Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Having goals is essential to accomplishing your dreams. I also think looking back at what you've accomplished is just as important.
Last week I talked about what's on my travel bucket list that I would like to do but I also want to talk about what I’ve already checked off my bucket list. You can read my current bucket list here: My Travel Bucket List
I'm excited to share with you the places I've been. Travel is an investment in myself and I use photography as a way to capture the memories, beauty, and experiences in these amazing places. There are some places that aren't on this list because either I don't really remember them, we just drove through, or we weren't there on vacation. These places include Sedona, Yellowstone, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.
So here is a list of 30 places I've been.
This was never on my bucket list 15 years ago but an opportunity presented itself to go here when my cousin was living/working there. I absolutely fell in love with Ireland and it has become a permanent place on my bucket list. I’ve been there twice, once in 2007 and then in 2018. You can read more about my last experience in Ireland where I go to Adare Manor and Blarney Castle, Dingle Peninsula, Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park, Beara Peninsula, Wild Atlantic Way, and Kinsale.
I first went to Mexico my senior year of high school and we had quite the experience. It was my first time on an airplane besides the one vacation going to Disney World when I was 7. We went to Chichen Itza and we were able to climb to the top at that time. It was a very neat experience. I’ve been there 5 times so far and always on the gulf side near Cancun and Cozumel. It's really changed over the years and I'm kind of sad that some of the places we went to on our first visit were so built up that you couldn't really get there anymore.
We were fortunate enough to visit my sister-in-law and her family when they lived in Oahu near Pearl Harbor on the Airforce base. We saw a lot of amazing places and enjoyed the visit. Let me know in the comments if you want me to blog about it.
This was my favorite island so far because it was small, lush and the perfect island vibe with beautiful scenery. If I revisit an island in Hawaii this would be the one I go back to first. I will be writing more blogs about my experience here.
Hawaii (The Big Island)
Overall, the places we visited on the Big Island were amazing and I loved them! When they call it Big Island it’s for good reason…it’s really big. I didn’t get to visit all the places on my list because it took too long to drive to them. To see everything I would need at least a week and you would have to stay in different parts of the island. It’s more commercialized then Kauai was so it depends on the vibe you are looking for as to what island and what part of the island to visit. I definitely had some favorite locations so stay tuned for my Hawaii blogs.
This is a place I’m glad I went to experience it but I wouldn’t go back. It felt very similar to New York City in my opinion. I’m not a fan of really crowded places but I’m glad I went. We spent one day there and packed a lot in. You can read about it here: London in a Day.
Caribbean Cruise Ports
Grand Turk was my favorite port on a cruise as they had an awesome pool there and we hung out all day. Nassau, Bahamas was a great spot for the perfect day in the Caribbean. I would not go back to Jamaica. We had a great time swimming with sting rays in Grand Cayman. St. Thomas was fun to see local shops and hang at the beach. San Juan, Puerto Rico was awesome when we went hiking through the rainforest.
Idaho and the Sawtooth Mountains
I never would have guessed how beautiful Idaho was until I visited. The sawtooth mountains and the lakes were breathtaking. Stanley was a cute little town and Alice Lake was an amazing hike. You can read about this hike here: Hiking to Alice Lake. We went to beautiful waterfalls as well which you can read about here: Waterfalls of Southern Idaho.
I’ve been to Vegas 3 times. Once on new years with my mom and sister, once in September as a girls trip and once with my husband. Each trip was fun in its own way. It’s a great getaway for a long weekend. Fun shows and entertainment, great food and nice weather.
Up North, Minnesota
I grew up going to my cabin every summer and I love up north (north of the twin cities) Minnesota. Look for upcoming blogs about fun places to go. Some of the places I've been in the area are Longville, Walker, Nisswa, Remer, Brainerd, Leech Lake, Bemidji, The Lost 40, Federal Dam and many more.
Duluth and Lake Superior, Minnesota
This area is absolutely stunning and so unique. The rocky shoreline, the big ships, the ocean like lake and the hiking is fantastic.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota
I love the Boundary Waters Canoe Area which is in the northern part of the state and I will write a blog about my BWCA experiences as I've been there 3 times and it's absolutely stunning. You don't have to camp because you can take day trips in but to fully experience the BWCA I would recommend camping overnight for a couple of days.
We've explored mostly the areas in Wisconsin that border Minnesota. There are some neat waterfalls and hiking areas that I like. I've been there in the summer and the winter. I actually went to college in Eau Claire for a year so I was able to hike in that area which is really pretty. We also go ATVing in Danbury Wisconsin which is super fun! If you're interested in renting an ATV in Danbury this is who we go through Throttle RX Rental. We've gone to Wisconsin Dells but I'm not much a waterpark person.
I was able to go to a work conference in DC and we took some time to do some sightseeing. Such a cool place to visit with so much history. We went to all the touristy places and I would like to go back and spend more time in certain places
Florida (Marco Island, Everglades, Miami, St. George Island)
We go to Marco Island on vacation every spring and I absolutely LOVE it here. The beaches, the shelling, the sunshine, and the feel of the island. You can read more about my trips to Marco Island here: Birds of Marco Island, Burrowing Owls, and 50 things to photograph in Florida. We stayed in South Miami before our cruise and it was my favorite ocean beach. White sand, turquoise waters and sunshiny weather. I'm not a huge fan of really crowded places so if I just got dropped off at a hotel on the beach I'd be happy there. We have also stayed on the panhandle in St. George Island which has a really awesome vibe to it.
There’s nothing like the Everglades and it remains on my bucket list as I find something cool every time I go there. I try to explore a different area each year but I also have my favorite spots.
I went to Disney World when I was 7 so I don't remember a ton on that trip other than getting the characters autographs. I also went when I was at a work conference and we went to Epcot and did pin trading in downtown Disney which was a blast! Then I went a third time with my own kids and we went to Animal Kingdom which was really cool. The lines were VERY long so you don't get to go on as many rides as you would like. Our favorite ride was Avatar.
Tybee Island, Georgia
We made a quick stop here on our road trip from Florida to Minnesota and it was pretty cool. We ate at Paula Deen’s Creek House Restaurant and it was delicious with a great atmosphere. I'd like to explore more of Savannah near by on my next trip to Georgia.
I wasn’t overly impressed but maybe it's because we were there on Easter Sunday morning and there was a lot of aftermath smells and garbage from the night before. There were some great historical buildings and places to get some detail photo shots. Perhaps I should give it another visit but I do not have plans to go back. The Easter parade was cool and everyone was in their Sunday best.
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
There are a ton of trails in this cave and around the area to explore. It was definitely mammoth size and I would recommend going here. Check to see what type of reservations you need prior to visiting because some trails need to be reserved ahead of time.
I wouldn’t say the mountains were as impressive as Colorado or Idaho but they had a unique beauty about them. I’d like to go back sometime and take photographs early in the morning or late in the evening.
If I could live anywhere other than Minnesota, it would be Colorado. I love the mountains here and the gorgeous scenery. We are fortunate to have relatives that we get to visit while we are there too.
Rocky Mountain National Park
I really like this park and I've been to it several times. My favorite hike was to Dream Lake. I also like Sprague and Bear lake. The drive around the park is pretty too. We stayed in Estes Park which is awesome and I would love to go back. It's not that far of a drive from Minnesota so I will be back again. I would probably go during the off season for a change of scenery and not as busy.
This place is like no other that I’ve visited. I was able to go to a photography workshop here and the beautiful scenery was so fun to capture. I've been here 3 times and the scenery amazes me every time.
North Dakota Camping
We went camping one weekend with a a photography group I was in and we had quite the experience. A big storm came through during the night and I had to hold the tent with all my strength. We got a hotel the next night because sleeping in the car with a bunch of mosquitos was not very fun.
I've been here once when I was younger and once when my kids were younger. It has an interesting history and we did hike around the area but I wouldn't be sad if I didn't make it there again.
Arches National Park, Utah
Unfortunately the timing was not ideal when we visited because it was blazing hot and we could hardly walk to where we wanted due to the excessive heat. I like to go places early when it is cool but we had a long drive and not able to visit until middle of the day. Highly recommend going in the morning or evening to this park.
The mountains here are simply amazing, grand and magical. We went to Jenny Lake and Mormon row as well as some of the scenic stops along the road. It was really crowded in the middle of the day and we had a hard time finding parking at Jenny Lake which is a loop so if you don't find a spot you have to go around the whole loop again. Go early.
New York in December
Our first time to New York was early December and everything was decorated for Christmas. We also happen to be there during the SantaCon and I've never seen more Santa's in one place ever! We saw Wicked, Time Square, Central Park and all the touristy places. We did the hop on and hop off bus which was awesome and I would recommend it. I would like to eventually go back and explore more.
I went here when I was in college so I don't remember a ton of it and I have no idea where all the photos are. I was able to find a pic that I had printed a copy of. I do remember hiking down the canyon as far as you could go in a day (you have to stay overnight if you go all the way to the bottom). I took too long going down because I couldn't stop taking photos so we had to hustle back up. I went too fast and ended up fainting when we got to the top. My advice is to drink plenty of water and take your time on your way back up. The views were stunning though!
Park City, Utah
I had no idea Utah was as beautiful of a state until we came snowboarding here one winter. It is so gorgeous and I loved going in the winter. The town was lit up and fresh snow covered the roads and sidewalks. Since we live in Minnesota it's not my first choice to go somewhere cold in the winter but this was worth it!
I can't wait to continue adding to this list once I check them off my bucket list. If you would like to see what's on my bucket list you can read about them here: My Travel Bucket List