Meridian, Mississippi

I am always looking for an excuse to travel, and visiting my great-aunts in Mississippi this fall was the perfect justification for getting out of town. It had been four years since I last visited, and while we were able to find plenty of great meals and some fun sights, the downtown area of Meridian has seen better days. I'd love to come back in a few years to see a totally revitalized and flourishing downtown, and with the right investment, isn't anything possible?

(I've included some of my travel recommendations below!)

Don't miss out on the tasty cupcakes from Margie's Mixing Bowl. (Of course my mind immediately fixates on cake.) My mom is still talking about the key lime cupcake she ate, and there's nothing better than a super fresh cupcake. Since you're in the south, you should probably plan on eating at a fish camp once. There are several options around, but our visit to Chunky Shoals Fish Camp was absolutely amazing. I had shrimp and catfish, and both were delicious. Also, the jalapeno hush puppies are to die for. (Let's also take a minute to acknowledge how appropriate that this fish camp is on the Chunky River, because that's how we all felt after our meal.) If you can squeeze in a visit to Weidmann's while you're visiting, you won't regret it; plus, it's the oldest restaurant in Mississippi! 

If you're looking for amusing sights, you may want to track down the Royal Land entrance. Located on Sowashee Street behind the Motel 6, you can walk up and peer at the gates of a long-defunct amusement park. The entrance was creepy enough for me, especially when you read about the park's history.

I know this will sound strange, but I've always enjoyed walking around Rose Hill Cemetery. The king and queen of the gypsies are buried there (you can see pictures of their graves adorned with beads and other tokens above). Besides that, there are so many wonderfully ornate markers and headstones. (I also visited Magnolia Cemetery to visit my grandma, and it's appropriately named considering how many gorgeous magnolia trees are on the property.)

No trip is complete without visiting the Dentzel Carousel in Highland Park, which unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see this time around. (I'll just have to return again soon to correct that mistake!)

And for one last tip, be sure to check out Primo's if you find yourself in Jackson. After flying in to Jackson, we had an amazing breakfast there. They also have a fully stocked bakery case and sell individual slices of freshly made layer cakes. (See, a good vacation really does revolve around cake.)

New York

Of the many lessons I learned last year, this one stands out: for me, traveling is never a glamorous affair. I don't arrive at my destination looking effortlessly put together, my luggage typically looks as beat up as I feel, and I can guarantee you that I won't be able to sleep on the plane no matter how tired I am. But that doesn't stop me from always wanting to hop on a plane to anywhere. Last May my best friend and I explored New York City, and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want to go back every single day.

Our hotel was in Koreatown. There was a subway station at the end of the block and the Empire State Building two streets over, should you need a landmark to find your way home. So fun, and also so convenient.

Don't miss walking the length of the High Line. It's free, the people watching is top notch, and the views are incredible. Be sure to hit the Chelsea Market for a snack or three.

You can always count on MoMA for a great time, but Krystle also made sure we visited the Museum of Arts & Design. The cost of admission was reasonable, and the crowds were delightfully nonexistent. 

If you're looking to walk off all the tasty meals you're no doubt enjoying, walk the span of the Manhattan Bridge. Take an afternoon to wander around DUMBO, and then walk back into Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge. Touristy? Of course, but the graffiti on the Manhattan Bridge is epic.