America the Beautiful

We asked 10 travelers to tell us about places that have touched them. The portraits they paint of a country much changed and often challenged by events may surprise you.


Minnesota: Kicking back in a lakeside cabin

The state has more shoreline than California, Hawaii and Florida combined, and many families summer on the lake.

Kiawah Island, S.C.: Good, dirty fun

Kiawah, S.C.: Bike riding, beaches, dolphins and mud make for a happy reunion. No golfing necessary.

Haleakala, Hawaii: Greeting the dawn from on high

Greeting the dawn from the top of the volcano can be an epic event.

New Orleans: Love, in good times and bad

Attractions include the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, JazzFest, the Mississippi River and fabulous food and music. The city's residents showed resilience in the face of Katrina and celebrated a Super Bowl victory last year.

Grand Canyon, Ariz.: Ancient rock, eternal truths

At the bottom of Arizona's Grand Canyon awaits a cool river, the Phantom Ranch hotel and layers of ancient rock.

Selma, Ala.: Crossing a bridge into civil rights history

At Edmund Pettus Bridge, echoing footsteps tell a story of courage during the 1965 Bloody Sunday voting rights march.

Forks of the Kern: A Calif. river's proving ground

Rafting on the Forks of the Kern has its exhilarating moments and its scary ones.

New York City: A cab ride on a silent, soulful winter night

A snowy Manhattan cab ride in the wee hours revealed an impossibly peaceful glimpse of the city that has remained pressed in memory all these years later.

San Francisco: Delancey Street Restaurant offers second chances

The food and the bay-side views are superb at Delancey Street Restaurant, but what's most extraordinary are the people who work there: recovering addicts and ex-convicts.

Puyallup Valley, Wash.: Hope blooms with daffodils

After days of rain and worry in Puyallup Valley, Washington, fields of daffodils and rainbows chase away the blues.