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Originally published August 28, 2009 at 8:45 AM | Page modified August 29, 2009 at 5:09 AM

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Whidbey-to-Bellingham makes Top 10 list of water-view drives in N. America

Coastal Living magazine has issued its list of the best scenic waterfront drives in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Seattle Times staff

Coastal Living magazine's September issue names its choices for the Top 10 most stunning, water-view drives in North America, including a drive in Western Washington from Whidbey Island to Bellingham.

The magazine's list and its descriptions:

1. Mendocino, Calif. — This pastoral coast spans 96 miles of California's Highway 1 from Jenner to Fort Bragg. Its sublime scenery is complemented by minimal cell reception and the humble towns nearby. Stop at the Point Arena Lighthouse for some of the state's best coastal views, or spend the night at a Philo Apple Farm cottage.

2. Outer Banks, N.C. — Curving out from North Carolina's coast, these islands offer breathtaking landscapes of sand dunes and long, sweeping beaches. Go to the northernmost oceanfront home on Hatteras Island to see The Rodanthe house, or spend a night at the Nags Head Beach Inn.

3. Whidbey Island to Chuckanut Drive, Wash. — Avoid taking boring interstates and highways when traveling from Whidbey Island to Bellingham. Start this journey off with a ferry to Whidbey, then work your way by Deception Pass to Anacortes and back to the mainland. Finish up on Chuckanut Drive for a winding, sunset-perfect, Sound-hugging meander to Bellingham.

4. Eastern and Northern Shore, Kaua'i, Hawaii — This 52-mile drive cruises through Lihue, Highway 56 and the "Garden Isle" before reaching one of the most rugged, spectacular, and inaccessible shorelines in the world: the Napali Coast. Check out the waterfalls, caves and beaches along the way, or stop by Princeville for trips up the Hanalei River and tours of the spectacular Fern Grotto.

5. Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans — Wander from antebellum homes and boutique shops along Mobile Bay through Mississippi's quietly energized artist's enclaves of Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis. Before hitting the Big Easy, visit Ocean Spring's Walter Anderson Museum of Art for iconic Gulf Coast artwork.

6. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (Cabot Trail) — Built in 1932 to connect remote fishing villages, the 185-mile Cabot Trail offers breathtaking scenery as well as a diverse history of the French Acadian, Scottish, Irish and First Nations traditions. Go whale watching or hike the 2.5-mile Middle Head Trail, which leads to the end of a long peninsula and offers sweeping views.

7. La Paz to Todos Santos, Baja — Mexico's Highway 1 makes a 223-mile loop out of the Sea of Cortez town of La Paz. Experience the glitz of Cabo San Lucas, visit the rural West Coast's farms and surf beaches, and dote on the cultural gems of Todos Santos. Be sure to stop by a Pescadero farmstand for some of the continent's best organic produce.

8. Circle route around Lake Superior — An alternative to the entire 1,111-mile epic, this route starts in Duluth, Minn., and follows east along the inland sea before hitting Michigan's Upper Peninsula. From U.S. Highway 2 to Wisconsin 13 is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where you can take a 55-mile, three-hour cruise of the Apostle Islands.

9. Downeast Maine — Start by viewing the broken coastline from a granite dome in Acadia National Park, then follow U.S. 1 to the iconic red-and-white-striped West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Stop by the Rogue Bluffs State Park for ample beaches and steep bluffs along Englishman Bay.

10. Seward Highway, Alaska — This 127-mile stretch of road between Anchorage and Seward skirts the waters of Turnagain Arm, climbs to alpine meadows within sight of hanging glaciers, and then drops to Seward, gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and perhaps the ultimate "road" trip — the Alaska Marine highway, a series of ferries covering more than 8,000 miles.

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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