Get to know the real Olivia Culpo

In Editor Picks by LA Travel Magazine

From growing up in Rhode Island to bi-coastal living in NYC & LA, this former Miss Universe is perfecting the art of traveling for fashion and making heads turn everywhere she goes. Known for her amazing sense of stylethe beautiful and talented influencer seems to never stop and we just love that about her. When she’s not setting trends around the globe you can find her enjoying the sun beach side with her sister in LA, spending time with her uber hot NFL boyfriend, Danny Amendola or sipping a cold pressed juice after a long hike. Even with everything on her plate she is set to open a new restaurant in Providence with her family early next year called the Back 40 and we can’t wait to try it! Recently we sat down with the Rhode Island native to pick her brain on all her glamorous travel adventures, what she keeps in her carry-on and some of her favorite travel experiences.

LATM:  Where was your first trip abroad and what was that like?

OC: My first trip abroad was to Italy for an exchange program. I got to spend three weeks exploring and my Italian got so good! It was an opportunity to explore the country where my great grandparents came from.

LATM: Is there a destination you are dying to visit? 

OC: I’m dying to go to the Maldives and stay in the bungalows on the water. I’ve also wanted to visit the beaches in Thailand, and stay at one of the Six Senses Hotels. Another thing I’ve always wanted to do is jet ski along the Amalfi Coast, if that’s allowed! Nothing makes me happier than being in the sun. I really do believe Vitamin D is important for your mental and physical well-being. Banff, Canada is also on my bucket list—it looks absolutely gorgeous!

LATM: Tell us, what’s your ideal vacation?

OC:  My ideal vacation is anything with a beach, fresh fruit, good food, hot sun, beautiful oceans, and good company! For my next vacation I want to get my scuba diving certification so I can get out of my comfort zone a bit. I’m ready for a challenge!

LATM: If you could travel with anyone (past or present) who would it be and where would you go? 

OC: I would travel throughout Italy with my older generation family members so they could show me where they grew up and I could see the world through their eyes. Italian is the largest cultural influence within my family so it would be really special to connect to that history.

LATM: Who is your favorite LA based designer(s)?

OC: Michael Costello is so hard working and is a good friend of mine. I really admire his success story and how he is able to really appreciate the female body in his clothes. I also respect everything Rachel Zoe has done from her clothing line to the empire she has built. The fact that she is able to balance family and career is inspirational.

LATM:  What is your typical travel attire? Do you have any tips for staying comfortable and fashionable on a plane?

OC: Comfortable shoes that are easy to slip off in the security line, jeans, and a t-shirt. Although, I have been known to wear a thigh high Stuart Weitzman boot to the airport. Sometimes you have to sacrifice for fashion!! To stay fashionable I’ll wear a slim belt with my jeans, add a cashmere sweater to wear if I get cold, and I always bring a nice handbag. Another trick is to wear a trendy hat!

LATM: What is your favorite thing to do when you have time off?

OC: For a day off in LA I wake up, get a juice Kreation Beaming or Pressed Juicery, workout at barre or pilates, or go for a hike with my brother, lay by the pool or visit my sister by the beach, go to a nice dinner, and have a glass of champagne watching the sunset.

LATM: Share with us some of your favorite places in LA

OC: I love Erewhon for groceries. For breakfast I love Kreation or Salts Cure if I want to splurge. Another favorite thing to do is buy fresh produce at the Farmers market and just make breakfast at home. For coffee my go-to spots are Groundworks, Bullet Proof, or Alfred Coffee. For lunch I really like The Ivy and Nobu Malibu because they’re simply stunning and the outdoor seating is perfect for daytime. For dinner I love the atmosphere and food at places like Craig’s, Gracias Madre, Gjelina, Pace, and Catch. For a fast and more casual dinner I love Sugarfish—the sushi is so fresh! It is definitely my favorite sushi in LA. The best place for a cocktail is the Chateau because of its history and ambiance. I love hiking Runyon Canyon or Point Dume in Malibu and one of my favorite things to do is visit the flower market or pretty much any fresh food market.

LATM: Share with us some of your favorite places in Rhode Island. Why should readers visit your home state?

OC: There are so many things that make RI special. My favorite place in RI is Newport, home to some of the most beautiful beaches. All along the coast there are some of the oldest and most grand mansions that you can tour. Definitely stay at Cliffwalk Newport Hotel, which is so beautiful. For a drink, you have to visit the Dorrance. It is such a cool venue. For dinner I would recommend Bacaro and Café Nuovo during Providence Water Fire where you can watch the lighting of fire over the river that flows through Providence. You have to go to Iggy’s for lunch for clam cakes and chowder; it is a RI classic! My favorite treat is ice cream and I would advise going to Brickways. I am opening a restaurant in Providence early next year called the Back 40 and that will definitely go on my list as my go-to place to watch football and have a fun Sunday afternoon.

LATM: What can we find in your carry-on and tell us 5 items you couldn’t travel without?

OC: I always travel with a hydrating facial mask since the re-circulated air on a plane can really dry your skin out, eye cream, and water. I like to bring a pair of fuzzy socks to slip into once I’ve settled in my seat to stay comfortable and chap stick and/or lip liner.

LATM: What is your most memorable travel experience (good or bad)?

OC: My most memorable experience was visiting Italy through an exchange program. I felt like I got to know so much more about the country and the culture by staying with a host family and I had so much fun showing them around when it was their turn to stay with me and my family. They’ve come back to visit us more than once!

LATM:  If you could splurge on any food in the world, what would it be?

OC: When I splurge, I go for ice cream. There are places like Salt and Straw in LA and Emack and Bolios in NYC that are doing such creative things with ice cream Salt & Straw has crazy flavors like Fennel and Five Spiced Eggnog and Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese. Emack and Bolios covers their waffle cones in everything from Fruit Loops to Oreos to Reeses—HEAVENLY!! I also love to splurge on good wine and cheese. California has such amazing wines that I am always trying to get an education wherever I go. I recently did a white wine tasting in LA and I learned that I love a dry white wine. I have to add one more—an excellent burger. Burgers have such a unique flavor depending on the chef. There are limitless things you can do to make it special. My family’s restaurant in Boston called Lulus Allston has an EPIC burger that definitely counts as a splurge. It’s called the Badass Burger that has short rib, beer, cheese, and a fried egg served with chili cheese fries. Sounds pretty badass to me.

LATM:  What are your travel pet peeves? Tell us the best and worst things about traveling.

OC: I hate being stuck on the tarmac, big lines, having to take off your shoes and cozy jackets to go through security, and adjusting to time changes. But, the best thing about traveling is going to sleep on a plane and waking up in a different continent. I love meeting new people and making new memories exploring different places and cultures.

To see behind the scenes from our Winter Cover Photo Shoot click HERE.

Photography by Cory Osborne, Photography Assist: Stephen Fixary

Location: Cuatro Vientos, Santa Barbara, invitedhome.com

Styled by: Veronica Baca & Horacio Aguilar, MUA: Sheila Harris, Hair: Reba Vera