As possible future trips are discovered, their notes and links are recorded here to hopefully inspire you
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, a London bus tea tour, a few musicals at West End, and Mamma Mia! The Party! We'll probably get around using an Visitor Oyster Card Pass.
In South West England (Somerset County), we can take a historic steam engine to Dunster Castle 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 near the port of Pembroke, Wales, and then take a ferry over to Rosslare, Ireland. Perhaps we'd catch a performance at the National Opera House in Wexford, or checkout the ruins of the Selskar Abbey.
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, enjoy traditional music and dance at Celtic Nights, 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. On the way to Keswick, we could stop at Little Moreton Hall.
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 enjoy a birding experience with Cumberland Bird of Prey Centre. 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! We could even search for puffins at the Scottish Seabird Centre! And we're planning on exploring Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park as well.
Lodging will include an Airbnb near Trafalgar Square in London, Rollestone Manor in Salisbury, The Beach Hotel in Minehead, Ferry House Inn near Pembroke, Killiane Castle in Wexford near the port of Rosslare, Buswells Hotel in Dublin, The White Swan Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, and The Royal Oak in Keswick.
September: Seattle, Washington
We've often talked about exploring the Seattle area. There's a lot to see in downtown, like the famous Pike Place Market, Pier 57 and the Seattle Great Wheel, the iconic Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, catching a musical at Paramount Theater or 5th Avenue Theatre, the Seattle Aquarium, Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, and a great view of downtown from Kerry Park Viewpoint. We could even take the Seattle monorail from the center of downtown at Westlake Center to Seattle Center and the Space Needle. And the Seattle Japanese Garden, resting on Capitol Hill, looks impressive as well.
We'll also check out North Cascades National Park while we're in the area. Lodging will be at Ovenell's Heritage Inn near North Cascades, and Seattle Gaslight Inn in downtown Seattle.
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), 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).
In 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) 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) for the Spring Matsuri Festival (April 14-15). We'll use Japan Rail Pass for transportation.
Preliminary lodging may include BnA Studio Akihabara (Hailer room) in Tokyo, Senkei Annex Yamagaso in Hakone, Kyoto Granbell Hotel, and Temple Hotel Zenkoji in Takayama. We may choose an Airbnb in Tokyo and Kyoto as well, due to the cost of the hotels.
September: Papua New Guinea & Far North Queensland, Australia
We want to travel to Papua New Guinea for the tribal culture and the birds of paradise! We would start in Port Moresby, staying at the Airways Hotel. We could travel to Varirata National Park in search of the famous Raggiana bird of paradise. Then we'd take Air Niugini to the village of Goroka to see the Goroka tribal festival! 100 different tribes come together to perform at the National Sports Institute during the weekend near their Independence Day (16th Sept.). We'd stay at the Bird of Paradise Hotel or Pacific Gardens Hotel. Flying back to Port Moresby, we could spend a few nights at the Loloata Island Resort, exploring their ocean waters.
From there we would fly to Cairns in Far North Queensland (FNQ) Australia. We'd stay at Mossman Gorge Bed & Breakfast, where we stayed once before during our first ever international trip together! We could visit the Great Barrier Reef, the town of Port Douglas (Wildlife Habitat, Sunday market), and other favorites around the area. A drive down the coast could take us to Magnetic Island, home to a large population of wild koalas. Taking the ferry, we'd stay at Magnetic Island Bed & Breakfast, and take the forts walking track to spot koalas in the trees. We may also snorkel around the island a bit.
Driving up to the Atherton Tablelands, we could view their beautiful waterfalls, and search for tree kangaroos and platypus! We could stay at Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat or Canopy Rainforest Treehouse. And places we could explore include Rainforestation Nature Park (aboriginal demonstration and dream time walk), Milla Milla waterfall, Josephine Falls, Wallicher and Tchupala Falls, and the Yungaburra Platypus Viewing Platform.
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, 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 Phuket (Elephant Sanctuary, Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, Phang Nga Bay, Raya Noi, Khao Rang viewpoint) and Bangkok (Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Jim Thompson House, Taling Chan floating market, Lumphini Park, and traditional dance at Sala Chalermkrung). We could even use the canal boats to get around! We can also utilize Bangkok MRT underground rail system.
Preliminary lodging searches have revealed La Siesta Classic Ma May (Hanoi), Memoire D’Angkor Boutique Hotel (Siem Reap), Legend Chiang Rai (Chiang Rai), Buri Gallery House Resort (Chiang Mai), Boutique Resort Phuket (Phuket), and Villa De Pranakorn (Bangkok).
October: Greece, Lebanon, & Petra
We've talked many years about traveling to Greece and Lebanon. I could show my husband Greece, where I lived for two years. Possible destinations include Athens (the Acropolis, Plaka, the National Archaeological Museum, Syntagma Square, the National Garden, Sounion), row an ancient Greek warship, explore the monasteries of Meteora, and visit Santorini as well. Preliminary lodging has revealed Palladian Boutique Hotel in the heart of Plaka, Athens, Monastiri Guesthouse in Kalambaka, and Old Oia Houses on Santorini. And we'll utilize Hellenic Rail to travel to and from Meteora.
In Lebanon, my husband's home country, 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 down to the ancient city of Petra while we're nearby as well. Bayview Hotel in Beirut, Le Blanc Bleu in Byblos, Dar Alma Guesthouse in Tyre, and Infinity Lodge in Wadi Musa, Jordan.
The majestic fjords are the main reason we want to explore this country. Starting in Olso, we could visit the Norsk Folkemuseum, Vigeland Sculpture Park, Museum of the Viking Age, and the changing of the guards at the palace. We could also celebrate National Day there on May 17th!
We could then take a train to Flam (Naeroyfjord cruise, Viking Valley, bus shuttle), via the Myrdal to Flam scenic railway. Then on to Bergen (Bryggen, Fantoft stave church, Floibanen funicular, Hakon's Hall, Rosenkrantz Tower, fish market). Additional places of interest could include Geiranger (waterfall walk to Fossevandring, Norwegian Fjord Centre, Flydalsjuvet viewpoint), and the Lofoten Island towns of Svolvaer (Magic Ice, Sea eagle safari or a Silent Trollfjord Cruise) and Reine inside the Arctic Circle (via the airport at Harstand-Narvik (EVE)).
Preliminary lodging searches discovered the Guldsmeden Hotel in Oslo, Fretheim Hotel in Flam, The Hanseatic Hotel in Bergen, Hole Hytteutleige cabins or Hotell Utsikten in Geiranger, and Hotel Brosundet or Jervell Guesthouse in Alesund, and Sandtorgholmen Hotell, Scandic Svolvaer and Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine in the Lofoten Islands.
December: Bavaria, Austria & Prague
I've always thought of visiting the Bavaria region of Southern Germany, Austria, and Prague during the Christmas season. In 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.
Then on to Vienna (Reisenrad, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Spanish Riding School, a strudel show, Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt, Botanischer Garten, National Library, Naschmarkt, Vollpension, Schonbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Belvedere Palace, Wagenburg museum, Neue Burg museums, Vienna Boys Choir, Mozarthaus), Hallstat, and Salzburg (Getreidegasse, Hohensalzburg, Villa Trapp). We might even get to go bobsledding at Konigssee near Salzburg!
We'd end in Munich (Neuschwanstein Castle, Tollwood Winter Festival, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbrauhaus, Nymphenburg Palace, Residenz Museum, Christmas market) and Oberammergau.
Preliminary lodging searches revealed the King's Hotel in Munich, Kasererbraeu in Salzburg, Hotel U Tri Pstrosu in Prague, I da Mitt in Hallstat, Ambassador in Vienna, and Hotel Alte Post in Oberammergau. 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!
September: South Africa & Madagascar
I don't know what the future will bring, but I've decided I want to celebrate my 60th birthday on a trip I've long dreamt of - South Africa and Madagascar! We could start in the North from Johannesburg and make our way to Kruger National Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Then work our way South to Cape Town where we'd want to see the African penguins at Boulders Beach and Stony Point Penguin Colony, staying at Boulders Beach Hotel. Perhaps we could even drive the Garden Route between Mossel Bay and Storms River, and make it to Addo Elephant National Park. Along the way we could stop at the Garden Route Botanical Garden, Featherbed Nature Reserve (fynbos, sea caves) and Knysna Elephant Park. We would then drive to Port Elizabeth International Airport.
We'd fly to Madagascar to see lemurs! We'd probably utilize Cactus Tours to get us around the island nation. This trip is literally on the opposite side of the world for us, so it'll be a long journey getting there.
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.
Preliminary lodging searches have revealed Posada de las Flores Loreto, Ignacio Springs B&B, The Green Park Hotel, Hotel Mision Valle de Bravo, and Hotel Casa San Angel.
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: 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! And we even know when the cruise ships will be around!
May - June: Russia (currently on hold)
Due to the Ukraine invasion of 2022, any future trips to Russia are currently on hold.
Spring is 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.
July: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Napa Valley, Sacramento, CA
The California State Fair is held every July in the capital city of Sacramento. We would also like to explore one of the 9 national parks in California we have yet to visit, Lassen Volcanic National Park. Heading West from Sacramento, I would also like to take my husband to see California's famous wine country, Napa Valley.
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.
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.
September: Tahiti & Moorea (French Polynesia)
Beautiful tropical islands, snorkeling, and Polynesian culture are all great reasons to visit. We could check-out the Papeete Market, explore natural settings such as Vaihi Waterfalls, Les trois Cascades de Fa'aruma'i, Grottes De Mara'a, and Marae Arahurahu Temple and Waterfall. We could also enjoy Tahitian dance performances (Sunday brunch, theme nights), get a traditional Polynesian tattoo, and maybe even try a surf lesson with Ocean Vibes or Taie Faahee Surf School!
On Moorea, we could also visit the Polynesian cultural center of Tamaeva Centre Culturel, where we could learn about native musical instruments, dance, and art! We could tour a rum and juice factory, and perhaps we'll catch dinner and a show at Tiki Village as well. I discovered a beautiful hiking trail on Moorea at Col de Vai'are. We could also go snorkeling on Moorea at Temae Beach, Public Beach Taahiamanu, and Coral Garden Tiahura. I found a great snorkeling guide at Snorkeling Report. We'll probably utilize Moorea Miti Tours to help us get beyond the shoreline for some great snorkeling!
There's a car ferry that takes you between Tahiti and Moorea islands. Preliminary searching has revealed Ninamu Pearl Tahiti and Green Lodge Moorea as our preferred lodging. Ninamu Pearl even provides a half day boat tour where we could swim with dolphins, turtles, sharks and rays!
October: Southern China and Nepal
China has been our #1 favorite country thus far, and we would love to return and explore more of it! Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which they say inspired the floating mountains in the film Avatar, is one place we would like to see. We could also explore Tianmen Mountain National Park and Folk Customs Park while we're there. We'll probably use China Highlights to help us get around.
Another cool location in Southern China would be Lijiang and Shangri-La City! We could see the Black Dragon Pool and Moon Embracing Pavilion, Lijiang Old Town with its canals, Yuhu Village, and the Tibetan Songzanlin Monastery and Dukezong Ancient City in Shangri-La. We may use China Discovery to help us travel around the region.
In Nepal, Kathmandu (Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath), Bhaktapur, Chitwan National Park (staying at Kasara Resort), and Pokhara (International Mountain Museum) lakeside town are all places we could explore.
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: 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.
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 (or April): South Korea, Taiwan
East Asia during the Fall, or during the Spring cherry blossom season, would be beautiful! Seoul and Taipei are only a few hours flight from one another as well.
Egypt would be nice in November with a stop in Cairo (Grand 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 as well. Lodging in Pyramids Valley Boutique Hotel, Pavillon Winter Hotel in Luxor, and Rayhana Guest House in Marsa Alam.
There are many other places we want to explore as well, such as the Galapagos Islands, Philippines, Iceland, Iran, etc. I know we'll get there eventually. It's only a matter of time.