The beds at the Sheraton Omaha are heavenly. If you're a Starwood Preferred Guest, ask for a designer suite, which has a loft setup, fireplace, full kitchen, and dining room. A little-known gem is Buffalo Company, which has the best Buffalo wings I've ever had. The sauce is just perfect and the wings are huge. In fact, if you're served the odd batch of smaller wings, they'll give you extra to make up for it. The Old Market has good shopping and decent restaurants, or, if you prefer a quieter environment, take a stroll to the mall area downtown. It's well-lit at night, and there are statues, walkways, and a large lake with a magnificent fountain in the middle.
El Paso, Texas
The hot dog stand (above) is a Chicago tradition where you can get a great dog, Polish sausage, Italian beef, you name it. Throw in some fries or onion rings and a shake, and you're well on your way to obliterating your diet. For dessert, Culver's frozen custard is the way to go.
Start by taking a walk along the lakefront and taking in the beautiful views and wonderful people-watching. An architecture boat tour will further enhance your appreciation of Chicago. Various walking tours give visitors a feel for the city's neighborhoods. Navy Pier is a revamped fishing pier turned tourist attraction, but there's a lesser-known part of the pier called Skyline Stage, which attracts excellent talent to this terrific outdoor venue. There's lots of food and drink at Navy Pier, too, most notably Riva (good seafood) and Charlie's Ale House (pub grub). Michigan Avenue may prove challenging for shoppers watching their credit card receipts. State Street provides a less-hyped, less-expensive, and less-crowded experience. For current events, check either New city or the Chicago Reader, both of which are free. Or just ask a Chicagoan; they have a reputation for being extraordinarily friendly.
Los Angeles, California
Fryman Canyon Park is great for working out and getting a peek at celebrities. If you like the ocean, there's the nature walk in the Pacific Palisades. The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica is a great place to people-watch, and it has a great selection of restaurants ranging from Thai to barbecue. There are three must-eat-at places in L.A.: Geoffrey's in Malibu, for delicious food with an ocean view. Cafe Cordiale in Sherman Oaks, for an ambience as great as the food. And Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood (below). Chicken and waffles? Believe it! It's some of the best food you'll ever taste. Get yourself an 80-minute deep-tissue massage at Burke Williams in Pasadena. You'll feel full of energy afterward.
Lake Balboa, California
The Mansion on Turtle Creek is one of the best hotels in the world. But if you have to ask "How much?" then don't bother. Someplace a little less expensive is the Omni Mandalay in Las Colinas. The canals and mustangs statue there are quite nice. If you're willing to travel to the outskirts of town, there's Sammy Walker's Barbeque in Rowlett. Mr. Walker was a college football player at Texas Tech and evidently he put his education to good use. The Rough Riders, a minor-league baseball team in Frisco, offers a fun family evening. Another great place is the Mesquite Rodeo. Kids love the barrel racing and calf scramble. Other choices are Lone Star Park for a day at the races or a round at Buffalo Creek Golf Club, a quiet, inexpensive public course with a beautiful layout.
For casual dining, go with Baker's Ribs. Their meats and sauce are to die for, and they have the requisite free soft-serve ice cream.
The Rocky Mountains seem to surround this glorious city. Locals and tourists alike flock to the numerous golf courses. But beware - you might have to pause play for a friendly elk to pass. For fishing, the Bow River is known as one of the best trout spots in the world. In winter, you can ice skate on the river. Calgary also offers unparalleled skiing. If you're looking for nightlife, head to 17th Avenue, also known as The Red Mile. It was named in recognition of the Flames' 2004 Stanley Cup run.
Dine outside at Georges on the top floor of the Pompidou Center. The food is nouvelle cuisine, the ambience is by Philippe Starck, and the view is amazing. You'll see all of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and most major monuments. Treat yourself to lunch at Le Soleil. It's both charming and modern. Ask for butter with your bread, and they'll bring you three pounds of butter in the shape of a cake. On Sunday, brunch at Mariage Frères (below), the oldest tea company in France. I recommend the branch in the 17th arrondissement, because you can sit outside and watch the Parisian life go by. You can choose from more than 500 different kinds of teas. They also have a selection of tea-scented candles that make unique souvenirs. And be sure to stroll along Ile Saint-Louis and Ile de la Cité. These two islands in the middle of the Seine are all that Paris was years ago.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Bistro de Paris is a little French bistro with reasonable prices and good service. Barú and Dragonfly are good for dining and partying. Both are designed based on the philosophy of socializing, with the shared-plate concept and a blend of styles, cuisines, and music.
For shopping, Avenida Florida has it all and is a great walking area. Buenos Aires is a city of readers, and those seeking books will find a variety of shops. Casa Lopez is great for leather. The San Telmo market is open on Sundays and is a great place for buying just about anything. It's also a great place to sit in a cafe and eat helado (ice cream) and drink maté (Argentine tea).
Dr. Susan Nedza,
During the summer, the Hatch Shell offers free music and dance performances, and Free Friday Flicks. Climb to the top of the 221-foot Bunker Hill Monument. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. There's no sales tax on clothes or shoes under $200 in Massachusetts, so shop at one of the many stores on Newbury and Boylston streets. For seafood, visit The Barking Crab. For Greek, don't miss Steve's. Like Italian? Head to the North End (Little Italy) and bring lots of cash, as many of the mom-and-pop places don't accept plastic. Get something to go at Bova's Bakery. Then walk it all off on a stroll past The Paul Revere House or The Old North Church.
Newport Beach, California