My Top Travel Moments of 2017

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Christian Carollo

2017 was a year that held a bit of uncertainty for my travels. After an epic road trip around the United States last year, in which I visited 36 states & 14 National Parks, I felt myself being unsure of where I wanted to explore. I struggled to settle on destinations that I was truly excited about, something that is not normal for me. I almost felt like my road trip had ruined me to United States travel.

Despite my trip planning hesitancy, I still managed to visit some amazing destinations, meet fellow travelers, reach a pretty big milestone (read more about that below), and have an overall fantastic year further exploring America.

Here are my favorite travel moments from 2017!

10. Deepening my love for Savannah

Savannah was my first solo travel destination many years ago and has been one of my favorite places in the United States ever since. It had been over four years (far too long) since my last visit, so I decided to get reacquainted with the beautiful Southern city in late January.

A quick three days allowed me to explore a few sights I had not yet seen, like the picturesque Wormsloe Historic Site, make a few stops at Leopold’s Ice Cream, venture out to Tybee Island & Fort Pulaski, nosh on delicious pralines from River Street Sweets, snap a picture of a street musician that I had photographed on my previous two visits, and leisurely stroll through the many historic squares. But the greatest part of the trip was being able to spend time with a dear friend and her daughter, who drove up from Orlando to spend a day with me!

Read More: 15 Things to Do in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

9. Movie location hunting in the Los Angeles area

Nerd alert! Ever since I was a wee lad, I have loved the movie The Karate Kid. When my Southern California road trip took me through the Los Angeles area, I naturally spent an afternoon seeking out many key locations from the film. I had the chance to see where Daniel LaRusso’s apartment building, the high school he attended, and the mansion where his girlfriend lived. Wax on, wax off!

Karate Kid Apartment

Ali Mills House

8. Touring Lambeau Field

A road trip around Lake Michigan in September allowed me to pass through Green Bay, Wisconsin. Being the sports fanatic I am, my #1 goal was to tour the iconic Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. The tour guide gave a detailed history of the team as we walked through the club boxes, player’s tunnel, and onto the legendary field itself. We were led to one area of the stadium that echoed back the chant “Go Pack Go!” from many of the Packer fans on the tour. Loyal to my Philadelphia roots, I refused and instead opted to shout “Fly Eagles Fly!”

7. Becoming an honorary au pair in Florida

October called for a Florida trip to visit a friend who is spending a year as an au pair in the Fort Lauderdale area. We were able to go gator hunting at Everglades Holiday Park, tour the incredible Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, try a cup of delicious Cuban coffee in Little Havana, and see the amazing murals of Wynwood Walls. I also had the chance to spend time with a few of her fellow au pair friends, which led to being declared an honorary au pair.

Read More: Miami, Florida: The Best Things to Do in One Day

Florida Trip

Florida, USA

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6. Visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

During my Michigan road trip, I made it a point to visit two National Lakeshores in the state. Located near Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes provided an incredible day of stunning Lake Michigan views along the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a stop at the insanely steep Dune Climb (which I did not do because I was, ahem, short on time), and a walk around the restored Glen Haven village. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore instantly became a highlight of my Michigan trip and is a destination that should be on your bucket list!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

5. Biking Mackinac Island

A visit to Mackinac Island feels like you’ve traveled back in time. Further adding to the time travel sentiment, the 8-mile loop around the island, known as Lake Shore Boulevard, is Michigan’s only state highway that is completely automobile free. This makes biking a very popular activity among visitors to Mackinac Island! With only one day on the island, I chose to see as much as possible by also renting a bike. Along the easy loop, I admired gorgeous views of the crystal-blue Lake Huron, stopped to see Arch Rock, rode up to the iconic Grand Hotel, dreamed about owning one of the colorful homes, and dodged fellow bikers downtown. I can say without a doubt, renting a bike is the perfect way to experience Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island Home

4. Checking off 5 more MLB stadiums

Anyone who’s been following my travels over the years knows that I love to visit baseball stadiums. If I’m traveling during the MLB season and the team is in town, I always plan on attending a game. 2017 saw me visit the most new stadiums in a single year, as I was able to cross 5 off the list. My California trip allowed me to see San Diego’s PETCO Park & Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, a guy’s weekend in New York City checked off Citi Field, a fun trip to Boston with my dad handled Fenway Park, and Milwaukee’s Miller Park rounded out the list. Which one was my favorite, you ask? I’d have to go with the iconic Fenway Park!

MLB Ballparks

Clockwise from top left: Dodger Stadium, Fenway park, PETCO Park, Citi Field

3. Exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Much of my Michigan trip was centered around visiting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I had seen photos of this Lake Superior gem years before and knew it would be a primary focus when the time came to travel to Michigan. It did not disappoint! I spent my two days hiking to waterfalls, photographing the coastline from amazing viewpoints, seeing the Pictured Rocks up close on a sunset cruise, and even scanning the night sky for a chance to see the Aurora Borealis. I was blown away by the beauty of Michigan, but Pictured Rocks was by far the highlight.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Cruise

2. Revisiting Joshua Tree National Park

It’s safe to say that I fell in love with Joshua Tree National Park during my Say Hello To America 2016 road trip. Although I had minimal time my first time around, I knew I would return in the near future. My Southern California road trip once again allowed me to experience the magic of Joshua Tree and the surrounding area. My two days was spent basking in glorious sunsets, stargazing, making new friends at Pappy & Harriet’s, and discovering “jumping cactus” at the Cholla Cactus Garden. The second visit was just as fantastic as the first, and I know there will be many more to come.

Read More: 8 Days in Southern California

Joshua-Tree-National-Park-Sunset

Joshua Tree, California

1. Completing the Continental United States

I finally completed the Lower 48! I certainly felt a sense of accomplishment as I crossed from Illinois into Michigan back in September. Many people found it odd that I had never visited Michigan before (or that I would visit at all), but I was shocked by the natural beauty and charm found in places like Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leland Fishtown, Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks, and Traverse City.

When I began my solo travel adventures in 2010, I never would have imagined that I’d visit 26 more states and be so close to my goal of visiting all 50. Bring it on, Alaska & Hawaii! 2018 should be a fun year.

Christian Carollo, Michigan

Michigan, USA

Sunrise on Lake Huron & Sunset in Traverse City

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