Highlights from the Year – Top Hotels, Best Meals, Favorite Beaches, and All the Numbers

The weather out the window has been alternating between snow, sleet, and rain all afternoon, so we are staying inside and dreaming of warmer destinations.  With the new year coming soon, we’ve spent the last few days planning our upcoming escape from winter, and trying to figure out the rest of our 2020 travels.  Planning ahead is always fun, but this means we’ve already put 2019 behind us, even with three days left in the year.

So, while everyone was lounging/napping in the living room,  I got out my pen and paper and started asking questions about everyone’s favorites from 2019 (“ugh, this is just like school” I was told).  Well, here are their answers…our favorite memories from 2019, and maybe a little inspiration to start planning your best 2020.

Before we start….can you relate to us?  Take a second, and click here, to read about us.  Find out who we are, where we like to travel, and what we love to eat.

Key West

Question 1 – What was your favorite hotel we stayed at in 2019?

Vicki (me, the one who loves to plan our adventures and puts in the effort to find the best meal) – Park Hyatt Beaver Creek in Colorado.  It is absolutely beautiful, and was my travel treat to myself for the year!

Tommy (my husband, who sometimes acts as if he would rather be at home, but I secretly think not) – Reef Tower at Atlantis Bahamas.  You can read my post about this fabulous resort here.

Lauren (the teenager, do I really need anymore explanation besides that?) – Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in the Bahamas

Ally (the youngest in the family who probably gets her way a little too often) – Grand Hyatt Baha Mar!

Escaping winter at Baha Mar

Escaping a Wisconsin winter at Baha Mar

Question 2 – What was your favorite beach we visited in 2019?

Vicki – Whitney Beach on Longboat Key, Florida.  Soft sand, warm water, and few people.

Tommy and Lauren – Paradise Beach in front of the Reef at Atlantis.  Read my Atlantis tips here.

Ally – Where the pigs were. (Sandy Toes/Rose Island – Bahamas)

Rose Island, Bahamas

Rose Island, Bahamas

Question 3 – What was your favorite swimming pool?

Vicki, Tommy, Lauren, and Ally – The Fortune pool at Baha Mar!  Check out my top tips for visiting Baha Mar here.

Question 4 – What was your favorite meal in 2019?

Vicki – The Sloppy Pig sandwich at Front Range BBQ in Colorado Springs.

sloppy pig front range bbq

The sloppy pig at Front Range BBQ

Tommy – A tie between appetizers (Cuban rice balls and chicken wings) at Lighthouse Grill in Marathon, Florida, and eating the pork belly white cheddar mac n’ cheese at Parts & Labor Brewing Company in Sterling, Colorado.

Lauren – Mini New York cheesecakes from Cossettas in St. Paul, MN.  Don’t miss my top family adventures in St. Paul.

Ally – A tie between tacos from Sam Hicks in Spooner, WI, and the desserts and candy on the buffet at Baha Mar.

Runners up – mocha from Cafe Hollander in Milwaukee, key lime pie at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shop, mac n cheese grilled cheese sandwich at Gator’s Grilled Cheese Emporium in Ely, MN, shrimp and grits at Parts & Labor Brewing Company, the lobster and shrimp roll at Off the Hook Bar & Grill in Key West, and so on.  We ate GOOD in 2019!

key lime pie kermits

Eating the best key lime pie while in the Keys

Question 5 – What was your favorite restaurant that we ate at in 2019?

Vicki – It’s a tie between Gordy’s Hi Hat in Cloquet MN and Front Range BBQ in Colorado Springs.

Tommy – Parts & Labor Brewery in Sterling, CO and Hurts Donut in Des Moines.

Lauren – She agrees with everyone!

Ally – The buffet at Baha Mar…all those desserts…

Question 6 – What was your favorite activity, event, or attraction that we visited in 2019?

Vicki – Seeing the 5,000 carved pumpkins at the Jack o Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo, and walking thru Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

Tommy – The US Air Force Academy, the Olympic Training Center, and Garden of the Gods, all in Colorado Springs.

Lauren – Visiting Garden of the Gods and driving to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.

Ally – Great Wolf Lodge in Minnesota. Here’s an inside look at her favorite water park!

pikes peak summit


Now for the numbers:

Nights away from home – 61.  This was the first year I’ve kept track and this was a surprisingly high number to me.  This number includes camping trips…not just hotel stays.  Add another 15 nights or so to that for Tommy, he had additional trips to Colorado and Canada.

States visited – 7 (Minnesota, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas)

Countries visited – 2. (Canada and Bahamas)

Value of points and miles cashed in for 2019 travel – $8,179.  (23 “free” hotel nights, and 6 “free” round trip airfares) Travel hacking is a rewarding hobby!

Where are we going in 2020?  You just wait and see…..

2019 was a busy year, and a good year!  Cheers to a fantastic 2019 and an even better 2020!

What was your favorite destination in 2019?

fishing trip Canada

This is how we end every fishing trip to Canada





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