I have absolutely no idea how this happened so quickly (and I may still be a tiny bit in denial)…but my baby girl turns 11 today. It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant with terrible heartburn and looking forward to having her so I could finally get some sleep. Joke was obviously on me. I’m not sure I’ve gotten a good night’s rest yet! But I digress…

As I reflect on the past 11 years so many of my favorite memories with her involve travel.

Same beach almost 11 years apart!

From her first trip to the beach at 2 weeks old (what was I thinking) to our most recent trip last week- my girl has always embraced travel. She is truly the ultimate globetrotter and is constantly asking about our next adventure.

She’s been to 42 states and 4 countries.

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I could go on and on about all the places she’s loved over the years. However, I decided to change things up and ask her to make a list of her top 11 destinations.

When I first asked her to make the list, her eyes got really big. She couldn’t believe I was asking her to narrow it down to 11! But, I challenged her to do it and I think her completed list is very reflective of her personality.

Side note: I was expecting her to just throw out a list on the spot. But she asked for some time to brainstorm. Mary Grace ended up writing down a ton of places and then narrowing down her list to 11. She wants me to point out that her list is in no particular order because she “couldn’t possibly pick a favorite.”

I also asked her to give me a quick explanation for why she put each of these 11 places on her list. Once we got past statements like “it was really cool,” I wrote down her unique thoughts.

So, in no particular order, here are the top 11 travel destinations recommended by my globetrotter:

  1. Ingalls Homestead: It’s like time travel is possible. Sleeping in a covered wagon made me feel like I was going back to when Laura was alive. (Read more about our experience at The Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota.)
  2. Waco Mammoth National Monument: I really like studying animals. But usually the ones I study are alive. So it was really cool to see the fossils. And I learned some new animal facts like the different types of mammoths and that they liked to hang out with camels.
  3. Grand Canyon: It was just more beautiful than I could imagine. I could seriously stay there for 2 years if I had some pastels. The camera doesn’t capture it as well as an artist can.
  4. Science City (Kansas City, MO): I’m really into science so to see the inside scoop on how it all works was perfect for me. For example, I got to make my own electricity by running on a hamster wheel and it turned on the lights. I wish I had that in my room.
  5. Discovery Cove: Just to experience swimming with dolphins was my dream come true. And even though there was glass between us, I loved the feeling of swimming with sharks in the reef.
  6. Killarney, Ireland: They have the best ice cream shop in the whole world, and they like begged us to try samples. Plus, I really liked seeing the place from my Nana’s song that she’s been singing to me since I was a baby.
  7. Boston: I just really feel at home in big cities. And even though my mom didn’t really like it, I thought it was so cool to climb to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument. I wish I’d had my Fitbit on that trip because we would have had a million steps in Boston after doing the Freedom Trail. Oh, and our hotel had amazing hot chocolate.
  8. St. Louis: The arch is awesome. Especially going to the top. Plus the zoo has great elephants and you can even buy a stuffed animal with the elephant’s name on it. I have Malia and it’s still one of my favorite stuffed animals.
  9. New York City: Like I said with Boston, I just really like to explore big cities. It was surreal to see the Statue of Liberty after seeing it in so many pictures from my dad’s work. The ferry was really fun too.
  10. Hawaii: This was the first place I ever got to snorkel and I think it helped develop my love for sea creatures. Next time we go to Hawaii I’m really looking forward to seeing a volcano because I can’t remember if I saw one last time or not. But that will be great.
  11. Knoxville, TN: I get to spend a lot of time in Knoxville because of my Mimzie and cousins, but I really like the whole area. Dollywood, The Lost Sea, and Cades Cove are really cool places to go. Plus, you have UT games. And, you can go to my favorite restaurant and have the best hamburger in the entire world!

Well, there you have it!

I have to say, I wasn’t surprised with anything on her list, though I was surprised at a few places that she left off. But, then again, I asked her to narrow it down to 11. As I’m sure you can tell, my girl loves to travel!

You might also enjoy reading:

10 Entertainment Ideas For Your Next Road Trip

Best Trips For Young Kids

10 Years Of Traveling With Kids

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