As possible future trips are discovered, their notes and links are recorded here to hopefully inspire you
May: St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands
We're planning to explore U. S. Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John! The best time to visit is May, between the busy Winter season and hurricane season. We'll spend some time on adjacent St. Thomas Island as well. Top snorkeling spots appear to be Henley Cay, Watermelon Cay, Salt Pond, and Trunk Bay with it's underwater snorkel trail! And we may also visit Phantasea Botanical Garden, the 99 steps to Blackbeard's Castle, take a skyride to Paradise Point, and relax on Magens Bay Beach. We may even do another zipline!
October: Spain & Morocco
Barcelona (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Palau Nacional), Madrid (Palacio Real, Plaza de la Villa, Parque del Buen Retiro, Caixa Forum Museum vertical garden, and the La Latina and Chueca neighborhoods), Toledo (the Cathedral, Iglesia de San Ildefonso, Iglesia se Santo Tome, Monasterio San Clemente), Granada (La Alhambra), and Seville (Alcazar, Cathedral, Parque de Maria Luisa, Santa Cruz neighborhood, Casa de la Memoria).
In Morocco, Tangier (Grand Socco, Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Chefchaouen), Fes (Terrasse des Tanneurs, Bab Boujeloud, Kairaouine Mosque) and Marrakesh (Ben Youssef Medersa, Jemaa El Fna, Koutoubia Mosque, La Bahia Palace, Majorelle Gardens, Aït Ben Haddou). Train transportation provided by ONCF, and private vehicle service by Tangier Taxi. Preliminary lodging has revealed Dar Chams Tanja in Tangier, Ryad Salama in Fes, Riad Anabel in Marrakesh, and Kasbah Tebi inside of the Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou!
May - June: British Isles
The Scottish Highland Games are the main event, occurring from mid-May through the beginning of September. We could see, in London: the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye at sunset, an evening cruise down the Thames, Harrod's, the Harry Potter studio, the Prime Meridian (GMT), catch a play in Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and a musical at West End.
In South West England (Somerset County), we can take a historic steam engine to Dunster Castle, visit the Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre and go on a red deer safari in Exmoor National Park. We'd stop by Stonehenge and Windsor Castle on the way.
We could spend a night in Pembroke, Wales, and then take a ferry over to Rosslare, Ireland. From there we could take a train up to Dublin, where we could see the Long Room at Trinity College, St. Stephen's Green, Merrion Square Gardens, the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology, explore some of the pubs along Grafton Street and Temple Bar, see deer at Phoenix Park, visit the Old Jameson Distillery, and even check out Glasnevin Cemetery and the adjacent National Botanic Gardens.
Stratford-upon-Avon looks like the perfect place to enjoy traditional thatched roof cottages like Anne Hathaway's Cottage. We could also visit Shakespeare's birthplace, Warwick Castle, the Baddesley Clinton Manor, Mary Arden's Farm and walk Henley Street in the old shopping district.
In the Lake District of England, we could stay in Keswick and enjoy a few good hikes like Loughrigg Fell, Aira Force waterfall and Castlerigg Stone Circle at sunset. We could also take a Derwentwater boat ride around the lake, or even go paragliding again! On the Shetland Islands of Scotland (utilizing NorthLink Ferries from Aberdeen to Lerwick, or Loganair from Edinburgh) we could see puffins at Sumburgh Head and purchase a hand knit item while we're there. And we could attend the Strathmore Highland Games in Glamis, were we could also take in the beauty of Glamis Castle and check out the Kelpies! Perhaps we could even try a few beginner golf lessons at Prestonfield Golf Club in Edinburgh while we're there!
Lodging may include the Sanctuary House Hotel in London, The Beach Hotel in Minehead, Penfro in Pembroke, Clifford House in Rosslare, Buswells Hotel in Dublin, The White Swan Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, Bramblewood Cottage in Keswick, Fort Charlotte Guest House in Lerwick, and Fraser Suites in Edinburgh to end our adventure.
March - April: Japan
While Japan, from North to South, is about as varied in temperature and climate as the United States, the early Spring appears to be the best overall time to catch everything from monkeys bathing in hot springs to the cherry blossoms.
Possible base camp locations could include Tokyo (Kabukiza theatre, Suigian restaurant, Robot Restaurant, the Akihabara, Senso ji temple, Ueno Park, Nezu-jinja shrine, Koishikawa Korakuen park, Shitamachi museum, Shinjuku Gyoen park, Meiji Jingu shrine, traditional tea ceremony, lodging at Hotel Coco Grand), with a possible day trip to Nikko (Shinkyo Bridge, Tosho gu shrine, Taiyuin byo shrine), Hakone (Hakone jinja shrine and torii, Odawara castle, Hakone ropeway and funicular, lodging at Senkei Annex Yamagaso), Kyoto (Kinkaku ji temple, Fushimi inari taisha shrine, Arashiyama bamboo grove & monkey park, Tofuku ji temple, Chion in temple & Yasaka shrine, Nijo castle, attend the Miyako Odori, Minamiza Theatre, Gion Corner theater, Kyo Odori at Miyagawacho Theatre, lodging at Gion Shinmonso) with day trips to Nara deer park & Todai ji temple, Himeji jo castle, Koya san & Oku no in cemetery, and end in Takayama (Jigokudani Monkey Park, lodging at Temple Hotel Zenkoji) for the Spring Matsuri Festival (April 14-15). We'll use Japan Rail Pass for transportation.
December: Bavaria, Austria & Prague
I've always thought of visiting the Bavaria region of Southern Germany, Austria, and Prague during the Christmas season. Munich (Neuschwanstein Castle, Tollwood Winter Festival, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbrauhaus, Nymphenburg Palace, Residenz Museum, Christmas market), Salzburg (Getreidegasse, Hohensalzburg, Villa Trapp), Vienna (Reisenrad, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Spanish Riding School, a strudel show, Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt, Botanischer Garten, National Library, Naschmarkt, Schonbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Belvedere Palace, Wagenburg museum, Neue Burg museums, Vienna Boys Choir, Mozarthaus), and Prague (Prague Castle, Loreta, Karlstejn Castle, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Havelska Market, Klementinum Library, St. Vitus Cathedral, Petrin Hill, St. Nicholas Church, Lucerna Palace, Wenceslas Square, National Museum, Jindrisska Tower, Jubilee Synagogue, Vila Amerika) are all possible activities and destinations.
Preliminary lodging searches revealed the King's Hotel, Kasererbraeu and Hotel U Tri Pstrosu, and we'll utilize Eurail to get around. We hope to enjoy the Christmas markets, holiday choirs, a Krampus parade, and hopefully even a little snow!
January - February: Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand)
This appears to be the driest, coolest time to visit Southeast Asia. The monsoon season, from May through October, is definitely not when we want to be there. Places we hope to visit include Hanoi (Temple of Literature, Tran Quac Pagoda, Thang Long Water Puppet Show), Ha Long Bay with a cruise by Indochina Junk, the Mekong River Delta with a cruise from Can Tho by TransMekong, and Ho Chi Minh City (Jade Emperor Pagoda, Tao Dan Park, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Thien Hau Temple, Buu Long Pagoda, Nghia An Hoi Quan Temple) in Vietnam. Then we could head to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat, traditional Apsara dancing) in Cambodia.
In Thailand, we could explore Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun white temple, Wat Rong Suea Ten blue temple, Mae Fah Luang cultural park, Baan Dam Museum hell temple), Chiang Mai (Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center, Wat Sri Suphan silver temple, Wat Pha Lat, Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan temple). Hopefully we can attend the Flower Festival while in Chiang Mai. The floats will be parked at Suan Buak Haad Public Park after the parade, which begins at 9 am from Nawarat Bridge. And we hope to use Asia Highlights help us get to Wat Pha Lat and Doi Suthep.
Then on to Bangkok (Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Jim Thompson House, Taling Chan floating market, Lumphini Park, Asian Oasis river cruise, and traditional dance at Sala Chalermkrung), Koh Tao Island, and Phuket (Elephant Sanctuary, Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, Phang Nga Bay, Raya Noi, Khao Rang viewpoint).
February: Falkland Islands & Patagonia
It appears this is also a good month for visiting the Falkland Islands so my partner can see King Penguins! Since this is probably the closest we'll ever get to Patagonia, I think we could swing a side trip from Santiago to Punta Arenas by plane and explore Torres del Paine National Park as well.
The primary destination would be Laguna San Ignacio to see the gray whales up close! We could also go whale watching in Loreto as well. Additional base camps could include Mexico City (Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Teotihuacan, Plaza Garibaldi, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Chapultepec Castle), the pueblo magico town of Valle de Bravo (Piedra Herrada monarch butterfly sanctuary, Cascadas Velo de Novia, hanggliding or paragliding), and Merida (Parque Santa Lucia, Plaza Grande, XBatun cenote and Uxmal, Chichen-Itza, Celestun) on the Yucatan peninsula. We could explore ancient Mayan ruins, swim in ancient cenotes, and observe flamingos in Celestun.
February: Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai is a place where I've been but my husband hasn't! We could attend the Luau Kalamaku, explore Secret Falls and Fern Grotto, hike the stunning Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Limahuli Gardens, and snorkel at Ke’e Beach, Haena Beach Park, Anini Beach, Prince Kuhio/Lawai Beach, Poipu Beach Park and Salt Pond Beach Park. Perhaps even a flight over the island as well!
The main attraction would be the Aurora Borealis, which can been seen in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Yellowknife is perfectly situated underneath the aurora oval (the area with the most Northern Lights activity). This position makes the Yellowknife a perfect destination for viewing the Northern Lights in Canada. There's even an aurora forecast! We'll need to rent Winter clothing. We'll also be able to attend the Snowking Winter Festival, and may also try some dog sledding and other activities while we're there as well!
March/April: Washington D.C.
I've always wanted to show my husband our nation's capitol, Washington D.C. And the annual Cherry Blossom Festival would be a beautiful time to visit!
April: France, Belgium, the Netherlands
One bonus to visiting the Netherlands at this time of year? The tulips will be in bloom!
May: Sweden, Finland & Norway
Not surprisingly, May is also a good off-season time to visit Scandinavia, with temperatures rising and rainfall at yearly lows.
May or October: Greece, Lebanon & Petra
We've talked many years about traveling to Greece and Lebanon. I could show my partner Greece, where I lived for two years. Possible destinations include Athens (the Acropolis, Plaka, the National Archaeological Museum, Syntagma Square, the National Garden, Sounion), Meteora (Kalambaka), Loutraki, row an ancient Greek warship, and explore the islands of Mykonos and Santorini as well.
In Lebanon, we could visit Beirut (the National Museum, Jeita Grotto, Muhammad Al-Amine Mosque, Beiteddine Palace, Deir El Qamar, Shouf Cedar Reserve), Byblos (Tannourine Nature Reserve) and Tyre. We may also fly to Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan and drive up to the ancient city of Petra while we're nearby as well.
May - June: Russia
A good time to visit the vast country of Russia, with rivers thawing and flowers blooming. We could explore St. Petersburg (Resurrection Church, Peter & Paul Cathedral, Peterhof Palace, Faberge Museum, State Hermitage Museum, Catherine Palace, Mariinsky Theatre, Yusupov Palace, New Hollad Island, lodging at Petr Hotel), Moscow (Saint Basil's Cathedral, Bolshoi Theatre, Izmailovsky Market, Sanduny Baths, Park Zaryadye, Cafe Pushkin, Novodevichy Convent, VDNH Park, lodging at Hotel Kempinski), and the Golden Ring town of Suzdal (Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius, Kremlin, Nikolskaya wooden church, Museum of Wooden Architecture, river boat ride, lodging at Medvezhy Ugol B&B). We'll purchase rail tickets online.
June - September: American Samoa National Park
Yep! We have a national park near Samoa! American Samoa National Park is in the Southern hemisphere, and offers great snorkeling, beach combing, and hiking activities. They also offer a homestay program, where you have the opportunity to join a local family. We'd hopefully be able to visit nearby Samoa and Fiji as well.
August: Denali National Park, Alaska
Another trip I've been planning for awhile. We could fly in to Fairbanks mid to late August and take a scenic train ride down to Denali. Once at Denali, we'd probably spend a few days exploring the trails around the park entrance, take the Kantishna Experience Tour, and also spend a couple of nights at Wonder Lake. Then onward by train to Anchorage, and a day or two at Kenai Fjords National Park, staying at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, before returning home.
August - October: French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Mo'orea)
Beautiful tropical islands, snorkeling, and Polynesian culture are all great reasons to visit. Add Tahitian vanilla and humpback whale watching and it's even better!
September: Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks, WY
A good time of year with the dispersion of Summer crowds, but before services begin closing for the Winter in mid-October. We'd fly through Salt lake City, head up to Grand Teton, then explore Yellowstone. Preliminary lodging searches revealed Inn on the Hill, Rustic Inn at Jackson Hole, and Three Bear Lodge.
September - October: Badlands, Mount Rushmore & Devils Tower
To be honest, Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Needles at Custer State Park, Black Hills Playhouse, wild mustangs, and the Crazy Horse Memorial combined still didn't have quite enough to get me to commit. But being a huge sci-fi fan, add Devils Tower, Wyoming, from the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and I'm there! Since the presidents face East, it appears that sunrise, with breakfast at Carvers Cafe, is a good time to view them. Rapid City, South Dakota, would be our base. Lodging could be Summer Creek Inn or Black Forest Inn.
October: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We've witnessed the beautiful Fall colors of Acadia National Park in Maine. My partner fell in love with them, in fact. In our continuing quest to visit most of our national park system, I thought Great Smoky Mountains would be another good place to witness the vivid colors of Autumn. We may even hop on another hot air balloon! Lodging will likely be in Gatlinburg, TN, at Buckhorn Inn.
October: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria
We watched a couple of travel shows on these countries and kept remarking about how beautiful they were. The Autumn colors would only accentuate their natural beauty. Bran Castle and Peles Castle are already two places we absolutely must visit!
October: Sleepy Hollow, NY, and Salem, MA
I can't say we're huge fans of Halloween, but we do enjoy the films The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Hocus Pocus, which have inspired us to visit these towns during the Halloween season. Both Sleepy Hollow and Salem have a lot to offer during this time of year, in addition to beautiful Fall foliage.
November (or February/March): Egypt
Egypt is a must visit with a stop in Cairo (Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza, El Tanboura Hall, Festival of Arab Music), Luxor (Medinat Habu, Tombs of the Nobles, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings) and a day sail via felucca to the Dendarah/Hathor Temple, and hopefully some snorkeling in the Red Sea at Marsa Alam.
There are many other places we want to explore as well, such as South Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar, Philippines, Iceland, Iran, etc. I know we'll get there eventually. It's only a matter of time.