A flying leap from the tallest building in Soweto. A volcano sunrise. Rootbeer at the Mark Twain Dinette. And a $50 parking space. If you spend 47 days on the road chasing travel stories, you run into this sort of thing. Here's my 2010 list of 31 travel bests, worsts, mosts and leasts, drawn from trips to seven mainland U.S. states, Hawaii, Mexico and South Africa.

1. Worst hotel bargain (luxury category): The Ritz-Carlton in the downtown L.A. Live complex. Instead of paying $459 to sleep here (and $50 to park!), stay at the J.W. Marriott -- downstairs in the same building -- which offers comparable amenities for about half as much.

Info: www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/LosAngeles/Default.htm

Read more: J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton liven downtown L.A.

2. Best hotel bargain: Rancho Pescadero, about 50 miles north of Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur, where I paid $185 per night for a 600-square-foot room with a spacious terrace that looked out upon a pool and a near-empty beach.

Info: www.ranchopescadero.com

Read more: Todos Santos: All you want -- and less -- in a Baja getaway

3. Best sunrise: On the 9,740-foot-high rim of Haleakala, the dormant volcano that dominates Maui.

Info: www.nps.gov/hale

Read more: A sunrise bike ride down Hawaii's Haleakala volcano

4. Best Mexican frescos in Michigan: Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Fresco Cycle at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a Marxist's tribute to the assembly line, painted in 1932-33.

Info: www.dia.org/art/rivera-court.aspx

Read more: Postcard: Diego (Rivera) does Motown

5. Best hotel interior: Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park.

Info: www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/old-faithful-inn-96.html

Read more: Elk, blowups and cowboys

6. Best hotel exterior: Mission Inn, Riverside.

Info: www.missioninn.com

Read more: 10 grand old hotels in the U.S.