Happy New Year!
It's hard to believe that 2016 is already ticking to a close. My family's year was filled with happy family memories, and I hope yours was too. Sure, not every day was sunshine and roses, but it's mostly the highlights we remember.
I announced a few weeks ago in the email newsletter that Katie has decided to make her break from Tips for Family Trips permanent. She has been missed, but freeing up more time to spend with family is always a good reason.
I was worried that I'd have a hard time filling this whole Top 10 list without Katie, but as I went through posts and photos from 2016, it was tough to choose! There were a lot more great experiences than the first few that came to mind.
I hope you'll take a few minutes to go through your own photos and memorabilia and remember the blessings of 2016. Get your family involved too. My husband and children cast the deciding votes on this list.
Independence Day in Washington D.C.
My husband's work took our family to Washington D.C. over the 4th of July. I love history and politics, so this was a bucket list experience for me. We booked a hotel two blocks from the National Mall and started our day on the steps of the National Archives. We finished it with fireworks at the Washington Monument.
Look for a full post with Independence Day tips for Washington D.C. soon. In the meantime, check out my most recent Washington D.C. post on Ford's Theatre.
Rafting the Tidal Bore
Rafting the Tidal Bore in Nova Scotia, Canada was my biggest surprise of 2016. I had no idea it existed until a few weeks before I tried it on my anniversary trip in June. The Bay of Fundy tides rise so fast that they reverse the tides of local rivers. This creates big, rolling waves. It's a crazy, one-of-a-kind rafting experience.
Read my full post about rafting the Tidal Bore HERE.
Volunteering at Best Friends
Volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah was the highlight of our Spring Break road trip through Southern Utah. We spent several hours playing with and petting cats. We even walked them in special strollers. My husband and I talked about adopting a cat from Best Friends before the trip and surprised our kids with the news on the morning of our visit. Kelsey is now a beloved member of our family.
Read my full post about visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary HERE.
Sundance Film Festival
Seeing a film at the Sundance Film Festival was another check off of my bucket list. It's something I wanted to do for years – and shouldn't have been so hard since we live in Utah. We FINALLY did it in 2016. Learning about the family-friendly Sundance Kids selections made it possible for me to take my kids. Sundance is definitely a must for movie lovers.
Read all my tips for Sundance Film Festival with kids HERE.
Halloween at LEGOLAND
Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND California is my 9-year-old son's favorite travel memory from 2016. He had been begging to go back to LEGOLAND and we made it happen in October. My sister had just moved to Southern California, so she drove down to spend the day in LEGOLAND with us. It was even warm enough for the water park! I'll be posting more about the LEGOLAND water park soon.
Read all my tips for Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND California HERE.
Disneyland Girls' Trip
When Disneyland calls, we can't pack our bags fast enough. In May, my daughter and I were invited to the premiere of Frozen Live at the Hyperion in California Adventure. It's fantastic. We invited my sister (the same sister who came to LEGOLAND) who was then considering a move to California. Maybe this was the clincher. We had such fun on this rare girls-only trip to Disneyland.
Learn more about Frozen Live at the Hyperion HERE.
Utah Olympic Park
Utah Olympic Park in Park City was our destination of choice on Labor Day in September. The leaves were changing color and the weather was beautiful. We loved all the adventure activities. I think every member of my family had a different favorite. We tried tubing down a ski jump hill, riding the world's steepest zip line, navigating a challenging ropes course and free-falling from a tower. Which would be your favorite?
Read more about Utah Olympic Park HERE.
Deer Valley Seafood Buffet
The Deer Valley Seafood Buffet in Park City, Utah has been on my husband's bucket list for years. We celebrated his birthday here in January. It's was a splurge, and we weren't sure if our picky kids would like it. Turns out, they still rave about this meal. They actually recognized it for the special experience it was and tried all kinds of new things. It was a night that exceeded my expectations all around.
Read my full review of the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet HERE.
National Harbor, Maryland is a new community located about 10 miles from downtown Washington D.C. It was the venue for my husband's conference, which left me and my kids three days to lounge by the pool and explore all of National Harbor's brand new shops and activities. My 12-year-old daughter loved National Harbor so much, she wants to live there.
Read my full post about National Harbor HERE.
Driving the Cabot Trail
My husband and I chose the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia as the focal point of our romantic trip in June. We were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary, and we wanted this trip to be really special. The Cabot Trail is one of the world's great scenic drives. It winds through the spectacular Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It was all amazing, but the secluded beach house we rented was really the icing on the cake.
I am planning to write posts about the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands and other parts of Cape Breton Island soon. Until then, check out my post about Halifax, Nova Scotia. We spent the last two nights of our trip in this charming city.
What are your favorite travel memories from 2016?
I hope you'll share them in the comments.