Travel Pro Samantha Brown Reveals Her All-Time Favorite Country She's Ever Been To

Samantha Brown's warm and cheery face is one that most Americans with a TV can recognize. Brown, formerly a personality on the Travel Channel, now hosts PBS's "Places to Love," a show all about her favorite life-changing destinations. The series has taken Brown all around the globe, from Route 66 in the U.S. to Seoul, Korea, but her most beloved places are what she calls "B-side" destinations. She told We Said Go Travel, "So, if you remember records, there's the A-side and then there's the B-side. And the A-side is the Rome, and the New York and the Paris. But then there are the B-sides and I think B-side cities just give you just as much as the A-side city, but it's not as expensive, it's not as busy, and it just gives you a better experience."

One could argue that the same idea applies to the travel guru's favorite country: New Zealand. While some travelers may call Italy or Japan their most loved country, Brown prefers the often-overlooked Pacific Island nation. "That is where I wanted to move during the pandemic," Brown revealed to Wonderlust. "It's just a magical place. I absolutely fell in love with it. The people are lovely, relaxed, naturally beautiful. Great food, great beer. They have the Maori, they have this wonderful indigenous culture."

How to experience New Zealand like Samantha Brown

It may be Samantha Brown's job to introduce exciting destinations to travelers, but she'll be the first to say that it's not really about where you go — it's about who you meet. And when it comes to New Zealand, you're likely to meet some of the warmest and most hospitable people in the world, as the globe-trotter shared during a Facebook Live. Striking up conversations with strangers and asking the locals questions about their country can help you immerse yourself in the culture while soaking up the friendly vibes Brown raves about.

Of course, New Zealand offers more than just good conversation. During an episode of "Places to Love," Brown visited the South Island's picturesque beaches, including Awaroa, a coastal escape that was nearly bought up by international developers. She also devoted some time to getting to know the island's cuisine, from its mussels to its famous sauvignon blanc wine.

In a separate episode about the nation's North Island, Brown took in the region's stunning nature by kayaking Lake Taupo, trekking through the forest to meet kiwi birds, and touring the breathtaking Waimangu Volcanic Valley. If you decide during your trip that you miss the lights of the city, head to Christchurch, one of the country's most populated towns. Take a cue from Brown and think outside the box by visiting unexpected spots like the Turanga Central Library, as the TV host did in one installment of her show.

Samantha Brown's favorite places in the U.S.

While New Zealand was Samantha Brown's dream country to live in during the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel pro currently resides in New York City — and thankfully, some of her other favorite destinations aren't so far away from home. In fact, when Wonderlust asked Brown about the "most special place" she had ever visited in the world, the TV host named a U.S. city: "I've always loved Santa Fe, New Mexico," she explained. "In the 20 years I've been shooting shows, I've done five episodes there." She named Santa Fe's mixture of diverse cultures as one of her favorite features of the city, as well as its art scene, local food, and easily accessible nature.

In a separate interview with Forbes, Brown highlighted Wisconsin as an underrated American destination, particularly for foodies. Besides producing top-notch cheese, she noted the state's unique supper club culture, where food and drinks are served according to long-standing traditions. "This is a very different way that [Wisconsinites] have inhabited that food space," Brown added.

If there's anything to learn from the travel expert, it's that mesmerizing places can be found all over the world, from your own country to the other side of the globe. And sometimes, it pays to skip the world-famous A-side destinations and discover the lesser-known B-side spots.