If winter’s chill has you dreaming of a vacation, I have three places you should visit: Vancouver, Taiwan, and Santa Fe. I got to share why you should visit on Fox 31 Denver recently.
Dip your toe into international travel – Vancouver
I visited Vancouver in January. I did it on a stopover on my Air Canada flight from Taiwan back to Denver. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t it really cold there in January?” Yes it’s cold in the mountains and can be chilly in Vancouver. I was perfectly comfortable in a puffy jacket in the city. I had visited the city before in summer and was excited to get to see it without the summer crowds. I went on a food and outdoor exploration with The Douglas in Part Vancouver as my base. I went on a foodie tour in Granville Island Public Market, snowshoed and dined on fondue at Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, explored the treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, popped in unique coffeeshops, treated myself to a night out for sushi at Blue Water Cafe, sipped cocktails at the Keefer Bar in Chinatown (number 2 bar in Canada), and walked along the seawall to see the teepees in Stanley Park.
Experience an entirely different culture – Taiwan
I had an incredible 48 hour adventure in Taiwan with Air Canada. It was a whirlwind that had me yearning for more time in the country that ended up being a huge surprise for me. I got in late to the Gaia Hotel, where I stayed in Taipei. I was greeted with the most wonderful cup of tea. (Check out my blog A Tranquil Retreat is Where to Stay in Taipei to learn more about the hotel). The next morning I got up early and went for a walk expecting to find utter chaos that is common for most Asian big cities. What I found was tranquility of a city waking up as I found a wonderful park. I met up with group of travel agents and tour operators from Denver and off we went. They had been touring other parts of the country before I got there. We explored Thermal Valley, which is home to some of the hot springs in the Beitou District of Taipei then headed up into the mountains. Before this trip I wouldn’t have thought of it as a hikers paradise. During this trip I quickly found that is exactly what it is. We stopped at Golden Waterfall then explored and had lunch in Juifen, a quaint mountain town just an hour from Taipei. That afternoon we got to do something really special. We wrote our wish on a sky lantern and set it free along the railroad tracks in Shifen. We dined at Golden Formosa, a Michelin-star restaurant. I even tried jellyfish! I ended the night strolling through Shilin Night Market, the largest and most famous night market in Taipei. The next day I got up early to explore and ended up hiking a mountain. The view from Danfeng Mountain was outstanding. We explore Yangmingshan National Park and what the sulfur steam rise up along the dormant volcano. We wandered around the flower gardens of CKS Shilin Residence Park, drank bubble tea and noshed on dumplings and noodles for lunch, then got lost in Chinese history in the incredible Palace Museum. It was an amazing 48 hours. If you’ve never been to Asia, Taiwan is a great first stop since it doesn’t have all of the hustle and bustle of say Bangkok, Hong Kong, or Phnom Penh. If you’ve been to Asia before like I have, Taiwan will certainly be a surprise.
Road Trip to Arts & Ancients – Santa Fe
Since I was doing this segment for Denver, I wanted to include a road trip option. My pick was a city I’ve been to several times and fall more in love with it every visit. Santa Fe is a wonderful blend of history, arts, outdoors, and culinary adventure. The food alone is worth making a trip! Don’t miss The Shed for a margarita and enchilada in the hacienda just off of the square. Get up early for breakfast at Cafe Pasqual’s. There’s always a line by 8:30am and the food is worth the wait. My last visit my friend Lisa and I went on a girls trip getaway and I got to share some of my favorite spots with her. (Check out blog A Day in Santa Fe). We explored the cliff dwellings in Bandelier then hiked the Tsankawi Trail, my favorite trail near Santa Fe, and walked through an ancient village, climbed ladders, explore cavates (cliff caves). We said a prayer in El Santuario de Chimayo then lunched at Rancho Chimayo. We strolled through art markets, artisan markets, and farmers market. We sipped healthy elixirs at Santa Fe Oxygen Bar and Healing Bar before retreating to spa treatments there. We celebrated a wonderful weekend with an outstanding dinner at Coyote Cafe. For a girls getaway, romantic weekend, or family trip, Santa Fe has a ton to offer!