Hey, just noticed that New Orleans isn't on your list of places to go--but don't despair--you'll find lots of great seafood in Boston, San Francisco and other places on your list.
P.S. In Chicago, the best spots are the mexican spots run by Rick Bayless (like Frontera Grill and Topolobambo). Rick won the award last year as the best chef in the country.
I haven't been to his restaurants, but I have some of his recipe books and cook from them often. The other places I've recommended I've all been to.
[ Edit: . ]
For the hottest Mexican food in the world - be sure to visit the state of New Mexico. Santa Fe is especially colorful and flavorful (an easy drive from Denver).
Agree. I was just there about a month ago and ate at "The Shed". Great place.
P.S. My wife and I would have stopped and visited with Ladymacwil and her husband, but we were only in town for one evening. (Need to go back soon).
If your driving up to Tacoma from San Jose, check out the list of natural hot springs in Oregon.
Hart Mountain was a favorite as it used to be just a open pool with nothing around, but now I think there is a campground near there. You used to be able to drive up, jump in and smile...now there's campers and social responsibilities like bathing suites!
That one would be way out of your way though. Cougar Reservoir might not be too far out of your way, but it is a party spot for the local college in Eugene. However, be wary at any of them and lock your car as at some of them their are some lowlifes living in the woods and break into cars parked. Bagby started having that reputation back in the 90's when I was there last.
There are others where your sitting in a pools right alongside rapids and if it's snowing you can keep the wine chilled in the snow while the busy motorist drive by not seeing you relaxing...great places.
In the Tacoma area if you have time to drive around Olympia and up to Shelton. There is a restaurant run by a vietnamese immigrant who was the 5 time "oyster shucking champion" of Puget Sound. The local fisheries also knew that she could also cook and one of them helped her in setting up a restaurant. Since then there's been no looking back...she does it so good you will not want to leave. (for example, Heads of State go out of their way to eat there, that's no big deal as their taste buds work the same as anyone else's! It gives you the idea that it's worth going to!)
Xinh's Clam and Oyster House
221 W. Railroad