Wow! What a year. I can’t believe that the year is already coming to an end. Recently, I have been so focused on our travel plans for 2017 that I haven’t had to the chance to reflect on all the awesome experiences we have had in 2016. We got to cross a few bucket list items off as well as visit a handful of new destinations; collecting more of those coveted passport stamps. So in celebration of the New Year, I thought I would take a moment and share our 2016 travel recap as well as give you all a sneak peek of our epic adventure in 2017!
Old Town San Diego!
Yes, yes. We go there all the time, but it is here that we kicked off 2016 with a stay at the Hacienda Hotel for New Year’s weekend. It was also my last visit to O’Hungry’s (my favorite pub in town) before the farmer-chic renovation. Of course, we continued to make trips throughout the year, because…well, it is Old Town San Diego. The inspiration of many posts here on HotMamaTravel. See, Old Town San Diego with Kids, HERE, or Where to Drink in Old San Diego, HERE, or Why You Should Stay the Hacienda Hotel, HERE.
Knott’s Berry Farm
Although a local attraction, we used Christmas money from our Grandpa to buy the family annual passes to Knott’s Berry Farm. Yes, we are also Disneyland pass-holders, but Knott’s has a totally different vibe and this year I was digging it. Thanks to the pass, we visited often this year, getting to enjoy each holiday’s festivities. We even visited Soak City. For more on Knott’s Berry Farm, see my post, HERE or for information on Knott’s Merry Farm, see my post, HERE.
For some reason my daughter, FireCracker, is obsessed with L.A. Although HotDaddy works in L.A and deals with the commute often, we made a few special weekend trips for our girl this year. In January we took her to The Getty, which you can read about, HERE, and for her birthday we spent the entire weekend visiting all the famous tourist attractions, such as Hollywood, Griffith Park, The Grove and La Brea Tar Pits. The tar pits were a major highlight for both my kids. Read about the La Brea Tar Pits, HERE.
HotDaddy and I have been visiting every year for our anniversary for 15 years. Now, we have just made it a family vacation. What better way to celebrate your marriage than a trip with your kids? We love this little mountain town and it gives us all a well need recharge after the hectic holidays. My kids love getting away to the cabin with nothing to do, but play in nature, get good food, and get cozy by the fireplace. For more exciting details on Idyllwild see my posts on Idyllwild with kids, HERE, or my review of Fireside Inn, HERE, or my dining guide on Culture with Travel.
This was a big deal for me for two reasons. First, I have been obsessed with Tombstone for a long time and I was finally going to get to drink in the same bars as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Second, it was also my first press trip as I got invited to stay at The Arizona Inn, in Tucson. Let me just say, neither disappointed. In fact both blew me away! The history, the beauty, the wonder of it all! This was definitely one of my favorite travels of the year, for sure. Read about our trip to Tombstone, HERE, and our stay at the fantastic Arizona Inn, HERE.
Las Vegas is a staple every year, but this year we went for my cousin’s wedding. It always makes travel more fun when more family is around. Also this trip, we took the kids up the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. My daughter (another travel addict) has been begging to go to Paris, so we thought this would ease some wanderlust. Both the kids loved it and we got an amazing deal, practically paying nothing to do it. If you think there is nothing to do in Las Vegas with kids, think again…oh and read my post, HERE.
Another added excitement this trip was our pit stop in Calico Ghost Town, California’s official silver boom town. I love ghost towns and coming off of Tombstone, I was still hungry for more wild west. Read about our trip to Calico, HERE.
Hollywood’s desert oasis, but I made it family desert fun! My parents used to take us on random weekend escapes to Palm Springs, so it was really special for me to finally see my kids go night swimming and walk the Palm Spring walk-of-fame too. The vibe in Palm Springs is hard to explain, but it is awesome. See for yourself or read my post, HERE.
Where? It is a small town somewhere outside San Francisco and Fresno. No where particularly special, except it is where my oldest sister lives as well as two of my nieces. One of my nieces recently became a mama too, so we made the trip up to visit my first great-niece.
What really made this trip heart-warming was that it was my kids first time spending the night at their Aunt Nancy and Uncle Tom’s house; a home I grew up visiting every other Thanksgiving. My kids got to indulge in things they don’t get to at home. For instance, my daughter loves to cook, but I don’t. My sister is like Martha Stewart and spent much of the time in the kitchen cooking with FireCracker. CuddleBear wants a dog, but we travel too much to get one. My sister has three and my son was in doggy heaven. Plus, we always make a stop at Bravo Farms on the way home from Northern California, which you can read about, HERE.
We love our Big Bear. This year, we made a trip up for my birthday weekend. Staying at Big Bear Shores RV Resort, we spent warm days on the Pontoon and drinking our way through the village. Oh, I also got attacked by bats. No bueno. You can read about visiting Big Bear with Kids, HERE, as well as read more information on Big Shores RV Resort, HERE.
Now this was a big one and even though we’ve had little weekend trips since, I will call it the Grand Finale of this year’s travels. This was a big family trip, 11 of us total. We had prepped for this trip a year in advance to make it all happen. It was a dream of ours to take the kids on a Disney Cruise and it was everything we could have wished for. Even sailing during hurricane Matthew, didn’t take away from its magnificence . To top it off we got to see three countries and visit Epcot on during this little adventure. Read more about sailing the Disney Fantasy, HERE.
Our first and last port (since we couldn’t go to the Bahamas, due to Hurricane Matthew). The main thing I wanted to see here was some Mayan Ruins. Although we could have made the trek to Chichen Itza, I wanted to make the most of our time. So, we opted for visiting the smaller site of San Gervasio, which I will be posting about in more detail at a later time. It was a great experience, despite the heat and humidity. Haha. We also got to visit the Mayan Cacao Company, where we got to taste real Mayan chocolate, sip chocolate Pina Coladas and Margaritas, and even traditional mole.
Falmouth & Ocho Rios, Jamaica
We ported in Falmouth, but I had to visit Dunn’s River Falls. My parents climbed the falls over 30 years ago and I thought it would be awesome to take them back and climb them with my kids. I will be posting about our experience climbing the falls with kids in an upcoming post. Here, we also enjoyed an authentic Jamaican BBQ and got to interact with tropical wild life.
Tiki Beach, Grand Cayman
The ultimate beach day, that is how I would describe Tiki Beach. After non-stop action aboard the Disney Cruise as well as our port adventures, we wanted nothing to do, but just soak up the sun and play in the warm water. On Tiki Beach, that is exactly what we did. HotDaddy and I enjoy complimentary rum drinks while the kids played safely in wave-less water. I’ll be posting more on this piece of paradise soon.
A travelers dream theme park, I have wanted to visit Epcot since I was a kid. Although my sister went on to all the Disney World Parks, there was only one park I cared about seeing and that was Epcot. I also took and completed the Epcot challenge. One drink in all 11 represented countries. I was tough, but I did it!! FireCracker wasn’t feeling well this day and she couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted her too, but that’s life traveling with kids. I loved Epcot and there is so much to talk about, but I will safe that for a later post.
Sneak Peak at 2017 Adventures
Okay, 2017 is going to be big!
Because we are giving up our address and going nomadic! Well, for the summer anyway. We are selling, storing, and giving our SH*T away, then hitting the road.
Epic Road Trip
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this adventure, because I have wanted to take an epic road trip for years and it is finally happening!!! Not only is it a full summer of travel, it is going to be such a learning experience for my kids as they will be knocking out like 18+ states during the trip.
The day after school gets out for summer, we are hitting the road and heading east on the southern route. Along the way we will be visiting San Antonio, New Orleans, Andersonville, Savannah, and Charleston before basing in Maryland. From there we will bounce around the East Coast, visiting Philly, Hershey, D.C, New York City, Jersey Shore, Boston and Salem. On the way back we will be making stops in Asheville, Nashville, Memphis, Austin, El Paso, and Scottsdale. We will be arriving home in time to start the new school year, although where home will be is yet to be determined.
However, before all of this is Spring Break! Yup, a week off school means we are out of here! We were originally planning on visiting Iceland, but with such a major trip coming up in the summer we are debating on visiting Yosemite instead. It is closer for us (so no flying) and I hear it is gorgeous in the spring. Plus, my niece has a cabin up there and we are piggybacking a visit with her as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
If you live or have traveled to any of these places, I would love some tips and suggestions.
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Author: Hot Mama
I’m a busy working mama, who understands the importance of taking a time out to enjoy life. Always ready for an adventure, this mama will not hesitate to pack the family up and go. Family vacations are a great way to bond with your kids and create wonderful memories that they will carry with them throughout their life. A fabulous getaway doesn’t have to break the bank! I’ll give you the tips and tricks you need to make every trip memorable, reasonable and HOT!