Best Places to Travel by Category: My Travel Superlatives

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I traveled a LOT in 2017, 2018, and 2019 when I was single. Back then, more of my blog posts centered on those travels.

Even today, I have travel posts peppered in whenever my husband and I take a trip—so travel will always be part of this blog.

I thought it might be fun to do a “best of” post to share some of my favorite places in specific categories. Think of it as a list of travel superlatives—you know, like the kind you see in high school yearbooks. Best dressed. Most athletic. Most studious. Most likely to succeed. Best sense of humor. Best personality. You get the idea.

So, without further ado, here is my list of travel superlatives—based only on places I’ve been—since I haven’t been everywhere… man. (Couldn’t help myself.)

I do want to note that I’m horrible at choosing favorites of anything, so some categories will have more than one “best.” Also, you’ll see that some categories are split into US and International because—let’s be honest—that allows me to include more favorites 🙂

And, I’ll link a blog post with more information for as many as I can!

Best Beach in the US

Siesta Key Beach (Sarasota, FL)

Trust me. I used to live in Sarasota. There’s a reason this beach has been named #1 in American by a LOT of people. Siesta is 3 miles of wide, white quartz sand that doesn’t get hot to the touch. If you’re looking for the perfect beach to spend all day in the sun, you won’t be disappointed. (This blog goes into more detail about why I love Siesta Beach.)

Diamond Head Beach (O’ahu, Hawaii)

This one’s for my fellow adventurers who aren’t looking for a white, sandy spot to get some sun. Diamond Head Beach is hands down the best beach I’ve ever found for seaglass. (It’s included in my O’ahu recommendations blog here.)

Diamond Head Beach, O'ahu, Hawaii
Diamond Head Beach
Seaglass in the palm of a hand at the beach
Seaglass from Diamond Head

Blowing Rocks Preserve (Jupiter, FL)

This is probably my favorite beach in Florida because it’s so unique! Limestone rock lines a lengthy section, and during high tide, the waves spray through the “blow” holes in the rocks. (See my Blowing Rocks photos here.)

Blowing Rocks Preserve Jupiter Florida limestone rock beach
Blowing Rocks Preserve

Best International Beach

Barceloneta Beach (Barcelona, Spain)

While I wasn’t sunbathing on this beach, I walked along the boardwalk and enjoyed dinner at a beach restaurant right on the water. From my observation, this beach has it all for that quintessential beachside vacay. (Read about it in my Barcelona recap here.)

Bondi Beach (Sydney, Australia)

I actually walked to Bondi Beach from Coogee Beach along the Coastal Walk (3.72 miles one way) and the entire stretch was stunning. Though I wasn’t there to get a tan, I can see why it’s such a popular beach. The white sand and waves are as picturesque as they come. Plus, if you love touristy beach shops, the street adjacent to the beach is lined with them.

Bondi Beach Sydney Australia
Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

Best Mountain Views in the US

Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming)

The view of the Tetons at Jenny Lake will get into your soul. John and I walked around the entire lake and there was not a bad view! (More on that trip here.)

Couple at Jenny Lake Grand Tetons National Park
John & I at Jenny Lake

Smoky Mountains

Yes, as a Tennessean, I am biased. I won’t lie. But the Smokies are unique. They really do look smoky from a distance, and they stretch for days when you stop at an overlook high up in the mountains—whether on a roadway or a hike. (Check out the photos in this blog.)

Smoky Mountains Tennessee
View from Brushy Mountain

Best International Mountain Views


Mt. Pilatus in Lucerne. Lauterbrunnen. Interlaken. The place where I went bungee jumping over an alpine lake. (It’s all in this post here.)

Swiss Alps from Mt. Pilatus Lucerne, Switzerland
View from Mt. Pilatus
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland


Y’all, I spent dayssssss driving around Croatia and I was overwhelmed by the views through my windshield.


I stayed in Kotor, which itself has a view of a bay surrounded by mountains that you’ll never forget. But driving through Montenegro was just as memorable.

Best Mountain Town in the US

Not to be confused with views, this category is for the best town in general that happens to be situated in the mountains.

Ouray, CO

John and I stayed in Ouray on our honeymoon. Before planning that trip, I had no idea Ouray existed. I still can’t pronounce it, but I’ll tell you why I love Ouray. It’s nestled in a box canyon (a narrow canyon with a flat bottom and nearly vertical walls)… you can hike around the entire perimeter… the main street looks like it came out of a western movie… and, it’s not as touristy as nearby Telluride or Park City, UT. (You can click here to read more about our trip.)

Main Street Ouray, Colorado
Ouray, Colorado main street
Ouray, Colorado mountains box canyon
View of Ouray from a hike
Box Canon sign Ouray Colorado
Box Canon sign in Ouray

Best International Mountain Town

Queenstown, New Zealand

On my trip to Australia, I decided to fly to New Zealand for a few days and had a hard time deciding where to go. North Island? South Island? Road trip? Queenstown seemed like adventure central to me, so that’s where I stayed—and I’m so glad I did. Queenstown has it all. A massive lake and boating activities. Hiking. Canyon swinging. Fresh mussels. Delicious foods you can’t get in the US. And, stunning views that will haunt you in the best way. So yes, Queenstown has the best mountain views, too!

Woman hiking Queenstown Hill New Zealand
Me with Queenstown below

Best Food City in the US

Portland, OR

I’m no foodie, but Portland is a foodie’s paradise. Of course, if you’re indecisive like me, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer number of top rated restaurant options.

Best International Food City

Barcelona, Spain

The paella. The Boqueria Market. The churros and chocolate. Need I go on? Barcelona’s food wowed me. Simple as that. (Read about that market here.)

Seafood paella at a table on Barceloneta Beach Barcelona Spain
Seafood paella on Barceloneta Beach

Anywhere in Italy

That’s not a city. I know. But, if you remotely enjoy Italian food, you won’t find a bad place in Iraly. Let me just throw more foods at ya. Handmade pasta. Fresh seafood on the coast. Gelato. Are you drooling yet?

Plate of handmade pasta and red sauce in Minori, Italy
Handmade pasta in Minori, Italy
Plate of seafood pasta frutti di mare in a restaurant in Minori, Italy
Frutti di mare (aka. seafood pasta)

Castries, St. Lucia

Okay, anywhere in St. Lucia that serves authentic Caribbean food. You have to go off the resort for this stuff. The good stuff. Mahi. Prawns. Plantains. Yams. Bread fruit. Lentils and yellow rice. (I talk more about the food here.)

Styrofoam container of authentic Caribbean food in St. Lucia
Local food in Castries, St. Lucia

US City with the Best Architecture

Chicago, IL

I’ve been a fan of Chicago since elementary school. From a distance, the skyline is massive, and it only gets better. The building heights rival New York City, with just as much character. Chicago also has a river running through it, making the skyscrapers even more delightful. There’s a reason Chicago’s architectural boat tours are so popular. I can vouch the tour is worth it!

Downtown Chicago Riverwalk
Downtown Chicago

International City with the Best Architecture

Amsterdam, Netherlands

As someone who is drawn to skyscraper skylines, I found Amsterdam’s very flat skyline to be magical. Up close, you don’t miss the tall buildings because every single row house along the river is just so charming and unique. And colorful! I love a city with some color.

Canal in Amsterdam The Netherlands
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Row houses along a canal in Amsterdam The Netherlands
Row houses in Amsterdam

Florence, Italy

I was sold when I saw the Duomo. And the famous bridge—Ponte Vecchio. And the sea of red tiled roofs seen from Piazzale Michelangelo, high above the city.

Duomo at night in Florence Italy
Duomo at night
Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence Italy
Ponte Vecchio bridge
Florence Italy Piazzale Michelangelo
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Paris, France

I kind of have to include Paris on this one because the Eiffel Tower is what first inspired my love for architecture and engineering back when I was in elementary school. But, there’s so much more to Parisian architecture than the iconic Eiffel. Arc de Triomph. The Louvre. The Palais Royal. If you like fancy and whimsical buildings, this is where you want to go.

Girl crouching on a pillar AR Palais Royal in Paris France
Me, at Palais Royal in Paris

Most Walkable City in the US

San Francisco, CA

While it’s likely that 10/10 do not recommend walking all the hills, it can be done. I took a girls’ trip to San Fran in 2018, and we walked everywhere. (Read about that trip here.)

Most Walkable International City

Paris, France

The first time I visited Paris, I had less than 48 hours, and let me tell you, I walked ALL over that city and saw so much in a very short time. On my second trip, I only had about 2 days as well, and only used the metro to and from the airport. Sure, I walked at least 9 miles a day, but everywhere I went was pedestrian friendly. (Read about some things I did in Paris here.)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This was another girls’ trip and we only had a weekend to see everything. And we did. On foot. Not only is it walkable, but the canal views are *heart eyes* everywhere you go!

Best US National Park

Yellowstone National Park (Montana and Wyoming)

I have to put Yellowstone at #1 because there is a landscape for everyone there! Mountains, plains, geysers, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls. You name it. Plus, the wildlife scene is pretty intense. Literally. If you don’t run into a bison traffic jam, you didn’t stay long enough. Of course, it’s never a good idea to get close to the wildlife, but they are amazing to view from a distance! (I’ve got a blog on Yellowstone here.)

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone
Bison traffic jam Yellowstone National Park
Bison traffic jam

Best National Park Outside of the US

Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia)

It’s one of those places you have to see to believe. I was there in November, during off-season, and I still had to get there early to avoid the worst crowds. I can’t imagine during peak season, but it would still be worth it to me. The waterfalls and walkways around the water offer stunning views! Driving here was not exactly on the way to my next destination, and I thought it was very much worth the extra time on the road.

Aerial view of Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
A few waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park

Best Hike in the US

Angels Landing, Zion National Park (Utah)

Though I wouldn’t (currently) call myself an avid hiker, I’ve done some incredible hikes. One of the most challenging and memorable was Angels Landing. (I put all the details about this hike here.)

Woman hiker at the top of Angels Landing Zion National Park
Me at the top of Angels Landing

Olomana Three Peaks Hike (O’ahu, Hawaii)

Full disclosure: I only hiked the first two peaks. I didn’t have enough time to hike the third, and to be honest, it was probably too advanced for me at the time. The second peak is definitely a moderate to challenging hike. The first peak felt easy. (This post goes into more detail.)

Female hiker in O'ahu Hawaii
Me, hiking to the second peak

Best International Hike

Lauterbrunnen to Mürren (Switzerland)

You can’t go wrong hiking in Switzerland. This hike is 3.9 miles of forest at first, then sweeping mountain views. Alps mountain views. It’s moderately difficult, and the huffing and puffing is worth it. Promise! I hiked it solo in 2018. (I briefly summarized this hike here.)

Swiss Alps Lauterbrunnen Mürren Switzerland
Swiss Alps between Lauterbrunnen and Mürren

Gros Piton Hike (St. Lucia)

John and I hiked this in 2021. The Pitons are twin volcanic peaks in southwest St. Lucia. You have to pay for a guide, and it gets progressively more challenging. But we highly recommend if you visit St. Lucia! (Read all the details here.)

Best City with Free Things to Do

Washington DC

I mean, you’ve got ALL the monuments outside. The reflecting ponds. Free tours of iconic buildings like The White House and Capital Building. The Smithsonian Museums—yes plural—are all free. And, so is the National Zoo.

Quirkiest City

Brussels, Belgium

I was not expecting Brussels to be quirky, but that’s how it came across to me. Quirky, and I liked it. Peeing statues. Funky Christmas light displays. Random art and cartoon murals. Smurfs—yup, those blue animated characters originated in Brussels, and they’re everywhere. It’s a fun city to explore!

Women next to Het Zinneke peeing dog statue Brussels Belgium
Me with the peeing dog statue
Manneken Pis peeing boy statue Brussels Belgium
Peeing boy statue
Elephant statue in Brussels Belgium
Elephant on wheels
Christmas light show Brussels Belgium
Christmas light show
Smurf mural on ceiling in Brussels Belgium
Smurfs on the ceiling

Best Hidden Gems

Kotor, Montenegro

It’s a small, medieval town on a bay in the mountains. Old Town is all cobblestone. You can hike up to a fort in the mountains with a spectacular view. Oh! And if you’re a cat person—rejoice! Kotor is known for its abundance of stray cats. They are quite literally everywhere, but in the cutest way possible.

Kotor Montenegro bay at sunset
View of Kotor Bay from St. John Fortress

Minori, Italy

Amalfi. Positano. Sorrento. Those are the most well-known towns along the Amalfi Coast. Also the most touristy. So, I stayed in Minori instead. Not only did it save me money and help me avoid crowds, but it was also close enough to the town of Amalfi that I could walk there. (Click here to read more reasons why I loved Minori.)

Wine glass of limoncello in Minori Italy Amalfi Coast
Fresh limoncello in Minori

Best Adrenaline Rush Experiences Around the World

I added this category for anyone who’s like me—an adventurer. These are some of my favorite adventures.

Bungee Jumping in Switzerland

On that 2018 trip to Switzerland, I bungee jumped out of a gondola over a lake in the Alps. I was terrified, but I did it anyway—and what a rush. It was glorious! (I wrote all about it here.)

Woman bungee jumping over alpine lake in the Alps Interlaken Switzerland
Me, bungee jumping in Switzerland

Canyon Swinging in New Zealand

Though similar to bungee jumping, it’s not the same thing. Canyon swinging is just that—swinging through a canyon, kinda like Tarzan. I gave it a try on my solo trip to Queenstown, NZ. (Read about—and watch!—my experience here.)

Woman leaning over edge about to go canyon swinging in Queenstown New Zealand with Shotover Canyon Swing
Canyon swinging

Ziplining in Italy

Volo dell’Angelo ain’t no ordinary zipline. With speeds up to 70 mph, I flew across a valley between two mountain towns in Southern Italy. And, when I say flew, it literally felt like flying—higher than the Statue of Liberty. (I wrote this blog all about it.)

Woman ziplining with helmet
Me, ziplining in Italy

Via Ferrata in Telluride, Colorado

Of course, I married an adventurous guy. John and I completed this via ferrata on our honeymoon. (Skip to the Telluride section of this blog for all the details.)

Couple on via ferrata in Telluride Colorado
Me and John

So, there you have it. My travel superlatives list. I hope at least a few of these inspire you to explore a new place.

I’d also love to know what places you’d put on your own list. Share in the comments!

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