Drive Coast to Coast
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Drive Coast to Coast

Michael Hill Drive coast to coast Michael Hill
T+L presents a guide to the best hotels, restaurants, outdoor adventures, and cultural fixes from Seattle to Shenandoah. Drive the whole thing or simply a leg of it. It's time to hit the road.

For spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, and for plenty of other reasons—many of them man-made, thank you very much—the fantasy of a coast-to-coast road trip endures. Want to make it a reality?

From West to East (With Apologies to the Midwest) The Ultimate Road Trip

SEATTLE Start by taking in the panoramic view from the Space Needle's observation deck, then shift your focus to the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park (opening in late October) for both skyline views and plein air art. Your indoor retreat: the Inn at the Market (800/446-4484;; doubles from $270), set in the middle of Pike Place Market. Seattle to Portland: 170 miles

PORTLAND, OREG. Stay at the Heathman Hotel (800/551-0011;; doubles from $209), where original Warhols adorn the walls. Don't miss the thin-crust Neapolitan pizza at newcomer Nostrana (503/ 234-2427; dinner for two $30). Mini-detour: Strike east along Highway 30 (one of the nation's oldest scenic highways) for views of the Columbia River Gorge. Portland to Gold Beach: 320 miles

GOLD BEACH, OREG. Take Highway 101 down the sleepy southern coast to Gold Beach. Work out your fly-casting arm at the Tu Tú Tun Lodge (800/864-6357;; doubles from $195), trying your luck in the Rogue River. Gold Beach to Mendocino: 280 miles

MENDOCINO, CALIF. The towering conifers in Redwood National Park give way to the more diminutive charms of Mendocino: rock pools, secluded beaches, and an artists' community. The white clapboard Heritage House (Little River; 800/235-5885;; doubles from $199), 10 minutes out of town, is the place to shack up. Mendocino to Healdsburg: 90 miles

HEALDSBURG, CALIF. The emphasis shifts from redwoods to oak barrels in wine country. The Hotel Healdsburg (707/431-2800;; doubles from $400), in Sonoma, is an object lesson in polished tranquillity. And the perfect complement to a vineyard-hopping day?Dinner at newcomer Cyrus (707/433-3311; dinner for two $58). Healdsburg to San Francisco: 70 miles

SAN FRANCISCO Here's the neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide: sleep in Union Square at the Hotel Des Arts (415/956-3232;; doubles from $59), where rooms are decorated by local artists; for Bay views, stroll through Pacific Heights; hit the museums in SoMa; and sidle up to the counter at Swan Oyster Depot (415/673-1101; lunch for $45) in Polk Gulch for a half-dozen local Miyagis. San Francisco to Big Sur: 150 miles

BIG SUR The Pacific Coast's craggy cliffs and coves make this stretch of Highway 1 a dramatic drive, but you can do even better: Take it all in from an aerie at the Post Ranch Inn (800/ 527-2200;; doubles from $550). Big Sur to Los Angeles: 310 miles

LOS ANGELES If you're ready for your close-up, book a room at the celeb-filled Chateau Marmont (323/656-1010;; doubles from $335)—the hotel's renovated bar is sure to be rife with star sightings. A meal at A.O.C. (323/653-6359; dinner for two $80), in La Brea, is a must. Los Angeles to Las Vegas: 270 miles

LAS VEGAS It's not a road trip without a night in Las Vegas. Check into the Bellagio (702/ 693-7111;; doubles from $169), the quintessential Vegas hotel. Your checklist: poker at the Wynn Las Vegas casino, dinner at Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (877/880-0880; dinner for two $370), in the MGM Grand, and drinks at The Hotel's Mix Lounge. Las Vegas to St. George: 120 miles

ZION AND BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, UTAH It's stop-and-go in southern Utah: hike or bike between full-body treatments at the Red Mountain Spa (800/407-3002;; doubles from $299), in St. George, but save your (camera) trigger finger for the deep desert bowls and towering rock walls of Zion and Bryce Canyon. St. George to Zion: 40 miles; Zion to Bryce Canyon: 80 miles; Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon: 280 miles

GRAND CANYON Hook up with Rivers & Oceans (800/473-4576;; $290 per person) to book the only one-day white-water-rafting tour of the canyon—and a 10-minute helicopter ride with stunning views. Grand Canyon to Telluride: 350 miles

THE COLORADO ROCKIES AND DENVER Make a pit stop in Telluride, Colorado, to adjust to the thinning air, then hit the high-altitude glamour of Aspen's Little Nell (970/920-4600;; doubles from $685). Hike the ski slopes by day, and at night, feast on updated Italian food at D19 (970/925-6019; dinner for two $50). Afterward, drop by the Mile High City for a few days' rest. Telluride to Aspen: 280 miles; Aspen to Denver: 160 miles; Denver to Taos: 320 miles

TAOS AND SANTA FE, N.M. Ready for some spiritual tuning?Check into the holistic spa at El Monte Sagrado (505/758-3502;; doubles from $245), outside of Taos. Next, Santa Fe and the adobe-style Inn of the Anasazi (505/988-3030;; doubles from $325) beckon. Between visiting galleries, squeeze in a red- chile enchilada at the Shed (505/982-9030; lunch for two $20). Santa Fe to Marfa: 530 miles

MARFA, TEX., AND BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK Marfa's burgeoning gallery scene is a welcome respite from the great big empty of west Texas. Dip south into Big Bend National Park for a boat ride on the Rio Grande and a night at the 28,000-acre Lajitas resort (432/424-5000;; doubles from $245). With velvet comforters and cowhide rugs, it's a sybarite's fantasy of the Old West. Marfa to Lajitas: 110 miles; Lajitas to San Antonio: 440 miles

SAN ANTONIO, AUSTIN, AND THE HILL COUNTRY Don't forget the Alamo in San Antonio, then roll up your sleeves for ribs and live music at Stubb's BBQ (512/480-8341; dinner for two $35), in Austin. A drive through the surrounding Hill Country is a must. San Antonio to Austin: 150 miles; Austin to Houston: 165 miles

HOUSTON Get an eyeful at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Menil Collection, then deposit yourself at the Hotel Icon (713/224-4266;; doubles from $225), in a converted 1911 bank building. Houston to New Orleans: 350 miles

NEW ORLEANS Celebrate the Big Easy's return with innovative flavors—maple-cured pork belly, lemon-thyme ice cream—at Bayona (504/525-4455; dinner for two $75) and a classic martini at the Bombay Club (504/586-0972). Spend the night in the French Quarter at the Hotel Maison de Ville (504/561-5858;; doubles from $109). New Orleans to Clarksdale: 380 miles

THE BLUES HIGHWAY (NEW ORLEANS TO MEMPHIS) Dawdle and sip sweet tea at the antebellum estates outside of New Orleans, then cruise north on the Blues Highway (Route 61) to Clarksdale, Mississippi, and the Delta Blues Museum. In Memphis, don't miss a plate of ribs at Rendezvous (901/523-2746; dinner for two $50). Clarksdale to Memphis: 80 miles; Memphis to Nashville: 210 miles

NASHVILLE AND KNOXVILLE, TENN. Pitch-perfect Nashville: a trip to the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum followed by pecan pie at the Pie Wagon (615/256-5893; lunch for two $20). Take in the Great Smoky Mountains from a rocking chair at Blackberry Farm (865/984-8166;; doubles from $545), in Walland, just outside of Knoxville. Nashville to Knoxville: 180 miles; Knoxville to Asheville: 115 miles

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA Wend through the Southern Appalachians into Asheville, where you can find artists, artisans, and even the occasional retired general (William Westmoreland has been spotted here). Visit the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, east of the city, and the Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt's 19th-century stateside château. Asheville to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia: 290 miles

ALLEGHENY MOUNTAINS The Federal-style Greenbrier Resort (304/536-1110;; doubles from $389), in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is a classic American resort: decorated with Dorothy Draper's riotous interiors, packed with activities, and set against the backdrop of the Alleghenies. Save time for a tour of the secret Cold War–era bunker, built to house members of Congress, below the resort. White Sulphur Springs to Washington, Virginia: 170 miles

SHENANDOAH VALLEY The showstopping meals of chef-owner Patrick O'Connell draw guests from all over the world to the Inn at Little Washington (540/675–3800;; doubles from $395), in Washington, Virginia. Leave time to explore Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate in Charlottesville and the nearby wineries, such as Barboursville Vineyards, which also has a lovely inn. Washington, Virginia, to Washington, D.C.: 70 miles

WASHINGTON, D.C. Embrace your inner politico. The first stop is the newly renovated National Portrait Gallery. Come evening, the dining room at Citronelle (202/625-2150; dinner for two $190) fills with senators and K-Street lobbyists (not at the same table). Stay at the historic Willard InterContinental (202/628-9100;; doubles from $269). Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia: 140 miles

PHILADELPHIA The National Constitution Center on Independence Mall is worth an afternoon, although foodies may want to head straight to Reading Terminal Market for a hot Amish pretzel. Don't miss the post-Impressionist paintings at the Barnes Foundation, a private gallery in the suburb of Merion. Philadelphia to New York City: 100 miles

NEW YORK CITY Check into the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park (212/344-0800;; doubles from $425), which has Statue of Liberty views and valet parking. Stroll up the renovated Hudson River Park before hitting the galleries in Chelsea. Forget Fifth Avenue—Bleecker Street has all the shopping you need. And dinner?Sant Ambroeus (212/604-9254; dinner for two $130) serves up Milanese risotti in the West Village. New York City to Lenox, Massachusetts: 160 miles

THE BERKSHIRES Your base for the mountains: the Wheatleigh (413/637-0610;; doubles from $525), in Lenox, Massachusetts, an Italianate country house with one of New England's best restaurants. Save time for antiquing in Sheffield and Stockbridge. Lenox to Boston: 130 miles

BOSTON Watch rowers ply the Charles River and check into the XV Beacon (877/982-3226;; doubles from $475). Then get your claws on a lobster roll at B&G Oysters, in the South End (617/423-0550; dinner for two $90). Boston to Portland: 110 miles

SOUTHERN MAINE COAST Book a waterfront cottage at the White Barn Inn & Spa (207/967-2321;; doubles from $350), in Kennebunkport. Portland's Fore Street (207/775-2717; dinner for two $72) sticks to local ingredients, so you can enjoy a fresh catch at the end of your long haul.

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