2014 travel year in review

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 1/15/2015, 1:42 p.m.
In some ways, the year flowed along smoothly, and in others, it just flew by.
Montreal has been described as “a lush mix of North American swagger and Euro-cool.” (Montreal) Lysa Allman-Baldwin

2014 travel year in review


In some ways, the year flowed along smoothly, and in others, it just flew by. And here we are, the beginning of the new year, taking time to reflect on what has transpired and to count our blessings, and to set our intentions, goals and dreams for the future.

In terms of travel, I have a great deal of gratitude to express for the many wonderful experiences I had over the past year. From outstanding restaurants to soulful musical performances, amazing accommodations, outstanding people, awe-inspiring outdoor recreation and backdrops, unique attractions and more, my heart is full and I’m hungry for more!

But before I delve into this year’s (already starting to fill up) travel calendar, I wanted to share a little snapshot of 2014.


The quaint town of Hannibal, located in northeast Missouri, just a stone’s throw over the Mississippi River from Illinois, is not only the home of Mark Twain but also the home of the Titanic’s “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and Jim, the central slave character in “The Adventures of Huck Finn.”

Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.visithannibal.com

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/feb/07/ebony-escapes-hannibal-mo

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/feb/13/hannibal-much-more-mark-twain


Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Love,” considered to be the most European city in America, is one of the greatest cities in the country. The city is chock full of historic sites and attractions relative to the birth of our nation, as well as world-class museums, performing arts entities, gastronomy and other sites and attractions of global and Afrocentric interest.

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., www.visitphilly.com

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/jun/12/ebony-escapes-philadelphia

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/jun/19/exploring-city-brotherly-love

Part 3 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/jun/26/philly-more-meets-eye


“Beauty and the Beach.” That’s one way to describe Santa Monica, the walkable, pedestrian-friendly, drama-free L.A. city with a small town flavor and flair encompassing eight distinctive residential, dining, culture and entertainment, shopping and outdoor recreation districts.

Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.santamonica.com/visitors

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/jul/24/ebony-escapes-santa-monica

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/jul/31/santa-monica-beauty-and-beach

Moving on up the coast to Santa Barbara, dubbed “The American Riviera,” we found a spectacular gem along the California coast awash in Native American and Spanish history, coupled with iconic landmarks, a wealth of outdoor attractions, an expansive wine and food culture and an outstanding “glamping” experience.

Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, www.SantaBarbaraCA.com

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/aug/14/ebony-escapes-santa-barbara

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/aug/21/exploring-american-riviera

Part 3 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/aug/28/best-santa-barbara

Continuing our journey even further north, we arrived in Carmel, situated along California’s Central Coast region 120 miles south of San Francisco. This spectacular, incorporated square-mile (with only 3,900 full-time residents) vacation gem is eco-friendly, encompasses a planned and pedestrian friendly downtown, has no formal street addresses and has plenty of fantastic accommodations, culinary offerings (no chain establishments!), unspoiled beaches and parks and outstanding arts and culture.

Carmel Visitor Center, 800-550-4333, www.carmelcalifornia.com

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/oct/23/escape-beautiful-carmel-sea

Just a quick hop five miles up the road and you’ll arrive at Monterey and Moss Beach. Native American, Mexican and Spanish history form the backbone here, and visitors today will find an intriguing, delightful and unbelievable array of historic sites, attractions, recreational activities and a great deal more, uniquely combined to make the area one of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations.

Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.SeeMonterey.com

Moss Landing, www.seemonterey.com/regions/moss-landing

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/nov/13/wonder-and-beauty-monterey-california

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/nov/20/delightful-lodging-and-fine-arts-and-around-monter

Oakland’s reputation has come a long way in recent years, earning it outstanding accolades, including the “No. 5 Place to Visit in the World.” Its downtown, including Chinatown, Old Oakland and Jack London Square, are among America’s “Top 12 Art Places for 2013,” and the city was also named “the Most Exciting City in the U.S.” Today, its ethnic diversity and accompanying enterprises are beautifully and deeply infused into every nook and cranny of the geographic, social, economic, educational, tourism and other landscapes here.

Visit Oakland, http://visitoakland.org

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/mar/20/ebony-escapes-oakland-other-city-bay/?page=1

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/mar/27/many-compelling-stories-one-vibrant-city-oakland/?page=1

Part 3 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/apr/03/oakland-untold-story


The Quebec region of Canada is awash with vibrant metropolitan cities, quaint towns, diverse geographic landscape, and warm and welcoming people. My sojourns there last year included a day in Montreal and four days of spa-themed adventures in the Lanaudiere Region.

Tourisme Quebec, www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/montreal0.html

Montreal http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/jan/23/twenty-four-hours-montreal

Quebec Region

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/apr/24/ebony-escapes-rest-and-rejuvenation-beauty-canada

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/may/01/respites-mind-body-and-soul-quebec

Part 3 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/may/22/rest-and-rejuvenation-quebec


“America’s Best/Greatest Main Streets,” “Best Midwest Food Towns, “10 Coolest Cities in the Midwest,” “Top 10 College Towns” and “Most Walkable Cities.” These are just the beginning of the accolades bestowed upon Ann Arbor, a delightful small town located only about 40 miles from downtown Detroit.

Downtown is the heart and soul of the city, with a great deal of big city sophistication without the rat race ambiance, and peppered with oodles of noteworthy diversions encompassing everything from presidential and automotive history to the performing arts, cultural attractions, college sports, gastronomic excellence and unique, non-chain, distinctive shops, bookstores and the like.

Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.visitannarbor.org

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/dec/18/welcome-ann-arbor-michigan/


When people think of traveling to New York, New York City or its boroughs come to mind, but Buffalo, located in the far west region of the state, along the shore of Lake Erie and the bank of Niagara River, is definitely worth the journey. From river history to early African-American influences, Niagara Falls, a wealth of art and culture and more, Buffalo is much more than the home of the iconic Buffalo wings.

Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.visitbuffaloniagara.com

Part 1 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/sep/18/ebony-escapes-buffalo

Part 2 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/sep/25/wealth-black-history-buffalo

Part 3 http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/oct/02/arts-entertainment-and-culinary-delights-buffalo

Look out 2015—here we come!

Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, offering “Adventures for the Mind, Bod and Belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).