Sitting Down with Samantha Brown – Her Top Six Southern Destinations

She is a familiar face on the Travel Channel.

For the past 10 years, Samantha Brown has enthusiastically introduced viewers to various destinations from around the world. Currently, she's highlighting weekend getaways through her series, “Samantha Brown's Great Weekends.”

And speaking of getaways, SHM Traveler Magazine had the opportunity to ask her about her favorite destinations in the South. The travel host with some southern roots (born in Dallas Texas; briefly lived in Richmond, Va.) happily obliged.


Savannah, Ga.

Brown says Savannah is easily one of her favorite destinations in the region. She marvels at all of history within the city, and loves the European feel of it as well.

“I always recommend Savannah to travelers who have urge for something European, but don't like the high Euro exchange rate right now.”

One place that Brown always heads to when visiting is the Savannah Bee Company, located on Broughton Street in downtown. Saying it offers a “taste of Savannah,” it's home to everything honey, including a tasting bar and an interactive area. Brown says she loves the way the shop has change the way people interact and understand where the product comes from.


Blue Ridge Mountains

“My first journey back to the South was to the Blue Ridge Mountains,” she recalls. “I was filming an episode for Great Vacation Homes, my first job for the Travel Channel and was on the way to show a home in this area. The drive was absolutely beautiful.”

En route to the home, along the Parkway, she discovered Penland School of Crafts (Penland, N.C.). She visited the gallery, where students sell their works.

“When I'm on the road, I'm always looking for affordable local art to purchase, and I was especially interested here, because it focuses on crafts. You know, when you buy a piece of art, you hang it up, look at it and that's it. With crafts, it becomes a part of your home and lifestyle. Say you purchase a spoon or a quilt, you're going to use it again and again.”

Brown says amazed by the level and quality of the work created by the artists.

“Creativity in America is beautiful.”


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

While the Blue Ridge Mountains to Brown is about the drive and artistic journey, the Great Smoky Mountains is about the outdoors.

“It's amazing being in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I really got out, and hiked and camped.”

Hiking Mt. LeConte, Brown stayed at what she calls a “bare-bone” lodge located on top of the mountain.

“It was there before President Roosevelt declared the land to be put aside for national interest.”

She adds at the site, she was responsible for starting her own fire and pitching her own tent.

“It's a really special place, and I loved it.”


Atlanta, Ga.

Being a frequent flier on Delta Airlines, sometimes Brown spends more time in the terminals at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport than in Atlanta itself. However, when she is in the city, she's at the Georgia Aquarium.

“I love aquariums, and this one is unbelievably outstanding. Bar none, it's the best aquarium around.”

“You can see more fish in one day than Jacques Cousteau saw in his lifetime.”

She adds it's the programs, such as their new one, the Beluga and Friends Interactive Program, that makes it special.

“Whenever you have access through people who are trained in these areas, it makes all of us more considerate-minded about the ocean.


New Orleans, La

“New Orleans may be in the U.S., but it's not of it,” she says. “The destination really exist as an anomaly.”

It's so macabre, so mysterious and so wonderful, Brown points out. “It's ceases to amaze me how enjoyable the destination is.”

And it goes beyond the U.S. Brown recalls when she was filming the series “Passport to Europe,” and extracted one of her producers from New Orleans four days before Hurricane Katrina hit.

“While working on-site, people would ask about the city. Europeans love jazz and connect to New Orleans through that. Also, everyone just loves the idea of the city.”

She says she recommends New Orleans to all groups (“It's a city for everyone”), even to families.

“Of course, families aren't going to take their children on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, but there are many family-friendly places to explore.”

One such place  is the Audubon Insectarium.

“Coming from New York City, I've seen my share of insects and thought I wouldn't want to look at the a museum. But here, you really learn to respect them. And for kids, there's an opportunity to sample some.”


Amelia Island, Fla

Easily accessible for many travelers, Brown says that Amelia Island provides travelers with a sense of an “old Florida” vacation.

“It's beautiful. You have the waterways and marshes with wildlife, and the beaches. On top of that, there's the wonderful history.”

“Amelia Island offers an old-style vacation before there were tween clubs and teen clubs.”

She adds you can look at the bird, walk on the beach or go kayaking...and that's just the start.

“You get the feeling of just relaxing and settling down when you are here.”