My Top 5 Places To Go Before You Die

Travel is the opiate of the creative.

And if that is true, then the following five places are like opium on crack!

Here are my Top 5 places to go before you die.

5.) Beartooth MountainsRed Lodge, Montana — Late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt calls the Beartooth Highway, “the most beautiful drive in America.” Because of heavy snowfall at the top, the pass is only open each year only from mid May through mid October, weather conditions permitting.

My oldest daughter and I backpacked and dived in a glacier lake in these mountains a few years ago. Extraordinary beauty! Be sure to stay in quaint Red Lodge and have a hamburger at the nearby Grizzly Bar in Roscoe.

4.) Little Palm Island Little Torch Key, Florida — The most romantic place I’ve been on earth.

Imagine your own (1 of only 14) private thatched roof bungalow suite with outdoor shower, your own private beach with hammock, key deer gently nuzzling as you lay in the sun, raising a flag on the beach to signal a discreet employee to bring you a refreshing drink, a zen garden, lavender scented refreshing towels placed on your face while swimming in the pool, impeccable cuisine, enjoying dinner at a table placed in the ocean surf served by waiters wading with rolled up linen pants as the sun sets, mosquito nets swathing the bungalow bedroom of your dreams, being greeted with the phrase, “the only rule is there are no rules,”—and that is only the beginning.

3.) Hamilton IslandGreat Barrier Reef, Australia — Yes, I love islands. Perfectly situated on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, amongst Queensland’s 74 Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island offers an experience like no other: glorious weather, azure waters, brilliant beaches, awe-inspiring coral reefs, fascinating flora and fauna, fine food and wines, and activities almost too numerous to mention.

Did I mention the Great Barrier Reef?

2.) Oxford, EnglandOxford, The City of Dreaming Spires, is famous the world over for its University and place in history. You haven’t really lived until you walk down a narrow winding Oxford cobblestone street as a cacophony of bells ring out in exultation.

A trip would not be complete without sitting in the worn bench of the Eagle & Child Pub just as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien did as their Inklings debated and read their latest writings, visiting the Bodleian Library, the Pitt Rivers Museum ( three floors of curious artefacts contained in glass display cabinets – including masks, magic, musical instruments and shrunken heads housed in a haunting period atmosphere. Tip: Most visitors don’t notice the drawers underneath many of the cabinets that can be opened to display more hidden treasures,) climbing the Carfax Tower for a vista of the city’s famous spires, snapping a photo of Hartford Bridge, marveling at Salvador Dali’s illustrations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland at Christ Church, and I could go on and on.

1.) Asolo, Italy — Nestled amid an enchanting hillscape (as only Italy can do hillscapes,) Asolo is the loveliest village in a country that abounds with lovely villages. As you gasp at the views from the verdant gardens of the Villa Cipriani, once the home of poet Robert Browning and the gardens where Titian painted,  you realize why this village is called the City of a Hundred Horizons.

Dining in quaint enotecas, wine bars, weekend festivals, buying fresh cheeses and olives for a picnic and steep walk to the historic village castle which crowns the peak of the village, leisurely coffee at a table covered with checkered tablecloths as you people watch in the city square, a visit to nearby Venice, and fresh pasta with white truffles during season topped off with a regional Amarone wine are only a few of the reasons that Asolo, Italy is my top place to go before you die.

Did I mention white truffles at the Cipriani?

What is YOUR recommendation for the top place to go before we die?

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40 Responses to “My Top 5 Places To Go Before You Die”

  1. Cape Town, SA. Stunning beauty, lots of culture, amazing wine and great weather.

  2. 1. Safari in the Maasai Mara of Kenya
    2. Port Elizabeth South Africa – amazing beaches and beauty.
    3. Rome Italy – The Vatican and walk the streets. Easy to get around there.
    4. Laguna Beach, CA – anywhere there is magical.
    5. London England – so much history and a fin place to hang

    Bonus.. 6. Sante Fe New Mexico- the view is off the chart. Museums and art are incredible. Food is over the top… And its just a very calming place get connected.

  3. I’m with Spence. After you spend some time in London, jump the train down to the Bournemouth/Poole area. Walk the beach, and maybe head out to the Isle of Wight.

    • @Bill Todd, I have a friend Roger who lives in Bournemouth. He has invited me to visit him. I see I should take him up on that. I have visited London and LOVED it!! Especially the Covent Gardens area and the Tower of London.



  4. I would say Uluru in the Northern territory. But you have to drive from Alice Springs and sleep in swags under the stars out I’m the wild with only an electric fence separating you from the wild camels… Roos… Cows… Emus… And heaven knows what else!

    The heavens were amazing. We watched shooting stars for hours. The sky is unimpeded by city lights and smog. It was one of the most unforgettable moments in my life!

  5. Wow – those places all sound amazing!

    I would add in:

    1) Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – most gorgeous lake I have ever seen, surrounded by enormous volcanoes & a lush landscape. Add in the wonderful people & amazing local food. Hike the volcano if you are feeling fit & adventurous.
    2) Barcelona, Spain – plenty of culture, people-watching, delicious food, a city filled with amazing architecture. Definitely an amazing place to spend some time in.
    3) Santorini, Greece – the idyllic greek island. Clear blue waters, white buildings, blue domes, delicious local food, most places situated on the side of a cliff. If you do go, don’t stay in one of the main towns. Stay here,, and rent a 4 wheeler to get around.

    • @Karen Barnes, Oh, Karen, you have hit upon one of the places i dream to go—Santorini, Greece. Thanks for the lodging recommendation!

      • @Randy Elrod, In that case… Anastasis is run by a wonderful woman & her husband, so in some ways it’s like staying at an impeccable b&b. It’s not as expensive as the bigger hotels on the island, and it’s much better. It’s a small 10 room place, immaculate, lovely infinity pool, and separate from everything else. It’s the place to go if you want to just relax and stay in a place away from the hustle & bustle of the 2 larger towns. You can walk 15 minutes up the hill in one direction to get to the nearest small town with a grocery shop. You can take a lovely 2 hour hike in the other direction, along the side of the cliff, to get to the large town of Oia at the end of the island. You can totally rent a car if you want, or do some amount of taking buses. But I recommend walking & renting a 4 wheeler – which would easily get you around the entire island. If you ever need more recommendations or info on Santorini, I’d be glad to help!

    • @Karen Barnes,

      Karen, I have also been to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala….beautiful place. I would have loved it more if I hadn’t been so sick at the time!!

  6. New Orleans the week before Mardis Gras. My wife just treated me to this trip and it was the best eating experience ever. Skip the Bourbon St. theatrics. Instead check out Royal st. and its art district then head over to Frenchman’s street for a Jazza tour de france. Excellent! Eat at Johnny Poh Boys, Court of Two Sisters and beignets at Du Monde. Nothing I know beats it.

  7. Your “Top Five” lists have been too tempting, Randy – you’re distracting me from my work!

    1.) Assisi, Italy: I’ve never felt such a sense of peace anywhere on earth. A very holy place. Also took a header on the cobblestones of that walled city – so I bear a little cross-shape scar on my right knee that I’m quite proud of.
    2.) Picinguaba, Brazil: little oceanside village. Gorgeous. Most relaxing, sun-drenched days I’ve ever had . . .
    3.) St. Louis, MO: My fabulous hometown – yeaaaaaaa, Gateway To The West!!! What you realize, if you spend any time there, is that it’s actually a very old city, with layers and layers of immigrants and nationalities. A true melting pot. Plus the best zoo in the country (and it’s FREE!), and amazing Italian food.
    4.) Galway City/Salthill, Ireland: ah, Galway. The “Seattle of Ireland” – hip, groovy and old as the hills, with tons of charm. Sure, Dublin’s bigger – but does that make it better? Trust me on this. And you’ve got to spend a little time in Salthill, the little bedroom community right next door. Charming.
    5.) Venice, Italy: On my first trip to Italy, I took part in a quick afternoon trip to Venice strictly so that I could say I’d done it – never had any desire to go there, and kind of wanted to check it off my list. But when I stepped out of the train station, I was startled by the sun shining off the canals – and I instantly fell in love this impossibly gorgeous, romantic city. Went back three years later and spent three days there . . . really, I can’t get enough of this place!! And if you go for nothing else, you’ve got to try the gelato there. Whoa.

    Okay, okay – I’m going to do a bonus one, too – Austin, Texas baby!!! Coldest beer, loudest music and the juiciest brisket (that would be at the Salt Lick) . . . and the whole sprawling college town is friendly and laid back. If I didn’t live here in NashVegas, I’d be an Austin girl. I’m just always happy there.

    Thanks for the nice break, Mr. Elrod – and a reminder that I’ve overdue for non-work related travel!!!

  8. Ok, so two of my favoite places are relatively new to me.

    1. Siena, Italy. Was there at the end of May a few years ago. It was incrdible. I loved sitting in the town square of that ancient city and watch the locals do their thing. Their laid-back lifestyle definately made me re:think about my life in the hustle and bustle.

    2. Los Osos, CA. Deep in the Santa Ynez Valley (Think the movie, ‘Sideways’), Los Osos has a darling little downtown with great funky shops and resturaunts. The Santa Ynez Valley is also jam-packed with great wineries and little farms. Qaint and beautiful.

  9. Little Palm Island sounds absolutely wonderful!! Only I guess I’d better wait till God sends me that special man to share it with. Doesn’t sound like much fun alone!!

    And why is everyone talking about Italy?? Really making me want to go there!

    I have always wanted to go to Austria & Banif/Lake Louise, Canada so that would be my choices. As far as the States, I saw some pictures of Yosemite that looked beautiful, but my fab places I have already been are San Francisco, Honolulu, Colorado Springs & I loved my visit to Shipshewana, Indiana. Actually, I love almost every place, especially the quaint little towns. They have so much personality.

    • @Beth McKamy, I also dream of going to Lake Louise/Banff. And Yosemite is otherworldy in its beauty. Makes me think of what the Garden of Eden must have been like…Thanks,Beth!

      • @Randy, Kind of bad when you want to go somewhere, but can’t spell it!! Duh!! I knew my spelling of Banff didn’t look right, but went ahead anyway. Ha! Ha!

        Everyone has mentioned some great places that sound beautiful. Don’t know if I will ever be able to afford to go to any of them, but I can see them in my dreams. Thanks!

  10. 1. Redwood National Park. – Simply unreal.
    2. Vancouver B.C. – mega-city plus mega-nature, the absolute best of both worlds.

    you should probably give Austin, TX a look to ;-)

  11. Ah man – so many!

    If you’re a christian then Israel is a must. seeing a 2000 year old mosaic of loaves and fishes overlooking the sea of Gallilee or wandering through the streets of old Jerusalem are pretty powerful experiences

    Galapogas Islands – utterly fascinating and exhilerating swimming with Sea Lions and turtles out on volcanic islands in the pacific

    Rockies, Canada – overwhelming beautiful – OR – South Island, New Zealand – what heaven may look like (actually, do both!)

    Go diving / snorkelling in the Maldives (since you’ve already suggested the Barrier Reef)

    Visit Japan and particularly Kyoto and be amazed at just how DIFFERENT it is to your own culture

    …ah man – this needs to a be a Top 10 as I have had to miss off Iguazu falls brazil, the ocean road in Australia, or amazing cities like Vancouver, Buenos Aries or NYC and then there’s the surf in Costa Rica or the pyramids in Egypt…

    GET TRAVELLING PEOPLE! It’s a big world! :-)

    • @Ian Finch, Wow!! Ian. Every place you’ve mentioned with the exception of Vancouver, NYC and the Ocean Road in Australia—is on my dream list.

      I need to get with it!!

      Thanks, Ian. Have you been to all those places?

  12. Kathmandu, Nepal!

  13. Spring has definitely kicked my wanderlust into full gear!! It is a constant thing for me but something about Spring makes me want to travel and travel…and travel.

    Being a Georgia girl one of my favorite places is Savannah. The history and the buildings…such fun to explore.

    London, England :: definitely a place of my heart…to finally see all of the things I had been dreaming about for years. I love the history of the city….great food if you have a great guide….and beauty where you least expect it!

    Conwy, Wales :: My first chance to see a castle in real life and explore to my hearts content….then to go into the small town and enjoy tea with scones and crumpets. Unforgettable day.

  14. First, the Highlands of Scotland, where my ancestors, evidently, originated. And, I’m with Ian (@finchleymusic) – I’d love to take a trip (make a pilgrimage?) to Israel some day.

    But, really, anyplace that I can go by train. Nothing better than riding the rails across this beautiful country of ours. The romance of the railroad is indescribable.

  15. There are many, however I’d have to add Petra, Jordan to the list.

    • @PER, Yes, Paul, that is also on my dream list. Had a trip there scheduled for this past Feb and had to cancel because it also involved an extended stay in Cairo. Soon. Soon.

  16. costa rica. so organic and natural with all the edges still in place.
    thailand. so kind and inspiring.
    cayman islands. bar none the most beautiful water i’ve ever swam in … and low crime rate low unemployment rate = chill factor of 10
    rome… it’s rome
    disney world… most magical place on earth and second place expert of story – God being first.

  17. HI Randy, yes, I’ve been blessed to be able to visit a number of places.

    My wife Lou is part-chinese and so I think the next dream destination for us is going to be China. We’ve been to Hong Kong before but not for long and we’d like to go back to mainland china and mix it up seeing places like Shanghai and Beijing as well as more rural communities

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