect in a highly-traveled tourist destination, but we did find a few well-priced treasures.

The coolest thing about this shop wasn’t the inside part, with the typical, beautifully laid out and displayed, polished rocks and crystals. We preferred the outside section, with dozens of tables full of rough, uncut rocks in their raw glory. In the rock garden out back is where I found a small selection of cared soapstone desert hares that I fell in love with – I ended up buying a couple, but at $1 each I wish I’d brought back several more to give to friends!

4. Cool Springs Station just outside of Oatman, AZ was by far our favorite rock shop of the trip. Located along historic Route 66 in Arizona’s scenic backcountry, Cool Springs Station is the site of a 1920’s era former gas station. It is now a museum, rock shop and just a very colorful and fun roadside attraction well worth a visit.

When we stopped in at Cool Springs Station, the rock shop proprietor had just found a rattlesnake lurking in a corner and beheaded it so no customers would get a nasty surprise. He asked if we wanted to see the headless rattlesnake, and Z let out a resounding “heck yes I do!” Imagine our amazement when the body of the rattler was still moving and trying to strike – and its rattle was still rattling. Our new friend told us that can happen for several hours after the snake is dead!

Naturally, that was a memorable moment of our trip and one that none of us will forget – especially since I took a few photos of the lively, headless rattler with beautiful Thimble Butte silhouetted against blue skies in the background. Such picturesque, yet potentially deadly countryside!

And yes, in between staring in amazement at the rattler, Z and I each found more than a few rocks and crystals at great prices. This shop had a $5 table, $10 table and $15 table with wonderful treasures on each. We also got to see how the proprietor cuts, shapes and polishes stones – so cool.

So there you have it! Our trip didn’t start out as a crystal and rock treasure hunt, but it sure turned into that… and no one’s complaining.

Have you caught the rock hunting bug yet, and if so, where’s your favorite crystal shop? I highly recommend turning your next family vacation or road trip into a treasure hunt. It’s fun for everyone plus magical, healing rocks make the best souvenirs.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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