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Keswick Hall1. You may not be “to the manor born” but you can be “to the manor for a weekend” at the Clifton Inn or Keswick Hall, two charming country inns nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Charlottesville, Va. Thomas Jefferson called this area the “Eden of the United States,” and we have to admit it’s pretty close to paradise. At the Clifton Inn, your perfect day might involve breakfast on the veranda, a dip in the lake, a siesta in a not-fussy-at-all guest room and dinner at the chef’s table. At Keswick Hall, paradise involves a round on the Arnold Palmer signature golf course, a stroll in the formal gardens and a hot poultice massage before a Chesapeake bouillabaisse dinner at Fossett’s (named after Jefferson’s chief cook) overlooking those beautiful mountains. http://www.cliftoninn.net, http://www.keswick.com —L.W.

2. Thomas Jefferson was a man of contradictions, and so it seems right that Monticello, his masterpiece constructed over 40 years, should be as well. It’s a place of extraordinary harmony, every detail from the ventilation to the skylights to the furnishings so carefully considered. One is in awe. And yet, at the same time we know the beauty and harmony came at a too-high price. Thankfully, the docents who lead Monticello’s tours attempt to tell the stories of everyone who lived there, including the enslaved families. The house tour features the first floor only, so be sure to reserve space in the Behind the Scenes Tour if you want more access. The visitor center and the two miles of trails on the property are also worth exploring. http://www.monticello.org —L.W.

3. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the only way to get from Baltimore to Irvington, Va., was by steamboat— and the trip took 24 hours. These days it’s a mere 31⁄2-hour drive to the charming hamlet known as “Mayberry meets Manhattan.” Seeking old school riverine charm? Opt for the luxurious Tides Inn. Want a boutique B & B with whimsical touches like a garden tub and shower room and honor bar known as “Detention”? Choose Hope and Glory Inn. Don’t leave without doing time in The Dandelion, a women’s boutique housed in a former parsonage, or having a meal and a martini at Nate’s Trick Dog Café. Other must-sees include a winery just a short bike ride from town, and the Steamboat Era Museum. Up the road lie Kilarnock and White Stone, both worth a visit. http://www.irvingtonva.org —L.W.

4. A weekend at one of Virginia’s grande dame hotels can produce such a restorative effect. It’s not just the glory of, say, the Jefferson Hotel’s lobby, where a dome of Tiffany stained glass floats above a two- story rotunda. It’s not just the high tea served at The Greenbrier’s opulent upper lobby, or its glamorous new casino and world-class golf course. It’s not just the mineral spring indoor pool at The Homestead, which, to be honest, is a bit more favorite Southern aunt than elegant  grandmama (save for the nightly dinner and dancing—coat and tie only, please). It’s that at these hotels, everything is in order, in place. Everything is right. Your fantasy version of the past awaits, just a few hours’ drive away. http://www.jeffersonhotel.com, http://www.greenbrier.com,  www.thehomestead.com —L.W.

5. Over the top and brimming with a sense of occasion, The Inn at Little Washington is still the D.C. area’s most luxe dining and overnight getaway. Presiding over the inn, the restaurant and several outbuildings is owner-chef Patrick O’Connell. Having overcome a personal and professional split from his partner several years back, O’Connell is back in top form— in the kitchen and in his laserlike attention to detail at the inn. Though the look of the place is opulent English with heavy velvet drapes, ceiling murals and fringed lampshades, there are playful notes, too. The cheese cart is really a rolling cow named “Faira” and dishes have names like “Tuna Pretending to be a Filet Mignon” and “Tin of Sin,” a tin box layered with crab salad, cucumber rillette and caviar. Service is Jeeves-like, which is to say nearly flawless and unobtrusive, and the whole experience has a personal feel with custom menus, kitchen tours and O’Connell’s cashew-studded granola for those staying the night. All this opulence has a price: Rooms start at $425 with surcharges on weekends and during certain times of year. The fixed price dinner is $158 to $188, depending on the http://www.night.theinnatlittlewashington.com —C.H.

Chrysler Museum of Art6. When I say Chrysler, you say… no, not “car.” “Art.” Yes, in 1971, Walter Chrysler Jr., the son of the automotive company founder, gifted what was then considered one of the best private art collections in the United States to the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences, transforming it into the Chrysler Museum of Art. In addition to works by such luminaries as Matisse, Braque, Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton, the museum boasts a highly regarded collection of Art Nouveau and early American glass, including a nearly comprehensive collection of Tiffany creations. A new glass studio across the street from the museum allows visitors to observe creation in action. Admission is free. wwwchrysler.org —L.W.

7. A Frederick Fling.
Frederick’s explosive growth in the last few years has meant fewer farms and more traffic and housing developments. But it also has meant good things for downtown Frederick, which has transformed from a quaint county seat into a strolling, shopping and eating destination.

There’s VOLT, of course, the brainchild of executive chef (and native son) Bryan Voltaggio, who rose to fame on “Top Chef” in 2009 and has since racked up honors, including a James Beard Award nomination. Ordering the three- or five-course lunch menu is the best way to see for yourself how a meal can be art, theater and sustenance all in one. And because the flavors are rich and the portions are small, you won’t be too leaden to stroll the streets afterward.

One of a KindDon’t be put off by the clutter in the import store One of a Kind, where beautiful handbags and jackets from Nepal are tucked in alongside Japanese teapots and jewelry. Also jam-packed, but even more great, is Alicia L., a women’s boutique that carries designer labels in everything from casual to evening wear. Owner Pat Lakkovski, who’s been at the helm for more than 32 years, has built such a devoted following that locals refer to the store as Pat’s Place. (Hint: Big sales in January and July.) Take a breath at Velvet Lounge, where the vibe is airy and youthful, all Free People and leather wrist cuffs. Indulge your inner girly girl at Tiara Day, stocked with vintage clothing and rhinestone jewelry, and Simply Beautiful, which offers candles and Vera Bradley bags.

Down on Patrick Street, don’t be surprised if you start to hate your own house. Whether it’s Salvaged, with its shabby-chic painted furniture, or Urban Cottage, Dream House, Home Essentials and Silk and Burlap with their vintage, clever and cool accessories, you might just want to throw out all of your own stuff and start again anew.

A cool wooden oar— you need it. New plates and glasses— sure. Hot pink dining room chairs— absolutely.

And if you want a sweet little souvenir of your Frederick fling, pick up a handcrafted chocolate flavored with Greek red wine at Zoe’s Chocolate Co. or a pretty glass bottle of
lavender balsamic vinegar at Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium. http://www.fredericktourism.org. —Laura Wexler

Maryland & Pennsylvania

8. There’s a reason they call
Talbot County the “Hamptons of the Chesapeake Bay.” Like New York’s posh playground, Talbot provides a genteel getaway complete with ample opportunities for shopping, fine dining and attending intimate gatherings at the waterfront estate of your new best friend. Still, we much prefer Maryland’s version for its still-intact watermen’s culture, genuine friendliness of locals and the charms of its three main burgs: quiet Oxford, touristy St. Michaels and artsy Easton. All three feature restaurants rivaling anything in the big city and accommodations suited to sophisticated tastes. The favored outpost of Hollywood celebs and politicos (at least those not staying at the homes of the Rumsfelds or Cheneys nearby) is the Inn at Perry Cabin, the only property in Maryland to make Travel & Leisure’s list of “500 Best Hotels in the World.” Best of all, getting to Talbot County is a lot quicker than a trip to Long Island. http://www.tourtalbot.org —J.S.

9. Born Andy Warhola to two of Pittsburgh’s many Slovakian immigrants, he became Andy Warhol: the man, the myth, the mass-producing artist who forever changed American contemporary art. Even those who aren’t fans of Warhol’s work will find a trip to The Andy Warhol Museum fascinating. Housed in a refurbished industrial building across the river from Pittsburgh’s sparkling downtown, the seven-story museum is home to 8,000 works Warhol created between 1940 and 1970. A few you’ve seen (Marilyn, anyone?), but there are thousands you haven’t. As a bonus, the museum also hosts exhibitions by artists whose work reflects a pioneering spirit. http://www.warhol.org —L.W.

10. A house, wrote Frank Lloyd Wright, should be a “companion to the horizon.” So it is with Fallingwater, the most famous of his southwest Pennsylvania architectural creations, which is built above a 30-foot waterfall. But it’s also true of Kentuck Knob, one of the last homes ever completed by Wright, and Duncan House, where you can get horizontal (i.e., stay the night) in a home designed by America’s most famous architect. All are within a 30-mile radius of each other in the lovely Laurel Highlands. http://www.fallingwater.org, http://www.kentuckknob.com, http://www.polymathpark.com —L.W.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort11. What we like best about Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is that every season we visit, it seems like a completely different place. Spring and fall are perfect for playing a round at the Pete Dye-designed Mystic Rock golf course. In winter, we can hole up in the Woodlands Spa and be pampered to our heart’s content or go skiing—or even dog sledding!— at Mystic Mountain. Summer means relaxing by the pool or off-roading in a Jeep Rubicon as part of the Off-Road Driving Academy. There’s enough to keep the kids busy here, too, from a little tykes ropes course to mini-golf to special “kidz nights out.” Or, maybe next time, we’ll just leave them at home. http://www.nemacolin.com —J.S.

Delaware & New Jersey

12. There’s just something timeless about Cape May. Even getting there is an adventure. Sure you could drive, but isn’t it more fun to arrive by ferry from Lewes? Once there, it feels as if you’ve stepped into the Victorian seaside resort of your mind’s eye. There are all those cute shoppes, a lighthouse and more grand Victorians than in a Merchant and Ivory film. The grand dame, Congress Hall, which dates to 1879, epitomizes the old world ambience with its white columns and rocking chairs. Presidents from Ulysses S. Grant to Benjamin Harrison vacationed here. March king John Philip Sousa performed on the lawn with his Marine Corps Band in 1882 and wrote the “Congress Hall March” in honor of the place. Really, how many hotels have you stayed at that have marches dedicated to them? http://www.capemay.com, http://www.congresshall .com —J.S.

13. Rehoboth Beach has some of the best dining options downy oshun, but sophisticated accommodations? Eh, not so much. Thankfully, there’s the Bellmoor Inn, where handsome décor, a full-service spa and attentive service make for a properly pampered getaway any time of the year. The club suites are among the largest anywhere, and the lower-priced garden rooms, set around a lovely courtyard and small pool, recall simpler times with their wooden doors and cedar shake shingles. Best of all: all those great restaurants are a short walk away. http://www.thebellmoor.com —J.S.

Longwood Gardens14. The Brandywine River Valley, the old stomping grounds of the DuPonts and the Wyeths, is home to some of the loveliest spots in the mid-Atlantic—and lies just a few hours up the road from Baltimore. The jumble of buildings that make up the Inn at Montchanin Village once housed mill workers but is now home to 28 charming rooms and suites and the quirky Krazy Kat restaurant, which is lodged in a former blacksmith shop. Nearby are two former DuPont estates, the very French Nemours Mansion and Garden, and the very American Winterthur, both of which offer terrific tours. Longwood Gardens is a treat year-round, with its 1,050 landscaped acres and 20 indoor garden rooms. And, at the Brandywine River Museum, housed in a former grist mill, you can view work by three generations of Wyeths as well as a fine collection of Brandywine valley landscapes. Then take a drive and see the landscape for yourself. http://www.thebrandywine.com —L.W.

15. The Borgata may not be the nicest hotel in New Jersey. (Heck, it may not even be the nicest in Atlantic City.) But when the 4,000-slot machine hotel/casino opened in 2003, Jersey beach-goers had never seen anything like it. With its full-service spa, 11 restaurants and Vegas-like sophistication, it raised the bar of what an Atlantic City hotel/casino could be. History repeated itself in 2008, when the Water Club Hotel at Borgata opened. Suddenly, “luxury” and “Atlantic City” could be comfortably mentioned in the same sentence. Other hotels followed, with the makeover of Resorts and the opening of The Chelsea, a fine boutique property located on the boardwalk, with a 1940s- style supper club/steakhouse, a gorgeous spa and cabanas on the beach. Even if you wouldn’t be caught dead playing baccarat outside of Monaco or Las Vegas, credit the Borgata with taking a big gamble that paid off. http://www.theborgata.com, http://www.thechelsea-ac.com —J.S.

New York City

Mondrian Soho16. Many luxury hotels play the role of loving mother, offering a fantasy version of childhood in which every need is accommodated, even before you knew you needed it. But some luxury hotels move beyond childhood fantasy to offer a stay in an alternate universe. Instead of hotel-as-mama, it’s hotel as art or movie set. The 1-year-old Mondrian Soho is such a place. Inspired by the 1946 French film “La Belle et la Bete” (“Beauty and the Beast”), the hotel is dressed in blue and white, with whimsical nods to the movie like oversized chairs and fuzzy lamps (and techie comforts like an iPad in every room). Over in the meatpacking district, renowned hotelier (and Bollywood actor) Vikram Chatwal’s Dream Downtown boasts a glass bottom rooftop pool with a view down to the lobby, an A-list club offering views of the Empire State Building and a 48-seat high-concept restaurant from the acclaimed neurologist-chef Dr. Miguel Sánchez Romera, who aims to affect not only your taste buds, but also your emotions, with his high concept cuisine known as neurogastronomy. Dream’s sloping stainless steel exterior is perforated with porthole windows, earning it the nickname the “cheese grater.” Even if you don’t stay the night, these two hotels are worth a drop-by. http://www.mondriansoho.com, http://www.dreamdowntown.com —L.W.

17. High-profile Manhattan chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten grew up in Strasbourg in a “foodie family.” But it was a 16th birthday dinner with his parents at the three Michelin starred Auberge de L’ill that changed his life. As the story goes, by the end of the meal, Vongerichten had a job washing dishes at the renowned eatery. Now Vongerichten, known for his stylish dining rooms and Modern French/Fusion cooking has restaurants the world over, including several in his home base, Manhattan (Jean-Georges, Mercer Kitchen, Spice Market). Vongerichten changed the way New Yorkers ate and influenced a whole generation of chefs, dazzling with the unexpected and astonishing with his culinary juxtapositions (raw scallops with cranberry and wasabi, Comte risotto with marinated pears). He also proved that elegance could be accessible and that high end didn’t have to mean stuffy. Even his most glamorous restaurant, the three Michelin starred Jean-Georges at Trump Tower on Central Park West, is a temple of relaxed modern design. http://www.jeangeorges.com —C.H.

Morgan Library18. Constructed in 1906 to house the collections of big-time banker J. Pierpont Morgan, the gorgeous Morgan Library and Museum is straight out of the movies, with its dark woods, stuffy portraits and pretentious velvet-lined furniture. Check out the secret staircases behind the slew of historic books (Gutenberg Bibles! Ancient handwritten texts! Original Michelangelo sketches!) that allowed Morgan to reach the room’s highest shelves. A 2006 renovation by Renzo Piano doubled the amount of exhibition space and created a massive light-filled, steel-and-glass courtyard that brings together three formerly stand-alone structures. The museum’s exhibitions are eclectic, like the massive collection itself. Current exhibits include drawings by Rembrandt as well as work from fluorescent-light installation artist Dan Flavin.

While you’re in the neighborhood and feeling bookish, head to the iconic reading room of the nearby New York Public Library, two city blocks’ worth of brass lamps and long oak tables. And for the complete literary experience, stay at the boutique Library Hotel, where each floor is based on a different category of the Dewey Decimal System. No kidding. http://www.themorgan.org, http://www.nypl.org, http://www.libraryhotel.com —M.M.

Meatpacking District19. Some of the most stylish, of-the-moment shopping can be found in the West Village and Meatpacking District these days. This is a world of spare, gallery-like clothing boutiques for men, women and children; hipper-than-thou sales staff; and cool restaurants and lounges. The West Village, the original bohemian enclave, has been re-energized by the arrival of name designers on Bleecker Steet, such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Burberry Brit and Diptyque, for heavenly candles. But there are still charming homegrown outposts like Cynthia Rowley for urban frocks and sportswear and Ludovine for a dose of French girl cool.

A few blocks north and west in the Meatpacking District is a critical mass of trendy shops: International names like Alexander McQueen, Chris-tian Laboutin and Catherine Malandrino stand alongside more obscure finds such as Henry Beguelin, for gorgeous handmade Italian handbags, Scoop NYC, with clothes beachy to dressy, Ten Thousand Things for modern artisan jewelry, and Jeffrey, a mini cutting-edge department store for men and women that many liken to the Barney’s of yore. http://www.meatpacking-district.com —C.H. 

20. Among Museum Mile’s many wonders is the 10-year-old Neue Galerie, a tiny jewel of a museum that exhibits early 20th century German and Austrian art and design on two sumptuously decorated exhibition floors. The collection features painting, sculpture, decorative arts and photographs by such luminaries as Klimt and Schiele, as well as Expressionist and Bauhaus artists. On the first floor, Café Sabarsky is a work of art in itself, an old world Viennese café with wood paneling, plush banquettes and formal waiters who deliver everything from goulash to sausages to decadent tortes and strudels on silver platters. Even if you’re not visiting the museum, it’s a beautiful spot for coffee, dessert or a meal. neuegalerie.org —L.W.

21. For a welcoming respite from the City That Never Sleeps, head to the Japan Society. The 105-year-old organization aims to bring together American and Japanese cultures in its serene and elegant headquarters located near the United Nations. The building, with its three-story indoor bamboo water garden (complete with a Zen-like waterfall), is an attraction unto itself and was the first structure in New York City designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura in 1971. Every visit to the society holds some cultural surprise or another, whether important Japanese films, contemporary Japanese photography, the music of Japan, a Yoko Ono exhibit or the showcase of Japanese Art Deco objects running through June 10. http://www.japansociety.org —M.M.

New York City22. High-Wire Act
For the first few minutes of my walk on the High Line, I keep trying to take a photograph to capture what it feels like to be in the city, yet suspended 30 feet above it, to be on a path that feels wild— with native grasses and wildflowers pushing up through concrete planks— amidst one of the most engineered places on Earth. A photograph that can convey surprise, delight and complete admiration for the transformation of an abandoned elevated freight line into a magical park overlooking the mighty Hudson River. A photograph that can somehow communicate that I have a big goofy smile on my face from 30th Steet, where I climb the steps to the High Line, to Gansevoort Steet, nearly 11⁄2 miles later, where I return to street level.

Pretty quickly I abandon that idea and give over to simply wandering.

The High Line, which opened in 2009, is generally about 30 feet wide— less a park than a supersized promenade— but at various points, it branches off or expands into larger outdoor rooms. At 23rd Street, a lawn and built-in stepped seating offer a spot for picnics, relaxing and public art events, both programmed and spontaneous. A few blocks south are the Chelsea Grasslands, where daffodils, tulips and sage bloom each April alongside birch trees and native grasses. At the Tenth Avenue Square, I stand at one of the windows cut into the steel walls, looking out at the long river of traffic then walk a few steps to gaze at the actual river. At the sundeck, between 14th and 15th streets, I buy an ice pop (the only businesses on the High Line itself are food concessionaires) and watch people who’ve shed their shoes and rolled up their pants lounge on built-in chaises and splash in the fountain. Redbuds, birch, dogwoods and crabapples provide color and shade.

About two blocks or so before the High Line ends, it passes under a building set on enormous steel trusses. It’s suddenly dark with this colossus looming above. Out the other side, I get a good look at what turns out to be the Standard Hotel, a 337-room boutique hotel whose extraordinary glass slab structure and modern design make it iconic enough to earn a spot alongside the coolest new thing in New York City in years. http://www.highline.org, http://www.standardhotels.com —Laura Wexler

23. There are few things in life more civilized than to find yourself ensconced in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel in the late afternoon, sipping a kir and basking in the Edwardian grandeur of the famous old hotel. Steps away is the Round Table, where Dorothy Parker wielded a wit as sharp as the steak knives. Though the legendary Oak Room, which has hosted cabaret legends for more than 75 years, is slated to close, the rest of the hotel will reopen in May after extensive renovations. http://www.algonquinhotel.com —L.W.

24. Seeing Shakespeare under the stars at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater is one of the singular pleasures of summer in the city. New York’s well-regarded Joseph Papp Public Theater mounts two of the Bard’s plays every summer, often with big-name thespians. Recent gets have been Al Pacino in “Merchant of Venice” and Anne Hathaway in “Twelfth Night.” Part of the fun is picnicking and people-watching on the lawn before the show. Bring your own or grab something from the Public Fare food stand on the grounds. And since this is New York, expect some to take picnicking to a higher level with candelabras and linen tablecloths. In the past, arriving several hours early and waiting in line for the first-come, first- served free tickets was the drill (weekdays are easier than weekends). But there’s an alternative now: putting your name in a virtual, same day online lottery. You’ll know by 1 p.m. if you’ve gotten a spot and can pick up your tickets between 5 and 7. www.shakespeare-inthepark.org —C.H.

25. Most New Yorkers don’t ever see the New York City Gordon Polatnick witnesses on a nightly basis. And the cool thing is, he’s more than willing to share. Polatnick started Big Apple Jazz Tours in 1997 so he could lead people like you and your fellow wannabe hepcats all over NYC to check out the booming underground music scene, visiting everything from a former speakeasy that is now owned by jazz saxophonist Bill Saxton to a members-only American Legion Post with a weekly Hammond B3 organ jam session. Polatnick’s specialty is the city’s jazz capital, Harlem, where he owned his own club, EZ’s Woodshed, years ago. The neighborhood once was home to jazz’s greatest nightspots— the Cotton Club, the Savoy Ballroom, Minton’s, etc.— and its most notable players and composers. But one thing you’ll certainly know after an evening on the town with Polatnick: The great Jazz Age ain’t dead yet. Public tours run $99; private tours start at $75 an hour. http://www.bigapplejazz.com —M.M.

Great Jones Spa26. It’s a water wonderland at Great Jones Spa, where $50 gets you three hours in a one-of-a-kind indoor grotto that features a three-story indoor waterfall, a sauna formed by more than 45 tons of river rock and a “chakra steam room” that envelops you in wet, warm, colorful clouds. The spa treatments are equally delicious (pay more than $100 for a treatment and you’ll get into the water lounge free), especially the Red Flower Hammam Treatment and Massage, a five-step ritual inspired by Turkish bathhouses. http://www.great- jonesspa.com —L.W.

27. If you want to shop where Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda did— or at least where the “Sex and the City” stylist outfitted the gals for the HBO show— head to one of the six locations of the designer consignment shop INA. Since its first location opened in 1993, INA has been the grande dame of high-end resale shops, far more like a fashion editor’s closet than a second-hand store. If you consider yourself a soldier in a shopping war and don’t mind haughty saleswomen who offer Olympics-caliber once-overs, this is the place to find discounted Prada, Marni, Hermes, Chanel and more. A new INA men’s store recently opened, too. http://www.inanyc.com —L.W.

Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts28. Baltimore may claim the Maryland Institute College of Art as the oldest art school in the country, but Philly can claim the oldest art school and museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA was founded in 1805 and its current over-the-top Victorian Gothic home (think Baltimore’s American Brewery building) dates to 1876. Its collection is considered one of the best of American art in the world, from colonial masters like John Singleton to contemporaries such as Faith Ringgold and Red Grooms. Its new outdoor plaza hosts events of every stripe as well as the 53-foot-tall “Paint Torch” designed by world-renowned American artist Claes Oldenburg. Even more striking might be the temporary installation, “Grumman Greenhouse,” a “crashed” 45-foot-long Cold War-era naval airplane whose see-through fuselage holds medicinal plants grown for the benefit of low-income families. Don’t miss “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit” on display through April 15. http://www.pafa.org —J.S.

29. There’s something illicit about the entrance to Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.— if you can find it, that is. Set below street level, visitors must descend a flight of metal stairs before approaching a dark door with a small brass plaque emblazoned with the bar’s name. It’s an appropriate entrance for a place that shares a name with the front for the largest 1920s alcohol ring in the country. Max “Boo Boo” Hoff’s Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. moved 10,000 gallons of hooch per day throughout the country by truck and train. These days, FMIC celebrates the cocktails of old (perhaps the best Brown Derby you’ll ever have) and has been recognized as one of the best bars in the country by several national publications.
Bartenders here (do not call them mixologists!) organize cocktails by theme. For the strongest of the bunch, see those under the menu heading: “I Asked Her for Water; She Brought Me Gasoline.” The long narrow space itself is nothing fancy— just some banquettes and a small bar with seating for four. But as real cocktail aficionados know, superfluous décor only gets in the way of enjoying a good drink. http://www.thefranklinbar.com —J.S.

28. Baltimore may claim the Maryland Institute College of Art as the oldest art school in the country, but Philly can claim the oldest art school and museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA was founded in 1805 and its current over-the-top Victorian Gothic home (think Baltimore’s American Brewery building) dates to 1876. Its collection is considered one of the best of American art in the world, from colonial masters like John Singleton to contemporaries such as Faith Ringgold and Red Grooms. Its new outdoor plaza hosts events of every stripe as well as the 53-foot-tall “Paint Torch” designed by world-renowned American artist Claes Oldenburg. Even more striking might be the temporary installation, “Grumman Greenhouse,” a “crashed” 45-foot-long Cold War-era naval airplane whose see-through fuselage holds medicinal plants grown for the benefit of low-income families. Don’t miss “Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit” on display through April 15. http://www.pafa.org —J.S.

29. There’s something illicit about the entrance to Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.— if you can find it, that is. Set below street level, visitors must descend a flight of metal stairs before approaching a dark door with a small brass plaque emblazoned with the bar’s name. It’s an appropriate entrance for a place that shares a name with the front for the largest 1920s alcohol ring in the country. Max “Boo Boo” Hoff’s Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. moved 10,000 gallons of hooch per day throughout the country by truck and train. These days, FMIC celebrates the cocktails of old (perhaps the best Brown Derby you’ll ever have) and has been recognized as one of the best bars in the country by several national publications.

Bartenders here (do not call them mixologists!) organize cocktails by theme. For the strongest of the bunch, see those under the menu heading: “I Asked Her for Water; She Brought Me Gasoline.” The long narrow space itself is nothing fancy— just some banquettes and a small bar with seating for four. But as real cocktail aficionados know, superfluous décor only gets in the way of enjoying a good drink. http://www.thefranklinbar.com —J.S.

30. Before restaurateur Stephen Starr arrived, Philadelphia’s most famous food exports were cheesesteaks and Tastykakes. Now, more than 15 years after first shaking up Philadelphia’s restaurant scene, Starr’s restaurant empire ranges from New York to Fort Lauderdale. 

Starr, a former concert promoter, used his marketing savvy to create a string of restaurants with interiors just this side of “theme park” but with consistently imaginative food, prepared by top-flight chefs. And while some bemoan the fact that he’s paying attention to other cities these days (typical Philadelphian response), no one can argue that he revolutionized Philly’s dining scene— from Buddakan to Morimoto to Talula’s Garden— during the last decade and a half. His most recent contributions include seafood-themed Route 6 and the sublime Italian eatery Il Pittore, both of which opened in late fall. Check them all out at http://www.starr-restaurant.com. —J.S.

31. If Stephen Starr is the king of Philadelphia’s restaurant scene, than Jose Garces is the prince. Garces, who scored national fame on Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” has been on a restaurant-opening spree since 2005, when he launched the Andalusian tapas restaurant, Amada. But his most creative venture might be Chifa, which highlights the Cantonese cuisine found in Peru. (Fried rice with scallops, mango, edamame and chorizo, anyone?)

Garces, 38, who was born in Chicago to Ecuadorean parents, now counts seven restaurants in Philadelphia, including new openings Tinto, a wine bar featuring small plate cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, and the adjacent Village Whiskey, a burger-and-booze hall with short rib and cheddar french fries and 60 bourbons on the menu. http://www.grg-mgmt.com —J.S.

Barbuzzo32. When business partners Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney decided to open a funky home accessories shop called Open House in 2002 there was nothing but “prostitutes and drug dealers” on the desolate stretch of 13th Steet between Chestnut and Sansom, says Turney. “It was the only place we could afford.” Ten years later, 13th Steet is bubbling with activity and developers have even bestowed upon it a fancy name — Midtown Village.

Credit the duo, whose empire now includes three stores as well as three restaurants overseen by Turnery, a chef. Open House is still thriving but it’s the pair’s restaurants that have really been the street’s catalyst. Lolita, the city’s first BYOT (Bring Your Own Tequila), consistently ranks at the top of Philly’s dining scene. It may be surpassed only by Barbuzzo, a casual Mediterranean bar and bistro that garnered all sorts of national awards when it opened last year. Now Safran and Turney have launched Jamonera, a Spanish tapas bar specializing in Andalusian cooking and sherries. (For dessert, you can pick up a box of artisanal chocolates at their boutique, Verde, across the street or ice cream at nearby Capogiro, which serves some of the best gelato in the world, according to National Geographic Traveler magazine.)

“Hotel concierges used to tell people not to walk by this block,” says Turney. “Now it’s one of the hottest spots in the city.” http://www.13thstreetphilly.blogspot.com —J.S. 

33.  The Fabric Workshop and Museum is one of a kind. Literally. It’s the only such facility in the world dedicated to the preservation and display of objets de art created with fabrics. Its permanent collection tops 5,000 objects and the museum hosts several temporary exhibits per year, many produced by artists in residence. The art isn’t always easily accessible to the casual enthusiast (see Nick Cave’s “Soundsuits” created from crocheted hats, plastic sandwich bags, stuffed animals and other bric-a-brac), but it’s well-displayed, cutting-edge stuff. This spring “Soft Village: Studio Makkink & Bey” examines the possibilities of new urban planning through pliable cityscapes constructed by the Dutch design collaborative. http://www.fabricworkshopandmuseum.org —J.S.

34. Since the 1850s, Rittenhouse Square has boasted some of the best addresses in Philadelphia. You’ll still find the city’s most stylish shopping and eating experiences along Walnut Steet and in the blocks surrounding that serene square.

While national chains, from Barney’s Co-Op to Anthropologie, have set up shop, local boutiques thrive alongside. For women’s apparel, society dames have long frequented Joan Shepp for high-end designers like Balenciaga and Christian Louboutin. At SA VA at least 75 percent of the store’s merchandise is created at the onsite garment center, while the rest is fair trade, organic, recycled or natural.  Men, meanwhile, have Boyd’s of Philadelphia with its imposing white columns, new second-floor sushi bar and omnipresent salespeople usually dressed better than the customers. 

Shoppers like to cool their heels at a parkside table at Stephen Starr’s Parc or Rouge. But we prefer to grab a cappuccino and a biscotti at the Rittenhouse location of Di Bruno Bros. It’s the Italian food store of your dreams: fresh pastas, gorgeous cheeses and guys behind the deli counter who know the provenance of every hunk of charcuterie they slice. http://www.rittenhouserow.org—J.S. 

35. It’s always dangerous to enter the Reading Terminal Market when hungry. We can never decide what to eat, so we end up sampling a little of this, a lot of that. But who cares? This place is so much fun, a few extra calories are worth it. 

Start with a cup of six bean espresso from Old City Coffee and maybe an apple dumpling from the Dutch Eating Place. The salmon and vegetables over rice is sublime at the Little Thai Market, as is gumbo and jambalaya at Beck’s Cajun.

There’s always a cheeseteak from Spataro’s or a roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe from DiNic’s.

End it all with a scoop of Gadzooks ice cream (vanilla spiked with peanut butter brownies, chocolate chunks and caramel) from Bassetts, a cannoli from Termini Bros. or one of the more than two dozen varieties of whoopee pies from Flying Monkey Bakery. (Lavender honey? Pumpkin chai? Bananas Foster?) Aw, heck. Just buy them all! http://www.readingterminal.com —J.S.

36. Siblings John and Lydia Morris had a thing for exotic plants. And beautiful sculpture. And when the pair passed away in the early 20th century, their 92-acre property opened to the public as the Morris Arboretum. Now administered by the University of Pennsylvania, the arboretum, located on the northern edge of the city, is one of those spectacular attractions that seemingly only locals (and visitors with green thumbs) know about. You can easily spend an entire afternoon taking in its 13,000 labeled plants, from the azalea meadow to a Japanese water garden to the herb garden and “stumpery.”  Kids will love Out on a Limb, a new 450-foot-long walkway suspended 50 feet above the ground, giving visitors a bird’s-eye view of the forest. (There’s even a giant Bird’s Nest where they can sit on huge robin’s eggs.) Chanticleer Gardens, located about 25 minutes away on Philly’s Main Line, is another worth-the-trip attraction for plant lovers, with its “tennis court,” teacup and Asian gardens set on 35 acres. http://www.morrisarboretum.org, cwww.hanticleergarden.org —J.S.

37. When Le Bec-Fin owner Georges Perrier announced in 2010 that he would be putting up for sale his beloved restaurant, his customers complained like Parisians told they could no longer visit the Eiffel Tower. So on New Year’s Eve 2011, Perrier reneged, supposedly bowing to public outcry from around the world. He made his sous chef, Nicholas Elmi, his business partner and the duo morphed the once stodgy basement bistro into Tryst, a modern bar/lounge that boasts a vibe diametrically opposed to the chandelier-clad restaurant upstairs. Luckily, Tryst does share many of Elmi’s fantastically cream-laden dishes available in the main restaurant. In this intimate downstairs lair, however, jazz pulsates as diners sip gorgeously prepared cocktails atop an illuminated bar. Manager Erik Lombardo works the room, delivering plates of truffle and foie gras arancini and braised Burgundy short ribs. It’s fun and sexy, and a surprising new offering from an accomplished restaurateur who nearly hung up his spatula for good. http://www.lebecfin.com —J.S.
 
Hotel George and Rouge38. Where the heck did we stay in the days before hotelier Bill Kimpton decided that not all chain hotels had to have boring furnishings and beige-colored walls? Thankfully, the Kimpton brand stretches throughout the mid-Atlantic, from New York to Virginia. The nation’s capital has a whopping seven Kimpton properties, including our favorites: Hotel Monaco, Hotel George and Rouge. In Philly, Hotel Palomar, set in a former architects’ office building, has a great Rittenhouse Square location and a good bar scene at its Square 1682 restaurant. A Hotel Monaco is due to open in the city this fall across from the Liberty Bell and promises to include a rooftop bar and lounge overlooking Independence Mall. The only problem will be deciding at which Kimpton property to stay. http://www.kimptonhotels.com —J.S.

39. New Finds in Old City
Growing up in Philadelphia in the 1980s, I’d head down to Third Street Rock and Jazz in the Old City neighborhood at least once a month. Besides what might have been the greatest record store on the planet, there was little else of interest in the area. These days, Third Street isn’t around anymore (sigh), but 3rd Street itself— and Old City in general— is bubbling with fantastic clothing boutiques, art galleries and A-list restaurants.

On a recent visit, I start at Briar Vintage, a well-edited selection of men’s duds from the 1800s through 1960s, where old meat hooks hold rows of jackets and slacks and big band music sets the appropriate mood. Manager David Lochner, who looks like he just stepped out of a 1940s film noir movie, points out the circa-1920s cash register’s marble top, which was “used to tap coins to make sure they were silver,” he says.

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction also holds a fascinating collection of old-fashioned treasures, from Arnica Salve for bruises and sprains (“lovingly blessed with holy water by Sister Hope of the Benedictine Sisters herself”) to cool bracelets made from Colorado horsehair.

Cutting-edge home furnishings, meanwhile, can be found at Minima, which, as co-owner Michael Schmick says, embodies the “showroom as museum/museum as showroom” concept. After browsing the collection of funky coffee tables, futuristic chairs and other works by top-flight designers from Japan to Finland, I see what he means.

Sugarcube has great fashion finds for both men and women: artsy hats from Cha Cha’s House of Ill Repute, dresses by Janezic and jeans from Brooklyn’s BLKSMTH Denim. There’s even a rare Gilera B300 motorcycle parked in the store (not for sale).

I also browse the mid-century modern furnishings at Moderne Gallery and check out some jewelry designs at Third Street Habit (thirdstreethabit.com). And, oh, what’s this? I even find a record store, AKA Music over on 2nd Street. Nice to see at least something familiar in the old neighborhood. http://www.oldcitydistrict.org —Joe Sugarman

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.40. August Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” an ode to changing French mores and society in the late 19th century, alone is worth a visit to the Phillips Collection’s human-sized museum of impressionist and modern art. The collection of nearly 3,000 paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs is housed in a stunning 1890s Georgian Revival mansion and an airy annex completed in 2006 that doubled the original space. Duncan Phillips founded the museum in 1921— he and his wife, Marjorie Phillips, were avid collectors and proponents of modern art. The Rothko Room, with four bold paintings by the modernist Mark Rothko, still has only a single bench, per request by the artist back in 1961. And in the original building, nine paintings are clustered in the Klee Room, the first dedicated to Paul Klee in any museum. On exhibit until May 6: “Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard.” “Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme” opens on June 2 and runs through Sept. 9. http://www.phillipscollection.org. —C.H. 

41. Channeling industrial chic, the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown is one of the luxe chain’s few small-scale, boutique addresses. The renovated turn-of-the century building with its 130-foot smokestack (a former city incinerator) is well situated between the Potomac and the shops and restaurants of high-energy Georgetown. Exposed brick and black steel beams give the place a bit of an edge, but the cinnamon-and-caramel hued lobby lounge with its flickering fireplace, sink-into couches, oversized loft windows and a grand piano tucked in the corner is a cozy retreat that’s hard to leave. Rooms done in pale shades of cream and taupe have sunken tubs and there’s a petite spa— we like the signature Eco Body Treatment (think foot soak, skin polish, mud wrap and bamboo massage). Though the hotel’s Degrees Bistro is a stylish-casual spot for dinner, if you’re feeling lazy, happily the same menu is served in that blissful lounge, too. ritzcarlton.com —C.H.

42. Inspired by Michelangelo’s Palazzo Farnese in Rome, the National Building Museum makes a statement with its soaring Great Hall anchored at either end by Corinthian columns that are 75 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter and among the largest in the world. Completed in 1887, the red brick building also has an arresting 1,200-foot terra cotta frieze that wraps around the exterior. Though the museum is worth a stop for the Great Hall alone, clever architecture, engineering and design exhibitions are a draw, too. (Besides, how many museums dedicated to buildings are there?) For devotees of HGTV there’s “House & Home,” opening April 28, about all things home, from retro fondue pots to scaled-down models of vintage home styles. The ongoing “Cityscapes Revealed” is a mass of rare photos and artifacts from urban locales. And “Lego Architecture” is sheer fun: 15 iconic buildings constructed entirely of Lego bricks, until Sept. 3. nbm.org —C.H. 

43. In his native Spain, he’s a TV cooking star besieged by fans as he walks down the street. But celebrity chef José Andrés’ first culinary milestones were in D.C., where he demystified Spanish tapas at his Gaudi-esque eatery, Jaleo, updated Latin American cooking at the trendy triplex, Café Atlantico, and took on Greek, Turkish and Lebanese mezze at the sculptural Zaytinya. Still, the intense blue-eyed chef is probably best known for bringing Spanish-style molecular cuisine a la Ferran Adriá — who he worked for at El Bullí— to the United States with minibar, his restaurant-as-theater concept where 31 über-inventive bites make a meal. Andres is not afraid to play with his food or to treat it like a science experiment— minibar offerings have included a flashing edible “light bulb” spun of sugar and a foie gras “lollipop” swirled with cotton candy. His Think Food Group, with partner Rob Wilder, has widened the net with restaurants in L.A. (The Bazaar, Saam) and Las Vegas (China Poblano, Jaleo) and America Eats in the former Cafe Atlantico space in D.C., open until July 4th, when the six-stool minibar, now on the second floor, will take over the entire space. He’s the kind of creative culinary force who begs the inevitable question: What’s next? http://www.thinkfoodgroup.com —C.H. 

Dumbarton Oaks44. With its English, Italian and French influences, the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown will put you in a Jane Austen state of mind. The former estate of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss is now home to 16 acres of landscaped gardens and a library and museum of Pre-Colombian and Byzantine art. The gardens are the handiwork of Mildred Bliss and landscape gardener Beatrix Farrand, and many of the gates and stone and wood benches were custom designed. Among the must-sees as you wander lanes and pathways (on your own or as part of a tour) are the shimmering copper beech, especially dramatic in fall but worth a look at any time of year; the Rose Garden, with its manicured hedges and blooms; boxwood and plum tree walks; and the circular Ellipse and Fountain Terrace. http://www.doaks.org —C.H.

45. In the Roaring Twenties, the U Street Corridor was the heart of the jazz scene and home to the Lincoln Theater. But by the ’60s, the area was in a downward slide that continued till the ’90s when it roared back as a hipster enclave for bars, cafés, galleries and vintage shops. Of late it’s morphed once again into one of the hottest restaurant neighborhoods in town (particularly on the strip of 14th  Street just south of U) with places like Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, where a massive raw bar and a New Orleans-influenced roster of seafood— think crawfish etouffee and catfish and fried egg po’ boys— is the draw; Estadio for Spanish tapas traditional and not; Bar Pilar, where Modern American fare holds sway with dishes like grilled prawns with sea salt and roasted potatoes with malt aioli; the Latin-Asian mashup, Masa 14, for pork belly dumplings and Peking duck flatbread; and Cork Wine Bar, with its extensive pours and menu of well-crafted small plates. There’s more to come this spring and summer that’s sure to solidify the area’s rep as Restaurant Row. —C.H.

46. Ask any serious D.C. foodie where their last meal would be, and invariably Komi comes up. This sliver of a dining room in a Dupont Circle rowhouse has only 12 tables (you can reserve up to a month in advance), which means lots of face time with the relaxed yet savvy sommelier and wait-staff— and, if you’re lucky, the darkly handsome young chef Johnny Monis. In other words, it’s an experience like few others— which is probably why the first couple dined here not long ago. While Monis’ influences are broad, the dominant thread is Greek— the place is named for a beach on the island of Chios where his parents were born and where he spent summers. An evening begins with bites, moves onto little plates (mezze), then shifts to larger dishes and desserts, 18 to 22 courses in all. Though Monis shuns a printed menu, you’ll find morsels like scallop tartare with beet and wasabi, a half-smoke with ramp relish and spit-roasted baby goat or suckling pig. With the opening of his new Thai place next door, Little Serow, now there’s more of Monis to love. http://www.komi-restaurant.com, http://www.littleserow.com —C.H. 

Spy Museum47. There’s something inherently stylish about spies—whether it’s James Bond and his tricked-out Aston Martin from “Goldfinger,” or Maxwell Smart’s hilarious shoe phone or the lipstick “gun” used by Russian spy femme fatales. Luckily, you don’t need a trench coat— just a ticket to the Spy Museum. Edgy and stylish, this warren-like multi-level space is a trove of real life spy accoutrements and gadgets such as buttonhole cameras, exploding coal and bugs of every description. There are also loads of photos, pages of secret correspondence and tales of KGB and OSS spies and spy rings. To get into the spirit of things, when you first arrive, you’re given a cover ID. Don’t blow it. http://www.spymuseum.org. —C.H.
 
48. Historic Georgetown is known for its period charm, which is why the metamorphosis of a cobblestone alley known as Cady’s Alley on the far end of M Street into the Georgetown Design District comes as such a surprise. Here is a virtual shrine to all things sleek and modern for the home. There’s Waterworks for high-style bathrooms and accessories; Ann Sacks for stone and tile that goes beyond the ordinary; the German Bulthaup and Poggenpohl for spare Euro kitchens; JANUS et Cie for trendy outdoor furniture; Thomas Moser for a contemporary take on Shaker simplicity; and Design Within Reach for an affordable mix of mid-century and modern furniture. There are some worthy homegrown addresses, too. Illuminations carries dreamy contemporary lighting, while M2L showcases pieces by Philippe Starck and Arik Levy, among others. Contemporaria, whose owner Deborah Kalkstein is an architect and designer, has a vast but well-edited trove of furniture, lighting, outdoor pieces and rugs from the world over that are the ultimate in cool. And if all this makes your head spin, high-style Leopold’s Kafe nearby has a menu of lightened-up Austrian comfort plates. http://www.cadysalley.com —C.H.

49. At the turn of the last century, Massachusetts Avenue was teeming with millionaires and even a few robber barons from the mining, banking and political world. Fifty years later, in the wake of spendthrift heirs and the Great Depression, their elegant Beaux-Arts mansions would be sold to private clubs and other countries for 10 cents on the dollar and this tony stretch would come to be known as Embassy Row. Stroll along D.C.’s widest boulevard and hear the stories behind these ornate facades on a Washington Walks Embassy Tour. This is where Alice Roosevelt Longworth tossed off her famous and many times repeated, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.” And where Evalyn Walsh McLean stashed the Hope Diamond— when she wasn’t wearing it. http://www.washingtonwalks.com. —C.H.

Barney’s50. Shopping to New Heights
The first thing I did the day Barney’s Co-Op opened in Friendship Heights was to time the walk from my doorstep to the store. Seven minutes. 

Since then the hyper-trendy New York import has been my go-to for instant cool. Besides hard-to-find designers like Isabel Marant and A.L.C., I love the quirky in-house Co-Op label that knocks off runway trends as they happen. My most recent trophies? Textured dark blue pumps, a black cashmere V-neck with ribbed sleeves and crazy Paul Smith striped socks for hubby.
Stellar shopping in Friendship Heights, longtime home to Mazza Gallerie and Chevy Chase Pavilion, isn’t news. With outposts of Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co., the area has never had a shortage of high-style addresses, but in the past few years, the pickings have skyrocketed.  

High-end names from Dior to Vuitton have opened gleaming boutiques, Bloomingdale’s has recently set up shop, and chains such as  Anthropologie Accessories (the test store for the country) and Giggle (baby goods and furniture) have also put down stakes.  

And lest one needs sustenance after the grand tour, the news there is good, too: Rosa Mexicano has opened its doors and coming in the fall is “Top Chef” Bryan Voltaggio’s steakhouse, Range. 

Naturally, I have my haunts.  Florentine import Santa Maria Novella, known for its luxurious soaps, lotions and other toiletry staples, has become my favorite place for gifts (the wrapping is gorgeous— and free).  

If I have a soft spot for Spanish import Adolfo Dominguez, it’s because it debuted right after I came back from Spain and all of its men’s and women’s clothing and accessories have that Euro look.  

The ultra-luxe designer stops are a little trickier in these tight times but sales are the perfect excuse to drop in. My purchase of last summer was a pair of taupe, ankle strap platforms from the Jimmy Choo boutique for a song. Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out. —Cynthia Hacinli

 

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