Every year I say I am going to dedicate more time to blogging and every year I struggle. 2017 was no exception. Last year I struggled with sharing too much and not sharing enough to create beneficial content. I’m awful at taking pictures, becoming increasingly impatient when a great shot doesn’t come out on the first take. Even when I get a great shot, many of the pictures that I do put up, I take down or make private. Contrary to popular belief I deeply cherish my privacy and love those moments that are just between me and the people I’ve spent them with.
With that said, my passion for travel runs deep, and by sharing my stories on here I truly feel that I can help people experience different parts of the world … if only for a few moments.
While this post has rolled over into 2018, 2017 had some epic journeys. Here is my third “annual list” of my top five favorite places.
Personally, I find The Pacific Northwest to be the most magical place on earth. Nothing beats the evergreen forests, the waterfalls, and the weather that leaves you feeling like you’re in a mythical wonderland at all times.
This trip was made even more magical by the company of my best friend, Lindsay.
Portland, we found is not a walking friendly city. Please note, by that I just mean that everything you want to see isn’t within walking distance of each other. Don’t worry though! This issue was quickly resolved with bikes! We spent an entire day biking from one art mural to another, stopping for good food along the way, and bumping into the most wonderful shop – Whimsy Wandering. Seriously, follow her shop on IG @whimsywandering. She posts her inventory and will even ship to you!
Some of our trip highlights for me included:
- The Japanese Garden (but please be aware it isn’t very big).
- Powells City of Books (I could have spent hours here).
- All of the street art around the city. There are so many beautiful wall pieces!
- Our awesome hotels – Kimpton Riverplace Hotel and Kimpton Vintage Hotel. The Kimpton Riverplace allowed us to rent bikes, which proved to be the perfect way to explore the city. Kimpton Vintage Hotel is wine themed. WINE. THEMED. Enough said.
Our hearts where broken when we learned how close the forest fires had gotten to Portland, shutting down Multnomah Falls and all of the waterfalls in the area.
Luckily, Washington state is extremely close by allowing us to explore and hike there!
While in Portland, be prepared to wait … and wait … and wait. No matter what time of day it was or where we went, the line everywhere to get food was outrageous. When we got breakfast at Pine State Biscuits the line was 45 minutes long. When we went to Pok Pok for wings the wait was 1.5 hours, when we went to get noodles at 11:00 PM the line was down the block.
We also opted out of waiting in the Voodoo Donuts line by trying Blue Star Donuts. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
I love ALL food, so for me, waiting in these lines wasn’t necessary (except for Pine State Biscuits. Totally worth it!), because I was sure to love the next best thing. For those who want to hit the best spots, ensure you factor wait times into your stay!
4. San Diego
My first of my 30 before 30 cities!
Everyone always raves about San Diego, so to say I was so excited to finally make it there is an understatement. I had a plan, my first day I would go to the San Diego Zoo, and the rest of the time I would spend exploring the beaches and different hiking areas.
Little did I know the San Diego Zoo adult ticket was OVER $50. I’ve been to my fair share of zoos and for that reason I was unable to justify the price. I couldn’t complain though, I was going to San Diego, I knew I would find a ton of stuff to do.
So instead, I spent my time at the beaches.
Ocean Beach, with a pier at 1971 feet, is the longest concrete pier on the west coast. I walked up and down the pier to see people fishing, kids running around, and to find the occasional dog (which aren’t allowed on the pier, but I didn’t mind). I sat and watched the surfers try to find good waves for a while. Watching them was my absolute favorite part of the day. I admired how they are fearless to what’s lurking beneath the water.
Dogs Beach, which is incredibly close to Oceans Beach, is exactly what it sounds like. A beach for dogs. Watching the dogs run around, play with each other, play in the water, play with their owners, lay in the sand makes me positive there is a God and there is a heaven on earth.
Sunset Cliffs was the perfect way to end my day. I went there multiple times and watched the small yoga classes at the edge of the cliffs while the sun was setting. The sunset was so beautiful from here runners and bikers would stop just to catch that special moment in time.
You know those places, the ones that make you feel so happy to be alive? La Jolla is one of those places. At least for me. The area is amazingly cute, the beach(es) are gorgeous, and the seals – the seals! You can get so close to them.
My last day in San Diego I discovered Balboa Park. The perfect place for a beautiful afternoon run.
3. Kingston, Jamaica
My first encounter with Jamaica went like this – I had missed my direct flight from JFK to Kingston. It was a very snowy morning and when I realized parking at the terminal was $40/day I turned around to find long term parking … which was half an hour away from the terminal.
When they told me they could get me on the exact flight … the next day … I told them in my calmest voice that it was imperative that I get to Jamaica today. After much deliberation they were able to book me on a flight that had a layover in Fort Lauderdale. My home airport!
Needless to say, that morning was an interesting one for me. While my morning started off crazy, this was such a blessing. I didn’t have much of a plan when I got to Kingston. As I do in all airports, I was going to go outside and catch a ride with a cab.
On the airplane (which I wasn’t supposed to be on originally) the lady sitting to my left started talking to me. She asked me things like “Why was I going to Jamaica?,” (for work) “Where was I staying,” (The Pegasus Hotel) etc. Friendly small talk. She then proceeded to ask me how I was getting from the airport to The Pegasus Hotel. I told her I just planned to hail a cab once I got to the airport (big mistake). She then yelled at me on the airplane:
“DO YOU HAVE ANY FAMILY OR FRIENDS? Haven’t they told you this is Jamaica and you can’t just come in here and just hail a cab outside. They will rip you off at best. No honey, no way, you’re coming with me. My sister will bring you to the hotel.”
She freaked me out so bad that I did just that. I went with her, and her sister did just that – she brought me to my hotel.
Just like my encounter with the lady above, who genuinely was concerned about me, my time in Jamaica was spent surrounded by the most loving people. I spent five full days smiling, laughing, and bonding over jerk chicken meals. To say my first Caribbean experience was amazing is an understatement.
2. Savannah, GA / Grand Canyon
Does this still count as five places if I couldn’t choose just five? Savannah, GA and the Grand Canyon are tied for me! Both so different and so unique.
Savannah offered everything needed for a perfect girls trip. You can read about our adventure here: Southern Charm in Savannah, GA
On the opposite side of the country lies The Grand Canyon. The perfect reminder that life is so much larger than we could ever imagine.
For the third year in a row, home wins the top spot. While I cried when I moved out of my Mom’s place because I wasn’t sure I was ready (lol I know), this year confirmed for me that home isn’t always one place, it can be many places. Places filled with the people you love or even places that you alone, find comfort and peace.
I was reminded that I have “homes” all over the country; in Los Angeles with my Sister, in Miami with my best friend, all over Fairfield County, at my parent’s, and my favorite, in my little piece of heaven with Brad and Luca.
Adventure is not just out there, it’s everywhere. Look for it and you will find it. Even in your own backyard.
Cheers to 2018 and all of the adventures we encounter, whether near or far!