Traveling with the Stars: Marlee Matlin

Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin's new autobiography I'll Scream Later hit bookshelves this month and she receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 6. She shares her travel highlights and tips with USA TODAY.

Q: Where have you been recently that you like or were surprised by?

A: I just returned from the Dancing with the Stars' 38-city tour and I have to say that I was surprised by a place that I had never been to — Roadside America! I've spent so much time in my life flying OVER the U.S., from one coast to another that I never had the chance to see it from the road. It was fantastic. I love the truck stops where you can get anything from groceries to love advice from the cashiers to funny souvenirs. I love the roadside restaurants like The Waffle House. And I loved the wonderful gems of hotels in Middle America like the Conrad in Indianapolis and the Umstead in Cary, near Raleigh, N.C. I was really glad to be in America's heartland, the place where I grew up (I'm a Chicago girl, through and through) even if it was the dead of winter and temperatures sometimes hovered at 10 below! Everyone should take the time and just road trip across America. It's the best way to meet people and make new friends. You can find some great eating and see some spectacular scenery without ever having to buy a plane ticket or take out a passport right here in America.

Q: What's the best place you've ever visited?

A: I can't get enough of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. It's just paradise at its best. It's as quiet and peaceful as can be and has so much variety. You can sun at the beach one moment or explore a tropical rain forest the next. And if you're itching for civilization, you can boat over to Maui for some action. But nothing beats watching the sunset on the beaches of Lanai. It's heaven!

Q: What's the most surprising/unexpected place you've ever visited?

A: I found the little town of Pozos, Mexico, most interesting. I was making a movie there called The Man in the Golden Mask with Jean Reno and had heard about the terrible poverty. And there was a great deal of it. But what surprised me was the wonderful spirit of the people. No matter where we went, people smiled, greeted us with open arms. It was just amazing. The children I met were so beautiful and open and it was nice to know that despite all their hardships they still had big dreams. I've often wondered what happened to the children that we used in the movie and how they must now be in their 20's. Their hospitality has never left me.

Q: What's your favorite vacation spot?

A: My family and I absolutely cherish our summers in the town of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in the eastern Sierra. Each summer we set up shop there and invite all our friends and family to join us; we end up sometimes with 50 or 60 people! We barbeque, hike, bike, swim, show movies and play Wii on a big outdoor screen at night, and cook together. We even have a talent show that everyone is strongly encouraged to participate in. It's like summer camp for kids and adults! There is a small town atmosphere in Mammoth that harkens back to your childhood. They even have small town parades just like when we were kids. The air is clean and the views of the mountains are spectacular.