I have assembled a travel bucket list over the past couple of years because it is in my 40’s when I first realized my love of travel.
Maybe it’s because I realize that time is fleeting or it’s my oldest daughter and her wanderlust that pushed me outside of my boundaries.
Can you say California alone with her last summer?
I never would have thought I could do that before I actually DID it.
But man, it was the best thing ever and I have absolutely no regrets.
Here is my travel bucket list of places I want to explore, areas I want to return to or visit for the first time.
I also love to look out for unusual or quirky things in every place that I visit, so I am adding those to each bucket list item too.
1- The Dirty Dancing filming location
Maybe this is a bad one to introduce you my list because as much as I love the movie Dirty Dancing, it is the cheesiest movie ever.
Which makes it a cult classic.
The movie was filmed in the Lake Lure, North Carolina area (NOT the Catskills) and it is pretty beautiful there.
And get this, you can stay IN Kellerman’s!
Well not actually Kellerman’s; it’s called Mountain Lake Lodge but it is the filming location of the movie.
They even have a Dirty Dancing Weekend package where they offer dance lessons, dance parties, and dancing themed activities.
WTF, that is a lot of dancing.
Maybe just go in the off-season.
Quirky thing to do near Lake Lure, North Carolina- I feel like the above IS the quirky thing to do but Asheville is only a 50-minute drive away and honestly, it is full of amazingly quirky things to do. But if I had to choose only one, it would be the American Museum of the House Cat. Because QUIRKY but also because SCREENPLAY.
Three words: cat-related curiosities.
2- Back to Los Angeles
When Anna and I went last summer, it was so much fun but we were really only there for a solid three days which includes travel from Chicago because of our budget. Not enough time to see much more than the touristy things Hollywood and L.A. have to offer.
And while I do recommend seeing those things if it is your first visit to that area, it isn’t all that LA is about.
Old Zoo Picnic Area is also my quirky pick for the Los Angeles area as well!
You can eat your picnic in an old zoo! I mean, if this doesn’t give you an insight to who I really am, I don’t know what else will.
3- Chinatown in Chicago
I’m aware that this is an hour from my kitchen but in the almost 30 years I have lived in the greater Chicagoland area, I have never been to Chinatown. I have been past it many times on the way to White Sox games but never as my destination.
This needs to change immediately.
In fact, in Chicago alone, there are so many amazing cultural villages within the city such as Pilsen (Mexico), Greek Town (Greek, duh), Little Italy (Italian, also duh), which are the well-known areas of the city but there are many more. I personally would love to do my own little cultural food tour of the city, who wants to join me?
Quirky thing to do in or around Chinatown- PopKTV is a karaoke bar in Chinatown where you can even rent out a private room for $38 bucks an hour for you and your friends. Or just you and your hairbrush. That sounded horrible. I’m leaving it in though.
4- Canada (particularly Vancouver, Spotted Lake in rural British Columbia, the city of Quebec, and Montreal)
Hey, guess what? There is a whole other country above our country! It’s called Canada and it’s huge. But to be honest, Canada is a tad bit confusing to stupid Americans like me.
There are provinces and territories. Quebec is a country AND a city. Thankfully, I found a map to help us stupid people.
Vancouver is the first place I would want to visit in Canada and that is in British Columbia.
Spotted Lake is also in British Columbia, another place I’d like to visit because look at this:
The lake! It’s spotted! Head here to read why because I am not Bill Nye OOH I MADE A RHYME!
After visiting Vancouver and Spotted Lake, I’m going to need to hop on a plane and fly to the province of Quebec and the city also named Quebec because I was too chicken to go on the French class trip my freshman year. Long story.
So many things to visit in Quebec and Quebec City but I am really hoping to use my 15 words of French that I learned over a three-year period.
Quebecers are gonna LOVE me.
I also want to visit Montreal but primarily because one of our Uber drivers in LA last summer told us to. He was from Montreal (thick with a French accent) and homesick when he began raving about his hometown. I love when people are so proud of where they come from and when I can get a travel tip for a place I never imagined going, I want to go.
In fact, I promised him we would. So I kind of have to go now.
Quirky thing to do in Vancouver, British Columbia– Dude Chilling Park. Read the backstory and you will want to go there too.
Quirky thing to do in Quebec– visit the prison turned library in the Morrin Centre.
5- Downton Abbey Castle
I know, I KNOW. But I loved this show and I would love to visit a castle someday, so why not knock out two birds with one stone? The castle is called Highclere Castle, not Downton Abbey so don’t call it that or you’re gonna look like a tourist. Also, speak with a British accent, the people over LOVE that. (I am kidding)
Actually, Highclere Castle caters to Downton fans by offering DA tours and they also have a gift shop. But you have to log in and create an account to get tickets which isn’t really appealing to me, so I have no idea how much they are.
But Downton er Highclere is only an hour from London and I definitely want to see London and all it offers someday as well. Gotta use my fake British accent, you know. (I am kidding)
Quirky thing to do in London– get coffee in a bathroom (or loo, as they are called there) in Fitzrovia.
6- Above ground cemeteries New Orleans
If you’ve never been to New Orleans, you really need to go but not only for Bourbon Street.
We got a chance to spend an afternoon in New Orleans two years ago and loved it so much.
Go for the locals, the food, the side streets:
And the cemeteries.
Quirky thing to do in New Orleans- The Singing Oak is a tree in a park full of wind chimes. It’s about as awesome as it sounds. If you can’t make it down there, here is a video that I have been playing over and over and you will too.
7- Sedona Arizona with a side trip to the Grand Canyon
I am drawn to Sedona and I don’t really know why. Apparently, there is positive vortex energy (energy that projects out of the Earth’s loins) in the air out there AND I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT EVEN IF I DON’T KNOW WHAT IN THE HELL IT MEANS. I do know they have spas there like none other, shops with lots of quirky metaphysical and essential oils stuff, and UFO sightings.
I am moving.
I also want to go to Flagstaff while I am out there (only 45 minutes away), as well as the Grand Canyon (less than two hours away), because I have never been; I mean, it’s a massive hole in the ground!
Quirky thing to do near Sedona- Vortexes, people! If the energy that spews from Mother Earth doesn’t tickle your quirky pickle, then I can’t help. Cathedral Rock offers one of several vortexes.
8- Gettysburg, Hershey, and Pennsylvania Dutch
After reading some of the exotic locations above, I am sure this sounds like an afterthought but it isn’t. I have been to this area before when I was around 10 or 11 years old and I loved it and so it stuck with me. Pennsylvania is beautiful, especially in the central part of the state.
Did you know there are mountains in Pennsylvania?
And tunnels you can drive through those mountains?
They also make chocolate there! No wonder I was so enamored as a kid.
They had historical battles and speeches were given here.
And then there is a whole different way of living.
Growing up in central Ohio, we were surrounded by Amish, so I really didn’t appreciate it all when we would visit other Amish communities. But if you’ve never experienced it, I would head here first because there is so much to offer in such a small area.
COME ON! This is worth the toll road alone!
Quirky thing to do in Central Pennsylvania– Intercourse, Lititz, Blue Ball are actual names of towns and you need to go if only to take a picture with the signs. Extra points if you do something disgusting while posing. WHAT?
Quirky thing to do in Gettysburg– Visit the monument dedicated to General Dan Sickles because he is related to me. His history is really interesting, so click on the link above to read all about him and there is also a street named after him in Gettysburg which was really cool to visit when I was a kid.
9- Pub tour in Dublin
If I ever get to Ireland, I plan on being drunk for most of it. Oh sure, I will sightsee before I get all sorts of drunk because traveling to Ireland is a huge deal. But I mostly want to experience Irish culture and drinking, singing, and merriment. This is exactly what I expect from Ireland and it better not let me down.
I do want to visit other parts of Europe someday including Germany where I may even have some long lost relatives but for some reason, Ireland calls my heart more.
When my husband and I were dating, I made a genealogy-report style gift for his birthday one year about his family’s roots in Ireland. His dad has dual citizenship and I know his heritage means a lot to him, so I worked feverishly to create a gift to show I cared. In our basement to this day is the framed 2003 Word document in Comic Sans (bless my heart) all about his family’s beginning in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland. I really need to update that.
Personally, I would start our trip in the city of Dublin and do a pub tour there first. They have lots of pub crawls that you can pay for or you can just stumble down the street with your new Irish friends and that is exactly how we plan on doing it. And I hope to GOD one of them is named Seamus.
After sobering up, we are all hopping on a train for the four hour trip to Westport and heading to this place:
M.J. Hoban’s in downtown Westport.
A “family” pub.
There is some mystery surrounding if this is indeed a family pub or not. The name is all family but apparently, there are lots of Hoban’s in Westport, so there are some Irish-style kerfuffles over whether or not it is indeed my husband’s family.
There were also some lawsuits by other Hoban’s claiming they wanted a stake in the pub which I believe led to all of the Irish-style kerfuffles.
I don’t plan on fighting for the ownership, I just want to sit inside, drink heavily, and listen to this:
Oh look, I’m already there at the bottom of the screen!
I feel like Seamus will love this place.
Quirky thing to do in Dublin- The Hungry Tree; a bench-eating tree!
Quirky thing to do in Westport- Titanic Monument. 14 residents from one little village in County Mayo were lost when the Titanic sunk. At the church in the town, there is a little memorial for those lives lost. I hate using the word quirky for this one but it is a definite must-see to pay respects.
10- Lake Hillier, Australia (Pink Lake)
There is a pink lake on an island off the coast of Australia and the only way to get there is by scenic plane. The lake is pink because of salt or something (again, I’m not Bill Nye), so read this to get the complete story. I already read it and it is quite fascinating but I am not good at summarizing which is why I am a blogger and not writing for the New York Times.
It is suggested to fly from the mainland out of the town of Esperance. Esperance is not near any large city, so to get to Esperance from say, Perth (the largest city nearest), it would take you almost 8 hours of driving or you could fly, which is about an hour and a half.
But man, if I ever (BIG ever) get to Australia, I am doing this because why the hell would you NOT?
Quirky thing to do near Perth- Dingo Flour Sign looks cool only because I hear this whenever I hear the word dingo:
There is also this cool sculpture in the ocean to commemorate an engineer who killed himself. Morbid, yes but the sculpture is really pretty cool.
I also want to add one thing, I hear a lot of people saying that they wish they could go on vacation or that they can’t afford to or must be nice to other people when they share pictures of travel on social media.
We get it, you can’t afford to go places but please stop making people feel like shit who can.
That might be a trip that they saved up for 20 years for or maybe they have lots of disposable income or have you ever heard of Groupon?
So if that was going to be your comment, I wish I could travel, please just stop.
That, my friends, is why I created a bucket list!
That being said, if money was no option, where would you go? Or if you went to any of the above, I want tips!