Top 10 Staff Favorites

We reveal our prized getaways.

1. Cape Perpetua, Oregon
Travelers who love the Central Oregon Coast venture to Cape Perpetua again and again, as I have countless times. Each day I head to a different trail among the cape's 2,700 acres of forested mountains and seaside paths that abut the Pacific Ocean. At the St. Perpetua trail overlook, the view extends 35 miles to the sea's horizon, south to Florence's wavy dunes, and north to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. After my first visit, I cried when it came time to leave. On later trips, I headed home with a smile, knowing I'd be back; 541/547-3289 or (type "perpetua" into the search box). ―Susan Haynes

2. Grand Feature Pool, Point Clear, Alabama
The Grand Feature Pool at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa lives up to its name. Designed to resemble a free-form, oak-shaded lagoon, it features several fountains and waterfalls. Its "zero-entry" design allows swimmers to wade in on a slope, without stairs or ladders―perfect for small children. Older kids enjoy the supervised spiral slide. Purists can swim laps in a quiet indoor pool adjacent to the spa; 800/544-9933 or ―Julia Dowling Rutland

3. The Whole Enchilada, Moss Landing, California
I can eat Mexican food for every meal. So it was with great enthusiasm that I accepted an assignment at The Whole Enchilada. Chef Luis Solano taught me the finer points of making tamales and sipping tequila. And oh, the food. Luis' innovative coastal Mexican cuisine includes creamy guacamole, crab-stuffed poblanos, shrimp seviche―I must have devoured five meals total. Stop by, but be smart: Stick to one entrée at a time; 831/633-3038 or ―Sarah Brueggemann

4. Schoodic Peninsula, Maine
Acadia National Park, which occupies most of Mount Desert Island, ranks as one of the most visited U.S. parks. With Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach―and the popovers at Jordan Pond House―it's easy to understand why. But my favorite spot lies an hour's drive northeast, where Schoodic Peninsula, the only slice of the park on the mainland, juts boldly into the Atlantic. Take in panoramic sea views, then walk with care over the precipitous granite boulders. "Ayup," a Winter Harbor lobsterman told me on my last visit, "Schoodic's Down East at its best"; 207/288-3338 or ―James H. Schwartz

5. Restaurant 213, Fruitland, Maryland
Like an octopus, the Chesapeake Bay extends watery arms in all directions, stretching its influence far inland. One of those tentacles, the Wicomico River, brushes past the town of Fruitland on Maryland's Eastern Shore. There, in an easy-to-miss strip mall, Restaurant 213 offers a blissful dining experience. Chef-owner Jim Hughes' "fine American dining with global influences" encompasses lots of seafood, prepared and served with care, flair, and a refreshing lack of pretension; 410/677-4880 or ―Steve Millburg

6. Washington State Ferries
Hop aboard a Washington State Ferry, the easiest (and most inexpensive) way to reach destinations throughout all the island-dotted bodies of water between Tacoma and British Columbia. The San Juan Islands routes boast frequent sightings of sea life, sometimes including orcas. High tea and double-decker-bus tours make a Vancouver Island visit to Sidney and Victoria seem like an afternoon in London. Bainbridge Island's quiet roads and boutiques provide an ideal trip for walk-ons and bicyclists, who catch the ferry in downtown Seattle. For a pure joyride, the two-hour Seattle-Bremerton round-trip yields plenty of time for soaking in the scenery and enjoying an Ivar's clam chowder on deck; 206/464-6400 or ―Susan C. Kim

7. Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
I never understood the attraction of sushi―until my visit to Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Kapalua. A crispy spider roll with a tangy unagi glaze changed my outlook on the Japanese staple. Perennial award-winner Sansei specializes in cutting-edge cuisine ( The Washington Post calls it "sushi with attitude"). But it's chef and owner D.K. Kodama's strict adherence to his "no wimpy sauces" motto that elevates the food to such epiphanic heights. I recommend forgoing a table to sit alongside locals at the bar, where hip and goateed sushi chefs roll their gourmet goods; 808/669-6286 or ―Kay A. Fuston

8. Zihuatanejo, Mexico
"You remember the name of the town, don't you?" If you saw The Shawshank Redemption, then you certainly remember Zihuatanejo, prisoner Andy Dufresne's remote getaway. It invites visitors to enjoy laid-back living and unspoiled natural beauty on Mexico's Pacific Coast. Catalina Beach Resort, the town's oldest and most charming hotel, overlooks the area's premier swimming beach, Playa de la Ropa. It offers reasonable rates, especially off-season (mid-April through mid-November). Or, find five-star accommodations at La Casa Que Canta on the same stretch of sand. Catalina Beach Resort: 877/287-2411 or La Casa Que Canta: 888/523-5050 or ―Elizabeth Beeler

9. Conch Republic Seafood Company, Key West, Florida
When in Key West, I make it part of my daily routine to eat fried shrimp at the Conch Republic Seafood Company. Built from an old fish house in the Historic Seaport, the Conch Republic combines ambience and history with fresh seafood delivered daily from nearby waters. Plus, it's away from the cruise-ship crowds. Live bands play nightly on the patio. Four huge saltwater fish tanks separate the bar and dining room. Garage door "walls" provide amazing views of the marina. Hint: The bar, my favorite spot in the house, serves a full menu; 305/294-4403 or ―Keri Payne

10. Mystic, Connecticut
Strolling Main Street, you'll find such one-of-a-kind neighborhood shops as Whyevernot (clothing, jewelry, and gifts), Bank Square Books, and Mystic Pizza, the inspiration for the 1988 Julia Roberts movie of the same name. In the evening, take a sunset cruise aboard Argia, a replica of a 19th-century schooner, or enjoy live music while dining at the 250-year-old Captain Daniel Packer Inne Restaurant and Pub. Spend your nights in one of the 10 luxurious rooms at the Steamboat Inn on the waterfront. You'll wake to homemade Steamboat Delectable muffins each morning; 877/286-9784 or ―Allen B. Bunting

Because we love to share our discoveries, here's a bonus find:

11. Legs Inn, Cross Village, Michigan
As a native Michiganian and lover of Polish cuisine, I salivate at the thought of Legs Inn. Built by Polish immigrant Stanley Smolak in the 1920s on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, it takes its name from the inverted stove legs that form a decorative roof railing. Stop in for Polish or American fare, and request patio seating overlooking the water. Your server may actually be from Poland, here as an exchange student. It's tough to decide between the Taste of Poland entrée (cabbage rolls, Polish smoked sausage, and dumplings) and the house specialty, Whitefish Polonaise. But save room for the Fruit Pierogi du Jour, topped with sweet sour cream so good your Polish grandma would steal a bite. After dinner, stay in one of the Legs Inn cottages, steps from the beach. The inn stays open mid-May through mid-October for lunch and dinner; 231/526 2281 or ―Jacquelyne Froeber

published September 2006

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