Sunday, December 25, 2016

10 Best Travel Experiences of 2016

2016 was another good year of travels locally and internationally. It’s hard to pick the ten most memorable because each trip has included some very special experiences.

Mesa Arizona’s Fresh Foodie Trail
Wine, urban farms, craft breweries, local olive oil, and farm-to-table restaurants dot the landscape of Arizona’s Valley of the Sun. The desert holds surprises for those who explore the beauty and the bounty of the Mesa area, just south of Phoenix.  We experienced the Fresh Foodie Trail and came back with three special finds to share with readers of Real Food Traveler.

Farming in a forest of water and nutrient fed produce
in the Arizona desert.
Foodie Adventures on the Long Beach Peninsula
First it was St. Patrick’s Day at the Lost Roo Pub and a luxurious stay at Boreas Inn B&B and then it was a successful salmon fishing trip out of Ilwaco. The Long Beach Peninsula in SW Washington State is a treasure trove of foodie delights. In season, peruse the Ilwaco and Long Beach Farmers’ Markets, enjoy Mushroom Month and experience the cranberry harvest. There’s always something to do, see or eat when you make a trip to the Long Beach Peninsula.
Cranberry harvest time on the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington
Discovering Portland All Over Again
Portland is a ten-minute trip over the bridge for me and I thought I knew the Bridge City, but a press trip in Portland and environs proved me wrong. I experienced a stay at the hip, renovated Ace Hotel and toured to the west for Saki and Zip Lining, to the east to discover a new family-friendly food cart pod and to the south to kayak up to the rushing Willamette Falls.
Zip through the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
This one is less than an hour from downtown Portland.
Anacortes Art Walk
The Fidalgo Island town of Anacortes, Washington makes for an easy getaway with amazing views, farm-to-table cuisine, and both public and gallery art. I was invited to Anacortes to check out their art and…especially the First Friday event. What I discovered was the stunning natural beauty of the area, the creativity of local artists and the luxury of a stay at the Historic Majestic Inn. They also have a fanciful historic mural collection dotted throughout the town.
Discover Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island. You can get there via a short bridge!

Exploring the Art Glass Scene in Tacoma
I’ve traveled past and through Tacoma, Washington many times. I didn’t realize the colorful treasures that lay within the city. Tacoma, Washington is one of the hottest destinations for studio art glass lovers. Many see Tacoma as a port city with the grey Tacoma Dome as its most recognizable landmark. But I now know differently. Tacoma is colorful and vibrant and much of it is due to its dedication to art glass.
Amazing Chihuly art glass installations in Tacoma

Living it Up on San Juan Island
The San Juan Islands, a group of islands in northwest Washington state, are a well-known destination for outdoor adventure lovers. While you can sail your boat into Roche Harbor on San Juan Island or take an adventurous kayaking trip around some of the smaller islands, there’s plenty to do for those who just want a little relaxation and pampering. We experienced some of the best of San Juan Island, one of the larger islands in the archipelago, in just three days. And my dog, Cinnamon the Coonhound, discovered the dog-friendly side of things and had a great vacay.
There is so much to discover in the San Juan Islands.
This is sunrise from the Island Inn.
 First Ever Vancouver Dining Month
Sometimes there are things to discover right in your own back yard. During the month of October, the city of Vancouver, Washington put together their first ever Dine the Couve event. Many restaurants and brew pubs participated and we found out that excellent meals were to be had at only $23 for three courses.
Vancouver dining with a view.
Native American Tourism Conference
I traveled north to the Tulalip reservation and beautiful resort and had the pleasure of attending the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism (AIANTA) Association national conference in Washington State. I came away with news, information and experiences that will inform and entice travelers who love exploring history, culture and natural beauty. Native tourism opportunities are growing, native hospitality is welcoming and the access visitors have to native lands and people is much more open that you might realize. And, I discovered a beautiful Casino/Resort and plan to return in 2017 to do a feature article.

The Warmth and Color of Los Cabos, Mexico
Last but not least I traveled south to the tip of the Baja Peninsula of Mexico to warm up a bit. It was my first trip to Los Cabos and it was a marvelous experience. I was one of the first guests to experience the luxury of The Towers at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica complete with personal butler service. We also sailed to Lands End on a beautiful 55-foot sail boat. Before returning home to the chilly weather, I spent some time discovering the quaint arts town of San Jose del Cabo.
Welcome to El Encanto in San Jose del Cabo
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