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Hot Spots

Camping Hot Spots

Find great places to camp and gain insights into activities to make the most of the top camping hot spots. Get the scoop on where to go next. Discover destinations that offer unique opportunities for you to experience the great outdoors through recreation activities, wildlife viewing, and unforgettable vistas.

The Ozarks

The Ozarks


The Ozarks are a region encompassing the southern half of Missouri as well as much of the northern part of Arkansas, a bit of eastern Oklahoma, and a tiny bit of Kansas. This region is both geologically and culturally unique. In the recent past the economy was driven mostly by the mining. Today, the region has a thriving tourist economy which highlights the unique history and culture of the people living in the Ozarks.

In Arkansas there are many different scenic drives, which give visitors a peek into the beauty of the region. Taking some time to explore the waterfalls in the Arkansas Ozarks is a great adventure. Many of the waterfalls require some hiking to see the falls. The waterfalls in Arkansas include Twin Falls, Falling Water Falls, and Lost Valley, all of which are worth the time it takes to seek them out. Remember to bring along a good camera!

The Arkansas Ozarks also have some interesting caves. Some of these caves have guided tours and visitor centers. Caves, like those you can find in Arkansas, have been millions of years in the making, each one a step back in time. Some of the caves include the Blanchard Springs Caverns in the Ozark National Forest, the Mystic Caverns, and the Bull Shoals Caverns. At the Bull Shoals Caverns, you will find a walk-through replica of an 1890 Ozarks village.

In addition to the natural beauty of the waterfalls and caverns, there are plenty of other recreational opportunities in the Ozarks. You will find  opportunities to bike, hike, canoe, horseback ride, bird watch, and rock climb. If you choose to visit in the warm months, the Lakes and rivers in the Ozarks are great places to enjoy water sports and fishing.

Branson, Missouri is a  great place to enjoy live entertainment in the Ozarks. Throughout the year, visitors to Branson will have a range of options for live shows and entertainment. This has given Branson a reputation as the live music show capital of the world.

Throughout the region, you will find plenty of options for entertainment, culture, and recreation. You will also be able to learn about the interesting geography and geology of the region. The fabulous lakes, caverns, and waterfalls are just a part of what makes the Ozarks so very special.

Discover Nashville, Tennessee

Discover Nashville, Tennessee


Nashville, Tennessee, known to many as Music City, has a rich art and music culture. Lovers of country music can truly immerse themselves in the culture and history of the music. Nashville has more to offer than country music -- the city has amazing historic sites, diverse art, and plenty to keep the children entertained.

Music

Those that travel to Nashville will discover that the city is dubbed Music City for a reason. Country music has a deep and constantly evolving presence in the city, but music lovers will find much more than just country music. The city has played a roll in the development of some of the United State's best-known musical artists.

Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame is a great place to start your musical adventures. The Music City Walk of Fame lies on the Music Mile, which connects downtown Nashville and Music Row. The Walk of Fame honors people who have made significant contributions to the music industry within Nashville, including Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and Jimi Hendrix. Each person is honored with a plaque on the Walk of Fame.

Also along Music Mile is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. At the Hall of Fame you can learn about important figures in the history of country music as well as all about the history of country music in the United States. From the Country Music Hall of Fame, you can enjoy fantastic views of downtown Nashville.

Nashville has many opportunities to listen to live music. From country to rock to classical, you will find great performances throughout the city. Visitors can even catch a showing of a musical biography of the King at the Texas Troubadour Theatre.

Nashville is also the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the world's longest-running radio show. The Grand Ole Opry was first broadcast in 1925 and is now a live show, featuring both country music legends and the newest up-and-coming country artists.

The General Jackson Showboat is a great venue for live entertainment. This historic paddleboat, the largest riverboat in the country, offers fabulous dinner cruises. During the holiday season the riverboat features special holiday shows.

History

Nashville's history goes far beyond its musical history. James Robertson founded the city in the 1700s. Today, history buffs can visit (replica) Fort Nashborough to learn about the earliest settlers of Nashville.

Nashville also has many different plantations and civil war era buildings where visitors can learn about life in Nashville during that time period. The Historic Carnton Plantation is a great example of one of Nashville’s old mansions. Carnton Plantation became a field hospital in 1864, and today visitors can see the confederate cemetery on-site.

Visitors to Nashville can also tour The Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. This mansion was built in 1837; today guides dressed in period costumes greet visitors to the mansion. On the 1,120-acre ranch, visitors can learn about the lives of slaves living on the farm as well as tour historic buildings and restored gardens. In addition, visitors can see the final resting place of the president and his wife.

Discover Nashville Today

The Music City has much more to offer its visitors than just music and history. Its culture is vibrant and can introduce visitors to great food, stunning art, and good times. The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville has an interesting 200-foot granite map of Tennessee for people interested in learning about the state. The park also has a walkway that features the state's 95 counties, with 31 fountains representing the state's main rivers.

Nashville also has many options for enjoying the visual arts in unique venues. You can tour the exhibit at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Arts or head to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, one of the city's amazing art galleries. Frist has exhibits of art from local to international artists. Its exhibits are continually changing, but no matter when you arrive in Nashville you are guaranteed to see an exhibit that speaks to you.

Family Fun
Children will have a fabulous time in Nashville as well. The city is a great destination for a family getaway. Families can visit the Adventure Science Center and see the new planetarium or play on the water slides at Nashville Shores. The city also has a great zoo, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Minneapolis/St. Paul


The vibrant cities of Minneapolis and St. St. Paul, known as the Twin Cities, are one of Minnesota's hot spots. Visitors and residents will find many exciting places to explore in these cities cut by the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Together the cities are a lively representation of both the past and the future of Minnesota. Within these two cities history buffs, families and many others will find something to love.

Minneapolis has a thriving arts culture. You can walk through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts or catch a show at the Guthrie Theater. Throughout the Minneapolis arts scene you will see new buildings with fabulous modern architecture -- even the Central Library has tours of its interesting building. The Walker Art Center is a great contemporary art museum, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden adjoins the Walker Art Center.

If you are looking for live entertainment, just head to one of the Twin Cities' 75 theatre companies. The Guthrie theatre is just one center for performance. There are many fabulous small theaters with all types of productions throughout the year. The Children's Theatre Company is a will known theatre for young actors, and it is a great activity for visiting children and families. You will also find plenty of classical music, most notably the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Within these two cities you will also find a dynamic dance culture, including experimental, jazz and contemporary dance.

Minneapolis/St. Paul also has a deep historic culture. There are many places you can explore that will immerse visitors in the interesting history of the area. Take a tour of the Alexander Ramsey House, which will introduce visitors into the life of families and servants in the 1870s. The house is a beautiful example of a Victorian-era home. In the center of the metropolitan area of Minneapolis/St. Paul you will find Historic Fort Snelling. This is a 1820s military outpost where costumed guides give tours. Take some time to visit the majestic Cathedral of St. Paul or see some of the cities' historic mills or the 1883 Stone Arch Bridge.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are very accessible cities. You can take a segway tour of the city or explore downtown while walking through the system of skyways. St. Paul's downtown has 5 miles of this elevated system and Minneapolis has 8 miles. The system of skyways provides unique access to shops and restaurants. If you want to enjoy the outdoors of Minnesota, you can bike along the Grand Rounds, a 51-mile scenic byway. The Nicollet Mall is also worth a visit; located in downtown Minneapolis, the Mall is a thoroughfare with access to entertainment, shopping and food.

The kids will also have lots of fun during a visit to Minneapolis/St. Paul. You can get tickets to one of Minnesota's professional sport teams. The cities are also home to the Minnesota Zoo, with wolves, moose, lemurs and much more. If you love state fairs, schedule your visit to coincide with the Minnesota State Fair. The nearby Mall of America is also a good family destination, with shopping, adventure parks and an aquarium.

Napa Valley, California -- Wine Country

Napa Valley, California -- Wine Country


No visit to California is complete without a trip to Napa Valley. Most of the great wines produced in the United States come from this valley. Oenophiles (wine lovers) flock to the valley in the summer and fall to enjoy the wine tastings at wineries throughout Napa. Although the peak tourist seasons are summer and fall, the mild climate makes it a great year-round destination.

Napa Valley's most renowned activities are the winery tours and tastings. When planning a trip to Napa, be sure to do a little research, so you can carefully choose the wineries you would like to visit. Each of the five towns spread across Napa Valley has unique wineries. At the northern end of the valley, near Calistoga, you can visit Castello di Amorosa to enjoy the Tuscan style winery and taste the Italian style wines. The world class Chateau Montelena Winery is also near Calistoga. Beringer Vineyards, near St. Helena, is the oldest continually operating winery.

Farther north along the valley is the Robert Mondavi Winery, or the Grgich Hills Estate, where they produce wines from organically and biodynamically grown grapes. Both of these wineries are close to the towns of Oakville and Rutherford. Also in this area, if you are looking for a wine tasting that is a little different, you can take a tour of the Rutherford Hill Winery which has one of America's most extensive wine-aging cave systems.

In addition to wine tasting, Napa Valley also has many fine dining opportunities. Yountville, California is home to the fabulous French Laundry. This restaurant provides a unique combination of seasonal American ingredients with a French inspiration. Another unique dining experience is the Napa Valley Wine Train. You can reserve a seat on this antique train that travels through Napa Valley on 25 miles of track. In the dining cars, enjoy amazing wines and foods created with seasonal ingredients.

Napa Valley has much more than delicious foods and wines to offer its visitors. You can take a hot air balloon tour over the valley and enjoy a champagne brunch as you marvel at the spectacular views. Bike tours are popular, and Mt. St. Helena has great hiking trails. If you hike the five miles to the mountaintop you will be rewarded by spectacular vistas and you may even see the peak of Mt. Shasta. Robert Louis Stevenson State Park showcases much of the beauty that the Napa Valley area has to offer.

Make sure you leave some time to explore the local towns. In addition to the world-class wines, you will also find many interesting boutiques and art galleries. St. Helena is also home to the Silverado Museum, which features exhibits about Robert Louis Stevenson. If you are looking to pamper yourself, stop for a day in Calistoga, famous for its hot springs, mud baths, and spas.

No matter what you choose to explore in Napa Valley, you are guaranteed to have an amazing vacation. Immerse yourself in the culture of America's premiere wine country. Exult in the beauty of California. Make sure you take some time for yourself during your vacation. Get away from it all in the fabulous Napa Valley.

Exploring Detroit, the Motor City

Exploring Detroit, the Motor City


The Motor City has culture, sports, events throughout the year, and it’s also a gateway to the Great Lakes. Plan your visit to Detroit to coincide with the events that interest you the most, whether it’s a sporting event, a festival, or the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors.

The city has a very important place in our nation's history because of its industrial heritage. Detroit is also famous among music buffs as the home of the Motown Sound. As such, Detroit has all sorts of live music venues and many different types of music events and concerts. In May, you can head to the Electronic Music Festival or the International Jazz Festival. Year round, you can take in the superb Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Opera.

In addition to its rock-and-roll, jazz, R&B, and blues music, Detroit has many other cultural opportunities and activities. Enjoy the food of Detroit during the CityFest in July or take in some of the great arts festivals. Take some time to explore the Henry Ford Museum, where you can learn all about innovations of the American people and the launch of modern industry. This museum covers an area of nine acres and is home to all sorts of exhibits on diverse subjects. You could also visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit or see all the animals at the Detroit Zoo. Detroit natives know that a terrific free event is the annual fireworks display on the Detroit River.

The city has four major professional sports teams. Within the Detroit area you can enjoy basketball, baseball, hockey and football. Baseball fans can get tickets to see the Detroit Tigers play at Comerica Park, while football fans can watch the Lions tackle the Bears and Vikings at Ford Field. The men and women's professional basketball teams play at The Palace of Auburn Hills and the hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings, play at Joe Louis Arena. In addition to lots of professional sports, Detroit also has auto racing, hosting the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix every year over Labor Day weekend.

The downtown area is where you’ll find the theaters, the opera, and a thriving nightlife. Midtown is where you will find the Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Historical Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. These are just a few examples of the activities, culture, entertainment, and music to be found throughout the city and the surrounding areas of Detroit.

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