CHICAGO’S MICHIGAN AVENUE For shoppers, here’s the key Magnificent Mile stat: 460 stores. But this stretch also has famous window displays, more than 200 restaurants, seasonal festivals and more than 50 hotels. Add it up, and you could have a dream shopping experience without buying a thing. Yeah, right (312/642-3570; www.themagnificentmile.com).
KANSAS CITY’S COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA The Plaza is a must for shoppers who appreciate the historic roots of their passion. The concept of suburban shopping districts (yes, the first shopping mall) debuted here in 1922. Today, the 15-block district features more than 140 shops, dozens of restaurants, signature Spanish architecture and an impressive array of fountains and outdoor art (816/753-0100; www.countryclubplaza.com).
THE AMERICAN CLUB, KOHLER, WISCONSIN Golf and spa treatments top the list of amenities at the Midwest’s only AAA Five Diamond resort. The red-brick main building once housed workers at the Kohler bath fixture plant, but today, it’s all about luxury. Four Pete Dye golf courses draw pro events with TV-friendly holes along Lake Michigan. The palatial Kohler Waters Spa makes anyone feel like a movie star on holiday (800/344-2838 ext. 700; www.destinationkohler.com).
GRAND VIEW LODGE, NISSWA, MINNESOTA If anything can distract North Woods vacationers from walleye for a few hours, it’s Grand View. The star of the Brainerd Lakes area has a 1,500-foot sand beach, an Aveda spa and four golf courses, including one by Arnold Palmer. Grand View also offers great boating and fireside dining (866/801-2951; www.grandviewlodge.com).
BIG CEDAR LODGE, RIDGEDALE, MISSOURI Close to, but not in, Branson. That’s Big Cedar, which makes it an ideal Ozarks package for many travelers. The resort wraps around Table Rock Lake and features its own 10,000-acre nature park (417/335-2777; www.big-cedar.com).
MACKINAC BRIDGE, MACKINAW CITY, MICHIGAN This 50-year-old, five-mile bridge (including the world’s 10th-longest suspended section) rises 552 feet above the Straits of Mackinac, where lakes Michigan and Huron meet. Each September, about 60,000 people walk across it (906/643-7600; www.mackinac bridge.org).
AERIAL LIFT BRIDGE, DULUTH Few bridges compel people to line up and watch them like a passing parade. But in Duluth, visitors gather to see the center span rise to let freighters and sailboats alike pass between the harbor and Lake Superior (218/720-5260; www.lsmma.com).
Y BRIDGE, ZANESVILLE, OHIO Near this forked bridge, don’t be surprised to hear directions like, "Go to the middle of the bridge, and turn right." (740/455-0612; www.coz.org/about.cfm).
ROEBLING BRIDGE, CINCINNATI Designer John Roebling warmed up by building this landmark before going on to build the similar, but more famous, one in Brooklyn, New York (859/581-2260; www.cincinnati-transit.net/suspension.html).
ICHABODS, Washburn, Topeka, Kansas; STUDENT PRINCES, Heidelberg, Tiffin, Ohio; TROLLS—Trinity Christian, Palos Heights, Illinois; COBBERS—Concordia, Moorhead, Minnesota
ST. ELMO, INDIANAPOLIS What do we love most about this 105-year-old downtown icon? The perfectly prepared steaks? The sinus-clearing horseradish sauce on the shrimp cocktails? The celebrity-watching? All of the above (317/635-0636; www.stelmos.com).
801 STEAK & CHOP HOUSE, DES MOINES Grain-fed beef gets no finer than at 801, a clubby downtown haven where servers present available cuts like a fashion show before each meal. Prior to the pivotal Iowa caucuses in presidential election years, politicians and media types turn 801 into a power dining enclave (515/288-6000; www.801steakand chop.com).
JIM’S, PITTSBURG, KANSAS We’ll drive well out of our way for a dry-aged filet and sirloin tips at this nearly 70-year-old classic. And Jim’s onion rings? Don’t even get us started (620/231-5770).
OMAHA STEAKS, MAIL ORDER No list of blue-chip red meat is complete without this mail-order firm that has delivered choice cuts to Omaha, and eventually the world, since 1917 (800/960-8400; www.omahasteaks.com).