My passion in travel is the relationships that I have been privileged to build with my clients over the years. I love watching kids grow and being a part of making the memories for them that travel brings to life, as well as helping couples create once in a life time memories of the perfect wedding or a romantic anniversary or honeymoon celebration.
Monique is fantastic! She mapped out a great Alaskan adventure for us on very little notice, explaining the differences between various options. And, she guided our decisions with seasoned insights and solid recommendations. Her knowledge, careful listening, and overall friendliness make me want to work with her again and again!
My areas of specialized travel are varied and being increased and renewed regularly.
Mexico is one of my personal favorite areas to travel and I have been fortunate enough to have visited several cities in this beautiful country. Cancun with its incredible wide, powder soft white sand beach. I like the option of being close to town if I want to experience the liveliness of the night life and yet the ability of being able to watch the female turtles come ashore at night and lay their eggs in the sands of Cancun. Amazing to watch! Then off the coast is Cozumel which I reached by ferry from Playa del Carmen. The town is quaint and friendly and is a reminder of what old Mexico may have felt like. Great snorkeling and sea life. South of Cancun is the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Awesome resorts, great town for shopping, dining, and nightlife, sights include Mayan Ruins, and eco-tourism with diverse water options, zip lines, hiking, and rafting. Puerto Vallarta is old world Mexico in feel and a diverse collection of hotels from quaint to luxury. The town offers such cool shopping and dining and activities. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo spread along the corridor of the Baja of Mexico. The town of San Jose is old world Mexico and Cabo San Lucas is more trendy and yet quaint. I love that you can experience the differences of both areas all within one vacation location.
In the Caribbean my experiences have taken me to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Johns, Belize, Roaton (Honduras) and the island of Puerto Rico.
Grand Cayman is about beach and water. The beaches are beautiful powdery white sand and a shallow shore with a mild surf along 7 Mile Beach. Grand Cayman offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean. The town is very quiet and only truly comes to life when there are cruise ships in port. A great spot when seeking a very quiet beach vacation.
Jamaica has been changing drastically over the past couple of years with a whole new selection in hotels being added which has created more diversity in resorts than was previously available. A very laid back vibe with lots of activities to choose from and to experience from Dunn River Falls to horseback riding, ziplining and even a bobsled experience. Beautiful beaches in Negril, lush vegetation in Ocho Rios and the hip strip urban vibe in Montego Bay.
St. Thomas and St. Johns are great central Caribbean islands. St Johns is accessed via ferry from St Thomas. St Johns is a more quiet laid back island with gorgeous beaches, a fun and charming central town with shopping and fun dining options. St Thomas is larger and offers both beach resorts as well as more tropical cliffside resorts amongst lush foliage. There are a lot of shops available in St Thomas as well as diverse dining.
Belize has a cute little cruise port village to shop and dine in. I experienced this location from a cruise and not as a land vacation with time to really go inland with much first hand experiences. The ziplining experiences here were fantastic!
Roatan was another port stop from a cruise and again, a very cute little port town for shopping and dining and a beach experience with kayaking and paddleboats. The Jerk chicken on the beach is not to be missed!
The island of Puerto Rico is wonderful in its diversity from the sandy shores to the lush rainforest. I was fortunate to be able to spend a week circling most of the island and loved all of it. My favorite areas were the Rainforest, Ponce and Old Town San Juan. There is much to experience and lots of history and architecture. Shopping in Old Town is wonderful and so are the dining options. Areas are spread out and I would recommend a rental car to really get the most of being on this island.
I have been to Oahu, Hawaii (The Big Island) and Kauai. Each of these 3 islands has a similar culture yet individual vibes. Oahu has the hustle of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach with the most significant sights being a visit to Pearl Harbor and Punch Bowl National Cemetery. The north shore of Oahu offers a more upbeat yet quaint feel and of course the roaring surf attracting worldwide surfing competitions. The Big Island is the home of the active volcano as well as Moana Loa for star gazing. It is the youngest, yet the largest of the islands. Kauai is the oldest of these islands and is lush with foliage and offers diversity from rain forest to canyons, cliffs and great snorkeling and diving. Each island has its own independent feel and scenery.
Europe is on my bucket list and so far I have gotten to Frankfurt and Hanau Germany, and Iceland. These are very different from one another!
Iceland is a land of wonder with geysers, waterfalls, thermal pools, Northern lights, Puffins and horses. The people are warm and friendly and the scenery is varied and invites exploration. I visited in February and the landscape covered in winter snow and frost reminded me of what the surface of the moon might look like up close.
Hanau and Frankfurt offer the contrast of the large and small town experiences. Frankfurt was busy and bustling with typical traffic, shops and a variety of sights to see. I did not linger in Frankfurt to experience much that it had to offer as most of my time was spent in Hanau. Hanau offered the quaint village experiences that I had been expecting. The open market in the center of the village was wonderful. Christmas-marts were magical!
Domestically my experiences have included much of the southwest and central plains states and a little southern east coast.
From the old west feel of Tombstone to the vistas from Mount Lemmon, Tucson is a combination of cowboy and Hispanic feel. Kitt Peak National Observatory offers great views and Mount Lemmon Sky Center offers a nighttime experience of the stars that will leave you breathless by the beauty only seen in the southwest United States.
The other end of the state includes the magnificent Grand Canyon. Pictures and videos are gorgeous, yet nothing compares to experiencing these views first hand. Every step and every turn will cause you to pause to take in the grandeur of this iconic landmark. A couple of hours away you can see Horseshoe Bend which is a trek, but worth the hike. Up near Page is Antelope Canyon, which is a slot canyon and must be experienced with a guide. The underground sculptures are beautiful beyond words.
Sedona is about halfway between the Grand Canyon and the Phoenix valley. The red rock cliffs and rock formations are a painters and photographers dream. A Pink Jeep tour out into the depths of the rocks are well worth the time and money. They do a great job making this area come to life.
Up in the hillside outside of Sedona is the old mining town of Jerome. This is a quaint little town with great artsy shopping and superb dining. The vistas on the drive are amazing. Parking in town can be a little challenging but a worthwhile stop between Sedona and the Phoenix Valley.
The Valley is spread out across many miles and offers great shopping, dining, museums, galleries and everything from the most modern to old time experiences you might like to try. Horseback riding, golf, waterparks, amusements parks, boating, botanical walks, hiking, and mountain climbing are all available.
As a small child I lived in Oxnard and Ventura and have great memories spent at the coast and on the Venture Pier. The pier is worth a visit if you are in the southern California area.
Later my husband was stationed at Fort Ord near Monterey and I spent time in Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel-by-the-Sea. I enjoyed walks along the coast in Pacific Grove and the rock jetties. The beautiful Victorian homes along the coast line are picture worthy. The Monterey Bay Aquarium on Cannery Row is wonderful. The scenic drive along Pebble Beach is simply charming. Lots of pullouts to see great landscape as well as sea life. Further down the coast is Carmel which offers great shopping and dining.
I really enjoyed my weekend in Seattle a few years back. The highlights for me were the Pike’s Market, the Space Needle, the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge (this is a floating bridge), Seattle Underground city from when the city of Seattle was buried in order to put out a fire in 1889, Hiram M Chittenden Locks to watch the spawning of the salmon, and Tillicum Village by ferry for dinner and a show on one of the islands off the coast of Seattle. This was a very busy weekend and I would love the opportunity to return and see everything in a more leisurely and detailed fashion. A very vibrant city offering a wide variety of activities to experience and do.
While there is plenty to see and do within the city of Denver, part of the real fun is also getting outside of the city and into the Rockies with little day drives. The drive that I have done was from Littleton (south suburb) to Nederland and then onward to Boulder. This is a great scenic drive. The Barker Reservoir in Nederland and the Middle Boulder Creek that feeds it provide a beautiful backdrop for pictures as well as hiking. There is a darling little coffee shop in Nederland (The Train Cars Coffee and Yogurt Company) set up in an old railroad car that makes for a wonderful little stopping point midway through the drive. Mount Sanitas Trailhead on the western edge of Boulder provides and incredible overlook down into Boulder. Boulder is an edgy town with a wide variety of shops, dining and artsy options to pursue. Close to the city of Denver, yet it feels completely different in vibe and culture. Within the city of Denver the Molly Brown Museum and the United States Mint are a couple of fun activities to do.
Other sights in Colorado to see are the Gardens of the Gods in Colorado Springs, which offers unique rock formations that are worth the trip. This is also a great stop to or from the drive to see the Royal Gorge. The bridge at the Royal Gorge is an engineering marvel and worth the drive. You can drive or walk across, there are also options for tram and train. The scenery is beautiful and breathtaking.
Des Moines has many beautiful sights to explore all right within the city itself such as the beautiful historic State Capital building, the Botanical Gardens, the Living History Farms, Des Moines Art Center, State Historical Museum and Terrace Hill. Buddy Holly’s The Day the Music Died memorial, Field of Dreams movie site, John Wayne’s birthplace are some of the more iconic sights to visit. For nature scenery there is the Ledges State Park and Saylorville Reservoir as well as the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad.
In the other areas of Iowa the sights I have been able to enjoy include the Highway along the Mississippi River between Davenport and Dubuque. This is a gorgeous drive. Then from Dubuque through the winding valley heading north to Minnesota along Highway 52 continues to provide woods and vistas that are worth the drive.
I got to visit this city when my son was graduating from Air Force boot camp. The highlights were the visit to the Alamo (but I don’t feel that it was worth the wait in the line or the cost to visit the inside) and then the Riverwalk. I loved the Riverwalk. It was very lively with lots of dining options and music. I wish we could have returned again another time at night.
The city of Disney! I have been able to take my two youngest children twice to the DisneyWorld complex. We have stayed in both the Pop Century Resort and the Coronado Springs Resort. I have also had opportunity to dine at many of the other resort complexes. Going to DisneyWorld can keep you so busy all of itself that you can find you have little time for anything more, which was the case in our trips. 4 Parks and lots of shows and rides, and fireworks each night kept us going from open to close every day. This is wonderful to do as a family and provides for lifetime memories.
About a 9 hour drive from the Twin Cities to reach the monument but worth the drive. A truly iconic landmark of our nation’s history and the men that made it great. Keystone, Rapid City and Custer State park are all part of the same area and offer much to see in the way of scenic experiences as well as drives and hikes. The Badlands are along the way as well and this area is so stark by contrast to the forests of the Mount Rushmore area.