Tara Weingarten

Stories by Tara Weingarten

  • Road Test: Mercedes E55 Amg

    When I tapped the gas on the Mercedes E55 AMG, I felt like a superhero. The big V-8 has torque coming out the yin-yang (516 pound-feet), making it the fastest street-legal Mercedes ever. With 469 horses under the hood, it goes from zero to 60 in a neck-snapping 4.5 seconds. Is this a sedan?! Of course, there's no place you can really let this baby scream except on a racetrack. It's also got SpeedShift programming, which allows this five-speed automatic to shift 35 percent faster than normal. Unlike most racers that deliver a rough ride, this baby's all about smoothness and comfort. What potholes?It's hard to find fault with such high-performance wizardry. OK, I still managed to find one: loud, squealing tires around tight turns. I'm not sure if this was the result of under inflated tires, or if it was due to the type of tire that comes standard on the car. Inside, the Panorama sunroof is huge. And it's got Distronic adaptive cruise control (optional) that uses radar to maintain a...
  • A Pocket Rocket

    Acura's RSX Type-S sits low on the ground and feels like a little cruise missile. On a recent test run, I was surprised that this diminutive rocket's engine was able to muster an admirable 200 horsepower from a tiny two-liter engine. I love the short-throw, manual six-speed shifter, and it's got torque at both low and high RPMs. It also has responsive steering, a feature that's a blast on twisty highways. But like most driver's cars, it's got stiff suspension--great for road feel, a kidney rattler for passengers. Inside, the RSX's racy personality is evident on the dashboard, with backlit silver metallic-face gauges and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Side-bolstered seats up front kept me snug while cornering. And unlike most sport coupes these days, which have trunk lids, this Acura still has a utilitarian hatchback (and a sizable 17.8 cubic feet of trunk space), giving easy access for loading and unloading. So much fun for such a little price makes this little rocket a very hot...
  • Road Test: Bmw 760Li

    Money can't buy happiness. But at least it can buy a hot set of wheels, and that's enough for me. BMW's new 760Li is so quietly luxurious, I expected a butler to pop out of the console. Instead, it's got 20-way power front seats, and a 13-speaker, 420-watt Logic 7 audio system that'll torque your hair into split ends. And, the cabin's so roomy, I needed walkie-talkies to hear my kid in the back seat. (Who says there's never a moment's peace with a 9-year-old around?) On the highway, the 760Li's shifting is nearly undetectable, while the rip-roaring V-12, six-liter, 438-horsepower engine is almighty but not beastly. I always felt in control of this sedan, not the other way around. And the Active Roll Stabilization kept the car from pitching and leaning in corners, so my precious coffee never sloshed outside the mug. On the downside, I still can't work the iDrive, BMW's controversial mouse-based computer system controlling interior features like navigation, climate and audio. After...
  • Environment: Congratulations! It's A Baby Condor!

    It's been nearly 100 years since a condor chick was hatched in the Grand Canyon. After a precariously close call with extinction caused by lead poisoning--only 22 wild birds remained in the early 1980s--the condor is poised to make a comeback. And though biologists have yet to visually confirm the chick's existence, they're nearly certain that it's thriving, based on an adult nesting pair's behavior. "Both the male and female are going back and forth between what we believe is a nest in a remote cave in the canyon and their feeding sites," says Chris Parish, a wildlife biologist with the Peregrine Fund. "This is classic nesting behavior since non-nesting condors don't roost in the same spot from night to night." Scientists believe the chick was hatched in early May.In their diaries, Lewis and Clark documented that they saw dozens of condors during their trek through the Grand Canyon nearly 200 years ago. The gangly-looking black birds, members of the vulture family, are the largest...
  • ROAD TEST: LEXUS ES 300

    Some journalists are hard-hitting. I'm just hard hit. While testing the ES 300 on a traffic-clogged L.A. freeway, I was rear-ended by a heavy sedan going 30mph. Luckily, those "crumple zones" we hear so much about really do work. The Lexus's trunk buckled accordion-like all the way to the rear tires, but the interior was never breeched, and I walked away from the crash without a single scrape.Before impact, my feelings about the ES 300 were decidedly mixed. The sedan's interior finish is perfect, but the outside looks bland and budget-minded. (With this price tag?) Still, it has a great audio system, adaptive suspension and traction control. If only Lexus could devise a force field to ward off distracted drivers, it'd corner the market.Tip: The ES 300 comes with serious perks. If your Lexus ever breaks down more than 100 miles from home, the company will pick up your hotel tab.
  • Spirits: Cocktail, Anyone?

    If you still haven't had that backyard bash you've been promising your friends, don't worry, it's not too late. But you'll want to do it up right--plain old gin and tonic just won't cut it. Tip Sheet's Tara Weingarten asked a few of our favorite mixologists for more festive summer cocktails.Titanic Martini4 oz. Ciroc grape vodka4 grapes1 tsp. brown sugar1/2 oz. white grape juice1 scoop lemon sorbetSplash of champagneCombine vodka, grapes, brown sugar, grape juice and ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass and top with the sorbet and champagne. Makes two drinks. For a bigger impact, adjust ingredients and serve in punch bowl with several floating sorbet "icebergs."From Citarella, New YorkTabu1/2 cup fresh raspberries2 oz. Tanqueray No. TenDip rim of martini glass in powdered sugar. Puree raspberries in blender and strain out seeds. Fill glass a quarter full with puree. Top with Tanqueray No. Ten.From Tabu at MGM Grand Hotel, Las VegasThe Continental1 oz. cognac11/2 oz....
  • ROAD TEST: CIVIC EX

    It's got zero snob appeal. But who cares? The new Civic EX has all the character you need to scoot around town. It's small--but not scary small--so parking in tight spaces and making quick lane changes in rush-hour traffic are equally fun. The 127-horsepower VTEC engine was sluggish, but I applaud its "very low" emissions status. It made me feel superior. My five-speed manual test model had a smooth gearbox, decent handling and good brakes. Interior features are few, and the overuse of black plastic knobs and buttons is downright down-market. I like the ample trunk space and roomy back seat. Head clearance is another matter. My 6-foot-1 husband repeatedly slammed the side of his noggin getting in and out of the car. (After the second time, I had to wonder about him.) And after all, it's a Honda, so it should run for a good long time.Tip: Save on maintenance; it only needs an annual oil and filter change.
  • Discovery

    Woody Allen had a vision of how cars of the future would look in his 1973 film "Sleeper": jelly-bean-shaped ovals with no sharp edges. Unfortunately, he wasn't far off the mark. Slanted front ends and rounded corners may help reduce drag and boost fuel economy, but they make for bland, wimpy-looking vehicles. Land Rover's Discovery has, from the beginning, been boxy and proud of it. It's one of the things I love about this SUV. For 2003, Discovery gets a face-lift--but it's still no jelly bean. Its stepped roofline and stadium seating in the back give plenty of headroom and a wonderful spacious feeling. It still rides higher than most SUVs, allowing a panoramic view of the road. The gun-turret-like headlamps are modern and edgy, and the two oversize sunroofs are nice. For a luxury car, the interior falls short, with a cheap-looking black plastic dashboard. But Discovery roars with a new 4.6-liter, 217-horsepower V-8 engine. It took corners better than I expected, though I still had...
  • Patriot's List

    Do your kids think the Fourth of July is only about hot dogs and fireworks? Then it's time for a little history lesson:Dear America Beautifully bound series of kids' fictional diaries. $10.95. Ages 10 and upA History of Us By Joy Hakim. A 10-volume set on U.S. history, from prehistoric man to 9-11. $139.50. Ages 9 to 12... If You Grew Up With George Washington By Ruth Belov Gross. Learn about life back in the days of Old Wooden Teeth. $5.99. Ages 7 to 10America: A Patriotic Primer By Lynne Cheney. Each letter in this ABC book stands for a historical figure or concept. $16.95. Ages 4 to 8Nine for California By Sonia Levitin. Follow a Gold Rush family's cross-country stagecoach ride. $16.95. Ages 4 to 8The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin By James Cross Giblin. A wonderfully illustrated bio. $17.95. Ages 9 to 12Fourth of July, Sparkly Sky By Joan Holub. Little readers will love this book with red, white and blue glitter. $4.99. Ages 2 to 5A Three-Minute Speech By Jennifer Armstrong....
  • Travel: Wow Vows

    Not up for a big church wedding? Think outside the pew. Tip Sheet found nuptial nirvana at these four homey hotels. Go ahead and steal our ideas. Consider it your "something borrowed."BELLAGIOLas Vegas, Nev.; bellagio.comCeremony: Say "I do" overlooking the hotel's dancing fountains--timed to go off at your first kiss.Check, please: $3,600 includes flowers, changing room and music.GRACELANDMemphis, Tenn.; elvis.comCeremony: Get hitched at Elvis's Chapel in the Woods. It's kitsch fit for a king. No, fit for the King. Check, please: $550, with pics in front of the mansion. Fried nanner sandwiches not included.SAN YSIDRO RANCHMontecito, Calif.; sanysidroranch.comCeremony: Re-create the marriage of Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in the moonlit rose garden.Check, please: $185 per person; $1,875 buys a night in Jackie and John Kennedy's honeymoon cottage.PLANTERS INNCharleston, S.C.; plantersinn.comCeremony: Wed in the Unitarian church's 300-year-old graveyard, then party in the...
  • Maybach 57

    The Mercedes is a fine aspirational brand for most of us. But for crown princes and captains of industry, even the top-of-the-line Mercedes can seem downright downscale. Enter the Maybach 57, a revived luxury nameplate that, way back in the 1930s, was once the acme of automotive refinement. I cozied into the back seat, where most Maybach owners will spend their time. I was surrounded by soft nappa leather, the color of butter-cream cake. Sterling-silver champagne flutes come standard. I suddenly began to channel Donald Trump (sans comb-over, of course). And don't be fooled by the brand's old-school heritage; the Maybach's expansive interior is packed with pricey, high-tech gadgetry. I clicked the TV/DVD remote, which doubles as a cell phone. The limo-like sedan sports two separate air conditioners, a home-theater-quality 600-watt Dolby surround-sound system with speakers located by each seat, plus data ports for camcorders and videogame boxes. It's also got the most beautiful burled...
  • Road Test: Lexus Is 300

    Ready to swap that gas-guzzling SUV for a saner-size wagon? You and me both. Lexus's new IS 300 SportCross still has plenty of cargo room, but it's easier on the wallet during fill-ups than a hulking SUV. As for style, well, you'll either love it or hate it. Lexus swerved from the traditional boxy look of a wagon--remember those fridgelike Country Squires we grew up with?--and gave this one a quirky European flair. I had mixed reactions from onlookers during my test run, but most folks approved. The SportCross moves swiftly through traffic with its V-6 215-horsepower engine. It's got a folding seatback table and an electrical outlet for tailgating. And the false floor in the back is perfect for hiding little things, say, from your spouse when returning from a covert shopping expedition. The front passenger seat folds completely flat, helpful when hauling really big packages. I loved the chrome shifter ball, which resembles the limb on a one-armed bandit. Time for a road trip to...
  • Travel: Bbq

    Down-and-dirty ribs with linen napkins? These upscale barbecue restaurants offer good grub in a stylish setting.Zeke's Smokehouse (Montrose, Calif.; 818-957-7045): More bistro than barbecue joint with its galvanized metal chairs and leather booths. Watch the pit master work while you gnaw on Kansas City spare ribs ($19.95).Blue Smoke (New York; 212-447-7733): Owner Danny Meyer thinks barbecue is haute cuisine. Try the hickory-pit prime rib ($25) or the pulled pork on a brioche bun ($9.75). And check out the 13-story gas and apple-wood smokers out back.The Weber Grill (Chicago; 312-467-9696): Specials from North Carolina, Texas, Memphis and St. Louis are all cooked on Weber kettles. Ask for the sweet sauce made with dried fruits.Mr. Cecil's California Ribs (Sherman Oaks, Calif.; 818-905-8400): Cajun and Asian spices make a new kind of barbecue. Try the down-home hush puppies with soft butter and honey.
  • Road Test: Jaguar Xj8

    guar's likely to roll off with the crown. But no one ever said this looker was a rocket scientist--or a rocket. That changes with the all-new XJ8, Jag's redesigned flagship luxury sedan. It's agile in corners, thanks to a much stiffer frame. And it's quick like a jungle cat, taking me from zero to 60 in 6.3 seconds. The model now sports a super-lightweight all-aluminum body and aircraft-like rivets and adhesives (instead of heavy steel bolts), making it 40 percent lighter than the old XJ. I love the new computerized suspension technology, which gives a remarkably smooth ride. Inside, the cabin is roomier than before, and comfy with 12-way adjustable seats. The foot pedals are even adjustable for height-challenged drivers. Like all classic Jaguars, it's got plenty of burled walnut and chrome accents. And though it might sound nitpicky, I disliked the cheap-feeling ceiling fabric. But, hey, the XJ8 was so much fun to drive, I hardly had time to look up. ...
  • I'm A Dancer, Not A Stripper!

    In Vegas, they don't call it "the Strip" for nothing. On stages and cages all along the megawatt Las Vegas Boulevard, go-go girls are shaking their moneymakers. Literally. But what about that whole family-entertainment push a few years back? "You've got to have the next big thing or you'll sink here," says Matt Gambill, beverage manager at Caesars Palace. "Now, burlesque sells." To be sure, skin in Vegas is nothing new. It's just never been served up like this before. Clubs can't afford to alienate female customers, so they're selling playful, dare we say, tasteful sex. Full nudity is out, taunting is in. (Still, it's hard to imagine Gloria Steinem here, kicking back with a cosmo.) Tip Sheet goes clubbing:Caesars' Shadow bar is dominated by two enormous backlit screens, where phenomenally enhanced (at least on the night Tip Sheet visited) dancers gyrate topless to high-energy house music. (Shadow also features internationally recognized flair bartenders who juggle bottles and do...
  • Road Test: Vw Gti

    It may look like your basic econo-box, but this V-6 drives more like one of its expensive German cousins. It's one of the things I love about VWs--they may look low-key, but they pack a wallop under the hood. The GTI (it's a distant descendant of the wildly popular Rabbit) is a real driver's car, even though the one I tested was equipped with cloth seats--not exactly plush. And it's a small vehicle, which I consider a huge plus when trying to park between SUVs on city streets. All this is to say that if you're looking for luxury and roominess, look elsewhere. This 200hp hatchback is all about performance and fun. And you don't need leather seating for that. Of course, it's not a cheapie--in price or in appointments. It's got optional power windows and sunroof, and a killer Monsoon stereo system. The VW also offers rain-sensor windshield wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. But these goodies are ancillary to why you'd buy this car in the first place: for its excellent low-gear...
  • Travel: Gold In Those Hills

    James Marshall was overseeing the construction of a sawmill on a cold, clear Coloma morning in January 1848 when the glint of something--the shape of a pea and about half the size--caught his eye. "I reached my hand down and picked it up; it made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold," he reportedly said.It was, of course. And so began the great gold rush, during which half a million people--miners, speculators and prostitutes--poured into California. As chapters of national history go, this one was colorful but short: by mid-1849 the easy gold was gone. But many of the rush towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills remain, and a trip to California's mother-lode country can be a cheap, sarsaparilla-swilling good time.We began at the southern end of Highway 49, a twisty two-laner that winds around mountain peaks and through rolling oak-studded hills. But it's an easy drive that, taken over four or five days, brings you through plenty of historical towns. We passed several...
  • Travel: Lounge Acts

    Extra-dry martinis, slinky red cocktail dresses, perhaps even a crooner at the keys: no wonder dark, sexy lounges are so enduring. Grab a corner table for two at one of these Tip Sheet favorites:Top of the Mark: Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco (415-392-3434)--Art deco bar has the best views of the city, plus 100 kinds of martinis. Entertainment nightly.Cafe Carlyle: The Carlyle, New York (212-744-1600)--If you haven't heard Bobby Short sing Gershwin, Porter and Ellington in the 35 years he's performed here, you'll have another chance until June 28.Hoy Como Ayer: Little Havana, Miami (305-541-2631)--Intimate and retro. Go on Thursday nights, when DJ Le Spam & The All Stars mix classic Cuban recordings with a cool live jazz backbeat.Feinstein's at the Cinegrill: Hollywood (323-769-7269)--The 150-seat supper club is featuring Lorna Luft crooning mom Judy Garland's songs.
  • Suburban Chic

    Volvo once ran an ad that showed a supercharged Italian sports car towing a trailer. The idea: Volvo's a racy number with enough room to haul loads of stuff. OK, so it was a stretch. Most people think Volvos are built for safety, not speed, perfect for puttering around the 'burbs. Now come the R cars: a V70 R wagon and an S60 R sedan, both of which haul tush and your groceries. On a test drive through the curvy canyons of Nevada's Valley of Fire, just outside Vegas, I put the wagon through its paces. With 300 horsepower and an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that gives great stability and handling, I whooped it up through the red desert canyon slaloms. A Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system forces power only to the tires that have grip, meaning that if three of the four tires are spinning in, say, snow, water, sand or oil, all the power will go only to the one wheel with traction. It actually works--I tested it in very slick conditions. I also sampled Volvo...
  • Drinks: Keeping It Cool

    If you're a wine lover, you've probably got a few bottles stashed in a closet or under the bed. And you probably know that fluctuations in temperature can quickly turn a lovely 1999 California Cab into vinegar. So do you really need one of those pricey wine-storage units? Need, no. But if you store wine for longer than six months, you might want one. The cellars regulate humidity as well as temperature, keeping corks moist so they don't shrink. Tip Sheet tested a few units in all price ranges. These two are our favorites. The KitchenAid ($1,499) looks great and has three temperature zones for reds, whites and champagnes (kitchenaid.com). But if you plan to lay in bottles for more than a year, think about the Dometic CE 48 by Electrolux ($1,295 plus shipping at wineappreciation.com). It's a little less fashionable, but silent and vibration-free. It kept our bottles at 55 degrees, perfect for all types of wine.
  • Mercedes Clk320

    When Mercedes-Benz makes a little coupe, it's always one of the sexiest cars around. The newest CLK320 is no exception. It has a lower profile than the previous-generation CLKs, and it's more swooped and sporty. It's also got an admirable 215-horsepower, V-6 engine. But the most striking new feature is that its B pillar (the steel support beam that runs between the front and rear windows) is missing, just like it would be on a convertible. I rolled down all four windows for that ragtop feel. More air, more freedom, more wheeee!Inside, the dash has a new polyurethane skin that feels like really soft rubber. I also liked the optional automatic rear-window sunshade. But while the back seat got an extra two inches over last year's model, it's still not what you'd call roomy. And my 6-foot-1 husband repeatedly hit the door-mounted window button with his knee, causing the window to roll up or down without his consent. But I've got an answer for that. Just go solo. Crank down the windows,...
  • Saab 9-3

    News flash: the new Saab 9-3 doesn't have a hatchback. That's right, no hatchback. If you're thinking "so what," you're definitely not a die-hard Saab fan. Saab is one of those brands that inspires a cultlike following, and loyalists are passionate about every little change. Groupies swear by this midsizer's utility, with a huge trunk, its quirky front-wheel-drive handling and, most of all, its eccentric design features, like a center-console-mounted ignition switch and its supremely utilitarian cupholders. I'll be honest: I've always loved the idea of Saab, that it wasn't a cookie-cutter design. But I always hated it for something called torque steer--when there's so much turbocharged power in the low gears that the steering has trouble keeping up. I'm thrilled to report that I'm a convert. There's still a lot of power (turbocharged, of course) in the low gears but the car seems better able to handle it. The 9-3 may have lost the hatchback, but it got a new, stiffer chassis that...
  • Travel, All-American Vacations

    The very idea of visiting our nation's historical sites can conjure up unpleasant memories of school trips past--even if you weren't the kid who always got sick on the bus. But there's probably no better way to spark your kids' interest in our heritage. After all, it's easy to make the ideals of liberty and self-government seem interesting when you're standing on the Lexington Green, where the first shots of the American Revolution rang out. And it's almost impossible not to ponder the vast human toll of the Civil War when walking among the gravestones at Antietam National Cemetery. Reminders of our heritage are everywhere, and many of our coolest historical sites are very inexpensive to visit. Here's a list that should make any American proud.MONTICELLO: (monticello.org) Thomas Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation in Charlottesville, Va., is a monument to one of America's greatest thinkers. Among his extraordinary accomplishments: penning the Declaration of Independence, serving two...
  • Road Test: Saab 9-3

    News flash: the new Saab 9-3 doesn't have a hatchback. That's right, no hatchback. If you're thinking 'so what,' you're definitely not a diehard Saab fan. Saab is one of those brands that inspires a cultlike following, and loyalists are passionate about every little change. Groupies swear by this midsizer's utility, with a huge trunk, its quirky front-wheel-drive handling and, most of all, its eccentric design features, like a center-console-mounted ignition switch and its supremely utilitarian cupholders. I'll be honest: I've always loved the idea of Saab, that it wasn't a cookie-cutter design. But I always hated it for something called torque steer--when there's so much turbocharged power in the low gears that the steering has trouble keeping up. I'm thrilled to report that I'm a convert. There's still a lot of power (turbocharged, of course) in the low gears but the car seems better able to handle it. The 9-3 may have lost the hatchback, but it got a new, stiffer chassis that...
  • Home: Cooler Cleaners

    Ok, so nobody really needs floor cleaner that smells like bubble bath, but for less than $10, it is kind of cool. We tried these products with sparkling results.For a scent that's more aromatherapy than ammonia, get Caldrea's Green Tea Patchouli Counter Top Cleanser ($8 at surlatable.com). It cuts grease like an industrial powerhouse, without the fumes. Williams-Sonoma's Pink Grapefruit-Ginger Floor Cleaner smells so sweet it might actually make you want to clean the floor ($9.50 at williams-sonoma.com). And Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Lavender-Scented Dish Soap is cruelty-free, bio-degradable and pretty cheap, so you can feel good about sudsing up ($4.99 at Whole Foods and Ace Hardware stores).Doing your laundry is never a day at the beach, but the Beach House Laundry Fragrance from The Good Home Co. can make your clothes smell like one ($18 at goodhomeco.com). The company's coolest innovation: Beach House Vacuum Beads. Toss a dozen of the tiny beads into the vacuum bag and you'll...
  • Money: Shop While Prices Drop

    With all the worrying about the war and the lousy economy, it can be tempting to stuff any spare cash under a mattress and take a meat cleaver to your credit cards. But before you make promises to never, ever spend another penny, consider this: if you have a secure job and a decent financial cushion, it's a great time to buy a car, book a vacation or furnish your home--just about anything but buying a house or gasoline. Dismal-science types call it deflation, but in the mall, on car lots and at Internet shopping sites, it means slashed prices and salespeople willing to cut just about any deal to move the merchandise. Here are some tips on finding the lowest prices:Drive a hard bargain: Carmakers are desperate to move the metal off dealer lots. GM, Ford and Chrysler are still offering zero percent loans for five years or big cash rebates on most models (no harm in pushing for both). Even BMW now offers a low $299-per-month lease on its 325 model. To make your best deal, go to Kelley...
  • Porsche Cayenne S

    If it looks like a Porsche and drives like a Porsche, it must be a Porsche. But the Cayenne S is also an SUV. Sure, purists will bristle that the maker of precision sports cars has sold out to suburbanites. And critics will carp about the bland design. But I understand why Porsche did it. Word is that the manufacturer looked at what was parked in most Porsche owners' garages and frequently found a hulking SUV--often a BMW or a Lexus--beside the sports car. But does this Porsche ride a little less like an SUV and a little more like a roadster? I'm surprised to say that it does. It's obvious that Porsche was aware it would be ridiculed by folks like me if it didn't, first and foremost, build a truck that is also a champion road handler. I'm not crazy about the design, but I love the roomy interior. It's slow for a Porsche--zero to 62 in 7.2 seconds--but zippy for an SUV. And though it's clear the Cayenne could handle it, I can't imagine that many drivers will take this fancy truck off...
  • Beauty: Facial Fixes

    Winter weather, pollution and stress--we all need a brave face. To soothe yours, try one of Tip Sheet's favorite facials:Ole Henriksen Look for Mark Wahlberg and Renee Zellweger at this West Hollywood spot. Great hand-mixed aromatic products. $95/60 minutes; olehenriksen.com.Mamie's Day Spa This Manhattan hidaway specializes in treating black and Asian complexions. Go for the signature facial. $95 to $230; 212-260-9372.Red Mountain Resort Fabulous, not fancy, spa near Utah's towering red bluffs. Try the anti-aging facial with algae extracts. $105/80 minutes; redmountainspa.com.Kiva At this downtown Chicago day spa, go for the deep-cleansing Urban Defense Facial with antioxidant serums. Feels great. $140/80 minutes; kivakiva.com.Doral Miami's muggy weather can make the cleanest skin feel oily. Teens might like the Clarifying Acne Facial. $120/50 minutes; doralspa.com.
  • Parlez-Vous L.A.?

    If there's one thing Hollywood diners love, it's the next new thing. So it was that artist Laurie Garrick found herself lusting for a reservation at the new restaurant Bastide after reading the four-star review in the Los Angeles Times last month proclaiming, "L.A. has never seen anything like it." After a several-week wait, Garrick snagged a table under the mature olive trees on Bastide's front patio and sipped on creamy cauliflower soup garnished with shaved Tete de Moine cheese. For her entree, Garrick chose the slowly roasted arctic char. Her review? While she was taken with the "perfectly formed carrots," Garrick was underwhelmed by the meticulously French meal. "I like more robust flavors," she says. "I hate to think I'm not a sophisticated diner, but maybe it's just too French."She's right. Bastide is so authentically French some Angelenos don't know what to do with it. L.A. food is hardly about sophistication. The city's body-obsessed residents consider designer water and...
  • Lexus Rx 330

    Five years ago Lexus introduced the first luxury SUV, the RX 300. It was stylish and rode like a car, and quickly became the manufacturer's best-selling model. I understand not wanting to mess with perfection, but after spending a few days in Lexus's redesign of the RX 300, now called the RX 330, a little fiddling would have been good. The vehicle's exterior is largely unchanged and looks tired. The taillights have a higher profile, and the nose is more slanted toward the driver. But that's about it. Inside, a futuristic-looking metallic-trimmed control panel is a nice change, along with the audio paddles on the steering wheel. But it's the technology that's a big wow. For improved visibility, the headlights turn with the car, like spooky eyes. Laser-guided cruise control helps you keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. But my favorite new option is the rear-mounted camera that shows what's behind you when you're in reverse. Although the RX 330 gets 10 more horsepower...