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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.
April 30, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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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.
April 23, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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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.
April 16, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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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.
April 9, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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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.
April 2, 2021 • By Tom Adkinson

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andouille gumbo andouille gumbo andouille gumbo
‘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.
andouille gumbo frist art museum nashville aruba
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.
clarksville tn bronze statues milwaukee art museum wings mardi gras

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
st augustine franklin tennessee fishing holes baton rouge
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
great smoky mountains

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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