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Drive Coast to Coast

Michael Hill Drive coast to coast

Photo: Michael Hill

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; www.innatthemarket.com; 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; www.heathmanhotel.com; 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; www.tututun.com; 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; www.heritagehouseinn.com; 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; www.hotelhealdsburg.com; 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; www.sfhoteldesarts.com; 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; www.postranchinn.com; 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; www.chateaumarmont.com; 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; www.bellagiolasvegas.com; 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; www.redmountainspa.com; 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

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