Mr. Laser Beam wrote:
My obsession with baseball aside - I really don't know why.
Your obsession with baseball which you have admitted just developed out of nowhere in the last few years.
I have to answer this question on a couple of different levels.
The best place for scenery I've ever been to: Chicago, though that's a bit of a cheat since I grew up and lived in the area from 1984 - 2002, and have only made two or three trips since 2006-ish. I'm a sucker for a waterfront, and you can't beat Lake Michigan. Plus, hot dogs. You know, good
Best place to drive -- Dubuque, Iowa. Within 80 minutes or so of Dubuque, you have the Great River Road up along the Mississippi (and Dubuque itself is on the Mississippi), Galena (in Illinois), which is very old but very beautiful, with amazing stores and restaurants, and the Illinois side of Highway 20 as you head towards Rockford features the most amazing vistas, and Platteville, Wisconsin, which is remarkable for some rather significant geographical stuff over time. In any season, there will be a magnificent view in any of those directions -- just put snow tires on your rental.
The best place for just a new experience -- Denver. I first went there in 2002, traveling across the country via Amtrak with my best friend, as a graduation gift. (My friend didn't find the sleeper car quarters as ... charming as I did.) Denver is such an odd duck of a city, even within a 16-block radius you can find distinctly different neighborhoods. It feels like a place where people from other areas go to finally do their thing -- there's a spot on Blake Street with Iowa-, Illinois- and Wisconsin-oriented bars, all next to or across the street from each other. But the best aspect is the people-watching on the 16th Street Mall. From musicians to chess players to peddlers, there's always something going on, and for a tourist, it is absolutely magical.