For all travelers, the Great American West is another world, a planet unto itself beyond a border marked by the formidable peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
Stepping gingerly among the rocks, the horse plunges its hooves into the still-fresh snow that accumulated overnight. The sun rises slowly over the mountains, its crystalline light caressing the steep slopes of Arapahoe Basin, where a few early skiers are already out for a run. The powdery snow of the Rockies is perfect for skiing, especially in Aspen or Keystone, Colorado, or at the Whitefish or Big Sky resorts in Montana. But this land was not always so hospitable. It wasn’t until 1806, when Lewis and Clark returned from their perilous two-year odyssey, that anyone knew for sure: it was possible to reach the Pacific coast by land. Before then, the 4,800 kilometers (nearly 3,000 miles) of the Rocky Mountain range, stretching from New Mexico to northern British Columbia, seemed an unbreachable barrier. Those early explorers had discovered a window into the entrails of the earth, where living geology puts on an extraordinary show, spewing forth the geysers of Yellowstone, the world’s oldest national park and a showcase for its free-roaming population of bears, bison and elk. But the Rockies are also the “water tower of the American West,” so-called due to the many abundant streams and rivers that flow through its valleys.
Three days a week, the farmers of Napa Valley sell their produce directly to the public in San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza. The market is a ritual for many local residents, who bring the entire family for a stroll among the stands overflowing with fruits and vegetables, cheeses, plants and flowers. The sights (and flavors!) of this veritable cornucopia bear witness to the region bounty of California — especially Napa Valley, a fertile enclave protected by the Vaca and Mayacamas Mountains, whose name evokes the sagas of venerable families and their love of the land.
Restaurant in the country. Chef Thomas Keller’s technique has become so famous that Pixar studios asked him to create the ratatouille featured at the end of the film “Ratatouille”. In the heart of Napa Valley, this emblematic three-star Chef, whose restaurant Per Se is a New York culinary landmark, has created one of California’s finest dining spots. Working closely with fellow Chef David Breeden, Keller and his team serve minimalist cuisine using products like oysters and truffles in “sequenced meals”: in order to maximize surprises, no single ingredient is ever repeated in a meal. There is a new menu every day, and the herbs and vegetables come straight from the culinary garden. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. Savor Colorado’s timeless American West at The Home Ranch, an all-inclusive guest ranch set in the grandeur of the Elk River Valley, near Steamboat Springs. Distinguished by its stunning Rocky Mountain setting amid a million-acre wilderness, the ranch is an equestrian, fly fishing and hiking paradise in the summer and fall, a nordic and downhill skiing nirvana in the winter, and a family vacation dream all year long. Renowned for its Western horseback riding program, the rustic elegance of its lodging, and the beauty of its setting, the guest experience is crowned by the celebrated Haute Mountain Cuisine of the chef, prepared with fruits, vegetables, and meats from its own natural farm. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. In the legendary Montana ranch land, The Ranch at Rock Creek spans over 2,500 hectares of lush meadows and rolling foothills, framed by distant snow-capped peaks. In addition to its outstanding staff, superb amenities and stunning scenery, the ranch offers an array of activities: horseback riding on spectacular trails, fly fishing on the Blue Ribbon Rock Creek, hiking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, archery and more. History buffs can visit nearby historic ghost towns, while lovers of the West can experience a summer rodeo. After a vigorous day outdoors, the excellent spa provides welcome relaxation. Experience the true West without sacrificing true comfort. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. Three generations of the Canlis family have welcomed guests to Seattle’s most storied and celebrated restaurant. Built by Peter Canlis and architect Roland Terry in 1950, the landmark property is now run by brothers Mark and Brian Canlis. Perched high above the city and adorned in glass, the dining room boasts sweeping views of Lake Union and the Cascade Mountains beyond. It is a perfect backdrop for Chef Jason Franey’s inventive and contemporary yet approachable cuisine. On the menu, reformed classics pair with an enlightened and artfully composed tasting menu. Canlis is a modern restaurant with a sense of history, place and time. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. In Jackson Square, one of San Francisco’s oldest and most charming districts, a century-old landmarked building houses one of the finest restaurants in the city. Chef Michael Tusk prepares Italian- and French-inspired Californian cuisine using only fresh local ingredients procured by a carefully selected local network of small farmers and producers. The same care is applied to the selection of wines suggested for each dish. In an elegant, art déco-inspired setting, you can savor dishes like whole roast duck for two with black garlic and green gage plums or risotto with cardoons, porcini mushroom and white truffle. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant on a golf course. Over the years, Addison has established itself as one of the finest culinary experiences in California. Chef William Bradley’s artisanal approach to cooking, based on an admiration for French cuisine, draws inspiration from the seasons. Ever attentive to the purity of the flavors, he enhances his ingredients by drawing on their inherent properties. The wine collection, with some 36,000 bottles under the enlightened management of sommelier Elizabeth Huettinger, includes twenty special cuvées crafted with winemakers from across the globe. The wine and food pairings are in perfect harmony with the refined, elegant service. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. Inside the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, an extraordinary steel complex of venues designed by Frank Gehry in the heart of Los Angeles, renowned Chef Joachim Splichal has created one of the city’s most prized dining spots. This is an elegant restaurant with a spare modern décor, where Splichal serves contemporary French cuisine. Patina’s trademark is its use of fresh seasonal products, highlighted by sophisticated presentation. In each dish, distinct flavors are enhanced by herbs, exotic spices or bursts of acidity. The caviar guéridon and the wide variety of cheeses are two other reasons to visit this prestigious address. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. The cuisine of Gary Danko, the ambassador of contemporary American fine dining, draws on traditions from around the world. Using seasonings from Asia, he adds a pinch of audacity to his French-style technique, creating dishes like the sublime buckwheat blini with smoked salmon, Kendall Farms crème fraîche and Black Sea Osetra caviar. Danko only uses what’s in season. Sea scallops are served with asparagus-pea purée in the spring and paired with butternut squash and caramelized apples in the winter. In the heart of one of San Francisco’s trendiest districts, his restaurant offers an intimate, inviting atmosphere, with modern paintings standing out against taupe walls. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. With its elegant architecture, private plunge pools and interiors awash with leather and silky fabrics, this ranch resort offers you the opportunity to experience the life of a gentleman rancher, surrounded by horses, organic crops and rolling hills. Set on a rise in Texas Hill Country, an hour from Houston, the sprawling 120-hectare property comprises five large villas and four additional rooms. Its organic farm produces over 400 different crops year-round, most of which are of heirloom variety. The Inn also features what is arguably the finest food in Texas. It’s a tough choice among horseback riding, organic gardening, cooking classes, fishing or tennis at this country retreat. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. In the midst of the famous vineyards of Napa Valley, French restaurateur Claude Rouas and his business partner Robert Harmon have created an elegant hotel hidden away in an olive grove reminiscent of Provence. The secluded, romantic hillside “maisons”, with their private terraces, custom furnishings and fireplaces, overlook the sculpture garden, which features over 100 works by renowned artists. The Mediterranean-inspired cuisine offers the very best of the region, as does the spa, with treatments based on grapes, olives, herbs and flowers. The 15,000-bottle wine cellar will transport wine lovers to heaven, as they watch the sun setting on the horizon. ... Learn moreless