2016: My Year in Travel

Like most travel bloggers, I am always looking forward to my next trip. The year ahead means an open calendar of new cities to see and more passport stamps to collect. The last few years I have been so lucky to be able to travel to beautiful, amazing places, and 2016 was no different. With the past year came an exciting cross country move, along with the adventure that is traveling with a baby. From South America to mountain towns in my new home state of Colorado, here are my 2016 highlights.

CHILE: I’ve been to Chile many times since I have family there, but this trip marked an important milestone – my daughter’s first international trip. Traveling with a baby is never easy, but thankfully the ride went off without a hitch! I also ventured to Pucon for the first time, a town in the southern Lake District that is an adventure lover’s dream destination. A visit to the Santa Rita winery in the popular Maipo Valley rounded out the trip. flying with a babypucon chile santa rita chile santa rita winery

SAN FRANCISCO: Believe it or not, I’d never been to San Francisco. When friends moved to the Bay Area, it was the perfect excuse to plan a trip! Although the fog ruined a chance at any clear photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, I still loved my first San Fran experience.  Muir woods

VAIL: Since transplanting to Colorado in early 2016, I was eager to explore my new state. I was spoiled to stay not once, but twice, at the town’s lux Four Seasons during the year. The mix of small town charm and alpine architecture has earned Vail the title of #1 mountain town in my book.
Vail Four Seasons

LAS VEGAS: I always love a quick trip to Vegas. This year’s visits were a little different…because our baby came too! We made the most of the pools, great restaurants and of course, gambling. I also stayed at one of my favorite Vegas properties, the Venetian, which is always a wonderful experience.   Venetian pool

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Las Vegas…with a Baby

As I write this I’m sitting in McCarran airport waiting to go home after a few days in Vegas. I have quite a few trips to Sin City under my belt, but this visit was unique. A friend was visiting the States from Australia, and proposed that we meet in Las Vegas for a few days of gambling, pool time and catching up. We jumped at the chance for a weekend getaway, however, our 6 month old baby would be in tow. I know, who takes a baby to Las Vegas? I was somewhat hesitant to hit the Strip with a child since I don’t remember it to be the most child-friendly town, but after reading other parents’ stories online, I decided to go for it.

Pre-baby, my girlfriends and I would stay somewhere trendy like the Cosmopolitan. Although I had a few ideal hotel preferences, availability and price won out and we ended up at Paris. Its central location made it a great home base to explore the Strip, plus the francophile in me loves the faux-French decor. There’s a nice pool, the service was wonderful and the hotel’s buffet included unlimited mimosas. Can’t complain here!Paris mimosas at The Paris

Yes, it is called ‘Sin City,’ but it wasn’t as crazy as I remember from my younger days. I saw a surprising amount of kids and strollers during the day. Families dined alongside 20-somethings. Most people were accommodating, and we often had doors held open for us. There were a few drawbacks. We learned the hard way that babies are not allowed in casinos, so my husband and I had to gamble in shifts. We also learned that there are few elevators along the Strip, so getting from point A to B took a lot longer than planned.

I’ll have to head back sans baby to see Britney, a Cirque show or hit the clubs, but overall bringing a baby to Sin City can be done. If you’re thinking about taking your little one to Vegas, these kid-friendly hotels top my list of places to stay.Bellagio

Bellagio: We visited this hotel quite a few times during our stay. The hotel would be a great pick for families because of its location and free attractions like the Bellagio Fountains and botanical garden.

Four Seasons: It’s worth heading off the Strip for a Four Seasons. You’ll get all the amenities you would expect, from welcome gifts for children to baby toiletries to complimentary use of cribs and highchairs upon request. There’s also no casino, which makes this property more relaxing than being in the middle of all the action.

Venetian: I stayed at the Venetian a few years back for business and loved it. The best part is that its an all-suite property, along with The Palazzo next door. Each suite comes complete with a separate living area, which means lots of room for kiddos. The upscale Grand Canal Shops are also a great way to spend a few hours.

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5 Underrated Summer Vacation Spots

June is here, school is out, and people are taking to the skies and highways for summer vacation. There are the common spots that fill up with families and tourists, but if you want to avoid the crowds (and maybe even score a cheaper hotel in the process), check out these cities for your summer break.

1) Las VegasVegas

If you’re willing to put up with intense temperatures that can exceed 100 degrees, you can get hotels in Las Vegas for pretty cheap during July and August. You’ll be lounging by the pool or hanging out in the air conditioned casinos anyway, right? Make a road trip out of it and head to other desert attractions like Lake Mead or Red Rock Canyon.

2) New York CityWashington Square Park

Yes, it’s muggy and the city heat isn’t for everyone. But on the plus side, hotel prices decrease a little as the city’s residents head east to Long Island beaches on the weekend. Enjoy summer in Central Park and catch a nighttime breeze at one of city’s best rooftop bars.

3) Siesta Key, FloridaSiesta Key

Skip the craziness of Disney and South Florida and opt for the west coast of the state. Close to Tampa and Sarasota, Siesta Key brings warm gulf waters, beautiful beaches void of huge resorts and a more laid back vibe.

4) Charleston, South CarolinaCharleston

Many folks head to the Carolina coastal cities during the summer months, but don’t forget Charleston. This historical city offers great Southern food, museums, colonial architecture and tons of charm.

5) Flagstaff, ArizonaFlagstaff

Phoenix has great summer deals if you can stand the heat, but those looking for a break from the desert heat should try Flagstaff. A higher elevation means cooler temperatures, and visitors can take advantage of the town’s mountains, national parks and outdoor activities.

 

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