Every year I like to look back at our year. I love looking at what we have done and remember the moments that shaped the year. As we start 2020 and I am sharing our best travel moments of 2019 and what is coming up for us in the new year.
Year after year we gravitate towards our favorite places to travel to but 2019 brought a few new adventures for our family. We visited deserts and theme parks, drove many miles and flew across the country.
The travel moments had its ups and downs. Car rides that had us all squabbling at times. Delayed flights that had us home in the middle of the night. It’s funny how the memories that stick are the good ones.
The kids eyes as they saw the pacific ocean for the first time. How it felt as we walked through the gates of Disneyland, the park that Walt Disney himself walked through. Riding new attractions as a family and exploring the Arizona desert.
2019 was a great year of new travel experiences and family travel traditions that we will take into 2020.
Our Best Travel Moments from 2019
Our first big trip of 2019 was a Southwest Road Trip. We started in New Mexico and drove to Southern California. A few of my favorite moments came from this trip.
Watching the Sunset at White Sands National Monument
Watching the sunset as we were sledding down the dunes of White Sands National Monument may be one of my favorite moments of all time. The park is unlike anything I have ever seen and it is a must visit for anyone in the USA.
Driving Through Fields of Cactus in Tucson
Growing up in the Northeast USA I didn’t realize that catus are everywhere in Arizona! As we made our way through the hills in Tucson more and more cactus started popping up. I was mesmerized and we even stopped along the way to take it all in.
Climbing to the Top of a T-Rex at Cabazon Dinosaurs
There is this small road side attraction in California called Cabazon Dinosaurs. We decided to check it out as we made our way from Arizona to California.
One of the reasons we were excited to stop was that it is the place where Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure filmed. It was also the perfect spot to stretch our legs during our road trip. At the park we paid the admission fee and climbed to the top of the T-Rex.
Learn More: A Unique Roadside Attraction: Cabazon Dinosaurs
Walking Through the Original Disney Park
As readers here you know that we love Disney. We visited often, even though we live far, and have a deep appreciation for all things Disney. Adding a one day visit to the California parks gave us limited time but we were so happy to have that day.
We can’t wait to plan a visit back to the parks to really explore but visiting the parks was a highlight of the year.
Learn More about Visiting Disneyland (California)
- Tips for Planning Your First Disneyland Visit
- Disneyland and California Adventure One-Day Itinerary
- Maxpass at Disneyland Explained
Visiting the Seals in California
When we finally arrived in California we had done a lot of traveling with not a lot of rest. Everyone was exhausted. We needed a reset.
Visiting the Seals on the Pacific coast was the reset we all needed. It was a fun and unique experience that recharged our family and was like nothing we had ever seen.
Our Southwest Road Trip added was full of so many memories and amazing moments. After that trip we stayed local before planning more adventures in the summer.
Learn More: Ultimate 9 Day Southwest Road Trip with Kids
Disney Sports Press Trip with My Mom
In this business sometimes an opportunity comes up that I can share with my family. In July we were invited to Walt Disney World for a press trip featuring ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
My husband had work obligations so I was able to bring my mom. It was such a cool experience to share a bit of what I do with her. The kids loved having her with us and it was a highlight of our summer.
Weekend in Buffalo Acting Like a Tourist
I grew up in Buffalo, New York and I love telling people what a great city it is. We go back often to visit my family but don’t usually make it to any of the family destinations in the city.
Over the summer we planned a weekend getaway that included staying downtown and visiting a few of the best family attractions in Buffalo. My favorite was all the good food we got to eat!
Learn More: Tips for Visiting Buffalo for a Weekend Getaway
Visiting Pittsburgh for a Week
Pittsburgh holds a special place in my heart because we lived there when my husband and I were first married. We moved back to NY almost ten years ago, but we try to make a point to visit often.
Learn More: 15 Places to Visit in Pittsburgh for Families
Universal Orlando Summer Vacation
Our big summer vacation had us visiting Universal Orlando for the last week of August. It is very hot in Florida this time of year and we spent a lot of time by the pool.
We also dealt with hurricane warnings on our last few days and had concerns that we may have to cut our trip short. Thankfully the path of the hurricane changed and we really enjoyed our stay.
We stayed at the new Surfside Inn and Suites and it perfectly fit our family of five. We also rode the all new Hagrid’s Motorbike Rollercoaster. It was a great trip before school started in the fall.
Learn More about Visiting Universal Orlando Resort
- Surfside Inn and Suites Review at Universal
- Planning Your Universal Orlando Family Vacation
- Browse our many posts about Universal Orlando Vacation Planning.
Staying at the Hotel Hershey for Halloween
We have visited Hersheypark many times in the last few years but this visit was so special because we stayed at The Hotel Hershey. The Hotel Hershey is a gorgeous resort that was an original property Milton Hershey planned.
Learn More: The Hotel Hershey Review
Celebrating the Holidays in Seuss Landing
Our final trip of the year had us heading back to Universal Orlando to experience the holidays at the park. This has been on my bucket list for years and I couldn’t wait to see all the decorations for the holidays.
I love seeing the Grinch show and watching the holiday parade. Both theme parks have different themed things and it is worth a visit during the holidays.
Adding 6 New States to Our 50 State Challenge
As a family we have a goal to visit all 50 states. I go into more details about it in our post, Visit 50 States Family Travel Challenge.
To me it is not about visiting as much as being intentional with our time and stepping outside our comfort zone to make these trips happen. In 2019 we added New Mexico, Arizona, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire to our list.
What’s Coming Up in 2020 for Five for the Road
I am always excited for what is to come for the new year and 2020 feels like a fresh start. We have a few things planned that I am really looking forward to but we typically plan a few months in advance.
We’re Attending Disney Creators Celebration
Our first trip will be to the Disney Creators Celebration. This is an invite-only conference for creators and their families. This year it included a few days at Walt Disney World and a few days on a Disney Cruise.
I am really excited for this event. Not only will I get to learn about all the new and exciting things coming to Disney, I get to bring my family and spend time with a lot of my blogging friends.
Small Weekend Getaways from Rochester
Living in Rochester we are close to a lot of major cities that we haven’t visited in a few years or ever. We are planning a weekend to Toronto in the Spring and I would like to visit NYC in the summer.
A Big Road Trip
We have also been talking about planning another big road trip like our Southwest one. We have a few ideas that include Texas, Las Vegas, and/or Colorado. There is a lot of planning and I’m not exactly sure what we will do, but we will try to add to a few new states in 2020.
Wherever our family adventure takes us I know it will be amazing and create lasting memories. Thanks for following along and have a wonderful 2020!
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Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.