36 In Brazil/ Ecuador/ Peru/ Travel/ United States

MY FAVORITE PLACES OF 2016

It’s crazy to think that 2016 is already almost over! What a whirlwind it has been, everyone. When I began the year in Miami, there’s no way I could’ve known where the rest of my time would take me. Some highlights include doing a Portuguese immersion program, climbing to the top of Machu Picchu, and getting to swing at the end of the world in Baños. So, as a cheers to this past year, here are my favorite places of 2016 and experiences of the year. Here’s to 2017, let’s see where else we end up!

Florianópolis, Brazil

I know I talk about Florianópolis all of the time (sorry I’m not sorry). Nonetheless, this destination deserves all the hype it can get. If you’re looking to escape the Northern Hemisphere’s winter season, look no further. Floripa is located on an island in Southern Brazil, where you can avoid all the chilly weather. Trade freezing your butt off to enjoy your time by taking surf lessons, sipping caipirinhas in the sunshine, and sunbathing. The welcoming and accepting attitude of the people of Floripa made this one of my favorite places of 2016.

Machu Picchu, Peru

It's crazy to think that 2016 is almost over! As a cheer to the past year, here are my favorite places of 2016. It was so hard to choose!If Machu Picchu isn’t on your bucket list, then it should be. While this is one of those destinations that almost everyone wants to see, I can tell you that experiencing these ancient Incan ruins in person was easily one of the highlights of my year. No picture can do Machu Picchu justice.

White Sands, United States

It's crazy to think that 2016 is almost over! As a cheer to the past year, here are my favorite places of 2016. It was so hard to choose!I had never heard of White Sands before I came across some stunning pictures of these dunes on Instagram. Thus, when I had the opportunity to take a cross-country road trip earlier this year, I made sure that we penciled in White Sands National Monument as one of our stops. We weren’t quite sure of what to expect. Nonetheless, all the hopes I had for White Sands were exceeded. One of my 2017 experiences that I seem to keep replaying in my head is the sunset I had the pleasure to watch over these rolling sand dunes.

Savannah, United States

Being a Georgia native, I never thought I would be including a destination so close to my hometown on this list! However, Savannah had me hooked after just a few moments in the Historic District. It’s my opinion that no other city in the world has quite as many beautifully restored houses. Moreover, this destination is a dream come true for photographers, particularly with a great deal of Spanish moss hanging from the treetops everywhere you look.

Baños, Ecuador

It's crazy to think that 2016 is almost over! As a cheer to the past year, here are my favorite places of 2016. It was so hard to choose!As much as I hate to admit this, I’m not much of an outdoorsy person. Needless to say, when my friends suggested going to the middle of the Amazon jungle in Ecuador, I wasn’t super psyched. Baños took my negative view of adventure travel and completely turned it around. I tried things that I had never done before, and there was something so tranquil about being surrounded by green and waterfalls. 

What are your favorite places of 2016?

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36 Comments

  • Reply
    Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld
    December 16, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    These are amazing destinations! 🙂 My favourites of the year were Cartagena, Colombua and La Campana 😀

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      I want to go to Cartagena so badly!

  • Reply
    ADAM DOOLITTLE
    December 16, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    These are some great spots! Machu Picchu is absolutely on my list of places to go. If the pictures don’t do it justice I can’t imagine how incredible it really is!

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Yes! I hope you get to go sometime in the near future, it’s such a great experience! 🙂

  • Reply
    Maja | Mexatia
    December 17, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Leah, you are killing me! White Sands look like a dream place, I would certainly love to visit!
    For us, this year was full of local travel and I loved Trogir in Croatia and hiking in Slovenia the most.

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I’m hearing so much about Slovenia lately! Would love to have the opportunity to go one day!

  • Reply
    Stace
    December 17, 2016 at 6:44 am

    I have no idea! I loved everywhere this year, Machu Picchu, new Zealand, and Iceland! I can’t wait for my next adventure which is a week in Colombia

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      All of those places sound so awesome! Iceland is on my bucket list!

  • Reply
    Vicki Louise
    December 17, 2016 at 6:49 am

    What great memories you have made this year! Machu Pichu & the swing in Banos are high up on my list – which I have now had to add White Sands too after seeing your photo: it looks beautiful!

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      yes! It’s such a beautiful place, and not many people know about it!

  • Reply
    Jean
    December 17, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Looks like 2016 was pretty epic for you! Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      It was an exciting year! I can’t wait either!

  • Reply
    Naomi
    December 17, 2016 at 8:16 am

    wow you’ve been to some amazing places this year. Machu Picchu must have been also the highlight of my year. At least one of many

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Definitely! I don’t know anyone who didn’t enjoy Machu Picchu!

  • Reply
    Marlies - Crazy Dutch Abroad
    December 17, 2016 at 8:37 am

    WOW! This post makes me want to visit South America tomorrow! Machu Picchu is on the list, obviously, but Baños in Ecuador now too. What a magical place with all those stairs and waterfall.

    • Reply
      Leah Shoup
      December 17, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Baños really is magical, especially being in the middle of the jungle!

  • Reply
    Jimmy and Tina
    December 17, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I remember reading some of your post. Baños was one of my favorites for the views I can’t imagine how beautiful and exciting it must have been. I am also drawn to the white sands, but mostly because dying for spring already! Glad you had a good year and cheers to 2017

  • Reply
    Mel I TravelingMel
    December 18, 2016 at 11:14 am

    You’ve been to some great places. I’ll have to check out Florianópolis ! My fave spots this year have been the middle of Yellowstone in the winter, on a zip line in Florence, Italy, and among waterfalls in Plitvice National Park in Croatia.

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    December 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    White Sands is a stunning spot to visit. I loved sledding down the sand dunes there. Great list.

  • Reply
    Promise Chika Maxwell
    December 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Amazing places you covered already for 2016. I think my favorite on your list to try would be Savannah, incredibly beautiful from the photo not to dream of being there yourself.

  • Reply
    Daisy Huntington - DaisLikeThese
    December 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Wow, looks like 2016 has been kind to you!! White Sands and Banos are place I have never even heard of be they look amazing!
    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Reply
    Punita Malhotra
    December 18, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    White Sands and Savannah..those pictures are the ones that really caught my eye. But, fascinating destinations, all. A great list.

  • Reply
    neha
    December 19, 2016 at 4:22 am

    Beautiful..I am jealous you got to see so many beautiful places in 2016, have a wonderful 2017 ahead with double the destinations 🙂 Will await your stories

  • Reply
    Nadine Smith (Scenes From Nadine)
    December 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Machu Picchu is certainly on my bucket list. My husband and I even want to start a Peru travel fund! I have seen photos of it but you are right, I bet there is nothing like seeing it in person! You’re so lucky you got to go!

  • Reply
    Devesh Joshi
    December 26, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    That is a great list. Speaking of my personal favorite, it would be Savannah. By the way that camera/lens do you use? Your pictures are totally amazing!

  • Reply
    Allison
    December 27, 2016 at 12:39 am

    Some great picks here Leah! I’m intrigued by White Sands! It looks amazing 😀

  • Reply
    Christie
    December 27, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Wow what a wonderful year you had!! I’m really glad to see white sands on your list! I don’t think I ever saw pics from there on your Insta, oddly. My dad is from New Mexico and every time I say I want to go there he thinks I’m nuts because it’s so middle of nowhere. I’m glad to hear you say it exceeded your expectations – now I’m going to force him to go with me next time we visit!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Maggie
    December 27, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    You’ve been to some amazing places this year! My favorite this year has to be Thailand, I would go back in a heartbeat. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states, but haven’t been to Savannah yet. It’s one I really want to go to!

  • Reply
    Kreete
    December 27, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    All great destinations! Love the white sands! Wow! It really is super white! And Machu Picchu is on top of my bucket list! Have you got any posts about it?

  • Reply
    Iza Abao, Two Monkeys Travel Group Writer
    December 28, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Great job for your accomplishments this year. I wish you more travels next year. Machu Picchu is one of my travel goals. I have seen so many pics of it but going to that place will be very different.

  • Reply
    Jean
    December 28, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Oh Machu Picchu is on my 2017 list! I’m glad to see you got to spend some time exploring your home state. I love exploring areas close to home. It’s amazing what you find.

  • Reply
    TheRedRidingHood
    December 28, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Wow! Great idea for end of 2016 🙂 My favourite place was defo Malta. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Reply
    Ticking the Bucketlist
    December 28, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    I am currently in Rio and am living your list! My favourite place was the Galapagos. Did you go there? What’s on the 2017 list?

  • Reply
    Melissa
    December 28, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    I grew up going to White Sands but haven’t been since I was a kid. I always thought it was cool, but it is definitely a bit off the beaten path. When my daughter is a little older, I hope to take her!

  • Reply
    Katie
    January 29, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Wow it looks like you had a fantastic 2016!! So jealous of all the places you have visited – looks amazing! Would love to visit so many of these places, especially Brazil!

  • Reply
    Soraya
    January 29, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    I am facing some serious wanderlust here just reading your article!! Of course Machu Picchu is on my bucket list… but moving on from that, wow some of these other places I have never heard of before. White Sands looks awesome! And wow to Baños!! So glad you went outside of your comfort zone and experience the nature in Baños because it looks incredible!

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