Fans are used to seeing Blair Underwood playing a variety of roles: a hotshot attorney ("L.A. Law"), a charismatic doctor ("Sex and the City") and a ruthless businessman ("Dirty Sexy Money"). But in the new NBC series "Ironside," Underwood tackles the part of wheelchair-bound detective, Robert Ironside — the iconic role made famous by Raymond Burr. Born in Tacoma, Wash., Underwood has resided in Los Angeles for the past 26 years. Thanks to being an "Army brat that was constantly on the go," the 49-year-old actor learned to go with the flow as far as travel was concerned. Today, he says there are few things he enjoys more than taking his family to a new destination. Fans may follow him at @BlairUnderwood.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I'd have to say Kenya, South Africa and Rome. Since Kenya is at the top of my list, I would say that taking a safari in the Maasai Mara (National Reserve) is an absolute must! You shouldn't leave Kenya without seeing the five big game animals of Africa — the lion, Cape buffalo, leopard, elephant and rhinoceros. Most importantly, the people of Kenya will touch your heart and forever leave an imprint upon your soul. The recent events there are extremely rare but no less tragic. It is my prayer that they do not reflect negatively on this exceptional country and their beautiful citizenry.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. Though it's not untapped, my family and I loved our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We stayed at an incredible resort called Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa. The resort has only been around for a couple of years, so it is still somewhat undiscovered by the masses. Aside from the relaxing virtues of this particular city, which is quintessential Mexico, the service within the resort is undeniably superb!
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. That despite the thousands of cultures and customs around the globe, humans have more in common with each other than differences. In most places in the world, people desire the same basic necessities of life — food, water, shelter and an ability to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. The ancient city of Eze in the French Riviera, approximately an hour from Monte Carlo.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. Our family has enjoyed a traditional trip to Disney World in Orlando for quite a few years now. As our kids are getting older, we have found that there are entirely different aspects of the park to discover.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. The Royal Livingstone (http://www.livingstone-hotel.com/) in Victoria Falls, Zambia.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Cape Town, South Africa; Rome, Italy; New Orleans, La.; Victoria Falls, Zambia and Beijing, China.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Camera, passport and wifey.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. Junk food. When I'm on vacation that is the one time I eat anything and everything I want! (Laughs)
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Because I usually travel with my wife and our three kids, I usually do pretty extensive research, primarily to know that we will be safe wherever we are traveling. The Internet is a good resource to hear various perspectives and opinions on whatever place you plan on visiting. The U.S. State Department's website gives you invaluable information of all types at travel.state.gov.
(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 @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)