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The Ox – open since 1883 with no lock on the door

MISSOULA, Montana – The Oxford Saloon & Café – the very name makes it sound slightly trendy or even a bit sophisticated. It is neither. What it is, however, is old, funky, appealing to visitors, a favorite with the very late-night crowd and anything but ordinary in a world of cookie-cutter corporate restaurants with in-house decorators and menu consultants. Probably nobody in Missoula actually calls it the Oxford Saloon & Café. It’s the Ox. Plain and simple – it’s the Ox.
July 23, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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Welcome to the wilderness in the mountains of Montana

MISSOULA, Montana – There is no need to build thrill rides in Montana, not when you can begin a mountain hike with the bouncy, breezy walk on a suspension bridge leading into the Welcome Creek Wilderness. The narrow footbridge is across Rock Creek, a blue-ribbon trout stream that is one of the most famous in a state known for trout water.
July 16, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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Escaping DFW to a Texas heritage farm and life in another century
GRAPEVINE, Texas – If you couldn’t see or hear the frequent takeoffs and landings of jet airplanes at DFW International Airport, it would be even easier to mentally transport yourself to the rural life of North Texas in the late 1800s on a five-acre parcel of land in Grapevine.
Finding laughs with West Virginia’s top artists and craftsmen
BECKLEY, West Virginia – Bits of post-lockdown freedom can generate some loosened inhibitions, such as when this visitor to a famous arts and crafts location in West Virginia decided she needed to have a showdown with an exquisitely sculpted Tyrannosaurus Rex. The competition was a draw.
Watch out for that levitating bridge in downtown Duluth
DULUTH, Minnesota – Beware on Lake Avenue in downtown Duluth. It’s possible for a portion of the street to levitate right in front of you. Mind you, it won’t happen terribly quickly or without warning, but it’s still strange to see approximately a block of roadway rise 120 feet into the air.
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Dukes Creek Falls: A splashingly nice North Georgia hiking destination
HELEN, Georgia – Tourists flock to the attractions, restaurants and shops of Helen, Georgia, a major destination in the mountains of North Georgia. Many of them, however, escape the hubbub of the tourist town for quiet destinations such as the trail that leads to Dukes Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest.
BridgeWalk: Not your casual stroll in West Virginia
FAYETTEVILLE, West Virginia – Doug Coleman stands on a spot not any bigger than a yoga mat, gestures grandly out to the stunning West Virginia scenery and seems oblivious to the drop of 851 feet just inches from where he’s perched. Coleman is leading a tour along the underneath side of an engineering marvel, the New River Gorge Bridge.
Memphis is no Caribbean cruise port, so use your imagination
MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Travel is opening up, but it still will be awhile before large numbers of people are sunbathing on Caribbean cruise ships and strolling on Caribbean beaches. However, Memphis, a decidedly non-Caribbean destination, does have some slightly comparable activities at its 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park – if you have a good imagination.
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National park designation boosts visibility of West Virginia’s New River Gorge
FAYETTEVILLE, West Virginia – The spectacular New River Gorge is an overnight success – even though this rugged piece of southern West Virginia has been millions of years in the making. All it took was an act of Congress.
Cooperstown always is at bat for the Baseball Hall of Fame
COOPERSTOWN, New York – Was Cooperstown’s Doubleday Field where baseball was invented, as some people contend? Almost certainly not, but it’s a great tale in the lore of baseball.
Riding the rails – sort of – across America
The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly has introduced an outdoor asset to legions of Americans who formerly never gave a second thought to what becomes of a railroad route if the railroad doesn’t need it anymore.
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Taking a Sunday drive means more with dozens of new National Scenic Byways
At the same time Americans were waiting to get coronavirus vaccinations, the nation’s tourism got a shot in the arm, too. It came with selection of 34 new National Scenic Byways and 15 new All- American Roads, routes that carry travelers off the beaten path to view amazing vistas and access some of America’s treasures.
Morning beauty along Northwest Florida’s Gulf coast
WALTON COUNTY, Florida – The serpentine sweep of a coastal dune lake in near Grayton State Park in northwest Florida provides the setting for a modern-day treasure hunter to scout for the previous day’s lost coins, keys and rings.
It’s not really spying – it’s appreciating our fine feathered friends
CAPE MAY, New Jersey – Anytime is a good time to grab some binoculars, find your local Audubon Society chapter or call your local nature center and get introduced to birding, but spring and fall are especially good birding times at Cape May on the far southern tip of New Jersey.
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Department store walls tell stories of Tupelo and Mississippi
TUPELO, Mississippi – The red brick walls of Reed’s Department Store at the corner of West Main and Front streets in downtown Tupelo tell two nuanced Mississippi stories. Facing West Main Street is a mural of a young Elvis Presley, while around the corner and facing Front Street is a mural of Mississippi’s state flag.
Tennessee prepares big birthday for 84 of state’s most scenic locations
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Roger McCoy is about to celebrate a 50th birthday in a big way – not his own, but the 50th birthday of a program that now protects 84 of Tennessee’s most notable locations. McCoy heads Tennessee’s Division of Natural Areas.
Hear Mother Nature roar at Great Falls, Virginia
McLEAN, Virginia – To see real power on a trip to Washington, D.C., forget the Capitol and the White House. Instead, go 15 miles up the Potomac River to Great Falls Park, where you quite literally feel the roaring power of Mother Nature
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‘One Nation Under a Groove’ at new African American music museum in Nashville
Driving trips are an early escape from the confinement of coronavirus travel limitations, and the Louisiana parishes (counties) along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge offer a culinary incentive in addition to the bliss of simply being out on the road. It’s the 34-stop Andouille Trail.
Enjoying a towering pyramid without a long flight to Egypt
MEMPHIS, Tennessee – You may never travel to Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, whose glory once reflected in a branch of the Nile River, but you certainly can get to the Pyramid in Memphis, which gleams in the sunshine right beside the mighty Mississippi River.
Go west, but not too far, to see some spectacular Western art
Go west, young man, and grow up with the country. That famous comment, attributed at least in part to newspaper editor Horace Greely in the mid-1800s, resonates in the Southeast right now, at least slightly. You can go west without actually traveling very far by visiting three nearby places to soak in some glorious art. Two opportunities are permanent, and one is as fleeting as the wind across the open prairie.
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Sampling a German sausage with a French name on Louisiana’s Andouille Trail
Driving trips are an early escape from the confinement of coronavirus travel limitations, and the Louisiana parishes (counties) along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge offer a culinary incentive in addition to the bliss of simply being out on the road. It’s the 34-stop Andouille Trail.
Come for Picasso, stay for some museum hopping around Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – In the year of a coronavirus epidemic, it was easier to ship 76 works of art by Pablo Picasso from Paris to Nashville than for you to travel the other direction. That’s what the Picasso Museum Paris, the largest public collection of Picasso’s works in the world, did when it sent an eye-popping collection to Nashville’s Frist Art Museum to mark the start of the Frist’s 20th anniversary year.
We can dream of a sunny Caribbean vacation, can’t we?
ARUBA – While all of the U.S. works to overcome the coronavirus pandemic and much of the U.S. is gripped in winter’s embrace, we at least can dream of Caribbean sun and sand and our eventual escapes. The pretend surfer here is outside a restaurant in downtown Oranjestad, the very walkable capital of Aruba, and the pandemic-appropriate beach is just a few miles away at the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts.
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Four stories frozen in bronze in Tennessee city

CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee – Statues across the nation have drawn much attention in recent years, and not always for good reasons, but several statues in this Middle Tennessee city are far from controversial.

Four in particular are popular with visitors because they celebrate pop culture, extraordinary athletic accomplishments and local history. All four are almost ready-made for selfies, and they are in outdoor locations where coronavirus concerns are minimal.

Wings up, wings down for 20 years at Milwaukee Art Museum

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin – 2021 marks the 20th year that the roof of the Milwaukee Art Museum has flapped like the wings of a graceful shorebird on the edge of Lake Michigan. Wind permitting, it is a piece of architectural performance art that happens every morning when the museum opens, at noon and in the evening when the museum closes.

Mardi Gras ain’t happening this year, but all’s not lost

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – This just isn’t the year for Mardi Gras revelry. Not in the New Orleans French Quarter. Not in Mobile, Alabama, where the locals are quick to tell you their Mardi Gras was the first in America. Not in St. Louis, where an impromptu parade with five guys a few decades ago has turned into an annual party drawing 500,000 revelers.

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Kayaking with manatees on Florida’s west coast
FORT MYERS, Florida – The Orange River is tiny, just 8.7 miles long, but it showcases some really big attractions every winter. Manatees, those docile, bulbous vegetarian sea mammals that can be 10 feet long and weigh 1,200 pounds, love this little river, especially the warm water that flows out of a Florida Power & Light Co. generating plant.
January 22, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

6 freebies and 1 great year-round deal at America’s national parks
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns declared that national parks are “America’s best idea.” They are, and for six days this year, admission is free at the roughly one-fourth of them that charge an entrance fee. The freebie days are scattered through the year. The schedule starts this month – January 18 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and stretches until November 11, Veterans Day.
January 15, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

Shades of Vincent van Gogh every night in Clarksville, Tennessee
CLARKSVILLE, Tennessee – Clarksville certainly doesn’t play on the same field as New York City, but this mid-sized Middle Tennessee community and the Big Apple have something in common – the art of Vincent van Gogh.
January 8, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson
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On guard in St. Augustine through war, peace and pandemic Why is there a pelican statue in a landlocked Tennessee state park? It’s time to party in New Orleans, but stay in your car! Ol’ Man River sings to you down on the levee in Baton Rouge

Brown-Lanier House
Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument added to National Park System
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train ridesExperience a train ride into river gorges, through historic tunnels, and along some of the most beautiful landscapes in America
Journey through the Carolina Mountains and some of the most beautiful landscapes in America. Ride into river gorges, across valleys, and through tunnels carved out of majestic mountains. If you have been waiting to ride a train behind a century-old steam locomotive, here is your chance. Ride along one of the original railroad lines in Chattanooga, crossing four bridges and passing through pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel, which was completed in 1858 and on the National Register of Historic Places.
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pickwick belleTennessee Riverboat Cruises: Romantic Cruises or Family Adventures
Tennessee offers a variety of leisure riverboat cruises on its waterways. Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis all have riverboats or steamboats to take you on Tennessee rivers to view beautiful scenery and wildlife, enjoy live entertainment and a great meal, or learn about the history of the Civil War in our great state. Archaeological evidence along the cruise routes tells the stories of the various Native American cultures who inhabited this river valley for over 10,000 years. Cruise in the wake of the early pioneers who had to overcome rapids, shoals, whirlpools and the formidable Chickamaugas. See the famous Body Farm. Pause and reflect in remembrance of the many that perished on the Trail of Tears.
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