2017 is over, it doesn’t seem possible! So it’s time to reflect on some of the awesome places I visited and my favourite travel memories from 2017! This year I’m going to divide them up into the American Midwest, Europe and Worldwide…just like my tag line “exploring England, Iowa and everywhere in between!”. What have been some of your 2017 highlights?
2017 Travel Stats
Countries: 6 (USA, Belize, England, Ireland, Austria, Germany)
US States: 6 (Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Texas) plus flight connections in Florida and North Carolina
Top Midwest Destinations 2017
Silver Lake State Park, Michigan
This was one of my favourite finds from 2017! It was discovered randomly when we drove by a road sign on the Interstate which had me frantically Googling to find out more! It’s also known as Silver Lake Sand Dunes! There’s a pedestrian part of the dunes for hiking and sand boarding and then an area for off road vehicles! I loved playing in the dunes and the town was a proper little tourist ‘beach’ town with go-karts and mini golf and ice cream parlours! I’m hoping to return for longer in 2018!
Kenosha sits between Milwaukee and Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan! In all honesty I was first drawn to visiting after finding out that there was a Jelly Belly warehouse tour! Well I ended up returning for a second visit in the summer and completed a 10,000 step self guided walking tour of Downtown Kenosha which I loved (plus the post I wrote done really well too) and I learnt so much at the Kenosha History Center, it was my favourite museum if you get the chance to visit yourself!
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Ok so I have a huge soft spot for Mineral Point because of its strong English heritage and the fact I could buy Weetabix cereal and Vegemite (Australian not English) in a shop I found there. Each year they have an annual Cornish festival (Cornwall is a county in England) which I attended in 2017. The buildings are cute and the town is very artist focused and the locals are AMAZINGLY friendly!
Another interesting spontaneous find during my trip to Janesville, was the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail. It’s a 1200 mile hiking trail that starts at the Minnesota border and stretches all the way to Lake Michigan. I hiked a short section of it (The Devil’s Staircase) while in Janesville and I even had a staring contest with an owl! The Rotary Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit too!
In the year that I’ve been living here, I can’t believe how much Dubuque has changed! I love love LOVE the Millwork District area, that just grows from strength to strength. The new street art that keeps popping up across the Downtown area is really cool (I may be a little obsessed with street art…) but my favourite Dubuque ‘adventure’ this year was zip lining with Sky Tours, the history of the area is really interesting and the tour is a lot of fun!
Top England Highlights 2017
During my weekend trip to London with my Sis, we saw School of Rock The Musical and stayed at Sunborn London, a permanently docked luxury yacht hotel! I never really appreciated just how cool London actually is until I moved away. I really miss the convenience of everything being right on my doorstep and wish I’d taken advantage of it more while I was living back home!
Essex – My Home ❤
I started 2017 in England for new years and then I visited in the summer for a month!
Maldon – Good ole Maldon on the mud! I’ve always enjoyed going to Maldon and now Promenade Park has a ‘Florida style’ mini golf course (mini golf may be a travel weakness of mine…I can’t help it, I love them)! The family in front of me and my Sister were hilarious, so spent most of the course laughing! One of the concession stands sell slushies with soft serve ‘whippy’ ice cream on top…AMAZING.
Bubble Rush 5K, Highwoods – Colchester, Essex – My visit also coincided with the 5K Bubble Rush run in Colchester which me, my Mum and Sister completed! It was really fun and we all beat our personal bests! Although why they had to make the running route include every hill in the wood is beyond me!
Top Worldwide Destinations 2017
Mayrhofen – Austria
Mountain ski resorts are definitely not just meant for winter! I visited Mayrhofen (not far from Innsbruck) with my Mum and Dad in July. Yes it’s probably a very different crowd of travellers in the summer but there’s still a lot of fun to be had in Mayrhofen in summer! We met a great family that was staying at the same hotel, I got stuck behind an old lady on an alpine coaster and photo bombed her picture with my angry face (HILARIOUS looking back), I slid down glacier snow on my bum because I wasn’t going to try and inch my way down and risk slipping and I took lots of pictures of me on the edge of mountains.
Caye Caulker, Belize
Visiting Belize in June was amazing, why? Because it was deserted! I think I needed some quiet time to just chill and relax and Caye Caulker was the perfect answer. I spent most of my time there lazing in a hammock and I don’t regret a single second. The island is so small that everyone either walks, rides a bike or drives a golf cart. I’d stroll along the beach path and eat fry jacks (fried dough with egg and meat) for breakfast, go back to my hammock, get up for ice cream, go back to my hammock and then go for dinner and grab a cocktail in one of the many awesome beach bars! I also got to swim with manatees, go river tubing through a cave and see the Altun-Ha Mayan ruins when they were completely empty.
In 2017 released my book!
Did I mention I released a book?! Between England and Iowa: A Year In The Life of an Emigrating Wife, about my first year living in the USA actually covers ALL of these adventures, as it documents up to August 2017! It’s available worldwide in paperback or kindle edition! UK and US Amazon store links are below!
Plans for 2018
Not everything is set in stone YET but this is how 2018 COULD be shaping up: Jan – ski lessons, Feb – Des Moines IA, March – Rockford IL, April – Home (England) & Minneapolis MN, May – Clear Lake IA, June – Australia & Japan, possibly Bermuda, July – Mears MI…the other half also wants to go to Branson Missouri or the Wisconsin Dells so one of those will probably be squeezed in somewhere too! Only time will tell!
What were some of your 2017 highlights? Have you been to any of these destinations?!