2019 was one of those years that didn’t feel like I had traveled that much. And then I sat down to write this travelogue post and realized how oh-so-wrong I was!
I’ve done one of these travelogue posts for the last three years, both because it’s nice to be able to look back at all the places we’ve visited and also to give you a bit of inspiration and recommendations for your next trip. (Here’re 2016, 2017, and 2018 for your travel planning needs.)
This year was a nice little mix of work and personal, domestic and international travel. We didn’t actually leave North America at all, which felt a bit odd. Regardless, there’s some good stuff listed below that you would do well to check out.
Ready to take a peek at my year? Travelogue below! (You can also peep all of these places in the video recap of my 27th year.)
Asheville, North Carolina
Technically, our first trip was to Atlanta in January for our friends’ nikkah, but since we didn’t do much outside of wedding festivities, I’m skipping straight to March. We have a group of friends who we try to see multiple times throughout the year, and we took our first quarterly trip to Asheville in 2019.
We all rented a huge Airbnb and explored the city’s impressive brewery scene. Asheville feels like a pretty hip city, which is why we weren’t upset when my family decided to do a mini family reunion later in the year. Keep scrolling the travelogue for even more Asheville in a bit!
EAT: Buxton Hall Barbecue | This was my first experience with Eastern Carolina-style barbecue, and it did not disappoint. Their menu includes everything Southern you would imagine, from pimento cheese to lima beans, and you’ll want to sample all their different BBQ sauces, too! Plus it’s right next to Catawba Brewing Co., home of the famous Peanut Butter Jelly Time beer.
DRINK: The Funkatorium| I didn’t expect to like this offshoot of Wicked Weed that only serves sours, but 1. they serve the best boiled peanuts, and 2. it’s the only place in the city to get the French Toast Imperial Stout, which I still regret not buying a six-pack of. It’s got a great vibe and is worth a visit.
DO: The Biltmore | I had wanted to visit the Vanderbilts’ famous estate for years, and it was everything I imagined it would be. Like an American Versailles (though on a much smaller scale)!
Long Island, New York
I had a few trips to New York this year, and it all started with a work trip to Long Island. We sometimes get a chance to visit regional spelling bees that take place across the country, and this year, that included Long Island’s competition. We had a great group of people from our team go, and it was a fun trip overall!
EAT: Pomodorino Rosso | Technically we stopped here on our minivan ride from LaGuardia to our hotel on Long Island, but it’s completely worth the stop. Everything was beautifully home-cooked, and we would know—we ordered half the menu!
DO: Shorefront Park | This trip was the epitome of all work, no play. But we managed to spend 15 minutes doing a mini-photo shoot on the water, and Patchogue itself was super cute.
North Topsail Beach, North Carolina
Spencer and I are in the wedding season of our lives, and I AM HERE FOR IT. One of my very best college friends got married in 2019, and while I wasn’t able to attend the wedding, I did make it to her bachelorette party! We enjoyed a long weekend at her parents’ beach house, and it was amazing to see old friends and celebrate her and her fiancée.
DRINK: Beach Bum’s Grill & Bar | Supposedly this place has food, but we were only ever there for the drinks, karaoke, and dancing. A fun, divey kind of joint.
DO: You’re at the beach! Enjoy the beach! (And we also had a blast playing this easy group party game that’s kind of like B.S. but with players’ talents/knowledge. I now own it.)
The perennial location on every travelogue! Being from Georgia, Spencer and I still have so much family and friends in the Peach State, so we always make it down to Atlanta at least once a year. This year’s trips included two weddings, a wedding shower, and a big family revelation! Oooooh ahhhhh
It’s a wonderful city with great food, way too much traffic, and sports teams that always seem to crap out during the playoffs. I love it so.
EAT: Nuevo Laredo Cantina | This fun, little Mexican restaurant was new to us, and I loved the cozy vibes and authentic food. Get the Cadillac Margarita, and you’ll be in a good mood all night long.
DRINK: Taco Mac | Our go-to since Spencer was at Georgia Tech and lived there on Thursdays. The best beer selection in the city, and I swear by their Three Mile Island wings!
New York City, New York
I took two trips into the city this year: Both for work, once for Social Media Week NYC (would recommend if you’re in the digital marketing sector) and once with 8 little spelling bee champs as they hopped from interview to interview.
During the first trip, I actually had time to do some exploring, and I was fortunate enough to meet up with two college friends who I hadn’t seen since they graduated. I love New York because it’s always changing but also never changes. Things I loved in eighth grade during my first trip are still there, and there’s so much history down every street, but you can also tell that everything’s buzzing with potential and change and the next new thing.
EAT: Elio’s | My friends Caroline and Sage took me here one night, and it was like walking into the pages of a book. It feels like (and probably has been) the setting for very important but covert political conversations over the last century or so, and I had the best pasta.
SNACK: Ladurée | Oh macarons! I bought myself a half dozen of these delightfully Instagram worthy cookies and a latte, and it was my favorite self care moment of 2019.
DO: Central Park | Yes, I’m listing Central Park here. Yes, it’s on every single travel itinerary for New York City that you’ve ever seen. No, I don’t care. Go visit Balto and the animals in the zoo and that fountain that’s in every movie set in New York. You’ll thank me later.
Little Rock, Arkansas
I’ll tell you what: Weddings are a great excuse to travel. Spencer’s cousin got married in Little Rock last year, and it was my very first trip to Arkansas. Overall, it was a very cute little capital city, and we got the chance to experience good friend in a quaint—albeit humid—environment.
EAT: Hurts Donut | The donut shop in town with all the strange and wonderful kinds. Get the ones topped with weird cereals and sprinkles.
DRINK: Flying Saucer Draft Emporium | Spencer and I hopped in here for a little reprieve from the heat and were pleasantly surprised, both by the beer selection and the German-style pub food. Definitely worth a visit when you’re walking through the popular Riverfront district.
DO: Riverfront Park | This miles-long park that runs along the Arkansas River and has an amazing number of art installations, playground areas, and even an amphitheater! There’s a great farmers market on the weekends, too.
National Harbor, Maryland
Another perennial favorite, though I often wonder if it’s worth including in the travelogue. Every year, my job takes me to National Harbor, a kitschy little riverfront area just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. I honestly don’t make it out of the Gaylord National Resort much during the week, but after 5 years, I know what’s good in National Harbor.
EAT: Thai Pavilion | If we get outside the convention center for one meal each trip, you’d better believe we’re heading to Thai Pavilion. It’s priced well, especially considering all the upscale options in National Harbor, and it’s always great. Pad see ew is my go-to, every time.
DO: Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail | One of my favorite newer Bee Week traditions are my morning runs with Molly. On days when we don’t have to be up before dawn, we’ll jog around the harbor and up the Potomac, stopping just before the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. You can continue over the bridge and into D.C. proper, but you’ll want to do it early before the day gets too swampy.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver was my very first Canadian city of the year, and I think how much I loved it subconsciously led to our later rail trip through the eastern part of the country. It’s exactly what you would expect from a west coast city except it’s also so very Canadian. They showcase the impressive views and environment at every opportunity, and I could live on their oysters alone for the rest of my days.
I was there for a work conference, but luckily my boss feels the same way that I do about getting out and exploring new cities at every opportunity. I feel like I saw so much and might even consider writing a full blog post about all the things you should do in Vancouver. For now, here’s a peek.
EAT: Rodney’s Oyster House | We ate oysters on multiple occasions (I was no complaining), but this one was probably my favorite. The shucker’s dozen is a good deal for the quality of the oysters, you get a good variety, and they make their own mignonette and accoutrements. Plus it’s got a very chill vibe and our server was all kinds of attractive. 😉
DRINK: Steamworks Brewing Co. | We popped in here after a day of conferencing. A good selection of beer in a bright, friendly atmosphere.
DO: Stanley Park | I’m pretty happy living in Cincinnati, but when I first set eyes on Stanley Park, I thought, “Wow, I wish we had something like this.” It’s beautiful and huge and has such a diversity of flora, fauna, and physical landforms. I could’ve spent days exploring it and been my absolute happiest. I even included it in my favorite things from the month of June.
Asheville, North Carolina
See? I told you Asheville would be back. This time we went with family, some old and some new! Just like our first trip, it was a very chill time to hang out with people, and I’m convinced there isn’t a better place in the country to sit back, drink beer, and get to know people.
EAT: Pack’s Tavern | Really cute little tavern in the middle of the hip part of town. It has great southern comfort food and won’t break your bank!
DRINK: Highland Brewing Company | There are so many breweries in Asheville, and I would honestly recommend a lot of them. Highland has a good variety of different beers plus a huge indoor and outdoor space with food trucks, corn hole boards, a little place for concerts, etc. We spent an entire day here and did not get bored once.
DO: Triple Falls Trail | I’m not as obvious about my love for The Hunger Games like I am about Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, but I do love me some Katniss Everdeen. During this second trip to Asheville, Spencer indulged me, and we went to DuPont State Forest to experience a location from the arena of the 74th Hunger Games. You can do a short 1 mile up to the falls and back or there’s a 3-mile loop that takes you by another set of waterfalls. The terrain is pretty easy, though a bit steep at one point, and I would highly recommend it!
Québec City, Québec, Canada
Our big trip for the year was a train ride through eastern Canada. We began the trip in Montreal and took the train to Québec City, where I promptly fell in love with the European-esque buildings and unlimited varieties of poutine. The weather was perfect in September, and I could’ve spent a week here, exploring the city and eating all the French food.
EAT: Le Casse-Crêpe Breton | We stumbled upon this little crêperie our first morning in town, and it did not disappoint. I got a sweet crêpe, Spencer got a savory one, and we both won. (Also, our tour guide later confirmed that these are among the best crêpes in town. Big win for our tastebuds and my travel blogger ego.)
EAT MORE: Chocolats Favoris | After watching numerous people walk around with beautiful chocolate-dipped ice cream cones, we knew we had to get one of our own. They have insanely creative flavors of dips; ours was s’mores.
DO: Free Walking Tour of Québec | I’m not joking when I say I would’ve gladly paid big bucks for this tour. Samuel knows so much about the history of the city, and he’s a local, so you know he’s legit. Book your spot early and tip him well. His expertise and kindness are worth every penny!
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
After Québec City, we hopped back on the train (for about 24 hours with delays) and ended up on the coast in Halifax. It was hands-down the favorite stop for Spencer and me. It’s a completely walkable city with such a chill vibe and some very good brewery options.
EAT: Shuck Seafood + Raw Bar | We both love oysters (see: Vancouver), so I knew we’d have to find somewhere with a good deal. And we found it and then some with Shuck. Happy Hour every day from 5-6 p.m., which includes drinks, oysters, and their impressive raw bar. We got their shucker’s dozen, ahi tuna, and beef tartare with lobster. It was heaven.
DRINK: Garrison Brewing Co. | Very impressive selection of beers, and we didn’t have a single dud!
SHOP: DustJacket Books & Treasures | You know I sniffed out an antique bookstore in between our quest for oysters and beer. This one is tiny and packed with unique selections; I got a little hardcover volume of Tennyson poetry that I treasure.
Montréal, Québec, Canada
The final stop on our Canadian train tour! We were only here for about a day and a half, but what we did see of the city was nice. It’s very much a modern city in a way that neither Québec City nor Halifax were, so expect traffic, road construction, and all those little things we’ve come to love/hate.
EAT: La Maison du Magret | When you’re back in French Canada, you have to eat all the French food. And we did at this little bistro that specializes in duck. (The duck poutine is to die for!)
DO: Mount Royal Lookout | Before heading out of town, we got Montreal-style bagels from St-Viateur Bagel Shop and drove to the top of Mount Royal. From there, it’s just a quick walk over to the lookout point, where you can see the beauty of the park mixed with the modern beauty of the city. It’s a must-do, for sure.
And of course, we end each year in southern Vermont with my family. Despite spending every winter in Manchester, it only just occurred to me to write an entire blog post with all the things to eat, drink, and do. I’ve posted a few links below and encourage you to check out the full guide to southern Vermont when it drops here soon!