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The Stay List: U.S. Central Photo by Grand Hotel
Summer breezes cool Michigan's Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lookout Point Lakeside Inn, Hot Springs, Arkansas Homey B&B overlooking Lake Hamilton, with views of Ouachita Mountains. Arts-and-craftsstyle architecture with rich wood floors and locally crafted oak furniture. Nature reigns: thermal hot springs, native-plant gardens, hiking galore. A breakfast treat: raspberry-stuffed French toast. Mindfulness retreats and watercolor classes. 10 rooms and a 2-room condo; $137-337.
Hotel Burnham, Chicago, Illinois Handsome eco-savvy boutique hotel and well-restored architectural landmark 15 stories tall. Glass and terra-cotta facade, terrazzo floors, marble ceilings, leather couches. Guest rooms boast mahogany writing desks and velvet headboards. Honor bar with organic food and beverage options. Complimentary nightly wine hour. 122 rooms; $179-499.
Artists Colony Inn, Nashville, Indiana Quiet, 15-year-old inn with bygone-days allure in Brown County, dubbed the Midwest Art Colony and Peaceful Valley. Coziness abounds: canopy beds, local artwork, and wide-planked floors in guest rooms. From the kitchen: Pumpkin bread, homemade soups, and meatloaf are signatures. Nashville packed with craft shops, galleries, theaters. 23 rooms; $90-250.
The William M. Black Boat & Breakfast, Dubuque, Iowa Former 1934 steamboat dredger docked at National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Board games, waterfowl watching; no phone, TV, or Internet. Breakfast served ashore in vintage train depot turned café. Open April-Oct.; 12 rooms, 55 bunks; $50-175.
Grand Central Hotel, Cottonwood Falls, Kansas Original 1884 hotel on the edge of tallgrass prairie in Flint Hills. 1995 renovation updated bathrooms and exposed the brick walls; guest rooms named for local ranches. Restaurant famed for oversize Kansas steaks; vintage photos evoke cowboy heyday. 10 rooms; $160-190.
Inn at Shaker Village, Harrodsburg, Kentucky In bluegrass country, an 1805 Shaker settlement turned living museum with overnights in 15 brick buildings and clapboard cottages. Shaker faithful (nearly): tidy rooms with fine reproduction beds, chests, rocking chairs. Updates: new plumbing, TVs, telephones. Locally grown fare at table; artisan crafts to take home. 81 rooms; $79-225.
21c Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky Contemporary art-filled boutique property behind several Main Street historic iron facades. Gallery-minimal interiors showcase rotating art exhibits. Pre-programmed iPods, mint julep cups; two rooms boast terraces. Kentucky bison, rabbit, and produce in the restaurant. 91 rooms; $169-429.
International House, New Orleans, Louisiana Former 1906 beaux arts international trade center in the Central Business District. Soaring ceilings, chandeliers, reclaimed ironwork evoke classic New Orleans in public spaces; ditto velvet armchairs, wrought-iron tables, and photos of local jazz greats in guest rooms. The Loa Bar is lit primarily by candles. 117 rooms; $147-1,649.
The Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana "Haunted" 1796 plantation just north of Baton Rouge fronted by period cast-iron veranda; crystal chandeliers, marble mantels, and French furnishings within. Live oaks, camellias, and crepe myrtles shade the ten acres (four hectares). Garden-grown heirloom tomatoes supply restaurant Varnedoe's in the former carriage house. 11 rooms; $115-230.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan Lilly Pulitzer meets the Brooks Brothers. A classic, summer-only 1887-era hotel. Airy rooms and open balconies, golf, emerald lawns, red geraniums, lilac bushes, and a 660-foot-long (201-meter) porch. Suites commemorate famous folk, from Lord Astor to Jacqueline Kennedy. Tradition demands dress-up dinners and no tipping. And no cars. 385 rooms; $225-675.
Rock Harbor Lodge, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan A comfortably rustic, remote place—accessible via seaplane and boat—in one of America's least visited national parks: Isle Royale, in Lake Superior. Chill out in the company of birds and mammals, including moose, wolves, fox, and beaver. Hiking, lighthouse tours, canoeing, kayaking, fishing. Short season: May 23-Sept. 6. 60 rooms, 20 cabins; $209-360.
Lutsen Resort, Lake Superior, Minnesota The great North Woods celebrates Scandinavian heritage at a lodge set amid birches and spruce. Winter skiing and snowshoeing; summer hiking, kayaking, and canoeing. Waterside bonfires by Lake Superior. Privacy? Bunk in log cabins away from the lodge. 160 rooms; $59-559.
Water Street Inn, Stillwater, Minnesota Once the 1890 Lumber Exchange Building; now a lovingly restored three-story inn on the St. Croix River. Remembrances of things past: original pressed-tin ceiling in the lobby and dining room, 1903 mahogany baby grand in the Irish Bar, bathrooms reincarnated from walk-in vaults. Up-to-date: high-speed Internet and a Sunday brunch that draws the locals. Plum location in town's National Historic District. 41 rooms; $129-299.
Shack Up Inn, Clarksdale, Mississippi Luxury? Forget about it. Get ready for basic shacks in high cotton. Kitchenettes, spare furnishings with touches of Victorian gingerbread. Posters of Delta jazzmen. In the main shack, LPs and upright pianos play to the music-inclined. At night, gather in the authentic cotton gin for blues jams with the owners—Mississippi boys all. 10 rooms; $60-85.
Monmouth Plantation, Natchez, Mississippi This 1818 plantation drips Dixie tradition: wisteria-framed gardens, croquet lawns and guest rooms full of authentic antebellum furniture. (The jet tubs? Modern.) Five-course dinners in formal dining room and traditional Southern breakfast ensure—yes, Scarlett—you'll never go hungry again. 30 rooms; $195-350.
Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, North Dakota Urban-chic rehab of 1894 fraternal lodge, sparkplug of downtown. Each suite designed around local artist—one with bathtub that fills from ceiling; all with Bose stereos. Rooftop planted with prairie grasses, hot tub. Restaurant known for local bison and regional art. 17 rooms; $170-330.
Walden Country Inn & Stables, Aurora, Ohio Classical Ralph Laurenstyle equestrian retreat complete with stables, 175-year-old barn, silo, tennis courts, and golf course—set on 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of undeveloped pastures and woodland in Ohio's Western Reserve. Cedar-paneled ceilings, slate-tiled bathrooms, and broad windows bedeck gracious rooms (1,000 to 1,500 square feet [93 to 139 square meters]). Luminous, brand-new spa and outdoor pool. About half the food served comes from local sources. 27 rooms; $250-395.
Inn at Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma Seven stories of glass-enclosed sleeping lofts on the upper floors of Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper. Updated decor channels the architect: raw copper detailing, fireplaces, Cherokee red leather chairs. Freshly baked cookies at your bedside, dinner on the terrace of the Copper Restaurant + Bar. National Historic Landmark as of 2007. 19 rooms; $125-245. Tatanka Ranch, Stroud, Oklahoma Home on the range. Rock-and-log buildings, cowhide everywhere, and slate-tiled bathrooms give the 1,000-acre (405-hectare) spread a Western feel. Facials in the spa. Bass in the lake. Nearby: three wineries and one rodeo arena. Guided trail tours to view native wildlife. 10 cabins, 1 guesthouse; $100-265.
The Peabody, Memphis, Tennessee Downtown landmark of stately design near musical Beale Street. Daily "duck march" parades house mallards to/fro a lobby fountain. 2006 room redo installed plush mattresses, modernized bathrooms. Timeless: Elvis Presley's former tailor sells rockin' clothing on-site. 464 rooms; $245-2,200.
Hotel San Jose, Austin, Texas Located deep in the heart of hip South Congress Street, a 1939 bungalow-style travelers' oasis incorporating native succulents and cactus into its outdoors design. Furnished mid-century modern/minimalist. Candlelit lounge. Pool. 40 rooms (a planned 2009 addition will mean 15 more); $95-375.
The Houstonian Hotel, Houston, Texas Long-standing city standard for top-notch comfort and service. Sheltered from surrounding cityscape by pine trees and oaks on 18 wooded acres (seven hectares). Grand is the word: 30-foot-tall (nine-meter) stone fireplace in lobby, floor-to-ceiling windows in guest rooms, 125,000-square-foot (11,613-square-meter) health club with 35 personal trainers. 288 rooms; $195-2,800.
Gage Hotel, Marathon, Texas Not far from Big Bend N.P., this Southwestern adobe-style hotel was once a gathering place for ranchers and miners. Guest room doors reclaimed from old Mexican haciendas. Museum-quality furnishings. A wealth of tequilas to sample in cozy White Buffalo Bar. 36 rooms, 3 cottages; $78-363.
Thunderbird Motel, Marfa, Texas A roadside work of modern art: 1959 low-end motel revamped with highbrow design, sophistication, and humor. Court local artists in the lounge, where vinyl 78s—no satellite radio here—provide the soundtrack. The swimming pool fence is made from indigenous ocotillo, a desert shrub. Borrow bikes to explore vernacular West Texas adobes. 24 rooms; $125-200.
Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, Wisconsin Rehabbed 1890 summer "cottage" with wraparound veranda a few blocks from Lake Superior's shore. Native timber woodwork; original gas-lamps-gone-electric; Victorian decor with antiques throughout. Inn's oversize windows frame Madeleine Island views. Local trout on menu; homemade hot fudge to go. 25 rooms; $110-305.
Canoe Bay, Chetek, Wisconsin 280 tranquil acres in the state's rural northwest. Accommodations: cottages and a lodge. Cantilevered decks, stone fireplaces, vaulted ceilings pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright's organic architecture. Hiking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing. Dining, gourmet; foodies forage with the chef for local mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), and several sorts of berries. Adults only. 21 rooms; $325-1,800.
Mansion Hill Inn, Madison, Wisconsin 1857 German Renaissance revival house just two blocks from the State Capitol. Meticulous restoration; original Venetian-glass windows, Italian marble parlor fireplace, Swedish wrought-iron balconies. Guest room antique decor tastefully restrained; tech updates in DVD players, free Wi-Fi. Organic breakfast granola; happy hour wine. 11 rooms; $150-345.
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