I’ve had the travel bug ever since watching The Road to… films (starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour.) (I’m not old enough to have seen them in the theater but I watched them over and over again on TV. The movies were a combination of adventure, comedy, romance, and music. Later I would pour over our Sunset magazine imagining all the places I would go one day and making bucket lists.
I have been working on my bucket list of places to go in 2017 in my head for months. It’s now time to commit it to paper. These are the top three on my list and the plan is to make these three happen in 2017.
Who wouldn’t want San Diego on their bucket list? It has so much to offer. In addition to 70 miles of pristine beaches, nearly perfect climate and popular year-round special events, San Diego is known for its world-class family attractions—the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND California, SeaWorld San Diego and Balboa Park. San Diego also offers the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the new Aquatica San Diego, Belmont Park with is historic Giant Dipper rollercoaster, and so much more.
San Diego’s rich interest in arts and culture is showcased in some 90 museums, historic sites and monuments. The 1,200-acre Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West” and is home to 15 museums, numerous art galleries, five theaters including The Old Globe, and 16 beautiful gardens.
The region’s 6,700+ eateries encompass everything from sophisticated temples of haute cuisine to casual, surfside taco and burger shacks, all sharing a commitment to fresh ingredients. From sampling heirloom produce at a farmer’s roadside stand, to attending one of the region’s major culinary events, serious foodies and novice gourmands alike delight in the range of tours and tastings, epicurean shopping and special food and wine events. San Diego Restaurant Weeks occur twice annually in September and January, and the popular San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival occurs annually in November.
During the entire month of October, families with children can enjoy special deals at San Diego hotels, restaurants, attractions, museums and transportation companies during “Kids Free San Diego” Month. Providing families an opportunity to save during budget-conscious times, “Kids Free San Diego” Month offers a variety of “kids free” incentives ranging from complimentary meals and attraction admission to welcome amenities at area hotels.
Grand Canyon and the National Parks of southern Utah
Embrace your inner spirit of adventure. The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s premier natural attractions. It overwhelms the senses through its immense size and inspiring landscapes. I’ve been to the South Rim many times but only once to the North Rim and that was many years ago. 2017 will be my year to return.
Because of its remoteness, the North Rim hosts only 10% of the annual 5 million international visitors; thus, the North Rim offers a very different, more personal experience. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open all year while the North Rim is open mid-May through mid-October due to harsh winter weather conditions. This will limit me in scheduling my trip.
Utah’s five spectacular national parks stretch across the southern half of the state and can be experienced individually, or as part of one epic vacation. Utah’s national parks feature some of the most astonishing landscapes in the world. Each park offers visitors unique, world-class scenic vistas, geological phenomena and wildlife.
Outside of the national parks, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and Glen Canyon/Lake Powell National Recreation Area combine stunning scenery with incredible boating and trophy fishing. The Four Corners area spreads across the boundaries of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico with millennia of human history, settlements from a vast Ancestral Pueblo empire and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities for today’s explorers. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park paints the beautiful and iconic images of the West across sweeping backdrops for your own personal Western movie and Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument has enough rugged, open space to add unexpected adventure to a family vacation and occupy the most rugged adventurer for days.
This trip could prove to be a challenge. There are a limited number of carriers servicing the island. Flights can prove to be expensive. Cuba is the largest and most populous island in the Caribbean. But Cuba’s 1959 socialist revolution and the subsequent US trade embargo has frozen the island in time. Vintage American cars still roar through the ramshackle streets of its cities, while horses and carts clatter through the countryside. Tourist hotels/B and B’s/hostels are limited.
The capital, Havana, is a city where beautifully restored colonial buildings rub shoulders with the rundown tenements of regular Cubans. The contrasts can be stark, but add to that enthralling salsa music, dancing and mojitos and it makes for an urban experience unlike any other.
Cuba’s other cities are experiences. Santiago, with its pastel covered buildings and grand cathedrals, is a veritable melting pot of Afro-Caribbean cultures. And then there’s Trinidad, which offers a snapshot of a bygone era with its cobblestone streets, faded colonial façades and charming courtyards.
Add to these delightful cities, Cuba’s beaches. Christopher Columbus described the sandy coast of Guardalavaca as “the most beautiful land I have ever seen.” In pictures it is exquisite I see improbably white sands and turquoise waters.
Cuba might be a stretch goal for 2017, but it is well worth the effort to try.
I have lots of other places on the list—Salt Lake City, the Oregon seacoast, Monterrey, Santa Barbara, Albuquerque—to name just a few. 2017 will be a great year for travel!
What’s on your bucket list for travel? Leave your comments below.