I love Dolly Parton. I interviewed her twice and was more enthralled every second I spoke to her. So Dollywood has always been on my bucket list. I rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains, with the most incredible view. The day I went to Dollywood there were thundershowers, so it was completely empty. I bought a plastic poncho and went on every single ride. Dollywood is all cute when you first enter, but those rides are hard-core! They ended up going upside down and in circles. I had to clutch my Dolly memorabilia!
Rosé all day
I have friends with a home in Guerneville in Sonoma County. It reminds me of the little town in Washington where I grew up. There are trees everywhere and it has a little main street, except Guerneville is very gay and filled with delicious food. I go there about three times a year and all we do is ride our bikes and enjoy lots of rosé. Brot is the one spot I always make sure to visit—their pretzels are out of bounds.
New Orleans feels like another country, and the food is different from anywhere else. I spent my time exploring, listening to bands on the street and enjoying chicken and andouille gumbo poured over rice. You wouldn’t think all these ingredients would go together, but they taste like they’ve been part of this recipe for hundreds of years.
Chirpy yet satisfying
About five years ago I fell in love with Puerto Vallarta. I always stay in the Zona Romántica because I feel like I’m in Mexico and not in a tourist resort. The first time I went I bumped into a food blogger who recognized me. He was reviewing 15 to 20 restaurants in the area, so I asked to tag along. Now I know all the secret local spots, like El Arrayán. It specializes in southern Mexican cuisine. Get the cricket tacos for the table and make anyone who hasn’t tried it take a bite! They’re nutty, but I can’t get over the texture.
Ross Mathews' Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour is in bookstores now.