Kate's Favorite Places Around the World
Hi, I'm Kate, founder of The Explorer's Circle.
As an avid traveler, I have been on a quest to experience different places around the globe. I've been traveling for nearly 20 years, and during this time, I've started collecting some of my favorite places around the world (thank you Google Maps) including shops, experiences, cafes, restaurants, monuments, palaces and more. It's no use keeping this list to myself, so I wanted to share it with you!
I am going to do my very best to limit my list to 50 places - let's see if I can constrain myself! I hope you join me on this journey as I introduce a new place or experience every week - for the next, well... year! So, in no particular order, let's kick it off the list with....
Best Spot to Grab a Cocktail before a Broadway Play
Considering its location and its reputation for great cocktails, I suggest you come right at 5:00 to get a seat at the bar, or better yet (especially if you have a larger party), make reservations before you arrive. It fills up fast - but a whimsical spot to grab a drink before a Broadway play. (Cocktails run about $16, much more reasonably priced than the drinks served inside the theaters, which run about $30+).
Apparently, Lillie's has quite the history, as its inspiration was charismatic socialite, Lillie Langtry, a Victorian woman and actress. You can read all about Lillie on their website in the link above.
Best Beach Club on the Côte d'Azur
This beach club, near St. Tropez, has been a hotspot for celebrities and global jet-setters ever since its humble opening in 1955. The film crew of Brigitte Bardot's first film, "And God Created Woman", practically took up residence at the beach club throughout the duration of filming.
To welcome more guests, the owners built a small boardwalk so people traveling by boat could access the beach and stop for meals. Today, the only thing that has drastically changed is the size of the boats! The yachts that dock within the St. Tropez harbor make their way around the peninsula to this coastline (Pampelonne Beach) each day to anchor for a hot summer's day in the beautiful blue water and to enjoy time at the beach club.
Lunchtime is a popular time to dine at Le Club 55, and that's what makes it one of my favorite places/experiences. From the relaxed décor to the lively music and fresh food, this place becomes incredibly vibrant and allows people the opportunity to be fully present. No one is looking at their phones, no one is thinking about business - instead everyone is engrossed in conversation at their tables. Laughing, joking, genuinely enjoying their time, and soaking in the positive atmosphere. With a live band that moves around the tables at lunch, it feels more like a party than a sit-down meal!
Going by boat isn't the only way to access the beach. It is also accessible by car. If you visit during August, you'll want to make a reservation beforehand. Most European schools are out the month of August, and Le Club 55 is a family friendly destination. You will need to get separate reservations for lunch and a beach cabana.
Pro Tip: Bring your fanciest beach cover-up and order a bottle of rosé for the table (the area is famous for its production of rosé wines).
PS - Sir Elton John and his family ate lunch at the table beside ours while we were there. So, keep your eyes peeled for faces you might know! Please remember to be respectful to any celebrities you may encounter - they're probably trying to get some much needed time off, too.
Best Cruise for Scenic Views and Adventure-Seekers in Asia
When traveling in the north of Vietnam, this is a must see! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay consists of thousands of islets made of limestone jutting out of the water. It’s such an incredible site to see as you weave through the small unnamed islands. Every day, every scene was absolutely stunning.
The best way to experience this getaway is by boat. The top floor is usually a viewing deck, the middle floors are guest rooms and dining, and the lowest level is reserved for the crew. Each day is filled with a few activities you can choose to participate in, for example, we went kayaking, swimming, hiking, walking through caves and fishing for squid. Our tour even made a stop at Cat Ba Island, which if you have the chance, I would go there! We were lucky to have enough adventurous hikers on our tour to take a trail that would have in no way been allowed in the US. We walked over a steep stream via a questionable log, rock-climbed up a jagged vertical cliff and had the best time. I'll note that most people making this journey were couples, however I went with a friend, and we had a blast with the half of the boat that were interested in making friends for the week.
There are many tours that leave from Hanoi, Vietnam, which does require a bit of travel to the bay area, but its honestly the best way considering they pick you up at your hotel and drop you off there again once you return. You will have the same cruise director with you throughout your entire journey, which is quite nice.
Pro Tip 1: I admit, the rooms on these boats are tiny! If we wanted to switch areas of the "room" we would have to back into the bathroom or the hallways outside our room to switch places. So, if you want more space, just spend the money and book the nicer cruise lines, we did mid-tier.
Pro Tip 2: We travelled in the month of August, which was sweltering hot. So just be prepared. Wear yourself out during the day so that you can sleep while hot and sticky, put your best water-proof mascara to the test, pack moisture-wicking fabrics and plenty of sun-screen.
Best Stroll through a Garden
Disclaimer: I admit, I'm a bit biased here, as I used to live in Munich; however, Schloss Nymphenburg was one of the reasons why I ended up moving to Munich in the first place and was a staple of joy while I was there.
Nymphenburg Palace was the summer residence of the Bavaria royalty back in the 17th century. Back then, it was a palace located on the outskirts of the city, but nowadays, one can take a bus easily from the city center. The inside of the palace is beautiful, but in my opinion, and the reason why I enjoy it so much is because of the gardens in the back. The gardens take up a massive amount of land, and scattered throughout the grounds are many different pagodas, connected by many unmarked trails. Don't be fooled, these pagodas are the size of large houses, and each created with a different purpose. For instance, there is a hunting lodge, bath house, chill pagoda, and chapel.
Without a doubt, it was one of my favorite places for a rendezvous with family, friends, or even alone. It's the perfect place for a stroll and great conversation, no matter the time of year. It's always beautiful. This garden is a little more covered than some other European gardens, in which it's a bit more forest-like (much shade!) rather than being open without cover. Therefore, it feels much more welcoming.
5. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Best Coastline that makes you Live a Little Slower
“Never has any sailor passed our shores in his black craft
until he has heard the honeyed voices pouring from our lips,
and once he hears to his heart’s content sails on, a wiser man.” — Homer: The Odyssey
The Amalfi Coast has been written about for centuries, and for good reason. Even the great Greek Epics featured it as a place of escape and wonder.
The Amalfi Coast is the perfect place to unwind and slowly savor the morsels of life in a way that isn’t possible anywhere else. You can expect a day on the Amalfi Coast to look like this: You start the morning slowly sipping on a cappuccino while enjoying the view of a small seaside town waking up. You take a stroll along the walkways to visit different shops and boutiques. You take a long break to enjoy a fresh and delicious lunch — with a view. You then head back to your cozy and beautiful lodging to take a siesta. After your rest, you’ll go for a swim in the cool waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Your day will end with an amazing glass of Italian wine (or a whole bottle) and a dinner that will be seared in your memory for years to come. The view, the food, and the people come together to create a memorable experience.
The Amalfi Coast has several towns which date back thousands of years — including Positano, Amalfi, Praiano and Ravello. Every time I have visited, I’ve stayed in Positano. However, there are water taxis that go from village to village. Do be sure to note the last boat's departure time before leaving the dock (you don’t want to get stuck on an island).
Steeped in history and a tradition of handcrafted goods (ex. hand-made paper) and artisanal foods/drinks (ever heard of limoncello?), the Amalfi Coast is a must-visit destination.
- The church in Amalfi and Praiano
- Fiordo di Furore between Praiano and Amalfi
- Shopping in Positano + Capri (Amalfi has similar offerings for cheaper)
- Soak up sun and take a cool dip in the Mediterranean Sea at one of these great beach clubs: One Fire Beach in Praiano (for a party beach day), Spiaggia di Atrani (one of the most photographed beaches in the world) or Arienzo Beach Club in Positano - Tip: the beaches are pebble beaches so, be prepared if you have sensitive feet - grab a pair of water shoes.
- Le Sirenuse (a hotel in Positano named after the Sirens in the Odyssey)
- La Tagliata (Positano) - a beautiful view and delectable cuisine — a must visit for all