There is something about travel that compels us all to it. Sometimes, it's the thrill of the unknown. In other cases, it's a need to to relax. For some, it's a cultural experience, filled with absorbing a new place, for others, it's a physical experience, like hiking a mountain or kayaking through new oceans, for some, it's a chance to let loose, and for others, a chance to bond with loved ones. Travel has something for everyone, but in order to fully experience it, you have to step out of your comfort zone. I think John Steinbeck put it best when he said, "people don't take trips... trips take people." So here's to having our breath taken away by new places in 2016! These are my very favorite spots this year.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires and its tango-dancing, empanada-frying, soccer-celebrating, malbec-drinking culture have had me compelled to experience it for years. Not to mention access to the absolutely unbelievable Iguazu Falls, which make Niagara Falls look like child's play... And the beautiful mountainous Patagonia, which makes my precious Tahoe look utterly forgettable. Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world, and Buenos Aires is its bustling European-like gate to enter the beautiful South American gem. BA, along with Patagonia and the Iguazu Falls (pictured below), are high up on my list this year.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston has been ranked Travel & Leisure's Best City in North America for 3 years running by its readers, and there are no doubts why. If you're looking for Southern charm, beautiful homes, a gorgeous coast, and a whole lotta biscuits, Charleston is your place. The best times to visit Charleston are Spring and Fall, when the weather is warm but not too hot, allowing for lots of outdoor activities (like riding your bike on the sand of the beach or golfing on Kiawah island). For all of my Charleston restaurant recs, hotel tips, and more see my separate post here. Charleston is one of my very favorite cities and I am dying to get back there this year.
Tulum is blowing up in the travel circles!!! I can't tell you the amount of times people have asked me about Tulum in the past year. What used to be an unheard-of beachy suburb of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, is now a top travel spot for beachcombers from all over the world. Why? Tulum is no-frills Mexico. Think Cabo or Puerto Vallarta 25 years ago. There are hotels, sure, and lots of great authentic restaurants. But there are not resorts, huge hotel chains, and the build-up that has happened in other areas of Mexico. Even the travelers here have a more laid back vibe. Not to mention ancient mayan ruins and an incredible natural eco-water park that you have to see to believe called Xel-Ha. If you're looking for a hammock-laying, margarita-sipping getaway, Tulum is the place to go.
Grand Cayman is high up on my list this year because I am craving snorkeling, sunshine, and some stingrays. Grand Cayman, nestled among unbelievably aqua-blue waters and seven mile stretches of white sand beaches, has been a caribbean hot-spot for decades. But why I love it is the once-in-a-lifetime experience of Sting Ray City, a sand bar filled with (friendly) wild stingrays that you can snorkel with and touch... I'll be going back here in February and I. just. can't. wait.
Portugal is hot right now. And, if you need proof, just look at these pictures. Portugal, which used to be considered Spain's younger and poorer brother, is now becoming a destination in its own right. With the beauty of the city of Lisbon, to the gorgeous sunny coast, Portugal has it all. I personally am putting Lagos at the top of my list this year.
With approximately 1,200 islands, sparkling azure water, a beautiful wine country and picturesque medieval villages full of history and charm, Croatia is pretty tough to beat for 2016 travel. I recommend the island of Hvar, the medieval city of Dubrovnik, and the stunningly beautiful Krka National Park. This was my favorite trip of 2015 which you can read all about here.
Hawaii is always one of my go-to destinations, and I usually get there once a year, but this year, I am all about Kauai. After first visiting this unbelievably beautiful isle just a couple years ago, it’s lush mountains, stunning waterfalls, and unbelievable sunsets, have become stuck in my mind. I mean. Come on. This isn’t even fair to the other islands.
What are your must-see destinations for 2016?!
Happy new year! I have a feeling this is going to be the best travel year yet.