From Yellowstone’s Old Faithful to Route 66 to space shuttles, we saw some amazing things in 2016. Here are the 10 best places we visited this year…
Another year is in the books, and despite some rough spots (please, 2016, don’t take any more celebrities from our childhood, sports stars, or music legends), we have to look back and smile. 2016 sent us to some of the most wonderful places in the United States, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t share our top 10 from the year.
If you’ve been to these places, you can relate. If you haven’t, here’s to 2017! Rent that car. Book that flight. Sign up for that trip. These places are all worth it. (FYI: Many of the links connect to more pictures and info about the place mentioned)
Yellowstone National Park
Where do you start when trying to describe Yellowstone National Park? Our nation’s first national park is so strange, so bizarre, the first expeditions were met with extreme skepticism. “There’s really a place where the ground hisses, bubbles, and shoots water into the air?”
Yes. And it is remarkable. You could spend weeks exploring the park and still just scratch the surface. There’s no place in America where you can see so many crazy geothermal activities as bison, sheep, elk, moose, and even bears wander to-and-fro.
For us, the opportunity to stay at the Old Faithful Inn and even lower the flags on the rooftop as Old Faithful erupted in the background was one of our top memories of the year.
Wall Drug Store
It seems ridiculous that it took us so long to finally make it to Wall Drug! Well, we made up for it by visiting 4 times in 2016. That being said… we still haven’t explored all of this roadside treasure. We now have Wall Drug stickers on practically everything we own. If you call yourself a road warrior and haven’t been to Wall Drug, it’s time to change that in 2017.
Green Bay, WI
This city was the pleasant surprise of the year. We assumed we’d tour Lambeau Field, eat some cheese, and call it a day. We were so wrong. Green Bay, WI boasted all sorts of fun sites to see, places to eat, and breweries to conquer. We enjoyed a cup of joe at quite possibly the coolest coffeeshop in all of Wisconsin (Kavarna Coffeehouse), toured Lambeau Field, shopped in the Broadway District, drank awesome craft beer at Titletown Brewing, and more all in one afternoon. It’s on our list of places to revisit in 2017, and it should be on yours too.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center
We checked a big one off our bucket list at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center… We met an astronaut! US Army Brig. General Bob Stewart (ret.) just happened to be hanging out (as he does weekly) in case anyone wanted to chat about the fact he’d been to space several times.
Even if we hadn’t met General Stewart, we’d call the visit a success since we saw a space shuttle with its full launch stack, lots of other equipment, and even a Saturn V rocket.. If you’ve never seen a Saturn V in person, prepare to be amazed.
Grand Teton National Park (& Jackson, WY)
You’ve probably heard a lot of famous people have pads in Jackson, WY. There’s a reason: it’s awesome. Of all the mountain ranges in the United States, the Tetons may be the most dramatic as they rocket up from the sagebrush valley below.
So it’s not a “place,” but really a series of places and people near and dear to our hearts. It’s a long route, so give us a second to work our way through some of the places we loved visiting in 2016. (Oh, and this is just some of them. Trying to be somewhat brief here…)
Pontiac, IL and Atlanta, IL
We’ve been big fans of Pontiac for a few years now. From their beautifully crafted Route 66 Museum and Hall of Fame (complete with Bob Waldmire’s VW bus and camper bus) to the town’s murals to the one-and-only Pontiac Oakland Car Museum, this charming town embraces Route 66 and runs with it.
Just down the road is an even smaller, but equally wonderful Route 66 town called Atlanta, IL. Although roughly one block, the block shouldn’t be missed. Their hot-dog-holding “muffler man,” is an obligatory Mother Road photo-op, and lunch at the Palms Grill Cafe will transport you back to the 1950s. Oh, and if you don’t get a piece of pie to top it all off, you’ve really failed at life.
On the way into town, you’re treated to one of the coolest retro motels on Route 66: the Wagon Wheel Motel and Connie’s Shoppe. It’s well worth a stop just for pictures of their famous neon signs and to browse one of the very best gift shops on the Mother Road. From there, walk next door for a bite to eat at Missouri Hick BBQ, a place with decor as fun as the food is delicious. Or… Head into town and stop at our new favorite, The FourWay and dine in a restored filling station.
Home to photo icons like the Blue Swallow Motel, Tee Pee Curios, and Motel Safari, Tucumcari, NM has welcomed us for the past 3 years. Even when we’re not staying the night, the Talley family at Motel Safari has been kind enough to open its rooms for our friends to take a peek. That’s just how this town rolls.
Like we said, we’re leaving off tons of other great spots like the Petrified Forest, Shamrock, TX, Albuquerque, etc.. Bottom line: there’s no shortage of great places on Route 66.
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
In a post just a few days ago we spoke about the sheer power of this place. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is hands-down the most moving place we visited this year. For more on our experience, read the article from last week.
Kind of a “must see” in your lifetime, right? From the Presidential Trail hike to the evening lighting ceremony, it’s all great. Do we really need to tell you why you need to visit Mount Rushmore?
Blend together a town full of movie filming locations (Truman Show), a beach, and a best friend’s wedding and you get a pretty magical weekend. Even if your friends aren’t getting married in this paradise, you’ll enjoy this beachside oasis.
Grand Canyon National Park
It would be a crime to visit the Grand Canyon and not put it on our “best of 2016” list. It’s one of the Wonders of the World, and it lives up to the hype. If some jack-wagon tries to tell you it’s “overrated;” they’re probably overrated. Ditch them in 2017.
It was a good year, and we’re downright tickled you let us share it with you.
Hope to meet you on the road in 2017. In the meantime, let’s be digital friends on Facebook and Instagram.