So much to see, do and experience. Let's hit the road.
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Crossing State Borders
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
collections, and exhibits that you won't find anywhere else.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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...
by Kay Grant. Whimsically painted derricks enliven the road, and create an entrancing iron zoo. More road art in California!
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Escape to Palm Beach Florida
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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...
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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...
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
, if you know where to look beyond the usual tourist
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.
by Neala Schwartzberg McCartenThere 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
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
culinary fun available along
America's famous Blue Ridge Parkway.
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
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
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?
Sure, you've heard of Milwaukee beer but Milwaukee is quite a food town. Here are some of the highlights. Enjoy!
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
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
Old Faithful is fun to watch, but just a short walk away the Castle Geyser puts on a much more interesting display.