Raised in Houston and now living in Los Angeles, actress Erica Dasher is the star of ABC Family's new series "Jane by Design." A graduate of the University of Southern California, Dasher also is the producer of the upcoming documentary "Speak Easy." Of her first childhood trip (to Tucson, Ariz.), Dasher says, "I still have an affinity for the desert and cacti."
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Paris. It's intoxicating -- the history, the architecture, the coffee. ... Art students stand in the street sketching their surroundings, because everything is a masterpiece! It's a wonderful city to get lost in. I recently traveled there on my own and discovered so much just by wandering the streets. The Musee Gustav Moreau was probably one of coolest finds. Moreau's home was converted into a small museum that houses his work. It's warm and quiet and his work is haunting.
Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend they do during their visit?
A. Grab a chocolate gelato and walk through the Jardin des Tuileries. Then go to Angelina's for some hot chocolate. Best of both worlds.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Every summer, I would visit my best friend at her home on Martha's Vineyard. She has a beautiful place nestled in Vineyard Haven that overlooks the water. I have such fond memories of my time there. One weekend, we picked raspberries from a local farm and then made our own raspberry scones from scratch! Well, she did most of the work. She's a very talented baker. I did most of the eating.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. I really enjoyed the Crosby Street Hotel (http://www.firmdalehotels.com/new-york/crosby-street-hotel) in New York. Each room is decorated differently. There are pictures of puppies all over the elevators. It's very fun. I also love the Trump Soho (http://www.trumpsohohotel.com) in New York. They have Nespresso machines in the rooms and bathtubs next to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the city. Also, they give you chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival. Coffee and chocolate seems to be a theme here.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. New York, Paris, New Orleans, Austin and I will leave the fifth spot open.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. Los Angeles is actually quite a bit like Houston. They are both driving cities. Lots of traffic. That might be where the comparisons end.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I've never been to London and I'm dying to go. I want to see Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Opera House and Piccadilly Circus. I hear the vintage shopping is second to none.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. ChapStick and my iPad are constants.
Q. What would be your dream trip?
A. When I was younger, my mother and I used to watch "Only You" and fantasize about taking a trip to Italy and driving down the Amalfi Coast. One day!
Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. In Crown Heights, N.Y., Barboncino (http://barboncinopizza.com). In Los Angeles, Osteria Mozza (http://www.osteriamozza.com/LA/home.cfm) -- Italian from the man who does it best, Mario Batali. Also in Los Angeles, I like BLD (http://www.bldrestaurant.com/). Their Ode to Butterfields is absolutely decadent. Also, cookies at Tiff's Treats (http://www.tiffstreats.com/) in Austin, Texas.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. My guilty pleasures are always coffee and chocolate. I must try them everywhere.
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Talk to locals!
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. I wrapped the season of my first show under the Eiffel Tower. Best Memory. Let's leave it at that.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.)