Three Favorites in Three Categories for THREE YEARS!

Good things come in threes, right? So it only seems appropriate that to celebrate three years of blogging and traveling, I'd share my three favorites in three categories from my travels over the past three years. It sure is hard to narrow them down - let alone rank them - but whether it be the photos, the friendships or the memories made on a trip, some travels will always hold a special place in my heart. 

International Trips:

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  1. Banff National Park, Canada

Not only did Banff National Park deliver on some of the most absolutely jaw-dropping views I've ever seen in my life, I got to camp, hike and explore with my sister, which made this trip exceptionally special. I'd recommend the Moraine Lake viewpoint, Bow Glacier Falls hike and Two Jack Lakeside campground to any adventurous traveler.

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  1. Top End, Northern Territory, Australia

With full disclosure that that Tourism Northern Territory is my client, I'd like to say it makes my job incredibly easy when I get to support a destination that I connect with so wholeheartedly. My most recent trip down under took me (and three journalists) to Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk Gorge, and Litchfield National Park - all incredible places with plenty of cliffside vistas and swimming holes to enjoy.

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  1. Colombia and Ecuador

This trip was the perfect combination of old and new, exploring and remembering. My boyfriend and I got to explore both Colombia's biggest city and hike through it's rural countryside, as well as visit with my second family in one of my favorite cities in the world. Ecuador will ALWAYS be worth going back to! 

Domestic Trips:

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  1. Zion National Park, Utah

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm a firm believer that Zion National Park is one of the most underrated U.S. national parks. I'd say it easily rivals the Grand Canyon - and there's no hike quite like Angels' Landing. Just try to avoid camping during the hottest summer months - it can be enough to drive you crazy (take it from someone who knows)!

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  1. Traverse City, Michigan

I was born and raised in northwest Ohio my entire life, but it took until I moved to California for me to vacation on the beaches of Lake Michigan. And when I did, I've never felt more like I had missed out on something spectacular. The color and clarity of the water would fool you into thinking you're in the Caribbean, but the food, breweries and friendly people are alllllll Midwest.

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  1. Palm Springs, California

I had the time of my life when some friends and I rented a mid-century modern home with a pool in the back in Palm Springs. We made sangria and margaritas, drank and swam all day, danced at a gay bar all night and had an absolute blast in the desert. Anywhere that's warm enough for me to be in the water all day is a place for me.

Hikes:

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  1. Bow Glacier Falls, Banff National Park, Canada

Talk about low risk, high reward. This hike is about seven miles in and out, but starts out nearly level until the river you follow for the first mile or so starts to plummet over rock cliffs and you start to climb. The higher you climb, the more powerful the river gets - charging through canyons and creating an intoxicating roar. Make your way to the top to see the breathtaking falls, draining from the glacier above. Just don't forget your mosquito spray!

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  1. Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Now this one's more of a "high risk, high reward" kind of hike. It's gorgeous the whole way, but the last mile or so turns into a chain hike - meaning the trail is so narrow, chains have been drilled into the rock for a pseudo-handrail for hikers. You get real friendly with your fellow hikers as you maneuver your bodies around each other to make progress towards the landing, but man - is the view worth it. Just don't go after your camera, water bottle, hat - whatever it may be - if it goes down, because you will, too.

 Photo credit: Alex Boyle

Photo credit: Alex Boyle

  1. Bridge to Nowhere, San Gabriel Mountains, California

What a classic. An 11-miler in-and-back hike takes you over a river known to still lure gold miners, all the way to an abandoned roadway bridge from the attempted mountain throughway that proved to difficult to pave. A failed road in 1936 has turned into a famed SoCal hike in 2018, and I think most people would prefer it that way.

The 2018 Wanderlist

With a new year around the corner, it's time for a new wanderlist. I managed to check off four of five destinations from last year's list, and I'm aiming to go five-for-five in 2018! Check out where I'm planning to go while we're on our next trip around the sun.

 Photo credit: lastminute.com

Photo credit: lastminute.com

Colombia & Ecuador - Guys - this never happens to me, but I won two FREE round-trip tickets anywhere JetBlue flies through a sweepstakes! So you can bet I'll be showing them the love when I take them up on a flight from LA to Bogota, Colombia in 2018. I plan to spend a few days in and around Bogota, and then head to Cuenca, Ecuador to visit my beloved host family and the mountain town that will forever have a place in my heart! To say the least, I'm thrilled to head back to South America.

 Photo credit: Visit Saint Paul

Photo credit: Visit Saint Paul

St. Paul, Minnesota - I'm a born and bread Midwesterner, but I've never had the pleasure of venturing to the Twin Cities. Minneapolis made Conde Nast Traveler's "Best Places to Travel in 2018" lists already, many citing the awesome brewpub scene, 13 James Beard Award semifinalist restaurants, incredible city parks and more. I'll be heading to the Super Bowl LLII host city for a wedding in July, but you can bet I'll make time to see the sights once I can retire the bridesmaid dress and heels!

 Photo credit: Catalina Chamber

Photo credit: Catalina Chamber

Catalina Island, California - Catalina island is less than 25 miles south of Los Angeles, but the fact that it requires a ferry ride to get there has kept me at bay for three years. But I declare 2018 the year that I'll make the aquatic adventure to this little rocky island with a quaint harbor town. 

 Photo credit: Thrillist.com

Photo credit: Thrillist.com

Tijuana, Mexico - Stop - don't panic! Tijuana is not the drug-warred town it was 20 years ago. This little city across the border is finding it's feet in the tourism industry once again, and I want to see it before it booms. New hotels and hostels are popping up, as well as restaurants and gastro pubs often touting "nuevos clasicos," or "new Mexican" classics. Not to mention, a trip south of the border would help me practice my Spanish before heading to South America!

 Photo credit: ojai-ca.purzuit.com

Photo credit: ojai-ca.purzuit.com

Ojai, California - Ojai is another Southern California gem that had evaded me thus far. The little foothill town is known for organic farmer's markets, vineyards and wines, and panoramic mountain views - perfect for a girls' weekend getaway to relax with a massage and a glass of Syrah!

Where will you go in 2018? Any tips or suggestions for my 2018 wanderlist? If so, leave a comment below!