Some of My Favorite Places

The number one question I’m asked is “Where is my favorite place in the world?” 

It’s an impossible question to answer. I suppose the places I love best are places I could see myself living, or places I have returned to. These are among my favorite destinations:

  • Fairhope, Alabama: Founded as a Utopian community, this small town is perched on a bluff overlooking Mobile Bay, boasts a welcoming, walkable downtown chockful of local (no chains!) shops and a languid pace that has long attracted the creative set, including celebrated Forest Gump author Winstom Groom 
  • Fez, Morocco: I love getting lost in the thrum of the old labyrinth-like medina, minarets sounding the five-times daily call to prayer, the smell of jacaranda in bloom 
  • Istanbul, Turkey: My birthplace (historically known as Constantinople) is the only city that straddles two continents, Asia and Europe, Christian churches and Islamic mosques, making for fascinating contrasts 
  • Kiawah Island, South Carolina: Never have I seen so many horseshoe crabs along the Atlantic strand
  • Monument Valley, Arizona and Mexican Hat, Utah: An otherworldly, peaceful red desert punctuated by some of the bluest skies in the West and recognizable rock forms (think John Wayne movies)
  • Lafayette, Louisiana: This is the biggish-city—and underrated—heart of Acadia, home of friendly Cajuns, joyful music and memorable food, a college town where alligators ply the bayou on the campus 
  • Myanmar (AKA Burma): A cruise along the Irrawaddy River in the Mandalay region is unabashedly romantic, rolling back time to appreciate the lush green hillsides of Bagan, studded with more than 2,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries 
  • Nepal: Gentle-spirited and playful people, magnificent mountain panoramas, Buddhist stupas and an unexpectedly killer collection of used English-language volumes left in cafes and bookstores by backpackers from across the globe 
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: Old Europe in the South, with arguably the best food in the country—Creole—and joyful brass-based bands  
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Splendid natural—and human—scenery
  • Oaxaca, Mexico: Preserved colonial architecture and home to excellent cuisine—it’s the origination of the many varieties of moles—and and fried grasshoppers (taste like potato chips!)
  • Pensacola, Florida: My hometown has the whitest and least crowded (for now) beaches along the Emerald Coast and only-here seafood including amberjack, mullet, Royal Reds (shrimp) and triggerfish     
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico: An artsy Southwest town with buildings that date to the 1600s it looks like no other city in the U.S.., and it’s a great jumping-off point for further state exploration
  • San Sebastian, Spain: The Basque region on the French border has a splendid cobblestoned bayfront promenade where older gentlemen stroll in elegant bowlers and suits, and pinxto bars dish up regional tapas and pour local wines  
  • San Francisco, California:  Let’s be honest: We all leave our heart in the City by the Bay
  • Tibet: I spent 2 blissful weeks trekking on the “roof of the world,” my fortunate arrival coinciding with the annual post-harvest pilgrimage, attracting farmers throughout the country to pray in the streets of the capitol, Lhasa, the scent of burning juniper perfuming the air—a heady experience in every way   
  • Tucson, Arizona: My home base in Southern—AKA Baja—Arizona is just an hour from the Mexican border, is ringed by rugged mountains ranges, splendid hiking and surprising elevation changes: from 2,000-foot Sonoran Desert floor to the 9,000-foot alpine forests crowning Mount Lemmon  
  • Venice, Italy: The romance of wandering—and getting happily lost—in the small streets off the squares and over the canals and the perfect Bellini at Harry’s Bar 
  • Vietnam: Top to bottom, this country offers the most nuanced regional cooking, a combination of Asian ingredients and French cooking techniques (from the time of colonialism)  
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