The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

~ Carmen

We recently recounted our tales of woe (read The Worst Travel Experiences of 2016), but our 2016 travel experiences were for the most part happily memorable.  So much so, we had a hard time narrowing down our favorites.  We’ve taken road trips, trips across the Atlantic, and loads of camping and mountain bike excursions.  Here are our best travel experiences of 2016 relating to:  food, outdoor adventures, and touristy places.



Best Travel Food of 2016

Carmen- For me this was an easy pick.  I love shrimp and nothing could be better than the National Shrimp Festival (read 5 Reasons to Go to the National Shrimp Festival).  Steamed, boiled, or baked–I could eat shrimp every day, and for every meal.  I was able to do that during the shrimp festival.

The festival is held every year mid-October in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama, and we have gone the last two years.  Not only is the festival jammed packed with music and shopping, you are located right on the white, sandy Gulf Shores beach.  The shrimp is cooked all day, every way you can imagine for the four day festival.  Plump, fresh shrimp cooked to perfection!

Cue Forrest Gump quote here.

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

It doesn’t get any better than this!

Joe-  Give me some BEEF!  The Texas BBQ Tour was my favorite (read Texas Barbecue Road Trip).  Our adventures have taken us to BBQ in St. Louis, Memphis, and this past spring – Texas.  Each destination has its unique offerings, and I honestly can’t say which is best.  To use an analogy, it’s like picking which of your children you like best.  We took a route through central Texas to try as many of the Texas Monthly’s 50 Best BBQ Joints as we could.  Our road trip took us to the Texas towns of Jefferson, Tyler, Hillsboro, Austin, Bandera, Lockhart, Austin, San Antonio, Fredricksburg and Gruene. Among the top 50 Texas Monthly’s we stopped at 7 of the rated 50 best BBQ joints.  Nom nom nom….

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

Now that’s my kind of ribs!



Best Outdoor Adventures of 2016

Carmen- We love to go camping.  Buying a camper has been one of our best purchases!  Not only has having a camper increased the amount of camping we can do because we’re not limited by weather, but it also makes for a happier Carmen.  Nothing makes for a better mood than a good night’s sleep and a real bathroom!

One of my favorite places in the world is Northwest Arkansas.  I’d love to retire there someday (hopefully sooner than later).  Our last camping trip this year was to gorgeous Devil’s Den State Park (read 3 Reasons to Go Camping at Devil’s Den State Park).  From the picture perfect scenery, to the ideal crisp fall weather, it was the kind of trip that made you feel connected to God’s handiwork.  I know some need the big city hustle and bustle and luxurious accommodations.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a fluffy bed and thick towels (hint, hint next vacay Joe?), but I feel most alive in the woods cooking over a warm campfire.

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

Love Northwest Arkansas in the fall!


Joe- This September, we left the camper at home and ventured to East Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest for a weekend white water excursion on class 3/4 rapids on the Ocoee River.  I also had the  opportunity to ride one of the famed International Mountain Bicycling Association’s (IMBA) EPIC rated Tanasi trail. It was a adventure packed weekend with campfire cookouts, horseback riding, and mountain biking the trails (read Whitewater Rafting on the Ocoee River and Why You Should Ride the Tanasi Mountain Bike Trails).  Oh, and the weather was a perfect 70-80 F the entire weekend!

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

Yee haw!


Best Touristy Places of 2016

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

Standing in Sun Studios on the exact place where Elvis recorded his first song, “That’s Alright, Mama”. That’s the original microphone he used, too. So I was touching the mike Elvis touched (along with a million other tourists)!

Carmen- Okay, this may not seem very adventuresome, but my favorite tourist destination to visit this year was my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.  I went all over Europe, but the 3 days I spent “being a tourist” in Memphis gave me a new appreciation for where I live (read 3 Days in Memphis).  If you have never really toured your hometown, I highly suggest it!  My favorite part of my Memphis travels was the day I devoted to Memphis’s music history (read 24 Hours in Memphis for Music Lovers).  From Elvis’s first recording to the birthplace of the blues, Memphis’s impact on music runs deep!


Joe-  The Austria/Germany/Switzerland trip we took over the summer of 2016 was coincidently the most painful (read The Worst Travel Experiences of 2016), but most rewarding for me of the year. I was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army from 1990 – 1993.  A visit to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as a tourist in 2016 allowed me to show my family why I missed  Europe and all its splendor from the famed castles, medieval churches, Swiss Alps, beer, and cuisine.  I toured sections of Germany and countries I missed during my Army days.  A leisure boat ride on the Rhine River showed both sides of the Rhine and the historical remnants of Germany’s  castles and its history (read 5 Reasons to Take a Rhine River Cruise).  It was truly an awesome experience!

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016

One of the many picturesque towns on the Rhine River cruise

Most Loved Posts of 2016

These were our winners, the posts that made us feel like someone besides my dad actually clicks on our website.  A big thanks to everyone that clicked, commented, and shared our travel blog.  This travel blog is a labor of love, and it’s nice to know that others care about what we have to say.


3 Reasons to Camp at Gulf Shores State Park

Apparently there are a lot of other people that love to camp near the beach.  What’s not to love– nice campsites, great seafood, wide, white sandy beaches!  Read–3 Reasons to Camp at Gulf Shores State Park.



Joe may be king of the kitchen, but I must admit that when it comes to cooking outdoors, I know a thing or two.  See the must-haves for cooking all kinds of meals over the campfire.  Read–Camp Cooking Equipment You’ll Love.



This was our very first post, and it is kind of funny.  Joe and I have had some major “issues” traveling together, but what doesn’t kill you, gets you flowers delivered the next morning.  Read–5 Ways to Avoid Killing Your Spouse While Traveling.



7 Good Camping Neighbor Dos & Don'ts

I’m so glad that this was a popular post.  We’ve had mainly good camping neighbors, but then there are the neighbors that forget that not everyone likes hearing their drunk wailing to Kenny Roger songs at 2 A.M.  Read– 7 “Good Camping” Neighbor Dos and Don’ts .



You throw 3 ingredients in a pot and cook it over a campfire.  Easy, peasy, delicious.  AND you get to play with matches!  Read–Easy, Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler .

Well, there you have it–our 2016 favorites.  We hope you will continue to check out our adventures and have a blessed new year!

Did you have any good travel experiences this year?  Please share by commenting below!  

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~ Carmen

The Best Travel Experiences of 2016




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