Honoring destinations / attractions / accommodations that transcend category and attract eager visitors from around the world.
Highway 1 (San Francisco to San Luis Obispo)There are 150 National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads across the United States, but none has the topdown, wind-in-your-hair charisma of Highway 1. It has redwoods and white sand, sweet bridges and a fairy-tale castle. It's what every other road trip wants to be: the one on which Jim Bronson unleashes his Harley.
It's the signature feature in the world's original national park. Iconic? It's been on stamps, coins, and magazine covers, and it should be on your itinerary. Western explorer Nathaniel Langford marveled at the "immense volume of clear, sparkling water projected into the air to the height of 125 feet ... It was indeed a perfect geyser." The fountain erupted so regularly, it was quickly christened with the memorable title. Old Faithful was one of the main reasons Yellowstone became a national park in 1872. Today, hydrothermal sophisticates sometimes argue that other geysers should win Yellowstone's Best in Show. But other geysers take breaks—sometimes for as long as 50 years. Old Faithful remains a model of relative precision, erupting regularly enough (on a slightly complicated schedule averaging 17 times a day) that park rangers post showtimes. It's possible to watch Old Faithful via live streaming webcam: Just visit http://1.usa.gov/RKdOOM. But there's no substitute for the real thing. $25/vehicle.
If the Space Needle is the angular face of Seattle, Pike Place Market is its unquestioned heart. In 1907, the first six farmers at the market sold all their produce within minutes. It has been the model for urban farmers' markets ever since. Pike Place now has hundreds of vendors who sell everything from tie-dyed onesies to Treasure Cove oysters—all to the ongoing delight of the market's 10 million annual visitors.