Our job is done. We've chosen our winners. Now they get to enjoy their 15 days of fame.
Since it's obvious from the miles they log that our Road Warriors get around, we decided to pick their brains - and their itineraries - and have them tell us which city they'd choose if we were to feature them in our signature Celebrated Weekend story. So, here, instead of Tom Cruise's L.A. or Gwyneth Paltrow's Madrid, we give you the skinny from some serious star fliers on where to eat, where to sleep, and much more in cities across the globe.
Start off in Boulder at the Celestial Seasonings Colorado Factory Tour, which is free and includes fantastic samples. Afterward, head to the Dushambe Tea House for outstanding international cuisine in an amazing building. In Glenwood Springs, relax at the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool. The pool is heated year-round by natural hot springs. In Aspen, visit Explore Booksellers and Bistro for some hot tea and unique books. I'm a huge fan of downtown Fruita, eight miles west of Grand Junction. It's the home of Mike the Headless Chicken, and where you'll also find the Museum of Western Colorado's Dinosaur Journey Museum. On the return trip to Denver, stay at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, which offers fantastic off-season specials, often including hour-long spa treatments as part of the room price. There are also two movie theaters in the hotel.
Hong KongStay at The Peninsula hotel, and have your evening nightcap at Felix upstairs, which has some of the world's coolest bathrooms (at left). For shopping, The Mall at Pacific Place really has it all. To miss going back and forth on the Star Ferry is to miss out on all that is Hong Kong, and staying at The Peninsula makes it a necessary pleasure.
New York City
Seattle, WashingtonFor dinner, go to Anthony's Home Port and sit out on the upstairs patio. For breakfast, go to the historic McCoys Firehouse. Another fabulous restaurant is Ray's Boathouse. Head to Ballard and check out the locks between Lake Union and Puget Sound. Paul Allen, one of Microsoft's founders, built a strange-looking building adjacent to the Space Needle. It looks like some type of mollusk on steroids. It's called the EMP, or Experience Music Project (interior and exterior, at right), and is the place for rock aficionados. Get the computerized audio museum guide and plan on spending four-plus hours. Hop the ferry to Bainbridge Island (take your car if you have one) and head to the Olympic Peninsula for wine tastings at the many wineries.
Long Beach, California
Juneau, AlaskaEvery visitor should spend time at the Mendenhall Glacier (above), hike in the surrounding rainforest, or take a helicopter ride. If you prefer water activities, check out one of the many wildlife/whale watching tours, fishing excursions, or day trips to Tracy Arm Fjord or Glacier Bay. The Shrine of St. Therese, overlooking Lynn Canal, is an extraordinary place to picnic and watch the sea lions. Mount Roberts Tramway is a 2,000-foot ride that takes you to an observatory. Up top, visitors can dine at the restaurant and enjoy the beautiful hiking trails. Hangar on the Wharf is a waterfront restaurant that features one of southeast Alaska's largest selections of microbrews. For lodging, the Fireweed House B&B offers spectacular views of the Thomas Glacier, Mendenhall Wetlands, and Chilkat Mountains. The rooms have private baths with Jacuzzi tubs, and guests are treated to personalized gourmet breakfasts.
Five Points is a rather eclectic area, and home to Cosmo's, one of my favorite pizza places ever. It's a great place to get a slice and a drink and people-watch. The Birmingham Museum of Art's Asian art collection has been one of the country's finest for years, and it has an excellent cafe for lunch. If you find yourself there on a Sunday, your meal may be accompanied by a jazz band. And while a lot's been written about the barbecue spot Dreamland on the south side, for the true Dreamland experience, one must visit the original "shack" in Jerusalem Heights, right near Tuscaloosa.
St. Louis, Missouri
Sanibel/Captiva Islands, Florida
With no traffic lights or chain restaurants, Sanibel is the most serene island I've ever been to. It also has one of the top shelling beaches in the world. Upon arrival, stop at Pinnochio's for some homemade ice cream. After that, check in at either the Sundial Beach Resort on Sanibel Island or the South Seas Resort in Captiva. Both are full-service resorts that cater to your every need. For dinner, try The Bubble Room. Must-haves are their sticky buns, bubble bread, and brown bag grouper. And don't leave without sampling their award-winning desserts. A trip to Sanibel isn't complete without renting bikes and pedaling around the island. The internationally renowned J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge is great for seeing alligators, crocodiles, and lots of other exotic wildlife (below).