From amazing locales to outstanding restaurants, warm and welcoming people, unique attractions, jaw-dropping accommodations and a great deal more, 2015 was a very wanderlust year—one from which I received a great deal of blessings that I have shared with you, the Amsterdam News’ travel-thirsty readers!

So, as I do every January, here is a brief look back at last year’s sojourns, offering an opportunity to re-savor those moments and get us ready to enjoy all the “travel goodness” to come!

San Francisco

From North Beach, the historic Italian neighborhood, to Chinatown and the Inner Avenues, home to a breadth of Asian and Pan-Asian citizens; the Mission, beginning as part of the Spanish mission settlements in California; the Haight (formerly called Haight-Asbury), the birthplace of the Free Love movement; the Castro, the long-time though recently more gentrified LGBT community; Fisherman’s Wharf, Castro and Noe Valley, Union Square and SOMA (South of Market), just for starters, you’ll find a flavor and flair that’s sure to suit more than one of your particular fancies in San Francisco.

San Francisco Visitor’s Bureau:

The Riviera Maya, Mexico

In the Riviera Maya, located between Cancun and Cozumel and stretching along the Caribbean coast of what is called the Yucatan Peninsula, we embarked upon the “Coba Maya Encounter,” designed to educate travelers about the region, the Mayan people and their customs and how their history interconnects with the overall history of México.

Riviera Maya Tourism:

Coba Maya Encounter:

Macon, Georgia

African-Americans have played a significant role in the history of Macon since its early founding. And although many people identify the city with two of its most famous native sons—Otis Redding and Little Richard—there are numerous other African-Americans and institutions that helped make the city what it is today, including the Tubman Museum, the Pleasant Hill Historic District, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Grant’s Lounge and the Douglass Theater, among others.

Macon–Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau:

College Hill Alliance:

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Our adventure to beautiful Los Cabos, situated approximately 1,030 miles south of San Diego at the southern tip of Baja Mexico, encompassed the two primary areas of this “dual destination,” San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. In the latter, we took in the glorious, picturesque, private coastal bluff accommodation Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort, consistently rated as one of the top luxury resorts in Mexico.

Los Cabos Tourism Board:

Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort:


Aaaah! Belize was a fantastic adventure! In addition to enjoying the beautiful village of Placencia, we stayed at two amazing resorts: Chabil Mar Resort, a boutique, luxury villa property and Hatchet Caye, an intimate, seven and a half-acre, maximum 38-guest capacity island located on the protected side of the Meso-American reef, the second longest in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.


Chabil Mar Resort:

Hatchet Caye:

Costa Rica

Oh yes, we went to heaven in Costa Rica at the Retreat at Altos del Monte. This secluded eight-acre estate features 11 inviting, well-appointed, luxury rooms, a Retreat Sanctuary Spa, fitness center, yoga house studio, teaching kitchen, outdoor saline pool with a waterfall and comfortable bench seat underneath and hot tub, an al fresco dining room and a 1,400-square-foot outdoor terrace with a gas fire pit.

The Retreat at Altos del Monte:

Las Vegas

Beyond the glitz and glamour of the strip, Las Vegas is home to a wealth of important African American and other historic sites and attractions along the Las Vegas Pioneer Trail. For an interactive journey through one of the most time-enduring aspects of American history try The Mob Museum, where the “Case Files” here are divided into a variety of exciting and intriguing exhibits and artifacts that go deeper than a simple exploration of the life and crimes of folks like Al Capone, John Gotti, Sam Giancana or Frank Costello. And definitely make time to see Cirque Du Soleil Michael Jackson ONE at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the first large–scale production developed for the theater about Michael’s world and music. It’s an elaborate, multifaceted tableaux of scenes, characters and themes that together delightfully thrust the audience through a dramatic, all-encompassing, sensory journey chronicling Michael’s creative genius, transformative music, masterful lyrics, heart-stopping dancing and eternal legacy.

Las Vegas’ Pioneer Trail:

Mob Museum:

Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson One:

McAllen, Texas

In McAllen, we explored the McAllen Arts District, a collection of over two dozen galleries, including the fantastic Nuevo Santander Gallery, and took a walk in nature at several of the nine distinctive birding centers here, including Quinta Mazatlan, the McAllen Wing of the World Birding Center. We also delved knife and fork into Roosevelt’s at 7, the city’s first alehouse and eatery, and we wowed at the phenomenon called Delia’s Tamales, offering hardcore fans a wide array of pork, chicken, bean, cheese and jalapeno, spicy pork with green sauce and corn and sweet dessert tamales, among numerous others.

McAllen Arts District:

Nuevo Santander Gallery:

Quinta Mazatlan:

Roosevelt’s at 7:

Delia’s Tamales:

Look out, 2016, here we come!

Lysa Allman is the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, offering “adventures for the mind, bod and belly (” She can be reached at