2017 was a great year of travel for us. We explored new countries, new food, and shared some amazing experiences together, which is always the goal around here.
We were able to make great use of our Every Kid in a Park 4th-grade pass, which was a primary goal for us. We were also completely blown away by Peru, and came away with a new perception of this beautiful country.
We enjoyed heavy doses of sunshine (and pie) in the Florida Keys and the US Virgin Islands, and we adored London during the holidays this year. We also got our Harry Potter fix at the British Library, Oxford, and the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
We hope your family had a great year of traveling and as always, we hope we've inspired you to take your kids to awesome places! Here are our favorite stories, moments, and pictures from 2017.
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Our favorites of 2017 - Come Along for the Trip!
Cadence's Favorites (by Cadence)
Favorite boat ride - air boats through the mangroves in Everglades National Park
My favorite boat ride was an air boat ride through the Everglades. It was really cool because we went really fast, and we saw alligators. One of the alligators got right up next to the boat. We got these headgear things that had a microphone, so you can talk to people.
Favorite water slide - Hyatt Regency Coconut Point - Bonita, Springs, FL
My favorite water slide was the slide in Bonita Springs at the Coconut Point Hotel. It had the longest line, but it was worth it. You had to have an inner-tube or a double-person tube. You put your tube in this big opening and you kick off, and when you get to the end, you are in the lazy river. Once I got turned around and then fell out of my tube!
Related: Check prices and read reviews here.
Andrew's Favorites (by Andrew)
Favorite Hotel - Hotel Lizzy Wasi, Urubamba Peru
My favorite hotel was Hotel Lizzy Wasi in Peru. We had been delayed, and we needed to stay somewhere in Urubamba, Peru. The Lizzy Wasi hotel was available at the last minute because it wasn't their busy season, and it was fun to have the place to ourselves! The owner Elizabeth was really nice, and it had beautiful scenery, making it my favorite hotel that I stayed at in 2017.
Related: Check prices and read reviews here.
Favorite Restaurant - Dishoom - Covent Garden, London
My favorite restaurant was Dishoom in London. I had never tried Indian cuisine before so it was a new experience for me. I had curry, bread, and lamb kebabs with a Bombay cola to drink. It was some of the best food I have ever had in my life.
Dad's Favorites (by Carrick)
Favorite train ride - PeruRail
My favorite train ride this year was an easy choice - riding with PeruRail from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes on our way to Machu Picchu. The train runs along side the Urubamba River through the craggy Andes, and every turn is just spectacular.
Related: Taking the kids to Machu Picchu
Favorite sunset - Key West, FL
Gulf Coast susnsets are pretty magical in their own right.
Then there's Key West.
Book a sunset cruise and enjoy the show. We used Sebago Key West for ours.
Favorite plane ride - Dry Tortugas National Park - Key West, FL
I've said it all year, but if you're going to visit Dry Tortugas National Park, skip the ferry and take the boat plane. It costs a little more, but you'll save tons of time, and won't regret one second of it once you see the views!
Favorite Memory - Finding "our tree" on Magens Bay St. Thomas
Carrie and I were married on Magens Bay St. Thomas, and we had pictures made on the beach next to a crooked palm tree. We returned this summer with a copy of that picture so we could show the kids. Still there!
Favorite dessert - Key Lime Pie in Key West
This ridiculous key lime pie comes from Bagatelle Key West and tasted as good as it looks. They've somehow mastered meringue in the muggy Key West climate. #FoodSorcery.
Favorite road trip - Cleveland and Cedar Point, OH
After school let out for summer we hopped in the car and headed to Cleveland with a stop in St. Louis. It was a great trip, with visits to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a ride to the top of the Gateway Arch, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Father's Day spent riding roller coasters at Cedar Point, which was just perfect.
Favorite roller coaster - Millennium Force
When you visit a park like Cedar Point where every coaster is epic, it's a difficult choice, but the Millennium Force is my pick. It was our first ride of the day, and the one I was there to ride. It's absurd how tall it is. It will do things like steal your breath and make you cry, but one thing it doesn't do is disappoint. This thing is a monster. See also: Top Thrill Dragster. Mercy...
Related: Visiting Cleveland and Cedar Point
Favorite stroll through a park - St. James's Park
When we visited London over Thanksgiving, we had some time to kill before the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, so we headed to nearby St. James's Park. With some color still in the trees, it was a lovely walk on a crisp morning. We took pictures of the black swans in the pond, and enjoyed some great views of London along the way.
Favorite tour - Peru's Sacred Valley
We always try to do a tour of some sort in each place we visit. It's fun for everyone, and it helps us to understand a destination on a deeper lever. This year the winner is our tour with Venturia Tours in Peru. They picked us up from our hotel (the incredible Tambo del Inka in Urubamba) and took us to Chinchero, Maras, and Moray. Totally worth it and stunning in every way.
Favorite unexpected surprise - Peru
Peru just stole our hearts. We've wanted to return ever since we got home.
Mom's Favorites (by Carrie)
Favorite museum - The British Library
My favorite "museum" of 2017 was the British Library. For a book nerd like me, this was Mecca. It's a cool enough place on its own with the treasure room filled with ancient and important historical texts, but you add on a limited engagement Harry Potter exhibit, and I'm hooked.
Favorite hike - Virgin Islands National Park, St. John USVI
My favorite hike of 2017 was the hike Andrew led us on in Virgin Islands National Park. It was part of his Scout requirements, and even though it was miserably hot, it was a gorgeous place to be. Plus, it was a great family bonding experience.
Favorite Feeling - Sand in My Toes - St. Thomas, USVI
I have finally decided once and for all that I'm a beach girl. The minute my toes touched that glorious white sand, my stress just melted away. There's nothing quite as relaxing as walking along a beautiful beach with the people you love.
Favorite Meal - Conveyor Belt Sushi - Yo!Sushi London
I'm not a fan of sushi myself, but thankfully, Yo!Sushi has a variety of other tasty items like dumplings and noodles to fill me up. I don't know what it is about the novelty of a conveyor belt that turns our kids into such fearless eaters though. I just get a kick out of watching them wait for their favorite item to come along. Definitely a fun family experience.
Favorite National Park - Mammoth Cave National Park
My favorite National Park... this one is tricky because each one is beautiful in its own way. The views at Virgin Islands National Park are spectacular, the magnitude of Fort Jefferson and the flight to Dry Tortugas just takes your breath away. But, I keep going back to Mammoth Cave as a favorite. Such a mesmerizing place full of wonder.
Favorite wildlife encounter - It's a tie
Andean condors in Peru (Carrick)
We paid a visit to the Santuario Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary just outside of Cusco. Here they rehabilitate animals and release them back into the wild. You don't understand how big an Andean condor is until it flies just over your head and you can feel and hear its wings beating the air. Very cool.
Polydactyl Cats at the Hemingway House - Key West, FL (Carrie)
My favorite animal encounter was, naturally, the Hemingway cats. It was crazy cat lady paradise - a fluffy six-toed kitty at every turn!
Llamas and alpacas in Peru (with a few extras thrown in) (Cadence)
My favorite wildlife encounter was when I got to pet llamas and alpacas in Peru. I liked the llamas better, but the alpacas were fluffier. There was even a baby alpaca! There was also a cat named Paloosa and she was so sweet! She would curl up in your lap, and she wouldn't move until you got up. I tried to give her to my brother, and she dug her claws into my shoulder!
Alligators in Everglades National Park (Andrew)
My favorite wildlife encounter was seeing alligators in Everglades National Park. I had never seen a gator in the wild until then. The gator went right up to our air boat, and I was the one sitting right next to it. It was an amazing experience.
So there you have it! Did your family make some great memories traveling this year?
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