Shares
92
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Orbitz Travel Blog this year, you already know our team of travel-obsessed writers and staffers have explored pretty much every corner of the Earth these past 12 months. While many of their travels are already well documented here on the blog, we asked them each to call out the one single most memorable and profound moment they had during their travels in 2016. Here’s what they told us, listed in no particular order.

RELATED: These are the 5 travel trends to watch in 2017

Photo courtesy of Jason Heidemann

Photo courtesy of Jason Heidemann

1. Moonlight dinner in Panamanian ruins
“I needed a break from an extended visit with my parents in South Florida this year and took a chance on Panama City, Panama, thanks to a dirt cheap round-trip flight from Miami. What I discovered was an off-radar metropolis in the midst of re-inventing itself. Beyond the glassy facades of some pretty dull waterfront skyscrapers lay innumerable urban treasures including a gorgeously landscaped coastal lane trafficked by joggers, pedestrians and skaters, the breathtaking Panama Canal and nearby Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Biodiverity, and the crumbling, gorgeous Casco Viejo. This so-called “Old Quarter” is the city’s crown jewel. A neighborhood once overrun by gangs is now home to hip hotels, rooftop bars and tucked away foodie gems including Tomillo, where I dined alone on a gorgeously humid night in the restaurant’s enormous outdoor patio housed in the ruins of the city’s first train station headquarters. Panama City is ready for its close up.”—Jason Heidemann, Associate Editor, Orbitz Travel Blog

Photo courtesy of Martina Sheehan

Photo courtesy of Martina Sheehan

2. Finned creatures make waves in Big Sur
“We were relaxing in the sand at beautiful Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur this summer, watching the waves crash out over the rugged rock formations that jut out from the churning water. Suddenly, we saw three dorsal fins cut ominously through the waves. Just before I could yell shark!, the creatures leapt from the water, joined by a few others, twisting and turning in the waves like some kind of synchronized water aerobics act. Turns out these showboaters were actually dolphins and they stuck around to put on an incredible 15-minute show of leaps and twirls for beachgoers. Total magic.”—Martina Sheehan, Editor, Orbitz Travel Blog

Photo courtesy of Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Photo courtesy of Sarah Preston Gorenstein

3. A perfect sunset with friends in Arizona
“In November, I went on a long weekend getaway to Scottsdale, Arizona with five of my closest friends—we have 13 kids among us, ranging in ages from 3-13, so getting away for three days wasn’t the easiest thing to schedule. We hiked the Lost Dog Wash Trail in Scottsdale Mountain, had a great dinner at One North Italia in Kierland Square, but spent most of our time by the pool in 80-degree weather in November! Roasting marshmallows by the fire pit, watching the sun set over the mountains—the clearest skies, most beautiful pink sunset I’ve ever seen—and laughing till our abs ached was all we needed to recharge.”—Sarah Gorenstein, Orbitz Head of Content

RELATED: These 17 photos will inspire your next Arizona road trip

Photo courtesy of Monica Pedraja

Photo courtesy of Monica Pedraja

4. Clear waters and Crystal Caves in Bermuda 
“This past June I went to Bermuda for a friend’s wedding. Bermuda wasn’t at the top of my travel list, but I’m glad I had a reason to go. I fell in love with how beautiful the island is—its pastel houses and white roofs, clear waters and lush greenery. Every Bermudian we met was so friendly and so proud to chat about the island and its history. We explored the Crystal and Fantasy caves, rode a catamaran and snorkeled, and had one too many Rum Swizzles. It was the perfect summer getaway.”—Monica Pedraja, Photo Editor, Orbitz Travel Blog 

detroit-michigan_top-travel-moments

City view of Detroit

5. Witnessing Detroit’s revitalization up close
“This Spring, I spent a week visiting family in my suburban Detroit hometown with my husband and son. We’ve made the trek a zillion times over the years, and I’ve known the city inside-out from my younger days, so my expectations were rather predictable. For decades, Detroiters have clutched to their visions of the city’s future, but on this trip, it was clear they were coming to life: Woodward Avenue was gouged up for miles, the pavement primed for the M-1 Rail expansion, which will link downtown well into the suburbs. A crop of groovy tech start-ups were making nests in funky lofts, next to neighbors like Twitter and John Varvatos. But this buzz wasn’t just palpable downtown. One afternoon in the burbs, my mom took me on a work errand through this very unassuming corporate parkway, to an equally anonymous looking building. After we were buzzed into the main office, the space opened to a marble and granite plant. It was breathtaking to watch giant gleaming slabs of marble, onyx and limestone wobbling on cables overhead, and stacked along the floors as far as the eye could see. Then on the flight back to Chicago (a fast one, amazing for toddlers, btw!), I think my world was officially turned upside down; the pilot stopped to give my son the travelers badge of honor: a pair of wings.”—Kristin Dillon, distribution manager, Orbitz Travel Blog

Photo courtesy of Kevin Aeh

Photo courtesy of Kevin Aeh

6. Cooking with a local chef in Los Cabos, Mexico
“I rarely cook in my Brooklyn apartment, so when I went to Los Cabos, Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I was most excited about getting a cooking lesson from a local chef. Huerta Los Tamarindos is an off-the-beaten path organic farm and restaurant not far from the area’s sandy beaches. Chef Enrique Silva gave me a tour of the farm (where I was tempted to snack on lemon basil, tomatoes and other fresh items right off the stalk) and then a hands-on cooking session in the outdoor kitchen where I learned how to make mint ceviche, pork shank with green mole and dulce de calabaza (a traditional, homey dessert that reminds most Mexicans of their grandmothers). I don’t know if I’m confident in my cooking skills to try these on my own, but since the restaurant offers one-off cooking classes and meals to the public, I can’t wait to come back with a group of friends.”—Kevin Aeh, contributor

Photo courtesy of Carol Waller

Photo courtesy of Carol Waller

7. Dancing on the Great Wall
“Upon reaching the end of the one-mile-plus steep climb on the Badaling section of the Great Wall about 40 miles from Beijing, my friends and I launched into a silly happy dance, to the tune of “Rocky.” As soon as we were done, one of the Chinese visitors watching us responded with a beautiful deep baritone version of a song from a favorite opera, “The Monkey King.” Then, we all took photos of, and with, one another.”—Evelyn Kanter, contributor

Photo courtesy of Sarah, Compass and Twine

Photo courtesy of Sarah, Compass and Twine

8. A microlight flight over Oman’s Musandam Peninsula
“In March we visited Six Senses Zighy Bay beachfront resort on the Musandam Peninsula in northern Oman, about a 2-hour drive from Dubai. The setting was nothing short of breathtaking, as Musandam’s rugged, lunar-like landscape collided with the brilliant turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman. While the scenery from the ground was beautiful enough, I had a spurt of courage one morning and decided to take it all in from above by hopping on a microlight flight, which is basically a lightweight, 1 or 2 seat trike with a small engine and wings. Sitting behind the pilot, we soared down to within feet of the water and high up to the craggy mountain tops, where the pilot cut the engine and we flew like a hang glider in the wind. Thrilling and scary all at once, it certainly made for an incredible start to the trip.”—Sarah Driggs, Compass + Twine, contributor

RELATED: Island hop the Florida Keys by sea plane

Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Michele Herrmann

9. Walking along the rooftop of the Oslo Opera House
“During a visit to Norway in July, my cousin, John, and I spent a few days in Oslo. During one of them, we went on a free guided walking tour of the city, which took us by the Oslo Opera House. The building sits right next to a fjord and it was designed to look like a floating iceberg. Our tour guide told us that not only are visitors able to visit the interior, but also walk right up the building and onto the rooftop. Later on, John and I decided to give it a try. It’s an easy uphill climb (just wear well-soled shoes). At the top, we lingered for a while and took in panoramic views of the sky, fjord and Oslo itself.”—Michele Herrmann, contributor

Photo courtesy of Getting Stamped

Photo courtesy of Getting Stamped

10. Stargazing from an overwater bungalow in Maldives
“Our top travel moment of 2016 would have to be ticking off a bucket list item we’ve been dreaming about for years: staying in a hut over the water. We called a bungalow suspended over the turquoise waters of the Maldives home for a week. During our stay at this overwater accommodation, which were part of the Summer Islands Maldives resort, we spent our days swimming, diving and lounging on the white sand beaches. At night the floor of our room was made of glass to see the fish swim by and lit up like our very own aquarium. As amazing as the entire experience was, the moment that will stick in our minds forever was the night on the deck of the bungalow where we could see every star in the sky, a highlight of our travels we won’t soon forget.”—Hannah & Adam, Getting Stamped, contributors

Photo courtesy of Laura Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Laura Mitchell

11. Girls’ weekend of sun and fun Fort Myers, Florida
“In June, I got together with a few good friends from college to celebrate a bride-to-be in Fort Myers, Florida. It was the first time in several years we had all been together, and it felt so natural the way we all laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, like no time had passed. We spent the weekend taking in amazing sunset views over the water with fresh seafood and tropical drinks at the rooftop Sun Deck restaurant at Lani Kai Island Resort, and relaxing to the sound of ocean waves on Fort Myers Beach during the hot afternoons. It was the perfect girls trip!”—Kristen Mitchell, contributor

Photo courtesy of Laura Pearson

Photo courtesy of Laura Pearson

12. A romantic outdoor escape in Washington State
“One of my travel highlights this year was a trip back to Washington, a state I called home for a short but formative time after college. I have lived in the Midwest for most of my life, but the Pacific Northwest is a part of the country that has always held special meaning for me, chiefly because of its proximity to stunning nature: Douglas fir forests, San Juan Islands and snow-capped peaks. This time I brought my boyfriend, who had never been to Washington, and we enjoyed a few days each in Seattle, on Whidbey Island and in my former stomping grounds of Bellingham. I’ll never forget staying in a modern, cabin-like studio, which was tucked in the woods off Chuckanut Drive, taking a hike to the top of Oyster Dome (just down the road) and following the hike with oysters and wine on the back patio of The Oyster Bar overlooking the Puget Sound. It felt good to share this experience and landscape with someone I love and who (as of very recently) I’m now engaged to!”—Laura Pearson, contributor

RELATED: Your ultimate Pacific Coast Highway road trip

Photo courtesy of Sharael Kohlberg

Photo courtesy of Sharael Kolberg

13. A sophisticated mother-daughter weekend in San Francisco
“In August, my teenage daughter and I spent a five-star girl’s weekend in San Francisco. The weather was amazing—sunny and warm—no fog! We were spoiled with a stay at the opulent Omni San Francisco Hotel with elegant Austrian crystal chandeliers, Italian marble floors and mahogany walls. We hopped on the iconic cable car to nearby Union Square where we shopped and had high tea at one of my favorite places—The Rotunda restaurant in Neiman Marcus, which offers elegant fine dining under the landmark stained-glass dome overlooking Union Square. It was an amazing weekend in the City by the Bay.”—Sharael Kolberg, contributor

Photo courtesy of Erica Bray

Photo courtesy of Erica Bray

14. The healing power of nature in Iceland
“Sometimes Mother Nature gives you a magical embrace in the middle of nowhere, and you never forget it. This happened for me when I traveled to the Westfjords of Iceland, which my guidebook described as “one quirky region that’s far away from anywhere else.” From the fishing village of Islafjord, I rented a car to drive over a white-knuckle mountain pass—solo—to the edge of one of the region’s most pristine fjords. I passed three cars on the way there, and maybe two dozen sheep. After hiking to the Dynjandi waterfall, I found a nearby patch of grass that overlooked the expansive fjord. I sat for what could have been an eternity, drinking in the quiet beauty, grateful that places like this existed to hush my worries and put the absolute wonder of life on this planet into perspective.”—Erica Bray, contributor

Photo courtesy of Jelisa Castrodale

Photo courtesy of Jelisa Castrodale

15. Rooting like a local for the Liverpool Football Club
“Look, 2016 has been start-to-finish terrible, but it did have a couple of bright moments that weren’t just sparks from this ongoing dumpster fire. Although I had some fantastic experiences in France and Spain, the real highlight for me was a recent visit to Liverpool, England. I am a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club and have seen them play several times, but I’d never been to a match at Anfield, their home stadium, until that afternoon. Although the game itself was a frustrating draw, the experience was everything I’d hoped for, especially singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and losing my voice in a chorus of 54,000 others—before kickoff.”—Jelisa Castrodale, contributor

RELATED: How to spend 3 perfect days in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Dalia Colon

Photo courtesy of Dalia Colon

16. A family goes Western at a Central Florida dude ranch
“My best vacation of 2016 was actually a staycation. Our family welcomed Baby Benji in May, so we’ve been sticking close to our home in Tampa Bay. A weekend at Westgate River Ranch in Central Florida was just the getaway we needed. The Western-themed resort is less hectic than the nearby theme park scene, but it’s just as family-friendly. We wore boots and bandanas, 4-year-old Norah got to ride a pony, and we all cheered on the cowboys and cowgirls on horseback. It was our first rodeo—literally—but certainly not our last.”—Dalia Colon, contributor

Photo courtesy of Judy Sutton Taylor

Photo courtesy of Judy Sutton Taylor

17. Smooth summer sailing in Chicago

“My family was lucky enough to take some amazing trips in 2016, including a Spring Break beach vacation to St. Martin and a summer road trip to visit baseball parks around the United States. But my favorite was a one-day escape right in our own Chicago front yard, when we rented a sailboat for an afternoon on Lake Michigan on my kids’ last day of summer vacation. Watching them swim with their friends against the amazing backdrop of the city skyline reminded me why people say the whole world would move to Chicago if it was summer here year-round.”—Judy Sutton Taylor, contributor

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Cumming Yates

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

18. A game of victorious camel polo in Dubai

“My most memorable travel moment for 2016 was in Dubai. This over-the-top city is famous for cloud topping buildings and incredible wealth but my best memory involved none of those things. What I’ll always remember was going out to the local polo club and playing camel polo! It was not an easy game to play and bumping up and down on those humps is really uncomfortable, but my team actually won. I’ll always remember racing through the field on a camel and leaning over to hit the ball!”—Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, contributor

jasper-national-park_mira-tempkin

Jasper National Park | Courtesy of Mira Tempkin

19. Serene beauty in the Canadian wilderness
“In September, I rode the Rocky Mountaineer rail through the breathtaking Canadian Rockies. We stopped for a luxurious overnight at the Fairmont Hotel, right inside Jasper National Park. I jogged around the emerald green Lake Beauvert to get a glimpse of a friendly elk or lovely whitetail deer. Playing a game of hide and seek with the wildlife, I walked along the trail, taking in the peaceful scenery, experiencing all the glory of the changing colors.”—Mira Tempkin

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tagged: California, Caribbean, Europe, Family time, Florida, Mexico, Midwest, Top 10 Lists

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

We're the editors of this travel blog, brought to you by Orbitz!
Orbitz Travel Blog Editors

Latest posts by Orbitz Travel Blog Editors (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *