It’s our very last podcast episode this year, so that means it’s time for RVFTA’s top 10 travel highlights of 2017!
We had a whirlwind of a year in the travel department, and it was almost overwhelming to narrow down our picks to just ten highlights, but we managed to do it. More impressively, perhaps, we were able to agree not only on the travel highlights but also on the order.
We are super pleased with ourselves, thank you very much.
If you are a New Year’s resolutions type of person, you’ve hit on the wrong podcast episode. We have a funny habit of making resolutions in the spring before we kick off the camping season. This time of year we love to reflect on how blessed we’ve been to have amazing adventures as a family.
Jeremy and I did not grow up traveling with our families. In fact, this whole RVing thing has allowed us to have experiences we never would have imagined or thought possible just 8 short years ago.
And we are very grateful for that.
We would love to hear about your top travel experiences of 2017 in the comments below. Or, better yet, leave a review of your favorite campground from 2017 over on our Campground Reviews page. Other happy campers will thank you kindly I’m sure.
So here is the countdown of our top 10 travel highlights of 2017…
10. Hagerstown Jellystone in Maryland
It was somewhat surprising that the Hagerstown Jellystone Park made it onto both of our top 10 lists. We visited so many bucket list destinations this year, but this campground stood out as one of our favorite long weekend trips ever. It was the perfect mix of relaxing camping and amazing amenities. We spent peaceful time around the campfire and spent hours flying down waterslides. If there is a model for the perfect resort campground, this is it. To hear more, check out Campground of the Week episode #83.
9. Seaside Ecotours: Private Boat Tour of the Barrier Islands in Virginia
This was one of the best excursions we have ever done as a family. Captain Meriwether Payne from Seaside Ecotours took us barrier island hopping off the Virginia Coast just north of Cape Charles. She also taught us about the local ecosystem and helped us identify dozens of birds throughout the day. It was such a great reminder that splurging on that local guide experience is usually well worth the expense. You can hear more about the trip on Campground Review #97 Sunset Beach Resort in Cape Charles, Virginia.
8. Acadia National Park, Fall Foliage
Our listeners know that we have been to Acadia National Park quite a few times with the kids. They also know that it’s one of our very favorite places in the whole, wide world. But we had never visited during fall foliage, and it knocked our socks off as expected. We hiked the Great Head Trail on our last day there. This was a very sentimental experience for both of us because this was the very first hike we did with the twins when they were two years old. Time certainly flies.
7. Glamping Tent at Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort in Coos Bay, Oregon
Our stay in the glamping tent at Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort along the Oregon Coast felt like something out of fairytale. The tent was just steps from a breathtakingly beautiful beach, and we spent hours every day scrambling on the rocks, splashing in the tide pools, and playing wiffleball. This was different than anything we had ever experienced at a campground before, and we will remember it forever. You can listen to our campground review here.
6. The Ape Caves near Olympic National Park
If Max and Theo were making a list of their own top 10 travel highlights of 2017, the Ape Caves would probably be number one. We first learned about the Ape Caves when watching a Rock the Park episode on Mount St. Helens in advance of our trip. We were fascinated and put it on the agenda. What an adventure! We descended into the lava tubes with our lanterns, and hiked about a mile in the eery, cold tunnel. Completely unforgettable. Listen to Greetings from Mount St. Helens for the scoop on planning your own visit.
5. Stout Grove in Jedediah State Park, California
Redwood National and State Parks offer some pretty magical moments, but spending time in Stout Grove eclipsed all the other Redwood experiences for us. Stout Grove feels like a reverent place where one can’t help but feel awed by such overwhelming natural beauty. I’ll never forget when Max leaned over and said, “I feel so small here.” How could you not? You can learn more about our stay in the Redwoods here.
4. Hummocks Trail in Mount St. Helens
We expected a touristy photo op when planning a visit to Mount St. Helens. Instead, we were blown away by the beauty and wonder of a place that was once completely decimated by the forces of nature, and then reborn all over again. The Hummocks Trail showcases pieces of the mountain hurled in the blast alongside brilliant and colorful wildflowers. Plus, you get that view. Believe me…you can’t look away.
3. Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park
Well, this was the first rain forest we ever visited, and it did not disappoint. At first we thought the two miles of trails wouldn’t be enough to really appreciate the scenery. Not true at all. Every single inch of these trails was beautiful and worth exploring. It took us a good hour to get through the first mile because the boys wanted to stop and take pictures of every amazing bush, flower, and tree. By the way…do you see how big that fallen tree is? Seriously.
2. Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World in Florida
We had heard that Fort Wilderness was America’s favorite campground. But we didn’t really expect it to be our favorite campground. Bottom line? It really is the most magical place on earth. Stephanie was a complete convert after a 5 day stay at Fort Wilderness. Jeremy was thrilled to be able to pull out the big I told you so card. All of us are giddy about a return trip in 2018. You can listen to our Fort Wilderness Review on Campground of the Week, and learn about our WDW visit on Greetings from Walt Disney World: The Most Magical Place on Earth.
1.Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park
On our first day in Olympic National Park, we shrugged off our jet lag and headed to Hurricane Hill. There we found what may well be our favorite hike ever. This is a ridge trail, so we enjoyed views like this for the entire 3 1/2 miles. It was the first time our boys had ever seen snow capped mountains, in the summer, in real life. It was a challenging, beautiful morning for our family and set the stage for our amazing tour of the Pacific Northwest. We feel so blessed to have had that experience this past summer.
2017 brought us to many amazing places, and it was a challenge to narrow down our list of top travel highlights for the year. However, it was also a joy to go back and reflect on how these adventures have added value and joy to our family life.
None of these experiences were perfect. There were meltdowns and mishaps along the way. Probably more than we even remember. But that’s the point. Family travel is not necessarily easy. However, it is undeniably worth the effort. We are always glad that we pushed through whining and tantrums, arguments and complaints. These moments were perfect because we experienced them together.
Our best wishes for a very happy and adventurous 2018.
Stephanie + Jeremy
Other links mentioned in the podcast…