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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Located right next to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg has become a very desirable mountain resort destination. The area is flush with every sort of accommodation, dozens of one-of-a-kind local to national restaurants chains, and more attractions than you will be able to visit without staying a week or more. Visitors from all over the country come to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to experience the mountains, the food, outdoor activities, and more!

Places to Stay

As far as lodging is concerned, there’s something for everyone in Gatlinburg. You can stay in a mountain chalet, a vacation cabin, a quaint bed and breakfast or a luxury hotel. It’s all here. Whether you’re here for a family vacation, romantic weekend getaway, honeymoon, or simply a weekend to decompress, Gatlinburg lodging options are sure to accommodate your particular needs. Here’s some choice picks…

The Lodge at Buckberry Creek is a rustically, elegant lodge that feels like you’re stepping back in time. The lodge is located at 961 Campbell Lead Road in Gatinburg.

Deer Ridge Mountain Resort offers cabins, chalets and condos. They are located at 3710 Weber Road in Gatlinburg

Johnson’s Inn is located within a block of downtown Gatlinburg, and provides a peaceful respite to travelers who want to enjoy all that Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas has to offer. Johnson’s Inn is located at 242 Bishop Lane, in Gatlinburg.

Places to Eat

There are definitely a lot of places to eat in Gatlinburg. Chain fast food locations are everywhere and you’ll find some great local restaurants too! Here are just a few…

The Peddler Steakhouse at 820 River Road. A Gatlinburg favorite, The Peddler is literally built upon tradition. The restaurant is constructed around the C. Earl Ogle cabin, the home of a descendant of one of Gatlinburg’s first pioneer families.

The Pancake Pantry, located at 628 Parkway, is a Gatlinburg tradition and a great place to take the family for breakfast or lunch.

Calhoun’s BBQ, located at 1004 Parkway, has what many visitors consider the best ribs in the country. And right next door is the Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse, an upscale mountain lodge atmosphere featuring fresh fish and seafood, great steaks, rotisserie chicken and more.

Places to Go

There are so many things to see and do in Gatlinburg… from Ripley’s Aquarium with the largest underwater tunnel and a ski resort with year-round ice skating to museums, go-cart racing and miniature golf. And, of course, one of everybody’s favorite things to do in the Smokies – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Getting Around

Gatlinburg is accessible via US Routes 321 and 441. Once in town, getting around is easy once you have a city map and a roll of quarters for the trolleys… and you don’t have to worry about where to park your car. Gatlinburg trolleys run color-coded routes all over town. They are a great way to get a quick overview of everything the city has to offer.

Along “The Parkway” you’ll find over 400 shops including arts and crafts, village-style stores, souvenir and gift shops and the famed Mountain Mall. Enjoy!

Mackinaw City, Michigan

Mackinaw City makes an ideal vacation destination! It’s located on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac, where the Great Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. Mackinaw City is rich in history and has four state parks that preserve it’s heritage. The natural beauty of Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island is sure to keep you coming back. Downtown has unique shops and restaurants. Catch a ferry to Mackinac Island for the day and then return to Mackinaw City and discover parks, beaches, shopping, restaurants, golf, concerts, and nightly laser light shows!

Places to Stay

Mackinaw City has accommodations priced for every budget. Here are just few…

Best Western Plus Dockside Waterfront Hotel – 505 South Huron Avenue. Lakefront rooms with private balconies. Close to Mackinaw Crossings, featuring free nightly laser show, concerts, live theater. Adjacent to Mackinac Island Ferry Docks & Restaurants. Unlimited access to new waterpark across street.

Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront Hotel – 701 South Huron Avenue. Mackinaw’s newest lakefront hotel directly next to the Ferry. Private sandy beach access. Close to free concerts and free laser show. Unlimited access to indoor waterpark across street.

Cabins Of Mackinaw – 712 South Huron Avenue. Private cabins directly across from the Mackinac Island ferry dock. Close to shops and restaurants, Pirates Adventure Indoor Waterpark. Oversized heated indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna. Unlimited Passes to 1400 feet of private sandy beach on Lake Huron.

Clarion Hotel Beachfront – 905 South Huron Avenue. Private sandy beach! Adjacent to Mackinac Island Ferry Docks. Near shops and restaurants. Lakefront rooms with private balconies. Indoor heated pool & whirlpool. Excellent view of Mackinac Island and Mackinac Bridge!

Places to Eat

Mackinaw City has something for everyone when it comes to dining options, from fast food to elegant. Here are just a few…

Admiral’s Table Restaurant – 502 South Huron Avenue. Casual dining featuring Great Lakes fish, seafood, prime rib, and steaks. Across from the boat docks.

Anna’s Country Buffet – 416 South Huron Avenue. Largest buffet in Mackinaw City. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Browse their gift shop and specialty food store.

Dixie Saloon – 401 East Central Avenue. A Mackinaw City Tradition since 1890. Famous Dixie BBQ Ribs and steaks. Located across from Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, at the corner of Huron and Central.

Mackinaw Bakery and Coffeehouse – 110 Langlade Street. Homemade baked goods. Birthday cakes, old fashioned salt rising breads, ice cream cones, cappuccino, coffee and pasties baked fresh daily.

O’reillys Irish Pub and Restaurant – 401 East Central Street. Mackinaw’s only Irish Pub. Burgers, fresh fish, and rotisserie chicken. Nightly Entertainment. Across from Shepler’s Ferry, Located behind the Dixie Saloon.

Places to Go

Mackinaw City has many attractions both in the city and nearby. Here are just a few…

Animal Tracks Adventure Golf – 220 South Huron Avenue. Learn about Northern Michigan wildlife while playing in a scenic environment with crashing waterfalls and rock bridges!

Carriage Tours – Mackinac Island. Since motor vehicles are not permitted on Mackinac Island, there is no better way to visit this historic isle and see the legendary points of interest than by carriage.

Fort Mackinac – Mackinac Island. Accurately, professionally restored 18th and 19th century British and U.S. military outpost with 14 original historic buildings.

Historic Downtown Mackinac Island. Once the hub of the bustling fur trade, Mackinac Island served as a commercial depot for half a century of fur trappers and traders.

Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry – Mackinaw City. Your Gateway to Mackinaw Island. Shepler’s clean, comfortable passenger ferries zip you safely to Mackinac Island in just 16 minutes!

And don’t forget about shopping! Mackinaw City is well known for it’s downtown shopping district. There are so many options all around. Spend the day discovering the many quaint shops and unique gifts.

Getting Around

Interstate 75 runs north-south and is the main access to Mackinaw City. Huron Avenue is the areas main thoroughfare and runs roughly along the shoreline. Three ferry companies operate out of Mackinaw City, connecting tourists and commuters to Mackinac Island. Several rail lines provided passenger traffic to the area on trains such as the Northern Arrow to Mackinaw City.The nearest airports with scheduled passenger service are in Pellston Regional Airport, Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport and Alpena County Regional Airport in the Lower peninsula and Chippewa County International Airport in Sault Ste. Marie.

Dayton, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio is known as the birthplace of aviation. In their Dayton, Ohio, bicycle shop Wilbur and Orville Wright, self-trained in the science and art of aviation, researched and built the world’s first power-driven, heavier-than-air machine capable of free, controlled, and sustained flight. The Wrights perfected their invention during 1904 and 1905 in their hometown of Dayton before launching it at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Wilbur and Orville’s original laboratory has been moved to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, but Dayton Aviation Heritage Park with its Wright Brothers Aviation Center and Wright Cycle Company Building continues to pay tribute to their monumental achievement.

Another native son, Paul Laurence Dunbar, is equally honored within the National Historical Park. This gifted and prolific writer produced a body of work that included novels, plays, short stories, lyrics, and over 400 published poems. His writings, which reflected much of the African American experience in America, contributed to a growing social consciousness and cultural identity for African Americans in the United States

Many original buildings still stand in one of the city’s first communities, now known as Dayton’s Oregon Historic District. This 12-block area is bordered by 5th Street, Wayne Avenue, US 35, and Patterson Boulevard. Christmas tours of the district take place the first Tuesday and Wednesday evenings of December; Spring garden tours are available, by reservation, in late May and June.

Dayton was first surveyed for settlement in November, 1795. Today, Dayton is home to more than 830 technology companies, to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and is known as an educational and cultural center.

Courthouse Square is the venue for many local events such as concerts and impromptu entertainment. At 130 Riverside Dr. is the Ohio Korean War Memorial and Veterans Walkway. Downtown Dayton features Metroparks’ RiverScape, an attractively landscaped park with gardens and reflecting pools. In winter visitors can skate on an outdoor ice-skating rink, enjoy festive light displays and other family activities

Dayton is home to the University of Dayton, known worldwide for its academic excellence. Ohio’s largest private university has an enrollment of over 10,000 students. Well known alumni include the late columnist Erma Bombeck, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll, and ESPN anchor Dan Patrick.

The cultural and creative spirit of the city is apparent in performances of the Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra at the Benjamin and Marian Shuster Performing Arts Center. The Victoria Theatre presents a Broadway Series, and dance is offered by Dayton Ballet and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.

Downtown Dayton is the place to be for winter holiday fun! The excitement begins on the day after Thanksgiving with the 2005 Grande Illumination on Court House Square. This is followed by the month-long Dayton Holiday Festival, an annual celebration within the community for over 30 years. Other Dayton annual events include the Ohio Folk Festival held in Carillon Historical Park each May and extremely popular Dayton Vectren Air Show.

Sports and recreation, shopping and dining, cultural and scientific pursuits are all features of this city of progress with a down home, friendly atmosphere.

Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers, a tranquil town located on Florida’s west coast, is known the world over for the Festival of Lights that celebrates its famous resident, Thomas Edison. It is even better known for the fact that visitors can experience some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches just minutes from downtown.

The city is one of the most frequented winter destinations as people from the north escape the cold for the warm, tropical breezes of south Florida. Winter is by far the busiest season as many visitors from the cold north come to visit this tranquil Florida paradise. Any time of year is good for golf. With a variety of challenging public courses available, there is one to fit any level and with the beautiful scenery of the area, it’s a wonderful experience, regardless of the score.

With its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, one “must do” sport is the art of “shelling”. Picture a warm breeze, soft sand, the Gulf waters gently rolling onto the beach, while walking right at the water’s edge searching for that perfect shell that is about to roll in with the tide.

Of course there are many attractions, museums, restaurants, sports opportunities, and shopping available as well. Of particular interest to anyone visiting the area, is the Edison & Ford Winter Estate. As one of the nation’s most visited historic homes, the Estate includes 20 acres of historic buildings and gardens, Edison’s original rubber lab, a large museum, food and retail areas, and river cruises on a replica of his electric launch. It’s truly electrifying!

For a unique experience, the Imaginarium is the place to visit. Conveniently located in town,
the Imaginarium is a hands on museum that offers exciting interactive exhibits for all ages including live animals, a hurricane simulator, wide-screen movie theater, dino dig, and an early-childhood exploration area.

To enjoy a variety of attractions in one venue, be sure to visit The Shell Factory and Nature Park
to enjoy nature, ride the rides, ‘shop til you drop,’ or see some of Mother Nature’s finest creations.. Not only does the Shell Factory include a collection of common and rare shells, sponges, coral, fossils and sea life specimens; there are a host of other things to do and see. For the fun seeker, there are arcade games, miniature golf, and even a radar gun to test the speed of a pitch. If you want to get bumped around a little, bumper boats are available. In addition, the Nature Park features a petting zoo, environmental education center, and a botanical trail and garden. It’s a day of education and fun for the entire family.

And what visit to south Florida would be complete without seeing an alligator or two? The Everglades Day Safari offers daily departures from town to the famous Florida Everglades.
It’s an exciting adventure through the different kingdoms that make up the “Everglades.” Guests are accompanied by highly trained guides who discuss the past, present and future of this truly unique area. You’ll want to bring your camera for this one.

After a visit to this wonderfully tranquil, yet exciting Florida City, you’ll know why Thomas Edison made it his home and why Henry Ford personally opened the first Ford dealership here. It is a vacation destination you will love to visit and that you won’t want to leave.

Sarasota, Florida

It may not be a big-name Florida city like Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg or Orlando, but Sarasota, on Florida’s southwest coast, is the place to go for all the conveniences of a big city in a small package.

Located about 40 miles south of the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota has a variety of attractions and events that attract the arts-minded tourist who’s interested in more than just riding some gussied-up roller coasters.

Sarasota is known as the “Circus Town.” The city was once the winter quarters of the “Greatest Show on Earth,” hence, the moniker.The work and contributions of John Ringling, of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, have made the city a cultural capital. John and his wife Mable built a mansion on Sarasota Bay and set out to collect art by Peter Paul Reubens and other Flemish and Italian masters of the 17th century. That collection today is called the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Ringling’s name is also immortalized as an avenue in downtown Sarasota.

Downtown Sarasota is in the midst of a building boom, with condos, office buildings and shopping either in place, under construction or planned. In addition, urban renewal projects are working to make a better life for the city’s less-fortunate citizens. As befits a cultural capital, it’s the small galleries by artists in various media that make the arts scene vibrant. Galleries are scattered throughout the city and surrounding area, and even amateur artists take their crafts seriously.

Other Sarasota attractions include the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, the Pelican Man Sanctuary, Selby Gardens and Jungle Gardens. Arts and cultural events are presented at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Asolo Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre and Sarasota Opera House. The city hosts an annual book fair and film festival, too.

To the east, Myakka River State Park offers one of Florida’s largest and most diverse natural areas. It was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 and some of the original buildings are still in use. It offers a scenic drive, dirt roads, hiking trails and more.
When you’ve had enough exploring in Sarasota, it’s time to hit the beaches. Sarasota features 35 miles of sand and several beautiful keys on the Gulf of Mexico that are well-known to sun-and-fun lovers, including St. Armands Key, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Bird Key, Siesta Key (considered by some to have the whitest and finest sand in the world), Casey Key, Venice Beach, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton Beach.

Sarasota’s weather is mild, especially compared to some other places in the winter. Sarasota is well-connected to the northern parts of West and Central Florida by Interstate 75 and Interstate 275. Traveling south, Interstate 75 offers a reasonably fast ride, but U.S. 41 (the legendary Tamiami Trail of years gone by) is presently used only for local travel due to road construction, congestion and its many traffic lights.

State Road 70 provides access to the eastern part of the state. The road is a two-lane divided highway across Florida, and there are several areas now under construction, which can cause delays. Some who visit Sarasota fly to Tampa International Airport and then drive south, but Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport has service from Delta Air Lines, mainly to and from Atlanta for connections; ATA Airlines, which is establishing a code-sharing arrangement with Southwest for flights to Chicago-Midway; and AirTran Airways, which offers direct service to and from Baltimore, Chicago-Midway and Atlanta, and has connections to other cities.

There is so much to see and do in Sarasota that more than one visit may be required!