One year ending and another year beginning always brings feelings of reflection and anticipation. Thinking back upon the past year and reflecting on all that you accomplished (or didn’t accomplish). In my case, I spent a lot of time thinking about all the places I traveled to over the past year and all the new experiences I got to try. 2015 held some of my favorite travel memories which makes me even more excited to begin another year with all new adventures waiting ahead. 2016 will be my first full year of working full-time which means that all my travel time is based on my available vacation time at work (in my case, I get 3 weeks of vacation).
For the past four years while I was finishing college, I was able to travel outside of the United States every other year so in keeping with that trend I’ll be spending 2016 exploring more of the United States (there is so much left to see!) and saving international trips for 2017. This year, I’ll be going on four trips outside of the Midwest and several shorter weekend trips exploring charming Midwest destinations. Here’s a look at the four main trips I’ll be taking in 2016.
I’ve been to Houston a couple times, but never for very long so I’m excited to get the chance to return and explore more of the city. Not only am I excited to see the sights, but I’m most looking forward to eating some of the delicious cuisine. Texas is a melting pot for savory cuisine and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some tasty local favorites.
Colorado: Winter Park
I can’t wait for our Colorado trip this year, I’ve been desperately missing the slopes. Snowboarding is one of my favorite hobbies so we will be taking a trip to hit the slopes and soak in Colorado’s majestic mountains this winter.
Utah: The Mighty 5
Utah’s Mighty 5 consists of five national parks within the southern half of the state: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. Utah’s Mighty 5 makes for an epic road trip and we plan to spend a week hiking, river rafting, camping, exploring, and soaking in the incredible beauty of some of Utah’s top national parks.
I am so excited to go to Hawaii (my first time!) and I have my brother to thank for this trip because he will be competing in the Ironman World Championships so we decided to make it a family trip. For two weeks, we will be exploring all the wonders of Hawaii – land and sea – while also witnessing one of the world’s most epic sporting events, the Ironman World Championships.
As I’ve already mentioned, one of my main goals for 2016 is to uncover some of the United States’ most memorable landmarks and experiences. That shouldn’t be any problem on our trips to Utah and Hawaii, but I want to extend that thinking to Midwest destinations too. There are so many memorable experiences right here in the Midwest that are often overlooked for the larger and more popular hot spots. I’ll have tons of short three-day weekends this year, so I plan to make the most of my long weekends by hitting the road and discovering even more affordable, one of a kind experiences for all us working folks. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the Midwest spots I’m hoping to check out this year.
Pella, Iowa – Tulip Time Festival
I absolutely fell in love with the vibrant tulips in Holland last year, so when I found out there is an annual tulip festival in a small Dutch-influenced town in Iowa I just knew I had to visit. I’m looking forward to exploring the small town of Pella, Iowa and feeling as if I’ve been transported to the Holland countryside when in fact I’m only 3.5 hours away from home.
I’ve heard quite a bit about the small town of Hermann, Missouri. Apparently it’s the perfect spot to relax and get lost among the plentiful vineyards. I think a weekend of relaxing, wine tasting, and picturesque landscapes is exactly what the doctor ordered (this would be a perfect girls trip!).
Johnson’s Shut-Ins & Elephant Rock State Park
I’ve wanted to visit these two state parks for quite a while and I’m determined to make 2016 the year I finally make my way across the state to enjoy a weekend of camping and exploring. Johnson’s Shut-Ins is one of the most popular state parks in Missouri and is the ideal spot for a weekend of camping and splashing around in the shut-ins. Just a short 20 min drive away is Elephant Rock State Park where we plan to spend a day hiking and hopping between ginormous (elephant-like) boulders.
I haven’t been to Omaha since I was young and since it’s just a short 3 hour drive north of Kansas City, I figured it would be the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway. Plus, if there’s one thing I’ve heard about Omaha over everything else, it’s that the zoo is a must-see. I love visiting different zoos around the world and since this one is apparently top-notch it will definitely make it on to our weekend’s itinerary.
I’ve been to St. Louis quite a few times throughout my life and have been able to see quite a bit of the city. I’ve admired St. Louis from the top of the Arch and skinned my knees crawling around at the City Museum, but I know that there are always more adventures to be had each time I return. I can’t wait to return this year over a long weekend for a friend’s wedding and to uncover more of this city’s memorable experiences.
Outside of these trips, I’ll be continuing to dig into all that Kansas City has to offer. There’s so much to see and do in this barbecue-loving, jazz-playing, up-and-coming city and I’m excited to share more of it with you. I want to show that there’s so much more to Kansas City and the Midwest than being one of those flat states that you fly over on the way to the beach. Stay tuned for some exciting new adventures in store for the upcoming year.
New Changes on Travel Far, Eat Well in 2016
A new year typically brings about changes and fresh starts, so with that in mind I’ve decided to make a couple changes to Travel Far, Eat Well starting in 2016. The main change that will affect you, my readers, is number one below so be sure to read on to find out what’s new this year.
- The way current e-mail subscribers receive notice of a new post will be changing. So what does this mean for you? Instead of receiving an e-mail each time I publish a new post, I will now be sending out a Travel Far, Eat Well Newsletter twice a month (on the 15th and the last day of the month). The newsletter will contain a brief update, links to the latest posts on the blog, upcoming trips, exclusive travel tips and planning advice that you can only get via the newsletter, and more. I’m hoping this will encourage more readers to subscribe via e-mail while also not bombarding your inboxes if I decide to post more than usual – now you have a set time to expect updates on all the latest adventures. **No, this doesn’t mean you have to wait for the newsletter before reading about my latest adventures, always feel free to visit my site whenever you need a dose of wanderlust.**
- Travel Far, Eat Well will have a bigger focus on Kansas City during 2016. I’ve been living here almost my entire life and it’s such an incredible city, I think it’s about time it gets some love. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite spots in the city and some must-see places on your next trip to Kansas City.
- Travel Far, Eat Well will also have a bigger focus on FOOD during 2016. I mean, come on, half of my blog name is about food so I think it’s about time I start sharing some of my favorite restaurants from our travels. To do just this, I created a bi-weekly blog series titled ‘Food Friday’ in which I’ll share a review from one of my favorite restaurants from our travels or from around Kansas City. As the name suggests, I’ll be publishing this series every other Friday starting on January 15th, so be sure to stay tuned for the first one!
Where are you traveling to in 2016? Have you been to any of the places I’m heading to this year? I would love to hear where you are going and any advice and suggestions for the destinations I’m visiting. Is there a topic or destination you would like me to focus more attention on over the next 12 months? Leave a comment below!