Like many of you, I’m a kid from the 1980s. I grew up in the era of the Dorothy Hamill haircut, Charlies Angels on television, and soda pop. My love affair with pop started innocently enough. A can of Shasta soda on a Friday night in middle school. A walk down the street to grab a can of Tab from the pop machine during the summer. In high school, Diet Mountain Dew was my go-to. Once I started college, I continued on the Dew train, with a Diet Coke thrown in on rare occasions. Coffee, for me, was never in the picture. Coffee was for old people. My parents drank coffee. I liked pop. The very few times I did try coffee, I wasn’t overly impressed and went right back to hitting the pop.
So why did that suddenly change once I hit 50? It was all about health! I was almost 50 years old and still drinking pop. I kept seeing headlines about pop being bad for your health. So in the back of my mind, I knew I needed to make a change and quit drinking pop. I was ready to quit, but it was tough. The main thing was there was nothing I could find to replace it. I’m not a big fan of water and don’t do sports drinks, so I was continually trying new things to replace my daily can of pop.
A couple of years ago, my sister and I hit the road for a 3-hour drive to Kansas to see my niece in college there. About halfway there, we needed something to drink, and since both of us were avoiding pop, we decided to stop for coffee. We went into the convenience store and created fantastic coffee concoctions complete with sugar substitute, vanilla syrup, and creamer. We essentially made our own skinny vanilla lattes! And the rest is history. That one drink in the middle of Kansas got me hooked. Since then, I’ve limited myself to one fancy, sugary drink a week, and the rest of the week I use my French press for awesome at-home coffee. On the road, I definitely have my favorite spots to indulge in a cup!
My Favorite Places To Enjoy My Coffee
1. Sedona, Arizona
One year, our annual girls trip took us to beautiful Sedona. For years, so many people told me to visit Sedona. I didn’t really see the appeal because I considered Sedona to be in the desert, and I didn’t see much beauty in the desert. Well, I was 100 percent wrong on this! Sedona is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. The beauty of the red rocks and the surrounding desert landscape is something to be seen.
Surprisingly, Sedona sits at 4,500 feet above sea level and is much more of a mountainous landscape than desert. The best time to experience the beauty is in the morning or at sundown. At sunrise or sunset the soft light hits the rocks changing the red rocks into unique and brilliant shades of purple, pinks, and yellows. My favorite way to savor a cup of coffee in Sedona is just off Cathedral Rock Trail. It’s great to be alone and meditate for a few minutes while enjoying the rising sun.
Editor’s Note: Consider grabbing a hot (or iced) beverage from one of TripAdvisor’s picks for the best coffee and tea in Sedona, pouring it into a thermos, and heading for Cathedral Rock Trail. After your coffee and hike on the 1.3-mile out-and-back trail, fill the rest of your day with some of our recommendations for the best things to do in Sedona.
2. New Orleans
New Orleans wouldn’t be New Orleans without all the iconic restaurants and bars down in the French Quarter. I love meandering around the French Quarter and making my way over to historic Jackson Square to visit the grand old buildings and imagine myself there in another time. My love of history runs deep, and New Orleans has much to offer in the way of interesting, historic sites. One of my favorites is Cafe Du Monde. Serving up hickory-laced coffee and beignets since the Civil War, it’s still one of the absolute best places to go for a cup of coffee and sweet treat. The famous chicory-laced coffee has a very distinct flavor that’s totally different from regular coffee.
Cafe Du Monde is a must-do while in New Orleans. It’s loud, packed, chaotic, and you will have to wait, but this all adds to its charm. You will really feel like you’re in a Parisian cafe. Unlike other more solitary places you can enjoy a cup, this one is all about the people. Cafe Du Monde without the crowds just wouldn’t be any fun. It’s all about people watching here -- both in the cafe and outside if you’re lucky enough to get a table on the outer ring, which will allow you to look out over the streets. Cafe Du Monde is a wonderful place for people watching!
3. Okoboji, Iowa
Having grown up in landlocked Nebraska, we were always in search of water, so our annual family vacations usually were around some kind of water: a waterpark, the beach, or a lake. And our favorite water location close to home is beautiful Lake Okoboji, Iowa. Located in the Iowa Great Lakes Region, Lake Okoboji has been a family favorite for almost 50 years!
When I was a kid, we’d spend long weekends at the lake; and then when we all had kids, back to the lake we went with our kids in tow. There’s really nothing fancy about the region except for all the memories we’ve made there. It just holds a special place in my heart. The town around the lake is Arnolds Park, Iowa. It’s a quaint little throwback lake town complete with a vintage amusement park and touristy shops. But for sure the main draw is the lake! The lake is vast and beautiful, and it really feels like you’re in a whole other world. My absolute favorite thing to do is to wake up super early and head down to the dock with a cup of coffee to watch the sunrise over the lake. There’s just something really special in seeing the sun come up over the lake and experiencing the promise of a new day.
4. Boca Raton, Florida
Boca Raton is a beautiful town in southeast Florida. Only about a mile from the coast, it’s a tropical oasis with a definite upscale vibe. Boca Raton is lush and opulent and known as a playground of the rich and famous. A fabulous place that totally bucks the trend of being rich and opulent is my favorite place for breakfast in Boca. My son goes to college in Boca, so we’ve tried a lot of different breakfast places with him. We’ve tried upscale places that will set you back a good $25 per person, and they were okay. But we always keep going back to Flakowitz Bagel Inn.
You just can’t beat Flakowitz for a scrumptious, reasonably priced breakfast and good, hot coffee. I love Flakowitz because it’s the quintessential New York deli, only south about 1,200 miles. While the coffee alone isn’t particularly out of this world, the whole Flakowitz atmosphere is super special. I love feeling like I'm surrounded by New Yorkers back in New York City! I love the very friendly waitresses, complete with their New York accent. And their food is great. The bagel with nova spread is to die for. It’s hands down the best bagel I’ve had. And if you’re really in the mood for the old school deli stuff, you can get your herring with cream sauce or whitefish. And the portions? My son is a pretty good-sized guy at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 220 pounds. He’ll order their World’s Best Egg Sandwich, which is a huge breakfast sandwich that comes with a side of fried potatoes, and to that he’ll actually add a side of pancakes. Let’s just say we always take food home from Flakowitz. A lot of food!
5. San Francisco
My sister lived in Northern California for about 15 years. Our favorite thing to do was to drive into the city and go down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check out whatever was going on. Fisherman’s Wharf is always abuzz with activity. From Ghirardelli Square to watching the sea lions on the docks to fresh seafood chowder, it’s all there for the taking at Fisherman’s Wharf. I know it’s a tourist spot, and I have to admit, I was a total tourist as I waited in line for hours to get my caricature drawing done! As part of our stroll around the wharf, we’d hit up Mrs. Fields for amazing warm, fresh cookies and coffee, then walk around Fisherman’s Wharf some more to look at all the boats. Eventually, we’d walk over to Golden Gate Park and then on to the Golden Gate Bridge to check out the view.
Afterward, we’d drive around those crazy streets of San Francisco, including curvy Lombard Street with all its fabulous hairpin turns. We’d also marvel at all the tiny row houses squeezed together that were so unlike anything we had at home in the wide-open spaces of Nebraska. What made my San Francisco coffee from Mrs. Fields so special to me was being able to enjoy it with my sister, one of my most favorite people on earth! And you can still get it at Pier 39, Building B-06.
It’s always best to enjoy your coffee with someone you love! For more coffee and cafe inspiration, consider