This is the third annual Mike’s Road Trip “Best Of” list. As usual, there were a lot of worthy contenders. While I’m sorry some did not make it, I’m confident I’ve chosen the best-of-the-best. Click on any of the links below to be taken to posts, pictures and/or videos of my experience.
I spent more than eight months on the road in 2012, including an epic coast-to-coast trip as part of the Rand McNally and USA Today’s “Best of the Road.” As always, I had some amazing experiences that are fun to relive in a compilation “Best Of” list.
To all the “winners,” congratulations! Your dedication and commitment to excellence have caught the eye of this discerning travel writer and video blogger. If you have not been contacted, please email me for your “Mike’s Road Trip “Best of'” icon to display on your website and social media profiles.
- Best Bed & Breakfast Winner: Cameo Heights Mansion in Tuchet, Washington – Opulent, luxurious, romantic, amazing breakfast…every single detail of your visit has been thoroughly thought through. While not inexpensive, in my opinion Cameo Heights delivers amazing value for the experience.
- Best Inn Winner: Run of the River in Leavenworth, Washington – Located in the Bavarian-themed community of Leavenworth, Run of the River connects guests with nature in the most hospitable and epicurean way. The setting encompasses nature in all its glory and the accommodations are nothing short of luxurious perfection.
- Best Lavish Lodge Winner: 1906 Lodge Coronado Island, California. While more of a boutique Inn than what I think of as a traditional lodge, the 1906 Lodge is without question “lavish” and worthy of this years title. Each of the seventeen rooms and suites use Coronado history as its decorative guide. And, the lodge is only a block from the famed Coronado Beach (located in southern San Diego).
- Best Hotel Winner: The Marcus Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington – The remarkable combination of history and luxury make the Marcus Whitman the best hotel of the year. This opulent property is perfect for romantic getaways to experience the thriving wine and culinary scene of Walla Walla.
- Best Boutique Hotel Winner: The Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottsville, Virginia – The Boar’s Head is a world-class retreat providing majestic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The guest rooms create an inviting retreat which are in-tune with the natural rhythms of its Southern heritage. Activities include golf, tennis, spa, ballooning, to local winery tours. And, the area is full of fantastic restaurants…here are my five favorites.
- Best Resort Winner: La Posada Resort & Spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico – Located in the heart of Santa Fe, nestled on six beautifully landscaped acres, La Posada pampers guests in an atmosphere that is both tranquil and indulgent. The Casita-style guest rooms are individually decorated with careful attention to their historic characteristics. Also, within walking distance are dozens of world-class restaurants…here are my five favorites.
- Best Resort for Fun Winner: San Juan Marriott in San Juan, Puerto Rico – A welcome reception cocktail, warm turquoise water, sandy beach, a pool with a swim-up bar, a lounge that turns into a night-club and a casino provide all the ingredients for “fun!”
- Best Business Hotel Winner: Cambria Suites by Choice Hotels – Sophisticated décor, MediaHub for all your technology, large flat screen TV’s, work space, in-room sitting area, free hi-speed internet, fitness center, indoor pool & spa and a barista bar make Cabria Suites a sweet place to do business.
- Best Dude Ranch Winner: Flying~E~Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona – This ranch dates back to the mid-40s and still offers guests a way of the west cowboy experience. You’re not going to find five star resort-like accommodations, but what you will discover is an experience that will not soon be forgotten. The connection you’ll have with guests, the staff, the horses and even the land will make you want to come back again and again.
- Best Restaurant Winner: The Local in Charlottesville, Virgina – A cool ol’ brick building with hip modifications, various dining options and contemporary American cuisine makes “The Local,” a world-class dining experience. Each dish tastes as good as it looks–and, the outdoor seating options accentuate the fresh theme. “Food nourishes the eyes, then the taste-buds then the stomach…and finally, the soul,” A “Local” saying.
- Best Dining Experience Winner: Chianti Grill in Burnsville, Minnesota – Chianti Grill features contemporary Italian cuisine along with fresh seafood and aged Angus steaks. An extensive wine and spirits menu compliment the outstanding cuisine. The friendly service and warm inviting atmosphere make for a memorable dining experience.
- Best Meal Winner: Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico – With sophisticated southwestern dishes like a Mexican sashimi plate; lobster latte; grilled Maine lobster drizzled in New Mexico Chile with Vietnamese chutney; and Prime fillet of beef with a vegetable crepe, Coyote Cafe is a culinary icon that does not disappoint.
- Best Burger Winner: Burger Lounge in San Diego, California – Burger Lounge has artfully combined the feel of a nightclub with the ambiance of a chic burger joint…hence the “lounge” connection. The menu is compendious, offering delicious grass fed beef, turkey, veggie and salmon burgers. And, in true “lounge” fashion, they serve beer and wine.
- Best Sandwich Winner: Pickles Deli on Whidbey Island, Washington – Pickles Deli starts by using the best cold cuts (Boar’s Head) along with a variety of locally baked artisan breads–gourmet toppings, spreads and accoutrements served on a plank of wood round out the best sandwich experience.
- Best Fish & Chips Winner: Point Loma Seafood Company in San Diego, California – Lightly breaded in what I guess is a cornmeal mixture, with thick pieces of the freshest seafood, accompanied with fries and excellent cole slaw. Point Loma Seafood is without question the best fish & chips place this year.
- Best Bakery Winner: The Village Bake Shoppe in Lewiston, New York – Famous for their “Mile High Apple Pie,” they offer a wide variety of baked goods for breakfast to desserts. As you would expect from the best bakery… everything is made from scratch.
- Best Coffee Shop Winner: Mukilteo Coffee Roaster on Whidbey Island, Washington – Hidden location, warm and inviting atmosphere, beautiful patio, tasty treats and freshly roasted coffee makes Mukilteo Coffee Roaster #1 this year.
- Best Breakfast Winner: Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottsville, Virginia – A combination of culinary creativity, selection and dining elegance made the “Boar’s Head Inn” stand out among many fantastic breakfast meals I enjoyed this past year.
SCENIC VIEWS CATEGORY
- Best View from a National Park Winner: Crater Lake National Park
- Best Lake View Winner: Lake Tahoe, Nevada side
- Best Mountain Views Winner: Whistler/Blackcomb
- Best Waterfall(s) Winner: Niagara Falls
- Best Aerial View Winner: Palm Springs Aerial Tram
- Best Vista Winner: Death Valley National Park
- Best/Most Idyllic Town Winner: Lewiston, New York
- Best/Most Eclectic Town Winner: Jerome, Arizona
- Best Small Town Winner: Walla Walla, Washington
- Best Small City Winner: Charlottsville, Virginia
- Best Place to Explore Winner: Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
- Best National Park (US) Winner: Canyonlands in Moab, Utah
- Best State Park Winner: Bodie State Park, California.
- Best Municipal Park Winner: Queen ElizabethPark, Vancouver, B.C.
- Best Aerial Ride Winner: Peak-2-Peak Gondola ride in Whistler, B.C. – Canada.
- Best Botanical Garden Winner:Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona.
- Best Wake-boarding Winner: Deep Cove, North Vancouver, B.C. – Canada
- Best Museum Winner: Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, California
- Best 20 Pictures for 2012
- Top 10 Road Trip Towns of 2012
- Best 20 Road Trip Songs
- Best 10 Gourmet Pizzerias
- Best Road Trip items reviewed this year
*Note: The aforementioned are my personal “Best of” for travels during 2012 and don’t necessarily represent, “The Best” of all time.