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2016-Travel Year in Review

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Written by Edith & Juan

Though on a personal level 2016 was not our year due to some emotional setbacks we faced, it was a year full of adventures.  Perhaps more than past years.  We can say it has been a blessing to explore many more places in California.

When we moved to California in 2014, we made it a goal to see as much of the state as we could.  This would be our temporary home for a few years and we wanted to take advantage of our time here.  In fact, we have explored so many places that this opened the door to a whole new world of wanderlust.

We once longed to see this whole state and now we long to see the whole world.  That’s what California did to us.  It made us explorers, adventurers, or wanderlusters.  Whatever you want to call it.  It’s the reason we started an Instagram account to share our pictures and this blog to share what we learn about each place.

In this post we share with you the beautiful places we roamed in 2016 in California and beyond.

Portland, Oregon

The perks of being a teacher is having a few extra days of vacation during the holidays.  Because of this, I was able to go with my girl friends to explore beautiful Portland in the winter while leaving Juan back home.  The unique neighborhoods, the coffee, the rain, the greenery, there’s nothing you won’t love about Portland.  To me it felt like the most down to earth and relaxed city I have been to so far.  This was the best opening to the year.

Seattle, Washington

Passing over to Seattle via train from Portland was the best choice ever because of the beautiful scenic view.  Once in Seattle, I fell in love with the city.  Everything about it was perfect.  It is easy to get around, has an insane amount of coffee shops, and many places to visit.

Las Vegas, Nevada

This is the city we never get tired of coming back to.  In fact, it’s special to us because it’s the city we honeymooned in.  The simple act of walking the strip makes it a great trip each time because the hotels always have something fun to do.

Palm Springs, California

From shopping, to hiking to relaxing, Palm Springs is the perfect city to sip a cold drink in the hot desert.  Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and you end up the in the beautiful Mount San Jacinto mountains where you will be surrounded by snow overlooking the hot desert.  Best combination!

Salvation Mountain

Though Juan wasn’t the biggest fan of Salvation Mountain, I was.  The story behind the art is what left me the most fascinated.  The message that the artwork displays is touching.  So many chances for cool photos also.

Solvang, California

Another city we loved!  Solvang is different.  It has a Danish feel to it and was fun to explore.  It has many unique shops, restaurants, wineries, and beautiful windmills.  Definitely worth a small getaway from the city or a stop while driving the PCH.

Santa Barbara, California

The picturesque coastline is what we loved about Santa Barbara most.  But it also allowed us to enjoy some hiking, ice-cream, relaxation, and some beautiful views.  Like in Solvang, Santa Barbara had many wine tasting chances.

Anaheim, California: Disneyland

Who doesn’t love Disneyland?! Enough said.

Tucson, Arizona

It’s always ‘home sweet home’ when we go back to Tucson.  Our friends in California always hear us talk about how hot it is, how cheap homes are, how traffic is not miserable at all compared to L.A, how it’s slower paced but more chill, and how it has the best sunsets.  Not many people may like the desert but for us it’s the city with the relaxed vibe that we so love.   We never miss a chance to make it out there a few times a year to visit our family.  And I can almost guarantee we will be back to live there again some day!

Los Angeles & More…, California

Living just outside the city since 2014 has allowed us to explore so many corners of L.A and its surrounding cities.  This city is never-ending fun.  We’ve been able to visit the Venice Canals, Old LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, Downtown LA, the many beaches, and so much more!

Hollywood, California

We call any city in the Los Angeles County and Anaheim County, LA.  So although technically Hollywood could be considered L.A this is one city we like to return to.  It’s always fun to roam around this area.

San Diego, California

Another city we love to visit often since it’s near us.  Here we got to enjoy Sea World, Old Town San Diego, Balboa Park, and the beach.

Pacific Coast Highway, California

Nothing beats the views and the beauty along the Pacific Coast.  We made so many stops along the way during our road trip because it was all camera worthy.  The road was long and had many slim curves but it kept us breathless along the way.  The coast has been our top favorite places to visit in California.

San Francisco, California

Another beautiful city!  This place is romantic and just perfect for a couple to visit.  Each time we come back we enjoy it like it was the first time.  Our favorite thing to do in San Francisco is enjoy the views of the city and the bay.   Our favorite spots are Marshall’s Beach and Battery Spencer.  Another great place is the Coit Tower and Twin Peaks.


Costa Rica

2016 marked our 10 year anniversary and we decided to celebrate in big.  Though we originally planned Thailand, we were left at the airport stranded when we realized we made a visa mistake for Juan.  Super bummed, and already at the airport and already with the days off, we took the chance and booked a flight to Costa Rica while there.  No regrets whatsoever.

We were left amazed with Costa Rica’s beauty because we had never seen a place so green, so rainy, so full of life and wildlife, nor as beautiful as this country.  We rented a car and drove it throughout the country seeing one city at a time.  Unforgettable!


Sequoia National Park

Nature always makes us happy and there’s no better way to get immersed than in the woods with the largest trees in the world.  Standing next to these massive trees is quite impressive and fun.


Catalina Island

If there is one thing we hate about living in Southern California, it’s the traffic.  You have no idea how much (unless you’re from here).  That’s why Catalina Island was the perfect getaway from the busy city.  Only a short boat ride away, Catalina Island exposed us to an island with almost no cars, great views, delicious restaurants, lots of fun, and some awesome hikes.

Tijuana, Mexico

Would you believe us if we told you we crossed the border all the way from L.A just to go eat tacos!? Yup.  That’s us.

Tepache, Sonora, Mexico

To close the year, we went back to visit Juan’s family in his small hometown in Mexico.  This is where we get a true and most real typical Mexican experience.  Here we go back to the bailes (dances), car cruising around the town, see horse races, eat my mother in law’s food and much more.  This is where Juan goes and herds cattle to help his dad and where we disconnect.

Overall, it was a great year filled with lots of adventures that have become memorable!  Here’s to an even better year with many more trips and adventures!

About the author

Edith & Juan

From Arizona but currently traveling through Asia living only from a backpack each. Edith and her husband Juan created Life Beyond 520 to share inspiration from their travels and adventures beyond Arizona-the 520 area code. Edith is the blogger behind these posts, but together they hope to inspire couples and others to get out there and explore new places, including their own city.


  • Sounds like you guys had a similar year of adventures to ours! Solvang was one of our favorite towns along the US Californian highway … such a charming and unique town! Sorry to hear you had emotional setbacks in your personal life this past year. Hopefully the adventures were enough to take your mind off it. Here’s to an amazing 2017!

  • What a year Edith! you have experienced so many great places! I was really happy to see that you have enjoyed Seattle as I am going there in about two months too! Have a great 2017!

  • So you booked a flight to Costa Rica while at the airport having lost a flight to Thailand? I would be super stressed in your place!! It seems that you had such a lovely year full of adventure and nice experiences!

    • Yes! It was one of the craziest things we’ve done. Super stressful because we had no idea what places to visit so we Googled away at the airport. Thank you, hope yours was also great.

  • Great destination list for 2016! There are quite a few I haven’t been to yet like Catalina Island, Solvang, and Santa Barbara. Looking forward to seeing where you 2017 take you!

  • Roundups often mystify me but you had such a unique year. Happy to see Salvation Mountain and a few other places on the list. I hope that Juan and his family are not impacted by DT’s insanity. I love visiting Mexico and it’s close – less than an hour from home. May peace reign on earth sooner than later.

    • Thank you! It really was great. Never thought we’d enjoy a state this much. Juan should be okay from DT’s insanity for now so hoping it doesn’t affect him either. How awesome that you have Mexico an hour away. We used to (still not that far now) and we have always loved crossing for the food haha. Peace to you to. Safe travels. 🙂

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