5 Cultural Chicago
From jumping jazz to inventive theater, culture hounds have countless options in Chicago. The music scene has thrived here since Louis Armstrong arrived in 1922, and it shows no signs of cooling down. For an earful of history, book an evening at the Jazz Showcase (312/670-2473; www.jazz-showcase.com), the world's second-oldest jazz club. With more than 200 theaters, Chicago is also the ideal place to preview Broadway-bound shows. Last year, hometown director Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses received universal acclaim here and upon its move to New York. Her latest—Philip Glass's opera Galileo Galilei—is now playing at the Goodman Theatre (312/443-3800; www.goodman-theatre.org). So when the Next Big Thing leaves the Midwest to tread Broadway's hallowed boards, you can announce: "Oh, I saw that in Chicago."
where to stay Not only does the W Chicago Lakeshore (312/943-9200; www.whotels.com; doubles from $229) have excellent views of Lake Michigan, but it's also within walking distance of the theater district. don't miss Anything from About Face (773/549-3290; www.aboutfacetheatre.com), the theater company known for its offbeat adaptations.
6 Spa-Hopping in L.A.
In Tinseltown, where image is everything, looking your best can take all day. The warm grapefruit oil—and—sugar body scrub at Thibiant Beverly Hills Day Spa (800/825-2517) makes for an invigorating wake-up call. Follow it with an aromatherapy facial at Enessa Wellness Spa on Melrose Avenue (323/655-5950)—that's what Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston would do. Finally, at the salon in the St. Regis hotel in Century City (310/407-8258), Billy Yamaguchi invokes feng shui precepts to do your hair, makeup, and nails for a night on the town. All that beautifying can be exhausting, so make sure you get a massage the next day: Try a Swedish treatment at Robert Scott Face/Body in West Hollywood (323/656-5975).
where to stay The 196-room Peninsula Beverly Hills (800/462-7899; www.peninsula.com; doubles from $375) is a pampering hideout for stars who crave luxurious treatments such as a hot rock and crystal ritual or a green tea and ginger body wrap. don't miss The silver body treatment at Ona Spa (7373 Beverly Blvd.; 323/931-4442), which moisturizes your skin with Dead Sea mud, essential oils, and pure colloidal silver to get you ready for your close-up.
7 London's Indian Scene
Seduced by Indian flavors but not up for the haul to Bombay or New Delhi?Head to London, where you can smack your lips through the entire subcontinent in just a few days. Following the Michelin-star success of nouvelle-Indian temples like Zaika and Tamarind, the British capital's offerings have never been hotter. Zaika offshoot Bar Zaika Bazaar (44-207/584-6655; dinner for two $52) lures the young and the hip with its chakna (street food) and shimmering cushions and saris for sale. And for something completely different, stop at Rasa Travancore (44-207/249-1340; dinner for two $58), where fans of southern Indian food go for Keralan-Syrian-Christian specialties.
where to stay In addition to contemporary rooms and private butler service, 51 Buckingham Gate (44-207/769-7766; www.51-buckinghamgate.com; doubles from $448) has its own southern Indian restaurant and—to cool off your taste buds—the longest bar in Europe. don't miss Bombay Dreams, Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical about star-crossed lovers in Bollywood, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (44-870/400-0650; www.bombaydreamsthemusical.com).
8 Shopping in Miami's Design District
If South Beach's retro-glam look inspires you to redecorate, head across the causeway to the Miami Design District (www.designmiami.com). These 18 square blocks of erstwhile no-man's-land just north of downtown have been beautifully revamped and stylishly reoccupied by such merchants as Holly Hunt, Knoll, Poltrona Frau, British Khaki, and about 120 others. Don't worry about dragging your decorator along: everyone here welcomes the public, even those whose other showrooms are strictly to-the-trade. And the colorful backdrop—a fountain designed by Kenny Scharf, a giant shoe—cum—gondola by Spanish artist Antoni Miralda, and The Living Room, a sculptural installation carved out of the exterior of a low-rise cement building—will act as a muse.
where to stay South of downtown Miami—and its cookie-cutter hotels—lies Brickell Key, where the Mandarin Oriental (866/888-6780; www.mandarinoriental.com; doubles from $395) derives its design sensibility from both the tropics (blue Bahía marble) and Asia (bamboo flooring). how to get there The district is a 15-minute shot over the expressway from Miami's airport. don't miss Catalan specialties at the Meeting Point Café (305/576-8109; lunch for two $40), especially the coca de cristal, a crispy almond confection.