Looking Ahead: 16 Destinations for 2016

16 Destinations for 2016 - The Atlas Heart

Before I run head first into new partnerships and travels this year, I wanted to take a moment to fill all you readers in on where my adventures will lead me for the next 12 months.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of where I may end up going for 2016, but it’s a good idea at least of the new places I will see and what I’ll be writing about this year. Are you excited as I am? Because I’m ecstatic for this year! I have a feeling 2016 is going to be one to remember and a huge step forward for my life and business, even in terms of expanding my perspective as I travel more.

One of the aspects I’m looking most forward to this year is continuing to explore my own country, which I have sadly not seen all that much of, or at least not as much as I would like.

One point I’ve really noticed since coming home is how different every state is in America. I mean look at Oregon and California, complete opposites, but right next to each other geographically. Everywhere I went in the States last year was so unique, it made me realize how little I actually know about the diversity of my own country.

This year, I’ll be heading to a new state almost every month until the end of summer. It’s fairly ambitious but I’m ready for a bundle of explorations going into the New Year, and honestly I’m not sure when I’ll be in America again once I go back to Asia. I want to live it up while I can.

The start of fall is when I’m looking to reunite with my love for Asia, but this time I’ll be trying to get more off the beaten path than I did last time I was in Southeast Asia for a couple of months. This trip, I want to slow travel through every country and freelance along the way, spending a minimum of a month in each place I go.

We’ll see where this year leads, but I’m going in with a positive attitude, no expectations, and a readiness to work hard and play hard.

These are the 16 destinations I’ll be heading to this year, but don’t be surprised if you see more popping up on my blog for 2016 – you never know where my spontaneity will take me!


That’s right! I’m thrilled to be heading to Big Sky Country in a couple of weeks to explore as much as I can of the State in 7 days, and experience freezing cold temperatures while I’m at it. I’ll be based in the little town of Missoula for most of the trip, as I’m working with the local tourism board there, but I’ll also be partnering with Big Sky Ski Resort for a day, and checking out a couple of other hotspots around Southwest Montana.

Montana - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


Oregon Coast

I’ve seen the Oregon coast in bits and pieces and one long road trip when I was 17, but I haven’t been back to explore it since, especially the northern part of the coast. Kendall and I love Pelican Brewery in Pacific City, so we have a grand image of heading to the coast for a weekend and sipping a beer out on their deck during an epic winter storm. I’m thinking we’ll definitely make this happen sometime in February.

Oregon Coast - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


I am so delighted that I get to head back to the live music capital of the world this year, Austin, Texas. I’ve been here once before for a spontaneous week during college, but this time I’m coming back for a festival I’ve always wanted to experience, SXSW. Kendall and I have already been approved for volunteer spots for the music week of the interactive festival, now we just need to buy our flights and we’ll be headed to Texas in March!

SXSW in Austin, Texas - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

New Orleans

I have this thing where I celebrate each year of my 20s in a different city (if you don’t count my 20th). My 21st was spent in San Diego, my 22nd in Vegas, my 23rd in Melbourne, my 24th in Wellington, and my 25th in Veneta. Well, I have always wanted to see NOLA, it’s the city I’ve longed to see most in the States for awhile now. I figured what better time to see it than for my 26th birthday coming up in May? I can’t wait to stuff my face with beignets, follow the music down Bourbon Street, and take in the lovable eccentrics of the South.

New Orleans, USA - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

San Juan Islands

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve heard so much about how wonderful the San Juan Islands are, and how they represent a certain untouched beauty. Located just below the Canadian border in Washington State, the San Juan Island will be a perfect weekend trip to experience the real Pacific Northwest and hopefully an abundance of wildlife. We’ll be heading up to the islands at some point during the summer.

San Juan Islands in Washington State - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

Yellowstone National Park

Words can’t describe how excited I am to see the famous Yellowstone National Park this summer and hopefully some buffalo too! We’ll be going on a last hurray USA road trip through some of the states and national parks I’ve been wanting to see the most, Yellowstone is definitely at the top of that list. We’ll probably end up spending at least a few days in the park, camping and tackling a multi-day hike or two in the wilderness.

Yellowstone National Park - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

Zion National Park

Another national park that has been on my radar for awhile, Zion National Park is located in Southwest Utah and looks absolutely stunning. The rock formations, forest hikes, and waterfalls all look perfect for a couple of days off the radar in the summer.

Zion National Park in Utah, USA - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


I just put Arizona state as a whole down because I’m expecting to spend the most time here for our USA road trip. There are so many spots in Arizona I’ve been dying to see, including the Grand Canyon, of course, which I still haven’t made time to visit. Unacceptable!

In addition to the Grand Canyon, I’d love to explore some of the cities around the state, as well as Horseshoe Bend and the elegant Antelope Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, USA - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

Las Vegas

Oh, Vegas. It has been awhile. I used to go on weekend trips to see you way too many times while I was in college, I even had a birthday party with you.

Sadly, I haven’t said hello since I’ve been back and I think that needs to change. This time around, I’m going to try even harder to do Las Vegas on the cheap – it can be a very hard goal to accomplish but I’ll give it my best shot. Kendall has yet to see Vegas, and since it’s really like no place else in the world, I figured we should add this to our itinerary since we’ll be so close to it anyway.

Las Vegas, Nevada - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

Black Rock City

If we manage to get Burning Man tickets this year, we’ll be heading to Black Rock City, Nevada for our first burn in September. We were originally thinking this was going to happen in 2015, but with the expenses that came with settling back in America, we just couldn’t afford it. Also, when the tickets went on sale we were still in New Zealand, and there was no way we would ever have bought tickets from there with the Kiwi internet. Thus, it seems like 2016 will be the year for us to head to Burning Man, and directly afterwards we should be leaving the States, so it will be our last big party in America.

Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


Another destination that has been at the top of my list for over a year, especially after all of the awesome Canadian friends I made while I was living down under.

Kendall has some family that still lives in Canada, and I’m assuming we’ll probably spend most of our time in British Columbia. However, you never know, we may choose to hitchhike east for a bit, but again, it will just come down to money and time. I’m hoping to spend at least 3 weeks in Canada before heading out to Asia.

British Columbia, Canada - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

Hong Kong

Hong Kong will be our first stop in Asia, not only because I’ve heard amazing things about the city, but because it is by far the cheapest place to fly into from the West Coast of North America.

As I mentioned before, I want to spend at least a month in the places we travel around Asia, and Hong Kong is no exception. It will give me a chance to experience hands on the hustle and bustle of a huge city with an even bigger population.

You can bet I’ll also be making a day trip (or two) to Macau while I’m there, and trying ALL the dumplings I can get my hands on. I left my dumpling addiction back in Melbourne because I was never able to find any that were so good, but I have a feeling it will be coming back in full force as soon as I land in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


From Hong Kong, we’ll be heading to the slightly less crazy Taiwan. I’m not sure what to expect with Taiwan, just that I think I’ll really like it. It’s not talked about all that much by bloggers and I feel like it’s a passed over destination oftentimes. I’m looking forward to discovering Taipei and gradually working my way south from there.

Taiwan - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

Mainland China

China will most likely be the only exception to the 1 month goal for Asia. Although I would love to spend a decent amount of time in the country, China is overwhelming in size and population. The visas are more expensive than it seems anywhere else in Asia, and I don’t think we’ll have the budget to do it properly. Luckily, in certain areas, such as Beijing and Shanghai, they have these 72-hour exceptions where you can stay there without a visa. We may as well take advantage of it while we’re in that area of Asia, so we’ll be spending a few days at least in the country and seeing what we can in a whirlwind amount of time. But we’ll be back one day!

Beijing, China - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr

South Korea

We would love to fit in South Korea before settling down for a bit in the Philippines. Seoul looks like such a fun city, especially in terms of nightlife, and I’ve heard when you get outside the cities the hiking is phenomenal in Korea. If all goes as planned, we’ll be heading here sometime in November this year.

South Korea - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


And lastly, we’ll be ending the year in the Philippines! We’ve already tentatively decided on making this our home base in Asia for awhile. With over 7,000 islands, you can bet there’s a ton I want to see. This is also where Kendall will probably take up work again as he got his scuba instructor’s license when he was back in New Zealand. I’m looking forward to a relaxing time on the many islands, writing on the beach and scuba diving as much as we can. I think it will be the perfect place to ring in 2017.

Philippines - 2016 Destinations, The Atlas Heart
Photo via Flickr


16 Destinations for 2016 - The Atlas Heart

Feel free to pin this image for future reference by clicking on the top right hand corner.

Where are you heading for 2016? Have you been to any of these destinations? Any recommendations for what I should see? 

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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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  1. Those are some great destinations you will be headed to, and I just wanted to give a tip for Arizona (it being my home state and all). All the places you listed are amazing, but if you haven’t already..you should plan to hike down to the Havasupi Falls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! It’s truly one of the best experiences you could have in the world let alone Arizona. 🙂
    I mention it along with some pictures and tips in my blog post here: http://www.spintheglobeproject.com/73/

    1. I am so excited to see Arizona this year, thank you for the recommendation on your home state! I love hiking, so I will definitely try to incorporate Havasupi Falls into my trip to the Grand Canyon.

  2. What an awesome list! We moved out west and I can’t wait until the number of weddings we have start to fizzle out and we can spend our vacation days, well, vacationing and exploring. I’ve been to Big Sky and it’s such a cool place. Even if you don’t ski down, take the Gondola to the top for some amazing waffles!

    1. Thanks Nicole! Good to hear that Big Sky is a cool place, I’m looking forward to experiencing the snowboarding in Montana. And did you say waffles?! I’m so down.

  3. What an incredible list! Some of my favorite spots (hello, Oregon Coast!) and I love the tourism folks in western Montana. So much to do in each of these places! I haven’t been back to the Philippines since I was a kid and can’t wait to go back. Here’s to a fun year of adventure ahead for you!

    1. Thank you Marlynn! Looking so forward to the Oregon Coast, I love its rugged beauty. And I’ve been wanting to see the Philippines for ages, so I’m glad I’m finally making it happen this year. I’ve heard the scuba is amazing.

  4. Looks like an amazing year you have ahead of you. We are slacking this year. 2015 was super crazy busy traveling across 12 countries with our 5 kids. This year I am thinking we might stay closer to home and explore more of the states. Although, I can bet by next month my wanderlust will get me and our list will change. Happy Travels!!

    1. Wow!! 12 countries with 5 kids? That sounds like a mission but a lifetime of good memories with the family. There is so much to explore in the States so I’m sure you’ll still be keeping your wanderlust satiated even if you don’t make it abroad this year. 🙂

  5. The only thing I can say is WOW! I think I want to be a travel blogger instead of a recipe blogger! (Maybe I’ll incorporate travel into my posts in the future!)

    1. Yes! I love traveling and writing about it along the way. I know a lot of food/travel bloggers so there’s definitely a niche if you decide you want to travel more. 🙂

  6. Awesome destinations! Great reminder that we have some pretty beautiful places in America that I often forget about. I haven’t been to New Orleans yet and I’e always really wanted to go. I live in Japan now, so the Asian destinations really caught my eye since they aren’t too too far away from me by train. I already have trips planned to Beijing and Shanghai, and I’m thinking I may need to make time for Hong Kong as well!


    1. Thank you Allison! Yes, It never clicked how many beautiful spots there are still to discover around the USA until I went abroad for two years – when I came back I was inspired to explore more of my own country. Japan is on my list too, it looks absolutely beautiful – hopefully I’ll make it over there in the next couple of years!

  7. Wow, that’s a really great list of places!! You have some amazing adventures ahead of you that’s for sure!! Although I’ve traveled a bit through the States, there are still many places I’d like to go and I’ve never been anywhere in Asia. I’m in Victoria, British Columbia and I can see the San Juan islands in the USA from my house – let me know if you need a tour guide for the day when you are up here! Good luck in 2016 and enjoy!!

    1. Thanks, Heather! I’m really looking forward to this year. I can’t wait to see British Columbia in the near future, I’ll definitely let you know about the San Juan Islands. 🙂

  8. Absolutly beautiful pictures, I have mainly gone to the last ones, from Hong Kong, and I totally agree they are worth going. The other places I would love to go one day.

  9. Great list! Let’s stay in touch as you explore the U.S. — I’m planning to be a little bit of everywhere as I roadtrip to all the U.S. national parks. It would be great to travel together or be in the same place at the same time!

  10. What a great list of places to visit and explore! I have heard of the San Juan Islands and would love to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Oregon Coast is so great! So much to see and do there! We are hoping to make it to some of those national parks this year too!

  12. Such exciting plans for 2016! I have always wanted to visit South Korea and Hong Kong. Cannot wait to follow your adventures!

  13. So many of these destinations have now made it onto my 2016 travel list! I’ve been wanting to explore Oregon, Arizona and the San Juan islands for quite some time now – you’ve made me want to go even more! There are just too many destinations to explore, hey! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

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