The end of each year always makes people reflect on the past 12 months and make plans for the next 12 months. While collectively, the majority of this country would say 2017 wasn’t that great, I personally had a great year. One of the many reasons is I was able to travel to some of my favorite cities and add a few new ones to my map. I am thankful to have a job that takes me to new cities for work and a vacation plan that allows me to do the same for pleasure. As I typed this all out, I realized I traveled ALOT. 11 trips in total. Here’s my 2017 travel year in review with a little about each destination.
San Diego, CA
My first work trip of the year! I was happy to go to the West Coast where people were still leisurely walking the beach. I was only in town for 2 short days for work, but was able to enjoy the beach along with a sunset dinner. I stayed at the Marriott Solana Beach which is conveniently located near many attractions and restaurants. They have a great outdoor area with a pool and firepit or you can just hop down to the beach.
February through March was full of lots of work travel for me. I actually did a road trip with coworker for this short trip. It’s about a 4 hour car ride which isn’t too bad. We stayed at the Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown. I have to be honest, there isn’t much to do in Cincinnati. It most certainly is not on my list to go back anytime soon, unless for work again. The best part of the trip was our indulgent lunch at Morton’s Steakhouse.
Chicago is one of my FAVORITE cities. Partially because I lived there for 2 year while in graduate school. There really isn’t another city like it during the summer. In the winter, you can still find a lot to do, you just have to bundle up. I stayed at the Hyatt Centric Chicago on the Magnificent Mile for a full week for another work trip. As I said, I travel A LOT for work. This Hyatt has a great bar on the 2nd floor where the group spent most of our nights. One night we went to Revival Food Hall which is an upscale food court that houses 15 local restaurants and bars. We were able to sample each one and I surely stuffed my face. I suggest this if you’re with a big group so everyone can get what they want and then you all dine together and try different things.
This was my last work trip of the year. I spent a full week here for our annual sales conference. I stayed at the JW Marriott Tuscon Starr Pass Resort & Spa. It’s a gorgeous property with 2 pools and a lazy river. I tried to work in the pool cabanas everyday instead of my room (good thing about work trips). Every evening, they give out complimentary tequila shots on the patio and tell a story before everyone does a traditional cheers together. As most resorts are, it’s pretty secluded. You’re in the middle of the mountains which leads to beautiful sunrises and sunsets. It’s about a 20 minute drive into downtown.
As great as it is to travel on the company’s dime, I do love personal travel where I can disconnect. My friend Kendra’s birthday is on Saint Patrick’s Day. I drove to Memphis with a friend for the weekend to celebrate with her. My parents are from Memphis and I have been many times. This was my first time in almost a decade and I can say it’s changed for the better. They have a lot more to do and better bars and restaurants in the downtown area now. We arrived Friday night and had dinner at Itta Bena. It’s a fine dining restaurant above BB Kings. After that, we went to Beale Street. We ended the weekend at Bayou Bar for brunch. It was really good!
Los Angles/Indio Valley, CA
My favorite time of the year is always Coachella. I book my tickets a year in advance (I’ve already purchased my 2018 passes). We fly into LAX on Wednesday night, stay in the city and then drive down to Indio Valley on Thursday morning. We always camp because we like to spend a full day inside for the shows. Our campsite is legit as we’ve done it a few years. Must to make your experience comfortable are a canopy, tarp for your tent, chairs, tables, gas grill, solar charger and portable shower. I will write a full recap on Coachella 2018 next year especially since Beyonce is headlining this year.
In May, my sister launched her event planning company, Noire Society. For the launch, she threw an amazing Cinco de Mayo party at the Prospect DC. They have a great event space upstairs. Good food and great margaritas. Cinco de Mayo is one of our fave days of the year. We ended the weekend with a brunch at Driftwood Kitchen. If you’re looking for a fun bottomless mimosa brunch, be sure to check out this place. They have great patios with nice views of the city.
I spent a week in the DR for my friend Justina’s 29th birthday. See my full post recap here. We stayed at the Royal Villas which is part of the all-inclusive Lifestyle Holiday Vacation Resort. The great thing about Lifestyle is they have options for every price tier to accommodate guests. I recommend this option no matter your budget. Despite your room, everyone enjoys the same amenities and all of the great beaches.
Toronto is my 2nd Canadian city and my fave so far. It’s very American and everyone was friendly. I got lost once and had strangers walk me to the restaurant. I went there for Caribana. Caribana is a must experience to get a cultural lesson in Caribbean culture, eat great food and dance with amazing humans! It’s as close as you can get to the original in Barbados. It draws a million people to the city each year. We did a travel package which was great and included the Hilton Toronto. In addition to our hotel, the package included all of the day and night parties we wanted to go to. That way, when we got there we didn’t have to worry about anything.
Las Vegas, NV
My last trip of 2017 was for Life is Beautiful…be sure to check out my full post on it here. Vegas is always a good, but exhausting time, especially when you add in a music festival during the day. I suggest going to the Seven Magic Mountains if you plan to visit next year. It’s really a beautiful site to see. We stayed at the SLS Las Vegas which I would recommend as it’s a beautiful with great restaurants and shopping inside. The hotel is located in more of downtown than the strip, but a short Lyft ride away.
In 2018, I’m looking forward to spending my 30th birthday in Los Cabos in June! I will also be revisiting some of my faves Atlanta, Gulf Shores and Los Angeles and checking out Montego Bay, Jamaica for the first time. I’m still planning out the back half of the year. Please give me your suggestions. What trips do you have planned for 2018? Tell me in the comments below.