Best Travel Picks of 2016

Best Travel Picks of 2016 - Jill and Viv of WAVEJourney.com

Best Travel Picks of 2016 – Jill and Viv of WAVEJourney.com

Best Travel Picks of 2016

By WAVEJourney’s Viv and Jill – AKA: WJ

We can’t believe that 2016 is almost a wrap! Where did this year go? Did you have some fun adventures and get to knock off at least one trip from your travel bucket list?

WJ has taken a look back at some of our favorite travel moments of 2016 and picked our top experiences for “The Best of…”. Take a look and see if you’d like to follow in our footsteps in your 2017 travels and experience any of the places in our recap.

BEST HORSE RIDING ADVENTURE

Best Horse Riding Experience - Sundance Guest Ranch in Ashcroft, British Columbia.

Best Horse Riding Experience – Sundance Guest Ranch in Ashcroft, British Columbia.

WJ loves to ride, and so does our 9-year-old niece, Jada. But finding a ranch where riders of all abilities are accommodated is not an easy thing to do. Most ranches only offer nose-to-tail rides with large groups where walking is the fastest speed. Not at Sundance Guest Ranch in Ashcroft, British Columbia, Canada! Here riders go out with one or two wranglers, are in small groups with people of the same ability, and can actually gallop during some of the rides. Riding is the main focus of this rustic ranch, and the terrain and horses are hard to beat for anyone seeking this kind of adventure.

 

BEST SUNRISE

Best Sunrise - Sunrise yoga and stretch class on Safari Endeavour in the Sea of Cortes

Best Sunrise – Sunrise yoga and stretch class on Safari Endeavour in the Sea of Cortes

While on a small ship adventure cruise in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico with Un-Cruise Adventures, we woke each morning before sunrise and went to yoga. It was during our yoga that the sun would rise and we were amazed by the beautiful break of day. The perfect way to start each and every exciting day.

 

BEST VIEW

Best View - Sailing in to San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge

Best View – Sailing in to San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge on Holland America Line’s Amsterdam

Cruising under the Golden Gate Bridge upon approach at sunrise into San Francisco was a view that could not be beat this year. We were on a 22-day Holland America Line Panama Canal cruise and San Francisco was one of the ports on the itinerary. Add an approach sailing to the City by the Bay if you can – it’s bucket list worthy.

 

BEST SMALL TOWN FESTIVAL

Best Small Town Festival - Alpenfest in Joseph, Oregon.

Best Small Town Festival – Alpenfest in Joseph, Oregon.

Alpenfest in Joseph, Oregon got our four thumbs up for this title this year. Not only is Joseph a quaint and cute town – with some good places to dine and boutique shops on the main drag – but the surrounding area is very scenic. Oregon’s Alpenfest is an annual Swiss-inspired Oktoberfest event.

 

BEST CRUISE PORT

Best Cruise Port - Old Town Cartagena in Columbia

Best Cruise Port – Old Town Cartagena in Columbia

Cartagena in Columbia gets our pick of best cruise port we went to this year (out of 25+). The Old Town is colorful and vibrant. The people are warm and welcoming. It’s a 20-minute taxi ride from the port to the entrance to Old Town and interesting to wander around for a few hours or more. We just wish we’d had longer at this destination during our Panama Canal cruise with Holland America Line.

 

BEST SUNSET

Best Sunset - Sunset over the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon.

Best Sunset – Sunset over the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon.

Bend, Oregon has some of the best sunsets to be found anywhere. At anytime of year when the sun sets over the Cascade Mountains,  with beauty clouds in the sky, the sunset can be quite spectacular.

 

BEST CRUISE DESTINATION

Best Cruise Destination - Holland America Line Panama Canal Cruise

Best Cruise Destination – Holland America Line Panama Canal Cruise

Cruising the Panama Canal had long been on our bucket list, and this was the year we got to check the box during a cruise with Holland America Line. What an incredible engineering marvel that was built over a hundred years ago. We would do this again in a heartbeat – next time we’d like to go transit west to east.

BEST FINE DINING MEAL

Best Fine Dining Meal - Bimini Steakhouse at Peppermill Reno Resort Casino.

Best Fine Dining Meal – Bimini Steakhouse at Peppermill Reno Resort Casino.

Bimini Steakhouse at the Peppermill Reno Resort Casino (once again) gets our approval for the best fine dining meal we devoured in 2016. Tableside, they make a delicious Caesar salad for two, as well as a melt-in-your-mouth Steak Diane. We are drooling just thinking about a return visit.

 

BEST ACTIVE DESTINATION

Best Active Destination - Jill and Viv at Whistler Blackcomb with niece Jada

Best Active Destination – Jill and Viv at Whistler Blackcomb with niece Jada

In August we spent a few days exploring Whistler in British Columbia with our Jada. During this visit we had tremendous fun riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb. Each of us also really enjoyed carving our own Inukshuk at Fathom Stone Art Gallery in Whistler Village. To top it all off, we went horse riding – Hokey Pokey Gold Rush Tour – in the Callaghan Valley where Viv got to ride a mule for the very first time.

 

BEST WINE TASTING

Best Wine Tasting - Bernardus in Carmel Valley, California.

Best Wine Tasting – Bernardus in Carmel Valley, California.

A surprise visit to the Carmel Valley outside of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California had us checking out a few of the wine tasting rooms there. Our favorite was definitely at Bernardus Winery where we could have bought a case of each of their wines – they were that good. Their wine tasting was reasonably priced and the pours were generous. They have an amazing chardonnay that was rich and buttery, and especially enjoyable.

 

BEST LUXURY GUEST RANCH EXPERIENCE

Best Luxury Guest Ranch Experience - Echo Valley Ranch - Bahn Thai Lodge and Cabins

Best Luxury Guest Ranch Experience – Echo Valley Ranch – Bahn Thai Lodge and Cabins

Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in British Columbia, Canada is the place to spend a few days surrounded by nature while staying at a top-notch ranch. The architecture has a distinct and unique Thai influence, plus the kind, friendly and personable staff make EVR one of our favorite ranches to relax and unwind. There are also lots of activities for those that want to stay busy – fly fishing, horse riding, hiking, bike riding, Thai yoga, indoor swimming pool, etc. – or you can just hang out at the ranch and enjoy reading a good book.

 

BEST BEACH RESORT

Best Beach Resort - Infinity Pool at Dreams Los Cabos Resort

Best Beach Resort – Infinity Pool at Dreams Los Cabos Resort

Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa on the hotel corridor between Cabo San Lucas and Los Cabos, Baja Peninsula, Mexico was the perfect place to relax, enjoy the sun and warmth during a winter break, and dine on some of the best food we’ve had anywhere. We’d love to go back here in 2017 – the 4 nights we stayed just wasn’t long enough.

 

BEST CRUISE ITINERARY

Best Cruise Itinerary - Grande Mariner Bow Landing in The Bahamas

Best Cruise Itinerary – Grande Mariner Bow Landing in The Bahamas

An 11-day Bahamian Out Islands cruise we took with Blount Small Ship Adventures had the best itinerary for exploring the area. Grande Mariner is a small ship with a shallow hull so was able to cruise where the big ships can’t, and we explored places only private yachts and sail boats have access to.

 

BEST BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Best Boutique Hotel - Library at Chesterfield Palm Beach

Best Boutique Hotel – Library at Chesterfield Palm Beach

We have two picks for this title (east coast and west coast USA): Palm Beach in Florida is home to one of our most favorite boutique hotels – Chesterfield Palm Beach. We spent 3 nights there while exploring the area and absolutely loved the ambiance and service at this Red Carnation Hotel. San Jose, California is where Hotel Valencia Santana Row is located, and this boutique hotel is perfectly situated for exploring all that the Santana Row luxury shopping area has to offer.

 

BEST CASUAL MEAL

Best Casual Meal - Harry O's at Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

Best Casual Meal – Harry O’s at Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

We love a great rustic café, and Harry O’s Seafood Grill and Cafe in Dunmore Town on Harbour Island in the Bahamas was idyllic. It sits right over the water, serves local Bahamian food (conch fritters were delicious), and Kalik beer (locally brewed in Nassau). Definitely one of our best casual meal experiences ever!

 

BEST SPA EXPERIENCE

Best Spa Experience - Echo Valley Ranch Cariboo Spa - Thai Massage Table

Best Spa Experience – Echo Valley Ranch Cariboo Spa – Thai Massage Table

Without a doubt, the very best spa experience we had was during a stay at Echo Valley Ranch in British Columbia’s Cariboo region. Viv had a classic Thai massage that topped her list as the most amazing massage ever – worthy of visiting EVR just for the massage (even though there’s so much more to enjoy there).

 

BEST WINERY TASTING TOUR

Best Winery Tasting Tour - Caymus Vineyard in Napa, California.

Best Winery Tasting Tour – Caymus Vineyard in Napa, California.

Caymus Vineyards in Napa, California is worthy of spending a few hours savoring their delicious wine with the help of their knowledgeable staff. Making a reservation is highly recommended as it is very popular and they only accept a limited number of people. The setting is beautiful and serene, the tastings of five Wagner Family wines can include Caymus, Mer Soleil, Emmolo and Conundrum.

 

BEST POSITIVE IMPACT TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

Best Positive Impact Travel Experience - Jill with women at RePapel in the Dominican Republic - Fathom social impact recycled paper activity.

Best Positive Impact Travel Experience – Jill with women at RePapel in the Dominican Republic – Fathom social impact recycled paper activity.

Fathom set sail on their inaugural voyage to the Dominican Republic in April and WJ was on board. It was incredible to meet and work side-by-side with the local people and learn a little about their lives. Our hands-on assistance with various social impact activities clearly helped to improve their work productivity and increase their English language skills. This was a unique cruise experience filled with passion and purpose.

 

BEST BEER FESTIVAL

Best Beer Festival - Bend Brewfest 2016. Photo courtesy of Jill Rosell at I Love Bend.

Best Beer Festival – Bend Brewfest 2016. Photo courtesy of Jill Rosell at I Love Bend.

Bend Brewfest is an annual event every August in Bend, Oregon. WJ tries to be in Bend each summer during this festival that any craft beer lover should add to their list. Add it to your 2017 travel list and you’re likely to see us there, too.

 

BEST WOMEN-ONLY ADVENTURE

Best Women-Only Adventure - Schooner Zodiac Nauti-Gals Sailing Weekend.

Best Women-Only Adventure – Schooner Zodiac Nauti-Gals Sailing Weekend.

In July WJ took our third sailing trip on Schooner Zodiac in the San Juan Islands of Washington. This was during their annual Nauti-Gals weekend and we had the best sailing weather, most fun gaggle of gals, delicious home-cooked meals, and incredible scenery as we sailed through the islands. We’d love to go again next year. Want to join us?

 

BEST MOUNTAIN RESORT HOTEL

Best Mountain Resort Hotel - Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside - Living Room

Best Mountain Resort Hotel – Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside – Living Room

Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside gets the top billing for this category. The hotel is in a prime location in Whistler Village at the base of the Whistler Gondola, making it easy to get around on foot. The rooms are nicely appointed and have wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. Perfect place for any vacation – families, couples, friends getaway.

 

JILL’S TOP TRAVEL HIGHLIGHT

Jill's Top 2016 Highlight - WSOP Ladies Event in Las Vegas

Jill’s Top 2016 Travel Highlight – WSOP Ladies Event in Las Vegas

Playing the Ladies Event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas for the second time (first was 2010) was a huge thrill. With over 800 passionate poker players, it was both challenging and inspiring to be surrounded by both pros and amateurs while playing this game that I love.

 

VIV’S TOP TRAVEL HIGHLIGHT

Viv's Top 2016 Travel Highlight - Corinto, Nicaragua

Viv’s Top 2016 Travel Highlight – Corinto, Nicaragua

Spending a day in Corinto, Nicaragua, wandering the town and taking a pedicab rickshaw tour with a local to see places that wouldn’t be on a typical excursion. It was an eye-opening way to witness local life.

 

WJ is excited to know what your best picks were for 2016, so email us or let us know on Facebook. And, where should we add to our 2017 travel bucket list – we always try and go where you want to hear about.

Cheers,
Viv and Jill – AKA: WJ

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