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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!

Shuffle Off to Buffalo – a Road Trip Near the Falls

Posted: April 27th, 2011 by
 
Buffalo Skyline – Wikimedia Commons Photo

 There’s more to Buffalo, New York than the “Falls”  . . . located on the eastern shores of Lake Erie, Buffalo has the second largest population in New York.  The city could attribute its growth to the Erie Canal and its proximity to Niagara Falls, which is the 6th most popular attraction in the world (according to Forbes Top 10 most visited attractions).  Perhaps the 1933 tune, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, with its lyrics “there’s no honeymoon that’s cheaper” aided in Buffalo’s tourism growth as well.

Buffalo is a city steeped in cultural history; From the Iroquois, who originally settled Buffalo, and Seneca Indians who were said to have destroyed the Neutral Nation (of which the Iroquois were members) to The French, who were rumored to have exclaimed, beau fleuve (translation: beautiful river) upon seeing Buffalo and Niagara Falls.  During the  War of 1812,  Buffalo was burned by British forces. On November 4, 1825 the  Erie Canal was completed with Buffalo strategically positioned at the western end of the system.

Despite these early set backs, Buffalo grew and became an economic force in the State of New York; of which tourism played an integral part .  There are plenty of attractions and things to do (some of which are shown below), plus lots of shopping excursions (evidenced by Canadian visitors just across the border).

  • Michigan Street Baptist Church (This African-American church was founded in 1845 as the Macedonia Baptist Church and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974)
  • Buffalo’s Underground Railroad (The railroad and the Macedonia Baptist Church were of historical significance during the Civil War)
  • Buffalo Zoo (The zoo, more than a century old, experienced some excitement late 2010, when Sidney, a 13-year old gorilla, gave birth to a baby boy gorilla, dubbed Tiny by zoo caretakers.  It had been 10 years since a gorilla gave birth at the Buffalo Zoo)

    Sidney is shown with baby gorilla – Flickr image by dpape

  • Wilcox Mansion (Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site)
  • Shea’s Performing Arts Center
  • Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park (The USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans, and USS Croaker are among the historic ships on display)
  • Erie Canal
 

Maid of the Mist – Flickr image by mahfrot

 

 Not only is there a lot to do and see in Buffalo; but raising a family might take center stage (Forbes rated Buffalo the 10th best place to raise a family in America) and seeking a medical profession, which is a strong economic factor with the University of Buffalo and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus maintaining their growth and expansion in spite of a sluggish economy, could be a good reason to call Buffalo home.

Although, if you’re not looking to relocate, and you need a good night’s sleep while visiting this vibrant western New York City, visit www.BookRoomsNow.com

 

GENTLEMEN (and LADIES) START YOUR ENGINES!

Posted: February 8th, 2011 by

NASCAR and the U.S. Navy teamed up for charity - photo ca 2002

NASCAR fans will all agree the Daytona 500 launches a year of NASCAR excitement, so its no surprise that Daytona [Beach], Florida gets a big boost in tourism during the month of February.  And, what better time to travel to their southern sandy shores, when the cold winds, and often times, snow, are chilling the air in the northern climes.

Park or drive on the white sands of Daytona Beach Shores - Flickr photo by gamiziuk

Although the Daytona 500 is a major highlight of tourism attractions in Daytona Beach, there are many reasons you might want to trek to the white sandy beaches along Florida’s east coast.

  • Driving your automobile ‘on the beach’

 

  • Attend at least one race at the Daytona International Speedway; there are a dozen events throughout the year, with the Daytona 500 being the most celebrated

 

  • Are you hungry? There are many restaurants that serve great seafood and most any cuisine you have a craving for.  Check out this website for Daytona Beach restaurants: http://daytona.beach.diningguide.com/

 

  • Historic White Hall, located on the campus of Bethune-Cookman College

    Visit a museum or other historic site; there are plenty, and some quite unique, like the Mary McLeod Bethune Home and White Hall, both national historic landmarks located on the campus of the Bethune-Cookman College, and the 1903 S.H. Kress Building

 

  • Play a few rounds of golf; with numerous championship golf courses you’re bound to find a favorite –http://www.worldgolf.com/courses/usa/florida/daytonabeach/

 

  • Try your luck at catching a big one off the Sunglow Fishing Pier or just catch a few rays on the white sandy beach . . .

 

A typical sunrise along the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida's fun coast

  • Cotton candy anyone?  You won’t want to miss the Boardwalk Amusement Park and Pier for shopping, eating and a fun place for the whole family.

 

  • Spend the night in one of many small motels along the beach or on the Intercoastal Water Way where you’re sure to get a good night’s sleep

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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