Some of my favorite places in the world

By Caitlin Kelly


I started traveling young — when my parents removed the back seat of our family car and drove from Vancouver, my birthplace, to Mexico, a country I’ve since visited many times. I was two.

So constant motion and long-distance travel just feel normal to me!

In the next few weeks, we’ll be in Pennsylvania, near New Hope; in D.C. and suburban Maryland and on the Delaware River, each time visiting with friends who live there. I love getting away, even for a few days.

In December, Jose and I fly to Paris for Christmas, where we’ve been loaned an apartment. I then have five days in London alone visiting another friend, then another week alone there to do….I have no idea!

Which is my definition of bliss.


Berlin? Amsterdam? Antwerp? A quick flight to my new friend in Bahrain?

Nothing in the world makes me happier than a travel adventure.


Here, in no special order, are some of my favorite places around the world:

Porto Rico Coffee and Tea, Bleecker Street, NYC
Porto Rico Coffee and Tea, Bleecker Street, NYC


A battered railing on East 9th Street, NYC
A battered railing on East 9th Street, NYC


The West Village and East Village of Manhattan

Having lived in a suburb of New York City for more than 20 years, I never tire of wandering these two quieter and residential edges of the city: battered 19th-century doors and weathered stone steps, enormous 18th-cenury churches, cobblestoned, tree-lined streets and elegant brownstone houses with their ornate black metal railings and tall, narrow windowed doors. The area’s many cafes, restaurants and small shops include Porto Rico for coffee and tea, Bosie’s or Tea and Sympathy for a seated afternoon tea and Morandi for spaghetti carbonara. The best perfume shop in the city is on Christopher Street, Aedes de Venustas.

Yorkville, Toronto

I’ve been visiting this chic spot since my childhood in Toronto. The Papery sells lovely stationery; the Craft Ontario shop offers terrific and affordable pottery, jewelry and Eskimo art a new store, Ca Va de Soi, recently opened there, selling the loveliest women’s sweaters. (Queen Street West gets all the attention. I like it a lot, but Yorkville is easier to manage, cleaner and safer.)

San Francisco

Such an elegant city! Spectacular views, great sailing, that bridge, the beaches and Marin County, a landscape of staggering beauty. I ate here, at the Presidio Social Club, in 2012 and loved every minute of it — a former military barracks set in a park. Sacramento Street has dozens of small, gorgeous shops.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Watching the sun rise, filling every valley in the Andes as it came towards us, remains one of the highlights of my life.

One of the eeriest and most memorable sights of my life -- a lunar landscape I saw, alone in the rain, while traveling alone by mo-ped


I spent five amazing days here, alone, traveling the north of this island by mo-ped, with a top speed of about 45 mph. It wasย  July and the heated maquis, the scrubby fragrant underbrush, smelled like very good pipe tobacco. Craggy mountains, deep valleys, steep oceanside cliffs. Great food, welcoming people. I wept so hard when the plane took off for Nice the poor flight attendant thought I was injured or dying. Few places have touched me as deeply.

Kenya and Tanzania

I saw both, on safari, in my 20s. The Maasai Mara in Kenya and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania are unforgettably beautiful, filled with wild animals. It’s expensive to get there, but worth every penny to see a landscape that reminds us we’re only one late-arriving species. (Once you see animals in the wild, zoos seem sad and pointless.)

Mae Hong Son, Ko Phi Phi, Bangkok, Thailand

I spent 21 days in Thailand in January 1994 and remember every detail. MHS is a tiny town in the far north; KPP is a sliver of an island two hours by boat from the southern town of Krabi and crowded, humid Bangkok feels like an out-take from Blade Runner. I loved everything about my time there: food, people, flowers, astounding landscapes. If only it wasn’t 19 hours’ flying time away!


Oddly, we went there in November, a time of year when the sun barely rises at 8:30 and is gone by 3:00 p.m. It was staggeringly expensive, but worth it. The colors! The light! I loved the Vasa Museum — a ship launched with great fanfare in 1628, and which promptly sank in the harbor. It’s amazing — you climb a scaffolding so you’re literally face to face with history. I loved everything about this city, especially its attention to design, detail and light. I’m eager to return, preferably in summer.

Lakeside at Manoir Hovey, Quebec
Lakeside at Manoir Hovey, Quebec

The Eastern Townships, Quebec

We return every two years to Manoir Hovey, a five-star inn on Lake Massawippi. The area itself is lovely in every season, dotted with small towns and a gently rolling landscape. There’s skiing, horseback riding, winding roads to cycle, a stunning monastery — and Montreal 90 minutes north. If you’re a fan of best-selling mystery writer Louise Penny, this region will feel familiar, as that’s where she lives, and sets her stories.


The Grand Canyon

If you make one journey in your lifetime, make it here. Seriously. And don’t just drive to the edge, snap a few pics and drive away…You must walk deep into it (twice as long to come back up! take plenty of water!) to best experience a place that so powerfully reminds us what a mere eye-blink in time our lives represent. The light, the silence, the hawks and foxes and fossils…Few places so richly reward sitting still for an hour just to watch the light shifting and the landscape changing every minute as it does.


I’ve been, (so far), four times; my father owned a house near Galway City for a few years. Hard to name anything I don’t love about this small, friendly, gorgeous country….not to mention my heritage! My great-grandfather was a schoolteacher in Rathmullan, Co. Donegal. Get out to the Aran Islands top see shaggy cows the exact color of Guinness, or wander the streets of Dublin. For a bit of craic, try the annual matchmakers festival in Lisdoonvarna, which I wrote about for the Washington Post. Lots of shy bachelor farmers!

The window of Nevis House, 1843, Irvington, NY
The window of Nevis House, 1835, Irvington, NY

The Hudson Valley, New York

Home! I moved here in 1989 and love its history, landscapes, the Palisades, the Hudson River. The river towns — Irvington, Tarrytown, Ossining — line the Hudson, with quiet parks and access to the water. Lots of great restaurants andย  cafes…ancient churches and graveyards…winding roads, fantastic views. Visit Olana to see a spectacular example of 19th century architecture and West Point to visit an American icon.

The view from our balcony across the Hudson River
The view from our balcony across the Hudson River

(all images, Caitlin Kelly)

What are some of your favorite spots?

35 thoughts on “Some of my favorite places in the world

  1. You’re going to Paris and London? Some of my favorite places are there. If you get the chance, you have to visit Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey while you’re in England, and if you’re in Paris, maybe you could see the catacombs in addition to all the other places there to visit. You know, I’m actually a little jealous of you right now.

  2. what lovely adventures, each so special in it’s own way. you’ve been very lucky to have experienced all of these places firsthand, caitlin. i love looking forward to trips and it sounds like you have some wonderful adventures planned in the near future. places i’ve most enjoyed? – the north of michigan on the lake, with the sleeping bear sand dunes looking over me, margaret river, south australia, wine country, and watching the sun go down over the cliffs on the end of the island of jamaica.

  3. Paris for Christmas sounds amazing. Paris is definitely one of my favourite places – and for me, one of the picks is Saint Chappelle on the Isle de Cite, far less well known than its neighbours but a simply stunning tour de force in stone. I was blown away when I first walked into it. Other places? Definitely Napier, New Zealand – my home town with a ton of art deco and the climate of Santa Barbara.

    1. We stayed on the Ile St Louis on our past 2 visits, and I can’t remember (?!) if we visited Saint Chappelle, but I know we must.

      I’d love to see Napier…I hope to return to NZ someday and bring Jose. I only saw a bit of North Island and loved every minute of it.

  4. I would move to Paris tomorrow but Cuba stole my heart.

    Favorite place….

    A little chicken stand along the Malecon in Old Havana. At the foot of Obispo St. – chicken, potatoes and a beer for $2.50 US – plant yourself on the stone wall facing a 15th century Spanish fortress (completed by centuries old sea turtle shells floating amongst the greenish slime of moat water) Surrender to a moment in time – at peace with vibrant displays of joy, tenacity and optimism defining a hot Havana night. Above all, smile as music and laughter unconsciously fill the air.

  5. I truly wish I had the ability to make travels such as yours. Thank you for writing this and taking us all along on your journeys. It is truly wonderful writing you have done about these places. Thank you.

  6. history0

    Great read! My favourite place is Italy its just so rich in culture and stunningly beautiful if you ever stood upon the “duomo” in Florence or the Colosseum in Rome, you’ll know what I mean.

  7. Paris for Christmas sounds absolutely wonderful, as do all your other upcoming travels. From London you have a whole continent at your feet – so much choice! I’ll look forward to seeing where you end up ๐Ÿ™‚

    I know how you feel when you say nothing makes you happier than a travel adventure; I always feel slightly restless unless I have my next trip planned. Choosing my own favourite spots is tricky… like you, I can spend a whole day wandering around the streets in the West Village, with plenty of stops for coffee. I adore Paris, and after visiting Kenya earlier this year I’m desperate to return. I’ve never been somewhere so welcoming and friendly, and the landscape is just incredible. I have a soft spot for the north of China too, after living near Beijing for a year.

    Closer to home, the west coast of the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides is definitely one of my favourite places. I might be biased, but I honestly think it’s got some of the most beautiful views in the world!

    1. So glad you know Kenya now…it is breathtaking and I’m very eager to go back….except for all the other places yet to see (with limited $$$ and time.)

      I am very eager to see the Hebrides, actually.

    1. Everything!

      The landscape is so beautiful — silent, timeless, green, rugged, dramatic. The people were very welcoming to me, inviting me into their homes for meals. The smells! The ocean. The feeling of being lost in time, with no signs or road markers or ads to show me I was in the 20th c and not the 17th or 14th…Only three places have (so far) had that effect on me when I left and all for the same combination of factors) — Ireland and Thailand were the others.

  8. You sure make me feel like I’ve got some living to do. I agree on the Grand Canyon. I rafted it from top to bottom when I was young. I want to find a way to make the same trip with my kids before they fly the coop.

    1. It’s a matter of priorities, maybe…I spend much of my disposable income (not there is much) on travel — we live in a small apt, drive an old car and have no kids. So we have lower expenses…

      The GC is the best!

  9. Our trip to the Galapagos a few years ago is etched on my heart. So full of life and the wonder of this beauty of creation. And I carry Kauai with me wherever I go. I left part of my heart there.

  10. Paris for Christmas! Sounds heavenly. Machu Picchu is on my bucket list. I must say, Costa Rica was amazing. I’d go back there again in a hearbeat. Mackinac Island in Michigan takes me back to a slower, gentler place and pace. Downtown Chicago on a busy night, snow falling, is lovely. And something about the Colorado Rockies makes me calm . . . you’ve bee to some lovely places.

    1. I’m excited….haven’t been to Paris in five long years and I really miss it. I did visit Costa Rica but did not see that much…would go other places before I returned there, I think.

      I’ve long been intrigued by Mackinac Island…and I really have enjoyed my visits to Chicago. Looking forward to another visit; I’ll know if I’ve got the fellowship there later this week.

      Have not yet been to the Colorado Rockies; Jose loves them, and they are somewhere on my to-do list….think I’ll do a follow-up of the places I’d like to see. It’s a long list!

  11. Wow, world traveler! Right now, my favorite place is home–mostly because I’ll be leaving it soon. It’s beautiful. The Adirondacks in NYS, right near Lake Champlain. I fell in love with Portland, OR, and I’ll be moving there soon. Maui was wonderful, so was San Diego. Anywhere along the ocean to hear the rhythm of the waves, too!

    1. That IS a gorgeous part of the world….Everyone I know is moving to Portland! I keep hearing great things about it, so I hope it’s lovely for you.

      I love to be near water, and see the Hudson River from our windows. I like the ocean, but water of any kind will do it for me.

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