I didn't realize it until I sat down to write this list, and it certainly wasn't intentional, but it seems as if for 2016 I am mostly interested in exploring the plentiful beauty of the United States. I love international travel, but due to work and time constraints, I think I just naturally focused on shorter trips. It doesn't mean I don't dream of exploring tons of places outside of the U.S., it's just that I wanted to create a list that was actually do-able for me this year.
Here are some of the places I'm dreaming of visiting for 2016:
I've been dreaming of going to Thailand for about ten years now, and I think this will finally be the year I can actually make it happen! I'm most excited to visit Chiang Mai, and the elephant sanctuary Elephants World in Kanchanaburi. And of course to eat the amazing street food.
2.) Vail, Colorado
I've driven through Vail a couple times while on cross-country road trips, and I've always found it breathtakingly beautiful. This year, I want to experience the mountains on my snowboard instead of from inside a car!
3.) Havasupai Falls, AZ
This challenging, 10-miles one-way hike is going to test my limits as an adventurer, but I can't wait - the stunning natural surroundings will be SO worth it. My friends and I have already booked this weekend trip (there is a wait list to do this hike that is about a year-long) for April.
4.) New Orleans, LA
Even though I've crossed the country many times, I've never managed to fit in a stop to New Orleans. I've heard the laid back and artistic atmosphere can't be beat. I can't wait to eat some real beignets, hear some jazz, visit a voodoo priestess, and see a funeral parade.
5.) Isle Royale, MI
One of the most isolated places in the United States, Isle Royale is also the least-visited National Park. The reason isn't because it lacks jaw-dropping scenery, but because of the trek it takes to get there. Located in Lake Superior (the most treacherous of all the Great Lakes), ferries leave just three times per week during the summer (the park is completely closed from November 1-April 15). There are no cars allowed, and visitors have one lodge option, or may elect to go back country camping, and sleep among the wild moose and wolves that inhabit the island.
6.) Sedona, AZ
Yes, another Arizona stop on the itinerary! The Southwest is so close to SoCal, and there are so many amazing places to visit, even just for a quick weekend getaway. Sedona boasts beautiful hiking trails, a focus on nature, and a hippie vibe.
7.) Yellowstone National Park
One of my friends works for the National Park Service and actually got to spend a summer living in Yellowstone National Park. I could not be more jealous. Although it's extremely popular (and thus probably very crowded during optimal visiting months), nothing can deter me from visiting this place and its legendary hot springs.
8.) Mesa Verde National Park
As you can see from my list, I'm a tiny bit obsessed with National Parks. My aunt (who is a National Park aficionado) mentioned that this one is one of her favorites, and after researching, I can't wait to visit and fall in love with it myself.
9.) The Pacific Northwest
I just can't get enough. I'd love to do a road trip from San Francisco, up the coast to Vancouver and soak up all the fresh air and greenery this beautiful corner of the world has to offer.
10.) Santa Fe/Taos, NM
This one is another weekend getaway for me. I've never been to Santa Fe, but I've heard wonderful things about the people, the scenery and the food, so I can't wait to explore it.
What are some of your dream destinations for 2016?
Photos courtesy of (in order of use): Lonely Planet, AllVail.com, AllTrails.com, ClandestineNOLA.com, GreatLakesDrive.com, DreamSedona.com, AmericaByRail.com, MostAmazingDestinations.net, CampingLife.com, ImageTripping.com