Traveling the USA

So much to see, do and experience. Let's hit the road.

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Crossing State Borders

Free in the USA: A selections of parks, museums, collections, and roadside attractions where admission is always free

We've done the research and found places to visit that are a href="free-admission-attractions-across-the-usa.html" target="new">always free admission. Here's a sample from the book Free in the USA

Football Hall of Fames for College and Pro Athletes Welcome and Amaze by Michael Schuman

Two football Hall of Fame museums in the USA -- one for college players in Atlanta, Georgia and the other for professional players in Canton, Ohio. Both offer stories of the game, and fun with handson exhibits. Here's why you'll want to visit both football Halls of Fame

Five Great Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Las Vegas by Deborah Wall

All around Las Vegas lie areas of breathtaking natural beauty, offering families with young children the easy opportunity to explore unspoiled wilderness without traveling great distances.

Five Unexpected Museums: Add these to your must-visit list

Every city in the USA has a lineup of art and history museums. They are a delight to isit as a traveler and a crucial part of cultural life for residents. But some cities have museums, collections, and exhibits that you won't find anywhere else..

Contraband Camp, Freedom's Fortress, Shiloh Battlefield, and the Civil War in Corinth Mississippi

by Neala Schwartzberg. It's a park now, with trees and a wide plaza of grass. It bears the disquieting name of Contraband Camp, but in 1862 it teemed with people, emancipated people. Contraband was the appellation for escaped slaves. Their story is one of the little known but fascinating aspects of the Civil War. Some of it takes place at Freedom's Fortress in Hampton, Virginia, but Corinth Missippi offers the Contraband Camp, the Interpretative Center, and nearby Shiloh Battlefield. Read about Civil War Contraband Camps

Ten Baseball Stadium Facts and Trivia You Probably Didn't Know

by Stan Fridstein How many of these baseball stadium trivia facts did you know?

The Quest for 'Que: Barbeque, BBQ, or Barbecue -- it's smokin

We've traveled the country and asked our readers as well to come up with suggestions for the best BBQ in the USA.

Cruising the Tenn-Tom Waterway from New Orleans to Nashville

by Bobbie Green The rivers and canals of the US offer many opportunities for cruises -- the Tenn-Tom River offers prisons, historic mansions and more.

Traveling I-95: A guide to enjoying Interstate travel with trivia and unexpected sights by Barbara Barnes

No matter where your quest for America's offbeat treasures takes you, an interstate highway will probably get you there. That leg of the journey is your chance to listen to tunes or daydream. But wait -- there's more going on along that road than you might think.


Huntsville Alabama and Adult Space Camp: Mission to Mars by Karen Hamlin

Want to be an astronaut? Huntsville Alabama Rocket Center and the Adult Space Camp lets visitors do just that.

Monroeville Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harper Lee

by Patrice Raplee. A trial is about to begin and silence ensues as the judge enters the courtroom and everyone is told to rise. The man on trial is the character Tom Robinson from the Pulitzer Prize winning book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And, the scene is from the stage adaptation that takes place annually.

Muscle Shoals Alabama Intrigues With Southern Music and Culture

by Patrice Raplee. A lone musician sits by the edge of the Singing River; it's serenely flowing pace and lush, green surroundings inspire him to write a song. he is awaiting his recording session in the famous studio located behind him. Julian Lennon walks back to the Sheffield, Alabama studio and goes on to record his melodic 1984 debut album, Valotte that would eventually go platinum. Slideshow

Mobile Alabama: Small town charm

by Patrice Raplee. Celebrated cuisine, famous gardens, grand historic homes, the arts and revitalized urban center, to science museums and world-class golf courses, Mobile prevails with an appealing southern hospitality.

Jesse Owens Museum in Oakville, Alabama

by Neala McCarten The museum tells the story of Jesse Owens who won the 1936 Olympic Gold in Nazi Germany.


Things to Do in Phoenix Arizona: Hot Air Balloons, Native American Heritage, and Musical Instruments

by Patrice Raplee. Phoenix, Arizona, encompasses mind, body and spirit from the essence of the Sonoran Desert to stimulating outdoor activities, entertainment, arts, culture, relaxation and inspired cuisine. The city offers travelers a full agenda of exciting and fun opportunities year round. Highlights include hot air balloon rides, the Heard Museum, and the Museum of Musical Instruments Read about Phoenix Arizona: Hot Air Balloons, Heard Museum and Musical Instrument Museum

Kayaking on the Salt River and Yoga in the Desert - Mesa Arizona Offers Pleasures All Year

by Patrice Raplee. The warm stillness of early morning encompasses the Sonoran Desert, as the sun casts golden rays across the landscape. Tiny birds flit from flowering and enticingly scented saguaro cactuses to thorny bushes, while chirping amidst this scenic and peaceful wilderness. It is here in the Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa, Arizona, that visitors come to explore nature and seek out the areas engaging activities. Read about

A snake, saguaros, a spa and shopping: The Boulders, nestled in the Sonoran desert north of Scottsdale, has it all

by Suzanne Wright. It's just after 9 p.m. I've just finished a very satisfying dinner at the AAA four diamond Latilla restaurant: creamy corn chowder, blackberry and pistachio salad with goat cheese, flat iron steak with pasilla jus and a huckleberry emulsion, roasted Brussels sprouts and patty pan squash and strawberry shortcake washed down with an ice wine-kissed margarita. Most resorts with a "captive" audience don't often offer food this delicious. Read more...

Verde Valley: From ancient peoples to modern art

by Neala Schwartzberg. The Verde Valley is mostly famous for the city at its upper reaches - Sedona, but the Valley offers unusual off-the-beaten-path places that are well worth a trip. Read more...

Scottsdale Arizona has it all: Destination resorts, inviting downtown, and the Sonoran desert

by Neala Schwartzberg. Bright blue skies, warmth of the sun, the pristine beauty of the desert Scottsdale is phenomenally well-located, and then builds on its natural beauty with world-class destination resorts, activities galore (including exploring the beautiful Sonoran Desert) and a something for everyone ambiance. Read more...


Read more about Bentonville and Fayetteville at

Fayetteville Arkansas: Land of Great Art, WalMart, and Miles of Hiking by Robert Painter

Fayetteville, Arkansas may not be what you expect. If you're thinking of wandering the hills looking for old, abandoned stills and a backwards culture you're sure to be surprised. Think great art and great hiking, and more

Fayetteville, Arkansas Attractions Goes Offbeat

by DeLani Bartlette. The insider scoop on what to see and do in Fayetteville Arkansas.

Ten Reasons to Love -- Hot Springs, Arkansas

by Sarah Reiss. I returned this year to revisit some of my favorite haunts, I found them unchanged, yet charmingly improved upon, making them a shoe-in for things to love about Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

by Sheila O'Connor. This charming little town with its blocks of history, Victorian architecture and shops, homes and cottages, has been named one of "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations and it's no wonder. The entire downtown has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and it boasts the largest collection of Victorian architecture anywhere in the central United States.

Arkansas: Clinton Library and Little Rock Nine and more greets visitors

by Suzanne Wright. Discover three major attractions of Arkansas: Clinton Library, Central High School's famous Little Rock Nine, and Ozark Folk Museum


Hop Along in Calaveras California: Jumping Frogs, Giant Sequoias, and Mark Twain by Michael Cervin

The Sierra Foothills in California's gold country has many traditions, but none so famous, odd and just plain amusing as the frog jumping contest at the Calaveras County Fair. Read more about these hopping frogs and the giant sequoia trees that regularly lure visitors..

Read more abou California's Anza Borrego Desert State Park and its Unusual Art by Ricardo Breceda 

Anza Borrego: Art in the California Desert

by Teresa Bergen When I stepped out of the car into the desert sand on a warm, still January afternoon, a feeling of quiet seemed to travel up my feet and through my body. Looking out over the flat foreground to the distant hills, the cactus short and the brush scrubby, my view was interrupted only by huge prehistoric creatures. We were playing Hide and Seek with the art of Ricardo Breceda

Discovering the Underrated Pleasures of Oxnard On and Off the Water

by Suzanne Wright. Those of us that call the desert home seem to naturally pine for water. Lots of us stream into San Diego all summer long. No doubt, San Diego is great, but let me propose a California beach town less traveled: Oxnard. Read why Oxnard should be your next California beach town destination

Alcatraz: The Timeless Appeal of a Prison Island

by Teresa Bergen. If you were a horribly noncompliant American prisoner during the 1930s to early '60s, you could be sent to Alcatraz, the infamous prison island surrounded by the cold and choppy San Francisco Bay. If you were violent once you got to Alcatraz, you'd be confined to D Block. And if you acted up even there you faced days in the Hole. Alcatraz Was a Harsh Place... now you can take the tour

Road Trip Through Big Sur, California: Five Don't Miss Sights

by Hank Barton. West of the more commonly traveled I-5 between San Fransisco and Los Angeles, Route 1 through Big Sur makes its way across about 90 miles of beautiful California coastline from Carmel to San Simeon under giant redwoods and the Santa Lucia Mountains. The western side of the route gives a view to the rocky cliffs and beaches of the Pacific. There are plenty of areas that look appealing and adventurous spirits will likely find interesting places, but here are some of the places that stole my heart on a north-to-south trip down Route 1. Read about Big Sur California and Route 1

California Gold Rush Towns -- Columbia

by Bobbie Green. In the late 1840s the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada foothills area of California brought on a rush of gold seekers. The once over populated bustling towns are now part of small town America with their historic past on display as a chronological record of American development. This article focuses on Columbia Read more...

Coalinga and the Iron Zoo

by Kay Grant. Whimsically painted derricks enliven the road, and create an entrancing iron zoo. More road art in California!

The Remains Of Cherokee: A California Gold Rush Town

by Kay Grant. Even if you've heard of it, you'll have difficulty finding it in any guidebook, but that's part of what makes it such a perfect place to visit.


Exploring Western Colorado by Jake Tegtman

With sunshine all year long and generally dried climate, Colorado's other side an outdoor enthusiast's dream.

Scenic towns In Colorado's Southwest offer Inspiring Destinations: Cortez, Delores and Mancos by Patrice Raplee

Three exceptional towns to visit in Mesa Verde Country are Cortez, Delores and Mancos. Each town has a unique character and features enticing attractions, galleries and restaurants, as well as abundant outdoor activities. In addition, the towns are located within a short 15 to 17-miles of each other.

The Best of Mesa Verde Country by Patrice Raplee

Southwest Colorado, in the Montezuma Valley, is an enchanting high desert region with diverse and breath-taking landscapes. The area was home to the Ancestral Puebloans and is rich in history, from fascinating Native American archaeological sites and ruins, to Spanish trails and old west heritage. The Montezuma Valley offers visitors a unique destination with amazing cultural, outdoor and urban attractions.

Five Reasons to Visit Cortez Colorado: Mesa Verde Country and more by Neala McCarten

Cortez Colorado offers a central location for visits to some of the country's best Native American heritage sites including Hovenweep and Mesa Verde, Four Corners, plus wine, food, shopping.

Enjoying Devil's Thumb Ranch in Colorado

by Suzanne Wright. As a writer, I appreciate a clever turn of phrase wherever I find it. The Do Not Disturb sign is among the most memorable I've seen: "Git On Now" it reads. And there's a Post-It note on the bathroom mirror that also catches my eye: Objects in Mirror May Appear More Relaxed After a Visit to the Spa. After three days onsite at Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa, I can attest that both messages represent truth in advertising and really evoke a strong sense of place. Devil's Thumb is exactly what I needed and wanted

Steamboat Springs: Fun Town USA

by Bobbie Green. Steamboat Springs Colorado has a lot of names -- Ski Town USA, Bike Town USA. But it should be called Fun Town USA. Read why it is really Fun in Summer, too

The Stone Towers of Hovenweep National Monument

by Neala Schwartzberg. Each year over half a million people make a pilgrimage to Mesa Verde to see the truly astounding cliff dwellings. The unique stone towers and other buildings at Hovenweep attract far fewer visitors. Its relative obscurity comes from its location. Although on paved roads, Hovenweep's 20-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons sheltering 6 villages lies along the Utah-Colorado border in truly in the middle of nowhere. Make the journey anyway. The people who lived at the heads of small canyons were farmers, but they also built stone towers that are the signature construction of Hovenweep National Monument. Read more...

Mesa Verde National Park: Exploring History

by Neala Schwartzberg. There is something inherently fascinating about old things, and the older the more reverential. In the USA, a country where "historic" references anything more than 100 years old, the remnants of the Ancestral Puebloans -- which date back to 1000 AD-- draw thousands in a pilgrimage to these ancient civilization that is in our own backyard. This civilization thrived for over 750 years from 550 to 1300 AD. Then, the dwellings emptied, leaving only the tantalizing remains of their villages. Read more...

Garden of the Gods Club: Colorado Springs Lodging with Spectacular Views and Luxury Accommodations

by Neala Schwartzberg. There are some moments in life that are just perfect. They don't have to be big, spectacular events. In fact, it's often the simpler pleasures that we carry with us as cherished memories. Eating breakfast on the balcony of our hotel room at Garden of the Gods Club, with my view of Pikes Peak and the stone monoliths of Garden of the Gods State Park is one of those simple, delightful times. We enjoyed our perfectly cooked eggs, bacon, sausage and fresh fruit as we watched the sunlight play over the upthrusts of rock that have entranced visitors for decades. A day that starts off in beauty with good food is already a fortunate day. Read more...

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park: Exploring the Front Range

by Neala Schwartzberg. This is definitely a winning combination. The town of Estes Park offers a wide range of accommodations and restaurants, a free shuttle to one of the most popular sections of the Rocky Mountain National Park, and a riverfront stroll. Right down the road are several hiking trails ranging from an easy stroll to an uphill challenge. The Rocky Mountain National Park despite its wilderness aura, is very accessible. Read more...

Digging Dinosaurs and Exploring National Monuments in Fruita Colorado by Patrice Raplee

Dinosaur Journey Museum of the Western Museum of Colorado, features incredible life-like robotic dinosaurs, dinosaur fossils, hands-on exhibits and a working fossil preparation laboratory. Guests can even go to and work on an actual dig.


5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Fort Lauderdale

by Marina Yoveva. Here's five things I wish I knew before visiting Fort Lauderdale on my recent trip, helpful for anyone headed to The Sunshine State. Read on to discover these tips to make your visit to Fort Lauderdale a success!

Best of Florida Key West Festivals and Events

The Florida Keys are known to be quirky, offbeat, and always interesting. Here's some of the best festivals and events for January to June.

Wings of the West: West Volusia invites visitors to get their wings at these art installations

by Neala McCarten. These wings invite us to pretend we're everything from a bird to a biplane. Each of these locations offers a unique interpretation of the concept of wings and each is hidden just a bit, turning visitors into sleuths and the experience into a treasure hunt.

Five Great Places to Explore Nature and History in Florida

by Neala McCarten. You've certainly enjoyed Orlando and its amusements. But, when you want to relish some of the history and natural beauty of Florida try these great places as a change-of-pace day trip.

Five Best Things in DeLand, Florida

by Neala McCarten. Charm and character make the town of DeLand a destination for both day and night. It's been lauded as one of the country's best Main Streets with its downtown heart at Woodland Boulevard, and New York Avenue. From there the pleasures fan out across the town.

12 Hours of Sebring Racing Florida by Bob Painter

The 12 Hours of Sebring is run on an old airport circuit smack dab in the middle of nowhere and has been going on for well over half a century in the small, south central town of Sebring, Florida.

The Keys to Miami (or vice versa): There is more to this region than a shaker of salt by Matt Robinson

While many think of big ears and long lines when they think of southern Florida, there is a lot more to do and see, especially for older "kids." From art and beaches to dining and dancing, to marveling in the truly "awesome" wonders of nature, the region between Miami and Key West can make for a great road trip or series of trips.

Swimming with Manatees on Florida's Nature Coast by Mark Bradley

Read more about swimming with manatees at
Quietly hidden away, on Florida's lesser known Nature Coast, lies the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. And each autumn when the first chill in the air arrives on the Gulf of Mexico, the West Indian manatee migration begins in earnest. The best time to observe the manatees? Between October and March.

Surprising Winter Park Florida: An art-filled, food-filled charming town by Neala McCarten

I loved Winter Park as soon as I saw its tree-lined streets, historic train station, shops and restaurants. But that wasn't the reason I visited this not-quite-suburb of Orlando. I went to see the Morse Museum with its extensive collection of Tiffany art and found so much more to love in Winter Park.

Key West Florida: Sunset Celebrations, Pirate History, Harry Truman, and Drag Queens

by Neala McCarten While all the Keys have their own personality, specialities and pleasures, Key West is a bit of an oxymoron. It's certainly got the laid-back Keysy feeling, but with so much to do and experience, it's hard to take the time to be laid-back.

Florida Agricultural Museum: Experience Unique History of Florida

by Neala Schwartzberg. The name evokes an image of farm equipment displayed in an old dusty building. Nothing could be further from the actual setting and experience. Instead the museum is a walkthrough experience of Old Florida. You are guided through the tour of only part of the 460 acres by a tractor-pulled sightseeing vehicle for hop on and off at their old Florida buildings. Each stop has its own history and story of life in Florida, and day-to-day life in Florida goes back a far longer time than most of us realize. And you can also go horse-camping, too. Read about Florida's Unique Agricultural History and Horse Camping

Kayaking Florida Rivers with Ripple Effects EcoTours

by Neala Schwartzberg. I'm floating along, paddling a bit, enjoying the calmness of the water, and the narrative of our guide, as he points out the fish, fowls, plants, and the dolphin pod we encounter. One thing about kayaking, you can't get much closer to the water without actually being in the water. I am close to being the world's least eco-adventurist. Safety and stability is my mantra. But I love being truly on the water, so close I can feel the drops on my face, ripple my fingers through the water. These two contradictory impulses have led to a cautious fondness for the kind of kayaking often referred to as a float trip. Enter Ripple Effect Eco Tours. Read about Kayaking and Ripple Effects EcoTours

Palm Coast and Flagler Beach Attractions and Things to See and Do

by Neala McCarten From the pleasures of the water to the history of Florida, Palm Coast and Flagler Beaches offer a complete vacation destination. Here's what to see, do, where to eat and what to enjoy.

Exploring the Suwannee River Valley Florida

by Patrice Raplee. On a warm fall day, aqua-colored springs flow gently along, as a small, brown otter peaks out from under a submerged log. The playful creature has spotted kayakers drifting down the crystal- clear river and has decided to play hide-and-seek with them. The kayakers see the otter and the game is on, in the Suwannee River Valley's picturesque Ichetucknee Springs. Read Down Upon the Suwannee River Valley

The Great Winter Escape: Palm Beach County Florida

by George Bailey. Life is short. There's a clock ticking and at my age the hands are moving faster. I decided at the last minute to leave my world behind and head for a little exploration and relaxation to what's described as, America's First Resort Destination, Palm Beach County, Florida. Read Escape to Palm Beach Florida

Sarasota, Florida: The Ringling Museum is more than the Circus

by Maureen Bruschi. Today, thanks to the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida, you can discover not only the history of the circus, including what went on behind the Big Top, but how "Circus King" John Ringling and his wife Mable lived in the early 1900s. Read more...

A Brief Guide to Florida's Monuments and Memorials: A Window into the Past

by Roberta Sandler. People don't think of Florida as a wellspring of historic attractions, but the Sunshine State percolates with history-- 500 years' worth. When St. Augustine was founded, Shakespeare was one year old. One of the best ways to see Florida's storied past is to visit some of these monuments and memorials.

St. Augustine, Florida: Spanish History and Luxury Living

by Neala Schwartzberg. There's no doubt that the Spanish left their influence on St. Augustine, Florida, but that isn't the only architectural imprint on this heritage city. Henry Flagler's ornate Spanish-Moorish dreams of an American Riviera turned into magnificent buildings also provides a unique legacy. The result is fascinating history, charming streets, delightful hotels and B& Bs.

Morikami Japanese Gardens

by Neala Schwartzberg. Tucked away in the midst of sand, palm trees and the ever-present strip malls of southern Florida there's an oasis of Japanese tranquility and beauty.

Sea Turtle Nesting Walks in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Here are several places that offer sea turtle nesting programs.

Daytona Beach Moment

by Neala McCarten This personal essay captures a moment in time along the beach in Daytona Beach Florida


Stay Cool this Summer at Georgia's Hidden Waterfalls, Lakes and Beaches

When the temps rise, head to these hidden gems for a respite among the beauty of Georgia's natural wonders.

Exploring Music and More in Macon Georgia

by Neala McCarten The best time to visit this captivating southern town is now. Visit while it's still a bit of a secret that Macon is a beautifully historic town with stately churches and streets filled with restaurants, unique shops, and music all in lovingly restored buildings.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit Soothes the Soul

by Neala McCarten Breath in the tranquility of this oasis that starts with the quiet serenity of the over 40 contemplative monks who make their home in the monastery, and extends to the woods, paths, lakes. There is much to see and experience in this peaceful corner of Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area located just outside of Atlanta.

Centennial Park Offers Something for Everyone

by Neala McCarten. Centennial Park is the lasting legacy of the 1996 Summer Olympics. After the Olympic Games, much of the park was closed, and re-imagined as an urban greenspace with lawns, trees, and even child-friendly fountains. It soon became a hub for attractions beloved by residents and visitors

St. Simons Island: Georgia's Barrier Island Getaway

by Neala McCarten. Sitting off the Georgia coast is a perfect get-away island. Easily reached by car the idyllic island of St. Simons offers great places to eat, interesting historic sites, water activities, wonderful hard-packed sand beaches, and a huge range of lodging. St. Simons Island has it all

King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort St. Simons Island Georgia

by Neala McCarten. I walked through the door of my cheerily elegant room at the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia, and straight to the patio overlooking the pool and the ocean beyond. The sound of the surf lapping the sand calms me, the rolling waves entrances me. I was almost late for dinner. Did I mention I love King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort?

Find Bavaria in Helen, Georgia

by Patrice Raplee. The echo of polka music drifts through the small alpine village nestled in surrounding lush hillsides. A peaceful, dreamy kind-of-day encourages visitors to leisurely stroll by charming, Bavarian-designed shops. While farther ahead, bistros emanate aromas of rich, tantalizing sausages and frothy German beer in the scenic mountain town of Helen, Georgia. Read more...

A Visit to Albany, Georgia

Ray Charles and the Civil Rights story are only some of the reasons to visit Albany Georgia.

Dahlonega Georgia: Wine Country, Gold Country and More by Neala McCarten

I gave serious thought to making Dahlonega my second home. During the day I'd pan for gold, hike by the lakes and streams, and indulge my taste for wine tastings. On evenings when the Holly Theatre was doing a production, you'd find me in the balcony enjoying the performance. I'd be hanging out other times in the Crimson Moon. I'm still not ruling it out. Dahlonega will long be on my mind.


Read more about rodeos in Hawaii at

Cowboys in Paradise by Lita McCoy

Cowboys in Paradise? Absolutely. The Aloha Islands have a thriving cowboy culture and that means rodeos, but be prepared for a unique experience. As with everything else here the local rodeo offers both a traditional rodeo and a switch up of events with ingenuous twists.

Pearl Harbor: Explore World War II History in Hawaii

by Neala Schwartzberg. Although the attack on the US fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor was unexpected, it actually grew out of historical events years earlier. It was the culmination of a years of deteriorating relations between Japan and the United States over the status of China and the security of Southeast Asia. The objective was to immobilize the Pacific Fleet so that the United States could not interfere with these invasion plans.

Today Pearl Harbor is part memorial, part lesson in history. It is a destination for most visitors to Oahu, and for good reason. The Pearl Harbor site has grown over the years. Pearl Harbor is far more than the USS Arizona Memorial. You can easily spend a whole day there.

Kauai: Tropical Flora & Abundant Trails Draw Hikers of all Levels

by Patrice Raplee. Emerald green vistas, canopies alive with birdsong and the pungent scent of tropical flora draw hikers to explore Kauai Hawaii's abundant hiking trails. The trail topographies vary from coastlines, valleys, ridges and jungles. All of the trails range from undemanding to difficult and finding the best hike to suit your fitness level will enhance your experience.

Fall for the Nature of Hawaii: New Land is Born, Old Tales are Told in Hawaii's National Parks

Prepared by Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau. Yes, we all know Hawaii is spectacular but this exceeds even our vivid imagination. If you're planning a trip, this is a must-read article.


Dining Under Chicago's Loop -- Wabash

by Geoff Burton. From dark and grungy to hip and hot, Chicago's Loop is one of the city's fascinating and delicious spots to visit.

ON the Beaten Path to the 113th Annual Chicago Auto Show

by Geoff Burton. Attendance has never been a problem with the CAS as it easily draws well over 1 million paying visitors each year -- and that includes year with horrendous lakefront weather. People come from the multi state Great Lakes region making it truly a destination event.

The "Sweet" in Sweet Home Chicago is Candy

Geoff Burton. The history of all your favorite sweets and candy from Chicago.

Geoff's Chicago: A Foodie Escapade

Geoff Burton. Every year, at least a couple of dozen times a year, people ask me where are the must eat places in Chicago if one wants to experience REAL Chicago food. I'm always more than happy to tell them because those eateries are steeped in tradition, history and happen to be high on my favorites list. Here's my Top Ten.

Champaign Illinois: Urban haven and outstanding beauty by Patrice Raplee

Champaign County, Illinois, is an inviting, urban haven in the Midwest known for the prestigious University of Illinois, arts and culture, fantastic restaurants and agricultural bounty. You'll find outstanding forest preserves parks and gardens and outdoor activities

Three Illinois River Towns: Alton, Elsah, and Grafton by Patrice Raplee.

The southwest region of Illinois is resplendent with the scenic river towns of Grafton, Elsah and Alton. Set against breathtaking natural surroundings and immersed in history and culture, these towns reflect a sense of the past and a simplicity that is perfect for leisurely exploration. Illinois' river towns offer an abundance of excellent attractions. Read more about ghostly activity at McPike and Alton, IL at

Alton Illinois' History and Mysterious Hauntings Create Fabulous Destination by Patrice Raplee

With amazing natural beauty, Illinois' southwest region is the perfect fall destination. But with its fascinating history and the intrigue of mysterious paranormal activity Alton is haunting destination any time of year

Exploring the Shores of Chicago and Illinois by Patrice Raplee.

Illinois counties of Lake County, McHenry County and Chicago's North Shore offer gardens, lakes, forest preserves, concert venues, historic homes, famous movie sites and restaurants. Read about the inviting attractions of the Illinois shore

John Deere's Moline: Fun, Attractions, and Things To Do in Moline

Certainly there are other things to do in Moline than Deere attractions but Moline is certainly John Deere Central in many ways. Even if you're not into farming, a visit is just plain fun!

Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Chicago's Navy Pier NOW CLOSED by Neala McCarten

The museum was home to everything from the windows of a Chicago synagogue to the lush beauty of Tiffany. Frank Lloyd Wright is represented, and the windows of a humble Chicago bungalow. And there was even the full set of the gorgeous Alphose Mucha Four Seasons windows. Sadly, the smith-museum-stained-glass-windows.htmlSmith Museum closed in 2014

The Art in the Shopping Center Project of David Bermant in Cermak Plaza, Berwyn Illinois

by Neala McCarten There's not really anything left of Bermant's vision for putting art in shopping centers, but it was revolutionary and there is still nothing that touches it for innovation. And, several of the long-gone pieces became iconic and pop culture favorites.

Read about Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in Iowa at


Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture and Music History in Iowa by Lisa Waterman Gray

Who'd have guessed a northern Iowa town of less than 30,000 residents would land on the radar of Conde Nast? That's exactly what happened when they named Mason City among the World's 14 Best Cities for Architecture Lovers, in 2012. Read more about Great architecture and music history.


Story, Indiana: The Story of the town that elects the town idiot

by Allen Dale Olson. Story's Village Idiot, is the only elected office of the town in Indiana founded by Dr. Story. The contest is held yearly and, well, the elected Idiot holds the office for one year.

Follow Garfield the Cat Through Eight Indiana Towns: Grant County Garfield Trail

This family friends trail will delight everyone as they seek out colorful statues of Garfield the Cat


Surprising Wichita Kansas

by Patrice Raplee. Wichita, Kansas, entices visitors to explore its old town with brick-lined streets and brick buildings that date back to the mid-1800s. Old Town is the heart of the city and its distinctive character appears straight out of a movie set. Yet, this is just the beginning of sites that this amazing city has to offer.

Hutchinson Kansas Museum: From underground to the top of the sky

by Lisa Waterman Gray. Located near the Arkansas River, the south central Kansas town of Hutchinson is known for multiple downtown antiques shops and hosts the annual 10-day Kansas State Fair. But it's also the home of two highly unusual museums that offer some great entertainment: Kansas Underground Salt Museum and Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Read about A Salt Mine and a Space Center in Kansas

It's Always Wizard of Oz in Kansas

by Lisa Waterman Gray. This famous movie spawned a trio of places to explore and experience the Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz in Kansas towns of Liberal, Sedan and Wamego


Visiting Lexington Kentucky: Keeneland and More

by Patrice Raplee. On a balmy spring day, there is an excited tension in the air, mingled with anticipation and the scent of mint juleps. Dapper crowds gather in the stands and anxiously watch the starting gate while tightly gripping their betting tickets. It is a few seconds to post time and all eyes focus on the magnificent Thoroughbreds that are coiled to break from the gate at Keeneland racetrack in Kentucky. Read about Lexington Kentucky Attractions

Kentucky Brewgrass Trail: Excellent craft beer plus

by Mark Bradley. Lexington has long been known as the Horse Capital of the World in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region but here, alongside the famous distilleries of the Bourbon Trail, I discovered several new microbreweries featuring excellent craft beers on the Brewgrass Trail Their motto proudly printed on their coasters says it all, Respect the bourbon, drink the beer.


Exploring Nature, History, and Culture in the Cane River National Heritage Area of Louisiana

The Cane River National Heritage Area in Natchitoches in northwestern Louisiana is known for its historic plantations, creole architecture, and multicultural legacy. The area includes seven National Historic Landmarks, three State Historic Sites, and the Cane River Creole National Historic Park. There is no shortage of family-friendly activities and attractions to engage and educate.

Five Ways to Love Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana

by Neala McCarten When I told my friends I was going to Mardi Gras in Louisiana, everyone assumed it was the raucous party of New Orleans. I was definitely going to have fun in Louisiana but it was going to be low-key fun that happens in Lake Charles where everyone is welcomed.

A Family Style New Orleans Mardi Gras: The real meaning of Carnival

by Deborah Burst
Families can enjoy the full thrill of festivities with a three to five day stay on Mardi Gras weekend. Here's how.

Five Outdoor Creole Nature Trail Activities

by Neala McCarten
It would take 8 to 10 hours just to drive the Creole Nature Trail without stops, but with only one day available, I could cover only a portion of the trail, experiencing some of the free as well as fee-based attractions. Best of the Creole Nature Trail

Eating Baton Rouge

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten
Baton Rouge is not only the state capital but good food capital as well. There are fascinating places to visit (including both the new and old State Capitals) but what you really need to do is to eat your way through and around the city.

Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar in New Orleans: A haunted restaurant

Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar is the last bar to discover at the end of Bourbon Street, and is actually the oldest pub in the country. A New Orleans brick en poste building dating from around 1722, the pub is one of the three oldest buildings in New Orleans and houses many lingering spirits from that early period to the modern day. Read more...

A visitors guide to Lake Charles Louisiana

by Patrice Raplee. The spirited city of Lake Charles, located in Southwest Louisiana, resides along the banks of the Calcasieu River. It is also known for its superb cuisine, festivals, historic district, gambling and music.

New Orleans: The Big Easy sparkles with restaurants, events, and attractions by Neala McCarten

New Orleans thrives with festivals, street musicians filling the air with their music, artists, galleries, food to sigh for, and everyone eager to welcome visitors.


Three Top Things to Do in Annapolis Maryland

by Saul Schwartz The historic district is a living recreation of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Visitors can tour historic homes and gain an appreciation of America's early days

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to Open

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center -- a tribute to the storied African American freedom fighter -- opens March 10, 2017 in the rural wetlands of Maryland's Eastern Shore. The $21-million-project commemorates Tubman's incredible journey from slave to Underground Railroad "conductor" to Civil War scout, spy and nurse.

Star-Spangled Baltimore

by Michael Schuman. While Philadelphia may have Betsy Ross and the legend of the nation's first flag, Baltimore is the home of the Star Spangled Banner. Fort McHenry National Monument is the first stop on a trio of Baltimore sites that tell the tale of the National Anthem.


Ann Arbor: Where to Eat in One of the Top Restaurant Towns in Michigan (perhaps the country) by Neala McCarten

A2 is, quite simply, one of the top Foodie Destinations of Michigan, perhaps the country. After a week eating my way through Ann Arbor (vegan, vegetarian, carnivore) from Aventura to Pacific Rim this is an alphbetical guide to the best places across the culinary landscape of Ann Arbor Michigan.

Freezing Cold? Perfect Fishing Weather: Zen and the Art of Ice Fishing in Michigan's Lower Peninsula by Mike Norton

When Michigan's lakes and bays are locked under a thick layer of ice, it's time to try an entirely different kind of fishing. In fact, the months between December and April can be the most enticing of the year. Think ice fishing.


Ghostly Legends and Lore Abound in Mississippi

Scary legends, eerie occurrences and mysterious reports of the supernatural haunt the state of Mississippi. Here are a few of the scariest places to help you prep for the spookiest time of the year. And plan a road trip.

The Mississippi Delta Roadtrip: The Blues and More by Neala McCarten

The Blues, its music and history, is the most compelling reason to visit the Mississippi Delta. In fact, there's probably no better place in the country to "meet" the Bluesmen and women who wrote, sang, and lived the Blues. But the Mississippi Delta offers travelers a eclectic mix of things to see along the way. Read about our Mississippi Delta Roadtrip.
Read more about finding the Blues in Clarksdale Mississippi at

Finding the Blues in Clarksdale Mississippi

Clarksdale, Mississippi is a town of contrasts -- the site of both a literary festival and a blues attractions and events. Clarksdale was the childhood home of American playwright, Tom "Tennessee" Williams and the Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival pays homage to the man and his works. Clarksdale is also home to the Juke Joint Festival, Ground Zero blues club, the Delta Blues museum paying homage to the music of the Delta and other unexpected bits of Blues history.


Fabulous and Free In St. Louis

by Vickie Lillo. We have just watched a hilarious afternoon feeding frenzy at the Sea Lion Sound exhibit down the bend -- those sweet-faced, clown-like pranksters delight the onlookers with their crazy antics. But what's truly amazing is that it is free, and there's so much else to see and do in St. Louis that's also free.

Two Unique Independence Missouri Destinations: World's only hair museum, and puppets around the world

by Lisa Waterman Gray. Independence, Missouri is probably best known as the home of President Harry S. Truman. Visitors often flock to the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, with a replica of the Oval Office and his famous 'The Buck Stops Here' sign. But Independence also offers tours a couple one-of-a-kind destinations. Read about Hair wreaths and great puppets

St. Louis: Theatres, a Cathedral and Neighborhood Finds

by Patrice Raplee. St. Louis, Missouri, offers a plethora of cultural and performance venues. The spectacular Opera Theatre and Fox Theatre, to the extraordinary mosaic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, the city is a haven of opportunities to explore. And, scattered throughout the city, are a fabulous array of incredible restaurants, dining destinations and unique neighborhoods. Read about St. Louis Attractions

St. Louis Missouri: A city of parks, gardens, museums, and zoos

by Patrice Raplee. St. Louis, Missouri, is a city of wonderful neighborhoods full of character and each one possessing a distinct personality. It is in this diverse city that visitors will find incredible gardens, such as the magnificent Botanical Garden and opulent performance theaters, a permanent circus, music, mosaic cathedrals and magical children's museums. Read about St. Louis, Missouri

City Garden in St. Louis

A public garden with spectacular landscaping and internationally renowned modern and contemporary sculpture in a completely open, accessible downtown of St. Louis Missouri

Columbia, Missouri: Much More Than a College Town by Howard Hian

Columbia is a terrific small city with a strong emphasis on arts, outdoor activities plus great food and fun beer places.


Six of the Best in Western Nebraska by Neala McCarten

The plains of western Nebraska are filled with history, unique geology, quirky folk art, and striking scenery. Here are some of the best places for visit Photo by Brad Mellema. Read more about birding in Nebraska at

Birding Nebraska: Cranes, Pelicans, and Prairie Chickens by Teresa Bergen

For nature lovers, the sight and sound of thousands of these four-foot-tall birds landing, dancing, sleeping, squawking, and taking off in great clouds is a spiritual experience. From cranes to pelicans and even prairie chickens, Nebraska is birding heaven.


Great Hiking Around Las Vegas by Bob Painter

Everyone knows that Las Vegas has slot machines. Everyone knows that Las Vegas is the place to go for indoor entertainment. Las Vegas is the starting point for more than you might imagine. Enjoy these day trip hikes and explorations.

Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas for Great Thai Cuisine and a Recipe for Their Salmon Panang by David Feldman

Rumor has it that folks come to Las Vegas from all over the world to throw dice, stare in amazement at the neon lights, drink too many free cocktails, play golf, gorge at buffets, tackle one-armed bandits, marvel at Cirque du Soleil, watch exploding volcanoes, stay up altogether too late, and wake up altogether too late. All of these people have their priorities badly misplaced. The most compelling reason to visit Las Vegas is to eat as often as possible at Lotus of Siam, an unprepossessing-looking Thai restaurant in a strip mall, one mile away from the glitter of the Strip.

Visit Nevada of the Past with a Road Trip Along its Lonely Roads by Bobbie Green

Driving north on Route 93 just outside of Las Vegas, is a solitary experience, made by few travelers. That's unfortunate because this is a trip back in time to the West that is long gone.

Our New Book

New Mexico

10 Must See Places in New Mexico by Neala McCarten

The Land of Enchantment is well-named -- it enchants visitors with its Native American heritage, Spanish Colonial history, sunny blue skies, natural wonders, and art that flows out of every city and town. Although it is difficult to highlight all those strands that make up the tapestry of New Mexico, these are the 10 that top the list.

10 Favorites Only Locals Know in Albuquerque by Neala McCarten

Bugs Bunny and Breaking Bad donít really capture the essence of this largest city in New Mexico. Albuquerque offers art, culture, history, and places of great surprise, if you know where to look beyond the usual tourist haunts.

Hands On New Mexico: Creating art in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos

by Neala McCarten. New Mexico may be one of the USA's least known states but its laid-back, quirky, and artistic vibe draws visitors and new residents. Part of being artistic destination is not only a host of galleries, and street art (although New Mexico has both) but being able to experience art first hand, by creating it.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten There is something profoundly decadent and delightful about spending the day hiking atop the mesa, coming down to a muscle loosening massage, and then sliding through the softly warm waters of a mineral pool. The wood crackling in the kiva fireplace lets me know I can enjoy its warmth when I finally leave my private bath. But right now I float from one end to the other and let the waters warm every inch of my skin. I am quite in love with Ojo Caliente hot springs.

Vermejo Park Ranch: Nature Exploration

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten. The bison and I just kinda stared at each other. Clearly I was the more interested party in this interaction. But he was willing to sit there and look at me, unlike the cute little calf who kept trying to nudge his mother and had turned his back on my attempts to immortalize him in pixels. Now, the elk were too busy leaping across the road to even bother to stop, and the bears seemed to shun me, but there was more than enough wildlife to entrance, especially watching the elk and their babies who come down to the land near the lodge in the evening. Remote, beautiful and empty -- at most there are less than 100 guests -- Vermejo Park Ranch is like being alone in a national park only with comfy beds and great food. Read about Vermejo Park Ranch: Nature, Relics, Wildlife and More

Las Salinas Missions: A walk through the historic crypto-Jewish path in New Mexico

by Perry Pena New Mexico was a frequent destination for Jews trying to escape the Spanish Inquisition. At Salinas Mission part of that story is told.

Tales of Taos, New Mexico

by Neala Schwartzberg. If it's true that every building has stories to tell, the town of Taos must have some of the most interesting. This small charming quirky town cherishes its varied, and often spicy history.

Gone (Jewelry) Shoppin' in Albuquerque

by Neala Schwartzberg. I have always wanted turquoise earrings. And from the southwest. Buying it any other place would miss the point. So, I waited. Then one day, my patience was rewarded.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs: Spa experience in New Mexico by Robert Painter

What makes this place so special are the four different types of springs available -- Arsenic, Iron, Soda, and Lithia

New York

Let's Have a Drink at Jimmy's Corner in New York City by Mark Orwoll

Jimmy's Corner, a boxing bar in Midtown Manhattan, is a Damon Runyon story come to life that recalls a more raffish New York.

Take Your Next Vacation in Dutchess County New York by Patrice Raplee

The fun, fascination and thrill of New York City is undeniable, but then so are the crowds, stress and the often chaotic nature of visiting this fast-paced metropolis. If the city's appeal of sophistication, attractions and dining sounds alluring, yet you also desire rural splendor with wide-open spaces, consider Dutchess County in upstate New York.

Experiencing the Excitement of Niagara Falls by Neala McCarten

The perennially popular Niagara Falls not only draws visitors from across the United States, it is a magnet for travelers from around the world who seek to experience the intensity and power of Niagara Falls from only inches away

Picture Postcard Cooperstown, New York

by George Bailey. This place oozes with charm. From the moment you enter the town you'll be struck by the wide streets lined with mature trees and stately homes dating from the early 1800s set back in helter-skelter fashion from the roadways. And did we mention the Baseball Hall of Fame?

George Bailey revisits Bedford Falls by way of Seneca Fall by George Bailey

Want to visit the Wonderful Life town of Bedford -- it's Seneca Falls New York and it is embraces that beloved movie.

There's Always Room for JELL-O at the JELL-O Gallery Museum by George Bailey

LeRoy New York is famous for JELL-O and the open to visitors JELL-O gallery museum, but this New York State small town has other things to offer visitors as well.

North Carolina

North Carolina Zoo: One of the Country's Best

by Allen W. Nyhuis and Jon Wassner. When we think of great zoos, we think of world-class institutions, but there are zoos in some surprising and off-the-beaten-path places that have features the "big guys" can't match.

Charlotte, North Carolina for NASCAR and Racing Attractions

by Bonnie Neely. Charlotte, North Carolina is ground central for exploring all about NASCAR -- it's at the heart of the events. Racing was born in and around the adjacent little towns of Concord and Kannapolis, North Carolina, in Cabarrus County and 90% of racing lives there. Read more...

British Cemetery at Ocracoke, North Carolina

Every year on the Thursday and Friday closest to May 11th British and American armed forces meet on British soil ... in North Carolina. The reason is a memorial service honoring the British seamen buried in a piece of land deeded by the U S government to Britain on the island of Ocracoke in the Outer Banks.

The Lighthouses of North Carolina

Visit the lighthouses at Bodie, Edenton, Ocracoke, Cape Hatteras Old Baldy and more in North Carolina.


Read more about visiting Oklahoma City at

Oklahoma City Draws Visitors for Dynamic Festivals And Museums by Patrice Raplee

From excellent museums, art, cuisine and downtown's colorful Bricktown, as well as the popular Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, Oklahoma's state capitol offers an abundance of activities and cultural attractions.

Bartlesville, OK: The town built by oil and the Phillips brothers

by Neala Schwartzberg. There are towns that have been so influenced by a major figure that one can't be imagined without the other. Moline and John Deere is one such pair, and Bartlesville OK and Phillips Petroleum, started by oil well digging brothers John and L E Phillips is another. Read more...


Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail Opening Three More Miles of Connectivity in the Gorge

Biking and hiking in the Columbia River Gorge is about to get even more scenic and accessible with the newest three-mile segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.

The Best of Eugene Oregon: Places for art lovers and outdoor enthusiasts

by Patrice Raplee. From excellent museums, international street artist wall murals, enticing foodie tours and hiking and biking, here's the roundup of the best of Eugene Oregon.

Willamette Valley Oregon: Three must-see wineries

by Patrice Raplee A montage of scenic farms and vineyards distinguish Oregon's beautiful Willamette Valley. This fertile stretch, with the Cascade Range located to the east and the Oregon Coast Range located to the west, is ideal for crops, orchards and grapes. Here are three must-see wineries

Lane County and Yachats Oregon: Covered Bridges, wineries, and B&Bs

by Patrice Raplee Oregon's valleys, forests and coastal regions are among some of the lushest and most beautiful in the U.S. From scenic country roads with covered bridges to the heady aroma of grape vineyards warming in the sun, visitors will find a wealth of opportunities to explore this spectacular destination.

Oregon's Northern Coastal Towns and Beaches

by Patrice Raplee. A light mist envelopes the tranquil coastal town of Seaside, Oregon, as visitors stroll the sidewalks, gazing into art galleries and cozy cafes. Little do they know, just a few miles out in the ocean, lays an isolated lighthouse with a strange and haunted past.

Oregon's northern coastal towns draw intrepid travelers throughout the fall to spring months, when the chill and rainy weather is often challenging. This generally foggy and gray-skied, ocean landscape adds an appealing singularity for those who walk in peaceful solitude along the water's edge. Moreover, it's a perfect time to explore the scenic state parks and small communities of Seaside and Cannon Beach, without the crush of summer crowds. Read about Without the Summer Crowds Oregon's North Coast is even more Welcoming


Erie Pennsylvania: Gateway to the Great Lakes by Patrice Raplee

Erie, Pennsylvania is the gateway to the Great Lakes and a popular destination with boaters and outdoor enthusiasts. With the addition of the city's insightful bayfront redevelopment and cultural expansion, travelers will find a wealth of alluring attractions, events, dining, history and outdoor activities.

Pittsburgh's Vibrant Art Museums Draw Global Visitors

by Patrice Raplee. Pittsburgh, with its magnificent skyscrapers, copious bridges and dynamic industries is a city that excels in progress and creativity. This inventive dynamism, together with fascinating history and diverse neighborhoods, shaped a flourishing art culture that continues to burgeon and draw global visitors to Pittsburgh's spectacular museums.

Philadelphia's Mural Mile and More: The city of murals boasts over 3000 and offers all kinds of great tours

The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program announces many ways to explore the stories behind some of Philadelphia's 3,000 world-famous murals like never before.

Four Must-Do Philadelphia Activities that have nothing to do with the founding of this country.

by Neala Schwartzberg. After you've done the founding of the country sites, wander off the path of history and onto the path of penal institutions, pop culture, and wall art. Combine a walk to Eastern State Penitentiary with posing by the famous Rocky statue. These two places are so close it doesn't make sense to visit one without the other. Next, outdoor art thrives in Philadelphia. Yes, there are monuments and sculptures, but there is also wall art like few cities can provide. In fact, I don't know of any city that offers both 3,000 and growing murals along with extensive beautification by the folk art mosaics that grace the walls of South Street Philadelphia. Read more...

South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina: Experience Low Country Culture

Charleston is a living museum filled with opportunities to experiences its well-preserved architecture, historic plantations and landmarks. Here are some ideas to make your visit a little more Southern.

South Dakota

Rapid City, South Dakota: Presidential statues, cool Main Street, and a Haunted Hotel

by Kristen Kuchar A bit of history, a bit of Native American Culture, and beer and good food plus lots of Presidential statues and a haunted hotel all in Rapid City South Dakota.


Read more about 9 places to eat and drink in Chattanooga at

Nine Places for Food, Drink, and Chocolate in Chattanooga, Tennessee by Neala McCarten

Chattanooga, or Chatt as the residents fondly call their city, is young, filled with restaurants, pubs and bars. One of the pleasures of a visit is to eat and drink your way through the city.

Best Things to do in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten
It was a cool and misty morning with the rolling hills cloaked in a gentle mist making everything magical. I'd dressed for cool temperatures, but soon the sun would burn through and I'd be shedding layers. Winter, or summer, spring or fall, the Smoky Mountains beckon with activities and fun. You can opt for the attraction-packed (and often quite crowded) towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, or the Quiet Side towns of Townsend and Maryville filled with special places to discover. Or, visit both. Little River Road runs parallel to the Little River from Townsend to the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg. The road allows travelers to catch views of waterfalls and wildflowers with Little River as a backdrop. Read about Best of the Smokies

Maryville and Townsend Tennessee: The peaceful side towns of the Smokies

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten
They may not be what you first think of when you hear Smoky Mountains, but these communities offer a sweet, home-town Smokies vacation and lots to see and do.

A Whiskey Still, a Shooting Simulator, and Tennessee's Electric Chair All Have a Home at Alcatraz East Crime Museum

Alcatraz East in Pigeon Forge is a new crime museum attraction that gives visitors the behind-the-scenes story to USA crime history.


New Events Make San Antonio's Day of the Dead Celebration Largest in the U.S.

San Antonio is renowned for its lively atmosphere and colorful cultural events. This year, the city's Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities are hitting an all-time high as new offerings join dozens of annual events, creating the largest celebration of the holiday in the U.S.

Lubbock, Texas: Buddy Holly, Rock 'N' Roll, and More

Lubbock is Buddy Holly's hometown and you can't miss their devotion and pride. But this west Texas town offers more than nostalgia. An easy-going art district, extensive ranching history, world-class wind power museum.

Go All Out in El Paso, Texas by Neala McCarten

Located at the very edge where Texas blends into New Mexico and Mexico, El Paso surprises visitors. It's one of the hubs in the region and its downtown is booming. Great hotels, stellar theater, fascinating history, some surprising free things to do, and one of the tastiest ball parks you'll ever visit. Yes, we did say "tasty."

Abilene Texas: Storybook characters and the Old West by Neala McCarten

There's two dozen reasons to visit Abilene. The Official Storybook Capital of Texas has streets and parks lined with sculptures not of famous people, but of beloved storybook characters. But there's also Texas Frontier history found in Abilene, Texas Visit International Waterlily Collection for gorgeous unusual flowers

San Angelo Texas: Bordellos to waterlilies and everything in between by Neala McCarten

Only in San Angelo can visitors tour a hand-made custom boot shop, learn the stories of the ladies of Miss Hattie's Bordello (via the Madam), walk through a fully restored fort, and gasp at the beauty of waterlilies. You may want to take a couple of days to do all this in San Angelo, Texas

Waco Texas: A guide to the attractions of this Heart of Texas town by Patrice Raplee

Rodeos, corn dogs at the fair, the zoo and sunny afternoon picnics in the park conjure up those long, halcyon days of summer. In the city of Waco, located in the "Heart of Texas", visitors will find these iconic American experiences and more in this appealing western town.

Exploring Amarillo Where the West Still Lives by Patrice Raplee

Amarillo, Texas is a vibrant and fun destination for travelers who enjoy western heritage at its finest. This super friendly city is loaded with exciting attractions, natural beauty, excellent restaurants and an offbeat museum or two. How Western is Amarillo? It's been designated as a Top 10 True Western Town

Grapevine Texas Has it All by Neala McCarten

Several times a day, a gunfight breaks out in Grapevine Texas. This cheery town about 10 minutes northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport isn't filled with violence, and these aren't actors pretending to shoot one another on the streets. It's Nat Barrett and Willy Majors, animatronic outlaws circa 1890 who argue and finally battle it out high above the gathered crowds. But this friendly town also offers an urban wine trail, great art, historic trains, and healthy chocolate.

Enjoying the Birds and Butterflies of McAllen Texas and the Rio Grande Valley by Neala McCarten

The Rio Grande Valley area is a major USA birding area. Not only is it home to many tropical bird species found nowhere else in the United States, it's also the junction of two major north-south migration routes. As the largest city in the RGV, McAllen is a perfect home base for birding and butterflies. Here are some of the best places for birding and butterflies.

McAllen Texas: TexMex sophistication in art and food by Neala McCarten

The happy sounds of the Mariachi band greeted me as I emerged from the airport at McAllen, Texas. Although I was not the focus of the music (photographers were gathering around a group of beauty contest winners) it delighted me, and set the tone for my visit. The McAllen is a city that will start by surprising you and end up captivating you.

The Best of Granbury Texas by Neala McCarten

Not only does this Dallas Metroplex town exude friendliness, undeniable charm and range of accommodations, but it also makes a great home base to tour the area. Read more about the top five things that make Granbury a great place to visit.

Going Wild at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center by Neala McCarten

Just outside Glen Rose is a magical place -- Fossil Rim Wildlife Center where visitors can go eye-to-eye with an emu or have a giraffe eat from your hand with their big fuzzy soft tongues before shambling back to nibbling on the leaves of trees. But visitors stay in vehicles and animals roam free in Fossil Rim

Fort Worth Texas: Four free and fabulous attractions by Neala McCarten

Fort Worth is filled with unexpected and free attractions. Here are four things to do and see in Fort Worth Texas that are free and fabulous. And perfect for the whole family.

Marble Falls Texas: Hill Country Pleasures

by Patrice Raplee. Verdant, rolling hills and fields abundant with brightly-hued wildflowers makeup a striking landscape in the Hill Country. With mild spring temperatures and the warm fragrant air, it is the perfect time of year for festivals and enjoying a wealth of outdoor fun in Marble Falls, Texas. This lakeside-chic town draws visitors with an abundance of wonderful outdoor activities, such as hiking, canoeing, boating, fishing, golf and biking, as well as shopping, spas, landmark attractions and appealing cuisine. Read more about Exploring Marble Falls (and Brunet) Texas

Good Times in Grapevine Texas: Wineries, and the New Vintage Wine & Gallery Trail

by Neala Schwartzberg. With a name like Grapevine, focusing on wine is a natural. And there are wineries and wine-centered events throughout the year. Read more...

Driving Route 66 Texas: Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle

by Neala Schwartzberg. The Texas panhandle is the quintessential historic Route 66-- the major city that survived the decommissioning, the towns that disappeared, the gas stations that have been restored, the towns that have hung on, and the tourist attractions that remain. And being Texas, it throws in the rest area tribute to the Mother Road. All condensed into roughly 175 miles.

Wildly Austin -- Famous and Fun Austin Folk Art by Vikki Loving

From Termites to Taco Queen and a flamingo flock these are some of the landmark folk art that makes Wildly Austin wildly wonderful.


Too Hot and Too Crowded in Zion National Park? Try Bryce Canyon National Park"

by Robert Painter. You want to visit a National Park. You're in Southern Utah. Well, don't give up hope for a fantastic trip. Just an hour or so from Zion is another great National Park. not nearly so crowded as Zion and it is probably 15 degrees cooler. Bryce Canyon National Park is an absolutely stunningly beautiful park. And that is no exaggeration.

Attractions, Hiking, and Family Fun in St. George Utah

by Neala McCarten Hiking, stuffed mounted animals, family parks, Mormon history, and art await visitors to St. George Utah

Going Off Road in Canyonlands and Exploring Arches National Parks in Southern Utah

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten. Amidst the stunning scenery of southern Utah which covers the state from end to end, two of Utah's Mighty Five National Parks lie at the eastern border. The famous Arches National Park, and the less well-known but even more spectacular Canyonlands are just outside of Moab. If that's not enough, Dead Horse Point State Park offers gorgeous scenery and an intriguing back story. Plus, you can take a offroad tour that is truly spectacular, the result of old mining roads opening access to the interior. Read more about Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon: You don't have to hike to love Bryce

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten. Looking down from the rim trail of Bryce Amphitheater stretches a huge panorama much wider than the eye can see. Huge fairy spires, hoodoos, tent rocks, whatever one chooses to call them, stretch upwards from the basin floor. The complicated facts of their geology can never prepare a visitor for the playland of upthrusts in earth-hued colors, some as tall as 10 stories. Hoodoos have another meaning -- they are also magical spells, and these geological marvels are well-named. To see them is to believe something bewitching had occurred. Read about Hiking and Strolling at Bryce Canyon

Hiking Zion National Park: Beauty everywhere

by Neala Schwartzberg McCarten. One gorgeous vista after another -- whether I'm peering down at the river, or up at the mountains, or across at the peaks, scenes unfold each more impressively beautiful than the next. Zion National Park is huge, diverse, and gorgeous. Start at the Visitor Center and let them help you select the hikes that match your interest and level of fitness. Then go forth and be awe-struck. Read about Beauty of Zion National Park

Star-gazing travel in Southern Utah

In Southern Utah, low light pollution creates a perfect environment for star gazing and astro-Tourism. Here are some places to enjoy the dark sky and bright stars.


Long Weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia

by Saul Schwartz Famous for its shopping and its history this cosmopolitan yet friendly city makes a great long weekend destination long weekend destination

The Jeweled Delights of Judith Leiber Always on Display by Neala McCarten

When I walked into the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke I certainly wasn't expecting to see the tiny jeweled minaudieres of Judith Leiber, yet I soon discovered that the museum holds one of the largest collection of these elegant mini purses in the country. They're always on display at the Taubman, and Earthly Delights is going on tour.

Forty-Eight Hours in Downtown Roanoke Virginia by Neala McCarten

Few cities welcome visitors with the enthusiasm of Roanoke Virginia. That city truly leaves the light on. The Roanoke Star, often called the city's front porch light, is almost 90 feet tall and uses 2,000 of neon tubing to make it shine every night. From its perch on Mill Mountain the star can be seen from about 60 miles away. Beyond that welcoming light, there is much to see in Star City. Railroad history, art, farmer's market, charm and more in the walkable delightful Star City with historic hotel and great dining.

Charlottesville, Virginia: A Day on the Downtown Mall

The historic pedestrian Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia is eight blocks of restaurants, shops, music venues, and more.

Civil War History: General Robert E Lee Headquarters at Gettysburg Restored

Civil War history comes alive at Lee's headquarters at Gettysberg which served as the nerve center of Lee's army during the battle at Gettysburg.

Savoring Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway by Lisa Waterman Gray

Roanoke, Virginia and the entire area near the Blue Ridge Parkway have experienced enormous culinary growth in recent years. Roanoke now hosts several places for eating and food shopping, and that's just the beginning of the culinary fun available along America's famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

Washington State

Five Best Trails in North Cascades National Park

by Richard Campbell North Cascades National Park is one of Washington State's finest gems. With jagged mountains clothed in conifers and topped with white glaciers, hikers explore over 400 miles of gorgeous trails winding through lush backcountry. Here's the best 5 trails with something for everyone.

Three Days in Seattle

by Saul Schwartz Although Seattle is known for its cool and rainy weather, there are plenty of indoor activities in the compact and easy-to-navigate downtown.

San Juan Island: Washington State's island destination

by Patrice Raplee. Passengers lean against the ferry rail and revel in the crisp air and sunny skies, as sailboats glide on the deep blue Salish Sea. The ferryboat is on a journey to the beautiful San Juan Islands in Washington State's picturesque archipelago.

Nestled between the cities of Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and Victoria B.C., the San Juan Islands consist of 172 named islands. Just three of the islands, Orcas, Lopez and San Juan, offer accommodations, attractions and services for visitors. However, these three islands are home to amazing biological diversity with cedar forests, wetlands, marine life, migratory birds and watchable wildlife. And, with outdoor attractions from biking and hiking to kayaking and birding, the San Juans are a magnificent Pacific Northwest paradise. Read about The Attractions of Washington State's San Juan Island

Tacoma Museum of Glass: Dale Chihuly and More

by Neala Schwartzberg. I confess I'm not moved by paintings - they're so two-dimensional. It's always been the three-dimensional pull of sculpture, and particularly anything in glass. Translucent colors form rainbows, liquid shapes flow across space, and I am lured by depths within depths. Read about Tacoma Museum of Glass

Explore an Active Volcano: Mt. Rainier

by Janice Lovelace A two to three hour drive from Seattle, Mt. Rainier has an outdoor experience for everyone. Here's the best way to explore this still active volcano

The Glaciers of North Cascades in Washington State

by Janice Lovelace. The Glaciers of North Cascades has with 300 plus glaciers within its borders -- the most heavily glaciated area in the lower 48 states. Few roads cut through it, making it wilderness at its best.

Olympic National Park Rainforest

by Janice Lovelace Olympic National Park offers three distinct ecosystems --high country with glacier covered mountain tops, Pacific Ocean coastline, and temperate rainforest with large old growth trees.

Washington, DC

A Do-It-Yourself Lost Symbol Tour of Washington D.C. by Troy Herrick

Diane and I had already visited Washington D.C. on two previous occasions. When the opportunity arose for a third visit, we wanted to see a different side of the city. But how would we do this? Suddenly the answer dawned on us. Why not tour Washington D.C. through the mind of Dan Brown and The Lost Symbol which I had recently read?


Appleton Wisconsin: Music, Food, and Harry Houdini by Neala McCarten

From anyone's perspective Appleton WI is a delightful town with friendly folks, restaurants, coffee bars, pubs and lounges. It's a town made for concerts and theater with its state of the art performance center. And once a year it busts out its music with local, regional musicians playing at venues up and down this college town. But what sets this music festival apart is that it is free. Totally, completely free.

Fun Day Trips from Milwaukee by Neala McCarten

To experience Wisconsin's countryside consider these four opportunities all within about an hour outside of Milwaukee. Think cheese, golf, and history. Plus an overnight stay in charming Elkhart Lake.

Henschel Indian Museum and Trout Farm in Elkhart Lake by Neala McCarten

One of the most unusual sites visitors will come across in Wisconsin, and an easy drive from Milwaukee , might well be the Henschel Indian Museum and Trout Farm. Just that combination of Native American artifacts and a trout farm suggests that this is an informal, laid-back place without a bit of stuffy.

Racing and Small Town Charm Any Time of Year in Wisconsin's Elkhart Lake by Neala McCarten

Race cars may have put Wisconsin's Elkhart Lake on the map, but it is the charm of this historic town that brings visitors back year after year.

Milwaukee Tours: Beer, Distilled Spirits, and Food

by Neala McCarten. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, offers great beer and brewery tours, innovative adult beverages and a distilled spirits tour, delicious food tours and a public market with yummy offerings.

Eating and Drinking in Milwaukee

Sure, you've heard of Milwaukee beer but Milwaukee is quite a food town. Here are some of the highlights. Enjoy!

Milwaukee Summerfest: World's largest music festival is nonstop music with big sides of food and beer.

by Neala Schwartzberg. The sun is beginning to drop lower in the summer sky and the music is heating up Henry Maier Festival Park along Lake Michigan. I wander along from one musical cocoon to another, from the Rock n Soul at 5pm at Briggs and Stratton then to Harley Davidson at 5:30 where the stage rocked with high energy. A little further along Miller packed them in with country at 5:30 as did Potawatoni at 6 with another group playing country. The music played on stage is live, but even in between groups, the music never ends. (Video) Read about Nonstop Music with Great Food and Lots of Beer

Harleys and Calatrava in Milwaukee Wisconsin

by Neala Schwartzberg. Milwaukee has long been known for America's own motorcycles, the legendary Harley-Davidson, but the city's reputation has expanded into the arts with the stop-you-in-your-tracks architecture of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Then, add the food possibilities and the legendary Safe House. Read about Milwaukee Attractions: Calatrava and the Art Museum, and Harleys and the Harley Davidson Museum

Door County Wisconsin -- Visiting the Peninsula

by Neala McCarten. Door County in upper Wisconsin offers visitors a true kickback opportunity, as well as charming towns filled with restaurants galleries, and shopping

Yellowstone National Park: Enjoy the park while avoiding the crowds

by Bob Painter. Old Faithful is fun to watch, but just a short walk away the Castle Geyser puts on a much more interesting display.