Yesterday I shared the best things I ate in 2018, and today I am sharing the best places that I visited in 2018. I spent over 100 days traveling in 2018 and made it to over 25 different destinations. These were my favorites:
The Best Places I Went in 2018:
My sister, Kelly, and I go on at least one big trip together each year. In July, we headed to Provence, just in time to see the lavender fields in bloom.
Kelly crafted an itinerary that balanced seeing beautiful historic cities and fields of lavender. It was perfect. I don’t think we would change a thing.
Our mornings were spent searching for the best lavender fields, exploring ancient hilltop villages, browsing farmers markets, and feasting at the La Bastide de Gordes breakfast buffet. Afternoons were spent creating picnics with our farmers market finds and lounging poolside.
Charles arrived in Provence to celebrate our sixth anniversary, and when Kelly left, we checked into a majestic castle on a vineyard. Now I hoping to convince him to take me back this year.
I adore London, but it is so big and there is so much to do, that it can become overwhelming. Bath is a small city that can easily be explored in a weekend. Just 90 minutes outside London, you will find Bath, a small city that gets its name from the fact that the city’s most important landmark is a Roman Bathhouse.
Our hotel, the beautiful Gainsborough Hotel, had saunas and baths onsite were we were able to relax, and during the day we toured the ancient Roman Baths, climbed all the way up to the bell tower of the Gothic cathedral, and admired the city’s incredible architecture. At night we went to some of Bath’s trendy cocktail bars.
Marrying a Brit has meant that I have gotten to spend lots of time in London. Now that I am almost through my list of 150 Things to Do in London, I have been spending more time visiting towns just outside London. This summer, inspired by The Holiday – one of the best holiday movies ever – I made it to Surrey.
Over the course of two days I explored the small villages of Shere, Albury, Peaslake, Godalming, and Guildford. I was on my own, and traveling alone is always such a luxury – I get to do whatever I want at my own pace.
Every time I go to Finland, I fall more in love with it. Part of the reason why I love it is because it feels like home. Finland and Maine have remarkably similar landscapes, and I joke that Finland is the Maine of Europe. Finland feels like home, and it feels new – all at the same time.
I was lucky to make it to Finland twice this year. Charles and I started off the year with a trip to Ivalo, a village in the Arctic Circle, to see the Northern Lights. We went dogsledding, met reindeer, explored with village using kick sleds, and went snowmobiling. The highlight of the trip was when we saw the Northern Lights on our last night.
It was a dream to be invited on a week-long food tour of Piedmont with True Italian Taste. I had gotten a brief taste of the northwestern region of Italy on a trip in 2015, and was eager for a more comprehensive experience.
Piedmont is in an area away from the hordes of cruise ships and tour buses; it’s hidden at the foothills of the Alps just waiting to be discovered. Turin’s sidewalk cafes were filled with impossibly chic locals sipping Aperol Spritzes. Away from the city is where the magic is. The Barolo region with its rolling vineyard covered hills is home to some of the best wine in the world and unique regional cuisine.
If you love food and wine, add Piedmont to your list. It does get busy during white truffle season, but it’s worth it for fresh white truffles, right?
This year my hometown makes the list. I went 10 months without making it home, but I made up for it with several end of the year trips that let me spend quality time in town beyond the busyness of spending holidays with my family.
Kennebunkport is basically a cuter seaside version of Stars Hallow, the fictional town from Gilmore Girls. I was there for my sister’s dreamy seaside wedding, the fall foliage, and Christmas Prelude, the town’s annual Christmas festival.
I took my first trip to the Pacific Northwest this year, and was impressed by the breadth of things to see and do in Portland. The city itself is oozing with coolness and filled with incredible restaurants – two of which made the list of best things I ate in 2018.
Outside the city I visited waterfalls and wineries. The landscape was beautiful even in the dead of winter, and the temperatures were significantly warmer than Chicago, allowing me to spend some much needed time outdoors.
My friend Jenny joined me on my first trip to Kentucky and we spent our time surrounded by horses and bourbon. It was a fun girls getaway, and I have a feeling that Lexington is going to be a hot destination travel destination for Chicagoans. Lexington is just a short flight away, but feels more grown up than Nashville (we weren’t surrounded by drunken bachelorette parties).
We were in Lexington in September so we got to tour Keeneland during the Yearling Sale and the Jefferson Street Soiree. We loved getting to participate in the city’s special events, and I enjoyed that while the city was filled with activity, it wasn’t overcrowded. Lexington was easy and approachable compared to other cities I have visited.
I was lucky to be in Brooklyn just in time for the cherry blossoms. Even though I lived in New York City for two years, I hadn’t spent much time in Brooklyn. Brooklyn isn’t as crowded as Manhattan, and the fact that several of the borough’s main attractions are next to each other makes it easy to navigate.
If you head to Brooklyn, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, try the burger at Roberta’s, visit Brooklyn Botanic Garden, stroll through Prospect Park, having cocktails at the William Vale rooftop, and shop along Bedford Avenue.
Now that 2018 has come to a close, I am working on planning out travel for 2019. Any thoughts on where I should go?