It was challenging to narrow down this list to just 10. But here we go!
10. Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Majestic mountains, cerulean lakes and wildlife sightings galore, Banff is a nature lovers wonderland. There is so much hiking to be had and we thoroughly enjoyed Sunshine Meadows and Johnston Canyon. We also opted for a horseback ride up to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, which is the cutest 1920’s cottage nestled in the hillside near Lake Louise. And to top it all off, a beautiful clear morning watching the sunrise at Lake Moraine with fresh coffee. Can I just go back now? 🙂
9. The White Hill Towns of Andalusia, Spain
Cruising through the white hill towns of southern Spain in a Fiat rental car was the best time we had during our trip to Spain. (One exception being Setenil de las Bodegas, where Jason and I got into a bit of a tiff over navigating the tiny roads!) My favorite town was Zahara de la Sierra, which transported us back into a wonderful medieval world. And leaving Zahara on route 9104 towards Grazalema was one of the most scenic roads I’ve ever been on.
8. Manhattan, New York
There is something about New York. A feeling, an air… it just lives with you forever. In the last two years, I’ve visited 3 times and the city continues to wow me. My positive experiences are 100% attributed to an amazing host, my friend Stassi. Whether we are roaming Central Park, waiting in line for bagels or marveling at some of the world’s best art, it’s always a memorable trip! So much to see, so little time… story of my life!
7. Utah’s National Parks
I couldn’t narrow this down to one park, they are all amazing! The red rock landscapes of Utah offer some of the most picturesque scenery in the entire US and are best discovered by road trip. If I HAD to play favorites it would be Zion and Capitol Reef. Traversing the Narrows in Zion goes down as one of my all time favorite hikes ever, dry pants and canyoneering shoes included. And Capitol Reef was a secret surprise, with its lunar-like topography, a working farm (complete with fruit and fresh pies!) and rich pioneer history.
6. Paris, France
I took French for 4 years in school and had always planned to use it. And for one summer week, I felt at home in the Parisian capitol. I can’t say that one location in Paris tops another in my memories. It was simply living and breathing in the city that gave me such joy, finally experiencing a place that had lived in my mind since childhood. But the cheese, baguettes and macarons certainly made an impression!
5. Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana
All of Glacier National Park is beautiful but Many Glacier is what made my list. The Many Glacier Hotel is a destination of it’s own, a Swiss inspired lodge nestled between beautiful lakes and mountain peaks. Some of the best hikes in the park await and if you are lucky you can spot a moose at Fishercap Lake or a bear near Swiftcurrent! I also witnessed one of the most amazing sunrises of my life here, which will forever be etched in my memory.
4. Patagonia, Argentina
Remote, raw and absolutely jaw dropping. We had 3 short days in Patagonia and only skimmed the surface. Perito Moreno Glacier has officially jaded me to glaciers… covering 97 square miles, it’s one of the few glaciers in the world that is not retreating. I am certain I will never see anything quite like it again in my lifetime. But the real kicker was our 25km hike to Laguna de los Tres at the base of Mount Fitz Roy. You get a real sense you are on the edge of the world.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Oh Thailand. The culture, the temples, the food is unlike any other. We visited 4 different cities in Thailand but Chiang Mai was the one to steal my heart. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast in the center and saw the city on foot. We also spent an incredible day with elephants! Thailand was my first introduction to SE Asia and I can’t wait to explore the surrounding countries. Planning a trip to Cambodia in January 2018!
2. The entire south of Iceland
I loved everything about our Ring Road road trip but honestly, the south of the island was just TOPS. For one, we drove counterclockwise around the island and the south was our first taste of Iceland! We were fresh and eager to see everything. The scenery is mind-blowing right from the road. Some highlights were getting up close and personal with icebergs, exploring caves, Jurassic-like canyons, a hot spring pool and the black sand beach.
It had to be the country as a whole, otherwise this entire list could have ended up as Portuguese destinations. Everywhere we went was spectacular. From vibrant Lisbon, the magical town of Sintra with beautiful gardens and palaces, to the stunning Douro Valley Port wine country and of course the historic and incredible monasteries. Whenever I am asked about my favorite trip I’ve taken, the first image that comes to mind is Portugal.
(Funny enough, my pal Laura just returned from a trip to Portugal and didn’t have such a great time there! Goes to show there are many factors that contribute to an enjoyable vacation; travel styles, personality, time of year, etc.)