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United States See And Do

Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
19103
Tel: 215 299 1000
www.acnatsci.org

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences focuses on environmental research and the discovery of ecosystems. Kids will love the live animals—especially the butterflies in the simulated tropical rain forest—and Dinosaur Hall (who wouldn't want to climb inside the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex?). The dioramas that use mounted game animals collected in the twenties and thirties are cool in an old-school way.

Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 4:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

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Acadia National Park
Maine
Tel: 207 288 3338
www.nps.gov/acad

In the 1800s, "rusticators" like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and other Hudson River School painters fled to Maine's Mount Desert Island, dotted with 26 mountains and surrounded by azure seas. In the early 1900s, a large parcel of the island became Acadia National Park. Today, the park is 47,000 acres, or two thirds of Mount Desert Island. One of the best ways to see Acadia is by kayak; you'll share the shoreline with puffins, whales, and peregrine falcons. Acadia Bike & Kayak rents kayaks and canoes (207-288-9605; www.acadiafun.com). From October to March, you can be the first person in the country to see the sun rise, with a before-dawn hike up 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. Eastern seaboard. It's a 7.5-mile loop and a moderately challenging hike. (Also note that the popular Precipice Trail up Champlain Mountain is closed until further notice because of minor earthquake damage.) If you're looking for scarier stuff, you can scale Acadia's granite sea cliffs with an instructor from Acadia Mountain Guides (198 Main St.; 888-232-9559; www.acadiamountainguides.com). Fat-tire friends can hop on a mountain bike to explore the 45-mile web of carriage roads that roll through the park. Rent bikes at Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop in downtown Bar Harbor (141 Cottage St.; 207-288-3886; www.barharborbike.com).

Adrienne Arsht Center
Biscayne Boulevard between 13th & 14th Streets
Downtown
Miami , Florida
33132
Tel: 866 949 6722 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 949 6722
www.carnivalcenter.org

Cesar Pelli's monolithic new arts hub for Miami finally opened in October 2006. It may be one of the ugliest buildings the architect (best known for the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur) has ever built, but what saves it is its technological merit: Wrapped in a soundproofing and reverb chamber, the hall is essentially tucked inside another building to prevent any ambient noise from polluting the performances. The showy, crenellated Art Deco tower that squats in the courtyard between the two main buildings is the only remnant of the Sears store that once stood here. A 2,400-seat ballet and opera house and 2,200-capacity concert hall hosts four resident companies (Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, and New World Symphony), plus a sellout Best of Broadway season. Check the event listings on the Web site for the 200-seat black box studio theater; like the other venues here, it brings in everything from jazz concerts to experimental theater and stand-up comedy—and tickets start at $25. Australian artistic director Justin Macdonnell also oversees the Miami Made program, which funds city artists' ideas from script to stage. Parking isn't easy to come by in the area, so buy a $15 parking ticket bundled with your performance tickets.

Adventure Ridge
Vail Mountain
Vail , Colorado
Tel: 970 754 8245
www.vail.com/activities/adventure-ridge.aspx

If riding a bike over the snow and through the trees—at night, with only a headlamp illuminating the path ahead—is your kind of thing, then head straight for Adventure Ridge, an adrenaline junkie's dream at the top of Vail Mountain. It's actually pretty child-friendly, too, with a long, multilane tubing hill, trampolines with bungee harnesses, and pint-size snowmobiles for kids ages 6 to 12. You can try the ski bikes on your own starting at 2 pm or take a two-hour guided nighttime tour. It's good, thrilling fun, and probably not much more dangerous than Vail's bar scene.—Sarah Tuff

Open daily 2:30 to 8 pm.

Ahmanson Theatre & Mark Taper Forum
The Music Center
135 N. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles , California
90012
Tel: 213 628 2772
www.centertheatregroup.org

The 2,000-seat Ahmanson Theatre and 750-seat Mark Taper Forum are two of L.A.'s most important performing venues. Both are affiliated with the Center Theatre Group. The Ahmanson has featured everything from the ballets of Matthew Bourne to restoration comedies to avant-garde productions by Robert Wilson. The smaller Mark Taper Forum has a thrust stage that's surrounded by audience on three sides, and specializes in more experimental work (it was, for instance, the place where  Angels in America made its debut).

Akaka Falls
End of Akaka Falls Road (off Highway 19)
Honomu , Hawaii
96718
Tel: 808 974 6200

Akaka Falls, 420 feet high, is one of several spectacular waterfalls along the Hamakua coast of the island. It's the easiest one to get to, and the trip there has a little bonus—you'll have to pass Honomu, a tiny-but-sweet country plantation town.

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Alaska Railroad
Tel: 800 321 6518
www.alaskarailroad.com

In July 1923, as one of his last acts as president, Warren G. Harding drove the golden spike to commemorate the Alaska Railroad's completion. Nearly a hundred years later, the train is still the best way to explore Alaska's endless interior. It's the last railroad in the United States to offer whistle stops—they'll stop even if you're standing in the middle of nowhere with a moose or caribou as baggage—and is also the most scenic route between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Dome cars offer views of the Alaska Range and deep forests, and it's not unusual for passengers to catch sight of bears, moose, and caribou from the train. The 240-mile trip takes approximately 12 hours; passengers can disembark and spend time in Denali National Park before continuing on the journey. For a day trip, travel between Anchorage and Whittier (glacial scenery; one seriously creepy tunnel; access to Prince William Sound, which is a favorite of kayakers) or Anchorage and Seward (access to Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords, one of the few places where you might spot humpbacks and orcas at the same time). Either of these runs can be combined with a Spencer Glacier whistlestop; special DMU (self-propelled) trains, run in cooperation with the Forest Service, offer access to remote camping areas and nature walks. Nearly all Alaska Railroad trains run daily in summer; winter schedules are a lot tighter.

Alaska's only other railway is the White Pass & Yukon Route, a narrow-gauge train that takes passengers on excursions between Skagway and Canada's Yukon Territory, along the same route hopeful prospectors used to access the gold fields during the great rush of the late 1890s. Trains run daily between early May and late September.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

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Alcatraz
San Francisco , California
www.nps.gov/alcatraz

Surrounded by icy water and treacherous currents, Alcatraz was an ideal site for a high-security prison, and unsurprisingly, nearly all of those who tried to escape were caught, shot, or drowned. Enjoy a chilling tour of the jail, closed in 1963, and while strolling the exercise yard, imagine how the dazzling view of San Francisco must have tantalized inmates. The ferry departs several times daily from Pier 33. In peak season, book in advance by calling 415-981-7625, or go to www.alcatrazcruises.com.

American Folk Art Museum
45 W. 53rd Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 265 1040
www.folkartmuseum.org

Like the Guggenheim, this Midtown museum, which opened in 2001, is as notable for its building as for its collections. The exterior is a patchwork of bronze alloy panels that change hue according to the position of the sun; the interior is a series of open spaces dramatically illuminated by skylights. The 4,000-object collection spans 300 years of folk art, including intricate quilts, weather vanes, and paintings.

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American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at W. 79th Street
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
10024
Tel: 212 769 5100
www.amnh.org

No child—or adult for that matter—who has strolled under the enormous blue whale has ever forgotten this cavernous museum on the Upper West Side. It's still best known for its dinosaur skeletons, but other perennial favorites include the stuffed animals, so carefully preserved that they appear ready to walk out of the dioramas and prowl down the corridors. Don't miss the hall of African mammals with its centerpiece herd of elephants. Temporary exhibits sometimes include live creatures, like the annual butterfly exhibit (October through May). The Rose Center for Earth and Space provides its own set of thrills: The space show, Journey to the Stars, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, can sell out so it's advisable to get tickets online in advance. Other highlights include a 15-ton meteor displayed in the Hall of the Universe.

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American Visionary Art Museum
800 Key Highway
Baltimore , Maryland
21230
Tel: 410 244 1900
www.avam.org

Don't go here expecting to see a collection of Old Masters and postmodern abstractionists. This Federal Hill museum has a populist mission: to celebrate the self-taught artistry of factory workers and farmers, institutionalized patients, even a respected Maryland surgeon. It could have been a recipe for disaster, but somehow it works, from the model of the ocean liner Lusitania fashioned from 193,000 toothpicks, to a "Bra Ball" rolled from 18,000 foundation garments by Emily Duffy. Another permanent exhibit celebrates a vanishing indigenous folk-art style—the window and door screens on East Baltimore row houses decorated with hand-painted landscapes. The museum gift shop maintains the hip irreverence with black-velvet paintings, coffee-table books about rodeo tailors, and a macabre action figurine of Marie Antoinette—complete with "ejector head."

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 6 pm.

Amon Carter Museum
3501 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth , Texas
76107
Tel: 817 738 1933
www.cartermuseum.org

This museum by one of America's greatest architects, Philip Johnson, has long been overshadowed by Kahn's Kimbell, its Cultural District neighbor. But Johnson's hilltop loggia for the Carter Museum is one of his earliest musings in the postmodern vein; Johnson also oversaw a major expansion, which was completed in 2001. The Carter has acquired one of the finest collections of American art anywhere, ranging from 19th-century landscape painters like Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt to 20th-century masters such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Stuart Davis—as well as Western favorites Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The museum also houses one of the largest and best collections of American photography extant.

Open Sundays noon to 5 pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 10 am to 8 pm.

Angel Island
San Francisco , California

The largest island in the Bay, Angel Island was home to the Miwok Native Americans before being taken over by the Spanish, and it was later used as an immigration and quarantine station. The hiking is gorgeous, despite a 2008 wildfire that charred half the island. Come between February and April for the best wildflower displays. You can tour the immigration station year-round. Climb to the top of 800-foot Mount Livermore to enjoy a picnic while contemplating the spectacular view. The ferry to the island departs from the Ferry Building and Pier 41 (415-705-5555; www.blueandgoldfleet.com).—Updated by John Vlahides

Animal Habitats
Las Vegas , Nevada

See Vegas's wild creatures—the nonclubbing kind—at one of the animal habitats designed to get you up close (but not Siegfried and Roy–mauling close). The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is a series of underwater caverns that culminate in a transparent tube where sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles glide past (702-632-4555; www.mandalaybay.com). Prefer to actually get wet? The Mirage's Trainer for a Day Program puts guests in a wetsuit and pairs them with a dolphin trainer to learn how to make a bottlenose jump—one of the most exhilarating things you can do in Vegas outside of hitting a Megabucks (702-792-7889; www.themirage.com). MGM Grand's Lion Habitat is less exhilarating, but it's free and has a glass tunnel underneath the lions, who tend to lie around and doze all day—just what you'd expect from the rich heirs of MGM's original roaring Leo (702-891-7777; www.mgmgrand.com).

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Annapolis
Annapolis , Maryland

Founded in 1649, Maryland's state capital is a living museum of centuries-old shade trees, red-brick streets, and the greatest concentration of Georgian-style buildings in the country. Its street plan revolves around the domed State House, which dates to 1772 and could inspire an entire History Channel series: General George Washington resigned as commander of the Continental Army inside its Old Senate Chamber, where the Treaty of Paris formally ending the Revolutionary War was also ratified; in 1783-84 the State House also served as the capitol of the newly minted nation. When the current Legislature's in session, politicians often caucus at Chick & Ruth's Delly (165 Main St.; 410-269-6737; chickandruths.com), a friendly greasy spoon that keeps a special booth for Governor Martin O'Malley, a frequent customer. East of the State House is the campus of tiny St. John's College (1696), the third oldest college in America, and the U.S. Naval Academy. Exhibits at the latter's Armel-Leftwich Visitors Center (52 King George St.; 410-293-8687; www.usna.edu) include Freedom 7, the Mercury space capsule piloted by USNA grad Alan Shephard Jr., America's first astronaut. John Paul Jones, the heroic Revolutionary War skipper, is buried in an elaborate crypt beneath the Academy's neoclassical chapel.

Down on the busy waterfront, multimillion-dollar powerboats glide up "Ego Alley" to a small turning basin at City Dock, once a port for tobacco and slaves. Today most of the maritime activity in the self-styled "Sailing Capital of America" is found in Eastport, a working-class neighborhood of bungalows and boatyards just south of the harbor's forest of aluminum masts. Rent a boat yourself, or just watch them sail past while sipping cocktails at the dockside Pusser's Caribbean Grille.

Apollo Theater
253 W. 125th Street
Harlem
New York City , New York
10027
Tel: 212 531 5300
www.apollotheater.com

Built in 1914 as a burlesque theater, this Harlem landmark changed to its current status as a showcase for African-American talent in 1934, opening the stage on Amateur Night to anyone with the courage to face the notoriously tough audience. One of the first non-professionals to try her luck was a young singer named Ella Fitzgerald; others who have emerged via the same route over the years include James Brown and Lauryn Hill. Today, after a restoration that revitalized the theater's interior and facilities, established stars ranging from Prince to Tony Bennett regularly come to the theater for a performance. Amateur Night is still every Wednesday, and still a hoot.

Aquarium of the Americas
1 Canal Place
French Quarter
New Orleans , Louisiana
Tel: 504 565 3033
www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/aquarium

At the end of a mighty river and near the rich fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is a natural place for aquatic exploration. This state-of-the-art aquarium, built on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, features waterbound creatures from every corner of the globe—green anacondas and much-maligned piranhas from the Amazon, playful sea otters in a simulated kelp forest, emperor penguins from the Antarctic, and Caribbean stingrays, to name a few. The Gulf of Mexico exhibit, which mimics an oil rig substructure, has plenty of native fish species—graceful pompano, sand tiger sharks, glittering tarpon—circling in a hypnotic aquatic ballet. The complex also features an on-site IMAX theater for huge-screen wildlife and undersea documentaries.—Pableaux Johnson

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Architecture

The downtown Loop is a living museum of beautiful and significant buildings. Two great periods of innovation mark Chicago's architecture. The first followed the 1871 fire, when young architects including Louis Sullivan and Daniel Burnham rebuilt the city with modern "skyscrapers." The second began after WWII, when Mies Van der Rohe's International Style had its heyday with such buildings as the Lake Shore Drive Apartments and Crown Hall.

The best way to appreciate the city's fabulous skyline is by boat. From a 90-minute river cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady, you can see the landmark IBM Plaza building, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and Marina City, built in the 1960s by Bertrand Goldberg, with the maxim "there are no straight lines in nature." Its two round, 61-story towers, known as "the corncobs," are Chicago architectural icons.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs a gazillion bus, bike, river, and walking tours. All are led by volunteers, and no reservations are required for walking tours. Many depart from the CAF's storefront across Michigan Avenue from the Art Institute. Chicago Neighborhood Tours offer an up-close-and-personal look at the city's local tapestry. Chicago Trolley Charters stop at all the downtown attractions. Another don't-miss: A guided tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, conducted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.

Architecture
Los Angeles , California

The Los Angeles Conservancy, a preservation society founded in 1978, operates weekly walking tours of downtown L.A.'s architectural landmarks, from the much-filmed 1893 Bradbury Building to the elaborately gilded twenties and thirties movie theaters on Broadway (213-430-4219; www.laconservancy.org; $10 for non-members). The L.A. chapter of the American Institute of Architects also conducts tours of architecturally significant houses at least twice a year (213-639-0777; www.aialosangeles.org). At the downtown Visitors' Center, you can pick up free itineraries guiding you on 30-minute walking tours, which include Rafael Moneo's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Frank Gehry's stainless-steel Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the museums and California Science Center in Exposition Park (www.seemyla.com). If you're interested in modernism, CA Boom Design Expositions offers tours series, visiting case houses and other significant homes (310-394-8600; www.caboomshow.com).

Notable buildings that are worth making specific pilgrimages to see are the MAK Center for Art + Architecture, the former West Hollywood home of famed modernist Rudolf Schindler; tours are held midday on weekends (323-651-1510; www.makcenter.org). Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park in the Hollywood/Los Feliz area can once again be visited after extensive restoration (323-644-6269; www.hollyhockhouse.net), as can his Ennis House, in Los Feliz (323-660-0607; www.ennishouse.org). Of Pasadena's many craftsman bungalows, the most famous is the Gamble House, designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908 (626-793-3334; www.gamblehouse.org).

Architecture Tour
Palm Springs , California
www.psmodcom.com

Palm Springs is the epicenter of Space Age modernist (a.k.a. Googie) architecture from masters William Cody, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and Albert Frey, many of whom were commissioned to design the millionaire homes of stars like Frank Sinatra when they settled in the desert during the 1930s and 1940s. The Palm Springs Modern Committee publishes a map and driving guide to 66 historic buildings. It's available for $5 at the Palm Springs Visitor Information Center (2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-778-8418; www.palm-springs.org). The map includes descriptions of the buildings and short biographies of the best-known local architects.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington , Virginia
22211
Tel: 703 607 8000
www.arlingtoncemetery.org

The most honored burial ground in the country spans over 600 acres in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial. It is the final resting place for more than 300,000 citizens who have served with distinction, among them General John J. Pershing and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Among the scores of graves of fallen servicemen and women is the Tomb of the Unknowns, watched over by an honor guard and containing the remains of three unidentified soldiers representing the unknown dead from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. (The changing of the guard occurs every hour on the hour between October and March, and on the half hour the rest of the year.) By far the site most visited, however, is the grave of John F. Kennedy, marked by the Eternal Flame; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was later buried next to him, and his brother Robert Kennedy lies nearby.

Art Basel Miami Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 674 1292
www.artbasel.com

This early December, tropical offshoot of the contemporary art world's foremost schmoozefest had an inauspicious beginning—its 2001 debut was aborted in the wake of 9/11. But cynics who predicted the fair's demise were proved wrong the following year, when crops of Miami's cash-rich locals snapped up pricey canvases, installations, and sculptures from emerging and well-known artists. The Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Dr.) hosts the fair proper, with dealers from across the world shilling their wares, but it's the unofficial, heavily social offshoots that amp up the glitz, many of them parties and exhibitions helmed by Miami's homegrown answer to Charles Saatchi, developer Craig Robins (www.designmiami.com). The artists' enclave of Wynwood also hosts edgier, lower-budget events at the same time, which true art buffs might find more intriguing than the Armani-clad main events.

Art Deco District
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida

These pastel showcases of the Art Deco style from the twenties, thirties, and forties were in disrepair until the late seventies; their restoration in turn sparked the South Beach renaissance. Today, on the southern tip of Miami Beach, there are approximately 1,000 prime examples listed on the National Register of Historic Places—the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world. The finest examples are clustered on Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, and Washington Avenue, from Sixth to 23rd streets. The Miami Design Preservation League, the group that spearheaded the restoration, conducts several different tours of the neighborhood Wednesday through Saturday and provides audio for self-guided tours. They all leave from the Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Dr.; 305-672-2014; www.mdpl.org). The organization is also behind the annual Art Deco Weekend, a festival of art, architecture, and antiques held on Ocean Drive in mid-January.

Artesa Vineyards & Winery
1345 Henry Road
Carneros , California
94559
Tel: 707 224 1668
www.artesawinery.com

If you're coming from San Francisco, begin or end the day at Artesa, one of the closest wineries to the city. Dug into a hilltop high above the Carneros District, the 127,000-square-foot winery has one of the most dramatic approaches in wine country: a sweeping staircase surrounded by fountains, cascading waterfalls, and architectural glass sculptures by artist-in-residence Gordon Huether. At the top terrace, there's a 360-degree view of the Napa Valley and the pastoral Carneros District, with the San Francisco skyline looming on the horizon, provided it's not foggy. The chardonnays and pinot noirs are beautifully balanced, with lots of big fruit. The tasting room has the look and feel of an art gallery—the perfect backdrop for savoring an end-of-the-day glass of wine. Tasting fee; no appointment necessary.

Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.

Art Galleries
Seattle , Washington

Many of the city's art galleries are clustered around historic Pioneer Square; to get a thorough overview of the neighborhood's offerings, go on one of the monthly First Thursday art walks (www.pioneersquare.org/first_thursday.html). One of the most respected galleries in the city is Greg Kucera. The two-story space gives you a lot to explore; it's an egalitarian mix of big-name artists (you might see a Chuck Close or even a Matisse) and local up-and-comers (212 Third Ave. S.; 206-624-0770; www.gregkucera.com). William Traver Gallery focuses on the Northwest's (and the world's) best glass artists, though it also shows some ceramics and mixed-media sculpture (110 Union St.; 206-587-6501; www.travergallery.com). Seattle's coolest galleries are the sisters Roq La Rue (2312 Second Ave.; 206-374-8977; www.roqlarue.com) and BLVD (2316 Second Ave.; www.blvdart.com). Both are owned by Kirsten Anderson, a champion of the Northwest's more experimental and countercultural artists; Roq La Rue specializes in contemporary pop-culture-influenced pieces, while BLVD focuses on urban street art. Photography buffs should head to Benham Gallery. There's no strict focus to the works shown here, but it leans toward the provocative or the political rather than landscapes or portraiture (1216 First Ave.; 206-622-2480; www.benhamgallery.com).

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Art Galleries
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania

In the past 30 years, a vital arts community has grown up in Old City as its small factories and warehouses have been converted into galleries for the visual and performing arts. One of the originals, Clay Studio, is a nonprofit that promotes ceramic arts; exhibits change monthly, but look for the meticulously crafted tableware of Elizabeth Lurie and work from visiting international artists, such as Eva Avadir's ceramic sculptures and Fiona Thompson's oversize domestic objects, like her salt and pepper shakers (139 N. 2nd St.; 215-925-3453; www.theclaystudio.org; Closed Monday). Another of the neighborhood's early adopters, the Painted Bride Art Center, supports groundbreaking contemporary work such as the photographs of Amie Potsic and performance pieces from the late Spalding Gray (230 Vine St.; 215-925-9914; www.paintedbride.org). A newer addition, Bahdeebahdu, is the not-to-be-missed workshop/gallery of Warren Muller and RJ Thornburg (whose business cards read "luminary" and "fabulist," respectively). From light fixtures fashioned out of found shovels, test tubes, and old coffee pots to unusual furniture pieces (like a chaise created from 6,400 nickels), these designers never fail to surprise and amuse (1522 North American St.; 215-627-5002; www.bahdeebahdu.com; open by appointment, closed Sunday, Monday, and the month of August). On the first Friday of each month, the Old City Arts Association hosts a neighborhood open house. Participating galleries are free and open until 9:00 p.m. on "First Fridays" (800-555-5191 or 215-625-9200; www.oldcityarts.org). Philadelphia is also a city committed to public art; it has more outdoor sculpture than any other city in the country. The murals that started out as an anti-graffiti project in 1984 now cover 2,760 walls, forming the nation's largest outdoor art gallery. Self-guided and group tours are available (1729 Mount Vernon Street; 215-685-0750; www.muralarts.org).

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Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago , Illinois
60603
Tel: 312 443 3600
www.artic.edu/aic

It takes several days to navigate this superb museum housing some 260,000 artworks—including some of the world's most famous masterpieces: Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Grant Wood's American Gothic. There's an extensive Impressionist collection, and Asian holdings spanning five millennia that include one of the world's finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints. Don't miss the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room (a reconstruction of the Chicago Stock Exchange trading floor) or the Thorne Miniature Rooms, dollhouse-size re-creations of European and American interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s.

The museum's steps are home to two photogenic lions (circa 1893) and provide a first-rate spot for people-watching. The even better spot, though, may be the Renzo Piano–designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute, which has helped draw a fresh crowd of art-lovers to the venerable museum since its 2009 inauguration. Like a big gulp of fresh air after the dark galleries of the original building, the wing is a homage to natural light. A flying carpet of aluminum blades mounted on the glass roof, a staircase suspended on slender rods, and high picture windows set a buoyant, clean tone for the collection of postwar and contemporary art, which includes all the approved masters, from Jasper Johns to Gerhard Richter and David Hockney. An additional big plus is Terzo Piano, a contemporary Italian-accented brasserie, headed by hometown former Top Chef contender Tony Matuano; the restaurant finally offers the hangout the Institute always needed.—Updated by Raphael Kadushin

Open Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 10:30 am to 8 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

Aspen Art Museum
www.aspenartmuseum.org

This well-curated museum runs two exhibits at a time focusing all manner of contemporary and modern art. The problem? It's tiny, worthy of an hour or so to see it all. That will all change in 2013, when the AAM moves into its new home on the corner of South Spring and Hyman in downtown Aspen. The space is designed by innovative Japanese architect Shikuru Ban, one of the 13 architects chosen by Brad Pitt to work with his Make It Right foundation to rebuild New Orleans's Lower 9th Ward. The 30,000-square-foot space features a roof deck with a sculpture garden and an unbeatable view of Aspen Mountain.—by Samantha Berman

Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas , Nevada
Tel: 702 794 5161
www.atomictestingmuseum.org

The Atomic Testing Museum, a few minutes east of the Strip, aims to educate about the once-secret history of atomic activity in the region. Focusing on the Nevada Test Site, the museum reveals how the activity was originally kept hidden, and gives guests a simulation in their Ground Zero Theater of what it was like to observe an above-ground nuclear test—complete with trembling benches and air swooshes (but no radiation, happily). Cheesy in a grade-school field trip way, but a nice reminder that there's more to Nevada than neon and poker chips.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm, Sundays 1 to 5 pm.

Audubon Insectarium
423 Canal Street
French Quarter
New Orleans , Louisiana
Tel: 504 581 4629
www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/insectarium

The unique Audubon Insectarium exhibits an important but distinctly less cuddly selection of animals. Built inside the carriageway of Canal Street's historic Customs House, the museum seeks to present the six-legged-animal kingdom as fascinating rather than creepy and/or crawly. Since most insects lack human-scale interest, many of the exhibits rely on oversize sculptures to make their points—foot-long termite models or butterflies sporting six-foot wingspans, for example. The various exhibits lead you through a simulated cypress swamp, an oversize living ant farm, and a stunning Japanese garden and koi pond where exotic butterflies flutter free.—Pableaux Johnson

Audubon Park and Zoo
6500 Magazine Street
Uptown
New Orleans , Louisiana
Tel: 800 774 7394
www.auduboninstitute.org

If you're looking for an afternoon away from the French Quarter, hop on a streetcar to this beautiful Uptown park, where you can stroll for hours through the semitropical public gardens of a former sugar plantation shaded by oak and magnolia trees. The zoo, across from the park, is one of the city's hidden treasures, with all of the installations (Mayan-themed jaguar display, expansive African savanna section) nestled in an ancient, moss-draped oak forest. Not surprisingly, the best part of the zoo is the Louisiana wetlands exhibit, for its re-creation and deft joining of Louisiana's native wildlife (alligators, black bears, otters, and raccoons) with the bayou traditions of human swamp folk, such as trapping and hunting.—Pableaux Johnson

Austin City Limits
Zilker Park
Austin , Texas
Tel: 888 512 7469
www.aclfestival.com

For more than 30 years, the weekly PBS show Austin City Limits has been a window into the city's incomparable music scene, featuring artists from Willie Nelson to Spoon. Tickets to tapings are free, but they're pretty darn hard to come by. The local radio affiliate, KLRU, announces the location of a giveaway one to two days before the concert: Whoever shows up first at that location gets 'em (limit of two). So you have to be in Austin (and be speedy) to score.

Of course, ACL also puts on the Austin City Limits Festival in September, which leans toward more established acts, from Coldplay to Lucinda Williams. Its party atmosphere is comparable to the annual South by Southwest festival, but it's much easier to navigate. All shows are held in Zilker Park (rather than SXSW's zillion tiny nightclubs around town). Sign up on the ACL site to be alerted to ticket on-sale dates; tickets get more expensive as the event approaches.

Also good to know: Because of the convincing backdrop of the city skyline and other local landmarks, it's a common misconception that the show is filmed outdoors; it's actually shot in a studio on the University of Texas campus.

Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum
3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road
Sanibel Island , Florida
Tel: 239 395 2233 or 888 679 6450
www.shellmuseum.org

As opposed to the many cheesy shell shacks, this is a serious museum devoted to saltwater, freshwater, and land shells (snails) from all over the world. Exhibits also include fossil shells found in Florida, displays on the medicinal benefits of mollusks, and sailors' valentines—shell crafts made by natives of Barbados for sailors to take home to their lovers. Make this your last stop before shelling on Sanibel or Captiva islands—and remember it's illegal to take live shells from beaches.

Balboa Park
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 239 0512
www.balboapark.org

As Central Park is to New York City, Balboa Park is the center of this out-of-doors city: Its 1,200 landscaped acres hosts 85 attractions, including 15 museums, gardens, restaurants, and the Zoo. The best bets are the San Diego Museum of Man (1350 El Prado; 619-239-2001; www.museumofman.org), the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (1875 El Prado; 619-238-1233; www.rhfleet.org), and the San Diego Museum of Art (1450 El Prado; 619-232-7931; www.sdmart.org). Most Tuesdays, at least one attraction offers free admission.

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Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Drive (North Charles & 31st streets)
Baltimore , Maryland
21218
Tel: 443 573 1700
www.artbma.org

Set three miles north of the Inner Harbor in parklike Charles Village, adjacent to Johns Hopkins University, the Baltimore Museum of Art may surprise first-time visitors with the scope of its collection. The monumental neoclassical building designed by John Russell Pope holds major works by Botticelli, Van Dyck, Picasso, and Gauguin, castings of iconic sculptures by Rodin and Degas, and several dozen exquisite Antioch mosaics, which enliven a sun-splashed atrium courtyard. The core of the museum's holdings, including the largest number of works in the world by Matisse, is the Cone Collection. It was the gift of two thoroughly modern sisters, Etta and Claribel Cone, friends of Gertrude Stein who decorated their Baltimore apartment wall-to-wall with Impressionist masterpieces. The Cone Wing includes a touch-screen virtual tour of the sisters' amazing rooms. Given Maryland's importance in thoroughbred racing, the BMA also has an entire room devoted to English sporting art, with paintings by George Stubbs and the Tiffany-designed Woodlawn Vase, presented every May at nearby Pimlico racetrack to the winner of the Preakness Stakes. Plan on having lunch here: Instead of a pedestrian café, you'll find modern American fare at Gertrude's Restaurant, which overlooks the Sculpture Garden.

Open Wednesdays through Fridays 11 am to 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 6 pm.

Barbary Coast Trail
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 454 2355
www.barbarycoasttrail.org

When San Francisco was a bustling port, the colorful neighborhood of brothels, saloons, and lodging houses frequented by sailors was known as the Barbary Coast. The Barbary Coast Trail connects 20 historic sites, including the birthplace of the Gold Rush, the U.S. Mint Building, the oldest Asian temple in North America, and a Silver King mansion. Begin this 3.8-mile trail at Mission and Fifth streets and follow the path marked with bronze medallions set in the sidewalk. Maps and official trail guides can be purchased at visitor centers and local bookstores, and the San Francisco Historical Society sponsors various tours of the trail.

Barton Springs Pool
2101 Barton Springs Road
Zilker Park
Austin , Texas
78704
Tel: 512 476 9044
www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/bartonsprings.htm

This spring-fed public pool, framed by sunbather-friendly green spaces and the canopies of ancient pecan trees, is idyllic on a sunny summer day. The water is chlorine-free, and at 68 degrees, it's a bracing eye-opener if you're recovering from a long night on the town. On weekends in fine weather the place is jammed with families, hippies, and young people out to get a nice tan. Tops are optional for women, though you won't see too many women taking advantage of that. There's not much else on-site to speak of, but if you walk up Barton Springs Road a bit you'll find quite a few restaurants and food carts. Don't pass up the snow cones; they really hit the spot in the Texas heat.

Open Fridays through Wednesdays 5 am to 10 pm, Thursdays 5 to 9 am and 7 to 10 pm.

Baseball in New York City

What rite of passage is as loaded with emotion, pride, and nostalgia as a summer day out at the baseball stadium? Both of the city's Major League teams—the Yankees and the Mets—both recently got new stadiums: The Mets' longtime home ground, Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens, hosted its last game in late 2008, and was replaced by the Citi Field, a new stadium constructed in Shea's old parking lot. The Bronx-based Yankees swapped one Yankee Stadium for another in 2009. The rivalry between the two New York teams could be charitably described as fierce, but let's just say that between them they've produced some of the country's greatest sporting heroes: Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Willie Mays, to name a few. Even if you're not a sports fan, this is a classic New York experience and the perfect way to soak up some sunshine over hot dogs and beers (though the concessions aren't easy on the wallet). Purchase tickets in advance via the Major League Baseball site—www.mlb.com—or turn up at the stadium two and a half hours early on game day.

Bay to Breakers
www.ingbaytobreakers.com

Founded in 1912, Bay to Breakers once held the Guinness record for the world's largest footrace, with 110,000 participants. It's no longer the biggest, but these days, nearly 80,000 athletes from the Bay Area and around the globe still make the trek, on the third Sunday in May, from the Ferry Building to Ocean Beach. Such wide appeal might seem surprising considering the difficult 12K course, which runs over San Francisco's notoriously steep hills. But since 1940, when the event's first woman runner participated in drag, Bay to Breakers has been something akin to a circuit party, with competitors showing up in all manner of costumes—or without any clothing at all—often toting portable bars stocked with beers and mixed drinks. Live bands play along the course, while a big-name act (in the past, Bonnie Rait and Better Than Ezra) plays a gig at the finish line in Golden Gate Park.

Beaches
Seattle , Washington

In the summer, Seattle's meandering shorelines are full of sunbathers. People come in droves to Alki Beach Park to swim in relatively warm, shallow salt water. On evenings and cool days, fire pits draw groups to roast marshmallows while watching ferries roll out from Fauntleroy Terminal. Just above the two-and-a-half-mile beach is a bustling bike path and narrow Alki Avenue, lined with restaurants and cafés that open onto the street (702 Alki Ave. S.W.; 206-684-4075). To the north, Ballard's Golden Gardens is 88 acres of forest, fields, and restored wetlands, lined by a rugged shore with both rocky and sandy beaches. Brisk winds off the sound lure kite-flyers, sailors, and windsurfers (8498 Seaview Pl. N.W.; 206-684-4075). For swimming, most people prefer freshwater Lake Washington, which warms considerably in the summer while Puget Sound stays cold. Many of the nicest beaches are in Bellevue and Mercer Island, across the lake from Seattle. Among them, Newcastle Beach offers a 300-foot dock, grass playfield, and shallow swimming areas that extend far into the lake (4400 Lake Washington Blvd. S.E., Bellevue; 425-452-6881).

Beaches
Los Angeles , California

The Beach Boys weren't lying: this part of California is all about the sun, sand, and surf. Venice Beach, with its street performers, outdoor cafés, and pedestrian traffic, still has that quintessential Californian combination of liveliness and laid-backness. You can grab a bike at one of the many rental stands; there's a bike path that heads all the way south to Redondo Beach. Santa Monica has Surfrider Beach, one of the best breaks long the coast, and also a pier with an amusement park that's lots of fun for kids. Malibu is a bit on the impenetrable side (a wall of houses lines the beach), but just up the Pacific Coast Highway at Zuma Beach there's plenty of parking and lots of sand. Walk north, and you'll pass the celebrity-owned houses of Broad Beach. Drive a bit farther up the Pacific Coast Highway and you'll find Neptune's Net, the famed fish-shack with a parking lot full of motorcycles.

Beaches
San Diego , California

With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego County is home to more than a dozen beach areas, each with its own distinct personality. Here's a quick look at the sandy highlights from south to north:

Imperial Beach: Bordering Tijuana, Imperial Beach (locals call it IB) is one of the quieter beach towns—except in July, when it hosts the U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition. There's good fishing off the pier, but be careful of powerful surf and the sometimes-polluted waters here.

Coronado: Connected to the city by bridge, Coronado is the closest beach to downtown. Behind the Hotel Del Coronado, there's a family-friendly, wide sandy beach that's good for swimming. For more privacy, head south to Silver Strand State Beach.

Ocean Beach: Known to locals as OB, this is a funky little town still stuck in the '60s. The main drag, Newport Avenue, dead-ends at the pier, where there's good surfing and fishing. Bonfires and alcohol are both allowed on the beach.

Mission Beach/Pacific Beach: During the summer, the beaches of Mission and Pacific are crazy-busy with tourists and the 20-something party crowd, making for some of the best people-watching around. Stroll, Rollerblade, or bike along the sand-side boardwalk from Mission to the edge of PB.

La Jolla Shores: Just north of La Jolla are the broad tan sands of La Jolla Shores. It's a popular family beach and a great spot for novice surfers. Bonfires are allowed in provided containers. The shore arcs and bends to the south, where you'll find breathtaking La Jolla Cove and its tide pools and sea caves.

Black's Beach: Sandwiched between Torrey Pines State Beach and La Jolla Shores is Black's Beach, a top local surf spot and one of California's most famous nude beaches. Its north end is a favorite of the local gay population.

North County: The beaches of North County, including Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas, Leucadia, and Carlsbad, are characterized by steep cliffs that lead down to thin stretches of sand that dwindle even more at high tide. They're popular with experienced surfers and families. Locals know to look for public access stairways that lead to almost-hidden pocket beaches.

Beaches
Miami , Florida

Beaches in seaside cities often have an outsize influence on the culture. As in the south of France or Rio de Janeiro, the pull of the beaches can be found throughout Miami in both attire and attitude. Miami Beach's prime spit of sand is Lummus Park (though nobody actually calls it that), bordering Ocean Drive between 5th and 15th streets in South Beach. All the locals' gym time is shown off here, and, yes, there is plenty of topless bathing. Rent a chaise and umbrella from a concession, or just sprawl on the sand (the white stuff's not local, but shipped in regularly from the Bahamas). The area around 12th Street is an informal gay enclave; the rest is mixed. If you want to hang out with expat Latins, head a little further south to the beach around 3rd Street, popular with bikini-sporting Brazilians and Venezuelans. Miami Beach north of 15th Street is less scene-y, but the sand is just as luscious.

If you're looking for a more family-friendly strand, skip overhyped Sunny Isles (north of Miami Beach). The sand is wide there, but an ill-conceived beach renourishment project has significantly worsened the riptides in the water. Instead, hit Crandon Park Beach on Key Biscayne, another barrier island just south of Miami Beach but accessed via downtown Miami ($1.50 a car); the beach is just as wide, but a sandbar just offshore actually reduces lethal undertows. Also on Key Biscayne is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, which has restaurants and a lighthouse—109 steps to the top (305-361-5811; www.floridastateparks.org/capeflorida).

Beaches in Charleston
Charleston , South Carolina

Less than 20 minutes from downtown are two popular public beaches: Folly Beach (Ashley Avenue) and Isle of Palms (14th Avenue). Both are run by the Charleston County Parks Commission (843 795 4386; www.ccprc.com ) and have 600 feet of beachfront, lifeguards, snack bars, restrooms, outdoor showers, and umbrella and chair rental. Entry fee: $5 per car.

Sullivan's Island (1610 Middle St.; 843 883 3198; www.sullivansisland-sc.com ), a barrier island north of Charleston harbor, has a three-mile-long beach and modern-day lighthouse. There's also Fort Moultrie, a significant monument of coastal defense built in 1809. Watch where you park; police dole out tickets for cars blocking driveways in this hoity-toity enclave.

Beaches in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale , Florida

Fort Lauderdale's 23 miles of beaches are, of course, its prime draw. It's usually easy to stake out a spot on the wide sands, hemmed in by swaying palm trees and a low-rise, wavy white wall (the inset strip of neon lighting that has long languished in disrepair has finally been switched back on); if the main drag's busy, head south, as the beach widens in that direction. The water here has been certified Blue Wave for its cleanliness and safety, and there aren't many risky riptides. As for facilities, look for showers at the end of Las Olas Boulevard and restrooms at the junction with Sunrise Boulevard; the unofficial gay beach is around Sebastian Street.

Beaches in Key West

Better known for its offshore reefs and onshore bars than its beaches, Key West is not the place to go with visions of endless sandy strands strewn with conch shells (despite what advertising brochures might lead you to believe). The island's shoreline is mostly coral, so the few sandy beaches that do exist here have had some assistance in coming to fruition. That said, there are a handful of sandy spots to unfurl your beach towel for the day. The state park at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Site (called Fort Zach by locals) offers the prettiest and most appealing beach on the island, fringed by pine trees and with some decent snorkeling just offshore (there are also lots of shaded picnic benches and freshwater showers). Smathers Beach, on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island, is the largest public beach and the place to rent a surf ski or catamaran to ply the shallow waters. And don't miss South Beach, a small patch of sugary sand located near the Southernmost Resorts development. It appears private at first glance but is, in fact, open to the public.—Updated by Terry Ward

Beaches in Southwest Florida

From Marco Island north to the far tip of Captiva Island, almost the entire Gulf Coast is fringed by fine, family-friendly beaches with similar attributes: flat, hard-packed white-sand strands that gently ease into the Gulf of Mexico. From south to north, here are the highlights:

Marco Island's Tigertail Beach (239-252-4000; www.colliergov.net) is actually two beaches—a mainland beach with bathrooms, concession stands, and equipment rental, as well as a deserted gulf beach on Sand Dollar Island, which is accessible by wading across a shallow lagoon. No such effort is required to sunbathe at Naples' condo-flanked Vanderbilt Beach (239-252-4000; www.colliergov.net), where Cabana Dan's kiosk rents chairs and cabanas, and hawks frozen treats like chocolate-dipped Key lime popsicles. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park (239-597-6196; www.floridastateparks.org) is a hit with locals, who picnic in the ample shade provided by sea grape and casuarina trees. The north end near Parking Lot 5 has the most powdery sand, but strong currents from Wiggins Pass make swimming risky. Bonita Beach Park (239-533-7275; cityofbonitasprings.org) is notable for its playground and handicap-ramp accessibility, while Lovers Key Carl E. Johnson State Park (239-463-4588; www.floridastateparks.org), a quartet of barrier islands, is distinguished by its tranquil dunes and lack of development. Its antithesis, honky-tonk Fort Myers Beach, is backed by fast-food restaurants, budget hotels, and tattoo parlors. Over the causeway are the shellacious beaches of crescent-shaped Sanibel and Captiva islands; their unusual east–west orientation acts like a scoop for seashells stirred up by storms. Small shells seem to wash up on Sanibel's eastern Lighthouse Beach, while larger shells aggregate farther west along Bowman's Beach (239-395-1860; leeparks.org), where beachcombers strike the hunched "Sanibel stoop'' pose. December through April is considered the best shelling season, particularly at low tide after a storm, when sandbars are most exposed. Though the offshore currents are tricky, the sunset views are unrivaled at Turner Beach, which straddles silted-in Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva (239-432-2006; leeparks.org). There is metered or fee parking near all locations; the state parks have the largest lots.

Beaches of the Hamptons

The Atlantic beaches of the Hamptons are some of the prettiest the country has to offer: clean, wide, often completely uncrowded—even on summer weekends—and set off by patchy wild dunes with no hulking, pink resort hotels to ruin the idyllic views. Finding a beautiful beach is as easy as turning down any of the small, zigzaggy lanes that run off Route 27 and continuing until you find some sandy parking spots off a dead-end road. Beware the limits on those choice parking spaces, though: Parking permits are required for the majority of beaches, and only residents can get them. Luckily, some of the better hotels buy them in bulk for guests—ask before you book. Otherwise, your options will likely come down to risking a ticket, walking or renting a bike instead, or stashing your car a good distance from the beach. Our favorite sandy strips follow, from west to east.

For access to Mecox Beach, a nice spot in Bridgehampton down Jobs Lane, be prepared to adopt one of the aforementioned strategies; the same goes for Sagaponack's Sagg Main Beach, to the east of Mecox, a popular social spot for a younger crowd. Farther down the coast is Gibson Beach, a nice, small stretch with a low-key, upper-crust vibe—if the upper crust can reliably be said to have vibes—and where, supposedly, women's tops are optional (parking permit required). Georgica Beach has an exclusive reputation and a prestigious location close to the mansions of Lily Pond Lane and Georgica Pond (parking permit only). East Hampton's Main Beach is the center of the action, with crowds and concession stands (a draw for some, a turnoff for others) and a see-and-be-seen energy (ditto); it's also one of only two beaches in East Hampton with daily summer parking, which costs $25 and is permitted only on weekdays. Close to the divide between East Hampton and Amagansett, Two Mile Hollow (same parking policy as East Hampton Main) has a reputation as a gay-friendly beach. Amagansett's Atlantic Avenue Beach offers $15 daily parking Monday through Friday, as well as lifeguards. Past Amagansett, where the Old Montauk Highway diverges from Route 27, Hither Hills State Park offers camping and fishing, a long beach, and the "walking" dunes of Napeague Harbor (entrance fee is $8 per car). Montauk's Kirk Park Beach, just off the two-lane highway, has $10 parking seven days a week, although youthful, fun Ditch Plains is the surfers' beach of choice in Montauk. While not quite as postcard-perfect as some East Hampton beaches, it has the Ditch Witch, a popular snack-stand hangout, and surfers to stare at as you while away another summer day. It once offered free parking; now, perhaps unsurprisingly, a town permit is required.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

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Beaches of Maine
www.visitmaine.net/beaches.htm

Yes, Maine's known for its rocky coves, but there are enough beaches to keep even a Bain de Soleil addict happy on a warm summer day. Thirty minutes south of Portland, you'll find the most famous: Old Orchard Beach (not far from the Portland Harbor Hotel and the Pomegranate Inn), which is seven miles long and filled with old-fashioned amusement rides and food stands. Be aware, though, that it's often crowded and frat-boy boisterous. Quieter options nearby are Scarborough Beach off Route 207 (it has rough surf, but the lifeguards make it popular with families) and Ferry Beach, off Route 9 in Saco (a mile of white sand and dunes).

Around Kennebunkport are six separate public beaches, including Gooch's Beach and kid-friendly Mother's Beach, with soft sand, lifeguards, and gentle waves (about a 20-minute walk from the White Barn Inn and Captain Lord Mansion). Beachgoers join runners and even surfers at six-mile Popham Beach (pictured), near Bath, where you'll find the Rock Gardens Inn and the Inn at Bath. Acadia's Sand Beach, a five-minute drive from the Bar Harbor Inn, is the park's only soft strip.

Beaches of Nantucket

Nantucket has 10 public beaches, some reachable only by foot or bike. The most popular North Shore spots are Dionis and Jetties beaches. Dionis's mild surf and wide dunes make it ideal for families with older kids—it's a three-mile bike ride from town to get there. At Jetties Beach, you can learn to sail, windsurf, or kayak from the nonprofit Nantucket Community Sailing—private, group, and women-only lessons are available (508-228-6600; www.nantucketsailing.com; closed Labor Day through early June) and chow down at a casual seafood restaurant. Surfers head for the wilder South Shore; among the best beaches are Surfside and the more remote, westerly Cisco. The latter has especially big waves and is home to the Nantucket Island Surf School, which provides boards and wet suits for its private and group lessons. You can call ahead if you want to (and reschedule if the waves aren't crashing), or just show up in your bathing suit and head for the van hung with wet suits. Boards and wet suits are also available for rent by the hour, half day, full day, or week. (508-560-1020; nantucketsurfing.com). For more information and a map of the island's beaches visit www.nantucketchamber.org/visitor/beach.html.

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Beaches on Cape Cod

The 115 beaches strung out along Cape Cod's 560 miles of coastline run the gamut from surfer-friendly to family-friendly to clothing-optional. The best (and generally the most crowded) are the ocean-facing beaches, especially those along the Cape Cod National Seashore's 40-mile stretch of soaring dunes and heavy surf. These include Coast Guard Beach, which has an intact Coast Guard lifesaving station (now used for educational programs), and Nauset Light Beach, under the lighthouse made famous by artist Edward Hopper. Enter the park at the Salt Pond Visitor Center, off Route 6 in Eastham ($15 per car, $3 per bike or pedestrian; 508-771-2144, nps.gov/caco).

To the south of the National Seashore is Atlantic-facing Nauset Beach, the largest beach on the Cape. Managed by the town of Orleans, it has a full-service concession stand, rental chairs, and umbrellas, and plenty of parking (Nauset Beach Rd., 508-240-3780, town.orleans.ma.us/Pages/OrleansMA_Parks/beaches). On the Outer Cape (i.e., furthest from the mainland), Wellfleet's Marconi Beach (Marconi Beach Road, off Route 6) and Truro's Head of the Meadow Beach (off Route 6) have mountainous sand dunes. In Provincetown, Race Point Beach (off Route 6) has huge dunes and powerful surf; the town-operated Herring Cove Beach (at the end of Route 6A) is more or less officially clothing-optional.

Beaches on the protected Cape Cod Bay side, where there are seldom waves, are usually less busy and attract residents and families with young children. The glaciers that formed Cape Cod also left behind more than 350 freshwater lakes and ponds, and some of those have beaches that are especially good for families with kids.

Some beaches restrict parking to residents only, though those are typically still accessible by bike. Most others charge up to $20 per day in the summer. Weekly and full-season parking stickers (typically from $50 to $70 and from $110 to $225, respectively, depending on the town) can be purchased at the town hall for beaches in that town. A list of beaches with their locations is at Capecodchamber.org/beaches, and a helpful map can be found at Capecodbeachchair.com/beachguide.

Beaches on Martha's Vineyard

The Vineyard has 14 public beaches as well as six residents-only beaches that are off-limits to outsiders (unless your hotel provides guest passes or you're renting and can provide a copy of the lease). Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark is one of the most beautiful (it's also clothing-optional) and fair game for guests of the Inn at Blueberry Hill. Lambert's Cove Beach in West Tisbury has the finest sand and is also resident-only, though guests of Lambert's Cove Inn can go there. For big waves, try the Atlantic-facing Katama Beach, also known as South Beach, just outside Edgartown: It's open to everybody, although there's a strong undertow that makes it dangerous for kids. A public beach with gentler waves is Joseph Sylvia State Beach, the narrow two-mile stretch between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The small Menemsha Public Beach, beside Menemsha Harbor, also has gentler waters, and is conveniently close to great take-out seafood from Larsen's Fish Market (Dutcher Dock; 508-645-2680) and The Bite (29 Basin Rd.; 508-645-239; thebitemenemsha.com). Two of the prettiest Vineyard beaches are well off the beaten path: Aquinnah Public Beach, also known as Moshup Beach, is located under the dramatic Aquinnah cliffs (it's a ten-minute walk down Moshup Trail from the parking lot); East Beach, in the secluded Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, requires taking the ferry from Edgartown to Chappaquiddick and paying a fee to the Trustees of Reservations (unless you're a member). There's also a freshwater beach on Long Cove Pond in the Long Point Wildlife Refuge.

Beaches on Maui

Makena State Park: Big Beach, a ten-minute drive from the resorts at Wailea, is an uncrowded, undeveloped half-mile-long sugar-sand expanse. It's popular with families, despite a monster shore break (getting in the water can be dangerous) and a dearth of public facilities (just portable toilets for the desperate). If you're not toting tykes, hike over the cliff on the west end to clothing-optional Little Beach. Upwards of 500 revelers take part in a free rave there every Sunday at sunset, complete with drum circles, jam sessions, and wild dancing.

Kamaole Parks I, II, + III: Million-dollar homes, condo complexes, parking lots, and public facilities cheapen the natural splendor of these golden beaches, but sandy bottoms, gentle waves, and lifeguards still draw in the swimmers. This trifecta is also conveniently located directly off the highway. Should you get stuck in the South Kihei Road rush-hour crawl (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) don't fight it—just turn off, park, and watch the sunset.

Kaanapali Beach: Maui's signature beach, this three-mile stretch of clean white sand provides ample room for sunbathers from the nearby megaresorts and locals who triumphed over the severely limited public parking situation. Dig Me Beach, in front of the Whalers Village mini mall, is the place to show off your Gucci bikini or ripped bod. Pu'u Keka'a (Black Rock), in front of the Sheraton Maui, is the safest swimming spot and is also good for snorkeling.

Kanaha Beach Park: You can be in the ocean within minutes of arriving on the island (Kanaha is located behind the rental car pickup lots at the Kahului airport). There's a narrow stretch for sunning, a sectioned-off area for swimming, and for entertainment watch the windsurfers and kite boarders in action. Kanaha has a decent surf break, but it's about 150 yards from shore, so don't attempt it unless you're a very confident swimmer.

Hamoa Beach: About three miles southwest of Hana, there's a respectable surf break, snorkeling, and plenty of room to lay out or get a game of beach volleyball going. There's swimming as well, but there are no lifeguards and you'll find wicked currents outside of the bay. The lounge chairs and waitstaff are exclusively for guests of the nearby Hotel Hana-Maui, so bring your own drinks and snacks. As with all Maui beaches, do your very best to leave no trace of your stay behind.

Beaches on Oahu

The most famous beach on Oahu (and possibly in the world), Honolulu's Waikiki Beach lives up to the hype. Though the sections in front of major hotels can get crowded, the scene—a mix of local bathing beauties, Japanese surfers, and pink-roasted visitors—is endlessly entertaining. The surf breaks are far from shore, so there's plenty of gentle water for swimming. And the options for pre- and post-beach drinks, dining, and shopping are numerous. Also in Honolulu, Ala Moana Beach Park's wide stretch of sand, protected swimming area, and ample parking draw families with young children and coolers.

Body-boarders dominate at Sandy Beach, on Oahu's southeastern coast (locals call it "Sandys"), where the pounding shore break makes for gnarly rides. Beginners or casual boogie-boarders should definitely find another spot; reportedly, more injuries occur here than at Pipeline. The beach and adjacent lawn are plenty spacious enough for spectators, though (as well as the occasional landing hang glider). Bring a beach umbrella: There's almost no shade here.

Idyllic, half-mile-long Lanikai Beach, in Kailua, fronts a suburb of multimillion-dollar homes on the shore. Though it's the island's prettiest beach, you'll have to park on the road and walk between the houses to get to it. This is completely kosher—all beaches are public in Hawaii—but there are no facilities of any kind.

The North Shore's Sunset Beach, clearly visible from Kamehameha Highway, has a split personality. Between May and September, it's a family-friendly sunning and swimming beach with a bit of rough shore break; but in October/November and March/April, it morphs into a premier surf spot with killer waves. During these hairy periods, the surf has been known to sweep unattended towels, beach bags, and even beach-walking tourists out to sea.

At the very end of the road on Oahu's west coast, legendary Yokohama Bay is well worth the drive. Its remoteness keeps the crowds away; the only people you'll likely see here are west-side locals. These residents get a bit of a bad rap for being unfriendly, but if you're respectful you won't have any problems with them. Do, however, keep an eye out for strong currents and undertow when you're swimming or boarding.

Beale Street
Downtown
Memphis , Tennessee
www.bealestreet.com

New Orleans has Bourbon Street; Memphis has club- and bar-lined Beale—"The Home of the Blues." Cornetist and Beale Street resident W.C. Handy published the first Blues song, "Memphis Blues," here in 1912; his house is now the W.C. Handy Home and Museum (352 Beale St.; 901-527-3427; closed Sun and Mon).

Elvis, in his adolescence, revolved through the clubs here, infusing himself with the ingredients he would later use to shape rock 'n' roll at Sun Studio, just a few blocks away. When shopping on Beale, the King patronized an establishment that has become the oldest continually operating shop in Memphis: A. Schwab Dry Goods Store. Opened in 1876, it serves customers with the motto "If you can't find it at A. Schwab's, you're better off without it"—the wares range from penny candy to overalls to souvenirs (163 Beale St.; 901-523-9782; closed Sun).

To experience the bluesy heart of Memphis nightlife, head for Beale on a Saturday night. For about $12, you can grab a wristband in lieu of paying individual cover charges and amble to and from participating clubs (Fridays and Saturdays only). Live music hot spots on Beale include B.B. King's, where the "Queen of Beale Street," Ruby Wilson, reigns many a weekend (143 Beale St.; 901-524-5464; memphis.bbkingclubs.com); Rum Boogie Café, which has the best house band in town, led by soulful James Govan (143 Beale St.; 901-528-0150; www.rumboogie.com); and the New Daisy Theater, a former movie house that now hosts national acts (330 Beale St.; 901-525-8979; www.newdaisy.com). In late spring, the Beale Street Music Festival showcases dozens of renowned musicians, blues and otherwise, at Tom Lee Park, where Beale terminates at the Great Mississip'.

Beartooth Highway

One of the country's prettiest pieces of road winds between Cooke City and Red Lodge, just outside of Yellowstone National Park. The 70 miles of Highway 212 known as the Beartooth Highway ascends into a landscape of high-altitude tundra, dwarf trees, and turquoise lakes. Near its midpoint, the road dips into Wyoming and passes the Clay Butte Fire Lookout, a decommissioned tower at 9,811 feet. It's an ideal picnic spot for gazing over the saw-blade ridgelines that define the area. Check the Montana government Website for the latest info on road conditions and seasonal closings,

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Bear Watching in Alaska

Alaska has plenty of places to see bears, but the state's best-kept secret is Anan Wildlife Observatory, near Wrangell. Anan is a tiny creek that sees up to 250,000 salmon migrate through it each August. In other words, it's a bear smorgasbord. From the beach at the creek's mouth, a half-mile trail leads to a viewing platform over a small waterfall. The fish bunch up trying to leap the falls, which means all a bear needs to do is stick a paw in the water, and dinner is served. The bears regularly come up to the platform, close enough for you to realize that wet bears smell a lot like wet dogs. Up to 100 bears use Anan each year—the name comes from a Tlingit term for "place of meeting"—and it's one of the only spots in the world where you can see black and brown (grizzly) bears fishing from the same stream (although the smaller black bears tend to hide when the grizzlies show up). Permits are required in high season (check with your outfitter or the Forest Service), but unlike at Alaska's more famous bear-viewing spots—such as Pack Creek (grizzlies, on Admiralty Island) and Katmai (enormous grizzlies, on the Alaska Penninsula)—there's never a shortage of permits at Anan. You can see bears—huge bears—around the edges of Katmai without a permit, but access to the waterfall made famous in a million Alaska documentaries is highly restricted. If you have access to a boat, you can visit Anan Wildlife Observatory on your own; if not, you can organize a tour through Breakaway Adventures or Alaska Vistas.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Beaver Creek Golf Club
103 Offerson Road
Beaver Creek Village
Beaver Creek , Colorado
81657
Tel: 970 845 5775
www.beavercreek.com/golf/beaver-creek-golf-club.aspx

This 18-hole course with to-die-for views was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It's open to the public from May to mid-June and then becomes a private club only for members and resort guests of Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead villages for the remainder of the golf season.

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Bellagio Hotel & Casino
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard S.
Las Vegas , Nevada
Tel: 702 693 7871
www.bellagiolasvegas.com/amenities/gallery-of-fine-art.aspx

Steve Wynn is responsible for shepherding Vegas into its current upscale era, and pivotal in that transformation was the fine art gallery he installed at Bellagio. It's still in operation, even after MGM's purchase of the resort, hosting rotating exhibits from museums, other galleries, and private collections. A 2009 show, for instance, featured works by contemporary masters including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Sol LeWitt. Curation is consistently excellent and—in a bow to the brief attention spans of Vegas tourists—shows usually take about an hour to enjoy.

Open Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm.

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Bella Vineyards
9711 W. Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg , California
95448
Tel: 866 572 3552 (toll-free)
Tel: 707 473 9171
www.bellawinery.com

The mood is upbeat and fun at Bella, a family-run Sonoma winery where tastings are conducted inside the barrel cellars, within giant caves dug out of the hillsides. With vines on the estate dating back more than a century, here one can experience the luxuriously concentrated flavor for which old-vine grapes are prized. All of Bella's reserve-vineyard, small-lot syrahs and zinfandels have a depth of flavor unattainable with young fruit, with lush raspberry and smoky chocolate overtones. If you're lucky enough to visit in the spring, be sure to pick up a bottle of dry rosé (50% zin, 50% syrah) before it sells out—it's the perfect back-porch wine on a hot day. Despite the seriousness of the wine, there's no pretense at Bella. The youthful staff is not only gregarious and charming, they also know their stuff. Tasting fee $5, no appointment necessary.

Open daily 11 am to 4:30 pm.

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Belle Meade Plantation
5025 Harding Road
Nashville , Tennessee
37205
Tel: 800 270 3991 (toll-free)
Tel: 615 356 0501
www.bellemeadeplantation.com

For over a century, horses were the name of the game at this former thoroughbred nursery, a 30-acre plantation on the north edge of the elegant Belle Meade neighborhood. Iroquois, the first American horse to win the English Derby and the sire of generations of Kentucky Derby winners and racing phenoms (including Funny Cide and Secretariat), made this farm famous more than 100 years ago; today, even though there are no horses to be found, the plantation is a popular draw for history buffs. The 45-minute tour of the main house, led by guides in 19th-century garb, is a must, if only to enjoy the well-preserved antebellum decor.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Besthoff Sculpture Garden
1 Collins Diboll Circle
Mid-City
New Orleans , Louisiana
Tel: 504 658 4199
www.noma.org

This open-air gallery of the New Orleans Museum of Art showcases a broad range of three-dimensional artwork in the beautifully landscaped Mid-City park. Meandering paths lead guests through the eclectic sculpture collection featuring classics from Rodin and Magritte to a towering Oldenburg safety pin. Landscapers used the park's natural beauty as a foil for the artwork—many of the pieces are tucked away in manicured hedgerows and framed by centuries-old oaks or stark reflecting pools and ponds. Families looking for energy-burning activities should consider an afternoon in the garden—there's plenty of running room for kids in between the masterworks.—Pableaux Johnson

Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills , California

Beverly Hills is famous for the designer-driven shops of Rodeo Drive and the Golden Triangle, and the recent upsurge of teardowns in favor of mega-mansions. It's a great place for strolling and window-shopping (if you can't afford the stores), and there's excellent people-watching to be had from the many sidewalk cafés. Landmarks include City Hall and the Post Office, as well as the I.M. Pei–designed Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The well-manicured public gardens along Santa Monica Boulevard are a lovely oasis, as well as a popular place to jog.

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Bicycling on Cape Cod

Cape Cod has a huge network of off-road cycling trails, many of which cruise through the woods and past cranberry bogs, clam shacks, ice cream stands, and freshwater lakes. Bike paths about seven and a half miles long line each side of the Cape Cod Canal. The Shining Sea Path in Falmouth runs nearly five miles along an abandoned rail line from Woods Hole to Falmouth Center; it will more than double in length when an expansion to North Falmouth is completed in spring 2009. But the longest off-road bike route is the hugely popular 28-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, which runs from South Dennis to Wellfleet along another former railroad right-of-way (508-896-3491; mass.gov/dcr/parks/southeast/ccrt.htm). Parking is free at various points along the route, and the Rail Trail connects to a bike path inside Nickerson State Park as well as to the nine-mile network within the Cape Cod National Seashore. Note that many off-road trails get crowded in the summer.

Massachusetts Bike Route 1 runs from Boston to Provincetown and Woods Hole, partly on protected bikeways and mostly on vehicle roads. The Cape Cod Cyclist Club organizes free group road- and mountain-bike rides (capecodcyclist.com), and Bike and the Like runs seven-night fall cycling tours of Cape Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket (877-776-6572, bikeandthelike.com). Trail maps and rental shop locations are available at Bikecapecod.com.

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Big Island Beaches
www.gohawaii.com/big_island/learn/kona_coast

Glorious white-sand beaches are not common on the Big Island, but Hapuna Beach is so perfect, it's unlikely you'll want to go anywhere else. Predictably crowded on weekends and holidays, it's at its best in the early morning, which is quiet and stunning. There's very little opportunity for shade, so plan accordingly (and bring your own snacks).

Black-sand Punaluu Beach, on the undeveloped Puna side of the island, is crowded with sunbathers—of the reptilian kind. You'll find one of the largest concentrations of green sea turtles here, and very few groups of people—the swimming conditions aren't great. (Note: Getting within seven feet of the still-endangered species can result in a fine of up to $10,000.) Parking lot robberies have been an issue, so be sure to lock your car.

Kiholo Bay isn't so much a beach as a Blue Lagoon–style paradise—a cool, shallow, brackish inlet populated by turtles and tame fish. Look for a gravel road turnoff from Highway 19 on the Kona side of the island between mile markers 82 and 83. If you don't have a 4WD vehicle, drive (slowly) as far as you can toward the shore, park, and walk south the rest of the way. Don't be surprised if you're the only one here—it's quite a find.

You've seen white, golden, black, maybe even pink—but a green-sand beach? Large deposits of a mineral called olivine have created this beautiful alien waterfront at Papakolea "Green Sands" Beach. Check ocean conditions before you make the trek (about a two-and-a-half-mile hike from the Kaulana boat launch parking lot near South Point, the southernmost point of the United States). If the surf is high and rough, not only will there be no exposed sand, but you'll be in danger of being swept out to sea.

The state recently paved the road to two, still relatively untouristed, local beaches: Kua Bay, on the Kohala Coast, north of the Four Seasons Resort and across from the veterans' cemetery, and "69 Beach" in Puako (the proper name of this spot is Waialea Beach, but the telephone pole that marks it is No. 69).

Many beaches on the Big Island lack public facilities so always bring your own supplies and be diligent about picking up after yourself: With the exception of Hapuna Beach, which is near a resort, the island's beaches are pristine and should stay that way.

Big Onion Walking Tours
Tel: 212 439 1090
www.bigonion.com

This walking-tour company has a wide range of trips exploring every facet of the city, from Brooklyn Heights to Chinatown to Harlem. Among the highlights: walking the Brooklyn Bridge and exploring Brooklyn Heights, a "Gangs of New York" tour, a gay and lesbian history tour, and a tour of Irish New York.

Bike Rentals in the Hamptons

Seriously consider pedaling to the beach: It's the best way to avoid the whole parking-permit dilemma and the slow torture of Route 27 traffic on a summer weekend. Bermuda Bikes rents street and hybrid bikes and will deliver them to your hotel or rental house—though delivery and pickup costs can soar up to $100 if you're as far out as Montauk (36 Gingerbread Ln., East Hampton; 631-324-6688).

Biking

Chicago has 22 miles of lakefront bike paths. Rent a set of wheels (for about $10 per hour) at Bike Chicago (five locations including Navy Pier and North Avenue Beach). The company also conducts guided bike tours daily April through October. For a free bike map, safety tips, and rules of the road, contact the Department of Transportation's Chicago Bike Program.

Biking on Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard has miles of bike routes, most of them wide paths set apart from the main roads by grassy strips. There are short trails such as the scenic two-mile run along Main Street in Vineyard Haven to the West Chop Lighthouse, the three-mile route from Edgartown to South Beach, or the seven-mile path from Vineyard Haven to Edgartown. More serious cyclists can ride 20 miles from Edgartown, around the state forest, and back. Bringing your own bike to the island costs from $3 to $6 each way on the ferries, bicycle rental shops proliferate, and most hotels and many inns have bicycles for loan or rent. (There are bike racks on the buses of the Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority.) On coastal routes, be aware of occasional patches of sand and strong head winds; inland trails aren't always particularly scenic.

The bike routes are clearly marked on most street maps; otherwise you can find a trail map online at mvy.com or mvol.com, or pick one up at Anderson's Bike Rentals in Oak Bluffs (23 Circuit Ave. Extension; 508-693-9346) or Edgartown Bicycles (212 Main St.; 508-627-9008; edgartownbicycle.com). Trike Panther Travel Adventures, started by a retiree who cycled from California to Florida, rents recumbent trikes and leads half-day, full-day, and five-day guided island tours (888-443-2071; guidedcycling.com).

Biking on Nantucket

Low-lying and just 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide, Nantucket is easily toured by bicycle. Of the island's seven clearly marked trails, the best is the 5.5-mile Madaket Bike Path, which heads west from the Nantucket Town rotary toward Madaket Beach, a prime place to watch the sunset. Eight-mile Polpis Bike Path heads east from the rotary toward the bluffs of Siasconset and Sankaty Head Light. Bicycle rentals are readily available in town and at the airport. Young's Bicycle Shop near the Steamship Authority ferry terminal has great free maps of the island's tangled streets and extensive bike routes (6 Broad St.; 508-228-1151; youngsbicycleshop.com). For more information, check out www.wheelsheelsandpedals.com.

Bishop Arts District
300 through 500 block of North Bishop Avenue, between Davis Street and Jefferson Boulevard
Dallas , Texas
www.bishopartsdistrict.com

Oak Cliff, or more specifically the affluent Kessler Park neighborhood, across the Trinity River from downtown, proudly considers itself the anti-Dallas, replete with rolling hills, picturesque older homes, and a more contemplative lifestyle. Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District, a few blocks of recently spiffed-up 1920s storefronts, isn't trying to compete with the architectural firepower of the Dallas Arts District, but its collection of small and independent eateries, shops, and galleries offers pedestrian-friendly charm and funky originality. Shopping venues include Zola's Everyday Vintage with '60s through '80s haute couture; and Ifs Ands & Butts, a tobacco shop that also carries 300 varieties of bottled sodas. Hang out with your pooch at the hip but unpretentious Nodding Dogs Coffee Co. for upscale dining. Hattie's American Bistro serves sophisticated Southern cuisine in a graceful, romantic setting.

Boating
Seattle , Washington

Boating is a favorite pastime in Seattle; locals race sailboats on the weekend and row before going to work. The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard are an engineering wonder. You'll get an up-close look as gigantic fishing boats are raised and lowered through narrow locks (like an elevator for boats) between the fresh water of Lake Union and the salt water of Salmon Bay (3015 N.W. 54th St.; 206-783-7059). Argosy Cruises' one-hour Harbor Cruise is a good way to get an overview of the city from the water, as well as fantastic photographs of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges (Pier 55; 206-623-1445; www.argosycruises.com). If you're into self-propulsion, you can rent a kayak at the centrally located Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club and either head south toward the floating homes on Portage Bay or east into Lake Washington, where you can paddle through lily pads and lotus flowers on the arboretum's water trails. Afterward, pop into the upstairs café for incredible Mexican food (1303 N.E. Boat St.; 206-545-8570, ext. 101; www.aguaverde.com; kayak@aguaverde.com).

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Boating on Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay , Maryland

Even if you don't know a schooner from a skiff, you'd be remiss if you didn't take at least a short cruise on the Bay. Maryland's history and economy hinge on the 200-mile-long Chesapeake, and the nation's largest estuary is considered a paradise for pleasure boats. Annapolis has a variety of day-sail options, including the Schooner Woodwind (410-263-7837; www.schoonerwoodwind.com), a 74-foot wooden yacht that's repeatedly won the annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. The state capital is also home port for several sailing schools; the hands-on courses at J World Annapolis (213 Eastern Ave., Annapolis; 410-280-2040; www.jworldannapolis.com) will have you tacking in no time. Watermark (410-268-7601; www.watermarkjourney.com) offers Bay cruises to historic lighthouses or to St. Michaels. On the Eastern Shore's Tilghman Island, Captain Wade H. Murphy Jr. makes day sails aboard the skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark, a national historic landmark first launched in 1886 (410-886-2176; www.skipjack.org). From Memorial Day until mid-October, Smith Island Cruises (410-425-2771; www.smithislandcruises.com) operates a daily ferry from southernmost Crisfield to the state's only inhabited island, which was settled in 1686 and is home to watermen who still speak with a unique, lilting English accent.

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Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
Manchester , Tennessee
37349
www.bonnaroo.com

Each year in mid-June, tens of thousands of music fans brave sun and sweat at the 'Roo, a four-day rock fest featuring more than 100 well-known bands and performers. Held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, about an hour southeast of Nashville on I-24, Bonnaroo is quickly becoming one of the most notable rock festivals in the United States. Acts originally leaned toward roots-y and rock-y country acts, but now span a range of musical styles: Everyone from Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. to country legend Willie Nelson has played here. The few nearby hotels book a year in advance of the festival, and most revelers camp out in tents or sleep in cars (there are public bathrooms and showers). If you're not a 24-hour party person, stay in Nashville and buy day passes rather than a four-day ticket.

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The Bonnet House
900 N. Birch Road
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33304
Tel: 954 563 5393
www.bonnethouse.org

Undoubtedly one of the city's biggest draws, the Bonnet House is a pioneer oddity among the beachside high rises. Built by two wealthy settlers, artist Frederic Bartlett and his wife Evelyn (whose own massive fortune derived from her first marriage to prescriptions pasha Eli Lilly), the attraction is a pioneer-style bungalow set around a courtyard and populated with a vast collection of trinkets, from whimsical carved animals to merry-go-round menageries. Almost every surface was decorated, whether with a wooden trunk or a stucco ceiling, often by Bartlett himself. The house is stashed at the center of sprawling gardens that are filled with random amenities also built by the Bartletts to while away the time—the thatched tiki-style Island Theater was a private movie house, for instance. If it's hot, don't bother walking through the mangrove thickets, as there's a tram chugging through the park for only $1 per person. As for the name, it's flora-related rather than fashion-inspired: The bonnet is a yellow water lily that grows everywhere on the estate.

Closed Monday and all of September.

Boston Common and Public Garden
www.cityofboston.gov/freedomtrail/bostoncommon.asp

City-center Boston Common is the nation's oldest public park. Cattle grazed here between 1634 and 1830, but today, the rolling green hills and bench-lined paths—which are being spruced up in an ongoing renovation—are populated with sunning and strolling Bostonians of every stripe. Kids frolic in the fountain of the shallow Frog Pond during the summer; in winter it becomes a picturesque ice-skating rink. The adjacent Public Garden is more formally landscaped, with flower plantings, a statue of George Washington on horseback, and a pond where the famous pedal-powered Swan Boats operate from mid-April through mid-September. It's one of America's most scenic public places. A beloved bronze sculpture of baby ducks on parade is in the northeast corner of the park, inspired by Robert McCloskey's children's classic, Make Way for Ducklings. Both parks are good places for a picnic lunch. Cute sandwich shops line Charles Street; local favorite Finagle-a-Bagel is directly across from Boston Common (129 Tremont St.; 617-426-3300), Chacarero, in Downtown Crossing, serves up Chilean sandwiches of chicken or beef with Muenster cheese, string beans, tomato, avocado spread, and hot sauce (426 Washington St.; 617-542-0392; closed weekends), and

Boston Harbor Islands
Long Wharf
Boston , Massachusetts
02110
Tel: 617 223 8666
www.bostonislands.org

Just a seven-mile ferryboat ride across the Boston Harbor, this little-known national park makes a great day trip on a sunny summer day. The park extends to 34 islands, 6 of which are accessible to visitors. The extraordinarily well-preserved Fort Warren on Georges Island was built in 1833, and served as a military training ground and a Civil War prison. Nature lovers will enjoy Grape Island, which has a multitude of shorebirds and berry bushes—all within sight of the Boston skyline. Ferries depart from Long Wharf in front of Christopher Columbus Park and run between Georges, Lovells, and Spectacle islands; interisland ferries shuttle to Grape, Bumpkin, and Peddocks islands. The schedules vary depending on the season and the day of the week; be sure to check the schedule online in advance). And pack a picnic lunch, as food options on the islands are slim (just hot dogs, subs, and sodas on Spectacle and Georges).—updated by Jon Marcus

Early May—early October, with occasional special events off season.

Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Copley Square
Boston , Massachusetts
02116
Tel: 617 536 5400
www.bpl.org

The Boston Public Library is a destination in itself, and not just for bookworms. Charles Follen McKim designed the original building (check out where the stonemasons ran out of room to chisel "Shakespeare" among the names of the literary greats inscribed on the facade), and the addition is courtesy of Philip Johnson. Inside is art by Augustus and Louis Saint-Gaudens, Lincoln Memorial sculptor Daniel Chester French, John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, James Abbott McNeil Whistler, John James Audubon, Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rockwell Kent, and Alfred Stieglitz. There are also murals, including John Singer Sargent's Judaism and Christianity, a depiction of the development of world religions, which Sargent considered his greatest achievement, and The Quest of the Holy Grail, by Edwin Austin Abbey, with 150 life-size figures illustrating the legends of King Arthur. In its research room, the library exhibits some of its rare book holdings, which include Shakespeare first folios and the personal papers of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Free art and architecture guided tours meet in the lobby of the McKim Building: Check the Web site for times.—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Thursdays 9 am to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm, Sundays 1 to 5 pm.

Boston Red Sox / Fenway Park
4 Yawkey Way
Kenmore Square
Boston , Massachusetts
02215
Tel: 877 733 7699 (toll-free)
Tel: 617 226 6000
www.redsox.com

Even Yankees fans have to admit that there's something special about seeing a ball game at Fenway Park. First opened in 1912, it's one of the smallest stadiums in the major leagues, and it's always packed (every game has been sold out since May 15, 2003) with fans eagerly awaiting a home-team hit over the Green Monster, the 37-foot-high left-field wall. (The seats on top of the Green Monster are particularly coveted.) Sellouts or not, you can still get face-value tickets on game day—300 are set aside for every game and are sold beginning two and a half hours before the first pitch at the little-noticed Gate C ticket window on Lansdowne Street. Or you could pay a huge surcharge to one of the ticket brokers with storefronts in the neighborhood. If you still can't score seats for love or money (or because the Yankees are in town), you can take a guided tour of the ballpark, including the press box, the dugout, the graffiti left by players inside the Green Monster, and the exact spot (Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21) where Ted Williams' record home run touched down. The whole Fenway experience is steeped in tradition, from the manual scoreboard to the organ to the Boston-accented hecklers. Grab a sausage-and-pepper sandwich outside the park before or after. Remember, Massachusetts liquor laws are strict: Beer vendors do not wander the stands, so you'll have to buy your overpriced beer at the beer stands underneath the seats. And bring ID, even if you haven't needed it in years.—updated by Jon Marcus

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Boston Symphony Orchestra
Symphony Hall
301 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
02115
Tel: 617 266 1492 (for information)
Tel: 617 266 1200 (for tickets)
www.bso.org

Bostonians display a similar devotion to the Boston Symphony Orchestra as they do to their beloved Red Sox. One of the finest orchestras in the world, the BSO presents some 30 programs each season (September through early May) in the elegant Symphony Hall, which has some of the world's best acoustics. Tickets to sit in on rehearsals for sold-out performances are available online, at the box office, and by phone; it's open seating, and every man for himself, however, so look out for the little old ladies with walkers. During the summer, the symphony decamps to Tanglewood, its home in the Berkshires. In spring and early summer, the Pops presents more contemporary, popular tunes both at Symphony Hall and at the outdoor Hatch Shell on the Esplanade along the river in Back Bay. The Fourth of July program is a Boston (and American) tradition.—updated by Jon Marcus

Boxing in Las Vegas

If there's a big fight in Vegas, it's probably at Mandalay Bay. The prefight energy pulsates throughout the entire resort, and it's a total party inside the 12,000-seat arena. Try to get seats in sections 4 through 11 for boxing matches and sections 1 through 8 for Ultimate Fighting matches (which use cages, hence a different setup). If you want to spot celebs, sit in the first eight rows; that's as far as the floodlights reach, and therefore where all the big stars sit. Purchase tickets early at the Mandalay's website or ticketmaster.com. Even if you can't score tickets, after the fight is over you'll likely gamble alongside promoters, managers, and even fighters themselves well into the wee hours. (Bouts also empty out the Mandalay's restaurants during fight time, affording a rare opportunity to fine-dine at places like Fleur de Lys without a reservation.)

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Brews & Blue(Berries) in Maine

We're not sure what it is about cities called Portland, but the name seems to inspire superior microbreweries. The Maine version has at least seven. Take a tour and taste free samples at Allagash (18 Industrial Way; 207-878-5385; www.allagash.com), Casco Bay (57 Industrial Way; 207-797-2020; www.cascobaybrewing.com), and Shipyard (86 Newbury St.; 207-761-0807; www.shipyard.com). To sample microbrews as they were meant to be sampled, try the handcrafted pints at Gritty McDuff's and Sebago Brewing Company (164 Middle St.: 207.775.2337; www.sebagobrewing.com), two brewpubs in the Old Port District that double as local hangouts.

Maine also produces 99 percent of all wild blueberries in the country. East of Bethel, the Wilton Blueberry Festival in August has blueberry pancake breakfasts, blueberry pop, and blueberry muffins—plus road races to burn it all off. For details, talk to the organizer, Shannon Smith (207-778-4726). And the Maine Wild Blueberry Festival takes place during August's Union Fair, one of Maine's oldest. Find it in the town of Union, off coastal Route 1 between Boothbay Harbor and Bar Harbor (207-785-3281; www.unionfair.org/Blueberry.cfm).

Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx , New York
10460
Tel: 718 367 1010
www.bronxzoo.com

The scarcity of kid-friendly spaces in New York can be trying if you've got family in tow, especially since the few that do exist are notoriously crowded. That's why the Bronx Zoo is such a welcome respite. Spread across 265 acres of leafy woodlands, the zoo's primary mission is to provide natural settings for more than 4,000 animals. The "African Plains" exhibit mimics a savanna, with predators and prey roaming in the same environment, separated by moats. (The only problem with this setup is that the animals are often a long way from the paths, and small children might have trouble spotting them.) More exciting for little ones is the children's zoo and the Congo Gorilla Forest, a 6.5-acre habitat in which visitors get up close with the primates while wandering under a thick canopy of mist-shrouded leaves. Other highlights include Tiger Mountain and the "Himalayan Highlands," where the zoo's snow leopards can be seen lounging on steep rocky hills. Afterwards, drop by the New York Botanical Garden (just across the street), a bucolic 250-acre oasis complete with river, waterfall, endless flower species, and a 50-acre swath of native forest similar to what would once have covered the city. The zoo is accessible vis the Metro-North Harlem line from Grand Central, by subway, or by the BxM11 express bus with stops along Madison Avenue north of 26th Street.

Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 5 pm, weekends and holidays 10 am to 5.30 pm. Wednesday admissions are on a donation basis.

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Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Avenue
Fort Greene
Brooklyn , New York
11211
Tel: 718 636 4100
Subway: 4, 5, B, Q, 2, or 3 train to Atlantic Avenue
www.bam.org

BAM is one of the premier avant-garde venues in the country, showcasing music, theater, and modern dance. Curators take chances that couldn't be taken in Manhattan, and the results can be dazzling. Radiohead played live as accompanists to a Merce Cunningham debut, for example, and Flaubert's Temptation of St. Anthony found itself adapted to theater and set to a gospel score. The schedule ramps up during the fall for the annual Next Wave festival: Highlights will include the U.S. premiere of Frank Wedekind's Lulu and a Sufjan Stevens video commission (a nod to the next generation of patrons, no doubt). BAM's 1908 terra-cotta pile in Fort Greene houses an opera house, café, and cinema featuring current indie releases and themed retrospectives. A separate building named after Harvey Lichtenstein, the dancer who served as BAM's executive director for 32 years, hosts a smaller theater with big-name performances such as Ian McKellen in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear.

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Brooklyn Bridge
Pedestrian access at City Hall Park
Financial District
New York City , New York
10007

When it was completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was a marvel of civil engineering—the longest suspension bridge in the world. Over 150,000 people walked across the bridge opening day. Today, the number of car crossings per day approaches that number, but the best views of the crisscrossing steel cables, neo-Gothic stone archways, and majestic cityscapes are still to be had by the commuters, tourists, and idling New Yorkers who cross the span by foot or bicycle. Stop under the arches to trace the history of the bridge, including the story of famed engineer Washington Roebling, who inherited the construction project after his father's death, and completed it via telescope from his apartment while suffering from the bends. Access the bridge near City Hall on the Manhattan side, or take the A train to High Street in Brooklyn and look for the stairs to the bridge walkway at Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street, under the bridge's approach. Always be alert on the path; bicyclists gaining momentum on the way down from the center tend to swerve outside the dedicated lane. Once you're across the East River from Manhattan, use our Brooklyn Insider Guide to find places to eat and shop.

Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn , New York

This stage-set of a neighborhood remains the most expensive real estate in the borough. The Promenade was once the saddest place in New York, with its grandstand view of the burning twin towers—and it hosted many a candlelight vigil—but that same panorama of the (truncated) Lower Manhattan skyline remains a great sight. From there, amble the streets and ogle the Federal, Italianate, and Greek Revival brownstones, atmospheric backdrop for the many writers—Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, Paul Bowles, and W.H. Auden—who have called this quarter home. A stop off at the Brooklyn Historical Society will put the surroundings in context (128 Pierrepont St.; 718-222-4111; www.brooklynhistory.org; closed Mon. and Tues.). Be sure to pick up a pocket-sized map at the front desk listing architectural highlights. Henry and Montague Streets are lined with restaurants and shops, though there's a surprising dearth of decent food here, considering the moneyed surroundings. Jack the Horse Tavern, a gastropub on the Heights' northern edge, is probably your best bet (66 Hicks St.; 718-852-5084; www.jackthehorse.com). At the southern end lies Brooklyn Borough Hall, a Greek Revival structure known as Brooklyn's oldest public building. Visit its farmer's market every Tuesday and Saturday year-round (as well as Thursdays from April to December). The New York Transit Museum hidden in plain sight on Schermerhorn Street below a sign that looks like an actual subway stop, is well worth your time—it has interactive exhibits and vintage train cars from all eras (corner of Boerum Pl. and Schermerhorn St.; 718-694-1600; www.mta.info/mta/museum).

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Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn , New York
11238
Tel: 718 638 5000
Subway: 2, 3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum
www.brooklynmuseum.org

This Beaux Arts building houses the second-largest permanent collection in the city, with more than a million objects. Its gallery of American paintings (which includes works by John Singer Sargent and Georgia O'Keeffe) is considered to be one of the finest in the States, and it was the first museum to present American art as distinct from European. The ancient Egyptian exhibit is also world renowned. A $63 million glass entrance pavilion added in 2003 had the architectural community swooning, and its First Saturdays—when there's art, entertainment, as well as a cafe and a bar open until 11 pm—are as fun a night out in the borough as any. The solicitous zeal for community outreach isn't without grumbling in the arts world, however. Some complain that past exhibitions—Star Wars and hip-hop, for example—have been unabashedly populist. A well-received Basquiat retrospective and contemporary Caribbean Art exhibition, however, were both a compelling enough draw for Manhattanites and a tribute to the sea of Haitian and West Indian communities that surround them.

Open Wednesday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm; 11 am to 11 pm on first Saturdays

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Cable Car Rides
San Francisco , California
www.sfmta.com

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the San Francisco cable cars are crowded but worth riding at least once for the gorgeous views and one-of-a-kind experience. Of the three routes, Powell-Hyde (over Nob and Russian Hills to Aquatic Park) and Powell-Mason (over Nob Hill to Fisherman's Wharf) are the most scenic, but they're also the most crowded, as they carry passengers to and from Fisherman's Wharf. If you can't stomach the long queues or want to find someplace off the tourists' radar, ride the California Street line (over Nob Hill toward Pacific Heights; closed for construction until mid-June 2011) from its terminus at Market Street to the end of the line at Van Ness Avenue; from there, walk to Lafayette Square, in Pacific Heights, for a hilltop picnic, followed by window shopping along swanky upper Fillmore Street. (Tip: For a great photo on the California cable car, shoot east downhill as you approach Stockton Street; the Bay Bridge tower is briefly framed just right between downtown skyscrapers.) For all lines, board at the beginning/end of each circuit or hail the car along the route from one of the stops marked with brown-and-white signs. Purchase tickets at turnarounds or from the conductor ($5; MUNI transfers not accepted). Service is frequent, with special schedules on weekends—check www.transit.511.org for details. —updated by John A. Vlahides

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco , California
94118
Tel: 415 379 8000
www.calacademy.org

Among the world's largest natural-history museums, the California Academy of Sciences is as renowned for its collection—over 26 million specimens gathered over the past 150 years—as it is for the building that houses them. Opened in late 2008, the Renzo Piano–designed museum earned a LEED Platinum certification for its eco-sensibility. Vast expanses of glass, crisscrossed by recycled-steel beams, allow the sun to shine inside the exhibits, which include a knockout four-story rain forest dome filled with towering tropical trees, colorful birds, and fluttering butterflies. The glass elevators that descend from the rain forest to the Steinhart Aquarium double as a viewing window into the enormous tank, its coral reefs teeming with candy-colored fish. Be sure to pick up tickets for the hourly shows at the state-of-the-art Morrison Planetarium, the world's largest all-digital planetarium; sit up high for the best perspective on the 75-foot-diameter dome. And don't miss the 2.5-acre roof, another green feature, planted with native grasses, trees, and flowers; the idea was to give the illusion that a slice of earth had been lifted up to install the museum beneath it. Even on a foggy day, when mist twirls in the treetops, the park views from atop the roof are stupendous. To avoid hordes of schoolchildren, consider coming on Thursday evenings, from 6 to 10 pm, when the museum hosts Nightlife, an over-21 event with cocktails and DJs in the atrium; the entire museum is open for viewing at this time. This event nearly always sells out, so make reservations.—John Vlahides

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9:30 am to 5 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Cambridge, Harvard University, and MIT
www.cambridge-usa.org

Billing itself as "Boston's Left Bank," Cambridge is an academic center, a technological corridor, and a vibrant, multicultural city located just across the Charles River from Boston. It's easily reachable on the T or by foot across one of the several bridges, and you'd do well to set aside an entire day to explore it properly. In Harvard Square, street musicians compete for attention with socialists handing out literature. Purists complain that it's become too commercial and there are too many chain restaurants and shops (and it's true, you'll find the usual Gaps and Pizzeria Unos), but it's still a great place for strolling and people-watching with an ice cream cone from Herrell's (15 Dunster St.; 617-497-2179). South of Harvard along Mass. Ave. (only tourists call it Massachusetts Avenue), Central Square is a corridor of ethnic restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops with a funkier, edgier feel, such as the Middle East music venue and the1369 Coffee House (1369 Cambridge St. in Inman Square, 617-576-1369, and 757 Mass. Ave. in Central Square, 617-576-4600,). At Harvard University, get your bearings at Harvard Information Center, located in the Holyoke Center arcade (1350 Mass. Ave.; 617-495-1573), then walk around Harvard Yard to admire the centuries-old academic and residential buildings. There are three art museums to choose from: American and European works at the Fogg (32 Quincy St.; 617-495-9400), art from German-speaking countries of northern and central Europe at the Busch-Reisinger Museum (32 Quincy St.; 617-495-9400), and Asian, Islamic, and Indian art at the Sackler (485 Broadway; 617-495-9400). Even non–science types will be impressed by the Harvard Museum of Natural History, home to the intricate Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, commonly known as "the glass flowers." It includes more than 830 species that were created as early as 1886 for botany students to study (26 Oxford St.; 617-495-3045). Across the street from Harvard Yard, the Sanders Theatre presents concerts (from folk to classical music) and public lectures. First used in 1876, this all-wooden space evokes old English academia, and is prized for its acoustics (45 Quincy St.; 617-496-2222). Farther downriver, MIT has a museum, too, which details some of the technological breakthroughs and geeky pranks of that university's rich history (265 Mass. Ave.; 617-253-5927); some cutting-edge architecture to admire, by the likes of Frank Gehry (the Ray and Maria Stata Center on Vassar Street); and world-class art by Pablo Picasso, Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, and others. Pick up a guide, or arrange a guided tour, at the List Visual Arts Center (20 Ames St., Building E15; 617-253-4680).—updated by Jon Marcus

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Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach , Oregon
www.cannonbeach.org

Cannon Beach is the most appealing of Oregon's many coastal towns, in part because it is the closest to Portland. A mere hour and a half away (compared to upwards of two or three hours to towns further south) along mostly scenic roads, Cannon Beach is also one of the prettiest. The town consists of a long strip of tastefully weathered shingle buildings, housing a typical beach-town mix of art galleries and ice cream shops, pubs and pizzerias, bike rentals, and a good number of inns. While this makes for a pleasant stroll, the wide sandy beach, with its crashing waves and the well-known Haystack Rock, is the real point of making the trek out here. On the right day, when the sun is shining and the wind isn't blowing, it offers a near-perfect beach experience (August and September are good bets, though the weather is notoriously unpredictable). Another scenic vantage point is Ecola State Park, on the northern edge of town, whose wide, grassy viewpoint is sprinkled with picnic tables (plan ahead) with beautiful ocean vistas. Book a room at the cozy Stephanie Inn bed and breakfast.

Canoeing and Kayaking in Maine

Add up 32,000 miles of lakes and streams, 5,500 miles of coastline, and hundreds of lakes and ponds, and you begin to see why so many canoes, kayaks, and rafts are strapped to the roofs of Maine cars. A sea kayak is the perfect way to explore Casco Bay and the islands off the coast of Portland; take a guided tour with Maine Island Kayak Company (207-766-2373; maineislandkayak.com). Prefer the cry of loons on calmer waters? Venture to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, a 92-mile corridor of canoeing nirvana in the north woods. Find canoes, guides, and shuttles to put-in points at Allagash Outfitters in Allagash (207-398-3277; www.allagashoutfitters.com). And if it's white water you seek, hit the Kennebec, Dead, or Penobscot Rivers through Northern Outdoors Resort. Both the Kennebec (class II–IV) and the Penobscot (class III–V) have daily dam releases in the summer, and the Dead River has dam releases up to three times a month from May to October.

Cape Cod Baseball League
capecodbaseball.org

The Cape Cod Baseball League is America's premier collegiate summer league and has been an incubator for some of the sport's top pro players since it was founded in 1885. Alumni include Mike Lowell, Mo Vaughn, Barry Zito, Nomar Garciaparra, Thurman Munson, Jason Varitek, "Buck" Showalter, Jacoby Ellsbury, and more than 200 players currently active in the major leagues. Visit the Web site for a schedule and directions—the teams play on municipal and public school fields between early June and mid-August—and bring a beach chair or blanket to watch the up-and-coming talent up close. Some teams ask for donations at the gate or pass a hat to pay for their expenses.

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Cape Cod Museum of Art
60 Hope Lane, off Route 6A
Dennis , Massachusetts
02638
Tel: 508 385 4477
cmfa.org

The Cape Cod Museum of Art, in Dennis, is devoted to Cape Cod's not inconsiderable contribution to American art. The permanent collection includes 950 works by the likes of Rockwell Kent, Charles Hawthorne, Henry Hensche, Oliver Chaffee, and sculptors Gil Franklin and Varujan Boghosian. The $8 admission fee is optional on Thursdays.

Open Thursdays 10 am to 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, and Sundays 12 to 5 pm, year-round; also open Mondays 10 am to 5 pm Memorial Day through Columbus Day.

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
869 Main Street (Route 6A)
Brewster , Massachusetts
02631
Tel: 508 896 3867
ccmnh.org

Set on 383 acres of conservation land overlooking a salt marsh and Cape Cod Bay, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History hosts kid- and adult-friendly programs and exhibits about local animals and sea life. Don't miss the nature trails or the Marshview Room—bird feeders hung outside make for fantastic indoor bird-watching, and binoculars are provided.

Open daily 9:30 am to 4 pm, June through September; Wednesdays through Sundays 11 am to 3 pm, October through December; Thursdays through Sundays 11 am to 3 pm, February and March; and Wednesdays through Sundays 11 am to 3 pm, April and May.

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Cape Cod National Seashore
Tel: 508 771 2144
nps.gov/caco

The Cape Cod National Seashore is a 43,500-acre park with great beaches, hiking, cycling, bird-watching, and nature-gazing, plus a visitor center. The seashore overlaps six towns, and is still home to some lucky individuals whose properties were grandfathered in when President John F. Kennedy established this protected area. In addition to its natural beauties, the seashore encompasses several historic sites. Inventor Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic wireless transmission from a station in Wellfleet on January 19, 1903; nine years later, the same station received the distress call from the Titanic (Wireless Rd., off Route 6). A plaque off Nauset Heights Road marks the site where a German U-boat turned its guns on Orleans during World War I—the only place in the United States that was shelled during that conflict. (No one was hurt.) Stories like these, and more about the natural surroundings, are available in two-minute messages recorded by park rangers that you can access from your cell phone. Look for the "Dial and Discover" signs.

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Carmel-by-the-Sea , California
www.carmelcalifornia.com

Originally founded as an artists' colony in the early 20th century, Carmel (also known as Carmel-by-the-Sea) has the look and feel of a Christmas snow-globe village—without the snow. Streets are paved with cobblestones, giant Monterey pines make whooshing sounds in the sea breeze, and the houses resemble picturesque Mediterranean villas and miniature castles. The artists have long since been priced out, and major celebrities (Doris Day, Clint Eastwood) have taken their place, but you'll still find more galleries per capita than perhaps anywhere else on the California coast. Head to Dolores Street between Fifth and Sixth for the best gallery-hopping. Stop into the Carmel Art Association, the only gallery that exclusively shows local works (831-624-6176; www.carmelart.org); Masterpiece Gallery, which has a collection of early Californian and American paintings (831-624-2163; www.masterpiecegallerycarmel.com); and Gallery Sur, specializing in landscape photography (831-626-2615; www.gallerysur.com). The best time to visit Carmel is midweek; avoid coming on Saturday in summer, when it gets overrun with oohing-and-aahing tourists. If you want to meet locals, head for the beach in the early evening; the whole community seems to turn out to watch the sunset.

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Carmel Mission
3080 Rio Road
Carmel-by-the-Sea , California
93923
Tel: 831 624 1271
www.carmelmission.org

Though currently surrounded by ranch-house subdivisions, the Carmel Mission was once the only building for miles around. Spanish missionary Father Junípero Serra established the mission in 1771 to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Today, it's still an important site for Catholics—primarily because Father Serra's remains are interred under the altar—but even nonbelievers will find it worth a visit. The primitive statuary and ornately carved altar are beautifully preserved, as are unexpected details like the charming cherubs peeping from behind the pipes of the organ loft. Adjoining the church are the living quarters of the missionaries. One of the most interesting rooms is the tiny library (California's first), where you can peer through a glass doorway at decaying leather-bound texts frozen in time. Outside in the courtyard, baseball-size roses grow in the lovely gardens. (Shutterbugs: One of the best spots to pose for pictures is behind the Basilica, beneath the bell tower.)

California's missions were positioned one day apart by horseback, so you can see several in a day traveling by car. If you're heading south on Highway 1, it's easy to make a detour to Mission San Antonio de Padua, in the middle of nowhere near the tiny town of Jolon (Mission Rd.; 831-385-4478). It provides a glimpse of how the missions looked before modern-day civilization grew up around them.

Carnegie Hall
57th Street and 7th Avenue
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 247 7800
www.carnegiehall.org

Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was determined to build the grandest concert hall in the country when he endowed this magnificent auditorium in 1889. Two years later the main hall and two other performance spaces opened in an imposing Renaissance-style building, with acoustics deemed to be virtually perfect. In the century since, the name Carnegie Hall has become synonymous with the apex of achievement in the musical field—the reason everyone from Pavarotti to the Beatles has performed here. But even if it's an unknown artist on stage, the whole experience—the red carpets, the curving balconies, the thrum of history—is a performance in itself.

Carter Presidential Center
441 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta , Georgia
30307
Tel: 404 865 7100
www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov

Faithfully preserved records and artifacts from the 39th president's administration are on permanent display at this museum and library, which share a 37-acre campus with the humanitarian-focused Carter Center (not open to the public). Exhibitions focus on presidential or political themes—such as eyewitness accounts culled from the National Archives, like Thomas Jefferson's thoughts at the onset of the French Revolution—and change regularly.

The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 4:45 pm, Sunday noon to 4:30 pm.
The library is open Mondays through Fridays 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

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Castello di Amoroso
4045 N. St. Helena Highway (Hwy. 29)
Calistoga , California
94515
Tel: 707 967 6272
www.napavalleycastle.com

Napa Valley's newest, grandest winery is not a contemporary architectural monument but a recreated European castle, complete with moat, secco fresco murals, and a torture chamber. Built entirely by hand over the course of 14 years, Castello di Amoroso is the brainchild of Daryl Sattui, owner of the nearby V. Sattui Winery and lover of medieval history. Every detail is perfect, right down to the damp, cold catacombs (bring a sweater), which double as one of the castle's many barrel rooms. Complete wine production takes place inside the castle using grapes from the surrounding 30 acres of vines. The wines are Italian in style and remarkably good. Go for the super-Tuscan, a soft but sturdy blend of cabernet, sangiovese, and merlot; the Il Brigante, a merlot blend, goes well with acidic tomato sauces and pizza. But the most impressive thing here is the castle itself. Book well ahead; this is one of Napa's hottest new properties. Tasting fee; appointment required.

Open daily 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The Castro

The Castro, America's favorite gayborhood, has few tourist sights, but is unmatched for people-watching. The area is crammed with out-and-proud bookstores, bars, and clubby restaurants—hit Lime at brunch for all you can drink mimosas. The glass-walled Twin Peaks Tavern is famous as one of the first gay bars that did not hide its identity. Catch a movie at the Castro Theatre, a historic landmark and one of the few 1920s movie palaces still in operation today.

Celebration
Exit 64A off I-4
Celebration , Florida
www.celebrationfl.com

In 1994, Disney capitalized on the Central Florida real-estate boom in a controversial way: It opened its own town where it could professionally administer the company's ethos to eager buyers. At first, it seemed as if many of the new residents were actually journalists researching books about living in the enforced paradise, but in time, the town's tastefully arranged, gabled houses and obsessively quaint Market Street acquired earnest residents and businesses, plus a few Disney offices. Now managed by outside real-estate concerns, everything, down to paint color and hydrant placement, was calculated to instill the warm-fuzzies by corporate designers. Drive-by gawking is common, as are return glares from behind shifting curtains.

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Central Park
New York City , New York
www.centralparknyc.org

New York City without the park is a dismal thought. Created by visionary landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the mid-1800s, the 843-acre park stands as the calming yang to the city's fervent go-go yin, with ample nooks and open fields to allow for just about any pursuit. (Did you catch that guy playing violin on a unicycle?) Its boundaries run from 59th St. north to 110th St. and from Fifth Ave. on the east side to Central Park West. There are simply too many attractions to list: First-timers might pick a section and wander-go-lucky, or hunt down specific sights. A good option is to begin from the southeast corner at 59th St. and Fifth Ave., near the iconic, newly revamped Plaza Hotel, and head diagonally northwest—you'll likely pass the Zoo (sorry—the Wildlife Center); the Sheep Meadow, a 15-acre field that serves as a prime summer tanning and pickup spot; the area near the volleyball nets where a faithful set of characters roller-skate to old disco tunes every weekend; and then arrive at the Bethesda Terrace, where two sets of stately stairs lead down to the Angel of the Waters Fountain and its lake. The area is the most picturesque spot in the park. The Loeb Boathouse, on the east side near 72nd St., is where New Yorkers come to have brunch and watch boaters; if they're feeling romantic (and energetic), they might even rent a boat themselves (212-517-2233; www.thecentralparkboathouse.com). If you find yourself in the northern tier, stroll through the Conservatory Gardens on the east side at 105th St.. The cheapest thrill in all of Manhattan is the Carousel at 64th Street—$1.50! The north end of the park, past the Reservoir, feels wilder and more remote, with trails that lead into the woods and past streams—you won't even feel like you're in New York. Always, you'll find characters, musicians, and a spot to be left alone—heaven in the city.

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Challenge at Manele
1 Challenge Drive
Lanai , Hawaii
96763
Tel: 808 565 2222
www.gohawaii.com/stories/stories.html?video=6

The Pacific Ocean is your water hazard on this dazzling Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course. Try not to be distracted as you work your way through: Like the Experience at Koele, the Challenge at Manele has a dramatic signature hole, its 12th, which overlooks a 150-foot cliff drop to Hulopoe Bay and the pounding surf below. Guests of the Hotel Lanai, Lodge at Koele, and Manele Bay receive a discount on greens fees.

Champlain Valley Folk Festival
Kingsland Bay State Park
Ferrisburgh , Vermont
www.cvfest.org

It's called a "folk" festival, but that description doesn't do justice to the bluegrass, blues, Cajun, and Celtic performers that come each August to blast their songs across the waters of Lake Champlain. Bring a blanket (you'll be sitting on the grass), a bottle of wine, and, if you're so inclined, your dancing shoes: The dance tent shakes all weekend long.

Chappaquiddick

Chappaquiddick, an island just off Edgartown, is the least-known part of the Vineyard…well, least-known except for The Bridge—the one on which Mary Jo Kopechne lost her life and Ted Kennedy nearly lost his political career. But this tiny island is also one of the most beautiful places on the Vineyard. Hidden among its pines and oaks is the 14-acre Mytoi Japanese garden. Its red fretwork bridge, designed by architect Hugh Jones, is framed in daffodils, azaleas, hinoki cypress, and holly (depending on the season). You also can hike, fish, kayak, bird-watch, and pick blueberries. To get there, hop aboard what locals call the one-minute ferry (it actually takes three minutes) from the Edgartown wharf (Dike Rd.; 508-627-7689; thetrustees.org). There's another 14 miles of hiking trails in the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge on the eastern edge of Chappaquiddick, including a stretch along a seven-mile barrier beach. The refuge includes ponds, cedar groves, salt marshes, and the 1893 Cape Poge Lighthouse, and there are tours that cover natural history, fishing, lighthouses, and wildlife (aboard a kayak or canoe) as well as self-guided tours. Over-sand vehicle permits (available at the gatehouse for $180) allow four-wheel-drive vehicles access to 14 miles of dune roads.

Charbay Winery & Distillery
4001 Spring Mountain Road
St. Helena , California
94574
Tel: 707 963 9327
www.charbay.com

When you've had it with crowds, cabernet, and the pretense of the major wineries, book a tasting at Charbay Winery, a folksy throwback to the days when Napa's wineries looked like farms, not monuments. Founded by a 13th-generation master distiller from Serbia, Charbay has a cult following for its spirits and aperitif wines. Giant copper stills lie outside the garage-like tasting room, which doubles as the barrel room. During the sit-down tasting at a plastic table and picnic chairs, you'll sample unusual fortified and still wines. If you secretly add ice to your wine, you'll be delighted by Charbay, a Mendocino-grown chardonnay enriched with house-made brandy; serve it straight up as a dessert wine, or add ice and a twist for a smart and elegant aperitif. Do the same for the berry-rich rosé, and it tastes just like sangria. But the spirits are what make Charbay famous. California law won't allow you to taste them on-site, but trust us: The vodkas are fabulous, and some come flavored with bright fruit like blood orange, raspberry, or Meyer lemon.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
445 N. Park Avenue
Winter Park , Florida
Tel: 407 645 5311
www.morsemuseum.org

Located a few miles north of downtown Orlando in tony Winter Park, the Morse Museum's core collection, spread over 8,000 square feet of hushed and artfully downlit exhibition space, is the world's most comprehensive collection of works by Art Nouveau glassworker Louis Comfort Tiffany, many of which were acquired by a wealthy collector after the artist's Long Island home was destroyed in the 1950s. Case after case of masterpieces can turn even the most casual visitor into an art glass aficionado. In addition to an original Norman Rockwell, make sure to view the on-site chapel, designed by Tiffany for the Chicago's World Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Chase Field
401 E. Jefferson Street
Phoenix , Arizona
85004
Tel: 602 462 6500
www.dbacks.com

Formerly Bank One Ballpark, this baseball field is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and handles rain or shine with its retractable roof. Odd as it may seem to visitors unaccustomed to this climate, the roof actually is closed the later it gets in summer, as the heat outside can be unbearable. Get a group together (maximum 35) and reserve the swimming pool in right field for $6,500 (how cool is that?), or grab a seat in TGIF's Front Row, just beyond first base (602-462-3506; www.frontrowphoenix.myfridays.com). It's a full restaurant with "patio" seating in the stands. For the season schedule and general tickets, go to the Diamondbacks' Web site.

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Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art
1200 Forrest Park Drive
Nashville , Tennessee
37205
Tel: 615 356 8000
www.cheekwood.org

When garden-club doyennes dream, Cheekwood is what they see. This 55-acre spread on the edge of Belle Meade contains a dozen gardens planted to ensure colorful blooms no matter the season. Cheekwood's art museum has a permanent collection featuring contemporary stars like Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, and Red Grooms, one of Nashville's native sons. The Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail is a great synthesis of Cheekwood's strengths: Modern sculpture lines a one-mile path covered by indigenous shade trees. But the property's crown jewel is the Cheek Mansion, a stately Georgian Revival home that serves as the site of the annual Swan Ball, one of Southern high society's grandest events. The views of the formal gardens from the moss-strewn limestone verandas are lush, romantic, and a must-see.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Sundays 11 am to 4:30 pm.

Chelsea Gallery District
W. 13th to W. 29th Streets from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway
Chelsea
New York City , New York

There's no better place to survey the most buzzed-about names in contemporary art than in west Chelsea. On Saturdays, these blocks crawl with curious onlookers and art investors on the prowl for the next Jeff Koons. Though some critics carp about Chelsea's increasing predictability (yes, that's another Warhol), there's still plenty of cutting-edge fare on display. The area is home to 230 venues, from the not-for-profit, contemporary gallery CUE Art Foundation (511 W. 25th St.; 212-206-3583; www.cueartfoundation.org) to blue-chip dealers such as PaceWildenstein (545 W. 22nd St. and 534 W. 25th St.; 212-989-4258; www.pacewildenstein.com) and the Gagosian Gallery (555 W. 24th St. and 522 W. 21st St.; 212-741-1111; www.gagosian.com). When planning your stroll, keep in mind that galleries often keep limited hours or are open by appointment only; www.chelseaartgalleries.com provides a good overview of the area. Art critic Merrily Kerr runs excellent tours of the neighborhood, taking you to a range of galleries and helping to put the pieces into context with what's going on in the larger art world.

Puzzling over video installations and abstract paintings is bound to leave you hungry—luckily, the district happens to be flanked by Tenth Avenue's excellent swath of restaurants, like Cookshop's locally sourced American cuisine (156 Tenth Ave.; 212-924-4440; www.cookshopny.com). After lunch, wander above it all on the High Line, a former elevated train line that has been converted into a park overlooking the city and the Hudson River.

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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
213 North Talbot Street
St. Michaels , Maryland
21663
Tel: 410 745 2916
www.cbmm.org

Sprawling across 18 waterfront acres on the Eastern Shore's tranquil Miles River, this smartly organized museum could almost pass for a working port. An old colonial home holds natural-history exhibits, while nearby sheds display a dizzying array of purpose-built watercraft that once worked one of America's greatest fisheries, including the sail-driven skipjack E.C. Collier, which dredged oysters for decades. You can try your luck working scissor-like oyster nippers and tongs from Waterman's Wharf and hoisting up the baited crab traps and eel pots. The more ambitious can enroll in the museum's "Apprentice for a Day" weekend program and help master shipwrights restore boats or build a traditional flat-bottom wooden skiff. And how's this for a gift-shop souvenir? The handmade boats are for sale for a bargain $10,500.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.

Chinatown
New York City , New York
www.explorechinatown.com

The largest Asian community in North America has expanded its territory over the years, reaching into the Lower East Side and Little Italy; Manhattan's Chinatown now extends from Worth St. to Broome St. between Broadway and Madison St., but the main streets are Canal and Mott. The area is packed with markets overflowing with vegetables and fish, restaurants and noodle shops, stores selling everything from silk robes to discount luggage, and basement massage parlors where you can get a good, cheap shiatsu. If you don't like crowds, though, beware: It's a virtual mosh pit of humanity down here, and challenging to negotiate on foot. But there's also a spiritual side, particularly in the Eastern States Buddhist Temple on Mott St., where golden Buddhas are lit by candlelight.

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Chinatown
San Francisco , California

Chinatown is a prime tourist destination, but it's also a bustling residential neighborhood, where dim sum scents the air and grocery stores sell chicken feet and Chinese greens. You'll find stores that seem to sell everything, from slippers and cheongsams to gorgeous fish-shaped kites. Admire the ornate balconies of Waverly Place then climb up to the Tien Hau Temple (125 Waverly Pl.), lavishly decorated in gold and vermilion.

Chinese New Year Parade
San Francisco , California
Tel: 415 391 9680
www.chineseparade.com

Invented in the 1860s by Chinese immigrants as a way to share their culture, this is the largest parade of its kind in the United States. Giant dragons and lions, local dignitaries, marching bands, and costumed dancers snake through downtown, and the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA and her court wave coyly from their float. Dress warmly and find a spot to watch early along the route (the sidewalk gets more crowded as you approach Chinatown) or spring for a $30 bleacher seat. The event takes place between January 21 and February 21. Chinese New Year dates vary; check the Web site for schedule.

Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Avenue at E. 42nd Street
Midtown East
New York City , New York
10017

Automotive tycoon Walter Chrysler wanted to build the tallest building in the world, and when this stainless-steel skyscraper opened in 1930, it was—at least until the Empire State Building was completed a few months later. His edifice may no longer have the height advantage, but architecture critics (and many New Yorkers) give it the edge on style, thanks to the automotive themes that rev up its Jazz Age design—the overlapping hubcaps that make up the building's crown and the eagle hood ornaments that extend from eight corners of the 61st floor. (For a behind-the-scenes look at Condé Nast Traveler's September 2006 cover shoot with Naomi Watts atop one of the 61st-floor gargoyles, click here.) It's a romantic building, particularly when lit up at night. Visitors can also check out the lobby during regular business hours, with its airplane ceiling mural and carved-wood elevator doors.

Cinema

As befits a town notorious for its rain, Seattle has some standout theaters. Saved from impending destruction in 1999 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the retro Cinerama has a massive 90-by-30-foot curved screen (for three-strip films) and a wave-shaped ceiling to optimize the theater's surround-sound system. The subterranean Big Picture has the feel of a super-stylish living room, complete with leopard-print sofas and curlicued mirrors in the lounge area. Grab a martini from the bar and settle into a rocking chair in the theater, where first-run art-house films play weekly. Lines snake around the block each spring when the Seattle International Film Festival—a three-week series of about 400 films—comes to town.—Updated by Aaron Barker

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Cirque du Soleil
Las Vegas , Nevada
Tel: 702 792 7777
www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/home.aspx#/en/home/shows/americas/usa/nevada/las-vegas.aspx

The phenomenally successful Montreal circus troupe has come a long way since its early days here with Mystère and O. Those shows—with their strange costumes, otherworldly music, and astonishing acrobatics—are still running strong (at Treasure Island and Bellagio, respectively), but the group broke new ground in 2003 with Zumanity at New York–New York (702-740-6815). Sexy performers with perfect physiques flirt their way through contortion, acrobatic, musical, and comedy acts. It's an erotic show, and not recommended for the easily offended. (On the contrary, couples can request seats on somewhat private red-velvet sofas.) For death-defying theatrics, , at MGM Grand, utilizes a stage that rises 70 feet into the air and rotates almost perpendicular to the floor, leaving the performers to struggle (well, it looks like a struggle) to stay on. With its pyrotechnics, heart-pounding music, and adrenaline rush, it attracts the widest audience (800-929-1111). Love, at the Mirage, sets imaginary scenes to Beatles tracks recorded during the legendary Abbey Road sessions. Beatles fans will go mad, but even younger nonfans may find themselves jumping around in their seats (702-792-7777). Magician Criss Angel's Believe, at the Luxor, which calls to mind a sort of Alice in Wonderland, has been a smashing success (702-262-4400). But Cirque's Viva Elvis, at Aria Resort, has yet to work out the kinks. The set design itself is vastly under par compared with other Cirque productions, and the performers seemed ho-hum about the unimaginative acrobatics. But a live band performs to remastered Elvis recordings during the show, making it feel like Elvis, indeed, has not left the building (877-253-5847).—updated by David Tyda

The Cloisters
Fort Tryon Park
99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
10040
Tel: 212 923 3700
www.metmuseum.org/cloisters/events/

A branch of the Met devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, the Cloisters is a series of medieval passageways reconstructed from French monasteries and incorporated within a modern museum. Situated in Fort Tyron Park at the northern tip of Manhattan above 189th Street, the museum exists largely thanks to a generous endowment from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who helped the Met purchase not only the collection but the new building and 700 acres of land in New Jersey, which preserves the bucolic views across the Hudson. The collection includes tapestries, stained-glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, and sculpture, mainly from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The Cloisters is a popular destination on sweltering summer days, when strolling the cool, calm passageways and gardens is a heavenly respite from the urban madness.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9:30 am to 4:45 pm (November to February), 9:30 am to 5:15 pm (March to October). M-4 bus, with stops along Madison Avenue above 34th Street, is best direct transit to the park. You can also take the 1 train on the subway.

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CMA Music Festival
Nashville , Tennessee
Tel: 800 262 3378
www.cmafest.com

The CMA Music Festival draws 200,000 country fans to Nashville—the largest gathering of its kind on the planet. During the four-day festival, held each June, the Country Music Association draws entertainers to perform and hold autograph meet and greet parties at downtown clubs and on temporary stages erected on the banks of the Cumberland River. The biggest stars—think Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney—take the stage in the evening, at nearby LP Field. Hotels are booked months in advance and locals avoid the area at all costs during the "invasion," though it does make for some fine people-watching. Hard-core fans should purchase a four-day pass, which includes access to all daytime activities, night performances at LP Field, and the autograph line; for those who want to catch a specific act, tickets to individual shows are sold separately about a month in advance. (One drawback: A single-show ticket won't get you access to the autograph line.) The four-day passes sell out quickly; they go on sale a year in advance, so plan your trip early to ensure you score a ticket.

CNN World Center
1 CNN Center
Atlanta , Georgia
30303
Tel: 404 827 2300
www.cnn.com/studiotour

Back in 1991, CNN put Atlanta on the map with its real-time Gulf War coverage and its then-revolutionary concept of a 24-hour cable news service. While some programming has shifted to New York City, the global headquarters for the Turner Broadcasting System remains one of this city's most visible institutions. Guided tours provide a behind-the-scenes look at the operation, including a model control center and a blue-screen special-effects studio. Advance reservations are recommended. The walking tour includes several flights of stairs; call ahead to inquire about accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Coffee

Starbucks, Torrefazione Italia Coffee, and Seattle's Best Coffee are among the chains that got their start here, but it's the smaller, funkier cafés that provide a glimpse into the city's renowned java culture. The fashionable Zeitgeist, in Pioneer Square, has high ceilings, warm wood shelving, and brick walls hung with art. It's always buzzing with beautiful people. Hand-painted murals and red-and-yellow walls make the Cuba-inspired El Diablo Coffee Company a sunny spot regardless of the weather. Try its robust Cubano, made with custom-roasted beans and sweetened with caramelized sugar. Capitol Hill has too many good coffeehouses to dare to pick a "best," but Victrola Coffee & Art stands out for lovely Art Deco–inspired digs, baristas who never seem to have an off day, and a commitment to hard-to-get specialty brews. Another great spot in the same neighborhood is the loftlike Capitol Hill outpost of Bauhaus (the brew of choice for Seattle's cool set), which houses a library of design books and has an upper deck with brilliant views of the Space Needle.—Updated by Aaron Barker

Cole Valley
San Francisco , California

A stroll in Cole Valley, to the south of the Upper Haight, is a pleasant way to escape that area's crowds. Admire the Victorians on Ashbury Street, or go up Shrader Street, passing the "Angel of Hope" in front of #1591, carved from a cypress trunk after the tree fell in a 1997 storm. Turn left on Belgrave Street to enjoy the glorious vista from Tank Hill.

Condor Express (Whale Watching)
301 West Cabrillo Boulevard
Santa Barbara , California
93101
Tel: 805 882 0088
www.condorcruises.com

"Whale watching with a guarantee" is the motto of Condor Express—that's what they all say. But the waters off Santa Barbara are home to one of the world's largest concentrations of migrating blue and humpback whales, plus orcas, minke whales, dolphins, and other finned mammals throughout the year. Best time to see blues and humpbacks: May through September. Dolphins can be seen throughout the year, and orcas surface occasionally between late February and March. Catch the gray whales during their winter migration to Mexico between December and March, or between February and May, when they head north with their newborn calves. Condor Express offers two-hour coast cruises and half-day tours of the Channel Islands, depending on whale migrations. The only time that spotting a whale is not guaranteed is during the fall.

Contemporary Museum
2411 Makiki Heights Drive
Honolulu , Hawaii
Tel: 808 526 1322
www.tcmhi.org

Hidden away in the tony suburb of Makiki, the Contemporary has an impressive collection of lesser-known works by modern-art masters. There are paintings by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, and Richard Diebenkorn; sculpture by Deborah Butterfield; photography by William Wegman; and glasswork by Dale Chihuly. The café on the grounds is a lovely, serene place to lunch, and children are welcome to play among the outdoor installations in the garden.

Cooper-Young District
Cooper Street at Young Street
Midtown
Memphis , Tennessee

For quirky shopping, eclectic dining, offbeat coffee bars, a swell farmer's market, and several smart galleries, head to Midtown Memphis's hippest neighborhood, centered at the intersection of Cooper and Young streets. Park on the southwest corner, behind Café Olé, and walk to Young Avenue Deli, fish-happy Tsunami (928 S. Cooper; 901-274-2556; www.tsunamimemphis.com; closed Sundays), or Casablanca, a Moroccan/Greek spot where ebullient proprietor Aimer Shtaya playfully regales the dining room with anecdotes (2156 Young Ave.; 901-725-8557; www.casablancamemphis.com). You'll want to drive to most other highlights, such as David Mah Studio (888 S. Cooper; 901-272-8880; www.davidmahstudio.com; by appointment only), Otherlands Coffee Bar & Exotic Gifts (641 S. Cooper; 901-278-4994), and retro store Flashback, Inc. (2304 Central Ave.; 901-272-2304; www.flashbackmemphis.com). In mid-September, the district's businesses host the popular Cooper-Young Festival, a celebration of art, music, crafts, and food.

Corcoran Gallery of Art
500 17th Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20006
Tel: 202 639 1700
www.corcoran.org

NOTE: The Corcoran Gallery of Art will be closed for roof renovations from January 26 through March 13, 2009.
The city's first art museum, housed in an extravagant Beaux Arts building across from the White House, contains an encyclopedic assortment of American art, from portraits from the 18th century to modern works of the 20th century. It's not exclusively American, though, having benefited from the eclectic bequests of several wealthy collectors. The Clark Landing wing contains an extensive display of European paintings, sculptures, tapestries, rugs, and an entire Louis XVI salon belonging to Senator William Andrews Clark, who donated his possessions to the museum in the 1920s. A more recent addition is the photography collection belonging to the noted lensman Gordon Parks.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Road West
Naples , Florida
34120
Tel: 239 348 9151
www.corkscrew.audubon.org

The National Audubon Society's 13,000-acre preserve, located 20 miles inland of Bonita Springs, protects pine flatwoods, open prairie, and North America's largest stand of old-growth bald cypress, a moss-draped redwood relative that can exceed 130 feet in height and 25 in girth. A 2.25-mile handicap-accessible boardwalk leads through the pristine forest and over wetlands and shallow "lettuce lakes" that are prime feeding grounds for alligators and wading birds. Almost 200 bird species have been spotted here, including yellow-billed cuckoos, painted buntings, and America's largest nesting colony of wood storks. While this is a self-guided walk, volunteer naturalists along the route will answer questions. Depending on the season, you may spot alligators moving through the grasses, black bears in the pinelands, or raccoons and otters. Given the shade thrown by the towering cypress trees and a thriving population of larvae-eating mosquito fish, this is a pleasant nature call, even in summer.

Open daily 7 am to 7:30 pm, April 11 though September 30, 7 am to 5:30 pm, October 1 through April 10.

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Cornerstone Gardens
23570 Highway 121
Cornerstone Place
Schellville , California
95476
Tel: 707 933 3010
www.cornerstonegardens.com

The first gallery-style garden exhibit in the United States, Cornerstone's nine-acre grounds showcase 20 different walk-through gardens by famed landscape architects and designers. Among the current highlights are a children's garden by Moore Iacofano Goltsman and woven eucalyptus screens by Walter Hood. The garden plot called Earth Walk, designed by Pamela Burton, descends into the grounds, through Mexican feather grass, to a meditation bench by a koi pond. Inspired? Head to the adjacent shops for garden-related wares, including outdoor furniture and sculpture, architectural salvage pieces, tools, plants, and books. Fuel up on coffee and sandwiches at the on-site Blue Tree Café before heading north to the Sonoma County wineries.

Open daily 10 am to 4 pm.

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Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
222 Fifth Avenue S.
Nashville , Tennessee
37203
Tel: 615 416 2001
www.countrymusichalloffame.com

Country music fans are in heaven here, surrounded by photographs, videos, and other memorabilia depicting the evolution of "hillbilly" music from the 1930s to the multimillion-dollar industry it is today. Even folks who claim to dislike country are likely to find themselves amused by the iconic relics on display: "Rodeo Tailor" Nudie Cohn's designs for Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, and Marty Stuart; Webb Pierce's white Pontiac Bonneville featuring steer horns on the front grille, a dash customized with 1,000 coins, and six-shooter handguns where the door handles should be. The rest of the museum tour includes video presentations and interactive displays. (Not sure you can remember what Kitty Wells's voice sounds like? Touch a computer screen and a song cues up.)

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm. Closed Tuesdays during January and February.

Crissy Field
603 Mason Street
San Francisco , California
94129
www.crissyfield.org

This broad, grassy meadow between the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Point was formerly the site of a U.S. Army post but is now a public park with a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. You'll see many devotees of the Californian cult of fitness, from joggers and bikers to kite-surfers and Rollerbladers. Take a picnic so you can soak in the vista, stroll, and people-watch, or buy a cheap kite in Chinatown and meditate as it floats on the breeze.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

Cross-Country Skiing in Park City
Park City , Utah

There are several choices for cross-country skiing around Park City. White Pine Touring, right in town, has 12.5 miles of groomed trails that skirt along the mountains and past the pretty white McPolin Barn, a historic dairy farm; rentals are available. Soldier Hollow, the cross-country and biathlon venue for the 2002 Games, is just east of Park City and has a 20-mile trail system, rentals, and a tubing hill with 1,200-foot lanes served by a tow-lift.—Updated by Sarah Tuff

Cross-country Skiing in Vermont

Ah, gliding over the snow, lungs filling with crisp oxygen, the smell of wood smoke in the air, and blue skies overhead—the best parts of Nordic skiing. Vermont has 36 dedicated cross-country ski areas, and many of the alpine resorts have attached Nordic centers (see the full list at www.skivermont.com). In northern Vermont, Craftsbury Outdoor Center has more than 80 miles of trails that wend through winter-hushed woods, skirt ice-clogged rivers, and cut through farmers' fields (535 Lost Nation Rd., Craftsbury Common; 802-586-7767; www.craftsbury.com). The area has lodging and meals, and in the summer converts to a sculling and trail-running destination. If you're looking to escape the alpine chaos at Killington, make for Mountain Top Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center, a 15-minute drive away from the base area (802-483-6089; www.mountaintopinn.com). It offers a pristine 50-mile network of trails and 29 post-and-beam rooms at the Mountain Top inn. It also has a summertime alter ego as a top horseback-riding retreat. And for a true cross-country skiing adventure, the Catamount Trail is the winter equivalent of the famous Long Trail (802-864-5794; www.catamounttrail.org). Beginning at the Massachusetts line and ending at the Canadian border, it stretches the 300-mile length of Vermont, connecting backcountry routes and groomed trails.

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Cruising in Alaska

Alaska's most popular cruise destination is in Southeast, between the countless islands strung out along Canada's western coast. Stretching from Ketchikan to Glacier Bay, the Inside Passage is a landscape of still water and tree-covered mountains that slope to the water's edge, forming deep, narrow channels. Bays and inlets are so quiet that frequently the loudest sound is the exhale of a passing humpback whale. All the big-name cruise lines take this run. (For help choosing your cruise, see Cruises 101, our primer on the strengths, weaknesses, and audiences of 15 major cruise lines, most of which have Alaska sailings.) The standard one-week route is round-trip from Seattle or Vancouver with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway; longer cruises include Sitka. Most operators also have ten-day or two-week itineraries that continue across the Gulf of Alaska into Prince William Sound, usually stopping at Valdez and Seward. A few operators run trips into the far reaches of Alaska; Cruise West, for example, has trips into the Bering Sea.

When relatives visit Southeast, locals book them on a day cruise to Tracy Arm (we recommend Gold Belt Tours). It's not as famous as Glacier Bay, but Tracy Arm's glacier tends to calve more frequently than those in the Bay, and the landscape is more intimate. (Look for mountain goats and bears at the water's edge, and seals basking on ice floes near the glacier's face.) A couple of times a year, Gold Belt goes to Ford's Terror, a channel off Tracy Arm. Mostly inaccessible because of shallow water and fierce tides, the Terror looks like the set for the ultimate dinosaur movie. Steep mountains drop waterfalls the height of a 50-story building, and the ship winds through channels so narrow it feels like you can reach out and touch the trees where ravens gather to argue.

Southcentral Alaska's pride for cruisers is an excursion combining Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords. It's a short course on the best of Alaska: a place where you can pass 20 or 30 glaciers in a day, where orcas surface alongside rocks occupied by 1,000-pound sea lions, and puffins and bald eagles dot the sky. Native-owned Kenai Fjords Tours runs full- and half-day cruises from the town of Seward, about a two-hour drive south of Anchorage. Cruises can also be booked through the Alaska Railroad, along with your train from Anchorage.

And don't overlook the Alaska Marine Highway as a cruise alternative. For locals, this is the bus system; to the rest of the world, it's the longest ferry system anywhere. The AMH ships have two- and four-berth cabins, or you can sleep for free in the solarium (on a couple of the ships, you can even pitch a tent on deck). Fares are a fraction of what you'd pay on cruise ships, and you get the chance to mingle with locals headed home, instead of other tourists.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Dallas Arboretum
8525 Garland Road
Dallas , Texas
75218
Tel: 214 515 6500
Fax: 214 515 6522
www.dallasarboretum.org

One of the nation's biggest and best floral displays is set on the thickly wooded slopes above White Rock Lake, a popular recreation spot close to downtown. Paths shaded by magnolias and crape myrtles wind among immense beds of tulips and azaleas in the spring and chrysanthemums in the fall. A vast variety of vistas makes this a popular place for commercial and amateur photographers: water walls, gazebos, arbors, broad lawns, and myriad fountains and pools, some whimsical (four spouting toads), some ethereally minimalist. A new education center designed by the noted Texas firm Lake/Flato is a series of small classrooms and large pavilions in glass, steel, stone, and wood, a sophisticated modernist interpretation of traditional Texas barns and farmhouses. Picnicking is encouraged.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood Street
Dallas , Texas
75201
Tel: 214 922 1200
www.dallasmuseumofart.org

Though it is the least distinguished architecturally of the area's major museums, Edward Larrabee Barnes' sleek, modern building is dramatically ambitious if somewhat overbearing. The collections broadly survey European, American, Asian, and African art while also showcasing cutting-edge contemporary work, often from some of Europe's biggest stars. Decorative arts are another strength, with a definitive collection of American silver. But the premier collection is ancient art from South and Central America, and it's one of the world's finest, featuring stunning displays of Incan gold and Mayan ceramics. The museum also functions as a site for frequent concerts, readings, and lectures.

Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 11 am to 9 pm, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Dallas World Aquarium
1801 N. Griffin Street
Dallas , Texas
75202
Tel: 214 720 2224
www.dwazoo.com

The aquarium isn't the half of this ambitious, privately operated zoological garden in Dallas's West End Historic District. An enormous glassed-in habitat reproduces Venezuela's Orinoco rain forest, monkeys and toucans gambol in the treetops, and crocodiles and manatees swim down below. In the new junglelike eight-story Mundo Maya habitat, hummingbirds and butterflies flit, panthers prowl, and bull sharks lurk over visitors' heads in a glassed-in tunnel. The aquarium has gorgeous saltwater environments ranging from British Columbia (giant octopus) to the reefs of Palau. Have a drink and a bite in the Eighteen-O-One restaurant while the kids go wild.

Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.

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deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park
51 Sandy Pond Road
Lincoln , Massachusetts
01773
Tel: 781 259 8355
www.decordova.org

More popular with locals than tourists, the deCordova is off the beaten track by virtue of its location, about 16 miles west of Boston, in the picturesque town of Lincoln. The experience is well worth renting a car for the day. Set in a converted mansion overlooking woods and a large lake, the museum focuses on contemporary art, much of it by New England artists. But the real fun here is the sculpture park: 35 acres of rolling hills and wooded areas, populated by about 80 contemporary sculptures. You (and any kids you happen to be toting) will enjoy the time outdoors while taking in a little culture, too. Don't miss Jim Dine's Two Big Black Hearts: two huge bronze hearts with the artist's handprints and various tools, such as hammers and garden clippers, cast into them. If renting a car isn't an option, you can access the museum by taking the MBTA commuter rail (Purple Line) from Boston's North Station to Lincoln and then a taxi (see the Web site for details). And since you're in the neighborhood, you might want to swing by nearby Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden.

Museum building open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5 pm; sculpture park open daily from dawn to dusk.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard
Del Mar , California
Tel: 858 755 1141
www.dmtc.com

Every summer, San Diegans go horse-crazy and flock to Del Mar to bet on thoroughbreds. One of the nation's top horse-racing venues, the historic Del Mar Thoroughbred Club first opened in 1937. Races are presented six days weekly from mid-July through mid-September. On Fridays, a free concert series with big-name rock acts—Flaming Lips, Violent Femmes, Pinback—follows the races.

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Denali National Park
Alaska
www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm

Alaska's biggest draw is Denali National Park—at over six million acres of wilderness, it is home to Mount McKinley, the continent's highest peak (locals call it Denali, or just "the Mountain"), and glaciers so giant and so old that forests grow on them. Even by Alaska standards, Denali is extraordinary. In all that wild scenery, there is only a single road, and it's essentially closed to private traffic. The purest method of exploring Denali is to go to the ranger station at the park entrance, obtain an overnight permit, and start hiking. Permits are granted for a particular zone, but no matter which one you draw, you'll have the world to yourself—except, of course, for the bears, caribou, moose, and the occasional wolf. Day hikes aren't normally restricted, although park rangers may close an area so you don't, for example, cross paths with a pack of wolves protecting a kill. Otherwise, board one of the National Park–run school buses that go as far as Wonder Lake, 85 miles from the park entrance and close enough to Mount McKinley that the mountain looks like a wall. If 11 hours on a bus is more than you can take, even going out partway will reward you richly: Scenic highlights include Polychrome Pass, at mile 44, where the landscape is colored more shades of red, pink, and gold than any crayon box can hold, and the Eielson Visitor Center, at mile 66, which offers great mountain views…if you're lucky. Mount McKinley is so massive that it makes its own weather systems; since it's often shrouded in clouds, only about a third of park visitors get to see the peak. Anywhere in the park, keep your eyes peeled: The local subspecies of grizzly bears, Toklat grizzlies, are smaller than usual grizzlies, and cinnamon-colored; they blend into the tundra like ghosts. Even if you don't have time to venture far into the park, there's plenty to see and do, including dogsled demos at the main visitor center and whitewater rafting on the Class IV Nenana River. To get a good overview of Denali (literally), try a flightseeing tour.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix , Arizona
85008
Tel: 480 941 1225
www.dbg.org

This is one of the best gardens you will ever see, possibly because it's so full of local plants. There are giant saguaros, the type of cactus that can hold up to 1,000 gallons of water, and succulents like aloe plants that are so tall (15 feet) that they look like they're from a Star Trek episode. Don't miss the desert flowers, either, which are achingly beautiful.

De Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco , California
94118
Tel: 415 863 3330
www.thinker.org/deyoung

Damaged by an earthquake in 1989, the de Young opened its strikingly angular new building—clad in a perforated copper skin—in Golden Gate Park in October 2005. Locals love it or hate it: Some say it looks like a dragon; others, like something aliens built in the night. The permanent collection comprises American, African, Oceanic, American Indian, New Guinea, Maori, and Filipino art and includes some notable works by Frida Kahlo. The below-ground galleries house temporary exhibitions of varying quality. When it's clear out, the spectacular view from the nine-story observation tower is a stunner. On Friday evenings, the museum stays open late for its "Friday Nights at the de Young" program, when you can sip cocktails as you take in anything from poetry to performance art.—Updated by John Vlahides

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 9:30 am to 5:15 pm, Fridays 9:30 am to 8:45 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 9:30 am to 5:15 pm.

Di Rosa Preserve
5200 Carneros Highway
Carneros , California
94559
Tel: 707 226 5991
www.dirosapreserve.org

When you see the tongue-in-cheek cut-out sheep dotting the hillside just outside of Napa, you've arrived at di Rosa Preserve, one of the largest regional art collections in the country. More than 2,000 works by Northern California artists are assembled in three galleries and a sculpture meadow. In the di Rosa residence gallery, paintings cover every available surface, including the ceiling, while the Gatehouse and main galleries are more contemporary in layout. Among the works by 900 artists, there are some real gems, including paintings by William Wiley, a subterranean video installation by Paul Kos, and sculptures by Robert Hudson, Mark di Suvero, and Robert Arneson. While the Gatehouse Gallery is open on a pop-in, pop-out basis, you'll need to sign on to a tour in order to see the rest of the property. The guided one-hour tours can feel rushed, and visitors are not permitted to explore on their own. If you want extra time for wandering, book a two-hour tour or come on Saturday for an in-depth two-and-a-half-hour tour (April through October only). The estate also hosts its own First Friday art party every month during the summer and autumn tourist seasons.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 9:30 am to 3 pm.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=AKLandingPage

Added in 1998, Animal Kingdom is the most spacious Disney Park by a large margin (500 acres), although most of that belongs to the menagerie of exotic, free-roaming animals. See them on the 20-minute excursion, "Kilimanjaro Safaris," as soon as the park opens, before long lines form and the animals seek shelter from the sun. When Disney realized the Kingdom's big-ticket attractions (the clever, sense-tricking movie It's Tough to Be a Bug! shown beneath the Tree of Life, the bruising indoor ride Dinosaur, and a few exhibits about animal conservation) weren't keeping guests busy enough to stay until closing time (at dusk), they added a roller coaster, Expedition Everest, in spring 2006 and a Broadway-style musical version of Finding Nemo, opened a year later. Despite these additions, visitors still tend to vacate the park by 2pm or so. Since much of the park's attractions are exposed to the elements, either limit your visit to the cooler morning hours or make sure to wear appropriate clothing.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=MGMLandingPage

Opened in 1989 (in part to head off Universal Studios, which debuted the following year), Disney's third Florida park was intended to double as a functioning studio, but the clients didn't materialize. The resulting property's most celebrated attractions are the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror—a technological and artistic home run that thrills guests by emulating a haunted elevator car—and an indoor roller-coaster (Disney World's only upside-down ride). It's also home to the new Toy Story Mania, an addictive ride through a 3-D video arcade simulating a half dozen carnival games, such as pie throwing and ringtoss. Otherwise, the Studios are mostly a place to catch live shows suited to the very young, including an electrifying car stunt show and bite-size versions of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Disneyland
1313 S. Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim , California
Tel: 714 781 4000
www.disneyland.com

Just a 45-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles, Disneyland is mandatory if you have children (and even if you haven't, don't you want to experience it once, just to get that big dose of Americana?). These days there are even some hotels with character and an increasing number of good spots for food.

Distillery Tour
www.distilleryrowpdx.com

Portland has long been known for its microbrew and wine scenes. But the latest local boozing trend is small-batch distilleries, tiny D.I.Y. outfits cooking up everything from bourbon to aquavit. Most line the southeast side of town on what has come to be known as Distillery Row. Among our favorites are House Spirits, whose old-timey apothecary offers tastings of Dutch-inspired Aviation Gin, Russian-Polish style Medoyeff Vodka, and whatever else they're tinkering with in the distillery out back. Locally made bourbon chocolates, vintage cocktail books, bitters, and tiki syrups are also available. Integrity Spirits focuses on botanicals like Oregon's first locally produced absinthe and hazelnut-infused vodka. Vodka is also the drink of choice at the all-organic New Deal, which adds savory flavors like basil. Across town in Northwest is the granddaddy of the distillery movement, Clear Creek. It's been creating liquors with local produce for 25 years, including a pear brandy with a pear grown in the bottle.—Colleen Clark

House Spirits tasting room open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 4 pm. Tours on Saturdays by appointment.

Integrity Spirits open Saturdays 2 to 6 pm or by appointment.

New Deal Distillery open Saturdays 12:30 to 5 pm and Sundays 1 to 4 pm or by appointment.

Clear Creek Distillery open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.

Diving + Snorkeling on Oahu

The diving isn't as spectacular around Oahu as it is off Hawaii's outer islands (the deep water isn't quite as clear here). But there are some terrific plane-wreck dives, including the sunken Beechcraft plane off Waianae, and the Corsair crash site off Hawaii Kai, where garden eels "sprout" from their holes in the ocean floor. For trips to these sites, as well as shore dives off the North Shore, contact Oahu Dive Center, the largest and most reputable operator on the island (808-263-7333; www.oahudivecenter.com).

Good snorkeling can be had off almost every Oahu beach; in particular, Sharks Cove and Kuilima Cove on the North Shore are great during the summer, when the water is calm (no worries—you're unlikely to see sharks). The best snorkeling spot by far, though, is Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, a placid cove where the tropical fish have led protected lives since 1967. They're consequently tame as puppies, and swarm around snorkelers in hopes of getting a snack (feeding the fish isn't allowed, though obviously someone is doing it). It can be a little alarming to have hundreds of fish swooping in at you—and even nibbling at you—but they're harmless, and once you get used to it, it's actually pretty fun. There's a beautiful beach at Hanauma where you're welcome to spend the day, although you'll need to pay parking and entry fees (both under $5), and watch a short conservation film before you're allowed to walk down to the sand. The food at the sole snack stand is good but pricey (808-396-4229; www.co.honolulu.hi.us/parks/facility/hanaumabay).

Diving in Maui

Diving wannabes take note: Maui's waters are warm, clear, teeming with sea life, and calm (at least on the island's south side). In other words, this an ideal place to get certified (it takes less than one week). Better yet, the abundance of dive shops has driven the price of certification down to about $300. Maui Dreams Dive Co. has a solid reputation for safety and environmental awareness. For the certified, it's hard to argue with 25 years of experience diving on Maui—not that Mike Severns likes to brag. He and his team lead dives to all of the main areas of interest: Molokini, Makena, La Perouse Bay, the Kanaio coast, and the St. Anthony wreck.

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Diving on the Big Island
www.gohawaii.com/big_island/learn/kona_coast

The west side of the Big Island—one of the most popular dive destinations in the state—is nearly ideal for underwater exploration: The water is warm, calm, and clear, and there is little wind. Two long-established outfits among the dozen or so dive operators are Aloha Dive Company and Dive Makai Charters. Both have high safety standards, respect the ocean environment, and are straightforward about the day's conditions: Some days you have your pick of dive spots; on others, they'll decide which is the clearest and safest for you. Private day charters are available, as are night dives with manta rays. The latter is hardly an exclusive deal—some nights, it feels like every other diver on the island is out with you—but the manta rays are quite exquisite and very playful.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens
4339 Park Avenue
East Memphis
Memphis , Tennessee
Tel: 901 761 5250
www.dixon.org

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, formerly a private residence, encompasses 17 acres of grounds and houses an admirable collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and decorative arts. Chagall, Renoir, Rodin, Gauguin, and Degas are represented in the permanent collection, along with a sizable portion of French artist Jean-Louis Forain's work, acquired in a deliberate effort to gather works by lesser-known, accomplished Impressionists. Temporary exhibits change four to five times per year. A stroll through the formal and woodland gardens makes for a tranquil, and sometimes peacefully moving, addition to an afternoon spent sightseeing.

Closed Mondays.

Dogsledding
Vail , Colorado

Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides runs trips twice daily on the 10,000-acre Diamond Star Ranch outside Vail. Two people board a sled operated by a musher and pulled by 10 to 12 friendly huskies. The experience is a strangely quiet glide through snow-muffled woods. Halfway through, clients are given the option to take the reins (970-653-7877; www.mountainmusher.com).

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Domaine Chandon Winery
1 California Drive
Yountville , California
94599
Tel: 707 944 2280
www.chandon.com

One of the first French-owned wineries in California, Domaine Chandon opened with a splash in 1975 and is best known for its wide range of sparkling wines, including brut, blanc de noirs, extra-dry, and rosé varieties. Regularly scheduled tours guide visitors (up to 30 at a time) through the process of crafting and bottling bubbly. Purchase a flight of tastings and take your glass (included in the tasting fee) out to a café table on the terrace for majestic views of the surrounding Napa Valley countryside. There's also Étoile, a formal restaurant that's great for lunch (reservations essential). Although you'll find better sparkling wines at Schramsberg, Domaine Chandon provides more amenities, and it has one of the area's only late-night drinking permits. When the rest of the valley shuts down, drop by the Étoile wine lounge for drinks and entertainment (summer only). Tasting fee, no appointment necessary.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm; wine lounge open Thursdays through Saturdays 6 to 11 pm, summer only.

Douglas Family Preserve
Linda Road
Santa Barbara , California
93101
Tel: 805 564 5418

A hefty donation from actor Michael Douglas saved the Santa Barbara Coastal Bluffs—now called the Douglas Family Preserve—from being developed into housing. The 70-acre grassy mesa sits above the popular Arroyo Burro Beach, and a walking trail meanders from the entrance on Linda Road to a bluff overlooking the water. Dogs are permitted off-leash within designated areas, making it a favorite for local dog lovers.

Open sunrise to 7 pm.

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Downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas , Nevada

There is a funkier, less hyped (and less expensive) version of Las Vegas on the Strip's less-developed north end, within the cluster of buildings known as downtown. We don't recommend staying there, but it's worth an afternoon of gambling at lower minimums (25-cent roulette, $1 blackjack, penny slots) and the opportunity to experience a bit of an early-Vegas, Casino vibe. Grab a drink at the sexy $20 million pool (with shark tank) at the Golden Nugget, and stick around for the hourly ten-minute light shows at the Fremont Street Experience. Twelve million bulbs create a massive oblong LED screen on the canopy hanging over the street, and the nightly shows (6 p.m. to midnight) are surprisingly entertaining. End the day with a cocktail in the emerging bar scene at Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard. The Downtown Cocktail Room honors the fine art of mixology, and the Beauty Bar throws in a free manicure with your martini on Friday nights after 9 pm. Otherwise, cab it to Frankie's Tiki Room—Vegas's only authentic tiki bar—where guests slurp up classics like the Bearded Clam in real tiki mugs and prices are refreshingly in line with your average bar back home.—updated by David Tyda

Downtown Los Angeles
Los Angeles , California

Downtown Los Angeles has been reputedly making a comeback for 25 years now, but the loft explosion over the past few years has made that notion seem truer than ever. There's lots of sightseeing to be done here, neighborhood landmarks include MOCA, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, ornate former movie palaces on Broadway, and the kitschy Mexican tourist attraction known as Olvera Street. There's also Chinatown—which is becoming an avant-garde multiculti art destination—and Little Tokyo.

Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas , Florida
Tel: 305 242 7700
www.nps.gov/drto

These seven islands 70 miles west of Key West are a snorkeler's dream. The colorful coral reefs just a few feet offshore are populated by tropical fish and Queen conchs (there are free maps at the ranger's office). Back on land, you can tour Fort Jefferson, America's largest 19th-century coastal fortification. The fort was begun in 1846 but never completed despite three decades' worth of construction. It most famously served as a prison where John Wilkes Booth's unknowing accomplice Dr. Samuel Mudd was incarcerated (and later pardoned for his services during a yellow fever outbreak). The entire archipelago has also been designated a wildlife sanctuary to protect the nesting grounds of the sooty tern here; January is peak time for sightings.

There are two ways to reach the Dry Tortugas: by sea and by air. Taking the swoony 40-minute flight over the Gulf of Mexico is the faster but more expensive option (from $229 per person; 305-294-0709; www.seaplanesofkeywest.com). By sea, the high-speed ferry Yankee Freedom takes a couple of hours and can be choppy (bring Dramamine), but it's much better value ($159 per person including breakfast, lunch, island tour, and snorkel gear; 800-322-0013; www.yankeefreedom.com).

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Dumbo
Brooklyn , New York

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass was a wasteland not long ago. You could practically see tumbleweed bowling down Front Street. Now it's all lofts and home stores and converted factories, but it has a totally different feel from other gentrified Brooklyn 'hoods, since the real estate here is nearly all warehouses. The first section of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in spring 2010 as a seven-acre expanse at Pier 1 with grass lawns for picnicking and long rows of benches with views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The ambitious park will eventually occupy 85 acres along the waterfront. Braving the line at Grimaldi's Pizzeria is something of a Brooklyn tradition, and it's certainly worth a stab to sample one of the coal brick-oven fired pies—try the fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil (19 Old Fulton St.; 718-858-4300). For a pick-me-up afterwards, swing by Jacques Torres on Water Street—its signature hot chocolate, a heady mix of cocoa powder, allspice, cinnamon, and sweet ancho chile peppers, packs a nice punch (66 Water St.; 718-875-9772). Keep walking east on Front and you reach a curious neighborhood called Vinegar Hill, a cluster of small Federal-era brick row houses. If you keep walking east (it gets a bit hard to navigate through the housing projects), you reach the Navy Yard, a massive former U.S. Navy shipyard that now provides work spaces for a burgeoning population of artists and craftspeople and also houses Steiner Studios, a film production complex.

East Atlanta
www.eaca.net

Countercultural by sheer virtue of its being a walking community, East Atlanta is an up-and-coming bohemian neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues. Many of the area's boutiques and bars are within a few blocks, making it a fun area to stroll around on a weekend afternoon. The Earl is the unofficial clubhouse for the area's Pabst set, and its Sunday "dunch"—brunch for late risers that begins at 12 pm—is an integral part of most residents' weekend rituals. Another landmark is the East Atlanta Arts & Antiques Bazaar, which sells modestly priced furniture and housewares from area vendors and artisans.

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Eastern Shore
Eastern Shore , Maryland

The Eastern Shore is a bucolic, baking-sheet-flat landscape of corn fields, tidal rivers, and centuries-old towns tied to farming and fishing. Though it's just 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., tourism is largely seasonal and development is minimal. Main-street shops haven't given way to gourmet coffee bars, except in well-heeled St. Michaels (800-808-7622; www.stmichaelsmd.org), a town so quaint that even its police station resembles a B&B. Its part-time residents include former Vice President Dick Cheney, but St. Michaels's working roots are still found in places like Big Al's Seafood Market (302 North Talbot St.; 410-745-3151), which sells remarkable crab cakes as well as the necessities to catch your own (dipping net, hand line and crabbing permit). To explore the Eastern Shore, it's best to simply wander the two-lane roads through thriving, well-preserved settlements like Chestertown (410-778-0416; www.chestertown.com), a trove of architectural styles from Georgian and Federal to Italianate and Queen Anne, and especially the sleepy Oxford (410-745-9023; www.portofoxford.com), a village of boatyards and clapboard homes founded in 1683 that was once an international tobacco port. If you travel there from St. Michaels, you can cross the mile-wide Tred Avon River via a seasonal, nine-car ferry (410-745-9023; www.oxfordferry.com), the oldest privately owned ferry in America, which cuts the travel time in half.

The charming county seat of Easton (410-770-8000; www.eastonmd.org) springs to life every November when its annual Waterfowl Festival attracts thousands of hunters, bird-watchers, and decoy collectors. Though the summer crowds pack the chain restaurants and kitschy boardwalk of Ocean City, the real star of Maryland's brief strip of Atlantic coastline is Assateague Island National Seashore (410-641-1441; www.nps.gov/asis), a pristine, 18,000-acre barrier island that's home to herds of the wild horses made famous in Marguerite Henry's classic children's book Misty of Chincoteague. There are no hotels in the park, but drive-in and walk-in campsites are available.

East Village
New York City , New York

From Houston Street up to 14th Street, and east from Broadway to Avenue C, the East Village has been home to 19th-century millionaires, waves of immigrants, and more recently, decades of counterculture. The Beat Generation arrived in the '50s, hippies in the '60s, punks in the '70s, and Madonna in the '80s. Today, gentrification has made it safe for the rest of us. The seedy drug dens of Alphabet City (Avenues A, B, and C) now house upscale restaurants and of-the-moment bars; Tompkins Square Park, where squatters incited by the police rioted in 1998, is now filled with strollers and dog-walkers; and an array of shopping choices means you can procure anything from New Age decoupage to a bustier designed by Chloë Sevigny or a garden gnome from the estate of Squire Van Tuyl, thanks to quirky auction house Everything Must Go (www.139norfolk.com). But don't worry, there are still plenty of places in the neighborhood to get a tattoo—or a haircut that will drive your parents nuts.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates
2350 McGregor Boulevard
Fort Myers , Florida
Tel: 239 334 7419
www.efwefla.org

One of the town's earliest homeowners, Thomas Edison, once lamented, "There is only one Fort Myers, and now 90 million people are going to find it out." Well, the city has grown since Edison's time, but the inventor's 1886 home remains just as it was during his lifetime. You can tour the house, botanical gardens, and the laboratory where he conducted his experiments and took catnaps on a cot. Then go next door to tour the bungalow of Edison's close friend Henry Ford, which is decorated as it was in the 1920s. Upon request, a living-history actor plays the role of Thomas Edison, Mina Edison, Henry Ford, or Clara Ford, and speaks about his or her experiences in Fort Myers.

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Ellis Island
New York Harbor
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 363 3200
www.ellisisland.org

Roughly 12 million immigrants passed through this island as they entered America from the late 1800s through the mid-1950s, sometimes at the rate of thousands a day. Their reception was not always welcoming, and their stories of hope and struggle are re-created today in the restored hall and museum. Walking through the Baggage Room and up to the Registry Room, visitors experience the path just as the immigrants did, tracing their fates through photographs, artifacts, and oral histories. Outside, the American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a testament to about 600,000 of those new Americans. Anyone who wants to research his or her ancestors can start a search at the American Family Immigration History Center, or on the island's website. This is history in a very palatable medium—trust us, you'll like it. To get there, board the Circle Line-Statue of Liberty ferry from Battery Park (at the southern tip of Manhattan). Tickets can be purchased at Statue Cruises. It's recommended that you arrive at the ferry two hours before your tour time, as boarding is on a first-come, first-serve basis—there are airport-style security measures—and the lines can get very long, especially during the summer.

Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 736 3100
www.esbnyc.com

With the tragic demise of the World Trade Center, this symbol of New York is again the city's most recognizable skyscraper and, at 1,050 feet, its tallest. Since the 86th-floor observatory opened in 1931, 110 million visitors—including King Kong, as well as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle—have taken in the panoramic views. On a clear day, this is one tourist experience that actually lives up to its billing. Waits can exceed three hours in peak season, as masses of would-be gawkers proceed through security, ticket lines, and waits for the elevator. You can skip one of those lines when you buy a ticket online; midweek at 8 a.m. (opening time) and between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. are generally the least crowded times. The speediest option, a $40 express ticket, guarantees that you'll be at the top in 20 minutes once you have a ticket in hand (though you still have to clear security).

Epcot
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=EPLandingPage

Although Walt Disney wanted Epcot to be a real experimental community, like the Biosphere, what eventually opened 16 years after his death was more akin to a World's Fair, with corporate-sponsored rides and a mini-United Nations of pavilions representing a few of the world's countries. Epcot's focal point, the gorgeous orb of Spaceship Earth, houses one of the last attractions remaining from the 1982 opening, a history of communications. The Future World area, which surrounds Spaceship Earth is really a collection of family-friendly thrills like the launch simulator Mission:Space and the flying simulator Soarin' (it's the current blockbuster attraction, so hit it up early, when the line is short). World Showcase, gathered on a 1.3-mile footpath encircling the World Showcase Lagoon, is staffed by people native to the country of their respective pavilions. The American pavilion takes pride of place at the center, though the most interesting shopping options are in the Japan pavilion, which operates an outpost of Tokyo's historic Mitsukoshi department store. Authentic souvenirs and food are available at each stop, along with alcohol, which isn't sold at the Magic Kingdom.

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Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum
907 Whitehead Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 305 294 1136
www.hemingwayhome.com

Ernest Hemingway is the most famous of the freshwater Conchs (the term of endearment for a Key Wester who wasn't born on the island), and he lived in this limestone mansion from 1931 to 1940. The house itself was built by a marine architect and salvage wrecker in 1851. The rooms all contain antiques and memorabilia from Hemingway's world travels. The chandelier collection was shipped from Paris by Pauline (the second of his four wives), and Hemingway wrote some of his best-known works (A Farewell to Arms, To Have and Have Not) in the surprisingly small study dominated by a large deer head. The best way to see the interior is by taking one of the organized tours that leave from the entrance every 15 minutes. The guides are salty fun, but their embellished stories should be taken with a shaker full of it: Hemingway's onetime secretary has questioned the authenticity of the house's current furnishings, and the much-repeated tale that the troop of 50 or so six-toed cats on-site are descendants of a pack of Papa's own pets has come under scrutiny as well. The extra digit must have made them extremely good swimmers, since Hemingway's own herd lived at his home in Havana.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

Everglades National Park
Gulf Coast Visitor Center
State Road 29
Everglades City , Florida
34139
Tel: 239 695 3311
www.nps.gov/ever

Although this is the third-biggest national park in the Lower 48, there is only one access point from Florida's Gulf Coast—Everglades City, on the park's northwest border. Here the landscape is much different from the classic saw grass prairie, hardwood hammocks, and cypress swamp characterizing the east side of the 2,358-square-mile park, the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi River. Instead, the dominating feature is the mangrove forest of the Ten Thousand Islands, a labyrinth of ever-shifting islets and channels that is critical habitat for numerous species of fish and birds, as well as such endangered animals as the saltwater American crocodile. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the gateway for exploring the grandest mangrove swamp in North America. Park naturalists lead 90-minute boat trips, or you can rent a canoe and poke around Chokoloskee Bay and the Turner River by yourself to spot alligators, greenhouse frogs, bats, and butterflies. For experienced paddlers, this is also the northern launching point of the Wilderness Waterway, a winding, 99-mile inland route south to Flamingo, which takes nine days by canoe and requires a park permit. North American Canoe Tours (239-695-3299; evergladesadventures.com) can arrange day trips or multiday expeditions.

The park's Gulf Coast entrance is open around the clock. Visitor center is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

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Experience at Koele
Keomuku Highway
Lanai , Hawaii
96763
Tel: 808 565 4653
www.gohawaii.com/stories/stories.html?video=6

Cool up-country surroundings have influenced the design of the Lodge at Koele's championship golf course, the Experience at Koele. Created by Greg Norman and Ted Robinson, the 163-acre, 18-hole course is lush with wildflowers, banyans, and pines, with terraced water hazards and steep valley gorges. Prepare for a whammy of a 17th hole, which leads to an extraordinary 200-foot drop into Lanai's deepest ravine. Guests of the Hotel Lanai, Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay receive a discount on greens fees.

Experience Music Project
325 Fifth Avenue North
Seattle , Washington
Tel: 206 367 5483 or 877 367 5483
www.emplive.org

This multicolored blobular building, a 140,000-square-foot rock-and-roll museum designed by Frank Gehry, is home to the world's largest collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia—hand-scrawled lyrics, audio mixing boards, and psychedelic pantsuits among them. Adjacent galleries showcase guitars once owned by Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, and the interactive Sound Lab (complete with state-of-the-art instruments and recording equipment) will, for better or worse, bring out the rock star in even the most tone-deaf dad.

Exploratorium
3601 Lyon Street
San Francisco , California
94123
Tel: 415 397 5673
www.exploratorium.edu

Unlike the exhibits at most museums, those at the Exploratorium are designed for tinkering with, climbing on, and crawling through, so as to teach you about science and perception through play. Adults as well as kids will enjoy blowing giant bubbles or entering a tiny room that scrambles one's sense of perspective. Don't miss the Tactile Dome, where during an intense 15-minute odyssey through pitch-blackness, you encounter hundreds of different shapes, temperatures, and textures; advance reservations for the Tactile Dome are essential.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

Factory Tours in Vermont

From cheddar to beer, lots of good things are produced in Vermont, and some of it is given out as free samples on factory tours. For the cheesiest stuff, find the Cabot Creamery in, naturally, Cabot (Rte. 215, Cabot; 800-837-4261; www.cabotcheese.com). Its annex store near Stowe also offers cheddar galore (Rte. 100, Waterbury Center; 802-244-6334). While in Waterbury, hit Vermont-based Ben & Jerry's for a 30-minute shtick on the company, ice cream tastings, and goofy photo ops (Rte. 100, Waterbury Center; 866-258-6877; www.benjerry.com). Beer lovers might make a stop in Burlington's Magic Hat Brewery (5 Bartlett Bay Rd., South Burlington; 802-658-2739; www.magichat.net), Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury (793 Exchange St., Middlebury; 800-473-0727; www.wolavers.com), or the Long Trail Brewing Co. in Bridgewater Corners (Rte. 4 and 100A, Bridgewater Corners; 802-672-5011; www.longtrail.com).

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Fairmount Park
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 683 0200
www.fairmountpark.org

Fairmount Park, one of the country's largest and oldest city park systems, encompasses 9,200 acres, including 62 neighborhood and regional parks. Within its confines is the Beaux Arts Memorial Hall, built for the Centennial Exposition of 1876, and where the Please Touch Museum moved in 2008 (215-963-0667; www.pleasetouchmuseum.org). The panoramic city vista from Belmont Plateau was mentioned by local boy Will Smith in his 2002 song "Summertime." And the Philadelphia Zoo, the country's first chartered zoo, opened here in 1874; it's set on 42 acres of Victorian gardens (215-243-1100; www.phillyzoo.org). Kelly Drive, a long concrete pathway great for jogging and biking, stretches four miles from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the Twin Bridges near Manayunk. Across the river, you can see Boathouse Row, 12 Victorian-style boathouses that are home to the city's sculling community as well as championship medalists. Each boathouse is outlined with white lights that, when illuminated at night, make for one of Philadelphia's most iconic cityscapes.

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Fair Park
1300 Robert B. Cullum Boulevard
Dallas , Texas
75315
Tel: 214 421 9600
www.fairpark.org

Built for the 1936 Texas Centennial, this 300-acre complex of pavilions, pools, and esplanades is the world's largest collection of Art Deco architecture, culminating in the soaring, seven-story blue-tile portico of the Hall of State. Fair Park's nine museums include the African American Museum, the Women's Museum, and the Museum of Nature & Science (with planetarium and IMAX theater). But the real show, from late September to late October, is the annual State Fair of Texas. The Fair is timeless Texana with livestock competitions; a vast, diet-busting food court (where anything that can conceivably be fried is); a sprawling midway; acres of exhibits ranging from prize-winning preserves to imported autos; and official greetings from Big Tex, a 52-foot-tall talking cowboy mannequin.

Fakahatchee Strand Preserve Park
137 Coastland Drive
Copeland , Florida
Tel: 239 695 4593
www.floridastateparks.org/fakahatcheestrand

Would you hike off the path and wade through waist-deep pond-apple sloughs to see the rare ghost orchid? You don't have to be obsessed with orchids to enjoy this four-hour ranger-led trek through Fakahatchee Strand Preserve Park, where real-life orchid poaching became the subject of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief and the movie Adaptation. You'll also have a chance to see otters, Florida black bears, Everglades minks, and Florida panthers. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes, and bring along food, water, and DEET-fortified insect repellent. (See the website for tour information.)

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Fall Foliage in Vermont

Across the border, Montréal is full of naughty nightclubs, but Vermont's finest peep show is pure and wholesome. It's also unpredictable, so leaf-peepers should check the foliage report at the official Vermont Department of Tourism site before hopping in the car for a tour of the turning trees (www.vermontvacation.com). If you're making inn reservations, you'll need to gamble by booking months ahead. In the mountains the peak weekend is typically late September, while valley areas often hold on until early October. The best way to see the spectacular display is by driving the 150 miles from Wilmington, Vermont, north to Stowe on Route 100. The rural road climbs and dips through the Green Mountain National Forest, and there are plenty of joints providing roadside sustenance. Do stop at Weston's Vermont Country Store, which brims with hard-to-find soaps, eclectic sundries, and mouthwatering candies.

Feast at Lele
505 Front Street
Lahaina , Hawaii
96761
Tel: 866 244 5353 (toll free)
Tel: 808 667 5353
www.feastatlele.com

Maui's most upscale luau unfolds on the beachfront at Lahaina (Lele is the historical name). No stale buffet food here; couples and groups sit at individual tables with their own waiter who serves four courses from the Polynesian diaspora prepared by chef James McDonald (executive chef at Pacifico'o). The food corresponds with four dance performances from Hawaii, Tahiti, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Samoa. It's a lovely evening, with the waves lapping gently at the sand, the Hollywood lighting, the authentic flavors of the food, and performances with short breaks in between so you can stroll the beach. However, the set menu can't be altered and younger kids might get a little restless, so should probably be left with a sitter back at the hotel. Endless cocktails on the luau menu are included in the ticket price ($110 per person), but top shelf liquor, wines or other cocktails are extra.

Festivals
Brooklyn , New York

Brooklyn may not have as many obvious tourist draws as its neighbor across the river, but its parties and festivals are not to be missed. If you can't get to Carnaval in Rio, the West Indian Carnival held each Labor Day is a boisterous, pulsating conga line of feathers, sequins, and steel drums blaring down Eastern Parkway (www.wiadca.com). The Mermaid Parade, held in Coney Island on the last Sunday of June, is the nation's largest arts parade, with thousands of revelers decked out in elaborate—and sometimes risqué—sea-inspired costumes. (Mermaids have a tendency to drift off into the ocean for a dip, which makes for quite the spectacle.) Celebrities such as David Byrne, Queen Latifah, and Moby have all sat in as parade royalty (www.coneyisland.com/mermaid.shtml). DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival is the biggest weekend in DUMBO, with interactive and guerilla-style art installations popping up all over the neighborhood (www.dumboartsfestival.com; last weekend in September). And Celebrate Brooklyn!, a summerlong outdoor festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell, boasts a dizzying spectrum of musical acts from indie stalwarts including TV On the Radio and Latin-punk superstars Manu Chao (www.briconline.org/celebrate).

Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago , Illinois
60605
Tel: 312 922 9410
www.fieldmuseum.org

Lions and tigers and bears are the main attraction at this huge natural history museum, filled with interactive exhibits about planet Earth. Highlights include the Bushman (a stuffed gorilla) and the Lions of Tsavo, which devoured 140 British railway workers in East Africa in 1898. The crown jewel of the museum is Sue, the largest T. rex ever assembled. Her huge skull is displayed on another floor (it was too heavy to mount on the skeleton). Underground Adventure, another popular exhibit, takes you on a subterranean journey into the critter world (for an extra charge).

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm, last admission at 4 pm.

Fillmore Jazz Festival
www.fillmorejazzfestival.com

Twenty years before Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead transformed the Haight into hippie haven, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Count Basie were claiming Fillmore Street as an international jazz capital. In a tip of the hat to San Francisco's rich musical tradition, the Fillmore Jazz Festival was founded in 1985. Ever since, nearly 90,000 fans fill the street during Fourth of July weekend, all ears for predominantly local talent including San Francisco favorites, the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra. The event brings artists from around the Bay Area to show their works, and it remains the biggest free jazz fest on the West Coast.

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Fishing in Alaska

Fishing in Alaska is easy: Find water, throw some string at it, and you're bound to catch something. Even in Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, a salmon stream runs through the middle of town—between late May and August, locals take their lunch breaks at Ship Creek, hoping to catch dinner. For something a little less urban, the Russian River and the nearby Kenai River, about 100 miles west of Anchorage on the Sterling Highway, get some of the largest salmon runs in the state. Record catch for the Kenai is a 97-pound king salmon. Fishing in any of these rivers in summer, however, turns into a combat sport, with anglers lined up shoulder to shoulder.

Homer, at the end of the Kenai Peninsula, is Alaska's fishing paradise: Charter boats seek out all five species of salmon; it's also the likeliest spot in the state to reel in a "barn door" halibut. (Those giants can top 400 pounds, although they taste terrible; stick to 20 pounds or less for the best eats.) Boats can be booked through Central Charter Booking Agency.

Southeast Alaska is better for salmon fishing than for halibut: In Ketchikan, try Knudson Cove Marina, one of the state's most experienced operators; in Juneau, Juneau Sport Fishing works with a number of different boats and will help you find the experience you're after. If you plan to do nothing but fish, look to Waterfall, a remote lodge on Prince of Wales Island. It's like a fishing ashram—they put you up in converted cannery worker houses, take you to Southeast's best fishing grounds in a private boat, and help you catch truth bigger than the fish tales you were planning to tell.

Limits on how many fish you can take vary by season and location (see the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Web site for more information). Nearly every coastal town has at least one business that specializes in packing and shipping; remote lodges also pack and ship. If you're flying out within a day or so, any grocery store can sell you a box and chemical ice so you can pack the fish as luggage (Alaska Airlines is used to handling fish boxes).—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Fishing in Key West

The Key West marina is packed with fishing boats available for charter. Dream Catcher Charters will take you out into the flats, the four-foot-deep waters around the Keys that are filled with tarpon, ladyfish, and barracudas (888-362-3474; www.fishingkeywest.com). For deep-sea fishing for amberjacks and cobia, Mr. Z Charters offers half, full, and even three-quarter day tours (305-296-0910; www.keywestfishtales.com). For snapper and grouper, head farther back up the Keys to Islamorada and call Richard Stancyzk at Bud'n'Mary's marina (800-742-7945; www.budnmarys.com).

Fishing in Southwest Florida

The Gulf of Mexico's warm, shallow waters and protected estuaries make southwest Florida an angler's paradise. The sheltered Ten Thousand Islands are a favorite spot for backwater fishing and saltwater fly-fishing, especially for snook and tarpon. From Chokoloskee, an end-of-the-road hamlet surrounded by Everglades National Park, Capt. Charles Wright offers trips in either powerboats or sea kayaks (239-695-9107; chokoloskeecharters.com). Capt. Michael Van Jones of Fins-N-Grins (239-784-2442; charterfishingmarcoisland.com) in the Marco Island fishing village of Goodland will hook you up with redfish, sea trout, snapper, and even sharks. The Naples-based 45-foot Lady Brett (239-263-4949; tincityboats.com) and the 43-foot Sea Quest (239-765-7665; seatrekfishing.com), based in Fort Myers Beach, offer deep-sea charters in search of the big stuff, like goliath grouper, barracuda, and king mackerel. Farther north, Captiva-based guides Jim and Jimmy Burnsed lead private fishing trips, from two-hour jaunts to all-day backwater excursions (239-472-1779; sanibelcaptivafishing.com), that can also include shelling and snorkeling. It's also possible to wet a line from dry land: Naples Pier and Sanibel's Fish Pier are hot spots for catching pompano and Spanish mackerel. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (888-347-4356; myfwc.com) requires a recreational saltwater fishing license for non-Florida residents over 16 years old unless you're fishing from a licensed charter boat.

Fishing on the Big Island
Kona Sea Sports
78–607 Ihilani Place
Kailua-Kona , Hawaii
96740
Tel: 808 937 6944 (day)
Tel: 808 322 3955 (evening)
www.konaseasports.com

From May to October, big-game tournaments, with prize money totaling up to $1,000,000, inspire an atmosphere as competitive as the World Poker Championship. Newbies who want a taste of the hunt for monster-size marlin, wahoo, mahimahi, and tuna can charter a boat (they're easy to come by, thanks to the high density of sportfishers who live here year-round). Otherwise, the friendly folks at Kona Sea Sports offer sportfishing tours, in addition to snorkeling, diving, and swimming with dolphins. They practice "catch and release" for the big billfish (unless the fish are severely injured), but any fish you catch under 50 pounds is yours to keep. Booking two weeks in advance is recommended.

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Flagler Museum
One Whitehall Way
Palm Beach , Florida
33480
Tel: 561 655 2833
www.flaglermuseum.org

Railroad magnate Henry Flagler spent many of his millions building Whitehall mansion as a wedding gift to his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan (40 years his junior, natch). The circa-1902 mansion was an extraordinary achievement: Fully electrified from the first day, it also had the only private telephone in Florida, inside Flagler's master bathroom (one of an astonishing 28 bathrooms in the house). The docents are a notch above most tour guides—knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and in many cases wealthy enough to have helped sponsor the mansion's renovations in 2002. They'll fill you in on the house's secrets: The seemingly wood and leather trompe l'oeil ceilings are actually made of plaster to better withstand the Florida humidity. But don't expect them to dish on Flagler's colorful personal life, like the fact that Florida passed a new divorce law so that seventysomething Flagler could wed Mary while wife No. 2 remained in an insane asylum. Highlights include the grand Marble Hall with its enormous green Russian marble table and the Music Room's 1,249-pipe organ. Be sure to visit the pavilion that houses car No. 91, Flagler's personal railroad wagon, which featured a private shower. Even Rockefeller didn't have one of those in his.

Closed Mondays.

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Flightseeing Tours in Alaska

Unless you're an expert mountaineer who's capable of scaling Mount McKinley's 20,320-foot peak, the only way to get an up-close view of the highest point in North America is to get slightly higher, and flightsee Denali National Park. K2 Aviation is a reputable tour operator that flies four- to ten-passenger planes into the park from Talkeetna (the inspiration for Northern Exposure, located 150 miles south of the Denali park entrance). All tours take you up the course of Ruth Glacier, but it's worth spending the money ($295) to do the peak run, which banks into the Great Gorge, shoots between high spires of rock, and—as long as the weather cooperates—spirals up the mountain until the summit comes into view. If you get hooked on flightseeing, there are plenty of other options throughout the state.

Misty Fjords Air & Outfitting, based in Ketchikan, flies over Misty Fjords, a watery landscape that looks like it's drowning, in the Tongass National Forest, one of the world's largest rain forests.

Sunrise Aviation leads flightseeing excursions of the Stikine River, near Wrangell, where you can fly above the wide, muddy banks of the river, past the Great Glacier and the Stikine Icefield, and over the surrealistic volcanic landscape of British Columbia's Mount Edziza Provincial Park.

Wrangell Mountain Air flies over Wrangell–St. Elias National Park, an area so big, so remote—the largest roadless wilderness left in the hemisphere—that there are 14,000-foot mountains nobody has ever bothered to name.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Fly-fishing
High Country Flies
185 N. Center Street
Jackson , Wyoming
Tel: 307 733 7210 or 866 733 7210 (toll free)
www.highcountryflies.com

The staffers at High Country Flies have been the fishing go-to guys since the mid-'70s. Their brick-and-mortar store has everything from float tubes to tie-flying kits to top-notch fly-fishing equipment. They also share their accrued knowledge on guided trips (April through October) on the Snake, Green, and Yellowstone rivers.

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Fly-Fishing in Montana

Much to some locals' chagrin, it is no secret that Montana has great trout waters, with at least six world-class rivers. Picking the best one to fish can be difficult (and makes for a great way to spark an argument in a fly shop), but none is more accessible than the Gallatin River around Big Sky. Highway 191 snakes alongside the river through the Gallatin Canyon: Spy a fishing hole and just pull over. Summer evenings here bring reliable caddis hatches and 16-inch rainbows to the surface, but be forewarned: The river's got a heck of a current. For a more serene experience, stop by Dan Bailey's in Livingston. This world-famous fly shop will set you up in a McKenzie River Boat, a flat-keeled drifter that's perfect for floating down the lazy Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley (406-222-1673; www.dan-bailey.com). For the latest river report or a guide to tune your casting stroke, or if you'd like to venture further to the Madison or Missouri rivers, stop at the Bozeman Angler (800-886-9111; www.bozemanangler.com).

Forbes Galleries
62 Fifth Avenue
West Village
New York City , New York
10011
Tel: 212 206 5548
www.forbesgalleries.com

The late publishing tycoon Malcolm Forbes was an idiosyncratic and highly specific collector. A generous one, too: His finds are on view without charge in this gallery in Greenwich Village. The exhibits rotate, but on any given day, visitors can see Forbes' collection of antique toy soldiers, cast-iron toy boats from the 19th century, or handmade vintage Monopoly games. Forbes was known for his lavish lifestyle, but the quaint artifacts displayed here in magnificent detail are an ode to subtlety and nuance.

Prearranged groups only on Thursdays; closed Sundays and Mondays.

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site
511 10th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
20004
Tel: 202 426 6924
www.fordstheatre.org

Reopened in 2009 after an 18-month, $50 million restoration, Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is a working theater that doubles as a memorial to Abraham Lincoln, who was mortally wounded here on April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth. Original artifacts on display include Lincoln's Brooks Brothers overcoat and Booth's derringer pistol. The Petersen House, directly across 10th Street, where the stricken president was taken after the shooting and died the following morning, is also open to the public. The 2011–12 theatrical season begins September 23 with the Tony Awardwinning musical Parade. While you can tour the theater for free, you'll have to pay, of course, for theatrical performances.—Chris Cox

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Forest Park
N.W. 29th Avenue & Upshur Street to Newberry Road
Forest Park , Oregon
503 823 7529
www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&PropertyID=127&c=38308

At 5,000 acres, it's the country's largest urban wilderness. What that means for you is that a taste of the Pacific Northwest's gorgeous natural scenery is just a stone's throw from downtown. Miles of trails serve bikers, hikers, and casual strollers. One of the most popular hikes is the portion of the Leif Erikson trail that begins at the end of N.W. Thurman Street. A wide, leafy fire trail with a gradual uphill grade, it's an easy way to get a taste of this forest without even having to put on sneakers. It's particularly beautiful in the fall when the leaves change. A more strenuous option takes you from the Upper MacLeay parking lot (located just off Cornell) one mile uphill along a narrow, forested trail to Pittock Mansion, which has panoramic city views, with snowcapped Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens in the distance. But these are just the tip of the iceberg—or forest, in this case. Those interested in hooking up with local hikers or learning about other trails should check out the website of local hiking group the Mazamas at www.mazamas.org. Forest Park is also home to a variety of attractions, including the Oregon Zoo, the arboretum, the Rose Garden, an amphitheatre that hosts free concerts and plays in the summer, and numerous other attractions.

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Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
2400 East Fort Avenue
Baltimore , Maryland
21230
Tel: 410 962 4290
www.nps.gov/fomc

The National Anthem was inspired by this world-famous fort commanding the entrance to Baltimore's Inner Harbor, which withstood a daunting 25-hour bombardment by British warships beginning September 13, 1814. The bastion's resilience—and the sight of the flag with its "bright stars and broad stripes" (15 in all)—prompted Francis Scott Key, a young Washington lawyer who was negotiating a prisoner exchange with the British aboard a truce ship, to pen his immortal poem. Exhibits at a small visitor center and throughout the restored ramparts trace the lengthy history of the star-shaped fort from its 1805 construction to its use as a Civil War prison for Confederate sympathizers—including, ironically, Key's grandson—and, later, a World War I hospital. The original banner now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., but an exact replica of the 30-by-42-foot flag flies over the fort. You can arrive by land or by sea: Family-owned Ed Kane's Water Taxis (410-563-3901; www.thewatertaxi.com) stops at the fort's dock from April through October.

Open daily 8 am to 5 pm, with extended summer hours.

Fort Sumter National Monument
1214 Middle Street
Sullivan's Island , South Carolina
29482
Tel: 843 883 3123
www.nps.gov/fosu

No visit to Charleston is complete without a tour of this famous fort, where Confederate soldiers fired the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. Fort Sumter Tours (800 789 3678; www.fortsumtertours.com ) operates boats to the island from the City Marina, or from Mount Pleasant at the Patriots Point Maritime Museum, the world's largest naval and maritime museum. The 30-minute cruise is fully narrated and points out sights of historical significance. On the island, guides explain Fort Sumter's pivotal role in the War Between the States. The fort is also accessible by private watercraft. Entrance is free and boat tour costs $13 for adults.

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Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District
130 E. Exchange Avenue
Fort Worth , Texas
76106
Tel: 817 624 4741
www.fortworthstockyards.org

It began as a stop on the Chisholm Trail and boomed as a raucous meatpacking district at the turn of the 19th century. Now filled with Western-wear shops, Western-style saloons, and barbecue joints and steak houses, it's the reason they still call Fort Worth "Cowtown." Visit the Cowtown Coliseum, where they've been holding rodeos since 1918, and the legendary White Elephant Saloon, with its cowboy-hat-festooned ceiling and Gunsmoke-style stand-up bar. Family-friendly attractions include a twice-daily mini-trail drive, complete with authentically cantankerous longhorns, and the Tarantula Train, an 1896 steam engine that takes visitors on sightseeing junkets along the route of the old Chisholm Trail.

Fort Worth Zoo
1989 Colonial Parkway
Fort Worth , Texas
76110
Tel: 817 759 7555
www.fortworthzoo.org

One of the nation's top zoos draws raves for its acres of realistic habitats where animals roam free in natural environments. The safarilike African Savanna exhibit offers unique overhead, boardwalk views of white rhinos, ostriches, and giraffes; in the Raptor Canyon aviary, Andean condors and crowned eagles fly overhead. The spectacular hillside Asian Falls habitat includes a colony of elephants and two white tigers, while other evocative environments focus on Komodo dragons, meerkats, or gorillas and orangutans (in a re-created rain forest). Texas Wild features eight acres of the state's flora and fauna set around kid-pleasing regional tableaux, from a tornado-demolished house on the High Plains to a West Texas mineshaft.

Open daily. Late October through mid-February: 10 am to 4 pm. Mid-February through late October: Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 6 pm.

Franklin Institute Science Museum
222 N. 20th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
19103
Tel: 215 448 1200
www.fi.edu

You gotta love the walk-through heart, which thankfully has been refurbished and expanded since it was built in 1953. (The graffiti has been erased and the crumbling papier-mâché has been re-mâchéed.) The museum, originally constructed as a tribute to Benjamin Franklin's inventions, now specializes in hands-on science and technology exhibits. You can climb aboard a 350-ton, 101-foot Baldwin steam locomotive, the largest ever built; the Franklin Air Show, a great collection related to powered flight—including a T-33 jet trainer—just might capture the attention of those foot-dragging teens.

Open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm.

Freedom Trail
Boston Common Visitor Center
148 Tremont Street
Boston , Massachussetts
02111
Tel: 617 357 8300
www.TheFreedomTrail.org

Winding around 16 historical sites, the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail is a good introduction to Boston history—and also to the city's sometimes complicated geography. Pick up a map at the visitor's center on Tremont Street at the edge of Boston Common and walk along the red line on the ground (it's sometimes painted, sometimes lined in brick). While it's possible to walk the trail in an hour or two, leave time to stop along the way. You'll pass the graves of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin's parents at the Granary Burying Ground; Boston's first meeting house, Faneuil Hall, which hosted debates about the Sugar Tax of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765—note the distinctive grasshopper weather vane on the top of the building, and don't miss the little-known military museum in the attic (4 South Market Building; 617-523-1300)—and the Paul Revere House. Dating to 1680, it's the oldest building still standing in downtown Boston, and a good example of Colonial-era architecture, though it's been used for so many purposes since Revere lived there (including, at one point, a cigar factory), and it really doesn't look much like it did then (19 North Sq.; 617-523-2338). As immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," two lanterns (as in "two if by sea") were hung in the belfry tower of the Old North Church to signal the landing of the British in 1775. It's a lovely building, though you cannot climb the tower (193 Salem St.; 671-523-6676). Launched in 1797, the U.S.S. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world that's still afloat. U.S. Navy sailors take you below deck to explain what life was like for early-19th-century seamen, and there's also a World War II destroyer, the U.S.S. Cassin Young, berthed nearby (1 Constitution Rd.; 617-242-7511). Both are free.—updated by Jon Marcus

Guided tours are available daily between April and mid-November. Specialty tours, such as a historic pub crawl, are held the rest of the year. Tickets can be purchased online.

Freeport and L.L. Bean
Freeport , Maine

Sometimes you just gotta give in to your inner materialist and buy a few things—especially when they're this darn cheap. The seaside village of Freeport has more than 170 retail outlets and shops, including the ginormous flagship store of L.L. Bean (800-559-0747, ext. 37222; www.llbean.com). It's been sitting on Main Street since 1917, sees 3.5 million visitors every year, and never closes—in fact, there's not even a lock on the door. It now has three separate stores at the Freeport campus: one for active wear and casual apparel; one for hunting and fishing gear; and another devoted to bikes, boats, and skis. When you're beat from shopping, check out (or check into) the Harraseeket Inn, which has a tasty Sunday brunch and 84 rooms with canopy beds (207-865-9377; www.harraseeketinn.com) or Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster.

French Quarter
New Orleans , Louisiana

Evocative, romantic, and mysterious, the French Quarter (also known as the Vieux Carré) is the literal footprint of historic New Orleans. Hugging the high ground on the banks of the Mississippi, the Quarter is a mix of tourist schlock (bead shops and overpriced "Cajun-style" eateries) and historical treasures, such as cathedrals and centuries-old Creole restaurants. Weekenders tend to stay in the area, sipping café au lait and munching sugary beignets (flash-fried square donuts) at the perpetually packed Café du Monde (800 Decatur St.; 504-525-4544; www.cafedumonde.com) or wandering Jackson Square (St. Peter St. at Decatur). Don't miss these standards, but also spend a few hours giving yourself over to the hidden treasures: art galleries on Royal Street, antiques shops on Chartres Street, or the quiet residential stoops away from the commotion of Bourbon Street. A good guideline for avoiding tourist traps: Go away from the light. Bright neon signs seem to attract sloshed frat boys like moths to a flame.

Frick Collection
1 E. 70th Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
10021
Tel: 212 288 0700
www.frick.org

A real find among the city's museums, this collection housed in an exquisite Beaux Arts mansion on the Upper East Side represents the personal holdings of Henry Clay Frick. The 19th-century industrialist had excellent taste: Among the exhibits are rare collections of Limoges enamels, Chinese porcelains, French 18th-century furniture, and a who's who of painters from Rembrandt to Gainsborough to Vermeer. Proust scholars will enjoy Whistler's dark-hued portrait of Robert de Montesquiou, Arrangement in Black and Gold, the inspiration for the Baron de Charlus in Remembrance of Things Past. The quasi-residential setting—the antithesis of the Metropolitan Museum—lets you imagine living amongst this exquisite art.

Closed Mondays.

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Frist Center for the Visual Arts
919 Broadway
Nashville , Tennessee
37203
Tel: 615 244 3340
www.fristcenter.org

The lack of a broad permanent collection allows the Frist Center to operate like a large gallery for a rotating roster of big-name installations organized by other museums, ranging in topic from Pre-Raphaelite paintings to contemporary light displays. Housed in a marble Art Deco–era post office, the center offers programs for all ages (kids under 18 visit gratis) and is a hot spot for young professionals wanting a cheap date-night option, thanks to the frequent periods of free admission (check the Web site). During the summer, a "Frist Friday" ticket includes live local music at sunset on the manicured back lawn, hors d'oeuvres, and access to galleries.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 10 am to 5:30 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 10 am to 9 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 5:30 pm, and Sundays 1 to 5 pm.

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Frog's Leap
8815 Conn Creek Road
Rutherford , California
94573
Tel: 800 959 4704 (toll-free)
Tel: 707 963 4704
www.frogsleap.com

Frog's Leap provides a playful counterpoint to Napa Valley's stuffier wineries. Built around a big red barn, Frog's Leap feels like exactly what it is: a farm. Outside the tasting room, wander past a frog pond through meandering organic gardens of heirloom vegetables and flowers, and pluck sun-warmed fruit right off the trees (come in August, when the peaches ripen). All of the wines are made with organically grown grapes. Though the winery produces some very respectable and long-lingering merlot, its sauvignon blanc is the star of the show: Delicate, with bright fruit overtones, this is one of Napa's best-known wines. Because of legal restrictions, you'll have to take the full tour to sample the juice, but the light-hearted staff and magical gardens will make you glad you did. Tasting fee, appointment required.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm.

Frye Art Museum
704 Terry Avenue
Seattle , Washington
Tel: 206 622 9250
www.fryemuseum.org

More like an overgrown gallery space than a museum, it's free and you can comfortably ponder all of its works in an hour. The three center rooms hold the permanent collection, many of the works once belonging to the founders Charles and Emma Frye, and more than a few 19th-century pastoral scenes. The outer rooms are dedicated to rotating contemporary multimedia exhibitions. A recent exhibit included a mix of Amy Helfand's bright garden-scene textiles and prints, alongside the sinister pencil drawings of Robyn O'Neil. The small café has outdoor seating and food that's much more sophisticated than average museum snacks. The best time to visit is late afternoon on a weekday, when you'll practically have the place to yourself.

Gallery of Fine Photography
241 Chartres Street
French Quarter
New Orleans , Louisiana
Tel: 504 568 1313
www.agallery.com

This tiny Chartres Street storefront contains an unrivaled collection of artistic photography. Owner Joshua Mann Palait exhibits limited-edition prints from the old masters (Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus) and newer stars (Sebastio Salgado, Richard Sexton). You can also find unique pieces like antique daguerreotypes, jazz photographs of Herman Leonard, and a few of E.J. Bellocq's classic New Orleans "Storyville portraits" from the early 1900s.—Pableaux Johnson

Gambling in Las Vegas

Gambling remains Las Vegas's bread and butter, and it's still the reason most people come here. Even if gambling is not your thing, give it a shot: Spending an hour or so at a low-stakes blackjack table is a blast—as long as you know your own limit. As with restaurants, you can judge a good Las Vegas casino by the number of locals playing there. Near the Strip, that's the Palms, where the comps and drinks come fast. The Palms also has one of the best poker rooms in town, where dealers remember regulars. Careful, though: The action moves fast.

For high-limits gambling, where the minimums start at $100 and push $1,000 in games such as baccarat, blackjack, and roulette, the Wynn and Bellagio have separate rooms away from the masses; the dealers and staff are also extremely attentive. The lowest minimums on table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps can be found in the Station casinos such as the Red Rock Resort off the Strip (www.stationcasinos.com), or downtown at the Four Queens, Binion's Horseshoe, or Golden Nugget—usually to the tune of 25-cent roulette and $2 blackjack. Low minimums draw crowds, so expect to wait for a seat.

Slots are everywhere. Make sure to get comp points as you play: The Wynn has a new tracking system that uses your room key. And everybody should see a genuine bingo hall at some point: It doesn't get more real than the big room at the Plaza, located downtown. Think old ladies and crazy people waiting for B22.

Cigarette smoke is ubiquitous, but for nonsmoking areas, check the tables and poker room at Bellagio, the Mirage, and large sections of Harrah's and the MGM Grand. Finally, cocktail waitresses bring free drinks to anyone playing slots or table games, or in the sports book—a $2 tip is customary.

Garden of the Gods
Keahikawelo , Hawaii
96763

Nothing much grows in Keahikawelo (translated from Hawaiian as "Garden of the Gods"), a desert expanse of red, lavender, and brown dirt. But the spooky Martian barrenness makes a dramatic backdrop for volcanic rock pinnacles shaped by hundreds of years of wind erosion to resemble a rough-hewn tiki. You can walk between the formations, which are scattered around as if placed by a divine force, but be aware that this area is very isolated, and there's no shelter. Use common sense and bring lots of water. To get here, head northwest on Polihua Road from Lanai City. It's only about six miles, but the trip takes 25 minutes because the road is so bumpy, and if there's been rain, it will be muddy. Ask when you rent your jeep if anything is off-limits that day. Go slow for the sake of your kidneys, and look out for vehicles heading in the opposite direction. On the way, you'll drive through the Kanepuu Conservation Area, a native dry-land forest that's home to the endangered Hawaiian gardenia. There's a small sign by the side of the road to mark the beginning of a short self-guided trail. Afterward, you can hike or drive another four miles to two-mile-long, white-sand Polihua Beach, or Kaena Point, an ancient Hawaiian religious site located about a mile southwest of Polihua.

Gatorland
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 855 5496
www.gatorland.com

Before Disney gave the Central Florida backwoods a modicum of sophistication, Gatorland's oversized gator mouth entranceway, which debuted in the 1950s, was the epitome of the area's populist tourist mentality. It's still going all these years later, feeding the ornery reptiles for the pleasure of cringing tourists. The most popular show, Gator Jumparoo, features the creatures propelling themselves out of the water to clamp their powerful jaws around chicken carcasses suspended from wires. Visit on warm, sunny days when the cold-blooded animals are more active.

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Gay Pride
San Francisco , California
www.sfpride.org

As befits this gay mecca, San Francisco has one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world, drawing nearly a million attendees on the last weekend of June. Celebrating the birth of the gay rights movement, the event is a giant fiesta where you can drink frozen margaritas all day long, boogie to thudding dance music, and admire the spectacularly costumed attendees, from eyelash-batting drag queens to stilt walkers in rainbow caftans, traveling west along Market Street from Beale Street to Eighth Street. Check the Web site for times and details.

Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Avenue
Los Angeles , California
90024
Tel: 310 208 5454
www.geffenplayhouse.com

Housed in a beautiful old stone building with a shrub-lined courtyard, the 522-seat Geffen Playhouse celebrated its tenth anniversary last year with a $19 million renovation that included upgraded seats in a gentle stadium slope, state-of-the-art acoustics, and an additional new 120-seat theater for more intimate productions. The offerings range from the classics to the debut of new works, and in the past have included such names as Sam Shepard, David Mamet, and Steve Martin.

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Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson Street
Santa Fe , New Mexico
87501
Tel: 505 946 1000
www.okeeffemuseum.org

The 13,000-square-foot downtown museum houses the most extensive collection (1,148 paintings, drawings, and sculptures) anywhere of the former resident's works, with a rolling presentation of 50 on display at any one time. The museum also shows other American artists, such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.

Open Saturdays through Thursdays 10 am to 5 pm, Fridays 10 am to 8 pm. Free Fridays 5 to 8 pm.

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Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles , California
90049
Tel: 310 440 7300
www.getty.edu

This is architect Richard Meier's masterwork, a stunning 110-acre modernist complex in the Santa Monica Mountains housing the Getty Museum and other foundation buildings. When it was commissioned in 1984, the white travertine came from a quarry near Rome, and a special guillotine method for slicing it had to be developed for the construction. The Getty Museum is a symphony of light, with pools, fountains, and walls of glass bricks. The painting galleries are entirely illuminated by natural light filtered to protect the art. The Getty has had some financial and identity problems in recent years, but finally hired Australian Michael Brand in August 2005 as its new director and is at work shoring up its image. As you'd expect from an institution with a $5 billion endowment, the Getty has some big-ticket pieces, including works by Titian and Rubens, Cezanne's Still Life with Apples, and Van Gogh's Irises. The collection of decorative arts is wonderful, and now that the Getty Villa (see below) has reopened, the area once occupied by antiquities has been remodeled to house the renowned photography collection. Guests can choose from a self-service café, the sandwiches and salads of the Garden Terrace Cafe, or the Restaurant, which is open for lunch daily, but for dinner only on Friday and Saturday nights (reservations are advisable: 310-440-6810).

Closed Mondays.

Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu , California
90049
Tel: 310 440 7300
www.getty.edu

After nine years of renovations and additions, the Getty Villa, the hilltop Malibu site of the original Getty Museum, reopened in January of 2006. The museum's antiquities collection—some 44,000 different works, concentrating on the ancient Greeks, the Etruscans, and the Romans—is housed in a reproduction of the Villa dei Papiri, one of the most lavish houses in Herculaneum, destroyed in A.D. 79 by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The villa and gardens are actually quite lovely, in spite of the obvious kitsch factor. Among the additions is a 450-seat amphitheater, where in summer audiences can enjoy open-air productions of Greek and Roman masterpieces. The Villa Theater Lab also presents experimental interpretations of the classics by local groups like the Latino comedy ensemble Culture Clash. Tickets are free, but must be booked in advance by calling ahead or visiting the website.

Gibson Guitar Factory
145 Lt. George W. Lee Avenue
Downtown
Memphis , Tennessee
38103
Tel: 901 544 7998
www.gibson.com/en-us/Locations/RetailCenters/Memphis/DiscoveriesOfGibson

Memphis music pilgrims should make this detour to find out how one of the world's premier electric-guitar makers crafts each tuneful axe. The 45-minute tours impart 100 years of Gibson lore, along with the artistry behind binding, neck-fitting, painting, buffing, and tuning the instruments. The factory is part of the Gibson Beale Street Showcase, a complex one block from Beale Street that also houses The Lounge, a concert venue for such acts as Wilco, Etta James, and the Indigo Girls. Reservations are required for large groups to take the factory tour. Children under age five are not permitted.

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Glacier Bay
Alaska

Glacier Bay is, rightly, one of the most famous, most visited spots in Alaska. It's also one of the youngest landscapes in the state; not much more than a century ago, most of the bay was still under ice. The glaciers are receding at a rapid pace, which makes traveling into the bay like traveling back in time—the world gets newer and newer as you move closer to the ice. The bay is a favorite feeding ground for humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, seals, sea otters, puffins, and bald eagles. Many of the big cruise lines extend their trips into the bay, but the best way to see it is aboard Glacier Bay Lodge's Spirit of Adventure, a high-speed catamaran that takes you up the west arm to some of the most active glaciers. Park Service naturalists on board make sure you don't miss anything (866-761-6634).—Edward Readicker-Henderson

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Glacier National Park
Montana
Tel: 406 888 7800
www.nps.gov/glac

Due to a very limited road system and enormous swaths of backcountry, Glacier begs to be explored on foot. Comprising more than one million acres set hard against the Canadian border, the park is filled with imposing rock and ice, making Yellowstone's soft meadows seem benign. But before throwing on your pack and leaving the pavement, one drive is required: the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The 52-mile route crosses the Continental Divide and passes massive glacier-sculpted walls. The road is open only for part of the year, usually mid-June to November; check its status on the national park's Web site. Many Glacier, in the eastern part of the park, is a good starting point for excellent day hikes as well as longer backcountry trips. Its popular Grinnell Glacier trail accesses views of high peaks and green-tinted lakes before arriving six miles later at the retreating foot of one of the park's 26 glaciers.

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Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco , California
www.goldengate.org

Opened in 1937, Golden Gate Bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Its color, "international orange," was selected to enhance its visibility to ships in the fog. Perhaps the world's most beautiful bridge, it is also its leading suicide location: More than 1,200 have jumped to date. Plastic-wrapped notes found in the jumpers' pockets include the lines "Survival of the fittest," "Adios—unfit," and "Absolutely no reason except I have a toothache." Instead of driving or cycling (or jumping), walk across the bridge to savor the majestic views—but be sure to dress appropriately. It can get chilly up there, and favorite hats have been known to sail away in the gusting wind.

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Golden Gate Park
San Francisco , California
www.nps.gov/goga/

This lovely park, created by Scotsman John McLaren toward the end of the 19th century, is so lush and blossom-filled that it's hard to believe it was built on barren dunes. Lounge on the grass among the gorgeous flowerbeds in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, the oldest existing conservatory in the Western Hemisphere. Take tea in the teahouse in the Japanese Garden, with its carp-filled ponds, dainty bridges, and bronze Buddha. And if you're feeling energetic, hike Strawberry Hill or an island in Stow Lake, or rent bikes (try Golden Gate Park Skate & Bike, 3038 Fulton St.; 415-668-1117) and head for Ocean Beach.

Golf
San Diego , California

Thanks to the year-round idyllic weather, there are more than 90 public and private golf courses in San Diego county. Topping the must-play list of courses open to the public: Torrey Pines Golf Course, one of the top municipal courses in the country and home of the 2008 U.S. Open (www.torreypinesgolfcourse.com); Poway's Maderas Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course designed by Johnny Miller (www.maderasgolf.com); and Aviara Golf Club, an Arnold Palmer–designed 18-hole, 7,007-yard course at the posh Four Seasons Resort in Carlsbad (www.fourseasons.com/aviara/golf.html).

Golf
Phoenix + Scottsdale , Arizona

With more golf courses per capita than any state west of the Mississippi, the Valley of the Sun has become a golfing mecca. Greens fees range from $40 on a public course to $500-plus at some of the most exclusive courses. Plan your golf vacation in advance. Companies like Arizona Golf Adventures can help in setting up a perfect trip by arranging tee times and making sure you get to try a variety of courses (800-398-8100; www.azteetimes.com). But for those who are a little less serious about it (or have nonduffers who won't stand to be widowed), just stay at the Fairmont, Arizona Biltmore, or one of the other properties in town that have their own golf courses.

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Golf
Pebble Beach , California

The marquee course at Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach Golf Links (pictured) is every bit as gorgeous as it looks in the hundreds of pictures you've seen of it. It's tough to get a tee time, and you'll pay through the nose once you do—upwards of $450 per player—but this is the quintessential California golf experience (1700 17-Mile Dr.; 800-654-9300; www.pebblebeach.com). If you can't schedule a tee or stomach the fee, take heart: You can still have drop-dead water views from the Links at Spanish Bay, a traditional Scottish course on the same peninsula, where greens fees are $200 lower. There's also Pebble Beach's third course, Spyglass Hill, where only the first nine holes overlook the ocean; the second half of the course moves inland among forested areas. Greens fees are about the same as at the Links at Spanish Bay.

If even that's too rich for your blood, try the independent Poppy Hills Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. The course sits slightly inland, near the other Pebble Beach courses, and lacks the spectacular ocean views of its neighbors. Greens fees hover around $200, however, which is the best you'll find in Pebble Beach (3200 Lopez Dr., at 17-Mile Drive; 831-625-2035; www.poppyhillsgolf.com).

Golf in this area isn't limited to Pebble Beach, of course; Quail Lodge and Carmel Valley Ranch are two top-rated resorts in Carmel Valley, and Bayonet was built by the U.S. Army at Monterey's old Fort Ord. For more information, visit www.seemonterey.com/golf-courses.

Golf
Telluride , Colorado

Located inside Mountain Village, the Telluride Golf Course at the Peaks Resort elevates your game to 9,300 feet above sea level, where the thin air promises 15 percent more distance for your Titleist. The par-71, 6,739-yard course is open May to mid-October. Carts are equipped with GPS systems (970-728-7320; tellurideskiresort.com).

Golf
Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club
5000 Spring Gulch Road
Jackson , Wyoming
Tel: 307 733 3111
www.jhgtc.com

This Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed course is consistently rated the best course in Wyoming—and, thanks to new construction, it keeps getting better. The grounds are currently in the midst of a $12-million improvement project that, when completed in summer of 2007, will include a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse and a reconstruction of holes 1 and 15.

Golfing in Vermont

Vermont is a duffer's dream, thanks to the 70-plus courses that dot its bright green valleys. For those staying in the Northeast Kingdom region, Jay Peak Resort hosts 18 holes ($99 on weekends) by course architect Graham Cooke (4850 Rte. 242, Jay; 802-327-2184; www.jaypeakresort.com). In the Burlington area, the Jack Nicklaus–designed Vermont National Country Club is private but welcomes guests of select city hotels, including the Sheraton Burlington and the Courtyard Marriott Burlington, for $120 each and reciprocal guests for $105 each (1227 Dorset St., South Burlington; 802-864-7770; www.vermontnational.com). Too steep? A former dairy farmer now milks golfers for only $32 a round at the pretty 18-hole Cedar Knoll Country Club (13020 Rte. 116, Hinesburg; 802-482-3186; www.cedarknollgolf.com). Farther south, guests at the Equinox hit the Golf Club at Equinox ($80 to $115 on weekends), now managed by Troon Golf; those staying at the Deerhill Inn can enjoy the Mount Snow Golf Club ($85 on weekends), designed by Geoffrey Cornish, just two miles away (Rte. 100, West Dover; 802-464-4254; www.mountsnow.com).

Golfing on the Big Island

With more than a dozen world-class courses, the Big Island is Hawaii's premier golf destination, known for tricky shoreline holes (the classic shot over water and lava field onto the green), challenging winds, and rolling hills. Greens fees for the Kohala courses are akin to highway robbery, although guests pay less when they play where they're staying. Playing is much more affordable on the more modest Waimea, Volcano, and Hilo courses. Due to the blazing sun, it's best to tee off in the morning, but golfers who can stand the heat can take advantage of discounted greens fees after 3 pm.

Damage sustained during a 2007 earthquake closed the Kohala Coast's Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and its 1964 Robert Trent Jones, Sr., golf course (the standard of excellence in these parts), but there are still many more to choose from. In Kailua-Kona, the Jack Nicklaus–designed course at the Hualalai Golf Club is relatively protected from the wind and is one of the most player-friendly courses on the island (open only to Four Seasons guests). The ocean- and lava field–views from the popular, well-maintained Mauna Lani Francis H. I'i Brown South Course in Waimea may distract you from your game. The Waikoloa Kings Course is tough, with many lava obstacles, but also stunning 360 degree views. Close to Kohala, the Waimea Country Club is affordable, and generally cooler temperatures mean you can play all day; as long as mist, fog, and rain don't cut your outing short. At 40,000 feet above sea level, the Volcano Golf & Country Club can be chilly and sometimes wet; unlike at most other courses, afternoon rounds are favored over morning play and there's very little wind. Locals are the usual foursomes at the small, nine-hole Hamakua Country Club—it's casual, great for beginners, and since Hilo is one of the rainiest places in the state, the course is always lush.

Golf in Miami

It's not just celebrity chefs and hoteliers that have lent their monikers and talents to Miami. Some of the biggest names in golf course design have left their mark on many of the area's 30 courses. The Doral Golf Resort & Spa is home to five championship golf courses, including Dick Wilson's legendary Blue Monster, where the fountain-festooned 18th hole was named among Golf Magazine's top 100 holes in the world. Greg Norman's Great White course at Doral is notable for its transporting desert golf experience (with crushed coquina shells for sand) set amid all that South Florida lushness. It's not completely arid though: There's a water hazard on 14 of the course's 18 holes to challenge even the most devout shot makers. Doral hosts the World Golf Championships, an annual PGA Tour event, and the luxurious spa resort itself is enough of a reason to make the pilgrimage, with or without your clubs. Don Shula's Hotel and Golf Club's par 72 Senator Course is one of the longest championship courses in Miami at 6,982 yards. The golf school is a good place for beginners to get hooked on the game.

Not surprisingly, many of the most notable courses are located outside the city limits. Traditionalists should make the trek to Coral Gables and the Biltmore Hotel, where an Old Florida ambience is combined with the par-71 designed by Donald Ross in 1925 that still beckons the likes of Tiger Woods and European royalty. The fabulous (and fabulously public) Crandon Golf Course is just a short drive from the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. Lakes and lagoons that blend with the island's natural surrounds were instrumental to Robert Von Hagge and Bruce Devlin's organic design, and the course is considered one of the state's most beautiful and most challenging. You'll spot prolific birdlife and perhaps even an alligator while you play.

Golf in Palm Beach

Golf is a huge part of the Palm Beach lifestyle, and the area's waterfront courses and vibrant greens make it a regular stop on the PGA tour. There's even a PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, a 20-minute drive from Palm Beach proper. The courses at the resort are some of the toughest around: Lee Trevino once described the last three holes on the Jack Nicklaus–designed Champions course as "the real killer in golf." Another of the area's more challenging courses is at the Abacoa Golf Club, a 20-minute drive from West Palm Beach in the town of Jupiter. The par-72, 7,200-yard course was one of the final designs overseen by legend Joe Lee before he died in 2002, and the surprisingly hilly elevation rises up to 40 feet, unheard of for a South Florida course.

There are also courses in Palm Beach, of course. The Ocean Course at the Breakers is the oldest in Florida. Railroad magnate Henry Flagler had it built as a 9-hole course when he opened the hotel here in the 1890s, then had it expanded in 1901 to a full 18. It was revamped in 2000 by Brian Silva and is now about 6,200 yards and a par-70 course. The hotel's other course was once known as Breakers West but was renamed the Breakers Rees Jones Course after the designer transformed it in 2004 to a 7,100-yard, par-72 spot. The downside to these two courses is that you have to be either a guest at the hotel or a club member to get a tee time. The public Palm Beach Golf Course is open to all. Endearingly known locally as the Par 3, the course was designed in 1961 by Dick Wilson and is still a favorite today (pro Jasper Parnevik is a fan). The superb views along the Intracoastal Waterway are its best feature, and it's a short course, just 2,465 yards, with holes ranging from 100 to 222 yards each. Its place in golf history was solidified shortly after it opened, when LPGA Hall of Famer Louise Suggs trounced a dozen male pros, Billie Jean King–style.

Golf in Southwest Florida

With more than 130 courses, southwest Florida suits golfers to a tee (sorry, we couldn't help ourselves). Although the majority are private, there are also several dozen public and semiprivate links (the latter accept nonmember players, especially outside the January–March high season). The nationally known Tiburón Golf Club is the centerpiece of the Naples Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, with two Greg Norman–designed 18-hole layouts known for their wetland water hazards and stacked-sod bunkers. The long (7,288 yards), demanding Gold Course is the site of the annual Merrill Lynch Shootout. Another Naples course, the 7,171-yard Lely Flamingo Island Club, was the vision of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., who did duffers no favors by sculpting hourglass-shaped fairways and undulating greens. Hidden in the countryside east of Fort Myers, the Jack Nicklaus–designed Old Corkscrew Golf Club is considered one of the best new courses in the country. A bear at nearly 7,400 yards, it hosted the 2008 Florida State Seniors Championship. The city of Fort Myers owns the recently renovated 6,772-yard Eastwood Country Club, regarded as one of the best public courses in the region. Set amidst a Sanibel Island wildlife reserve, the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club plays short (5,578 yards), but its ever-present water hazards can leave all but the most precise golfers over par.

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Golf on Cape Cod

With temperatures moderated by warm ocean currents, Cape Cod is that rare place in New England where golfers can enjoy their sport almost year-round. Some of the Cape's 15 private courses are open to guests of certain hotels—you can play the Nicklaus-redesigned Ocean Edge Golf Club if you're staying at the Ocean Edge Resort and Club, for example—while others are ultraexclusive. The Donald Ross–designed Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville, for instance, famously turned away the billionaire president of Reebok, who ended up buying his own golf course in Mashpee. But no matter, the Cape's 20 public, municipal, and semiprivate courses are generally just as good. The Bass River Golf Course—also designed by Ross—has the Bass River as its inspiring backdrop. One of the newest courses, Ballymeade in East Falmouth, was redesigned by Chi Chi Rodriguez, and the oldest, Highland Links in North Truro, recalls Scotland with its windswept bluffs overlooking the ocean. A complete list of Cape Cod golf courses is available from the Massachusetts Golf Association (mgalinks.org).

Golf Resorts

With streets named for Gerald Ford, Dinah Shore, and Bob Hope, you know the Coachella Valley is obsessed with golf. The city of Palm Desert is golf central: Classic Club hosts the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic each January, but novice players are equally at home. Instead of standard-issue palms, look for pine, olive, and pepperwood trees and flower beds lining the fairways. A 65,000-square-foot Tuscan-style clubhouse is due for completion in summer 2007 (75-200 Northstar Resort Pkwy.; 760-601-3600; www.classicclubgolf.com). Marriott's Shadow Ridge, designed by Nick Faldo (there's a Faldo Golf Institute on site), is playable for all levels, even if some of the bunkers are challenging (9200 Shadow Ridge Rd.; 760-674-2700; www.golfshadowridge.com). Nearby, Desert Willow receives raves for its two photogenic, environmentally friendly courses: The Mountain View course has wide fairways, while the tougher 7,056-yard Firecliff Course has more than 100 bunkers with dramatic desert landscaping (38-995 Desert Willow Dr.; 760-346-7060; www.desertwillow.com). Down valley, there's the Golf Resort at Indian Wells. The Celebrity Course opened November 2006, designed by Ryder Cup member Clive Clark. Rolling waters and wildflowers lend a botanical-garden look (44-500 Indian Wells La.; 800-874-8190; www.golfresortatindianwells.com). In La Quinta, the Arnold Palmer–designed SilverRock Resort has tees suitable for all levels of play. It's at the base of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains, surrounded by 100 acres of natural desert landscape (79-179 Ahmanson La.; 888-600-7272; www.silverrock.org).

Governors Island
Tel: 212 440 2200
www.govisland.com/html/home/home.shtml

This 172-acre former military facility situated off the southern tip of Manhattan has become something of a warm-weather playground for open space–deprived downtowners and Brooklynites. Around 92 acres of the island's northern section are a National Historic Landmark District and open to the public during summer and early fall. Expansive lawns and shaded walkways are beyond bucolic, while the stately brick mansions and clapboard houses (formerly Army and Coast Guard housing) give the island the slightly spooky air of a quaint neighborhood abandoned when its inhabitants fled an unknown disaster. Ranger-led historic tours will give you perspective on the history of the island and a look inside the supposedly haunted Castle Williams, built in the early 1800s and used as a Civil War military prison. The best way to see the island is by bike, and a company called Bike and Roll rents everything from retro cruisers to family-friendly quadcycles for riding the road that encircles the island, giving you views of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn. Once you've worked up an appetite, hit Water Taxi Beach for burgers, hot dogs, and beer to enjoy at picnic tables set on imported sand. Or pick up one of their Picnic Pouches (sandwiches, bottled water, and fruit plus a beach ball) and snag a prime spot under the trees.

To reach the island, take one of the free ferries from lower Manhattan's Battery Maritime Building near the Staten Island Ferry terminal. Boats leave Manhattan every hour until 3 pm, and the last ferry departs Governors Island at 5 pm.—Emma Sloley

Open Fridays through Sundays late May through mid October, plus Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Graceland
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Whitehaven
Memphis , Tennessee
Tel: 901 332 3322
www.elvis.com

While a few cynics dismiss rock 'n' roll's Xanadu as a tourist trap, Graceland (designated a national historic landmark in 2006) remains the predominant reason to visit the region for anyone with an interest in Elvis or Memphis's musical heritage. In the spring of 1957, at the age of 22, the King spent $100,000 on this house, part of a 500-acre farm named Graceland. He lived here until his untimely death in 1977 and is buried, along with his closest relatives, by the swimming pool out back. His widow, Priscilla Presley, opened Graceland to tours in 1982, and now millions come to celebrate the majesty of the King. Elvis commissioned a redecoration in 1974, and much of that look remains intact. With a 15-foot couch, avocado- and gold-colored kitchen appliances, a fake waterfall, and the green shag-carpet ceiling of the "jungle room," the home exudes fun, loud 1970s style. Tours of the mansion start at the visitors' plaza across the street, where tickets are sold and souvenir shops and cafés serve the masses. On busier days the staff will assign your tour time, or you can book ahead. The recording that accompanies the one-and-a-half-hour mansion tour includes a narration by Priscilla and sound bites from Elvis himself. If that doesn't entirely satisfy your curiosity, dig deeper into the mystique by viewing additional memorabilia in the "Sincerely Elvis" collection, such as 56 of the King's stage costumes, or touring his too-cool car museum and private, decked-out jet, the Lisa Marie. For a one-of-a-kind experience, join the thousands of visitors to whom Graceland plays host during mid-August's annual Elvis Week (a.k.a. Death Week), which culminates in a candlelight vigil; or check out Paul McLeod's estimable collection of memorabilia at Graceland Too.

Closed Tuesdays from December to February.

Graceland Too
200 E. Gholson Avenue
Holly Springs , Mississippi

About 45 miles southeast of Memphis, in Holly Springs, you'll find Paul McLeod's kitschy, obsessive homage to the King. Paul's house bears a striking resemblance to Graceland (intentional) and holds the world's second-largest collection of Elvis memorabilia: Nearly every surface is papered with Elvis posters, records, cards, and photographs; trunks are filled with carpet remnants from Graceland; binders document every mention of Elvis ever broadcast or printed—including every TV Guide cover he appeared on. On the tour, Paul is likely to include as many tidbits about himself (such as that his son, named Elvis Aaron Presley McLeod, is a dead ringer for Elvis, or that his sister is a Priscilla Presley look-alike) as about Elvis (he failed music class in high school—Paul has the report card). Don't be put off by the over-the-top security—Paul's door is always open, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If he doesn't answer, just knock harder.

Grand Central Terminal
42nd Street and Park Avenue
Midtown East
New York City , New York
10017
Tel: 212 340 2345 (tours)
www.grandcentralterminal.com

In the entrance pavilion to this truly grand terminal, there is a small plaque dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It doesn't celebrate her status as a former First Lady—it thanks her for almost single-handedly saving this extraordinary Beaux Arts building from destruction when a skyscraper was planned to replace it. In 1976, largely due to her efforts, Grand Central was declared a National Historic Landmark, though only in recent years has it been restored to a state worthy of that title. From its exterior, with imposing statues of Minerva, Hercules, and Mercury flanking a 13-foot clock, to the epic 375-foot-long main concourse with its celestial ceiling, complete with zodiac constellations, this is a building of unquestionable beauty. Now, with the addition of shops and restaurants, it has also become a place for even noncommuters to congregate. Take a seat at one of the restaurants in the mezzanine and watch the throngs zig-zag their way around each other at rush hour. Among the terminal's lesser-known treasures: The Campbell Apartment, a 1920s cocktail bar that was once a private office and salon (212-953-0409; www.hospitalityholdings.com); the basement Oyster Bar, a slice of Old New York and still a great place for a martini (212-490-6650; www.oysterbarny.com; closed Sundays); and the tiny dark patch on the northwest corner of the ceiling's sky mural, a grubby memento of what the station looked like before its recent overhaul.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park , Wyoming
Tel: 307 739 3300
www.nps.gov/grte

The Teton Range is a 40-mile mountain chain that defines the sturdy beauty of the state. The jagged peaks—which are still growing about an inch every hundred years—rise dramatically into the vast panorama of Wyoming sky. The tallest is 13,770-foot Grand Teton. Binocular hounds get dizzy picking out wildlife: The park teems with elk, moose, bison, black bear, and grizzlies. There are also some 300 species of birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons. During the warm months, activities include hiking, walking, fishing, climbing, boating, and biking; winter pursuits range from cross-country skiing to snowshoeing and snowmobiling. The closest entrance to the park is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Jackson. The park's website has more information and detailed maps.

Great Point
Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
195 Wauwinet Road
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 5646
www.thetrustees.org/pages/293_coskata_coatue_wildlife_refuge.cfm

One of the most rewarding adventures on Nantucket is a drive on the beach to the island's wild and woolly remote northeastern tip. You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle with reduced tire pressure (so you can maneuver on the sand), $125 for the entry fee (collected at the Wauwinet gatehouse), and a picnic lunch to enjoy beneath Great Point Light. The five-mile trip is pretty easy: Just follow the tire tracks. Stop along the way for a dip in the waves—the only other person in sight might be a surf caster fishing for blues.

Greenwich Village/West Village
New York City , New York

The West Village extends from Houston to 14th streets and from the Hudson River to Broadway, where the East Village unofficially begins. Farmland in colonial times, it's now home to some of the most beautiful streets in the city: leafy, sometimes cobbled lanes dotted with 18th- and 19th-century brownstones and outdoor cafés. Poets, artists, writers, and anyone with an alternative lifestyle has long been drawn here. The gay community that used to make its headquarters along Christopher Street has mostly moved to Chelsea with the artists, but still takes to the Village streets for Gay Pride Day the last Sunday of June and for the nation's largest Halloween parade. Bleecker Street, which cuts a diagonal swath through the village from Hudson Street to Sixth Avenue, has become the epicenter of interest for visitors, thanks in part to landmarks such as Magnolia Bakery and a micro-neighborhood of swanky boutiques. Escalating real-estate prices mean many of the original pioneers have been replaced by high-income families and NYU college students, and national chains have replaced a number of the small, independently owned shops that used to give the area much of its character. But it's still easily the most charming neighborhood in Manhattan.

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Griffith Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Road
Los Angeles , California
90027
Tel: 213 473 0800
www.griffithobs.org

This 72-year-old Greek Revival landmark on a hilltop in Griffith Park is one of L.A.'s most recognizable icons, forever enshrined in the zeitgeist by the movie Rebel Without a Cause. The observatory finally reopened in fall of 2006, after an extensive $93 million renovation, including an addition and repairs to the façade. Most of the 40,000 square-foot addition is underground, and includes the new 200-seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater. The Samuel Oschain Planetarium has added all the latest digital bells and whistles, including a state-of-the-art new projector; astronomy shows are held in the planetarium every hour. The Observatory is also known for its hiking trails. However, trails to the north and east of the Observatory remain closed because of damage from wildfires. Only the trail from Fern Dell to the Observatory, which offers sweeping views past the Hollywood sign to the ocean, remains open.

Guided Tours
Palm Springs , California
Tel: 760 416 7044

Five miles south of downtown are four palm-studded canyons, stewarded by the Agua Caliente Indians and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Most popular are the 15-mile-long Palm Canyon (end of S. Palm Canyon Drive) and the sacred Tahquitz Canyon (500 W. Mesquite, just west of Palm Canyon Drive) with its 60-foot waterfall, rock art, and ancient irrigation systems. Both locations have free hiking maps and rangers available for guide tours at the canyon entrances ($8 for adults; an extra $3 per person to have a ranger show you the way).

Guild Hall
158 Main Street
East Hampton , New York
11937
Tel: 631 324 0806
www.guildhall.org

Established in 1931, this museum, theater, and gathering place serves as a reminder of an era when the East End was as much a magnet for artists as it was for millionaires. Guild Hall hosts an annual gala as well as a members' exhibition, benefits, film series, and theater openings. The 2011 schedule includes a stand-up show by late-night comedian Colin Quinn, a conversation with chef Eric Ripert, and Roundabout Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. There's also a small permanent collection of works by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Saul Steinberg, Chuck Close, and Larry Rivers. For event tickets, call the box office at 631-324-4050.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Hampton's Gym Corp
2 Fithian Lane
East Hampton , New York
11937
Tel: 631 324 4499
www.hamptonsgymcorp.com

On the East End, exercising is as fashionable as dining out. Alexis Stewart and her mother, Martha, are principal owners of this upscale mini-chain of fitness centers where, for $30 a day, you can work out at the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, or Southampton locations. (The latter is the biggest and newest of the three.) The Southampton and Sag Harbor branches offer classes ranging from cycling and kickboxing to yoga and Pilates, the price of which is included in your day-use fee. Alternatively, training director Chris Cosich can hook you up with a personal trainer, if you're willing to spend $75–$150 an hour to look beach-ready.

Harwood Museum of Art
238 Ledoux Street
Taos , New Mexico
87571
Tel: 505 758 9826
www.harwoodmuseum.org

Taos has long attracted artists who fall in love with New Mexico's clear light and inspirational views of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Founded by Elizabeth Harwood in 1923, this is the second oldest art museum in the state, and represents Taos artists from the 1700s to the present. It's a highly accessible collection, including some excellent works by the Taos Society of Artists who came in the early 1900s, such as Ernest Blumenschein and Bert Phillips Colony. Victor Higgins's emotionally charged 1932 Winter Funeral depicts a gathering of black cars in the snow as angry clouds rage overhead. There are also a number of paintings by Agnes Martin as well as works in wood and tin in the Hispanic Tradition Gallery.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays noon to 5 pm.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
27–717 Old Mamalahoa Highway
Papaikou , Hawaii
96781
Tel: 808 964 5233
www.htbg.com

Located eight miles north of Hilo at Onomea Bay, this lush garden is composed of easy-to-navigate nature trails running through a rain forest of rare and endangered flora. Beautiful and buggy—be sure to bring deet.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm; last entry at 4 pm.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Highway 11
Hawaii
96718
Tel: 808 985 6000
www.nps.gov/havo

Note: Due to an eruption that began on March 5, 2011, Chain of Craters Road, all east rift and coastal trails, and the Kulanaokuaiki Campground have been closed until further notice. See the National Park Service Web site for the latest info.

If you had to have one defining reason to go to the Big Island, the erupting Kilauea caldera would be it (lava-spewing Puu Oo crater went on a brief sabbatical in 2007, leaving Kilauea dry for the first time in more than 20 years, but the dry spell was short-lived). Nearly two million people visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park each year. Looking at the lines of cars parked on the Chain of Craters Road and people hiking in while carrying gifts, you'd think aliens had landed; most of these pilgrims bring water, cameras, and offerings to the volcano goddess, Pele (be mindful not to litter in the park). You can't get as close as you could in past years, but it's still so hot you may feel as if you're dinner walking on the grill. Get situated before sunset to see the molten lava fingers glowing red down the hillsides and flowing into the sea. Over half of the park is designated an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site and is great for hiking. Camping is allowed, and there's Volcano House, a very decent restaurant and hotel inside the grounds (Crater Rim Dr.; 808-967-7321; www.volcanohousehotel.com). Driving and hiking will get you close to the active flow, but only a helicopter can transport you directly over the crater for a look in. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters is the island's most established operation and absolutely worth the money. If you're prone to motion sickness, take precautions before boarding the aircraft for the 50-minute "Circle of Fire" and waterfall tour.

Next to the Kilauea Visitor Center, the Volcano Art Center gallery is run by a nonprofit organization and holds workshops, classes, special events, and local art exhibits (Crater Rim Dr.; Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano; 866-967-7565; www.volcanoartcenter.org).

Hayes Valley

Home to stylish clothing boutiques, furniture stores, and art galleries, Hayes Valley is the perfect place for window-shopping. Nearly every business is homegrown and unique (residents campaigned to stop a Starbucks from moving in). Salivate over the handmade shoes at Paolo, or the 220-plus sakes at True Sake. Recharge at cult favorite Blue Bottle Coffee with a rich, organic Gibraltar (a shot of espresso with a short pour of steamed milk).

Heard Museum
2301 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix , Arizona
85004
Tel: 602 252 8848
www.heard.org

This private museum houses one of the best collections of Native American art in the country. Founded by Dwight and Maie Heard, who moved to Phoenix from Chicago in 1895, the museum opened in 1929 to exhibit the couple's unparalleled collection of more than 38,000 ethnographic objects and contemporary works of art. If you go to just one museum in Phoenix, make it this one. Also worthy of note: the terrific Arcadia Farms café (602-251-0204; www.arcadiafarmscafe.com/arcadia_heard.htm).

Open daily 10 am to 5:30 pm.

Hearst Castle
750 Hearst Castle Drive
San Simeon , California
Tel: 800 444 4445 or 805 927 2010
www.hearstcastle.com

Publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst's monument to himself is by far the best-known attraction on the California coast. Perched high atop La Cuesta Encantada (the enchanted hill) and modeled after the grandest European châteaux, it really is a castle, occupying a whopping 90,000 square feet, with 56 bedrooms and 61 bathrooms divided between four buildings. You can't possibly see it all in one day, but for most people, one of the five different tours suffices. If you've never been here, take Tour No. 1 to get an overview. (Make reservations well in advance; spots are limited.) If you're staying in Big Sur or Monterey, plan for a long day trip. It takes two to three hours to make the one-way trek, depending on traffic, and you'll want to spend at least a few hours at the castle. If you want to break the visit into two days, note that San Simeon has notoriously lousy lodging (the nicest place is the Best Western). For greater selection, head to nearby Cambria instead, which has better food, some cute B&Bs, and several passable seaside motels, but nothing that we believe merits a write-up here.

Helicopter Tours of Kauai

Kauai is a place where filmmakers come for the scenery: Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blue Hawaii, and South Pacific were all filmed here. And there's no better way to appreciate the beauty than by helicopter, which can get you to places that are impossible to reach by car or on foot, including the crater of Mount Waialeale, a massive, Edenic green gorge surrounded by walls of weeping waterfalls—one of the most beautiful places on earth. Most island outfits run similar circuits around the island, but Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (800-745-2583 [toll-free] or 808-871-8844) and Heli USA Airways (866-936-1234 [toll-free] or 808-826-6591) both have EcoStars, a chopper that's more environmentally friendly than most. Island Helicopters now has exclusive rights to land at the Jurassic Park waterfall—you can get out and walk around for 25 minutes as long as you don't mind wearing shoe booties to protect the native plant species (800-829-5999 [toll-free] or 808-245-8558). But the most unique offering comes from Niihau Helicopters, which offers tours of the "Forbidden Island" of Niihau, a privately owned island located off Kauai's west coast (877-441-3500 [toll-free] or 808-338-1234).—Updated by Cathay Che

Heli-Skiing
High Mountain Heli-Skiing
Jackson , Wyoming
Tel: 307 733 3274
www.heliskijackson.com

If you're an advanced skier—in other words, if you can handle black diamonds mined with big moguls—it's well worth the splurge for a day in the bird: Around $775 gets you six runs, or approximately 12,000 to 15,000 total vertical feet. Be warned: A full day of unadulterated, first-rate powder-plowing in the Snake River Mountains may forever spoil you for regular hills.

Henry Miller Memorial Library
Highway 1 (¼ mile of south of Nepenthe)
Big Sur , California
93920
Tel: 831 667 2574
www.henrymiller.org

The brilliant and controversial writer was a native New Yorker, but his archive is here, in the town where he lived for 18 years and wrote some of his best work. If you like Miller, or think you might after having seen Henry & June, check out the library. It's a coffeehouse and cultural center of sorts, with open-mike nights and an outdoor film series in summer (call ahead to see what's on the calendar). The wooded grounds and funky little sculpture garden are lovely places to curl up with a book, and you're welcome to linger as long as you like. There's even Wi-Fi access, as well as an old blue iMac on an outdoor deck where you can check your e-mail.

Open Wednesdays through Sundays 11 am to 6 pm.

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The High Line
Manhattan's West Side, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street
Chelsea
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 500 6035
info@thehighline.org
www.thehighline.org

New York City's newest park, the High Line is brilliantly executed, hugely popular, and has become an instant must-see. Occupying an unused elevated rail line that parallels the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, the 1.5 mile–long promenade embodies the spirit of the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea—a nexus of art, design, commerce, and nightlife. Begin by climbing the stairs at Gansevoort Street or Chelsea Market, a painstakingly restored 1913 Nabisco factory turned gourmet emporium that runs from Ninth to Tenth avenues at West 15th Street. (The park has several other entrances, as well, including two with elevators.) Once up on the walkway, stroll along the concrete and wood pavings, grooved to echo the former train tracks. The park winds its way through and under buildings (including the Standard hotel), past art installations, and at eye level with apartments, billboards, water towers, and other elements of the New York City skyline. (Another ten-block section opened in June 2011; a third phase is planned if funds can be raised.)

The architecture, by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is clever, with benches, walkways, and planters seamlessly flowing together; there's even a set of bleachers overlooking the traffic on Tenth Avenue. Field Operations did the landscaping, using mostly native grasses and flowersa reminder of the weeds that covered the abandoned railway's surface for years before the park opened in 2009. It all comes together perfectly, a feat of engineering, imagination, and gumption (neighborhood residents lobbied tirelessly to get the park built). The High Line is the sort of fabulous project you expect to read about in a Wallpaper magazine story about some small, design-obsessed city in Europe, not in crass, commercial New York. But here it is, and New York couldn't be prouder.—Peter Frank

Open daily 7 am to 8 pm in winter, 7 am to 10 pm in summer.

High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree Street N.E.
Atlanta , Georgia
30309
Tel: 404 733 4444
www.high.org

Part of the Woodruff Arts Center, the High is one of Atlanta's premier cultural institutions and is conveniently located in the city's Midtown arts district. Highlights of its permanent collection include an impressive stash of 19th- and 20th-century American art, such as Chuck Close's Self-Portrait (3 Parts) and Dorothea Lange's White Angel Breadline. The High Museum has also partnered with the Louvre to bring exhibitions from the famed French institution to this Southern city through 2009 (www.louvreatlanta.org). But most visitors are interested in the architecture: The High's original white-on-white Richard Meier building is widely considered the architect's best work, and a three-building expansion, designed by Renzo Piano, opened in November 2005. An added bonus: Santiago Calatrava's Opera House will be going up nearby (www.atlantasymphony.org/symphonycenter/).

Closed Mondays.

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High Road to Taos Scenic Byway
Sangre de Christo Mountains , New Mexico
www.newmexico.org/place/loc/bymap/page/DB-place/category/158/place/639.html

Informally known as the High Road, this beautiful drive is 67 miles of interconnecting two-lane roads running along the crest of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos, passing through villages first colonized by the Spanish in the 17th century. One of these, Chimayó, is home to the church of El Santuario de Chimayó, pictured, where pilgrims scoop up the sacred earth in the hope of curing disease. (You might also stop for the stellar New Mexican food at the Restaurante Rancho de Chimayó). Another picturesque village is Truchas, where Robert Redford filmed his 1988 movie The Milagro Beanfield War. Allow three hours for the drive, if not longer, so you can take in the views of the desert valley far below. And drive safely: The roads are serpentine, and you'll see plenty of descansos, beautiful but sad roadside crosses that mark the sites where other motorists have met a bad end.

If you're looking for a quick route between Santa Fe and Taos, use US-285 and US-84, which take about half the time, and pass through the town of Espanola, famous for its low-rider cars.

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Highway 1

Craggy cliffs plunge a dizzying 1,000 feet to the crashing surf along California's most famous stretch of coastline. Highway 1 between Big Sur and San Simeon isn't an easy drive, but oh, the views! Plan to stop at pullouts and overlooks along the way, especially at the famous Bixby Creek Bridge, just south of Carmel, which you'll recognize from countless car commercials. Just north of San Simeon, you can pull off near Point Piedras Blancas to spot scores of elephant seals lazing in the sand. Tip: Fuel up before heading south; gasoline in Big Sur costs a full dollar more per gallon than in Carmel or Monterey. Plan two to three hours for the one-way trip.

Hiking
Los Angeles , California

Nobody walks in L.A., but they do hike. There are great trails along the Santa Monica Mountain bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the forested Angeles Crest. Or you can head uphill into Hollywood's Runyon Canyon, where somewhat disheveled celebrities can often be glimpsed walking their dogs off-leash. In Beverly Hills, there's Franklin Canyon. For information and maps of these and other trails, check out www.latrails.com/hike, or contact the Sierra Club (213-387-4287; www.angeles.sierraclub.org) for information about its organized walks.

Hiking
Phoenix , Arizona

The 16,000-acre South Mountain Park in South Phoenix—the world's largest city park—has 51 miles of beautiful desert wilderness trails for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders (10409 S. Central Ave.; 602-534-6324; www.phoenix.gov/PARKS/hikesoth.html). Most trails are more of a stamina test than a measure of climbing skill. For more technical climbing, head to Camelback Mountain, which sits smack in the middle of the city. The best way to hike it is to start on the northwest side, at Echo Canyon Recreation Area (Tatum Blvd. and McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley; 602-256-3220; www.phoenix.gov/PARKS/hikecmlb.html). The moderate hike up to the camel's head takes about two hours round-trip and rewards you with one of the best perspectives of the Valley. Serious hikers should tackle the trek to the top: the peak of Camelback's main hump, 2,704 feet above sea level. You'll learn to pull yourself up by any means possible (there are rails) and then can carefully navigate your way down.

Hiking
Big Sur , California
www.parks.ca.gov/parkindex/region_info.asp?regiontab=0&id=6

The best hiking in Big Sur isn't right along the coastline. Because the cliffs here tower a thousand feet high and drop precipitously to the pounding surf below, there are countless rocky coves and tiny sand beaches that are entirely inaccessible; the land is just too steep for trails.On the inland side of Highway 1, though, it's a different story. Here, the terrain is manageable enough that you can get those stunning views—without plummeting to your death. For major visual impact and only minor physical output, head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, south of the town of Big Sur. Take the flat Waterfall Trail (about a half mile, round-trip), which leads to a fabulous overlook with a year-round waterfall. Hardier souls can reach the tops of the coastal ridges via the Tan Bark Trail, a 6.5 mile round-trip hike into the hills.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, abutting the town of Big Sur, has lots of great trails, including Pfeiffer Falls, an easy 1.4-mile round-trip walk through redwood groves to a 60-foot waterfall. Serious hikers should continue into the adjacent Ventana Wilderness, part of Los Padres National Forest. Be prepared for some intense elevation gains: Some of the mountains rise nearly 5,000 feet within two miles of the coast. This is rugged country—you'll need proper hiking boots and physical stamina. You should also bring water and wear layers you can remove. Although it may look foggy near the water in all these hiking areas, once you climb high enough, you'll emerge into the blazing-hot sun.

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Hiking, Mountain Biking and Rock Climbing in Maine

Get this, Vermont and New Hampshire: Maine is as big as all five other New England states combined, which makes for boffo backcountry opportunities. Join the mile-high club (not that one) by hiking up hulking Mount Katahdin, the 5,271-foot terminus of the Appalachian Trail, located in north-central Maine. It's a tough climb and should never be tried on an iffy day, but lower-key alternatives can be found in the surrounding Baxter State Park, which contains 200 miles of other trails (207-723-5140; www.baxterstateparkauthority.com). Near the mountain town of Bethel, the 43-mile Grafton Loop, off the Appalachian Trail, is one of the newest major trails in the Northeast, and an ideal destination for a weekend camping trip or shorter day hikes to bald, blueberry-strewn summits. Every October, the area is also home to Sunday River's North American Wife-Carrying Championships (207-824-5243; www.sundayriver.com/summer/wifecarry.html), when, for a change, hubbies are asking their spouses to get on their backs.

Hiking and Biking in Santa Fe + Taos

Outdoor types will find prime hiking and mountain biking 15 miles outside of Santa Fe in the Santa Fe National Forest. For some of the best hiking, take Hyde Park Road up to the base of Ski Santa Fe and park in the second lot (the one that's furthest from the ski area). From there, the intermediate-level Windsor Trail leads up through aspens and pines. For a full-day out-and-back, start Windsor early in the morning to reach the summit of 12,622-foot Santa Fe Baldy; it's approximately 14 miles round-trip. The entire area, including the connecting Pecos Wilderness, is threaded with trails (www.fs.fed.us/r3/sfe). Note: Even in summer, the weather can be unpredictable. Bring water and warm gear, even on a short day hike. Only advanced outdoorspeople should attempt the trail in the off-season.

If you're a fat-tire aficionado, take the Windsor Trail going down toward town. It's 10 or so miles of challenging and fun singletrack. The trail will dump you out on County Road 72A, near the village of Tesuque. Arrange for somebody to drive you back up to the parking lot, unless you feel like riding back uphill.

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Hiking in Montana

The Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area, a million-acre chunk of public forest, lends itself to Montana-size superlatives. The Beartooth is the largest alpine plateau in the U.S., with nearly 1,500 miles of trails, almost 30 peaks that spiral up to 12,000 feet, and hundreds of lakes (some two dozen are home to rare golden trout). The plateau is the kind of place where a well-equipped hiker with ample provisions and preparedness can disappear for days, if not months. But be wise: If you're not experienced, go with a guide, or you might disappear in a bad way. A good place to start is the East Rosebud Lake trailhead, west of Red Lodge. The relatively easy trail follows a chain of lakes and passes beneath massive rock buttresses; stop for a picnic three miles later at Elk Lake, or push on to Rainbow Lake for a longer outing (14 miles, round-trip). For a more challenging overnight trip, begin at the East Fork of Mill Creek, south of Livingston, and follow the strenuous trail eight miles north to Elbow Lake, where you'll camp beneath the towering alpine architecture of Cowen Cirque. For guide services, contact local guide Ron Brunkhorst (406-578-2155; ryp@climbmontana.com). For a more kid-friendly summer outing, amble through the Lewis and Clark Caverns, a popular state park also in southwest Montana, near Three Forks (about a half-hour drive from Bozeman). The charmingly corny guided tour through the spectacular limestone caves combines geology with local history.

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Hiking the Kalalau Trail
Trailhead at Kee Beach
End of Highway 560
Na Pali Coast , Hawaii
96766
www.gohawaii.com/stories/stories.html?video=18

Since the only way to access the breathtaking Na Pali Coast is from its waters, which are choppy most of the year, the next best thing is seeing it on foot from high above the ocean. The Kalalau Trail affords you that option, but this hike is no walk in the park. The stunning vistas, the natural beauty of the local flora and fauna, and the opportunity to cross riverbeds (and get your feet wet and dirty) is well worth the sweat as you trek uphill. Bring plenty of water—the sun is strong on the bluffs—and a camera. Even the most jaded globetrotter will be unable to resist these postcard-worthy photo opportunities.

Hiking on the Big Island

Well-marked and challenging trails crisscross Volcanoes National Park (you'll get a map upon entering), including the popular hikes down and across Kilauea Iki Trail, to Napau Trail, along Byron Ledge and the daylong Crater Rim Trail (808-985-6000; www.nps.gov/havo). Lightweights and families can try the 15-minute trek along the Malama Trail, just north of the Mauna Lani resort, to see Hawaiian petroglyphs. For the really hardy, the steep walk down and even more exhausting hike back up the Waipio Valley is worthwhile—it's a sacred spot to Hawaiians.

Hiking on Cape Cod

Cape Cod has miles of hiking trails through woods, marshland, cranberry bogs, and seashore, varying by length and difficulty. The Cape Cod National Seashore is laced with 11 self-guided hiking trails. Our favorites are in the often overlooked Fort Hill section (Route 6 at the Orleans–Eastham line), where shaded paths ramble through a dwarfish forest of gnarled pitch pines and marshland, past the spots where French explorer Samuel de Champlain dropped anchor in 1605, the Mayflower Pilgrims first sighted land 15 years later, and merchantmen and pirates were shipwrecked. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History offers guided wetlands hikes through the bay-side conservation land it owns. The Wellfleet Audubon Sanctuary maintains five miles of trails through 1,100 acres of salt marsh, sandy beach, and pine woodland teeming with songbirds (291 State Highway Rte. 6, South Wellfleet, 508-349-2615, massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Wellfleet). And you can hike through nearly 50 acres of holly trees at the Ashumet Holly Audubon Sanctuary (Ashumet Rd., East Falmouth, massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Ashumet_Holly). The Cape Cod Trails Conference, a network of hikers, maintains a guide to hiking routes (cctrails.org), and the Cape Cod Commission has a longer list of everything from flat walks to challenging hikes, organized by town (capecodcommission.org/pathways/#directory).

Hiking on Maui

Maui's network of hiking trails, beaten paths and otherwise, suit trekkers at all fitness levels: Our favorites include the six-mile Lahaina Pali Trail (near touristy Lahaina), which ends at Papalua Beach, and the strenuous nine-mile Kaupo Trail, which leads up Haleakala to Kaupo Gap (the site of free raves when the moon is full). The centrally located Iao Valley State Park has some easy paved trails that will barely make you break a sweat—except from mosquito-swatting (apply repellent liberally). Most people come to gawk at the Iao Needle, a phallic stone of Kanaloa, Hawaiian god of the ocean, and take a dip in the natural pools. See www.hawaiitrails.org for more hiking information.

Hiking on Oahu

Although Oahu is heavily populated (it has 800,000 people, or 80 percent of the state population), much of it is still undeveloped, lovely, and crisscrossed by safe, well-marked hiking trails. Of course, most tourists do the obvious hike up the 760-foot Diamond Head. The 1.4-mile, round-trip trek takes about 90 minutes and is pretty challenging for the average person, especially on a hot day, but the sweeping view of Waikiki is unbeatable. The trail starts at a clearly marked parking lot off Diamond Head Road; there are no facilities.

At Waimea Valley on the North Shore, hikes range from an easy meander through tropical gardens to a steep, .75-mile-long hike to a 40-foot waterfall. (You can swim at the falls when the water's high enough.) The valley is protected by Audubon Society gatekeepers, so you'll pay entry and parking fees to get in (Audubon Center, 808-638-9199; waimea.audubon.org). For other suggested hikes, check out the helpful Oahu hiking website www.backyardoahu.com.

Hill Country

The Hill Country may not be as dramatic as Big Bend or the Piney Woods, but many Texans say it's the most beautiful region in the state. In the spring, when bluebonnets and other wildflowers add a splash of color to the limestone cliffs and live oak–covered hills, it can be downright spectacular. You'll see hordes of families pulling over on the highways to take photos in the flowers. You can see why Lance Armstrong trains here. In fact, cyclists of all types come for the challenging terrain and stunning beauty. Hill Country Bicycle Works in Fredericksburg rents high-quality mountain and road bikes and recommends the best trails (830-990-2609; www.hillcountrybicycle.com). For hiking and camping within an hour of town, drive west on Highway 71 to Llano, then head south on Highway 16 until you reach Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (830-685-3636; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/enchantd). Get there early, though, as the park fills up fast. For a more sedentary afternoon, take Farm-to-Market Road 1431 to Marble Falls and savor the chicken-fried steak at the Blue Bonnet Café; (830-693-2344; www.bluebonnetcafe.net). The journey home at sunset is even more enjoyable on a full stomach. Better still is Café 909 (830-693-2126; www.cafe909.com), where the menu goes beyond mere comfort food to haute Texas cuisine with dishes like grilled peaches wrapped in Speck and sprinkled with shaved Parmesan and balsamic syrup.

Hillwood Museum and Gardens
4155 Linnean Avenue N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20008
Tel: 202 686 5807
www.hillwoodmuseum.org

Hillwood was heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post's Washington residence from 1955 until her death in 1973. Today, the 25-acre estate in northwest Washington displays her estimable collection of 18th-century French decorative arts and Russian imperial art, such as 19th-century Fabergé eggs, along with more personal items, such as her designer wardrobe. The botanical attractions, including a formal French landscape and Japanese gardens, are also worth the trip. And since the gift shop sells replicas of many of her priceless objects (brooches, the Fabergé eggs), it's one of the most interesting museum shops around.

Closed Sundays, Mondays, and the month of January.

Hilo Coffee Mill
17–995 Volcano Highway (Highway 11)
Mountain View , Hawaii
96771
Tel: Tel: 866 982 5551 (toll-free)
Tel: 808 968 1333
www.hilocoffeemill.com

This mill sits not in Hilo but on 24 verdant acres in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Mountain View just south on Highway 11 (chances are you'll smell the place before you see it). Green coffee beans from family farms throughout the state are processed here in small batches, packaged on-site, and distributed to many of the island's best restaurants. Stop into the café to power up for an outing to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (the mill is on the way) and get a quick tour of the entire process, or just purchase some bags of beans to take home.

Open Mondays through Fridays 7 am to 4 pm, Saturdays 8 am to 4 pm.

Hilo Hattie
111 E. Puainako Street
Building G
Hilo , Hawaii
96720
Tel: 808 961 3077
www.hilohattie.com

All kitsch, all the time. Named after a 1930s entertainer and hula dancer, this emporium is one-stop shopping for Hawaiian music CDs, his and hers Hawaiian shirts, tiki home decor, Hello Kitty Hawaii, even mini ukuleles. And free coffee and shell leis when you walk in the door. Check the Web site for additional locations.

Open daily 8:30 am to 6 pm.

Historic Homes and Sites
Charleston , South Carolina

Charleston's gorgeous antebellum homes make it one of the most well-preserved cities in the Deep South. It's easy to see them on foot and various companies offer guided walking tours, including Charleston Strolls (843-766-2080; www.charlestonstrolls.com). Or go house hopping via horse-drawn carriage operated by Old South Carriage Company (14 Anson St., 843-723-9712; www.oldsouthcarriagetours.com).

Can't-miss homes include the Nathaniel Russell House (51 Meeting St.; 843-724-8481; www.historiccharleston.org). Built in 1808, this townhouse mansion, with its three-story free-flying spiral staircase, is one of the finest neoclassical dwellings in the district. The Aiken-Rhett House, a Charleston double-house, has survived unaltered since 1858 and includes an art gallery and a marble staircase with mahogany railings (48 Elizabeth St.; 843-723-1159; www.historiccharleston.org). Located in the original walled portion of the city, the Heyward Washington House is the former home of Thomas Heyward, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and was also the setting for author Dubose Heyward's Porgy (87 Church St.; 843-722-2996; www.charlestonmuseum.org).

West of town, the Ashley River Historic District is a 13-mile national scenic highway featuring 53 historical sites including Magnolia Plantation (www.magnoliaplantation.com), Drayton Hall (www.draytonhall.org), and Middleton Place (www.middletonplace.org), which is also a hotel and restaurant.

For a taste of haunted Charleston, Bulldog Tours (40 North Market St.; 843-722-8687; www.bulldogtours.com) runs twice-nightly jaunts through city graveyards, spooky houses, and dungeons.

Hollywood
Los Angeles , California

Hollywood is the same sun-blasted mecca for celebrity worshippers it's always been, but trees now line the main drag, Hollywood Boulevard. At night, the club-crawlers come out to play, even though the A-list spots come and go at warp speed (see our Nightlife section for help). The Kodak Theatre hosts the Academy Awards and other splashy events, which means that several blocks of the Boulevard near Highland Avenue are perpetually closed off to traffic. There's still no great shopping (unless you're looking for T-shirts or platform sandals in men's sizes), but lots of hip restaurants and bars. Hollywood is filled with ornate Mediterranean and Art Deco buildings, all gradually getting face-lifts. Thai Town and Little Armenia occupy the eastern end, with great ethnic markets and restaurants, like the famed Palms Thai, where a Thai Elvis-imitator performs nightly.

Hollywood Bowl
2301 N. Highland Avenue
Los Angeles , California
90068
Tel: 323 850 2000
www.hollywoodbowl.org

Open from late May through early October, this famed outdoor venue hosts jazz, rock, and country performers, along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The shell was originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and later updated by Frank Gehry. There are 18,000 seats—the boxes are jealously reserved, but (shhh, don't tell the A-listers) the acoustics are actually better in some of the cheap seats.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
90038
Tel: 323 469 1181
www.hollywoodforever.com

The "resting place of Hollywood's immortals" is L.A.'s answer to Père Lachaise in Paris; here, loyal fans can visit the tombstones of everyone from Rudolph Valentino to Johnny Ramone. Among the palm trees and mausoleums, there are even video screens that show Life Stories (like mini bio-pics put together by the families of the deceased). Occasionally in the summer, the public is invited to charity screenings: You can take a picnic dinner and a blanket and watch a movie in the graveyard. Hey, that's showbiz!

Holocaust Memorial
1933-1945 Meridian Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
33139
Tel: 305 538 1663
www.holocaustmmb.org

Sculptor/architect Kenneth Treister's Memorial in Miami Beach is both evocative and upsetting. Visitors enter this outdoor memorial through black-granite colonnades with walls etched with surprisingly graphic images of the concentration camps, then pass through a tunnel that echoes with the voice of Israeli children singing World War II songs. The central sculpture is a 42-foot-high bronze hand that reaches up to the sky, emaciated figures clinging to it, fighting to climb higher and escape. The ID number tattooed on the arm's wrist is missing its final digit on purpose, as the artist was careful to make no reference to specific prisoners. Note, too, the address, a nod to the era of persecution.

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Honolulu Academy of Arts
900 S. Beretania Street
Honolulu , Hawaii
Tel: 808 532 8700
info@honoluluacademy.org
www.honoluluacademy.org

This very centrally located museum has more than 50,000 works of art, including pieces from such masters as Picasso, Gauguin, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Rauschenberg, and Noguchi. It also offers studio art classes for both adults and children, and hosts events throughout the year. Themed ARTafterDARK parties, held the last Friday of every month, attract Honolulu's equivalent of young society: people in their twenties to forties looking to network and connect.

Closed Mondays.

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Hood River
Hood River , Oregon
www.hoodriver.org

Not so long ago, Hood River was just another rustic waterside town tucked along the edge of the Columbia Gorge. Then, in the 1980s, it became known as the windsurfing capital of the world. A whole slew of diversions followed in the wake of its development as an outdoor recreation mecca. Big Winds and Hood River Waterplay are just two of the outfitters ready to help get visitors out on the water with a range of offerings that include both rentals and lessons. Those not ready to test their skills with a board and sail will find plenty of other options. Outdoorsy types can go river rafting (on the Salmon River), skiing on Mount Hood, fishing, or hiking. Those taking a more leisurely approach to their vacation can play golf or savor a leisurely lunch overlooking the river (try the gorgeously manicured Columbia Gorge Hotel). The overall vibe is distinctly laid-back and youthful. Yes, you'll find some elegant places to have lunch, but it's really about enjoying the brew-pubs (Full Sail is located here), watching the windsurfers and kite-boarders, and taking in the great outdoors.

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Hoover Dam
30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on U.S. 93
Nevada/Arizona Border
Tel: 866 730 9097
www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam

The only Nevada image as iconic as the Strip is the mighty Hoover Dam in Black Canyon, an architectural marvel that is awesome to contemplate, even after seven decades. The dam, about 30 miles southeast of the Strip, blocks the Colorado River with a wall of 4.36 million cubic yards of concrete that stands 726 feet high and is 1,244 feet long and 660 feet thick at the base. Those not fascinated by the science of electricity may find the Discovery tour a yawn (though one has to suffer through it to get inside the dam); just walking around the area is enough for most. Bring water—it's hot out here.

Visitor center open daily 9 am to 6 pm. Last tour of the day is at 5:15 pm in summer, 4:15 pm in winter.

Horseback Riding
Stables at Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lodge at Koele
1 Keomoku Highway
Lanai City , Hawaii
96763
Tel: 808 565 4555

This well-kept facility reflects the Hawaiian love of horses, which became central to the economy when they were introduced to Lanai in 1803. Located about half a mile from the Lodge, the stable offers trail rides for every level of experience. The Koele trail is good for beginners, while the Paniolo Trail and the Mahana Trail are more challenging. All meander to areas off the main road that are difficult to access otherwise. Expect to see lots of deer, native plants, and birds; untouched land; hidden valleys; and, if you continue to the shore, stretches of coast not accessible to many. Sunset trail rides and "Sweetheart" romance trail rides just for two are among the more creative options. Note that children must be at least nine years of age and four-foot-six to ride, and no person weighing over 225 pounds is allowed on a horse.

Horseback Riding
Tel: 970 928 0723
www.aspenwilderness.com

One- to four-hour trail rides set off from Buttermilk Mountain, just outside of Aspen, for scenic rides through the Elk range. Multiday guided pack trips are great for those who want more saddle time.—by Samantha Berman

Horseback Riding
Andrew Molera State Park    , California

If you can't commit to a hike but want to go where cars can't, consider hitting the trail on horseback. Molera Horseback Tours runs guided rides that wind through Andrew Molera State Park to the beach; some pass through forests of redwood and oak, and along the mouth of the Big Sur River. Group rides last from one to 2.5 hours; prices for most rides are between $25 and $60. You can also book a private guided ride for as little as $36. (831-625-5486 or 800-942-5486; www.molerahorsebacktours.com).

Horseback Riding
Telluride , Colorado

Telluride Horseback Adventures trots riders along trails below the Wilson Range, including Mt. Wilson, the majestic peak on the Coors beer logo. The outfit conducts sunrise and sunset rides, day trips, and custom pack trips into the San Juan Mountains backcountry (970-728-9611; www.ridewithroudy.com).

Horseback Riding in Montana

Since most of Montana's dozens of protected wilderness areas and forests lack roads, one of the best ways to explore is by horseback. We recommend the guidance of a licensed outfitter. If you're up by Glacier National Park or the million and a half acres of rugged, isolated backcountry known as the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, call Swan Mountain Outfitters; they'll take you on a five-day ride-and-fish pack trip to some of the most remote lakes and streams in the state. If Yellowstone is your target, join Wilderness Pack Trips, located in Emigrant, just north of the Gardiner entrance to the park. Their trip into the park's Thorofare region—called by some the most secluded place in the Lower 48—is a nine-day ride of uninterrupted wildflower, elk, moose, bear, and wolf viewing. If you can't coutenance a week's worth of saddle sores, both outfitters offer dazzling one-day excursions as well. Neither outfitter has a standard two- or three-day itinerary, but they'll happily plan something for you if you call a week or so in advance.

Hot-Air Ballooning
Wyoming Balloon Company
Jackson , Wyoming
Tel: 307 739 0900
www.wyomingballoon.com

Catching the sun's first light on the Tetons is one of those life-affirming thrills. It does, however, require you to lug yourself out of the sack before dawn. Wyoming Balloon Company will pick you up in Teton Village before sunrise and have you 4,000 feet above the Teton foothills as the mountains blush with first light. Prices are around $235 per person.

Hot Air Balloon Rides
Tel: 970 963 6148
www.aboveitallballoon.com

If the view from the gondola isn't enough, soar up to 2,500 feet above the Maroon Bells and the beautiful Elk Valley in a hot-air balloon. Rides launch at sunrise and last about an hour. A Champagne brunch is served when you land.—by Samantha Berman

Hot Springs
Pray , Montana

The same geothermal features that entertain the crowds at Yellowstone's Old Faithful also heat the mineral waters in Chico Hot Springs, a perfect rehab for the body after hiking or skiing. It's located 23 miles south of Livingston at the foot of Paradise Valley's Absaroka Mountains (800-468-9232; www.chicohotsprings.com), and a night under the stars in the open-air springs is a local tradition. Expect rowdy, happy crowds.

Hudson River Park
Between Battery Place and W. 59th Street along the Hudson River
New York City , New York
www.hudsonriverpark.org

A five-mile sliver of green between the West Side Highway and the Hudson River, this is downtown's open-space alternative to Central Park. Reclamation of the downtrodden waterfront is ongoing—though the area south of 23rd Street is already flourishing. Chelsea Piers (between W. 18th and W. 21st streets) is a year-round sports and recreation center with a driving range, bowling alley, restaurants, marina, and more. Pier 54 (at W. 13th St.) hosts film screenings and concerts. Further south, kids splash in the fountains on the Pier 51 playground (at Jane St.), and picnic space on the grassy knolls can be hard to come by when the temperature rises, especially on cruisey Pier 45 (at W. 10th St.), where the West Village's gay population comes to preen and sunbathe—this is the best place to get a glimpse of locals' enviable roof decks and the Richard Meier towers at Perry and Charles streets. The park's southernmost tier is a multi-million-dollar work in progress: Construction is underway to create lawns, bike paths, beach volleyball courts, a dog run, boat moorings, and a whole lot more, with the majority of work due to be completed in 2010. (For updates on progress, visit www.hudsonriverpark.org) The popular Trapeze School New York, which teaches you to fly through the air 24 feet up (with a safety net, naturally), has relocated to the top of Pier 40 for the duration of the construction. Aspiring trapeze artists can test their mettle from April until October while taking in views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty (212 242 8769, newyork.trapezeschool.com).

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3019 E. Sunrise Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
33304
Tel: 954 564 4521
www.floridastateparks.org/hughtaylorbirch

Birch, a Chicago lawyer, raked in money as the legal counsel for Rockefeller's Standard Oil and used it to buy vast chunks of $1-per-acre land down in newly settled Florida at the end of the 19th century. Birch deeded most of it to the state on his death, and it's now a glorious park, centered on a shady freshwater lagoon with forests of sea grape and hardwood trees—an ideal break from sunning on the beach. And though Birch's estate may have been huge, his still-standing house at the center of it all was surprisingly modest.

Visitors center open only on weekends.

Hulopoe Beach
Manele Road
Lanai , Hawaii
96763

This perfect white-sand swath just west of Manele Bay has rocky tide pools and a marine preserve (on the beach's eastern side). Hulopoe is known for its clear, aquamarine waters and exceptional snorkeling and swimming. Thanks to the island's relative isolation and a small human population, Lanai's coral reefs are thriving with parrot fish, sea stars, Barber pole shrimp, and limpets; spinner dolphins and humpback whales have also been known to make guest appearances. On calm days, you can spend all day snorkeling. When there's a swell, check out the small pods of talented local surfers tackling the wickedly challenging shorebreak.

Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino , California
91108
Tel: 626 405 2100
www.huntington.org

Aside from its renowned art collection and rare antique books—which include one of the two earliest-known editions of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales —the main draw of this property is its magnificent botanical gardens. There's a three-acre rose garden with more than 1,200 varieties of bloom (as well as a lovely tea room), a remarkable 12-acre desert garden, English gardens, and Japanese gardens. A new Chinese garden, which due to be completed in 2008, will include a lake with carved-stone bridges, and pavilions and walkways set among rock gardens and native Chinese flora.

Closed Mondays.

Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii
600 Imiloa Place
Hilo , Hawaii
96720
Tel: 808 969 9700
www.imiloahawaii.org

The world's largest collection of telescopes (13) on top of Hawaii's highest mountain, Mauna Kea, has long distinguished Hawaii as a mecca for astronomers. For the rest of us, the Imiloa Astronomy Center at the University of Hawaii's Science and Technology Park in Hilo strives to make a powerful connection between the expertise of the indigenous Hawaiians who navigated by the stars and advancements in the field today. Visitors begin with a planetarium show called Mauna Kea: Between Earth and Sky, which raises as many questions as it answers about the origin of the universe, then walk through interactive displays. Kids under 5 won't get much out of the place, but it is a good rainy-day activity, and in Hilo, those days come frequently. The café (open to the public) has a growing local following and is a good place to grab a quick, tasty lunch.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9 am to 4 pm.

Indian Springs Resort & Spa
1712 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga , California
94515
Tel: 707 942 4913
www.indianspringscalistoga.com

Before Napa became famous for wine in the late 1970s, the valley was best known for the boiling hot springs bubbling up through volcanic mud in Calistoga. The little main-street town was founded in the 1850s by Sam Brannan, an East Coast entrepreneur who envisioned a California version of New York's Saratoga. (Legend has it he was a drunk and declared the town the "Calistoga of Sarafornia.") Opened by Brannan himself, Indian Springs is the granddaddy of the town's mud-bath emporiums. There's nothing fancy about the utilitarian 19th-century spa building, but this is the real deal. You get buried in mud, soak in a tub of clear hot-spring water, then take a eucalyptus steam before drifting away in a blanket wrap; tack on a massage and facial for the full treatment. The effect is glorious: you'll feel both relaxed and detoxified. Afterward, take a swim in the gigantic, hot spring–fed swimming pool. The resort also rents cozy 1940s cottages and hotel rooms with Frette linens.

Open daily 8 am to 9 pm.

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Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
02210
Tel: 617 478 3100
www.icaboston.org

Founded in 1936, the ICA showcases work by the likes of Nan Goldin, Mona Hatoum, Paul Chan, and Julian Opie (major exhibitions rotate three times per year). But it's the institute's new building, a cantilevered structure by New York–based architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, opened in 2006, that's really special here. Large wooden terraces overlooking the harbor seem like a giant's staircase leading into the museum, though the main entrance is actually on the opposite side of the building. In summer, the steps serve as an amphitheater for free waterside concerts and performances. Inside are white-on-white galleries, a glass elevator the size of a small hotel room, and a glass-enclosed theater—curtains lower to block natural light from flooding in when necessary. The most dramatic space, however, is the Poss Family Mediatheque. Suspended from the main cantilever at a 45-degree angle, its inclined window frames the water with no land or sky in view, making you feel as if you're about to fall in.

Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm; Thursdays and Fridays 10 am to 9 pm (free after 5 pm).

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International Spy Museum
800 F Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
Tel: 202 393 7798
www.spymuseum.org

The only facility dedicated to the study of international espionage, this museum has a permanent collection of artifacts and spy gadgets (such as a pistol disguised in a lipstick case that was used by the KGB). There also are rooms devoted to spy work during World War II, the spy-versus-spy world of the Cold War, and the dangers that we face today. Fittingly, the museum is near the FBI headquarters, just north of the National Mall.

Iolani Palace
Corner of King and Richard streets
Honolulu , Hawaii
Tel: 808 522 0832
info@iolanipalace.org
www.iolanipalace.org

King David Kalakaua built this palace in 1882, as a symbol to the world that Hawaiian royalty was as grand as any in Europe. Only two Hawaiian royals ever lived here, though: Kalakaua, who was childless, and his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who succeeded him only to be overthrown and put under house arrest in 1895. Today, the well-preserved structure, filled with period furniture, royal portraits, and a showcase of the Hawaiian crown jewels, gives a glimpse into the state's majestic (and tragic) past.

Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Ironman Triathlon
Kohala Coast , Hawaii
www.ironman.com

Every year in October, the Kohala Coast hosts the awe-inspiring Ironman Triathlon world championship: a 2.4-mile ocean swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride through a lava field, followed by a 26.2-mile run—all executed in one day under the blazing sun. (Spectators should be aware that there isn't much sun cover on the sidelines either.) For a week before and a week after the event, the quiet coast bustles with camera crews and some of the most hard-core athletes you'll ever meet. And not just energetic twentysomethings—there are triathletes who compete through their 60s. After the event, the whole bay-front strip of Alii Drive turns into an Ironman after-party.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway
Boston , Massachusetts
02115
Tel: 617 566 1401
www.gardnermuseum.org

Isabella Stewart Gardner was an heiress and something of a black sheep of late-19th- and early-20th-century Boston society: She was a rabid Red Sox and horse-racing fan. Tapping into a $1.75 million inheritance from her father (a linen merchant) and husband (a financier and heir to a shipping fortune himself), Gardner personally designed this four-story building, modeled on a Venetian palazzo, to house her extensive collection of art and antiquities. The exhibits include paintings by Manet, Sargent, Holbein, Whistler, Rembrandt, Matisse, Michelangelo, and Titian; 15th-century Flemish tapestries; a first edition of Dante's Divine Comedy; and inscrutable documents—look for the one signed by Marie Antoinette. A visit to the museum is like meandering through the attic of a wealthy, if eccentric, old aunt. Mrs. Gardner believed that art should be appreciated on its own merits, so almost nothing is labeled, though some rooms have laminated information cards that fill in the blanks (and some have blank spaces on the walls where masterpieces hung until they were stolen in one of the greatest art heists in American history). The indoor garden courtyard, filled with citrus trees, orchids, and seasonal plantings, is as impressive as the collection—and there's an explanatory book about it that you can pick up at the information desk. If your name is "Isabella," you will be admitted free, and there's a discount if you have visited the nearby Museum of Fine Arts within a two-day period. (Bring your ticket stub.)—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.

Islands
Puget Sound , Washington

Puget Sound has a string of gorgeous islands, all easy day trips from the city, and all with their own distinct personalities. Washington State Ferries runs trips to all islands; note that spots on popular car-ferry routes can fill up quickly during high season (206-464-6400; www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries).

The easiest island to pop over to is Bainbridge Island. The ferry ride (35 minutes) to and from the island is an attraction in itself, as you get unparalleled views of the skyline, with Mount Rainier looming to the south. Bainbridge is something of an exclusive bedroom community, so it's not as bucolic as some of the other islands, but it's lovely in its own right and has everything from cute little ice cream shops to its own winery. There are two state parks (one on either end of the island) and several other protected areas and gardens, including the Bloedel Reserve, which shouldn't be missed; reservations are required to visit (206-842-7631; www.bloedelreserve.org).

Vashon Island (15 to 35 minutes by ferry, depending on which dock you depart from) is only 12 miles long; you could easily bike the whole thing in a day. Expect to find organic farm stands, galleries, and at least a few old-school hippies. Walks along the beach are a favorite activity out here, as each shore provides views of either the city and the Cascade Range or the Olympic Mountains.

Above Puget Sound in the Strait of San Juan de Fuca is the massive San Juan archipelago. Though many people come to the San Juans to relax, even more come to kayak, hike, play golf, or go whale-watching. The San Juans are extremely popular tourist destinations, so expect lines for the ferries and crowds at B&Bs and restaurants in the summer. San Juan Island is the place to go to book a whale-watching tour or charter a boat; Frday Harbor, the island's main town, is also the commercial hub for the archipelago. Orcas Island is the most spectacular of all the islands. Moran State Park has tons of trails that include everything from lakeside ambles to summit hikes. Orcas also has quite a few pricey inns and resorts perfect for a romantic overnight trip, with Rosario Resort & Spa, in a converted seaside mansion, being the most luxurious (360-376-2222; www.rosarioresort.com). Washington State Ferries to the San Juan Islands leave from Anacortes (one and a half hours north of Seattle); if you want to leave directly from Seattle, the Victoria Clipper has limited service to Friday Harbor (206-448-5000; www.victoriaclipper.com).

Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando Resort
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 363 8000
www.universalorlando.com

Considered by aficionados to be the best-designed amusement park on earth, IOA's designers spared little expense. Its five themed areas (Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing) are distinct and hand-designed down to the lampshades and the trash cans. Its entangled Dueling Dragons coasters are synchronized to tease riders with three near-collisions, and the Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges are the wettest and most thrilling of the white-water boat genre. Don't miss the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, where riders don 3-D glasses and whisk through a series of rooms in which motion simulation, animation, and sense trickery (bursts of flame, water droplets) collaborate in thrilling harmony. Next up for the park: A whole Harry Potter universe, set to open in 2010. Leave your bags in your car (the parking lot's covered), since you can't bring anything but yourself and your screams onto the roller coasters.

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Drive
Sanibel Island , Florida
33957
Tel: 239 472 1100
www.fws.gov/dingdarling

If you're lucky, you'll encounter alligators, manatees, loggerhead sea turtles, roseate spoonbills, and even the 11-foot female American crocodile that loves to sunbathe on Wildlife Drive. You'll see and learn plenty in this well-managed preserve, which you can explore by bicycle, four-mile drive, open-air tram ride with naturalist, or two-mile boardwalk trail. You can also paddle a kayak or canoe through Tarpon Bay's mazelike mangrove forest, by yourself or with a guide (239-472-8900; tarponbayexplorers.com). Within the 6,400 acres of wetlands, sabal-palm savanna, and mangrove forests, there are 32 different mammals, 51 types of reptiles, and 238 recorded bird species, including bald eagles, mangrove cuckoos, and two dozen warbler species. Bird-watching is best in the early morning, an hour before or after low tide. Mosquitoes and the annoying no-see-um sand flies are most prevalent at dawn and dusk—avoid those hours, and bring insect repellent at all times.

Wildlife Drive is open Saturdays through Thursdays from 7:30 am until a half hour before sunset. The Education Center is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, November through April, 9 am to 4 pm May through October.

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Jack London State Park
2400 London Ranch Road
Glen Ellen , California
95442
Tel: 707 938 5216
www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=478

Carve out a couple of hours of non-wine time for a visit to Jack London State Park, named for the author who once owned the land. London constructed an enormous dream home here in 1913, known as the Wolf House, and on the day before he was to move in, the house burned to the ground. The foundation still stands today, as does the house London's widow built after his death—the House of Happy Walls, which now doubles as a museum about the author. Look for the peephole above the living room; during parties, the reclusive Mrs. London used to spy on her guests from the second floor. Hiking around the park ranges from easy to moderately difficult, through ancient redwood forests; some trails ascend as high as 2200 feet above the valley floor, providing stunning views of the bucolic landscape. If you'd rather see the park by horseback, contact Triple Creek Horse Outfit (707-887-8700; www.triplecreekhorseoutfit.com).

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
5401 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota , Florida
Tel: 941 351 1660
www.ringling.org

Located on the 66-acre Sarasota estate that once belonged to circus tycoon John Ringling and his wife, Mable, this art museum showcases the work of Baroque masters such as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Poussin. The collection encompasses 10,000 objects—paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and drawings—from ancient through contemporary times. While you're there, visit the Ringling's 32-room mansion, Cà d'Zan, and check out the posters, props, wardrobes, and parade wagons on display in the Circus Museum.

John F. Kennedy Center For the Performing Arts
2700 F Street N.W.
Washington , D.C.
20566
Tel: 800 444 1324 (toll-free)
www.kennedy-center.org

Located on the Potomac River next to the Watergate complex, Washington's premier performing arts venue (dedicated to arts advocate JFK) has nine stages and is the home base for the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera. It hosts more than 2,000 performances each year, including touring plays, Broadway musicals, and dance programs. Free performances, from Japanese koto recitals to family-friendly theater, take the Millennium Stage daily at 6 p.m. (tickets are not required). The building itself is also worth a look: There's artwork on display (gifts from other nations), an impressive bronze bust of JFK in the Grand Foyer, and panoramic Potomac River views from the building's outdoor terraces. Guided tours are available.

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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Columbia Point
Boston , Massachusetts
02125
Tel: 866 535 1960
www.jfklibrary.org

The JFK Library, which opened in 1979 in an I.M. Pei–designed building, is dedicated to the study of the 35th president's life and work, and houses his presidential papers and a museum. Start with a film chronicling JFK's life until the 1960 campaign season, then work your way through exhibits of campaign memorabilia (signs, buttons, and TV ads); video of the Kennedy–Nixon debates; correspondence between family members; and photos of the Kennedys at Hyannisport. It's great for history buffs, but be aware that getting there without a car is a bit of a schlep (on the T's Red Line, then a free shuttle bus); leave about 30 minutes each way. The museum, ringed by a pleasant harborside walking trail, is located adjacent to the University of Massachusetts Boston campus and steps away from the Commonwealth Museum of Massachusetts history, where you'll find original royal charters, John Adams's Massachusetts state constitution, and the copper plates from which Paul Revere engraved his famous etching of the Boston Massacre (220 Morrissey Blvd.; 617-727-9268).—updated by Jon Marcus

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm.

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Juneau
Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau
101 Egan Drive
Juneau , Alaska
99801
Tel: 888 581 2201
info@traveljuneau.com
www.traveljuneau.com

Juneau is the only U.S. state capital where you can't directly drive to another city but you can drive to a glacier. On the edge of the Gastineau Channel in Southeast, with the expansive Juneau Icefields behind and the Mendenhall Glacier flowing right into a suburb, it's easy to figure Juneau became the state's seat of government because it's just too beautiful to pass by. Whales swim right past town, and day-tripping families head to Tracy Arm, a more intimate version of Glacier Bay. Thanks to its size (largest town in Southeast) and the government offices, Juneau has swanker hotels and restaurants than other towns in the region, as well as regional favorites like Silverbow (best place in Alaska for breakfast) and the Capital Inn. Juneau also has the area's only ski resort, Eaglecrest.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Jungle Island
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail
Watson Island
Miami , Florida
33132
Tel: 305 400 7000
www.jungleisland.com

Jungle Island (formerly known as Parrot Jungle) used to be an oddball charmer far south of the city, an old rambling park full of squawking, bird-filled cages. Now it's a gleaming, multimillion-dollar family attraction on its own island between downtown and South Beach. The new aviary, home to more than 200 parrots and 3,000 exotic animals such as monkeys and reptiles, has various custom-built environments. The Manu exhibit, for example, mimics a Peruvian mountaintop and has indigenous birds, and the Serpentarium is a good place to see alligators up close (don't miss the albino one). The neighboring Ichimura Miami Japan Garden, also run by the Jungle Island team, is a calm oasis of stone lanterns and boulders, wrapped in a traffic noise-dampening concrete wall and topped by a large, genial Buddha.

Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Kahua Ranch
59–564 Kohala Mountain Road
Waimea , Hawaii
96743
Tel: 808 882 4646
info@kahuaranch.com
www.kahuaranch.com

In addition to raising grass-fed livestock that you've probably already eaten in a nice restaurant on the West Coast, Kahua Ranch—8,500 acres on the northern end of the island—operates a renewable-energy enterprise, ATV tours, and its own retail store, where it sells everything from ranch wear to beef and lamb chops. The ATV tours are nothing to write home about, but it's worth stopping by to get schooled by a paniolo (Hawaiian for cowboy).

Open Mondays through Saturdays; by appointment only.

Kampong
4013 Douglas Road
Coconut Grove
Miami , Florida
33133
Tel: 305 442 7169
www.ntbg.org/gardens/kampong.php

This often-forgotten botanical garden is one of Miami's true finds—that is, if you can find it. It's located on a mansion-filled stretch in the backwoods of Coconut Grove, the leafy neighborhood south of downtown. This land was originally owned by botanist David Fairchild, of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden fame, who traveled the world collecting exotic plants to populate the garden. When David and his wife passed away, Catherine Sweeney bought the property and carried on this tradition of specimen gathering. Their efforts combined have yielded an impressive array of about 5,000 plants and fruits, from ylang-ylang (the base note for Chanel No. 5) to bael, a hard-shelled Indian citrus known for its laxative and aphrodisiac qualilties, that Fairchild ate daily for breakfast. Oh, and the bizarre name? It's Malaysian for "cluster of houses." Call ahead to make an appointment and the director, Larry Schokman, will lead you on a custom tour.

Open Monday through Friday by appointment only.

Kayaking
Monterey , California

Monterey Bay supports one of the world's most diverse ecosystems and spans a whopping 5,300 square miles. A National Marine Sanctuary since 1992, it's an absolute must to explore by water, with frolicking sea lions and sea otters, low-flying pelicans, and giant orange starfish common sights.

If you've never gone kayaking, don't worry: It's fairly easy—assuming you're in reasonable shape and you stick to relatively sheltered areas (if you head out to sea, you're on your own). Monterey Bay Kayaks provides rentals, instruction, and tours for all levels; most tours last three hours and cost about $60 (800-649-5357; www.montereybaykayaks.com ) . If you want real drama, take a sunset paddle, or time your trip by the lunar cycles and take a full-moon tour.

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Kayaking in Alaska

Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the country combined, so there's no shortage of places to kayak, but there are some highlights. Southeast's calm, protected waters are perfect for beginners. In Ketchikan, Southeast Sea Kayaks leads waterborne tours for every ability level, from easy local paddles, many of which head up Creek Street past former brothels, to multiday trips in Misty Fjords. Or set off near the entrance to Glacier Bay, and you stand a good chance of spotting whales and seals. In Southcentral, you can join St. Augustine's Kayak and Tours on a paddle around nearby Yukon Island; the route is excellent for beginners, with plenty of seal and sea otter sightings, plus great beaches where you can come ashore for lunch.

More experienced paddlers, comfortable with self-rescue and variable conditions, should try Glacier Bay. Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks rents equipment, and the Park Service's Glacier Bay excursion boat will put you ashore and pick you up at a number of points. The setup enables you to explore the bay on your own and provides access to the East Arm, where big ships rarely travel. Another option is to explore Prince William Sound. It does still have some oil from the Exxon Valdez spill, but it remains a serene landscape of islands rising from mist, where the loudest sound might be the exhale of passing whales. Alaska Sea Kayakers rents equipment; Honey Charters offers drop-off service throughout the sound. Or just head out from Whittier: The multiday paddle toward Blackstone Bay and Harrison Fjord just might be the best paddling in the state, with plenty of glaciers and wildlife but no one else around.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Kayaking La Jolla Cove
La Jolla
San Diego , California

Kayaking is a good way to explore La Jolla Cove's cliffs and dramatic sea caves. La Jolla Kayak rents tandem and single sit-on-top kayaks and offers guided tours (2199 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla; 858-459-1114; www.lajollakayak.com). Bring snorkel gear (or rent it) and watch for bright orange garibaldi fish, bottlenose dolphin, sea lions, and (harmless) leopard sharks below the waves.

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Ketchikan
Ketchikan Visitors Bureau
131 Front Street
Ketchikan , Alaska
99901
Tel: 800 770 3300
info@visit-ketchikan.com
www.visit-ketchikan.com

Ketchikan, located on the edge of Revillagigedo Island, is the southernmost town in Southeast. Even by Southeast Alaska standards, it's a wet, wet place: The town gets more than 150 inches of rain a year (the locals appropriately chose the rainbird as their mascot). All that water nurtures the surrounding forests, and has made Ketchikan the totem pole center of Alaska. The totem poles of the Totem Heritage Center (best for antique poles and totem history), Saxman Village (the single largest collection of poles in Alaska), and Totem Bight State Park (best place to see what a Native village in Southeast would have looked like) make up the world's largest collection, and new carvers are always at work. The town's other attractions include Creek Street (the former red-light district) and trips into Misty Fjords, a watery, mountainous landscape that looks as if the world had hatched anew.—Edward Readicker-Henderson

Key West Aquarium
1 Whitehead Street
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 800 868 7482 (toll-free)
Tel: 305 296 2051
www.keywestaquarium.com

Originally a WPA project in the 1930s, this huge aquarium is swimming with barracuda, eels, parrot fish, stingrays, and other exotic creatures that live below the surface in Key West. Visitors can pet a live shark during daily feedings or hold a starfish at the touch tank.

Key West Cemetery
701 Passover Lane
Key West , Florida
33040
Tel: 305 292 8177

This 19-acre site jammed into the center of Old Town dates back to Key West's 19th-century heyday, when the shipwrecking industry (salvaging goods from sunken ships) made it briefly America's richest city. Estimates put the cemetery's permanent residents at up to 70,000, most in vaults aboveground because of the high water table and solid coral bedrock that prevent the standard six-feet-under. The cemetery is both a fascinating time capsule—the opulence of some of the older graves underscores the town's onetime economic prominence—and an amusing catalog of Conch eccentrics. Look for Edwina Lariz, whose stone reads "Devoted fan of singer Julio Iglesias" and B. P. Roberts, who moans eternally "I told you I was sick." Pick up a guide to the graves in Walking & Biking Guide to Historic Key West by historian Sharon Wells (www.seekeywest.com).

Open daily sunrise to 6 pm.

Kids' Stuff
Los Angeles , California

Aside from—obviously—Disneyland, there are lots of other sights and activities in L.A. that are geared toward kids. They'll be wowed by the La Brea Tar Pits, in mid-Wilshire, a site where asphalt bubbled up out of the earth about 40,000 years ago during the Pleistocene epoch—the last of four Ice Ages—trapping mammoths, giant sloths, and sabre-toothed tigers (way post-dinosaur-age). The remains of these animals have been retrieved since 1906 and are now on display. The adjacent George C. Page Museum has one of the world's most famous collections of fossils and bones, and during summer months there is an observation deck from which visitors can watch paleontogists carefully digging through the black muck (5801 Wilshire Blvd.; 323-934-7243; www.tarpits.org).

Universal Studios adds to its tour and park attractions whenever a blockbuster warrants it. Right now the tours are narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and include TV-show sets from Crossing Jordan and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (how scintillating is that lineup?). Some of the park attractions are "The Fast and the Furious: Extreme Closeup," and a Fear Factor audience-participation attraction. A recent fire destroyed the 20-foot high King Kong as well as the studios New York streets, but Universal says it will rebuild the Big Apple and add a new attraction to replace the giant ape (100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City; 800-864-8377; www.universalstudios.com). More subdued is the Warner Bros. VIP tour, better for older children who love the movies and who are interested in visiting the sets and soundstages of the studio (4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank; www2.warnerbros.com/vipstudiotour/). Another venue best for older children is Six Flags Magic Mountain, which has the Guinness World Record for the most roller coasters in one place (26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia; 818-367-5965; www.sixflags.com/parks/magicmountain).

Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard
Fort Worth , Texas
76107
Tel: 817 332 8451
www.kimbellart.org

The anchor of Fort Worth's celebrated Cultural District, Louis Kahn's exquisitely proportioned 1972 building is on most short lists of the 20th century's greatest architectural achievements. A series of travertine-clad barrel vaults bathed in natural light, this sublime modern classic would be worth a visit empty. But the Kimbell's concise collection is uniformly of the highest quality, offering an art-history highlight reel of dozens of masterpieces, from Duccio's The Raising of Lazarus to Poussin's Venus and Adonis to Picasso's Woman Combing Her Hair. Classical, Asian, and pre-Columbian collections are comparably rich. In an art world coup, the museum recently acquired what is believed to be the earliest known painting by Michelangelo, The Torment of Saint Anthony, which dates from 1487-88, when the artist was only 12 or 13.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 10 am to 5 pm, Fridays noon to 8 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays noon to 5 pm.

Lakes
Austin , Texas

It's hard to get more landlocked than the interior of Texas, but Austin has three lakes nearby—two essentially within town—that on weekends explode into social scenes.

Lady Bird Lake (renamed from "Town Lake" for Lady Bird Johnson, who recently passed away) isn't actually a lake, but rather the Colorado River. The wide part of the river that runs through downtown is ringed by hiking and biking trails; sculling is also popular, though motorboats are prohibited.

Lake Austin sits between two dams on the western edge of town and is rimmed by million-dollar homes; its usually calm surface is perfect for waterskiing. The Hula Hut has a deck on Lake Austin and is massively popular after work (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-476-4852; www.hulahut.com)—probably because the cocktails are better than the food. Next door is Mozart's, whose magical lakefront location makes it one of the most romantic coffee shops in Texas—perhaps America (3826 Lake Austin Blvd.; 512-477-2900; www.mozartscoffee.com).

Located 20 minutes outside of town, Lake Travis has more than 270 miles of shoreline. Though there might be fewer cigarette boats spraying rooster tails than in the go-go days of the dot-com boom, the waters are still full of ski boats, and there's as much boat-to-boat socializing as actual waterskiing. A handful of marinas offer day rentals for powerboats, party barges, and wave runners; try Just for Fun (Emerald Point Marina; 5973 Hiline Rd.; 512-266-9710; www.jff.net). Johnny Fins (16405 Clara Van Trail; 512-266-2811; www.johnnyfins.com) and the Lakehouse Café; (512-264-7040; www.lakehousecafe.com; weekends only) are the main options for float-up dining and drinking—but take heed of strict local policies on drinking and boating. There are several beaches, but the curious steer toward Hippie Hollow, the only public clothing-optional park in the state.

Lanai Pine Sporting Clays and Archery Range
Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lodge at Koele
1 Keomoku Highway
Lanai City , Hawaii
96763
Tel: 808 565 4060

Even if you don't hunt (or more specifically, would never hunt), you can have fun on this unexpected outing without compromising your ethics. First-timers are sternly instructed on safety guidelines, fitted with lightweight shotguns (to minimize recoil), and given lessons as they proceed with an instructor through the 14 shooting-range stations in this 200-acre pine-wooded valley. The targets are disks, still called "clays" though they're now made of compressed fertilizer that seems to keep the area trees very happy. There are archery and air-rifle ranges, too, on what is now the grandest facility of its kind in the state. Ask the staff which celebrities have visited (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Selleck, for example), and who sucked—they'll tell you.

Lanai Surf School and Surf Safari
428 Lanai Avenue
Lanai , Hawaii
96763
www.lanaisurfsafari.com

Big secret revealed: There's good surf on Lanai and hardly anyone around to take advantage of it (though admittedly, it's not easy to get to). Unless you're a badass who surfs Pipeline every winter, you should book a four-hour surf safari in a four-by-four with this husband-and-wife team. Affable Nick Palumbo was raised on Lanai (so you'll get the local perspective on the best spots for your level), and his wife, Alex, specializes in teaching women and girls. It's a reputable outfit—all the instructors have at least 15 years of surfing experience and are CPR-, first aid–, and Hawaii-lifeguard–certified. Lanai Surf School is also the choice of the Four Seasons. Surfboard and gear rentals are available.

Legion of Honor
Lincoln Park
34th Avenue at Clement Street
San Francisco , California
94121
Tel: 415 863 3330
www.thinker.org/legion

This magnificent Beaux Arts building commands dramatic views of Golden Gate Bridge. Inside, its collection of ancient and European art spans 4,000 years, including more than 70 Rodin sculptures representing every phase of his career. Don't miss The Thinker and the bust of the artist by his lover, Camille Claudel.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9:30 am to 5:15 pm.

Legoland California
One LEGOLAND Drive
Carlsbad , California
Tel: 760 918 5364
www.legoland.com

This 128-acre theme park, made up of 15,000 LEGO models built from more than 30 million LEGO bricks, sounds kitschy, but it's actually pretty cool. The rides, shows, and waterpark playgrounds are best for families with children aged 2 to 12. There are also a few roller coaster–style attractions to keep teenagers from dragging their feet.

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Leipers Fork
Williamson County
Tennessee
37064
www.leipersforkvillage.com

Leipers Fork has a shabby-chic appeal—with the emphasis on chic: This bucolic country village of just 500 is home to some of Middle Tennessee's wealthiest residents, including country-music moguls and a few Hollywood stars, such as Ashley Judd. Despite the high-dollar real estate (farms around here sell for tens of millions), the draw of the Fork is its down-home charm. Highway 46 (also known as Old Hillsboro Road) is the main thoroughfare, and it's lined with galleries featuring work by local artists and quaint antique stores offering high-end American and European furniture and accessories. Leipers Fork is also a popular pit stop for those hiking or driving the nearby Natchez Trace—the terminus of this 444-mile scenic parkway is just 14 miles north of town—or simply looking to ogle prime real estate. For a real (and literal) taste of area hospitality, stop by Puckett's Grocery Store, a triple-threat supermarket/performance space/meat-and-three restaurant located on the main drag. Order the fried catfish—crispy and delicious—and enjoy live music from local artists both famous and on-the-rise on Friday and Saturday nights (4142 Old Hillsboro Rd.; 615-794-1308; www.puckettsgrocery.com). Too tired to drive back downtown? Book a room at the Namaste Acres B&B.

The Lighthouse Route
Route 1
Maine

For lighthouse aficionados, driving the 400-mile length of Route 1 between Kittery (at the southern tip of Maine) and Fort Kent (at the Canadian border) is a rite of passage. The two-lane road follows the rugged, rock-strewn coast and delivers beacon hunters to four of the state's most iconic lighthouses. The first stop is Cape Neddick in York, just north of the New Hampshire border. Better known as Nubble Lighthouse, the 40-foot tower was built in 1878 and is still in operation. A 45-mile drive north and a short detour into picturesque Cape Elizabeth brings you to Portland Headlight. Commissioned by George Washington in 1791, it is Maine's oldest lighthouse, and it may look familiar if you've seen Edward Hopper's 1927 watercolor portrait of it in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Another 60-mile jaunt north, in Bristol, is Pemaquid Point, a quaint lighthouse of whitewashed brick. And one last 100-mile haul brings you to Acadia National Park, where Harbor Bass Light is located on a cliff on Mount Desert Island. In the heat of summer, Route 1 is notoriously jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, particularly around popular vacation towns like Ogunquit and Old Orchard Beach. Use I-95 or I-295 to speed along your journey.

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Lighthouses on Cape Cod

Cape Cod has the nation's largest collection of historic lighthouses, 14 in all. A few allow visitors; some have museums. We've listed the five you shouldn't miss:

Originally built in 1797 and then rebuilt in 1857, Highland Light in Truro is the oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod. It was also the first in the nation to have a flashing beacon—sailors had been confusing it with the Boston Light. Visitors can ascend 69 winding steps to the lantern room (183 feet above the sea) and check out the keeper's watch room. The shipwreck rooms in the neighboring museum are popular with kids.

Nauset Light, above the dunes of what is now called Nauset Light Beach, is one of the nation's most picturesque lighthouses and is periodically open for tours. Since being depicted by the artist Edward Hopper, its fame has overshadowed the three smaller lighthouses, called the Three Sisters, that once stood on this site. Those wooden lights are now dark and—oddly—located in the woods along a marked path off Cable Road in the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Nobska Point Light on Nobska Road in Woods Hole is a quintessential New England lighthouse: a 40-foot-high circular cast-iron tower painted white, on a high bluff, with a whitewashed, red-roofed keeper's house. The grounds are open to the public, and the lighthouse is open periodically for tours.

Race Point Light in Provincetown was built in 1816 where the open ocean meets the calmer waters of Cape Cod Bay. Since the light is two and a half miles from the nearest paved road, it's not surprising that a former Race Point lighthouse keeper is credited as the inventor of the dune buggy. You can stay overnight in the four-room keeper's house; a volunteer keeper will drive you there. If you just want to look at the lighthouse and not stay over, you can park at Race Point Beach and walk. It takes about 45 minutes.

Bass River Light in Dennis was deactivated when shipping declined, but it is now a hotel called the Lighthouse and is the only privately maintained working lighthouse beacon in the country. The inn has ocean views, of course, and working fireplaces; 3 of the 72 guest rooms and suites are in the original lighthouse keeper's house.

Lighthouses on Martha's Vineyard

Three of the Vineyard's five lighthouses (all on the north side of the island) are open to the public for sunset tours operated by the Martha's Vineyard Museum (508-627-4441; mvmuseum.org). East Chop Light, in Oak Bluffs, is perched on a cliff 79 feet above the sea (508-693-8104). The red-brick Gay Head Lighthouse is on the edge of the Aquinnah cliffs and visitors are allowed into the light chamber; its original Fresnel lens, which was exhibited at the 1855 World's Fair in Paris, is now on exhibit in the Martha's Vineyard Museum. The Edgartown Lighthouse originally stood in Ipswich, Mass., and was moved to its present site after its predecessor was badly damaged by the Hurricane of 1938 (508-627-4441). Guarding the entrance to Vineyard Haven, the West Chop Lighthouse in its current brick incarnation dates from 1838 and was the last manned lighthouse on the island. There are also guided tours to (though not inside) the Cape Poge Lighthouse, at the far end of Chappaquiddick. This structure has been rebuilt four times since it first went up in 1801. The current white wooden structure was built in 1893 and on four occasions has had to be moved farther from the water—the last time by helicopter (508-627-3599; thetrustees.org). For lighthouse connoisseurs, the Vineyard has launched an annual Martha's Vineyard Lighthouse Challenge in June, including transportation to all five lighthouses and a "lighthouse passport" book (800-505-4815; mvy.com/islandinfo/lighthouse_challenge).

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 65th Streets
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 875 5456
www.lincolncenter.org

By the sheer size of its facilities and the scope of its performances—approximately 400 events every year—this cultural complex, which opened in the mid-1960s and is in the midst of a massive, multiyear reconstruction project, claims the crown as the city's preeminent center for the performing arts. The Metropolitan Opera is based at, naturally, the Metropolitan Opera House, the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater, the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. Individual events and festivals are scattered throughout these and other performance halls, including the newest addition, Jazz at Lincoln Center, located several blocks south in the Time Warner complex. Summer sees special outdoor events, including Midsummer Night Swing, when the public boogies to live bands on the plaza, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors, a festival of free open-air performances.

Lincoln Park Zoo
2200 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago , Illinois
60614
Tel: 312 742 2000
www.lpzoo.com

Occupying a beautifully landscaped strip of park in between the perfectly manicured streets of tony Lincoln Park and the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan, the Lincoln Park Zoo is the nation's oldest zoo (it was founded in 1868). It's also one of the last of its kind: A free—and incredibly well maintained—neighborhood zoo. Although it's charmingly small, you should still allow yourself two to three hours to wander the paths among landmark Georgian Revival brick buildings and colorful flower gardens. Main attractions include the Great Ape House (completely rebuilt in 2004) and the centrally located Sea Lion Pool.

Grounds open 9 am to 6 pm, buildings open 10 am to 5 pm. Call ahead for restricted hours in the winter and extended weekend hours in the summer.

Litquake
www.litquake.org

It has been said that San Francisco, the birthplace of a generation of Beat authors, is a city in love with two things: books and booze. Once a year, local literati—Armistead Maupin, Dave Eggers, Amy Tan, Michelle Tea—and their fans celebrate this happy, drunken marriage with a festival of readings and panel discussions. Sound boring? In any other city, it might be. Litquake, however, draws literary-minded hipsters to dive bars, swank lounges, and even laundromats with honeyed words and drink tickets. The weeklong festival, which opens the first weekend in October, culminates in a Saturday night three-hour LitCrawl through various bars in the Mission, with more than 300 authors giving readings on topics ranging from food and pets to war and sex.

Little Bighorn Battlefield
Crow Agency , Montana
Tel: 406 638 3204
www.nps.gov/libi

Almost no moment in western history casts a longer shadow than June 25, 1876, when General Custer and 262 men fell to Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors. The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, 55 miles east of Billings in eastern Montana's Crow Indian Reservation, has detailed self-guided walking tours. It's surprisingly interesting and thorough, taking guests through the desolate prairie and detailing each Indian encampment, doomed charge, and gun position. The trail wanders past white grave markers for fallen soldiers, culminating at the 7th Cavalry Monument and the Indian Memorial.

Little Havana
Miami , Florida

Just west of the downtown business district is this several-block bastion of the city's Cuban community. Calle Ocho, or S.W. Eighth Street, is the heart of the area, and on it you'll find shops with women rolling cigars, salsa music emanating from old record shops, art galleries, coffee shops for a shot of bracing café cubano, and the restaurant Versailles. In March, the neighborhood hosts a two-week street festival of art, music, and food (www.carnavalmiami.com/calle8).

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Long Trail

The Appalachian Trail? The Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest? Sorry, but they're all whippersnappers when compared with the Long Trail, the oldest long-distance footpath in the country. And nearly 100 years after trail-breaking in 1910, the Long Trail still whups hikers with 270 miles of scrambles, summits, and sunsets along the spine of Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada. (Find maps and information at the Green Mountain Club, 4711 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., Waterbury Center; 802-244-7037; www.greenmountainclub.org). For a weekend sample of the LT, consider the Monroe Skyline, a 12.2-mile hike along the ridges of the central Green Mountains, near Warren and the Pitcher Inn. Other high-elevation hikes include the 7.4-mile trip up and down the 4,083-foot Camel's Hump, and the myriad trails (from 6 to 8 miles, round-trip) winding around Mount Mansfield, at 4,393 feet Vermont's highest point. Both are a short drive from post-hike pedicures and pinot noir at Stowe's Topnotch Resort and Spa.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
90036
Tel: 323 857 6000
www.lacma.org

LACMA's permanent collection of over 100,000 works includes everything from extraordinary Asian antiquities to period costumes to contemporary artworks. It also hosts a steady series of temporary exhibitions, some so popular the museum has been forced to stay open into the late night. The various buildings on the museum's 20-acre campus have gone up at different times, in disparate styles; Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano won the commission (over Rem Koolhaas) to unify the museum, adding a 20,000-square-foot glass entrance pavilion, as well as a covered concourse linking the open spaces between buildings. The renovation included an expansion of the Ahmanson Building with a skylighted hall for music and art performances, lectures, and other public events.

Lucullus Culinary Antiques
610 Chartres Street
French Quarter
New Orleans , Louisiana
Tel: 504 528 9620
www.lucullusantiques.com

Step into this French Quarter boutique and jump a couple of centuries into New Orleans's past—without the trouble of a fancy time machine. As a purveyor of 19th-century culinary antiques, Lucullus presents a wide range of kitchen- and dining-related objects, from period glassware and porcelain to intricate absinthe spoons and oyster plates. The showrooms are laid out like dining rooms—antique tables and chairs are set with antique china and matching flatware—and filled with accoutrements (damask napkins, glass rolling pins, Champagne flutes), with an understandable emphasis on French antiques.—Pableaux Johnson

Magic Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 824 4321
disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/parks/parkLanding?id=MKLandingPage

When most first-time visitors imagine Walt Disney World, the place with the castle, the Hall of Presidents, and Space Mountain, they're thinking of the Magic Kingdom, which was the first of the four theme parks to open on Disney property back in 1971. A larger version of California's original Disneyland, its idealized mock-up of a prototypical Main Street USA spills into several themed areas (Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Mickey's Toontown Fair) stocked with tame rides and wandering Mickeys, Minnies, Goofys, and the odd Captain Hook. Get those famous mouse ears at Le Chapeau, just to the right as you enter. The lines for the kiddie rides of Fantasyland are shortest immediately after opening and again in the evening, when tykes go to bed. Otherwise, the Fastpass system allows you to pick up timed tickets, which get you onto the ride with a much shorter wait; use it liberally. The Kingdom experiences its biggest crowds on Mondays, so plan your trip accordingly. And if you plan on staying for the evening fireworks, wait around for 45 minutes or so to avoid the crush of departing visitors that overwhelms the transportation systems.

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The Mall and Its Monuments
Washington , D.C.
Tel: 202 426 6841
www.nps.gov/nama

Most of Washington, D.C.'s must-see monuments are clustered on the western end of the National Mall, so it's possible to see them all in one day. Construction of the Washington Monument progressed in fits and starts throughout the 19th century, which is why the stone on the top half of the tower is a different color than that on the bottom. (Editor's Note: Due to structural damage from the earthquake on August 23, 2011, the interior of the Washington Monument has been temporarily closed to the public.)

At the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, the National World War II Memorial pays homage to the 16 million who served, and a wall of 4,000 gold stars marks the 400,000 soldiers who gave their lives in this war. Fifty-six granite pillars signify the unity of the states and territories, and 24 bas-relief sculptures recall significant battles in the conflict (17th St. and Independence Ave. N.W.). Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial design, chosen in a national competition, comprises two black granite walls angled into a V inscribed with the names of the 58,000 soldiers who died in the nation's longest war. Families and friends make pilgrimages here to touch their loved ones' names or to make rubbings on paper.

At the western end of the Reflecting Pool, Daniel Chester French's imposing marble sculpture of Lincoln is the focal point of the Lincoln Memorial. Flanking the statue are murals depicting Lincoln's achievements and inscriptions from his Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address. It was on the second step here that Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963; look for an inscription on the spot where King stood (Independence Ave. and 23rd St. N.W.).

On the shores of the cherry tree–lined Tidal Basin sit the FDR Memorial and the adjacent Martin Luther King Memorial. The former remembers Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration with sculptures spread throughout a garden, including one of the president in a wheelchair, a rare image even now. The latter, opened in 2011, honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a 30-foot granite statue of the civil rights hero and a wall inscribed with excerpts from his famous speeches (W. Basin Dr. S.W.).

Farther south on the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial commemorates the author of the Declaration of Independence (and the nation's third president) with a towering statue in a rounded neoclassical structure, along the lines of the Pantheon in Rome (Ohio Dr., between the Tidal Basin and Potomac River).

Mallory Square
Duval and Front streets
Key West , Florida

Locals avoid it and tourists flock to it, but there's still a lot to love about Mallory Square. Vendors selling everything from hand-painted coconuts to conch fritters set up shop in the brick, waterfront area, while tourists take in classic acts like the tightrope walker or the one-man band that looks like something straight from a Dr. Seuss fantasy. Amid all the kitsch, you can find some treasures for sale, too, like intricate palm-frond baskets woven by a man who's been a Mallory Square fixture for decades. Sunset is obviously the time to go, and the scene continues for about an hour afterward, as sailboats pass close to the docks for a photo moment and the sky glows with the day's last color.—Updated by Terry Ward

Maple Sugar Trade in Vermont

U.S. states have official flowers, birds, and songs, but some sap gave Vermont an official flavor: maple. Sugar makers produce a half million gallons of the amber liquid each year, tapping their sugar maples (Vermont's official state tree, natch) during the spring thaw and boiling up batches of syrup in sweet-smelling sugarhouses. Many makers, including Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock (591 Sugarbush Farm Rd.; 802-457-1757; www.sugarbushfarm.com) and Morse Farm in Montpelier (1168 County Rd.; 802-223-2740; www.morsefarm.com), open their sugarhouses to the public; the best month to visit is March. A full list of places and events can be found at www.vermontmaple.org.

Mardi Gras
New Orleans , Louisiana

Usually associated with half-nude debauchery and flammable rum drinks, Mardi Gras gets a bad—if not completely undeserved—rap. Despite its Girls Gone Wild reputation, Mardi Gras is more than simple "boobs for beads" transactions; if that's your goal, head for Bourbon Street with the out-of-towners. Locals congregate in neighborhood bars on hidden side streets and along the parade routes on Uptown stretches of St. Charles Avenue. Fat Tuesday itself always falls on the day before Lent begins—in late February or early March—though the Mardi Gras season starts on January 6, the 12th night of Christmas. But the carnival spirit never quite leaves the city. Head over to the recently relocated Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World, near the Convention Center, for a tour of the studios where artists sculpt the famous sparkling parade floats. The tour also includes time to roam the warehouses, where larger-than-life visages of Louis Armstrong sit next to 15-foot papier-mâché bullfrogs (1380 Port of Orleans Pl.; 504-362-8211; www.mardigrasworld.com).

Margulies Collection
591 NW 27th Street
Wynwood Art District
Miami , Florida
33127
Tel: 305 576 1051
www.margulieswarehouse.com

Local real-estate developer Marty Margulies amassed such an impressive collection of photography over the years that in 1999, he finally bought a warehouse in the emerging Wynwood Art District downtown to showcase his holdings. Seven years—and several expansions—later, the stark-white, 45,000-square-foot space is crammed with permanent and rotating collections of impressive photography, from Cindy Sherman classics to Vanessa Beecroft's sexy, modern snaps. Even better, Margulies's impeccable taste stretches to video installations and sculpture. It's hard to single out particular works, but don't miss Ernesto Neto's creepy, tentacle-like installations made from women's panty hose.

Open Wednesday through Saturday between October and April.

Maria Selby Botanical Gardens
811 S. Palm Avenue
Sarasota , Florida
Tel: 941 366 5731
www.selby.org

A visit to these botanical gardens in Sarasota is especially appealing in the fall, when the weather is cooler and the plants are still in full bloom. Grab a map and embark on a self-guided tour of the orchid-filled greenhouse, bamboo garden, butterfly garden, banyan grove, and fragrance garden. Kids underwhelmed by the vegetation will get a kick out of vividly colored poison-dart frogs frolicking in multilevel tanks filled with mosses and tropical plants. Lunch at the outdoor café, then browse the plant store inside the historic Selby mansion.

Hotel Photo
Marin Headlands
Marin County , California

A 30-minute drive directly north of San Francisco, the rolling hills and dramatic cliffs of the Marin Headlands offer the perfect respite from city bustle. The wildflower-covered hillsides bear the occasional ruin of an Army gun emplacement, and the sea breeze may bring the bleat of foghorns, each with its own distinctive pattern. Lizards dart across the path, and you may be lucky enough to see a deer. Pack a picnic and sunscreen, drive to Rodeo Beach/Fort Cronkhite, then follow the trail up from the beach to explore the headlands.

Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association
mvcma.org

Religious camp meetings were a fast-growing trend in the 1830s, when Methodists encamped for the first time in Oak Bluffs. Eventually, they built small wooden houses in concentric circles around a massive open-air tabernacle on streets with names like Jordan Crossing. Many of the 312 gingerbread-style houses have been passed down from generation to generation; the land on which they sit is owned communally. For best effect, enter the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association through the metal arch off Circuit Avenue. Renovations to the tabernacle, rebuilt in 1879, were completed in spring 2008, and in the summer, the Camp Meeting Association (which is now interdenominational) hosts community sing-alongs on Wednesday nights and bands and choirs on Friday and Saturday nights. Only one of the colorful cottages, the Cottage Museum, is open to the public; it exhibits typical furnishings and memorabilia, including the rocking chair where President Ulysses S. Grant sat when he visited. There's also an original magic lantern film projector lighted with a wicker candle (1 Trinity Park; closed October 1 through late May).

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
450 Auburn Avenue
Atlanta , Georgia
30312
Tel: 404 331 5190
www.nps.gov/malu

The emotional core of this sprawling city can be found in the Preservation District of downtown Atlanta's Sweet Auburn neighborhood. The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site pays tribute to the city's most famous native son, encompassing three important landmarks: King's childhood home, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and King's burial site. Guided tours of the home can be arranged through the visitor's center, which also offers interactive exhibits, films, and educational programs throughout the year.

Mashomack Preserve
Shelter Island , New York
11964
Tel: 631 749 1001
www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/newyork/preserves/art20138.html

With over 2,000 acres of woodlands, salt marshes, and pristine coastline, the Nature Conservancy's Mashomack Preserve covers nearly a third of bucolic Shelter Island (take the car ferry to reach it). There are self-guided nature walks of various lengths, easy-to-follow maps, and the promise of a few hours of getting blissfully lost and forgetting all about the big city to the west.

Open daily 9 am to 5 pm, July and August only.

Masonic Temple
One N. Broad Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
19107
Tel: 215 988 1900
www.pagrandlodge.org/tour/mtemple.html

The city's best-kept secret, this ornate 19th-century temple designed to house the state's Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania hides in plain sight across from City Hall. In addition to a small collection of Masonic artifacts, and the largest collection works by American sculptor William Rush, there are seven halls that represent specific architectural styles: Corinthian, Ionic, Renaissance, Norman, Gothic, Oriental, and, of course, Egyptian.

Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday 10 am to 12 pm.

Maui Film Festival
Hawaii
Tel: 808 572 3456
www.mauifilmfestival.com

Maui is crawling with boldfaced names, but during the week of the annual Maui Film Festival in mid-June, it's just ridiculous. The festival shows a good number of quality indie films (though a few mediocre big-budget films have been known to slip in as well), and it's a good time for anyone with $10 to buy a ticket (tickets to private parties and events are extra). Best of all, some screenings are held under the stars on the green of the Wailea Golf Club. The MFF also runs a popular weekly series of movies at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, along with a series of academy screenings the public can attend during the holiday season (www.mauiarts.org).

Mauna Kea
Mauna Kea Access Road (off Highway 200)
Hilo , Hawaii
96720
Tel: 808 961 2180
www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/

Mauna Kea, 14,000 feet above sea level, is the highest peak on the island. It's an all-day affair to drive up there, and definitely worth it if there's snow (for the novelty value). But the air is thin—you may suffer from altitude sickness—and you should bring your own supplies. The summit of Mauna Kea is recognized as one of the world's best places to observe stars, so about a dozen of the finest telescopes are situated here, along with some of the world's best astronomers. Most of these facilities are for experts only, but there are free tours on Saturday and Sunday, and the visitors center hosts a stargazing program nightly from 6 to 10 pm.

Open daily 9 am to 10 pm.

Meatpacking District

Not so long ago, this was New York City's version of the Wild West—a warren of cobblestone streets abutting the West Side Highway, home to butchers and alternative-lifestyle night owls. Very little of that world exists now that the beef carcasses have moved out and the megaclubs, boutiques, and restaurants have moved in, with the stiletto-and-Prada crowd tottering swiftly behind. Still-standing stalwarts include Hogs & Heifers, where the shtick of bullhorn-shouting female bartenders who berate patrons and cut off their neckties with scissors was born (859 Washington St.; 212-929-0655; www.hogsandheifers.com), and