2019: A Travel Synopsis and Ranking

{A brief paragraph about every place I visited in 2019 + which were the favorites}

Obviously this was not from the year 2020 and is an old post. My 2020 travel list will be coming out later on (and will be much shorter than this one).

2019 was the busiest travel year of my life to date. I had the opportunity to see so many amazing places, and while all of them were special in their own way, this is a (slightly long) ranking of the places I had the chance to see in 2019. Below each paragraph there might be links or lists of favorite places for that city. I have individual blog posts that are more detailed out on most of these locations, and if there’s not one now there will be soon!

Places included (in order): Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Fort Worth, Dallas, Palo Duro Canyon, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, San Antonio, Fredericksburg, Charlotte, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Savannah, Boston, Chicago, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Estes Park

I’ll start off with the Texas places, because I’m from Texas so I have to put these cities first…

they aren’t placed in any order of favorites because they all have their own special spot in my memories.

· Corpus Christi, Texas

My now- husband was stationed in Corpus Christi for almost a year, starting in September of 2018. This was the first time in our four years of dating that we lived in the same state (and within driving distance of each other). Many drives and late-night flights were made to Corpus, lots of walks were taken on Ocean Drive, and Oso Bay, and lots of pancake breakfasts were enjoyed at Camden South Bay. What will make Corpus stand out in my memory is the people there and the fact that we got engaged in Corpus. The beautiful teal water and the lovely memories I have from there leave an overall positive impression of Corpus in my mind.

-Oso Bay: nice little preserve on the bay to go walking on

-Ocean Drive: Cole Park is a good place on Ocean Drive to walk along the water

-Whitecaps Beach: easy parking, quickly accessible

-Coffee Waves: Alameda location in my opinion is cuter

-In the Game Funtrackers: mini golf, arcade games, a batting cage, and more

· Kingsville, Texas

Kingsville, Texas is where I now live with my husband. While it is only 45 minutes away from Corpus Christi, it is a totally different culture. Kingsville is a small town (population around 26,000) that is centered around the King Ranch, Texas A&M University Kingsville, and Naval Air Station Kingsville. There are many delicious tex-mex restaurants, lots of open land with cotton fields and wind mills, and that good old Southern hospitality. There’s a Walmart, HEB, Whataburger, Chick-fil-a Express (soon to be a real one), Hobby Lobby, Marshall’s, and a Starbucks. Some of the restaurants we like are Dandy’s for burgers, The King’s Inn for family-style dining with seafood, El Dorado and Mr. Jaime’s for Mexican, and Spice Station for Indian food. We spend a lot of time on base at the gym, with friends, and walking alongside the fields. So far we’ve seen cotton, corn and sorghum growing. The sunsets and sunrises here are beautiful. Being a small town has it’s ups and downs, but Kingsville has been a lovely first home for us.

· Fort Worth, Texas

One of my best friends lives in Fort Worth. I was able to tour the Lockheed Martin facility with her, see the stockyards, the water gardens, and the botanical gardens. I hadn’t been to Fort Worth in years and I was pleasantly surprised at how cute it is.

-Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

-Fort Worth Water Gardens

-Fort Worth Stockyards

· Dallas, Texas

My other best friend lives in Dallas. It amazes me how different Fort Worth and Dallas are, even though they are often lumped together as “DFW”. I visited Dallas twice this year, for my best friend’s birthday and for a friend’s wedding.

-Breadwinner’s Café and Bakery: https://www.breadwinnerscafe.com/

· Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

My (now) husband and I kicked off 2019 with a nice long road trip to the Palo Duro Canyon. Compared to driving out to west Texas, the drive is flat (think 9 hours of the drive from Houston to Dallas), but the canyon is spectacular. The hikes we did were not too strenuous but still took us through great scenery. It was in the 20s-50s when we went (it even snowed on New Year’s Day). Palo Duro is a unique place in Texas that I don’t know if I would drive all the way out to again, but it was definitely worth the trip we made.

Our wonderful Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/30442814?source_impression_id=p3_1577579849_i7%2BJUYkU8U2WIQVm

· Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose, Texas

In February 2019, my dad took me to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. It is a great escape from the city. We stayed in a little cabin on the property where it was nice and quiet (besides the occasional wolf howling). I would highly recommend staying on the property. A homestyle breakfast was included and it was so lovely to be right in the middle of nature when we woke up, but to still have a bed and AC to sleep in. The animals at the park were amazing; there were literally thousands of animals roaming freely around the huge property. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. Just outside of the park is the Dinosaur Valley State Park as well, which is an neat place to walk around.

· San Antonio, Texas

My fiancé and I went to San Antonio right before Christmas to visit one of his college friends who was in town for the holidays. Our visit was less than 24 hours, but we had a great time. We went to the St. Mary’s Strip at night and to Snooze in the morning. The Brass Monkey bar happened to be having a Star Wars party that night so we were dancing alongside Darth Vaders and Storm Troopers. Joey’s had free darts and pool (for $7/hr), along with pretty good pizza.

-Joey’s: https://m.facebook.com/JoeysSanAntonio/

-Brass Monkey: https://www.facebook.com/BrassMonkeyTX

· Fredericksburg/Enchanted Rock, Texas

In March 2019, we went to Fredericksburg to celebrate a friend’s birthday at some of the local wineries. Before going in to Fredericksburg we stopped at the nearby Enchanted Rock to watch the sunset. I had seen this massive rock before but it still amazes me. Being March, bluebonnets decorated the rock and the roads for miles before Fredericksburg, making it a beautiful trip.

Now for the non-Texas list:

12. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte was my second solo trip of 2019. I think I felt more comfortable traveling to more Southern states alone at first..anyways, Charlotte is a charming little city with lots of museums, small parks, and sculptures. I really enjoyed the Billy Graham Museum on the way back to the airport. There was not a whole lot to do in Charlotte that was free but it was still a nice walkable city that I felt safe in by myself.

11. Minneapolis, Minnesota

I met a coworker whose fiancé worked for an airline, so in October 2019 we impulsively decided 24 hours prior to go to Minneapolis. We wandered around the Mall of America (including going to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and the Mall of America Aquarium) and hiked around Minnehaha Falls. Would recommend Minnehaha Falls. Would not recommend spending $40 on lunch at Margaritaville (it was yummy though).

10. St. Louis, Missouri

Going to St. Louis had been on my travel hit-list for a long time and finally in mid-February I was able to go. The Gateway Arch was absolutely stunning. IT was also snowing when I visited, which made it even more beautiful. I couldn’t stop staring at it. This architectural feat built in the 1960s is a must-see. For $12 I got a guided tour of the arch, access to the expansive arch museum, a 30-minute video on the construction of the arch, and most exciting: a ride in a tiny car up the side of the arch to the very top. My trip was very short in St. Louis so unfortunately I did not have much time to explore much else, but I loved the arch.

gateway arch in St. Louis Missouri takes up majority of the screen, set against a cloudy gay sky the silver arch is the focal point of this image
the gateway arch

9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In April 2019, my brother, grandpa, and I went to Pittsburgh for the day. We watched a Pirates game and visited the National Aviary. The view of the river, the city and the many yellow bridges from PNC Stadium is lovely. We enjoyed our short trip and I enjoyed this time with my grandpa and brother.

8. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston was the very first place I traveled to completely alone, and while nervous at first, I loved it. The beautiful, colorful, historic architecture combined with the waterfront views and sprawling trees made Charleston a great first solo trip. It is a very walkable town and I was able to see a lot (Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, The Battery) during my afternoon there.

7. Palo Duro Canyon, Texas: see above

6. Savannah, Georgia

Early November, the flights aligned for me to go to Savannah, Georgia. It is similar to Charleston in that it is a riverfront town with historic architecture. However, it has tons of little square parks and it’s own personality infused throughout the Spanish-moss-lined streets. Forsyth Park and The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist were some of my favorites. However, just wandering up and down the town and the riverfront made for a great day in and of itself. It’s a beautiful Southern city.

5. Boston, Massachusetts

In August 2019, my dad and I ventured up to New England for some chowdah and Boston accents. We had a great time floating on the Boston Harbor, walking the Freedom Trail, and eating the best cannolis ever at Modern Pastry. Boston amazed me with it’s abundant flowers and foliage, it’s red cobblestone streets, and it’s delicious little Italy.

-The Daily Catch: http://thedailycatch.com/

-Modern Pastry: https://www.modernpastry.com/

4. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Glen Rose, Texas : see above

3. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois. Our pretend-cruise destination. Me and two other friends were supposed to go on a Caribbean Cruise, but unfortunately we bought tickers right during hurricane season anddd a hurricane happened. Thankfully the cruise line cancelled the cruise and United let us switch our tickets for free (no $200 change fee!) so we booked a last-minute 3-day trip to Chicago. This city is so interesting. We took an architecture cruise down the river, ate lots of deep dish pizza, biked along Lake Michigan, and went up to the top of Willis Tower. Chicago is another city that is easy to walk around and I felt safe in the areas we were in and in a small group. I loved our impromptu trip to Chicago! (Pizzeria Uno had the best pizza).

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

I had wanted to go to the Smoky Mountains for years and finally I said to heck with it, rented a car, and bought a plane ticket to Knoxville, Tennessee. I visited in late October, so the fall leaves were still ablaze throughout the park. It rained my entire trip, but that just meant the trails were less crowded. It was gorgeous. I loved driving through the park, hiking, and just taking in the views. Hiking alone was a new and kind of scary experience for me. I’m not too sure how much of it I’ll do in the future but I had a good experience this first time.

1. Estes Park, Colorado

Out of all the places I traveled in 2019, Estes Park takes the cake as my favorite. I actually was blessed enough to go to Colorado twice: one week with my family in June and again with my fiancé in late September. Both times I stayed less than two miles from the park entrance, and both times I was fortunate enough to have gorgeous weather for hiking. In June there were still snow-peaked mountains and icy trails, while in late September the snow had melted and been replaced with fiery autumn aspen leaves. Everything about the Rocky Mountains is beautiful. There are so many gorgeous view points and different terrains. Just by doing short day hikes, or hikes under 11 miles long, you can see so many breathtaking features. There are hikes or drives for any ability or length of time, all of them offering lovely gifts of nature. Both trips to Estes Park were phenomenal and I would highly highly recommend visiting here. We flew into Denver and it’s about a 90 minute drive from there.

This was our airbnb the second time and it was perfect!



Admittedly I did include two places from Texas on that list. Oops.

If you made it to the end of this lengthy chronicle, thank you.

I enjoyed every place I had the chance to travel to in 2019 and am so thankful to have had such a busy, exploration-filled year. Here’s to the new year and the new decade; may your year be filled with safety, happiness, and adventure!

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