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Drive Coast to Coast

Michael Hill Drive coast to coast

Photo: Michael Hill

GRAND CANYON Hook up with Rivers & Oceans (800/473-4576; www.rivers-oceans.com; $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; www.thelittlenell.com; 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; www.elmontesagrado.com; doubles from $245), outside of Taos. Next, Santa Fe and the adobe-style Inn of the Anasazi (505/988-3030; www.innoftheanasazi.com; 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; www.lajitas.com; 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; www.hotelicon.com; 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; www.maisondeville.com; 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; www.blackberryfarm.com; 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; www.greenbrier.com; 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; www.theinnatlittlewashington.com; 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

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