Happy holidays, dear readers and welcome to Visit All the Places’ 100th post! Now that I’m a year and a half into this blogging adventure, it’s been really fun for me to see whether my favorite places to feature are also my readers’ favorite places to learn about. So, as we get ready to close out another year here at Visit All the Places, I wanted to take some time to highlight several of the wonderful places we had the opportunity to visit in 2019.
In this week’s post, I’d like to share my favorite places that we visited this year. But stay tuned for next week’s post to see which places were your favorites!
This sculpture park and garden in Hamilton, NJ had been on my radar for a while, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. My husband and I were both blown away by how big this place was – and how big some of the sculptures were, too! Less than two hours from NYC, Grounds for Sculpture makes a great little day trip from the city and would be at its loveliest during the spring bloom or fall foliage. Give yourself a few hours to explore, and visit one of the on-site restaurants or cafes when you’re ready to refuel.
Traveling during the off-season is a great way to see beautiful seasonal destinations without all the traffic and people! We recently visited this beautiful town on the Jersey Shore and practically had the whole place to ourselves. It’s an easy road trip from NYC at just about three hours away by car, and plenty of the local attractions are still up and running even in the off-season. And if it’s too cold to be outside, there are plenty of excellent restaurants, wineries, and breweries to keep you feeling warm and toasty.
Of all the attractions I’ve visited in Philly, the Philadelphia Magic Gardens are by far my favorite. This place is so cool! The gardens cover a huge lot in Philly, and every square inch of space is completely covered in mosaics. And it’s not just pieces of broken glass – there are toys, bottles, bicycle wheels, even a toilet! It’s one of the most creative and interesting places I’ve ever had an opportunity to visit. Most of the art is outside, so this is a place best visited in good weather, but there is an indoor gallery as well. Take your kids – they’ll love this magical place!
What a hidden gem this place is! I’ve lived in NYC for a long time but only just learned about the Untermyer Park and Gardens this year. Now a Yonkers city park, the Untermyer Park and Gardens sit on land that was once part of the sprawling Greystone Estate, which was built in the early 1900s. Today, you can visit the original walled garden and several other original features that have been carefully preserved and restored. Not even an hour outside of NYC, this garden oasis awaits! Wear your comfy shoes so you can explore the park’s 43 acres or just bring a picnic to enjoy while you laze about under a tree.
You may have visited lighthouses before, but chances are most of them have been attached to a shoreline somewhere. The Execution Rocks Lighthouse, though, is out in the middle of the Long Island Sound and can only be accessed by boat! I had known of the legend of Execution Rocks and have even seen the lighthouse before on boat trips in the Sound, but it was quite a treat to be able to go up inside of it. And if you’re brave enough, you can even arrange to spend the night out there!
As a fan of The Pillars of the Earth, I love that NYC has a massive cathedral that has been under construction for (literally) decades. St. John the Divine is the world’s largest cathedral, and we climbed up to its roof earlier this year! This tour is one of my favorite New York Adventure Club tours, and the special access it grants you to an otherwise off-limits Guastavino staircase was a super fun bonus. If you’ve been to the cathedral before but have only visited the ground floor, you need to check out the vertical tour and experience this massive cathedral from above!
The past several years we’ve enjoyed a late summer weekend in Lake George, NY. While we were up north this summer, we took a fun little day trip even farther north to Lake Placid where we enjoyed driving up Whiteface Mountain and riding in the mountain elevator! The town of Lake Placid is super cute, and we loved seeing all of the old Olympic sites and buildings scattered around the area. It’s only a couple hours from Lake George, and the drive up to Lake Placid through the Adirondacks is worth it all on its own.
We weren’t sure what to expect when I was sent to Helsinki for work earlier this fall, but my husband and I both loved our trip here. It was so easy to get around, there were boats everywhere, their craft beer game is on point – everything was great! And we loved that it was close enough to Estonia that we were able to squeeze in a day trip there, too. Three days wasn’t really enough, but you can cover a lot of ground there in just a few days if that’s all you have.
Our summer road trip through Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia was really special to me because it gave me a chance to share some of my favorite places from my childhood and college years with my husband. We covered a lot of ground and even spent some time below ground! These states may be less known to many of you, but all three have some really special spaces and places that make a visit there well worth your while. And I’m not just saying that because I’ll always be a West Virginia girl at heart!
And finally, my favorite place that I visited in 2019 was Key West, FL. I loved absolutely everything about this trip! The weather was great, everything we ate and drank was delicious, and there were tons of fun things to see and do (like seeing the six-toed Hemingway cats). The pace there is so relaxed and laid-back, and pretty much all the people we encountered were having an amazing time. I would move there in a heartbeat! Or at the very least, I hope to plan a return trip there sometime soon.
And there you have it! If you’re looking for something fun to do in 2020, any of the above will be great places to add to next year’s travel list. I know they all helped to make this year one that we will never forget!
Next week will be our last post of 2019 before we take a break for the holidays. Check back on Tuesday to see our Top Ten Most-Read Posts of 2019!