I watched this episode, the last of a shortened season. I'm not on board with all her suggestions.
Sam says take a walk around, try to connect with the locals.
Sure not a bad idea but that certainly can't be how she plans her shows. I'm sure producers are doing research, communicating with local tourism groups, screening potential locals for appearing on camera, researching some of the attractions.
She talks about not going instantly to the tourist areas, which is fine for some people. But her audience on PBS are older and probably travel more or have traveled more. So they may or may not need as much handholding. Some may research on their own while others go on package tours, cruises and the like where accommodations and itineraries are preplanned.
So Places to Love often tries to go off the beaten track, see if some of the locals willing to appear on camera can provide some unique perspectives.
Compare that to Sam's earlier shows where there's more practical advice.
She probably wants to differentiate herself from Rick Steves who's on the same PBS channels and will attract much bigger audience.
Places to Love doesn't have a practical focus like European destinations that Steves concentrates on. Seems like one of the criteria for choosing destinations for PtL is whether they can get sponsorship from local tourism resources (tourism boards, businesses). I never watched Great Weekends but I'm guessing that's how they chose many of the destinations they featured on that show.
Also, now that she's older and has children, maybe she prefers US locations so that she doesn't have to be away from her family as much.
I don't know if there's a popular show which appeals more to Millenials and Gen Z. That would have to be a HUGE market. They might want younger hosts who talk up things like sustainable travel or supporting local or family-owned hotels and businesses, though I'm not necessarily sure all younger generations prioritize those things.
Sam did talk in this show about going to strip-mall restaurants. Well there are certainly local restaurants worth patronizing but a lot of them are nothing special. I wouldn't just pull into any strip mall that I came across. I think people would look at Yelp or Google to see how different local places are regarded by the hive mind instead of walking into any random place on a whim.
Hope that she's able to film more shows this year, though with travel restrictions and still uncertainty, she may not want to be too far away from home this year.