Sample copy for American Express' Express Weekends
newsletter for last-minute travel bargains.

Go ahead, leave your just can't help it in San Francisco. Call now to arrange a weekend stay at The Majestic, where Edwardian charm was strong enough to withstand an earthquake. Hungry for variety? The city's your menu -- dim sum in Chinatown, Italian in North Beach -- and between meals, there's plenty to see. (Don't miss the Museum of Modern Mythology, dedicated to the advertising icons you grew up on.) As you walk through the city, consider whether it's the 43-hill hike, street after street of gingerbread Victorians or simply so much vitality packed into so compact a space that makes the heart beat faster?

It's easy to understand why Seattle tops so many lists of ideal American cities: It's beautiful, it's buzzing and, contrary to popular belief, the sun shines quite often. You'll find plenty of whatever you're looking for in good food, lively music, and healthy attitudes, not to mention some of the best bookstores around. Souvenir-shopping takes on new meaning at the Pike Place Market and the surrounding waterfront. If you'd like to leave the city behind for awhile, take a hike up Mt. Rainier or a sail on Puget Sound. And be sure to send postcards -- you won't believe your memories once you're back home.

The Gold Coast is waiting. Whether you seek the home of modern architecture, the art of the Institute or the berth of the blues, you'll be in the right place at the right time on this Chicago weekend. Your base is the historic Drake Hotel, anchored on the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Ave., one of the most exciting streets in the world. Go west to the designer boutiques on Oak St. and nightlife on Rush St., or south to the Loop for comedy at Second City and shopping on State Street.

You'll want at least a couple of birds-eye views of the Valley of the Sun, where Phoenix makes its nest. Your hotel, Westcourt in the Buttes in nearby Tempe, is a mountainside aerie overlooking the city. For the bigger picture, take a half-day Grand Canyon air tour. Back on solid ground, the art and culture of the Southwest will enchant you, from the Wild West Town and art galleries of Scottsdale to the annual Indian Festival at Phoenix's Heard Museum. Souvenir-hunters of another variety will find a shopper's bonanza in the boutiques of the Bogata.

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