My Best Travel Moments of 2016

If you’re like me right about now you’re wondering just how the past year flew by so fast. I managed to make my goal of traveling at least once a month over the past year,all while working full time. Three countries, seven states and a whole lot of exploring Virginia provided a year’s worth of adventure. Without further ado, here are my best travel moments of 2016.

My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best Sunset

I started the year visiting family in Clearwater Florida; 80 degrees, palm trees and the Gulf of Mexico- there are certainly worse places to be in January. We took an afternoon boat cruise that left from Dunedin( IMHO the best small town in Florida) and we were rewarded with views of dolphins and this sunset.

Clearwater, Florida-My Best Travel Moments of 2016 Clearwater, Florida-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best cocktail

What’s cooler than cool? An ice cold drink at Quebec’s Ice Hotel served in a glass made of (what else?) ice.  Grab a cocktail made with Neige Ice Cider, a Quebecois specialty liqueur, though the Accident de Ski-doo (featuring spruce beer and topped with a spruce sprig) is a fun choice as well.
Drinks at the Hotel de Glace in Quebec-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Drinks at the Hotel de Glace in Quebec-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Most Luxurious Hotel

By far one of the nicest places I have ever stayed, Primland Resort( check out my experience here) offers up a luxurious retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Whether I was exploring the words on horseback, being pampered in the spa or just enjoying the views with a glass of wine in hand; I’m lucky to have the five-star luxury of Primland less than a five hour drive from my house.Primland Resort-My Best Travel Moments of 2016 www.casualtravelist.comPrimland Resort-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Primland Resort-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Most breathtaking view

After an unexpected climb to the top of a 14,000 foot dormant volcano in Ecuador (and I’m happy to report I did not die) I was rewarded with this view that was worth every step .

Hiking Posochoa Volcano in Ecuador-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Most fun you can have in the snow

When the winter months roll around most cities bundle up inside waiting for the warmer weather and bright blooms of spring, but Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre that can be found nowhere else. Check out the toboggan run right in the middle of town right in front of the iconic Le Chateau de Fronternac or enjoy the fun at the Winter Carnival (where yours truly became a human bowling ball).

The Winter Carnival in Quebec City-My Best Travel Moments of 2016 www.casualtravelist.comQuebec City-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Favorite Virginia LOVE sign

It’s no secret that Virginia is for lovers and one of the best things about traveling around my home state is finding all of the different LOVE signs, each with a different character representative of their destination. My favorite LOVE sign is in Cape Charles, on the southern tip of the Eastern Shore. I mean, how cute is this?

Cape Charles, Virginia-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best Fashion Accessory

My best fashion accessory from 2016 would be the llama chaps I wore as a chagrita (cowgirl) in the Andean Highlands of Ecuador.

My time as an Ecuadorian cowgirl-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Most underrated city

The one city that was a sleeper hit and quickly became one of my favorites was Milwaukee.


In this city once known for beer barons and motorcycles, the Fonz and a couple of girls named Laverne and Shirley, I found a new energy. Factories and warehouses once abandoned are finding a new life as vibrant neighborhoods housing a growing creative class. Independent boutiques, craft breweries and farm-to-table restaurants, old German taverns and Sicilian family bakeries; there’s room at Milwaukee’s table for everyone. Add to this the Milwaukee Art Museum, a prime position on the shores of Lake Michigan and a huge dose nice and you too will quickly fall in love with “the good land”.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best adventure lodge

Located deep in the Andean cloud forest of Ecuador Mashpi Lodge packed some of my most unforgettable adventures in a three day stay. Birding, swimming underneath a pristine waterfall and hikes through the Jurassic Park-esque jungle filled my days while the modern lodge provided a luxurious retreat at night. Did I mention they have a sky bike?

Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador-My Best Travel Moments of 2016 www.casualtravelist.comMashpi Lodge, Ecuador-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best Museum

Mexico City was full of surprises and one of my favorites was discovering the Museum of Anthroplogy. Hands down one of the world’s great museums, the Museum of Anthropology tells the fascinating history of Mexico’s indigenous cultures in one of the most architecturally striking spaces I’ve seen.


The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best meal

By far my best meal of the year was the chiles en nogada that I learned to prepare at La Villa Bonita, a cooking school located in the Mexican mountain town of Tepotzlan. This meal was a day long affair from gathering the ingredients from the local market, to preparing the meal over a leisurely afternoon with new friends this was a meal I will surely not forget.

La Villa Bonita in Tepotzlan, Mexico-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Best Boutique Hotel

One of the most unique  hotels I’ve seen, Milwaukee’s Brewhouse Inn and Suites started out life as the historic Pabst Brewery.  The real showstopper, and something you won’t find in any other hotel, is the six original copper brew kettles on the second floor lobby. In their heyday these brew kettles helped make Pabst the biggest brewery in the world, today they offer a post-Victorian steampunk nod to Milwaukee’s past.

The Brewhouse Inn and Suites-My Best Travel Moments of 2016

Most colorful church

Ecuador’s colonial capital of Quito held a lot of surprises including the colorful Metropolitan Cathedral. Serving Quito’s faithful since 1545, the interior of the cathedral is one of the most beautiful I’ve come across in my travels.

The Metropolitan Cathedral in Quito,Ecuador-My Best Travel Moments of 2016


Best holiday destination

No where else knows how to light up the holidays quite like New York City.

Central Park, New York CIty-My Best Travel Moments of 2016 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City-My Best Travel Moments of 2016



May the next year be filled with lots of love, happiness and adventure for you all. I’d love to know where you’d like to go in 2017, please share below in the comments!

My Best Travel Moments of



15 Comments on “My Best Travel Moments of 2016

  1. Great list! I’ve always wanted to go to an ice bar or to see New York during holiday season. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Wow! What amazing experiences!! I went to university of Virginia and I love the views and tranquility of the blue ridge mountains. It’s good to know about the hotel there. I am hoping to visit Quebec City next year. Your experiences in Ecaudor and Mexico sound interesting and agreed that NYC is magical at Christmas!

  3. What a fun round up of things you experienced this year! I agree that NYC is a wonderful place to spend the holiday season. I hope to finally get to Portugal in 2017. 🙂

  4. Oh my word, Super beautiful photos of the Sunset, Ecuador has been on my list for a while, will have to be Quito with its beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral, Mashpi Lodge on the other had is out of my price range. Great list!
    Arvin recently posted…Angkor Wat Cambodia TravelsMy Profile

  5. Looks like you had some great experiences in 2016. Here is hoping your year in 2017 is juts as jammed packed with holidays and travel. The brewhouse hotel sounds amazing since well i love a good brew. I can appreciate a great church interior since we only just went to Sagada Familia 2 weeks ago

  6. Wow That’s a lot of travel and a great review. I still remember your post about the misunderstanding about Mexico City and it was a great one! @ knycx.journeying
    knycx recently posted…Frozen: Niagara FallsMy Profile

  7. Looks like a great year. I am thrilled that you enjoyed Milwaukee. Sounds like you only scratched the surface. Anyone that wants to check us out, let me know and I will put together a fun itinerary for you.

  8. Great list, especially Milwaukee! My most underrated city this year was definitely Indianapolis. Aside from the Indy 500, my friends and I were blown away by the craft beer culture in this city! They have over 30+ breweries of which we went to about six.

    My biggest travel plan for 2017 is Indonesia while hoping to make leverage some possible work trips in Alberta, Orlando, and Las Vegas that I might be going on towards mid-2017. Also looking at some quick getaways within the Midwestern United States or possibly Montreal. But a summer weekend getaway would be a last minute plan as Indonesia is first and foremost my #1 priority for next year.
    Ray recently posted…Chicago’s Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions – Chicago Sports MuseumMy Profile

  9. Looks like an amazing year! Love the ice bar drinks. Quebec is on my bucket list for winter. For 2017 I’m looking forward to Paris & Portugal in the spring!

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