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FREE is GOOD! Part 3 of a 3 part series

Posted: July 1st, 2013 by

Macy's 4th of July Parade flickr image by Joyce Andes

Macy’s 4th of July Parade
flickr image by Joyce Andes


Why not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of our country? You might head over to Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for the Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert or simply watch the fireworks at the Philly 4th of July Jam.

If Philly is not on your mind, perhaps the beauty of the Smoky Mountains is calling your name – so head over to UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to hear live music by Kenny Mann and Liquid Pleasure, and a spectacular light up the sky fireworks display. You don’t want to miss the watermelon eating contest as well . . .

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Nashville “Music City” 4th of July celebration is a must attend event . . . “ If there’s one thing Nashville knows how to do, it’s throw a party.” . . . . “Get ready for a day full of FREE LIVE MUSIC (including The Band Perry), family fun and incredible fireworks in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee at the Lawn at Riverfront Park.”

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Why not “Spend the Fourth of July in the Nations Capital and celebrate with fireworks and festivals,” featuring an Independence Day parade with marching bands, patriotic floats; and then there’s the 90-minute music extravaganza with a “rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture” and live canon fire!

Want to learn more, look at the links at the end of the blog.

flickr-byjustinday.jpg

No doubt your town or city has something planned, so why not grill up those hamburgers and hotdogs, then head on down to the fireworks display where the echo of ooohs and ahhhs can be heard as we celebrate America’s birthday! For more details on these events check out these websites:
http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=514″
http://www.visitmusiccity.com/july4th/july4th_eventdetails
http://washington.org/article/10-ways-celebrate-independence-day-washington-dc

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No Matter Where Your Travels Take You . . . .

Posted: February 8th, 2012 by

Who would have thought that February, which many do not consider the ideal month to travel in to also be one of the most popular months of the year for tourism.

Certainly you have to list the sunny shores of Florida and the Daytona 500, which happens to be February 26th this year, as one of the key reasons to travel south, especially if you live in the frigid northern climes.  Just being able to shed all those extra layers of clothing and drink in the sea air is enough reason to trek down I-75 or I-95.

If Florida is not on your mind, then head to New York?  Sure, the weather may not be ideal, but if a little romance is on your agenda, then Niagara Falls, the honeymoon capital of the world (or at least in the U.S. of A) or New York City with its bright lights, Broadway shows and mega shopping opportunities would be a perfect alternative.

Why not Pennsylvania, you ask?  Well, why not?  Even where the grass has been greener can be serene, when heading to the Amish countryside as you travel along the back roads and by-ways.  

A little further south, there is always Virginia, the state which touts “Virginia is for Lovers”  . . . where you can watch the sun rise over the ocean near the seaside and heading further east see the shadows fall over the lush (verdant green in the spring, summer and fall months) rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley as the sun goes down.  Now if that isn’t romantic, I’m just not sure what is.

Romance it seems has no season, just a reason for traveling to that special place.  And if you’re unsure where to stop for a good night’s sleep, click here for some suggestions.

By the way, we haven’t forgotten New Orleans; after all, one of the most popular tourism events of the year happens in the big easy . . . Mardi Gras will kick off before Lent, which occurs on the 22nd of February this year, so if watching colorful parades and being involved in all the gala is something you enjoy, then head to Louisiana!

Holiday Madness Is Here!

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 by

Diyas (oil lamp) during Diwali-wikipedia

This is just a crazy time of year. According to Hallmark, there are 8 major holidays crammed into the short time span from October 31- December 31. That averages out a holiday every 11.5 Days!  Some of these holidays have been celebrated since the pilgrims first set foot on these shores, while others are recently recognized in the United States. For instance, although Diwali has been celebrated in India for centuries, it has only recently gained popularity as major holiday in this country. 8 Major Holidays in 92 Days- 2011:

October 31- Halloween

November 11- Veterans Day

November 13- Diwali

November 24- Thanksgiving

December 21- Hanukkah

December 25- Christmas

December 26- Kwanzaa

December 31/January –1  New Year’s Eve/Day

Many people plan to visit friends and family or take a much needed vacation for at least one of these holidays, making this one of the busiest travel times of the year. Families are able to take advantage of school breaks and take the kids to visit Grandma, go to Disney World, enjoy a cruise or hit the slopes. Hotels, cruise lines and tour companies all offer holiday specials this time of year. With a little advance planning, the savvy traveler is able to take advantage of some great deals.

What are your plans this holiday season?

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For affordable lodging and a good Night’s Sleep on your holiday vacation

PACK YOUR BAGS … IT’S A ROAD TRIP TO SPARTA!

Posted: March 15th, 2011 by

A typical Spartan? Statue of King Leonidas at Sparta, Greece - Wikimedia Commons

Did you think we meant Sparta, Greece? 

There are a total of 28 towns named Sparta in the U.S., plus one in Canada and two in South America.  Although Sparta, Greece would provide the most historic significance, our travels are taking us to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and to the town of Sparta, North Carolina, about six miles to the famed Blue Ridge Parkway.

Don’t overlook places you’ve never heard of as they could be that diamond in the rough, like the sleepy little town of Sparta, tucked away in the midst of the Smoky Mountains, near its State Park and many other beautiful tourist areas: nature at its best. 

View from the east ridge off Blue Ridge Parkway, near Sparta looking toward Pilot Mountain - Flickr photo by billkrisjacob

Folks around Alleghany County say that Nature created Sparta, and if you visited their chamber of commerce site you’ll find their claim to be true.  http://www.sparta-nc.com/

Looking Glass Falls - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Along with the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains you’ll find artisans galore, weaving their magic spells in the form of pottery, quilting, painting, photography, woodcrafts and the revival of traditional music of the hills. 

There’s something to do and see around every bend of the road:

  • Take in a music venue

Alleghany Historic Museum, Silver Dollar Music Park, Alleghany Jubilee or Blue Ridge Music Center

  • Cast your rod, swing your club, shoot the rapids or small game

Check out local trout and fishing farms, let the balls fly at Olde Beau or New River Golf clubs, thrill at an exhilarating ride in a canoe, or aim for the bulls eye, and nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina atop a gentle steed as you meander through the beauty of the mountains.  

  • Tour the local museums or art galleries

Alleghany Arts and Crafts, Blue Ridge Gallery of Fine Arts, and many more

  • Sip in the sites and fine wine at local wineries

Chateau Laurinda, Grapestompers, Thistle Meadow Winery

  • Upcoming special events include

Alleghany Jubilee (every Tuesday and Saturday evening)

Lawn Mower Racing in May, June and August – NASCAR of a different scale

Lions Club Rodeo July 1 and 2

Mountain Heritage Festival in September

I Resolve To . . .

Posted: January 10th, 2011 by

We can thank Janus, a mythical king of early Rome (153 B.C.) for what some consider the beginning of the tradition of new year’s resolutions.  Fact is, the Romans named the first calendar month after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances.  Thus, Janus was always depicted with two faces, where the one on the front of the head was always looking forward, and the one on the back of the head was looking backward at the same time.

New Year’s resolutions can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient Babylonians, when they might have resolved to return borrowed farm equipment.

 Along with resolutions there are other traditions associated with the new year, such as food.  Greens, like cabbage or collards depict money where black eyed peas are said to bring good luck, and hog jowls or ham signify luck or prosperity.  Italians might eat lasagna, while Austrians may serve green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a cloverleaf.  Almost every culture has some type of food they traditionally serve on New Year’s day.

Non edible traditions vary as well.  For instance, in Wales, at the first toll of midnight the back door is opened and closed to release the old year and lock out bad luck; whereas at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened to welcome in the new year and shepherd in good luck.  In Japan, homes are decorated in tribute to lucky gods.

Toasting in the new year in Paris - Flickr photo by viZZZual

There is also the new-year toast, which can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who shared wine from a common pitcher where the host drank first to ensure the wine was not poisoned.  Champagne has since become the toast of choice in the modern world.

Music has played its part in new year celebrations as well, and the song Auld Lang Syne became the song of the day after it was published in 1796, although there were several variations of Auld Lang Syne all the way back to the early 1700’s.

Perhaps the most famous New Year's Eve celebration is in Times Square in New York - Flickr photo by Paul Mannix

New Years is also the oldest holiday celebration and the only holiday celebrating the passage of time, as well as associated with making new year resolutions. 

I resolve to go white water rafting in West Virginia with my teen-aged son, as well as go horseback riding in the Virginia mountains and catch some major site-seeing in new York City.   One of my colleagues has stated she resolves to take a cruise to the Caribbean, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, while another wants to visit at least one small seemingly unknown tourist venue and one major tourist attraction in 2011.  

Flckr photo by katerha

Resolutions are not necessarily all about diets, or losing weight, quit smoking, etc, but can include fun things like seeing the beauty of nature, travelling throughout America and experiencing what the World has to offer in a variety of ways.  

What do you resolve to do in 2011?

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Only 15 More Shopping Days Til’ Christmas . . . .

Posted: December 9th, 2010 by

Heralding in a new Holiday Shopping Season - Christmas Tree in front of Macy's - Flickr photo by Pravin-kumar

What a familiar statement that is.  Not to worry as there are numerous shopping opportunities; what with mega malls, discount outlet shopping centers, strip malls with large department stores and discount stores galore in most every city around.  If you are like many folks and simply don’t want to fight the crowds or just get out, you can turn on the tube and seek out gifts for everyone on Home Shopping Network and QVC or other similar TV shopping networks.  Plus, technology has pushed the envelope when it comes to shopping on the Internet.  New or used, you name it and you can find it on a variety of websites.

Some of our readers will remember planned shopping excursions, where for weeks you mapped out your trip to the big city to buy Christmas gifts.  It normally required an overnight stay in a hotel or nearby inn and often included a special meal at your favorite out-of-town restaurant.  Up early in the morning to beat the crowds with a shop until you drop attitude . . . then laden with gifts galore you return to your home-away-from -home; tired, but pleased that you found that special gift for Aunt Mary, Cousin Jane and Grandpa.

Going to the big city for shopping was a treat - Flickr photo of Washington, DC at Christmastime by ktlerconk

Part of the phenomenon of Christmas shopping from afar was the gaiety of sparkling tinsel and twinkling lights, seeing a larger than life Christmas tree and simply being part of the bustling Christmas shopping crowd.

Today, there are more reasons to leave the sofa or laptop to shop – mega malls are not just filled with retail establishments but many house amusement parks, hotels, and are considered tourist destinations.  Here are some stats when it comes to these mega shopping opportunities.  Eight of the 10 largest malls in the world are located in Asia, so if you really want a shopping experience of a life time you might want to travel to Dongguan, China, where the South China Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world.  This mall has it all; a replica of France’s Arc de Triomphe, working wind mills, a theme park, and has a whopping 7.1 million square feet of space to its name. 

If you want to ride the waves or experience the thrill of a towering roller coaster, then Cevahir Istanbul in Turkey is the place to go.  Considered the largest mall in Europe, Cevahir features a wave pool, roller coaster and several IMAX theatres plus a bevy of shops to meet the needs of even the most persnickety shopper.

Rollercoaster shown is in the West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, Canada - Wikimedia photo

Mall of America, Flickr photo by cliff1066

For those U.S. shoppers who want to be a little closer to home, then the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada might just be the ticket for the whole family.  With 3.8 million square feet of shopping and entertainment space, including a casino, skating rink, water park, a petting zoo and other attractions, this mega mall rivals some of the best and largest.  Let’s not forget the Mall of America, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where forty million visitors a year visit to shop at more than 500+ stores, visit the Underwater Aquarium Adventure, Lego Imagination Center and Dinosaur Walk Museum or party hardy in one of their seven nightclubs.

The town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Lifesize nutcracker in Rothenburg Christmas Store - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Not into mega malls, and simply want to get caught up in the spirit of Christmas?  Dating all the way back to the 14th century is Germany’s Christkindlmarkt experience; a must do and see in towns like Dresden and Nuremberg.   Also, the Medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for its Weihnachtsmarkt.  Even if you don’t buy a thing, just touring this romantic town, whose history goes back as far as 970 AD, with its uneven cobblestone streets, aged half-timbered houses and an imposingly thick wall of stone that surrounds the city, will leave you with a feeling of good will and cheer.

Last but not least are those home-spun Christmas -bazaars, put on by churches and non-profit organizations galore, where crafters and artisans of all kinds put out their one-of-a-kind treasures or cloned home-made articles of all types.  You won’t want to miss these delightful, in-your-backyard shopping opportunities, where often times this is where you find that special gift found no where else. 

Happy holidays everyone – and happy shopping to you!

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Another Type of Tourism . . .

Posted: November 29th, 2010 by

Escanaba in Da Moonlight - Flickr photo by Elizabeth-table4five - photo also seen in the Michigan Historical Museum

Apparently hunting season marks the beginning of scruffy looking men with scraggly beards, or so it may seem.  This is especially true when deer season rolls around, no matter the locale.  One might assume it might be a form of camouflage or that it helps retain warmth on a cold drizzly day; often the case in November and December when hunters are traipsing about the woods.

Regardless of the scruffy looking folks, from a tourism standpoint hunting could mean an increase in business; albeit short lived, especially at a time when travel is slow.  Although many hunters may not require overnight lodging or they may opt to rent a hunting lodge in a known hunting area, hunting season does spell additional tourism dollars.

I looked up the Hunting Top 10 and learned that Ripley, West Virginia might be your go to place for turkey hunting or further south in Snow Hill, North Carolina you could easily bag a wild boar or black bear, and in Ahoskie, North Carolina spring turkey and duck are hunting specialties.  How about trophy white tail deer, with some bucks reaching up to 300 lbs.?  You might want to travel to Johannesburg, Michigan for this opportunity.

Flickr photo, wild turkey, black_throated_green_warbler

There’s plenty of duck hunting in Boswell, Oklahoma and Pike County, Illinois is known for its trophy whitetail deer and turkey hunts.  Elk, Mule Deer and Exotics can be found in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while Georgetown, Kentucky is well known for its water fowl in this central Kentucky area.

Jackson County Courthouse in Ripley, WV - Flickr photo by puroticorico

Tourism comes in many forms, and hunting is one of them.  No matter the reason you visit an area it still gains exposure and often times you might visit for one reason but return for another.  In the case of Ripley, West Virginia; here is an area steeped in civil war history, so while some might hunt deer, others might hunt the past.

How about the North Carolina area, which abounds in natural beauty where more people travel to this part of the country for pure nature than to hunt.   Although the photo of the flight of ducks was actually taken in Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, this could be a site seen in Bowsell, Oklahoma.  This small Midwestern town not only offers a duck hunting paradise, but a bit of serenity as well. 

Duck Hunt, Flickr photo by Icon Photopraphy School

While we might not understand why the Grizzly Adams look is typical for some at this time of year, perhaps Escanaba in Da Moonlight, termed as the “funniest play ever written about Deer hunters in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” might explain it all. 

All we ask is that you come back for a visit when the hunt is over!