When it comes to planning your summer travel itinerary, there's no better way to do so than by seeking out the advice of locals. Whether you're hoping to find the best places to eat, shop, and see the sights (minus massive crowds and waiting in line) or are looking for more off-the-beaten-path experiences, those who call a city home are able to tell you what you need to know in order to have the best experience during your stay. That's why we asked our favorite home and style experts from around the world to share their go-to eats, drinks, art hubs, and more in their home cities. If you're traveling to Paris, Queensland, Madrid, New York City, or Hong Kong, you're in luck.
Though Baptiste Bouygues, founder of the all-natural fragrance line ORMAIE Paris, has both traveled the world and found a soft spot in his heart for the French countryside, he no doubt calls Paris home—and for good reason. From irresistible dining and breathtaking views to legendary artistic landmarks and hidden hubs, there's little the City of Lights can't offer visitors. For Bouygues, a good day could be as simple as sipping coffee on a terrace, walking the gardens of Luxembourg, or sinking his teeth into a Mille-Feuille or chocolate éclair at Jean-Paul Hévin. But if you're touring for the first time, he recommends roaming the old French brasseries close to Montparnasse, then getting your arts and culture fix at Brancusi's Studio, Musée Rodin, or la Maison Européenne de la Photographie. When you get hungry (and come very hungry), make your way over to Chez Aline for big bites on a budget. "Go for her pot-au-feu chicken—a classic slow-cooked stew—and the best jambon beurre (a favorite Parisien ham sandwich) in town," says Bouygues. For traditional crêpes and galettes, Bouygues swears Le Breizh Café makes the best ones he's ever had. And if you're looking to go all out for a special night out, head over to l'Arpège. "It's very fancy but truly amazing."
For Kim Wallace, founder and creative director of Kim Wallace Ceramics, joy can be found in two places: her work and her home, both of which are nestled in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Creating breathtaking yet equally functional dinnerware and home décor, Wallace has lived in the southern Queensland beach town for over 20 years. And with its lush greenery and stunning coastal waters, who wouldn't want to settle in? For those passing through, Wallace recommends a long walk through the scenic trails of the Noosa National Park; "It's truly one of the most beautiful places in the world," she says. You should also make it a point to check out The Butter Factory Arts Center in Cooroy, where Wallace like to visit for ceramics events, shows, and inspiration (there's even a studio out back where you can take classes). And when your stomach starts rumbling, pack a blanket, grab a couple of burgers from Beloportos on the Noosa River, and soak up some rays while chowing down. "Rickys River Bar & Restaurant is also great for fresh seafood and a perfect view," she adds.
From fiestas and flamenco to treasure troves of European art, there's never a dull moment in this Spanish capital. For Madrid-native and creative director at We Are Knitters, Alberto Bravo, there's a multitude of (tasty!) ways to soak up all the city has to offer. "I really enjoy lunch or dinner at El Economato. It's old school, but with a new twist and also has good tapas at a good price," he says. If you're craving something sweet, try the pain au chocolat at La Mallorquina, which Bravo says is still often crowded despite opening its doors over a century ago. You can also sink your teeth into chocolate con churros at Chocolatería de San Ginés. Afterward, take a leisurely stroll in El Retiro, the biggest park in the city, before heading to the trendy Salesas district for an afternoon of shopping. As for art, Bravo recommends must-sees like Museo del Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and Museo Reina Sofia; if you're still craving more, check out the Museo Sorolla to learn about the iconic Spanish impressionist painter. "It's kind of an oasis in the middle of the city and used to be Sorolla's home back in the late XIX century," he says. "It's really a secret gem." To end the night, warm up your vocal cords for Toni 2, one of the last piano bars in the city where Bravo says music-lovers of all ages gather to sing along to classics from the 50s up to the 90s.
New York City, United States
Incorporating hand-drawn patterns and textiles into her everyday homeware pieces, along with the colors and textures of South America, Brooklyn-based ceramicist Maria José Garcia is always on the lookout for new inspiration—and there's no place like the streets of New York to find some. If you're Big Apple-bound and looking for that perfect spot to watch the sunset over the skyline, Garcia has a tip for you: Go to Red Hook. "I love to take visitors for a walk to the pier," says Garcia, a native Chilean who's lived in New York for over a decade. "It has such a calming vibe and one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty and the skyline with no crowds at all." Other favorites include brunching at Five Leaves in Greenpoint (Garcia loves their French toast), catching an indie film or dance performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or heading uptown to the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum to get your fill of historic and contemporary design. And if you're looking for a stylish new statement piece (or three!), Garcia recommends shopping in the boutique-lined streets of Nolita before grabbing a bite at Café Habana. To finish off any night on the town, Garcia loves drinks at the cozy-chic Hotel Delmano in Williamsburg, where revelers can enjoy an Old Fashioned to remember.
Hong Kong, China
Living life to its fullest is something Maggie Wu, founder of her namesake design studio and lifestyle brand, instills in both her work and her own life. When it comes to exploring Hong Kong, where her company is headquartered, Wu says there's no shortage of things to see, do, eat, and drink. For starters, you can't miss stumbling upon a cha chaan teng, the local diners where the menus are as eclectic—featuring everything from traditional milk tea and wonton noodle soup to egg tarts and barbecued pork—as they are affordable. "I go to one called Wa So Cafe quite often and love their pineapple pork chop bun," says Wu who also is also glad congee, her go-to comfort food, and a traditional Asian rice porridge, is readily available on every Hong Kong corner. Should you be looking to splurge on a meal, Wu recommends Go Fu Lou at the Murray Hotel. As for what to do by day, Wu suggests getting away from the urban hustle and bustle for a bit. "I love exploring the outskirt islands, like Lamma island." Also worth a visit? "Star Street. It's a quaint neighborhood with a bit of East meets West. It's filled with little shops, cafés, and restaurants…and also less crowded than most other areas in Hong Kong," she adds. For drinks with a side of design, Wu suggests J. Boroski, a cocktail hideaway on Hollywood Road which sports a rather unusual décor theme: beetles.