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Go Away With ... Lauren Blumenfeld

Celebrity Travel by Jae-Ha Kim

Lauren Blumenfeld is working on two series, including "Nightcap," the latest from Pop and Lionsgate. In 2017, you may see her on CBS in the Katherine Heigl legal procedural "Doubt." When she gets some time off from work, the busy actress says she'd like to head to Tennessee: "I'm a big Dolly Parton fan, so Dollywood is definitely on my list (of places to visit)." For more on Blumenfeld, check out her website (www.laurenblumenfeld.com).

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. For a few weeks every summer my family would rent the top floor of a funky duplex in Newport Beach, about an hour and a half from Los Angeles. My mom vacationed there as a teenager and I don't think the place has changed much since then. It had green shag carpeting and a duck-themed spare bedroom. It was heaven. We would get chocolate-covered frozen bananas right on the boardwalk and boogie board, swim and look for shells and treasures at the beach. As a child, I fantasized about being a professional beachcomber with a metal detector. I realized later that perhaps that job wasn't as lucrative as I had anticipated. If you ever find yourself in Newport Beach, go to the Crab Cooker! It's a no-frills seafood restaurant that was once a bank. They keep their fish in a vault. That's how good it is. Oh, and get the cheesy potatoes!

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. There are so many great road trips to take from Los Angeles. I love driving to Joshua Tree on the weekends. It's just a few hours from L.A., but when you arrive, it feels like you've landed on the moon. It's a completely unique landscape with crazy cacti and the most incredible Dr. Seuss-ian Joshua Trees. You can camp right in the park and do some serious stargazing at night. There are also some great Airbnb spots in the area. I once slept in a giant outdoor bed in the middle of the desert for less than $30 a night. It was magical. Also, if you're into music and good food, some great bands pass through Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneer Town. And if you want to do something kind of out there but totally amazing, visit the Integratron in Landers, Calif. It's a beautiful dome in the middle of the desert where you can lie down on a blanket and have a sound bath, letting the vibrations of crystal bowls bathe your cells. It may sound odd, but it's really special.

Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?

A. I once shot a series of commercials in Prague right before Christmas and one evening wandered into the famous Christmas Market in the middle of Old Town Square. It was like entering a fairytale -- lights strung from the old gothic buildings, sugarcoated pastries prepared over open-flames, hot chocolate and mulled wine on every corner.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I would really love to visit Costa Rica, where the rainforest meets the beach. That sounds like a dream! Also, I love whales and would really like to go whale-watching in Iceland during the summer to see orcas and blue whales.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I have a wide-brimmed straw lifeguard hat that has gone with me on every hike and beach trip for the past 10 years. It can be difficult to pack and I definitely look like some kind of Cub Scout when I wear it, but I'm always grateful to have it. I also always travel with a notebook or sketchbook to jot down ideas or to use as a scrapbook. A great book is essential. Music, headphones and ChapStick are also travel staples for me.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. One summer, when I was a teenager, I traveled with my whole family -- aunts, uncles, cousins -- to Italy. I love my family and I love Italy, but the trip was a disaster for several reasons. No one spoke Italian. We couldn't adjust to Italian mealtimes and always seemed to arrive at restaurants when they were closed for siestas. Oh, and there was also a historic heat wave in Europe that summer, so it was hot. I think the trip is best encapsulated by this image -- my dad driving the whole family in a giant nine-seater minivan, trying to make a near impossible sharp turn between two ancient buildings on the narrowest street in a tiny Tuscan Village. At one point, everyone in the village came out to see if we'd actually make the turn. We eventually did, thanks to a tiny, old Italian man and his aggressive hand-signaling. It felt like we were in a Fellini film.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)

(c) 2016 JAE-HA KIM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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