One question I get asked a lot is, “Of all the places you’ve traveled to, where is your favorite?!” I thought it would be really fun to make the list of my top travel destinations I’ve ever been to! I’m starting with Top 5 International, then you’ll find my Top 5 within the United States. I’ve done travel guides for all of these places, so feel free to click on the title if you want to explore each destination a little deeper. As always, feel free to ask me questions in the comment section and I’ll get back to you there!
Top 5 International Travel Destinations
#1 Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast without a doubt is my #1 travel destination! I have been twice and somehow find myself still wanting to go back every year. It is unlike any other place in the world – so far away, and yet somehow feels like home at the same time. From the tiny colored houses that line Positano’s sweeping hills, to the exquisite luxury hotels overlooking the coast in Ravello, to the intoxicating smell of lemons in Capri (from all the lemon trees!), it is truly the most breathtaking place I’ve ever been in the world. John Steinbeck once said, “Positano bite deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” And I have to agree – from the moment you first catch sight of the views from the Amalfi Coast, you’ll have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s real. Photos and even videos simply can’t do it justice. If you’re planning a trip, I would plan multiple stops – my favorites are Positano, Ravello and Capri. The best time of year to go (in my opinion!) is May or early June, because the temperatures are mild, the flowers are blooming and it’s not quite peak season, so you don’t have to worry about crowds.
I had been dreaming of visiting Greece every since I was young. For years I could not get those whitewashed walls, blue domes and endless sea views out of my head! Chris and I were lucky enough to visit Greece on our honeymoon – and it was everything we thought it would be and more. We flew into Mykonos and stayed there for five days, then took a short ferry over to Santorini, where we stayed for another five days. We both agreed it was the perfect amount of time. I think if you’re going to travel all the way to Greece, then you really need to experience both islands. Mykonos is known as the “party island” – there are tons of beach clubs and bars, many staying open into the wee hours of the morning; while Santorini is where you go to relax. White little houses all stacked on a hill, with a smattering of blue domes and the glittering Aegean Sea in the background – Santorini is truly a breathtaking sight to behold.
#3 St. Lucia
I am itching to get back to St. Lucia – it’s my favorite island in the Caribbean! My mom and I visited three years ago and to this date, it is still our favorite trip together. St. Lucia is more mountainous than most Caribbean islands, with two mountains, the Pitons, forming the island’s most famous landmark. We stayed at Anse Chastanet resort and loved it – the resort has a fantastic view of the Pitons and a beautiful private beach, plus some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in the entire world. We snorkeled among the fish, took a helicopter over the island, dined in a treehouse and fell asleep to the sound of the ocean at night. If you’re looking for the perfect honeymoon spot, I would highly recommend Jade Mountain – each room has it’s own private infinity pool with a stunning view!
Aruba isn’t the nicest or most luxurious place I’ve ever been to, but my trip to Aruba last year with my mom was SO MUCH fun, and it was such an easy trip. We took a short direct flight to Aruba, and after a quick 15 minute drive from the airport to our hotel, we were there! We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel (which I reviewed here) and while the rooms were small and in need of some updates, the major draw was Flamingo Beach – the private island owned by the Renaissance Hotel. If you couldn’t tell by the name, Flamingo Beach is full of flamingos, and they walk around like they own the place! They walk in and around lounge chairs, and you can even feed them special food from the palm of your hand. If you stay at the Renaissance, you have free and unlimited access to Flamingo Beach every day – there’s even a free boat ride over the island. My mom and I both agreed it was one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had. Besides getting to see the the flamginos, the convenience and ease of getting to Aruba really added value for us, plus we loved the food and how safe we felt the entire time.
Banff, Canada is truly magical. Imagine the bluest water you’ve ever seen, juxtaposed against snowy mountains rising high into the sky. Both Banff and Lake Louise were incredibly stunning – you don’t need to be an outdoorsy type of person to enjoy a trip like this – and you don’t need a fancy camera to capture incredible photos here. Although the skiing is said to be amazing in Banff, I personally think the fall is the best time to go! Thinking about our trip to Banff makes me want to put on my coziest sweater and curl up by the fireplace.
….and Within the U.S.
Of course Charleston is at the top of this list! I’ve been visiting Charleston ever since I was a little girl, because it’s so close to Charlotte, where I grew up. Charleston will also be forever special to me because Chris and I got married there last June! Over the course of three centuries, Charleston – one of the oldest, most storied cities in America – has developed a rich culture that embodies the best of southern charm. My mom and I joke that Charleston is the Paris of the south 😉 Walk alongside the pastel colored mansions and palm trees on Rainbow Row, take a sunset cruise through Charleston’s harbor, go shopping on King Street, and savor the taste of shrimp and grits with a side of sweet tea. We love the Belmond Hotel or the Market Pavilion – over the years I’ve done multiple Travel Guides and posts from Charleston, you can find all of them here!
I had to include Hawaii on this list! This year we wanted to to go somewhere warm for Christmas, and Hawaii seemed like the natural choice: it had been on our bucket list forever, it’s always warm, and you don’t even need your passport! I did a ton of research to figure out which island we should stay on, and finally ended up with Oahu. It seemed like there was the most to do in Oahu, and you can explore pretty much the entire island by car since it’s only a couple hours drive from top to bottom. Our entire family loved Hawaii – half of the time we spent exploring, while the other half we spent lounging by the pool or on the beach. The Hawaiian culture is so fun, too – your hotel will probably hang a lei made of fresh flowers around your neck when you arrive, and you should definitely take some surfing lessons or learn how to hula while you’re there. We also loved visiting Lanikai Beach, the North Shore, and the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.
Without a doubt, Palm Beach is one of the prettiest (and ritziest) cities in the United States. Although Palm Beach started as a winter resort for celebrities, its temperate climate (with an average annual temperature of 78 degrees) has made it an attractive destination year-round. Located right on the ocean, this charming beach town oozes extravagance – it’s filled with amazing restaurants, luxurious hotels and stores galore. You’ll find the coolest things – like orchids growing out of trees and potted hydrangeas in every corner and crevice! We stayed at the Brazilian Court Hotel and walked over to Worth Avenue every day for shopping and dining.
Aspen will always hold a special piece of my heart. The best time to go to Aspen (I think!) is during the fall! The leaves in Aspen peak a little sooner than everywhere else in the country because of the high elevation. The Aspen trees product a brilliant yellow color during peak season, and it’s absolutely stunning! Although if you like to ski, the winter is a no-brainer too. I recommend Hotel Jerome for your stay (it’s sooo cozy), and definitely take a bus up to Maroon Bells, two of Colorado’s most famous mountains and one of the most photographed peaks in all of North America.
#5 California…. all of California!
I could 100% live in California… if it wasn’t so far away from my family! Everyone in California is sooo laid-back, the weather is an even 70 degrees pretty much year-round, and the sun seems to be ALWAYS shining. I also love the food – it’s so easy to eat healthy in California because there are healthy restaurants and juice shops everywhere! My favorite destinations in California are LA, San Francisco and Palm Springs.
Let me know YOUR favorite travel destination spot!! xoxo