722 Miles for a Sunset ...

Plus 12 other things that are worth the trip.

Mythic Beauty

John F. Kennedy said it best: “I always go to Hyannisport [Cape Cod] to be revived, to know again the power of the sea, and the Master who rules over it, and all of us.”

This mecca of fresh lobster, clapboard homes and sand-lined, twisting roads is not just an experience; it’s a way of life. Traditions are embraced from one generation to the next. For many, it is as beloved as a family member.

This is not your neon megastore sort of destination. It is uninterrupted, unaffected — as reflective, stormy, passionate and pure as the people who’ve embraced it. Artists use this place as their muse, weathered fishermen tap it for their livelihood, wealthy New Englanders weekend here to escape bustling East Coast urban centers.

Its beauty makes an impression. At no time is this more evident than sunset along the rugged coastline. Awash in purples, pinks and golds, the sky stretches to meet crashing waves and beach grass dancing with the sea breeze. It is dramatic in its simplicity, an irony reserved for the prose of Henry David Thoreau, the lyrics of Bob Dylan and naturally occurring moments of wonder. It is a theatric presentation that delights families frolicking in the ocean, couples who’ve come to relax near the dunes and wanderers in search of enlightenment. It is inspiration. www.capecodchamber.org— Jennifer Bowen


Photo by Erin Belleau

Golf in Its Original Form

In Michigan, a state that boasts counties, cities and neighborhoods with Irish names such as Clare, Wexford, Corktown and Roscommon, you can be virtually transported to one of the Emerald Isle’s wild-and-woolly, sea-smashed golf courses. Just as the sun drops over the edge of the moody Atlantic in the Gaelic-speaking regions of western Ireland, the golden glow of a Lake Michigan sunset sets the sheer, rocky precipices and sandy dunes alight each evening.

In the tradition of Eire’s Ballybunion, Royal Portrush and Old Head Golf Clubs, Petoskey’s Bay Harbor Golf Club leads players along the edge of rugged, grassy bluffs towering 400 feet over Lake Michigan. The views are scored by the wind whipping the tall, golden fescue, the piercing sounds of sea gulls and the waves lapping the rocky shore.  

Acclaimed Ohio golf architect Arthur Hills, who designed Kinsale Golf Club in Columbus and Longaberger in Nashport, created Bay Harbor after studying the classic courses of Britain and Ireland. Bay Harbor’s 27 holes — Links, Quarry and Preserve — reflect the thoughtful shot values and natural, tumbling features you’d encounter on courses along the Irish Sea.

“My favorite hole at Bay Harbor, the seventh hole on the Links nine, is my favorite hole I’ve ever designed,” says Hills. The 540-yard, par-5 runs along a bluff 150 feet above the crystal-clear water. “The hole is framed on the left by severely undulating dunes covered by wisps of native grasses, and the green lies on a promontory with no bunkers. Just close-cut grass and the wind,” he says with a parental twinkle in his eye.

Only an Irish whiskey or a pint at the turn can add authenticity to your Bay Harbor experience. 5800 Coastal Ridge Drive, Bay Harbor, Mich., (231) 439-4085, www.bayharborgolf.comMichael Patrick Shiels

Slow Days

A fleet of pontoon boats bobs at every dock. A 10-horsepower limit is strictly enforced on the lake. Amish picnickers relax along its banks. Just under two hours from Cleveland, Pymatuning Lake is a quick way to slow down.

The Amish set the tone for this sleepy lake that borders Ohio and Pennsylvania. Dotting the landscape with white homesteads and black buggies, their orderly way of life tantalizes folks worn out by modern-day living. Take a drive down any dirt road and you’ll see children playing simple games, teens and adults hanging laundry to billow on lines or pushing old-fashioned mowers.

The name of the game is simplicity. The lake’s speed limit means you won’t be driven to distraction by the sound of Jet Skis. It also keeps away the most avid bass fishermen, reducing pressure on the fish population and making Pymatuning Lake a well-kept secret for amateur angling. Cottage and boat rentals are plentiful and affordable; autumn puts on quite a color show; winter offers ice fishing and skating. And if you’re going next spring, you’ll be just in time for the reopening of the renovated Linesville Spillway. With thousands upon thousands of carp vying for bread tossed by visitors, it’s a grotesque yet fascinating spectacle. Ducks literally walk on the backs of the fish to get their daily carbs.

If you must speed things up, take a short drive down Route 322 to Conneaut Lake for waterskiing, Jet-Skiing and snowmobiling in winter. But don’t be fooled: Conneaut is still a walk back in time; there are the old-timey Conneaut Lake Park amusement park and the adjacent Hotel Conneaut. The hotel, built in the early part of the last century, is a little shabby inside, but the utterly grand veranda and plentiful ghost legends make up for it. So many ghosts have been sighted, the staff keeps a thick binder categorizing them all at the front desk.

Pymatuning and Conneaut are all shady lanes, ancient trees and plenty of character. Several folksy stores and restaurants are worth a visit, and so is the peaceful, country setting: nothing but water, wildflowers, farmland and the scent of sweet grass. www.pymatuninglake.com — Cathleen Burnham

Luxuriant Nature

I pine for periodic doses of that particular elixir only wide open spaces can provide. Give me a spot far from civilization, some craggy peaks, the scent of sagebrush, star-studded nights and plenty of birdsong. Unfortunately, fulfilling these desires usually involves a certain level of discomfort: tent accommodations, a lack of indoor plumbing and dehydrated meals. The Cave B Inn at SageCliffe, perched on a bluff 900 feet above the Columbia River Gorge in Washington, adds a new — and extremely pleasurable — dimension to communing with the great outdoors.

Located on an estate winery about two hours from Seattle in the windswept, semiarid eastern region of the state, Cave B was designed to embrace the rugged beauty of the landscape, not compete with it. Buildings made from native stone are nestled in acres of grape vines. My hill-hugging cliff-house had a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that brought the outside in, making the towering canyon walls and distant mountains part of the décor. Doors opened onto a terrace that was the perfect perch for watching sunsets and hawks.

The suite was designed with pampering in mind, from a soft leather couch strategically placed in front of the fireplace to the well-appointed Italian granite bathroom. Have you ever stretched out in a deep soaking tub big enough for two after a strenuous hike? I highly recommend it. Trading in campfire cookery for meals at Tendrils, the onsite restaurant, was no hardship either. Chef Fernando Divina’s tasty granola and his I-must-get-this-recipe ginger muffins were a perfect way to prepare for our trek into the canyon, where the only sound was the wind whipping through the desert buckwheat; exploration of Ancient Lakes, a desolate and prehistoric-looking wilderness area nearby; or a trip to Ginko Petrified Forest State Park. Divina’s distinctive Pacific Northwest cuisine, featuring local foods and artisan products, paired with the winery’s own vintages, was a fine finish to these open-air adventures.

With an average 300 days of sunshine per year, there’s never a bad time to be here. The scenery feeds the spirit, and a wealth of luxurious amenities satisfies a craving for more earthly delights. Hanging out with Mother Nature never felt quite so good. 344 Silica Road NW, Quincy, Wash., 1-888-785-2283, www.cavebinn.com — Laura Taxel

No Ka Oi Fish Tacos

It rains on Maui, people. And the rainy season? It’s during the height of tourist season. But rain in Hawaii isn’t exactly like rain in Cleveland; it’s soft, forgiving, even playful. It’s cavort-in-the-ocean rain, early-happy-hour rain, bathing-suit-and-sarong rain. So the next time you’ve traveled almost 4,500 miles for a little fun in the sun and you feel a drop on your forehead instead, jump in your rental car and cruise up the Hana Highway into the hippie outpost of Paia. There, on a breezy covered patio situated on the busiest corner of the most colorful town on the island, savor the rain and relish the taste of Milagros fish tacos: fresh ahi, grilled veggies, sweet, hypnotizing secret sauce in a double-wrapped soft-shell. You’ll be saying “mahalo” (thank you) for the tacos the whole island admits are “no ka oi” (the best!). 3 Baldwin Ave., Paia, Hawaii, (808) 579-8755
— Amber Matheson

Out-of-the-Ordinary Breakfast

A trip to Boston isn’t complete without brunch at The Paramount in historic Beacon Hill. The tiny, 40-seat eatery makes omelets and blueberry pancakes to die for — or at least to wait in line for. Locals and visitors have frequented the landmark café for more than 65 years: Situated among pricey antique shops and upscale hotels, the approachable Paramount welcomes everyone from celebrities (Jay Leno’s a fan) to the adventurous Cleveland tourist.

Stop by on a Saturday or Sunday morning and be prepared to join the line that often spills onto the street. The cooks work at a frantic pace to keep the line moving, so you’ll soon be shouting your order over the clatter of pans and sizzle of pancake batter behind the counter. This restaurant operates on an eccentric system — there’s no host, but somehow everybody manages to find an open table after they’ve ordered. Like many Bostonian quirks, questioning the Paramount’s seating system will only get you dirty looks from locals, so just sit back and enjoy the food.

The Paramount has a low-key vibe, refreshing in the ritzy neighborhood of Beacon Hill, and it provides a welcome respite from an afternoon spent soaking up Boston’s rich history. If you don’t make it for breakfast, the restaurant is open all day serving everything from cheeseburgers to pan-seared diver scallops. Whatever you’re in the mood for, the Paramount is likely to be serving it up — just cross your fingers that you’ll have a place to sit down and eat. 44 Charles St., Boston, Mass., (617) 720-1152, www.paramountboston.com — Jen Tolhurst

A Tour on Two Wheels


Photo courtesy of Erie Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

You could admire the fall colors from your car window while zooming down I-90, or you could continue east to Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pa. Here bicycles and paddleboats take precedence over cars, and there’s a sandy beach on almost every mile.

While cooler temperatures make for chilly beach-bumming, fall is the perfect time to take advantage of the park’s multipurpose trail. The 13-mile path circling the peninsula provides a largely tourist-free opportunity to see nature in its fall finest: Stretches of shoreline often lie just a few feet from the path; the scenery is constantly changing, from dense forest to wide-open marshland; and at the tip of the peninsula is an ecological preserve.

Before starting your trek, pick up a map from the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at the park entrance. If you’re renting, The Yellow Bike rental company is a good bet. Families can rent tandem bikes or surreys, a golf-cart-like car with pedals.

Following the trail around the park will bring you back to where you started, and there are plenty of mile markers, so it’s easy to know where you are. You may find yourself going in circles, but that’s only because you’ll want to see the idyllic sights again and again. (814) 833-7424,

A Shipwreck in a Cornfield

I’m a sucker for a good shipwreck. Just mention the word and I’m strapping on scuba tanks to see the wreck of the India, a working ship that went down decades ago in frigid Lake Huron, or visiting wrecks raised and restored: England’s Mary Rose and Sweden’s Vasa now sit upright in their namesake museums.

But what was I to make of this most peculiar of shipwrecks, the Arabia, a side-paddle steamboat that caught a tree-limb snag in the Missouri River and sank within minutes in 1856? The boat was found 132 years later under a Kansas City cornfield.

I came for the sheer improbability of it and stayed for the surprises. The steamer, carrying passengers and 220 tons of cargo, was headed from St. Louis to the frontier: Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska. Settlers would need door hinges, windowpanes, buttons and shoes to start their new lives, and here they are by the score — each painstakingly pulled from the mud of the vestigial river bed and preserved by the Hawley family and their partners.

Treasure hunter David Hawley zeroed in on Judge Norman Sortor’s corn field using old river maps and a metal detector. After months of mud, mortgages and marital strain, his team pumped out water and reached through silt to find a horde that re-creates 1856 frontier life.

There’s the wall of children’s boots, a phalanx of thimbles, hundreds of hammers and thousands of printed calico buttons. Crates of ketchup, coffee beans, pie filling, gin, cognac and champagne. The salvagers toasted themselves with champagne — one brave soul even ate a vintage sweet pickle and lived to tell the tale. It adds up to the world’s largest wet organic collection of artifacts in any archaeological site.

But beyond the volume, it’s the endearing mundanity that makes the Arabia treasures so wonderfully intimate. If I were headed for a new life, what would I pack in my trunks, what would I need when I got there? The Arabia doesn’t have the rubies, diamonds and gold doubloons I love to ogle from the great Atocha find, but it’s the best shipwreck in a cornfield I’ve ever seen. The Arabia Steamboat Museum, 400 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 471-1856, www.1856.comBetsa Marsh

Amphibious Fun

A trip to Philadelphia is like a visit with a favorite crazy cousin: There’s a lot going on. The streets of Ben Franklin’s era still exist — with loads of plaques, statues and grave sites to excite my inner nerd. Yet as the spectres of John Hancock and Betsy Ross hover, a modern, more irreverent Philly taps my shoulder: the duck boat, where old meets new harmoniously.

Large, amphibious vehicles first designed for World War II, the square, clunky crossbreeds of “ The Little Rascals” meets “The Partridge Family”-type engineering provide my favorite views of Philadelphia.

Tours by Ride the Ducks start in the historic heart of the city. Food is allowed, so grab one of Philly’s famous sloppy cheesesteaks, floppy hoagies or soft pretzels and get on board at the Sixth and Market streets hub, adjacent to Independence Center.

You’ll be greeted by your tour captain (with the demeanor of a happy, delinquent children’s television show host) and gifted with a Wacky Quacker, a loud, brassy duck call that you are encouraged to blow, bugle and generally annoy the locals with as you’re driven past such famous landmarks as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House, the Philadelphia Mint and the funky scene of South Street. The final leg of the trip ends with a splash as the amphibious truck dips into the Delaware River for a short float and a wide-angle view of one of the East Coast’s oldest, most engaging cities. 1-877-887-8225, www.phillyducks.com — Dave “Coondog” O’Karma

Photo Courtesy of Ride the Ducks International

Perfect Solitude

Procrastinators beware: You’ll never set foot in the Lake of the Clouds cabin in Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains State Park. The rustic, one-room abode was built in 1948 and has been booked solid since. Though there’s no running water, no indoor plumbing and only wood heat, the cabin has long been considered a backwoods Hilton for its views and easily reached solitude.

The humble cabin is tucked along the shore of its namesake lake, less than a mile hike from one of the Midwest’s most iconic views — the Lake of the Clouds overlook. An observation deck clings to bare rock on an exposed ridge, offering views of the slender Lake of the Clouds more than 300 feet below while the eroded spines of the ancient Porcupine Mountains (each more than 1,000 feet in elevation) roll off into the distance. The overlook sums up the experience of most visitors to Michigan’s largest state park — we came, we saw, we snapped. But those who plan ahead — at least a year ahead — can extend their stay by dropping down a short, steep trail through thick hemlock forest to call the four-bunk cabin home.

Lake of the Clouds only has one cabin, and a handful of backpackers at a hike-in campground on the other side of the lake are the only neighbors once evening comes. Amenities include a rowboat for pursuing the lake’s feisty smallmouth bass and a logbook that offers hours of entertainment reading the reflections of previous visitors. Deer can often be heard splashing across a stream at the lake outlet nearby, and the logbook tells of numerous black-bear sightings in the neighborhood. Fire up the woodstove at dusk and settle in with a book by candlelight. The next morning, as the mist and sun rise over the lake, feel free to gloat over those who’ve mocked your penchant to plan ahead. Silver City, Mich.; book the cabin through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, (906) 885-5275, www.mi.gov/porkiesAaron Peterson

Buckeye Utopia

Eddie George is used to being in the middle of the action. The former Heisman Trophy winner at The Ohio State University and All-Pro NFL running back carried the ball more than 3,700 times for 14,209 yards in his college and pro career.

So it’s no surprise his new Columbus eatery, Eddie George’s Grille 27, captures his passion for the game and ensures you won’t miss a single play — even if you’re in the men’s room, where a pane of one-way mirrored glass is just about the only thing separating you from the crowd gathered in the bar. (It’s jarring at first, standing there with people just a few feet away. But then you notice the game on one of the 41 plasma-screen TVs, and everything’s OK.)

Located on High Street across from the OSU campus in the $150 million South Campus Gateway project, Grille 27 is infused with Buckeye scarlet and gray.

A huge Eddie, sprinting away from Notre Dame defenders, dominates one wall, which highlights his accomplishments and features framed wishes from Buckeye alums. And his No. 27 is everywhere.

The football-shaped bar sits at a 27-degree angle to High Street, where a bank of garage-door-style windows opens to outdoor seating. Pick from 27 beers on tap, including the signature 27 Ale (it’s a winner, just like George), 27 martinis and 27 specialty drinks.

If you’re man enough (and we weren’t), try Eddie’s favorite, “The 27,” a 27-ounce Angus porterhouse steak. We opted, instead, for the fried meatloaf and cheddar hoagie: house-made meatloaf, cheddar cheese and chipotle ketchup in a deep-fried, tempura-battered bun (a definite score). George also recommends the Guinness Angus chili and the blackened bologna sandwich. But the menu here delivers something for every fan, whether it’s Pacific Rim tuna rolls, pesto marinated tofu salad or chipotle barbecue salmon.

And before you go, stop by the restroom one last time, and leave a little parting shot to that team up north by way of the Michigan footballs in the urinals. 1636 N. High St., Columbus, Ohio, (614) 421-2727 — Steve Gleydura

Gorgeous Architecture with a Side of Wings

Outsiders know Buffalo is the home of the chicken wing, but how is it that the city that once housed the most U.S. millionaires is unknown for its gorgeous architecture?

OK, maybe I’m just upset because I dislike chicken wings. How can bird parts compare to marble, stone and brick? Eat a wing and it’s gone. But design a building and you’ve got something lasting — at least until some dimwit decides to tear it down. Fortunately for Buffalo, its preservation society has fought hard to keep many of its old beauties standing, including nine Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures.

The lavishly restored Shea’s Theatre sits downtown — go ahead, gawk. Feast on the luscious Market Arcade. Moon over the magnificent City Hall. But my favorite stop is Wright’s Darwin Martin Complex.

The sad history of the Martins draws me to the site. How, I wonder, did it feel to live within such opulence? To have a conservatory so large you had bouquets of fresh flowers every day? To be rich one day — and destitute the next?
Welcome to the crash of 1929.

Darwin Martin died from the stress of losing his millions. Isabelle lived on, staggering under the responsibility of paying off her property taxes. Then, in 1937, she gave up. She walked out the front door of the 15,000-square-foot Prairie Style home, abandoning the buildings to Buffalo’s harsh winters.

Now, the main house, pergola, conservatory and carriage house are being renovated and reborn, brick by brick. During my tour, I peek into closets, bathrooms and bedrooms, and over workmen’s shoulders. I can feel Wright demanding my approval. He’s got it.

Shuffle off to Buffalo. The Queen City is worthy of a weekend, if not a lifetime. Take in the architecture. Then go fill up on chicken wings at the Anchor Bar! 125 Jewett Parkway, Buffalo, N.Y., (716) 856-3858, www.darwinmartinhouse.orgSheri Bell-Rehwoldt

Bird's-Eye Views

I used to think sitting under the stars on the deck of the Delta Queen, listening to the paddle slap and looking out to the black canvas of the Kentucky shoreline, was the best way to savor the Ohio River. Now, the Queen has a rival in my heart — and it’s painted bright purple.

I love admiring the broad, brown Ohio from atop the Purple People Bridge, a pedestrian span that arches between Newport, Ky., and downtown Cincinnati. I’m suited up in my geeky purple-and-yellow skydiver suit — “we call them ‘climb’ rather than ‘jump’ suits, for obvious reasons,” Bridge Climb owner Dennis Speigel tells me — and I’m ready to march up all five trusses to ring the Achievement Bell and admire the Ohio from 150 feet above her murky waves.

Birds and crane operators see this vantage point every day, but it’s stunning for landlubbers. The famous bend in the river is so pronounced from up here, and the houses and high-rises look like Legoland. It’s thrilling when a paddleboat blows her whistle just below the bridge’s open deck.

The 1872 Louisville & Nashville railroad bridge has seen railcars, streetcars, automobiles and pedestrians come and go. But no one could have foreseen us in our two-tone suits, cresting the bright purple trusses.

It’s an easy climb, each of us linked to the bridge with a fall-restraint system. There’s time for plenty of stops to catch a little river lore from the guide or listen in on local history piped through the speakers: There goes Pete Rose’s famous hit No. 4,192 in the old Riverfront Stadium; here comes Ohio River calliope music from the steamboat era.

At 2,670 feet, the Purple People Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge linking two states. The climb is the first in the Northern Hemisphere, patterned after Sydney, Australia’s and Auckland, New Zealand’s. But I’m proud to say ours is the world’s only purple bridge climb. (859) 261-OVER, www.purplepeoplebridgeclimb.com — BM

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