The Lightning Field, Walter De Maria
Western New Mexico
THE ART: High on a remote plain in the New Mexico desert, Walter de Maria's seminal land-art installation is difficult to reach (really, we mean it), but worth the effort many times over. Walking through the grid of 400 stainless steel poles as it reflects the light at sunrise or sunset—with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape—is mind-altering.
WHERE TO STAY: Trips must be booked in advance; reservations for the 2014 season (May–September) are accepted starting March 1. Accommodation is provided on-site, in a log cabin that's either charmingly or alarmingly rustic, depending on your tastes.
WHERE TO EAT: A simple dinner and breakfast are provided at the cabin.
North Adams, Massachusetts
THE ART: Come for the exhibition calendar filled with contemporary art; stay for the mammoth Sol LeWitt retrospective on display until 2033. Housed in a 26-building factory complex, Mass MoCA is one of the largest centers for contemporary art in the country but has the experimental agenda of a smaller gallery. The highlight is Building #7, where the walls are penciled and painted with over 100 of LeWitt's drawings.
WHERE TO STAY: The delightful Porches Inn sits right across the street from the museum, occupying the former factory's workers' cottages.
WHERE TO EAT: Nudel Restaurant in Lenox for thoughtfully constructed pasta dishes.
The Detroit Industry Murals, Diego Rivera
THE ART: Diego Rivera's monumental murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts are often cited as the best example of Mexican mural art in the U.S. And then there's the controversy over the work's supposedly Marxist agenda. Whatever your political views, there's no denying the power of the 27 enormous panels that cover the walls of the museum's Rivera Court. Portraying the history of Detroit's industrial rise, the murals are the result of weeks of photographic studies undertaken by Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo during the 1930s.
WHERE TO STAY: The Westin Book Cadillac recently underwent a $200 million renovation, restoring the hotel to its former glory.
WHERE TO EAT: Buddy's, a Detroit institution since 1946 famous for its square pizza.
THE ART: Founded in 1971 as a place for meditation, the Rothko Chapel is a sanctuary of calm, and of course art. Commissioned by Houston philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, the chapel stars fourteen canvases by Mark Rothko as well as a sculpture by Barnett Newman. In line with its all-encompassing mission statement, the chapel is free and open to the public year-round.
WHERE TO STAY: Central and plush, the St. Regis should be top of your list.
WHERE TO EAT: At Oxheart, chef Justin Yu reminds you just how delicious vegetables can be, while at the more carnivorous-sounding Underbelly, Chris Shephard serves up a flavorsome mishmash of different cuisines.
WHILE YOU'RE THERE: Pick up a pair of custom cowboy boots from the experts at Tejas.
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
St. Louis, Missouri
THE ART: A stark concrete structure (designed by renown architect Tadao Ando), the Pulitzer sits on an unassuming block a little way out from St Louis' busy downtown. The building itself is reason enough to visit. Factor in a specially commissioned Richard Serra sculpture and the site-specific Ellsworth Kelly sculpture Black Blue, and the Pulitzer plants St. Louis firmly on the U.S. contemporary art map.
WHERE TO STAY: The Four Seasons, for an unbeatable view of the Gateway Arch.
WHILE YOU'RE THERE: Visit the City Museum, a giant surrealist playground designed by the late sculptor Bob Cassilly. It contains a ten-story slide. Enough said.
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