Five Places I Want to Go in 2016

Utah is prettyAround this time last year I wrote a post about five places I’d like to visit in 2015. I only ended up making it to two of the places on my list (although we already have our plane tickets for a trip to a third place on the list—but it’s not until February). So I did a pretty medium job on actually getting that list “done”. BUT! I traveled so much more last year than I ever have in one year before, and I seriously loved every minute of it! I think there’s something about saying your goals out loud, or in this case, writing them down and publishing them to the Internet, that just makes it all the more intentional. I ended up getting opportunities to go other places that weren’t on my list, and that was great too.

So, I guess my point is, I think that list was a super positive thing for me. And for that reason, I’m back this year with a new list for you. 🙂

1. Salt Lake and/or Moab, Utah.

I’ve been to Salt Lake a couple of times, once to speak at a conference and once when Elsie took me for a college graduation trip. But one thing I’ve never done in that area is hiked around to see some of the beautiful landscape! When traveling for fun, one of my very favorite things to do is hike and take photos. I love photography, but I mostly take photos of food and craft projects for ABM-related things, which I totally love, but it’s fun to do something different when on vacation. And Utah looks SO beautiful, so I’d love to get that chance this year.

Yellowstone national park2. Yellowstone National Park, or somewhere pretty in Montana/Wyoming. 

I’ve never been to Yellowstone and it looks WAY cool! Parts of it sort of remind me of Iceland in a way. So I would love the chance to wander around this area of the country and see what there is to see (and take about one million photos). 🙂

Eureka and crystal bridges3. Eureka Springs / Crystal Bridges / Arkansas in general.

If you can’t tell from my list so far, one thing Trey and I talked about with regard to my travel lust for the year is that we are going to try and focus on seeing more of the USA. We already have an international trip booked for February (yay for Chile!), and it’s just more economical to travel within the USA. And with there being so many great places to see that I’ve never been, this is a pretty easy “limitation” to keep in mind. Of course we want to see the whole wide world eventually! But this year we’re going to try to focus on seeing more of our own beautiful country.

Anyway, this is a great example because we live only hours away (driving) from some truly beautiful places in Arkansas. So I’d like to make it a point to visit Eureka Springs (they have treehouse cabins!) and also see one of the top ranking art museums in the USA, Crystal Bridges. It’s so close to us and I still haven’t been yet! Talk about not taking advantage of your area.

Antelope canyon 4. Antelope Canyon, AZ.

I first saw some photos from Antelope Canyon on Kinsey’s IG and I was hooked! This looks like such a unique and beautiful area, I’d love to see it in person. I only wish it was closer to Phoenix so I could go see some friends at the same time. 🙂

Big sur califlornia5. Big Sur, CA (or maybe Los Angeles…we’ll see). 

I love California. I lived in Los Angeles for a few years just after college, but I was too busy trying to make enough money for rent at the time to really get to take advantage of how beautiful this state really is. I’ve never been to Big Sur, but every photo I see of that area has me doing a double take. Plus I just LOVE the Pacific Ocean; it was the first ocean I ever saw when I was around ten or eleven years old (my family went on a Disneyland trip and we went to the beach while in Los Angeles), and I still love it just as much today.

What about you? Are you guys planning to see more of this wide beautiful world or ours this year? Any recommendations about any of these areas? I’m all ears. 🙂 xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photos were all found online. I’m going to try and link all the original sources, but some were hard to find. So if you see one that has been linked incorrectly, please let me know so I can update it. Thanks! Utah: right / left. Yellowstone: right / left. Arkansas: right / left. Antelope Canyon: right / left. Big Sur: right / left. 

  • Hey Guys:

    Came across this post researching my next vacation. I know it was from 2016, but did you make it happen? Is this an annual list?

    We’ve done your #1 – #3 and they are all wonderful! Might try to #4 & #5 on the next trip out west.

    Cheers Ladies,


  • Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend have been on my list for a couple years now. They look so beautiful and peaceful. Best part is they’re only 5 minutes from each other.

  • wow! Beautiful pictures and places. Some day i want to go Yellowstone National Park and Big Sur, CA. Yellowstone National Park its very cool like a rainbow.Big Sur its amazing I love California 🙂
    thank you for sharing. I like you blogs emma..

  • definitely inspired by this list! i wrote on my own on my blog

  • That looks like a great list! Well done for wanting to venture into more of your home country before taking more international trips. I live on the tiniest island (Malta) and have been for the past 14 years yet there are still placed I haven’t discovered. Looking forward to following your travel tales 🙂

  • My boyfriend had a work trip to Salt Lake and they really enjoyed taking some time out to drive through the dessert to Moab. He said the scenery is just amazing. And they were a bunch of boys renting fancy cars so that part was fun too. He said it was well worth waiting for the sunset there as it’s stunning. Happy Travels Elsie!

  • I love all of your destination ideas! This year I am going to Amsterdam and maybe Puerto Rico.

  • Definitely recommend Big Sur! The views are spectacular. There are plenty of spots to stop on the way to admire the ocean. I can’t remember where exactly, but one vista point had a fairly large squirrel population!

  • You will love Chile – they have the BEST dogs in the world and they are EVERYWHERE!

  • I’m trying to plan a trip to Denver for this year if anyone has any suggestions on cool neighborhoods to stay in/must go places! Open to any and all suggestions!

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Ive been to big sur its so beautiful. I love it there you should also check out Carmel by the sea it is a lovely town and point Reyes.

  • I live about 5 minutes from Crystal Bridges and my hubby and I go to hammock there because they have such beautiful walking trails. If you do happen to make your way over to Bentonville, you should also visit Onyx Coffee Lab in downtown Bentonville! It’s not only delicious, but an experience as well 🙂 I’ve lived here about 2 years and am obsessed with the incredible community, support for so many local businesses, and the amount of unique things to do. Bentonville is a town for self care. It’s slower, people are friendly and loving, and good for the soul 😉 I hope you make your way over here! I know you will love it!

  • I highly recommend Big Sur, I completely fell in love with it. And there is SO much here to explore in Utah, its beautiful but I may be biased because I have lived here most of my life. You won’t regret it

  • My family used to take big vacations every summer, so I’ve been to Moab once and Yellowstone twice! Utah was truly amazing, I would love to go back now that I’m older and spend some time there with my husband. Yellowstone is also such a neat place, but we never saw much wildlife while we were there, which was a bummer. I used to live an hour away from Bentonville and was able to take a day to go visit Crystal Bridges. It is beautiful, I truly enjoyed it. The nursery I used to work at provided lots of plants for the landscaping, so it was fun to go see what they did with them!

  • I lived in Northern Arkansas for 5yrs and have been to your hometown of Springfield many many times. (Aviary is one of my favorite restaurants, but I cant wait to make it into your sweet little bar)
    My Dad still lives in Branson so I am in MO and Ark pretty often despite living in FL. I’ve probably been to Eureka Springs 50 times- so I can tell you the best way to go is by motorcycle- its pretty amazing that way.
    An incredibly magical place, very cute shops tucked into little caves and streams- make sure you go up to see the 1886 Crescent Hotel, its an amazing old Victorian hotel and spa. But I have another special place for you to visit- its a little known but absolutely enchanting chapel in the middle of the forest called Thorncrown–dont forget! Its in Eureka Springs and you *have* to go there, Emma.
    Crystal Bridges is absolutely stunning- its a must if you are in Ark. The rib cage sort of skeletal structure of it is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

    For Cali, I would suggest Northern Cali instead of LA, you will leave your heart in the Redwood National Forest- I know I did. And Yosemite is pretty amazing. I’ve found that I appreciated being out of the city way more than being in it in Cali. But Oregon is pretty and amazing- look up the lava caves for a truly unique hiking experience. Everything there looks like a postcard, Its terribly underrated. Anyways hope this helps- definitely go into the Ozarks when you are in Ark, its amazing!

  • I went to Yellowstone, Idaho, and Salt Lake this past summer (going back this June, too!). I really want to go to Arches this summer when we go again. Yellowstone is truly magical. We went with a tour guide as we go with a nonprofit group out there. It was a wonderful 1 day trip. They took us to all the highlights. I tell everyone it is a bucket list destination for sure. We were only in Salt Lake for a day but picked we out a great restaurant (rec. from a friend we met out in Idaho), a cool coffee shop, and went to the Utah Natural History museum. That was enough for us. I hope you get to visit all on your list!

  • A few years ago we stayed in a treehouse cabin in Eureka Springs (likely the very same one posted in your photo!) and it was a DREAM!! 😀 GO! And have fun and go on a Ghost Tour at the hotels (I don’t believe in ghosts but I loved learning the unusual history of places).

  • I’ve been to all the destinations except Arches. I’ve wanted to visit Arches since reaching Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire – and since I have a goal of visiting every US National Park!

    Yellowstone is one of, if not, my favorite places! However, try to go in the off season because it gets super crowded. Try to make camping reservations ahead of time so you don’t waste all day driving around trying to find camping. As you may know, Grand Tetons National Park is just south of Yellowstone, so you should stop there if you have time.

    I live a little south of Big Sur – it’s pretty great too!

  • I’d love to go to:
    – Scandinavia, especially Sweden, Norway and Denmark
    – Northern Spain, by camper van
    – Hebrides, in Scotland
    – Would love to go back to Ibiza and also visit Formentera

    Inma x

  • I see Eureka Springs is on your list! I live in Arkansas also, and would like to recommend Hot Springs as a travel destination. I’d pick Hot Springs over Eureka Springs any day, honestly 😀 They have several old hotels (some haunted!), carriage rides, an alligator farm (and a “mermaid man” haha), Garvan Gardens (a bee-yoo-tiful place, look it up!!), a tower over the city…etc. etc. Seriously, check it out!

  • I’m traveling to the USA this year. For. The. Very. First. Time!!!! We’re going to do a roadtrip (LA, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Antelope Canyon, and maybe some other parks. I’m sooooo excited!! 😀
    I was dreaming about it out loud and my boyfriend just said ‘OKE, let’s go’. He’s amazing.

    I’m also going on a small yoga retreat in the Netherlands and on a Harry Potter trip to London! I might squeeze in some citytrips not too far away, but that depends on my job (if I find one to earn more money ^-^)

  • Limekiln in Big Sur is the best hidden gem of a park, lots to enjoy with not far to travel. And Centrally Grown on the southern end of the Big Sur area is supposed to be a treat.
    HWY 1 so so special!!

  • You should check out Northern California! Humboldt County is absolutely beautiful, huge redwood forests meet the ocean in a beautiful rocky coastline that is just breathtaking! There is so much to see and amazing hiking. Of course I live here, so I’m craving a trip somewhere new, you all have turned me on to Palm Springs it looks so fun!

  • I’m partial to Eureka Springs because I live here. Eureka is a small, fun, quirky and artsy community. The best time to come in my opinion is autumn. The best way to explore town is to walk around. Many trails are throughout town. Lake Leatherwood and Black Bass lake are great to hike around as well. Thorncrown chapel is a must. Check out the Cresent hotel. Explore the springs and bluffs.
    Places to eat:
    Mud st. Cafe for breakfast, Oscars for lunch- eat the BrieLT- the best sandwich, dinner at Ermilios or the Grand Taverne, the Stone House to hang out and drink wine and/or beer.
    Contact me for other suggestions…
    Glad it’s on your list!
    Crystal Bridges is amazing as well

  • So which places in Chile are you guys visiting? Let me know if you guys need some tips

  • Yellowstone is amazing in the winter. You can snowmobile through the park. I want to go back in the summer. Highway 1 and Big Sur is breathtaking and beautiful. We spent our 30th anniversary driving down Highway 1. I highly recommend both trips!

  • As a resident of Southern California, I second this request. Also consider staying in a low impact space/camping rather than a luxury hotel in the middle of Big Sur. Maybe even Tree Bones if you have the budget.

  • Just a heads up, because I researched it too, that Antelope Canyon option is a total photography tourist trap. They walk you down a flat path, then you go into the slot canyon just to take some pictures and then you walk out. I’d spend my time investigating/exploring more realistic wilderness, spend some more time in Moab or Arches. Or if you want closer to Arizona, then check out Havasu Falls area

  • Emma! You must make a trip to Eureka. My husband and I live in Mountain Home, AR. We are about 2 hours to the east of Eureka. We had our honeymoon there and try and make it back at least once a year if we can. It’s such a cute and eclectic place. There are so many wonderful places to stay. VRBO is without doubt the best place to find them.
    Also, you must eat at the Mud Street Cafe and visit the little shop next door. If you go in the warm weather months there is a funnel cake place that tops the cake with fresh local strawberries and chocolate. I could go on and on. 🙂 I hope you go and blog about it!

  • Thanks for sharing. We took a (mostly) cross country road trip last summer and Yellowstone was our end destination. We had a great time. I really wanted to see the Grand Prismatic Springs, but the day we were there it was super chilly so it was all fog.Not the pictures I was hoping for, but I was happy to go.

  • I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned…but one of Crystal Bridges upcoming exhibitions is called The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip. It will be on display from 2/27 – 5/27. Given your love of travel and this year’s list, it sounds like it is right up your alley!

    My mom lives in Bella Vista, AR which is one town over from Bentonville. It’s definitely a beautiful area of the country with a ton of things to do. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  • Oh, love yellowstone! Big Sur is beautiful… I’d pick it any day over LA, but they both have their perks!!! I hope you get to go to ALL of those places!!!

  • Go to Bozeman if you end up in Montana. It’s a very cute little town with a lot going on, and only 1.5 hours from Yellowstone. Also Norris Hot Springs not far from there is fantastic (a bit of a drive). Or, do the Burning River inside Yellowstone for a similar hot springs experience. So many cool things to explore in that area.

  • If you’ve never been to Big Sur I would recommend it over Los Angeles any and every day. You’re right, the entire Pacific coast is beautiful, but Big Sur is the perfect place to appreciate it for all its glory.

  • Utah is a must see! The only problem is that there is SO MUCH to see. I recommend making a long trip out of it if possible. I have lived in Utah my whole life and still find new places to visit each year. Here is a list of must do’s:

    Southern Utah: (early spring or late fall – it is too hot in the summer to really enjoy)

    1. Moab

    Eats: Pasta Jay’s (worth the drive from SLC by itself)
    Hiking: Arch’s and Dead Horse Point
    *Ask the locals about the hippie baths (fun hike to a waterfall and river pools) and on the way to Moab stop by
    Goblin Valley for a night

    2. Escalante – a must do for the slot canyons

    3. Zions – such a fun place to spend a few days.
    Lodging: Zions Ponderosa is a fun spot with camping and rentable cabins, otherwise camping at the base of the park is really fun.
    Hikes: Narrows (must do!) *If you are feeling really adventurous the narrows top down is one of the best hikes I have ever done. It is a strenuous hike that requires backpacking, planning, and a lottery for a permit. Totally worth it! Another must do hike is Angels Landing.
    Eats: There is a little cafe next the grocery store on main street in Zion – they have the best crepes.

    4. Lake Powell – This is a full trip itself and best with a group of friends.
    Lodging: A house boat is a must, it is the best way to fully enjoy lake powell.

    Other places to explore and camp:

    1. Uinta Mountains – Mirror Lake Highway has a bunch of lakes along it with camping
    2. Big and Little Cotton Wood Canyons
    3. Park City – the best of both worlds, world class resorts and spas with amazing scenery and food.
    Eats: Baja Cantina
    To do: Alpine slide at Park City Resort
    4. Ogden Canyon (Snow Basin and Pine View Reservoir)

    My favorite places to eat in SLC and Ogden.

    1. Red Moose Coffee
    * best scones!
    2. Sill’s cafe
    * best Utah style scones
    3. Park Cafe
    4. Finn’s Cafe
    5. Ruths Diner

    1. Even Stevens

    1. Red Iguana
    2. Lucky 13
    3. Copper Onion
    *must get the beef stroganoff
    4. Ravoli’s (Ogden)
    5. Roosters (Ogden)
    *Their beer cheese soup and naughty fries are delish!
    6. Slackwater Pizza (Ogden)
    7. Eva

    The list could go on and on! I might be biased but I love Utah!

    Have fun, you have a great list!!

  • You won’t be disappointed if you visit NW Arkansas. Not only is the art on display at Crystal Bridges awesome, but the architecture of the museum is phenomenal. Spring or fall are ideal times to visit–you avoid the summer heat and humidity, and you get to see the amazing spring flowers or autumn foliage. Enjoy a beautiful drive from Crystal Bridges to Eureka Springs and stop and visit the Thorn Crown Chapel.

  • I really want to go to the Canyon!! I went to Big Sur on a roadtrip this summer, and to be honest it wasn’t as big as the hype. It is true that the pictures are accurate – the picture with the waterfall is truly what it looks like in person. BUT that was the only spot that was super picture worthy, in my opinion. I think it’s worth a drive but not really worth a long trip.

  • I live in Chile and it’s a great country to travel through. It’s always hard to select the best places to visit because the country is so diverse and long. In February we’re going to Villaricca in the south of Chile and staying in a cabin on a husky farm! February is tourist seaso, so be ready for lots of people in the hot spots: Viña del mar, Púcon, Valparaíso, Puerto Varas, etc.

  • And stop in to Big Sur Bakery. If you haven’t seen their cookbook, it’s beautiful. It reads like a novel and the photos (and recipes) are amazing! Don’t be fooled by the rustic location.

  • i did AZ & UT with my boyfriend about 2 months ago almost and it was beautiful.
    we did sedona in arizona and horshoe bend as well. we didnt do the grand canyon because it was out of the way and i believe the south rim was closed due to snow.
    for Antelope (really close to horshoe) you need to book tickets in advance and i didnt know til a few days before we left so we couldnt make it but its definitely on the to do list….and while youre there, you can hit up the 4 corners!!! thats on the to do list too.

    Big Sur!!! <3
    what can i say!? that place is beautiful!!!
    i drove home (i live in LA) down the 1 and it was the most beautiful thing EVER!!!!
    if you can, please do that one. its been on my to do again list for a while and i honestly can not wait!!!!

  • This country of ours is so beautiful and I’m especially jealous of anyone that lives on the West Coast. This is such a great list, we are trying to decide between Utah and Yellowstone ourselves! And we have already been to Big Sur, a great spot

  • My husband and I went to Eureka Springs on our honeymoon and stayed in a cottage at the Crescent Hotel. We’ve been in love with Eureka ever since! Great food, great art and great people!

  • As a Salt Lake native, I definitely agree that it is a place to visit! The mountains are minutes away and completely gorgeous and we have a really great food scene. If I were you I’d try to plan a late spring or fall trip as our summers get VERY hot.

    Yellowstone is one of my very favorite places, I’ve been there a lot since it’s only about a 5 hour drive from here. If you end up going there, West Yelllowstone is the most charming little town and it lies about a block away from the park entrance. I’ve always stayed at the Three Bears Lodge when I go there, the rooms are cozy and the location is within walking distance of everything.

  • Monterey (including the aquarium), Carmel, Point Lobos, Pebble Beach and Big Sur are near enough to each other for one trip (if you give yourself enough time to enjoy all those places have to offer). If you want to include more, head further down the Central Coast and do the 17 mile drive, San Simeon (including Hearst Castle), Cambria and Morro Bay. Or if you want to head north, instead, you can go to Santa Cruz and then on up to San Francisco and Oakland. As a born and bred Californian, even though I settled in Los Angeles, my favorite parts of the state are the Central Coast and Yosemite/Ansel Adams wilderness. I support any venture to those areas. God speed!!!

  • You could do Antelope Canyon and Utah at the same time! I went this last year and it is truly breathtaking! Its a must for sure!

  • You have to come to Utah! The parks are the best in the spring or the fall. Arches, Capitol Reef, Zion, Bryce Canyon…SO BEAUTIFUL! There are so many other amazing places to camp and hike in Utah besides the parks too. Utah is really special. I hope you make it out here again!

  • Yes come to Utah! Salt Lake has a lot of fun stuff, and then Moab is beautiful, too. It’s amazing being able to hike right up to all the beautiful arches and other stone structures. #utahisrad

  • We spent a week in Jackson Hole last August, hitting Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Yellowstone was very cool, but it was Grand Teton that stole our hearts. We’re already planning a trip back!

  • My familial ives near Eureka springs, we go down every other year its beautiful!

  • I feel you snooped into my mind and read all the places I am longing to go, such a beautiful post, aiming to visit Canada and Ecuador this year, here’s to a beautiful travel filled 2016!

  • These places look breathtaking – I’m going to have to start researching more about beautiful places in my own country! It’s so funny – I visited Eureka Springs as a grumpy teenager and don’t remember anything like what you showed above. I don’t know if I just didn’t see the right places, or if it was my teenage filter at the time. Who knows?!?!

  • I live in Arkansas. The Treehouse Cottages in Eureka Springs are great! My hubs and I have gone there many times for our anniversary. It’s very peaceful there. Our favorite is the Hideaway. Our favorite shop there is on the east end of town. Its called Fresh Harvest. They sell olive oils and vinegars. There’s a huge collection and you can sample as many as you like. The staff is super friendly and helpful. They readily recommend the best restaurants in town. The museum in Bentonville is great too. Only takes about 30 min to get there from Eureka Springs. It has a decent selection of art, a nice outdoor walking trail, and the best part is admission is free (unless you want to see that months special exhibit around $8). If you like sushi the Sushi House in Bentonville is good. The service is fast and the bring you lots of free samples while you eat :-).Thought it was interesting you posted both of these. They are two of my favorite places!

  • All of these places are major winners and absolutely amazing. I would insist that you visit Big Sur instead of LA though! I grew up an hour away from Big Sur and it is one of the most magical and breathtaking places in the entire world (I like it more than New Zealand even!) Happy new year!!!
    Xoxo Annie

  • Tears ago drove across country and visited all but Arkansas’x springs–accident in Disneyland forced me to revamp return plans. They are all majestic and worth seeing even second seeing.

  • I love traveling! I’m planning on doing a trip to salt lake/Montana/Nevada this summer with a couple of my sisters. I can’t wait to hear all about your trips!

  • Hey Emma! Your travel plans sound pretty great! My parents are totally into hiking as well, so when I was a kid we spend some beautiful time in national parks in the US. Mostly at the west coast so, because the Rocky Mountains are just great for hiking! That’s why I wanted to recommend you another place to visit which is close to the Antelope Canyon. Did you ever hear about The Wave? It’s an amazingly beautiful rock formation and just 20 people are allowed to go there each day. So you don’t even have a real hiking trail, you just get a map and then see for yourself! Because of the small amound of people allowed to go there it’s although pretty solitary in a good way. I checked and it’s about 1.5 hours drive from the canyon, so maybe it’s manageable?!

    I hope you have a great time!

  • All these places look so wonderful! And I definitely agree with you: publishing your goals for the whole world to see is definitely a great motivator!
    I only have one huge travel goal this year: I’ll be celebrating my big 3-0 in May, and as a gift to myself, I want to spend at least 10 days in Provence, all by myself. I’ll rent a car, book different hotels throughout the trip, and I’ll roam the region, going wherever strikes my fancy, eating delicious Provencal meals, sipping on rosé, and generally have the time of my life 🙂
    Good luck with all your big travel plans!

  • It is no wonder Yellowstone reminds you of Iceland, it has the same volcanic origins ;). So much even, that one of the Yellowstone mountains (Bunsen peak) was called after an Icelandic scientist who never actually made it to Yellowstone but who’s work nonetheless was very applicable to Yellowstone.

    What I also liked a lot about Yellowstone over other national parks I visited was the ‘wildness’ of the animals. As bears should not learn humans are a source of food, less dangerous animals also do not learn it and it makes encountering the incidental squirrel way more special than it is in other parks.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever read Bill Bryson’s A Small History of Nearly Everything but I really enjoyed reading the Yellowstone chapter while being at Yellowstone ;).

  • Great List! I live in Russellville, AR (about two hours from both Fayetteville and Eureka Springs) and STILL haven’t been to Crystal Bridges since my husband and I got snowed out of our planned trip last year! (excuses, excuses. haha) Maybe I will add this to my list too and make it happen this year! We celebrated our third wedding anniversary in Eureka Springs last October and loved all of the victorian homes/buildings! As mentioned above, Thorncrown Chapel is a must see. I would love to go back solely for the treehouse cabins. My parents stayed in one on their honeymoon way back when. Can’t wait to see pictures and read all about your travels!

  • You should go to Antelope Canyon in the summer so you can take advantage of Lake Powell, Utah while you are there. It is such a unique landscape and the boating/camping is out of this world. You can choose a Canyon and drive your boat up it until it narrows so much that your boat doesn’t fit through, so then you jump out and swim. Heaven! It’s the place where lots of the Utah locals (like me!) go in the summer. It’s sometimes pretty hot, but you are obviously on the lake and can jump in anytime, so it’s no big deal. I’d recommend early September, when the water is really warm. Nothing like it. Check it out. There’s also a really neat arch that’s only accessible by boat and a short hike/walk. Very cool.

  • I absolutely love your travel wish list for the year! I’m planning on making one too this year as I have so many places that I want to see. My boyfriend and I decided last year that we would travel more of the UK aswell as exploring Europe as we never actually holiday in the UK and it seemed ashame as there’s quite a few lovely places to visit so close to us.

    We visited Antelope Canyon a couple years ago and oh my gosh, it was amazing! We did a little road trip from Las Vegas (also really amazing), through Utah and down to Phoenix via Page, Monument Valley, Flagstaff and Sedona – it was the most amazing holiday so far!
    xo April | April Everyday

  • I’m so glad you mentioned Arkansas! I live in Arkansas, and it is truly one of the most underrated and beautiful places. There are so many stunning waterfalls, rivers, mountains and scenic views. Crystal Bridges totally lives up to the hype, too! The Bentonville food scene is excellent. Definitely check out Onyx Coffee, Tusk & Trotter and Oven & Tap in downtown Bentonville.

    Big Sur is one of my favorite places. You obviously can’t miss Bixby Bridge or McWay Falls. They are so popular for a reason. 🙂 I also loved drivin south of Big Sur to San Simeon and checking out Hearst Castle. But the town of San Simeon totally sucks. Utah is incredible, and Antelope Canyon is close to the top of my list, too!

  • My little family just moved back to my native Utah after a decade on the east coast and I am constantly in awe of the beauty here! The wasatch mountains are beautiful in every season…if you ski, I would not miss the chance to ski here. It is so crazy good!

  • Moab and Arches National Park are absolutely beautiful. My family and I went a couple summers ago. If you go in the summer, you have to bring plenty of water and start your day early. It can get up to the 100s really fast during the day out there. Many who live in Moab work at paramedics because many go into Arches unprepared. BUT in the evening the weather is beautiful.

    Antelope Canyon is also amazing. There are two trails to take when you go, Upper and Lower. From what my sister has told me, upper is not nearly as interesting at lower, but upper is where you see the direct sun beams most pictures have. I would suggest doing lower if you want a more interesting hike. You also can only hike Antelope if you have a guide, so plan ahead and check your options. Best months for light beams is October, but that is also a time you need to check for flash flood warnings.

    Sorry for all this crazy information, just some travel tips! Happy traveling!

  • I love this idea of writing down places you’d like to travel to this year. Antelope Canyon looks beautiful! This year, I plan to go to Jamaica to spend time with my grandmother. I also want to take a trip to Maine just to enjoy the nautical landscape and eat some delicious seafood. As far as long term goals, I would love to take a trip throughout Europe.

    Happy Sunday

  • You might as well take a three week vacay from life and do LA, Utah, and Yellowstone all at once. I lived in Utah for two years in college before moving to the south with my husband and some of the views that you get in Utah and Yellowstone are just breathtaking. You could easily do Utah and Yellowstone all in one trip since they’re not too far from each other! I can’t wait to follow along on your adventures!


  • If you go to Moab, look into some of the hikes outside of Arches National Park. I loved hiking the Fisher Towers trail, Negro Bill’s Canyon, and the trail to Corona Arch. The hikes inside the park are amazing as well! Take plenty of water! 🙂

  • Utah is beautiful, if I do say so myself. Hike up the actual timpanogos mountain or just up to the caves. Fish lake is my family’s favorite but it is about 3 hours from salt lake. Autumn has beautiful colors! Yellowstone is another favorite but that first picture on the left is not what mammoth looks like now 🙁 we took our kids a few years ago and Hayden valley had several bear for us to view. We went back at night and saw a mom and her two cubs crossing the road. I look ve to see new places but my husband likes to stay in his comfort zone (fish lake/Yellowstone) it took 3 years but I talked him into Rushmore and he wanted to go back the next year!

  • If you’re stopping in Yellowstone, you should DEFINITELY check out Grand Teton national park as well since they share a border. (Personally, I thought Grand Teton was a lot cooler than Yellowstone.)

    Crystal Bridges is great– you should stop by The Hive for really good cocktails after. Lots of cool modern art at The Hive too:

  • Moab, UT is heaven on earth! We love to travel, but have never left a place so anxiously awaiting our return. You should take advantage before having kiddos, some of the best hiking in Arches and Canyonlands is a bit dangerous. We won’t be back with our kids until they are at least 10 years old. Can’t wait!

  • Thanks to my parents, I’ve actually been to all but #3. I want to go back though because I was a kid for most of them. All great places!! I am hoping to visit San Antonio though amid all my usual travels this year (Gatlinburg-family lives nearby, LA-my brother lives there, Memphis BBQ festival-best fesitval).

  • This list is pretty much similar to my own list of places I’d like to go in 2016. I’ve heard so many great things about Big Sur, and Antelope Canyon looks gorgeous! I hope you are able to fulfill your resolution and travel to all these places in 2016!


  • This is a great list. My plan for 2016 is to see more of the US as well!
    I’m actually from Chile, so to see that you’re going there is pretty amazing!
    February is going to be hot hot hot, so be ready for that. Chile is beautiful, you guys are really going to enjoy it!
    Can’t wait to see all the pictures!

  • Yessss! Come to Arkansas! Eureka is so much fun. Go to Mud Street Cafe for breakfast and do a ghost tour at Crescent Hotel for sure. Haven’t been to Crystal Bridges yet, it’s on my 2016 list, too. (As well as LA/Palm Springs, Colorado, Dallas, NYC. Ugh. I’ve gotta get planning!)

  • I made a trip this past year to LA followed by Northern California. I was visiting friends in both places so it made it pretty easy to make it both places! The extra flight from LA to San Jose was only an extra $40 on my flight so totally worth it! I would highly recommend going to Monterey/Big Sur. It is one of my most beautiful places in the world (well, that I’ve been too!). I’ve also had Antelope Canyon, AZ on my list. I’ve never been to Arizona so it is definitely on my list of places to go!

    Brittany |

  • Moab is one of my favorite place I’ve ever been! The hike to Delicate Arch was one of the most difficult yet rewarding hikes I have done. Be sure to bring lots of water because there is no shade cover until you reach the Arch…but well worth it. I actually lost the path on the way there and ended up at the base of the Arch…oops…

    Somewhat down the street from Arches is my favorite park – Canyonlands. It is basically the start of the Grand Canyon. It’s where the two rivers (who’s names are slipping my mind at the moment) meet to form the Colorado. It is beautiful! I actually love it more than the Grand Canyon…

    If you plan on renting a car, Gooseneck State Park isn’t too far away and is a nice afternoon trip.

  • Big Sur is a must if you’ve never been, the trees, the hippies, the gorgeous hikes, you’ll love it! Growing up my family camped in Big Sur every summer and I would recommend camping up there if you can. There’s a privately owned campground called “Big Sur Campground” that is beautifully maintained and has a creek flowing through it, but reservations fill up quickly everywhere in Big Sur so I would book as soon as you know you’re going.
    Good luck! Maybe we’ll see you guys somewhere in Cali this year.

  • When you go to Arches, make sure you plan ahead and book the tour for the Fiery Furnance. If you’re in good physical condition, you can hike all the main trails in 2 days. It’s a small but wonderful national park. If you’re already in Utah to see Arches/Moab, you should go to Bryce Canyon. It’s so unique and the hikes/sights are beautiful. I haven’t been to Zion but it’s beautiful too. My husband and I will hopefully go there late winter or in the spring.

  • I agree! We rented a houseboat on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas with two other families for a week several years. It was a beautiful lake and one of my favorite vacations!

  • We usually do one big family trip each year. This year I let me oldest daughter pick as part of her high school graduation gift. She picked Orlando. She wants us to visit the theme parks and the beach with my parents, my brother and his family. I should mention we have made this trip several times before. I really thought she would pick someplace new!

  • I am from Arkansas and I was so excited to see northwest Arkansas on your list! I really feel like Arkansas gets overlooked in the USA. It is so beautiful and has so many great state parks and towns to visit. I don’t live in Arkansas anymore and I have been dying to go see Crystal Bridges. I would also suggest the Buffalo River and Blanchard Springs as well as Mount Magazine and Petit Jean Mountain. Mt. Magazine is near the Arkansas wine country and there are some beautiful vineyards and wineries in the area. Definitely look it up!

  • I have been to every spot on your list and you have some great choices! Yellowstone is quite awesome and there are not many places like it! I just went last summer for the second time. Plan a few days and see the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole while you’re there and try to go in spring when there is still a lot of water to feed all the springs. Late summer can be dry and you won’t see the full glory of the springs and mud pots!

    Arches/Moab/any place in Utah is beautiful but plan to go sometime other than summer, because the crowds can be crazy. Antelope canyon would be best in the winter as well. It’s cold, but you can get pretty good photos without other people in winter without booking the more expensive photo tour, AND you can book both upper and lower canyon in one day! The guides told us the summer is insane and it gets smelly, and musty in the canyon from moving all the sweaty tourists through in the hot weather! Ha! Also plan to book your tour a few days out if you are going in the summer as tours fill up in advance.

    Big sur and the rest of the California coast is beautiful. Plan for fog, as it is a very big possibility. I highly recommend going north to see the Redwoods if you have time and then continue up the Oregon coast. I think there are spots of the Oregon coast that are more beautiful than California, but that’s my personal opinion (around the Yachats area). Eureka Springs is a pretty neat little town and that area of Arkansas is pretty! It’s probably the least majestic of your choices, but it’s also probably the most doable from where you live. Wherever you choose to go it will be amazing!

  • This sounds like a wonderful list! And as a local to Big Sur, I’m filled with understanding and excitement that you’ll want to visit this gorgeous area. But I have one preemptive request…Please do not make an AMB post about your trip to Big Sur. Our area has become so overrun with tourists and the increase in tourists has lead to increases in traffic, trash, damage to our pristine wild places, and prices – of everything. And that’s a tough pill to swallow for those of us who grew up here. I love your site an am a big fan of everything you guys do. Thank you for listening. : )

  • I would love to go to yellowstone! I think I will be going to Los Angeles in July. Yay!!! You have a nice list here 🙂

  • Jackson Hole! Best vacation we’ve ever had. Stayed at Teton Mountain Lodge. You can take a team to 1400ft and have WAFFLES!

  • Antelope Canyon looks beautiful! Never heard of it before, I shall have to add it to the bucket list too..

  • My goal is to travel to one new place this year. I would love to see more but I’m getting started in my teaching career and a new place so money is tight 😉 but last I went to the Grand Canyon and the lower Antelope Canyon. I actually flew into Phoenix. My friend who was working out there had rented a car. It’s a lot of driving but it’s gorgeous! Also, not sure about the upper but you can do a photography tour at the lower canyon and you can use your special equipment and are allowed more time!

  • Those places look magical, it would be awesome to see them in real. I am rather in love with cities, so my list contains Barcelona, Paris, Budapest and Prague (and so many more)!

  • You definitely need to go to Big Sur. I suggest start at the bottom and drive up and end up in Monterrey or Carmel. The Monterrey Bay Aquarium is amazing, and Carmel is such a cute town to stay a night or two in.

  • My husband and I went to Arches National Park 8 years ago, and it was hands down one of our best trips ever. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! We were lucky enough to experience a sunset amongst the red rocks, and it was the most stunning display you could imagine: The setting sun lit up the rocks, making them blaze in the most spectacular shades of red and gold. A photographer’s dream!
    I hope you get to experience it, it’s fantastic!

  • Big Sur is definitely on my wish list of placing to go this year for sure! I am going!!! If you come to Los Angeles I definitely recommend Santa Monica boardwalk on a weekday. It gets so crowded on a weekend. There are so many things to do there, from small roller coaster, ferris wheel, and a small aquarium! Also Venice Beach, so fun with an outdoor skateboard park, and you can rent bikes to go from Santa Monica to Venice Beach. Hope you do come. Have a wonderful New Year!


  • I HIGHLY suggest that you visit Jackson Hole Wyoming!!! It’s an absolutely magical place–summer is PHENOMENAL! Yellowstone is not far, and the Grand Teton mountain range is throughout as well–it will not disappoint!

  • Do not miss Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka and stay at Turpentine Creek. They have a tree house where you sleep just feet away from their rescued Tigers and Lions. When they sing-it is unforgettable.

  • Emma! You KNOW if y’all come out to AZ we will come meet you duhh! There’s no way we are gonna let you guys get that close to us without hanging! ?

  • I won’t be going anywhere this year due to financial reason (unless there are some major changes at my job, and with my contract ending next month…), but I really want to go to Portland. It’s on my list of places I could possible live someday, but I’ve never actually been there (except to pass through on the train).

  • We spent a week going to all five national parks in Utah one time. It was lovely! Arches was gorgeous! We stayed at the Red Cliffs Lodge just outside of Moab in a Cabin on the Colorado River. It’s a beautiful resort. I also enjoyed Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park on that trip. Utah is an amazing place!

    Love love love Yellowstone National Park! We go almost every year, and it never gets old! If you book early, you may be able to stay inside the park, which is worth it for the convenience of waking up and being ready to go! We also like to stay in Gardiner MT to see the northern portion of the park. The best times to go to YNP in my opinion are May (lots of baby animals!) and September (colors changing and elk rut!), but I’ve always wanted to go in the winter as well! If you go to Yellowstone, you HAVE to go to Grand Teton National Park as well. It’s only 50 miles south, and is a much smaller, quieter park. The Tetons are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges, there are a lot of great places to watch elk, moose, and bear, and some amazing food is available at Signal Mountain Lodge (try their blackberry french toast or blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and their Signal Mountain of Nachos and cocktails for an evening snack!). It’s also close to Jackson, Wyoming, which is super quaint with a fun town square and some nice ski resorts!

    I’m clearly excited about your vacations too!

  • I went to Big Sur and wrote about my adventure here: It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to go back. There’s so much to do and see that it’s easily worth the trip. We drove back down to LA on Highway One and that view… Nothing beats that view.

  • Moab is beautiful! I went a couple of falls ago as my post-Master’s-defense trip with my boyfriend, and we had so much fun. We hit up both Arches and Canyonlands since they are right next to each other. I wish we had an extra day to visit Dead Horse State Park as well. I definitely recommend visiting southern Utah in the spring or fall; it gets unbearably hot in the summertime.

    Also be careful when hiking in slot canyons like the one in Arizona because they are prone to flash flooding! I wouldn’t take your chances if there is any sort of chance of storms that day.

    I’ve also been to Yellowstone, but it has been years, and my boyfriend hasn’t been yet so we are hoping to make it up this year! It is just stunning. We hope to also hit the Grand Tetons since they are right there. The only thing with Yellowstone is you need to book your trip like…this month or else everything will be gone by the time your trip rolls around!

    I’m really glad you shared some places in Arkansas. I was just thinking the other day about how I want to get to all 50 states, but I could not think of interesting things to do in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia…so this helps a lot! 🙂

  • You have some amazing places on the list, none of which I have ever been to but I’m sure they will be amazing.
    I hope you manage to fulfill your dreams and take plenty of photos for us to see!

    Jenna von x

  • I love this list! I am inspired to create my own list… maybe places that are a little closer to southern California. Do you have any other suggestions? Maybe places you’ve been to before?

  • The Eurka Springs pictures look amazing… I would love to go there! I love this blog post idea too, it’s got me thinking about places I want to visit in 2016! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Lucy xoxo

  • You definitely will not be sorry, or disappointed, to hike around almost anywhere in Utah! As a Utahn, I would suggest that you make your trip out here sometime during the spring or fall — not only is it loveliest then, but there are fewer tourists wandering around (especially in the Moab area). Moab is quite a drive from SLC, though, at least 3.5 hours, so if you only have a few days, you might only be able to do one place. Still, Moab or SLC, it’s very worth it!

  • Amazing places to visit and I would love to travel all the wonderful places in America.


  • Beautiful pictures and places, Emma!
    I am from Germany and i love Big Sur. I was there twotimes an you never!?! Unbeliveabel, or?
    Today i read a post about the “Rocky Moutaineer! And i fell in love. I think this would be a realy nice trip!!!

    Greetings & Love

  • Hi Emma!

    We recently visited Moab and hiked up to Delicate Arch – it was so beautiful, although I would love to see it at sunrise or sunset.

    We also saw Antelope Canyon during this trip which was breathtaking – you need to book a tour with a Navajo guide, but try to pick a day that is forecast to be sunny to really make the most of the gorgeous sun beam effects. When the wind blows it scatters sand from the rock walls and it looks like glitter dancing in the light, so pretty!

    Yellowstone (along with Yosemite) is one of my favourite places we have visited in the US so far. Definitely see the Grand Prismatic Spring if you can, the colours are absolutely stunning. The short hike to the Morning Glory Pool is great too, we saw lots of wildlife along the way, and we were lucky enough at another point in the trip to see a black bear!

    Arkansas looks beautiful, I’l definitely have to look that up 🙂 We are planning a trip in the summer to San Francisco, Oregon and Yosemite, I’m really looking forward to driving along the Pacific Coast Highway and seeing more of the redwoods.

    I hope that 2016 brings you some fab memories and travels 🙂

    Melissa xx

  • If you end up doing big sur, I’d recommend Pfeiffer beach. After living in CA most of my life, we made it to big sur for the first time this weekend! You can see a couple of my pics on Instagram @snugglebuguniversity. Pfeiffer beach has purple sand! So fun!

  • All of those places look beautiful! My recommendation if you want to see Big Sur, is to add on a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway – or at least make sure you drive from San Fran or Monterey Bay to Big Sur. We went from San Fran to LA (and then Vegas, ha!) in a convertible and it was AMAZING!

  • You should definitely go to Utah!! There are so many great hikes here and beautiful scenery! There are awesome hikes all year round so you can’t go wrong 🙂

  • I have been to 3 of the places listed.
    My daughter and I went to Moab this past summer. The place blew me away. Arches National Park is just 5 minutes from Moab. We hiked to most of the arches and they are jaw-dropping beautiful. Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park are a short drive from Moab and are also very unique and beautiful. The movie Thelma and Louise was filmed in the area. We also did a river trip down the Colorado River. My daughter is a foodie so we found lots of good places to eat in Moab.
    My daughter and I I also took a trip to Big Sur. Lots of beautiful beaches and trails. The most beautiful beach in the area is called Pfeiffer Beach. There is this beautiful rock formation in the ocean with a large hole. It was especially nice at sunset with the sun peaking through the hole.
    Lastly, we took a family trip to Yellowstone. Another beautiful and unique place but we only had one day there. I would really like to return and spend more time as it is a very large park.
    I hope you make it to at least one of these places this year.

  • This is a great list! Hope you get to go there this year x

    Hannie Arden from Missing Wanderer.

  • It should be a good year for travel! I have a work conference in Orlando and am staying a couple extra days to revisit the theme parks, going to Hong Kong and Japan with 7 friends during cherry blossom season, and might also make it to Machu Picchu this fall! I hope you make it to all the places on your list – I’d love to see more of the west.

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