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Whitney Plantation, Near New Orleans, immerses visitors in the lives of slaves

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The highway crossed over the Mississippi River and sliced through flat farmland just west of New Orleans. Smokestacks billowed plumes in the distance. One road sign announced a chemical plant. Another warned of a nearby prison. "Do not pick up hitchhikers," it said.

After turning onto River Road, I passed faded clapboard houses and a ramshackle...Read more

Have you checked out Uranus? It's growing

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PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. -- About 100 miles west of St. Louis along Interstate 44, the billboards for Meramec Caverns and the Jesse James Wax Museum give way to something different.

"We are having big fun in Uranus."

"Family fun in Uranus."

"The best fudge is found in Uranus!"

Uranus isn't a town. Uranus is a tourist attraction.

It's kind of a ...Read more

Waiting for snowflakes at Colorado ski resorts

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TABERNASH, Colo. -- Ready or not, powder hounds, here comes the snow.

On Sept. 29, the first snowfall of the season dusted Colorado ski resorts, dropping just enough white flakes for impatient snowboarders to score a downhill run through the trees. But the storm was just an opener for the main event.

A couple of days later another white-out ...Read more

A Yosemite park ranger's five favorite spots

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Yosemite National Park is not just about Half Dome, spectacular as it is. There's so much beauty and bounty to check out in its northern reaches, where the crowds are sparse and the sights spectacular. So we asked park ranger Jamie Richards about some of her favorite spots. She's particularly fond of Tuolumne Meadows and the points along Tioga ...Read more

A Taste of Transylvania in North Carolina

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Looking for a couple's getaway to keep you both happy? A surprisingly attractive option lies a reasonably short distance from the Asheville, N.C., airport. Home to world-class mountain bikers drawn to its extensive trail network and mild winters, nationally known fly fishermen and an internationally acclaimed music center, this rural getaway ...Read more

Fall day trip: A bike ride between two Minnesota icons

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Someday the Gitchi-Gami State Trail might extend 89 miles along Minnesota's North Shore from Two Harbors to Grand Marais -- a cyclist's answer to the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail.

Until that utopian vision comes to pass, the paved bike trail exists in only a few short segments. The highlight so far may be the 7 or 8 miles between two iconic ...Read more

Visit Oysterville on the Long Beach (Wash.) Peninsula for fresh oysters and a slice of history

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OYSTERVILLE, Wash. -- Usually, razor clams get all the publicity.

Last spring's razor clam-digging opening on the 28-mile-long Long Beach Peninsula's ocean beach was a big deal because state fisheries honchos temporarily upped the daily limit after a long closure assured a good harvest. Fanatical diggers descended in droves.

But cross the 13/4...Read more

4 perfect picnic spots in the Sierra foothills, from Sonora to Yosemite

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There's something irresistible about autumn picnics. Summer's heat has waned and the crisp air makes us long for al fresco feasts -- perhaps with a Thermos of something warm and hearty to accompany those sandwiches, cider and sides.

The foothills of California's Gold Country are dotted with beautiful picnic spots. Here are just a few of our ...Read more

Leaf peeping in Virginia wine country

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LEESBURG, Va. -- The rolling hills around this historic town and county seat northwest of Washington, D.C., has long been known as horse country. Jackie Kennedy famously rode with the Piedmont Fox Hounds in nearby Middleburg, and even today there are more horses than houses in Loudoun County, which was settled in the mid-1720s and still feels a ...Read more

Harpers Ferry: '… worth a voyage across the Atlantic.'

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HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- "The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature," Thomas Jefferson wrote of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in 1783.

"This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."

Many appear to have heeded his recommendation. On a recent weekend, you ...Read more

Top 10 most fun cities — scientifically ranked

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Who knew you could quantify fun? Apparently, WalletHub's research team did.

They took a look at the nation's 150 biggest cities and rated them on a general awesomeness scale, weighing 58 factors that ranged from brewery hours and coffeehouses per capita to theaters, hiking trails, bicycle rentals and the relative perfection of the weather.

New...Read more

Hawaii getaway: A blast to Lahaina's historic past

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LAHAINA, Maui -- This tropical town may be better known for its touristy souvenir shops and cafes, but a stroll along Lahaina's waterfront yields a glimpse into Hawaii's past, from its whaling days to King Kamehameha's extracurricular activities.

Some walking tour maps suggest that you include 28 historic stops on your stroll -- and start early...Read more

Lahaina's historic Pioneer Inn brims with legend

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The historic Pioneer Inn adjacent to the Lahaina harbor was built in 1901, back when there were no lodgings on the island at all -- and 400 whaling ships regularly anchored offshore. This is a place rich in lore, where a horse once got thrown out of the saloon for misbehavior -- it's unclear whether it was the horse or the rider who was ...Read more

Why cross the Ohio River? To learn the history, see the art of Southern Indiana

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. -- For years, the small communities on the north bank of the Ohio River across from Louisville, Ky., could have been compared to Brooklyn, seemingly forever in the shadow of its glamorous fellow borough, Manhattan.

That is until Brooklyn -- much like a rebellious stepchild -- broke free and came into its own in spectacular ...Read more

'Forest bathing' and more: Trying out Airbnb's 'experiences'

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It's the question no local wants to hear when they're entertaining friends or family from out of town -- "Can we go to Fisherman's Wharf to see the sea lions?"

Or even worse -- maybe your loved ones suggests a Segway or double-decker bus tour.

Nothing sucks the fun out of a Saturday afternoon like fighting through hordes of tourists pointing ...Read more

Knott's returns to the fog with a stronger Halloween Haunt line-up

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Knott's Berry Farm's less-is-more approach to Halloween Haunt in recent seasons has resulted in fewer but better haunted mazes with a greater focus on storytelling and attention to detail.

In its 45th season, the granddaddy of theme park haunted attractions is playing catch-up with Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, which specializes in mazes...Read more

It's a good time to find out what's new (and old) in Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Whenever I'm looking for a short getaway, I need look no further than the River City. Whether I'm wanting to revisit an old favorite or try a new experience, Louisville never disappoints.

On my most recent jaunt down I-64, I spent a few days with three friends which included a leisurely guided stroll through an historic ...Read more

Rare day to ride high

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BISHOP, Calif. -- In the Eastern Sierra near Bishop is a mountain route unofficially known as the highest motorable road in California.

The dirt section at the top is maintained by the University of California scientific research facility at Barcroft Station and access is open just two days a year. (Dates for 2017 have passed, and those for ...Read more

Creative vibe helps Paducah thrive, drawing tourists to crafty Kentucky town

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PADUCAH, Ky. -- In this riverfront town in western Kentucky, art isn't just a luxury. It's a lifeline.

It helped salvage one of the city's oldest neighborhoods with an artist relocation program that lured talent from around the country.

And art, in the form of 52 murals and a national museum devoted to quilting (much cooler than it sounds -- I...Read more

Wine lovers strike it rich wine tasting in Sutter Creek

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SUTTER CREEK, Calif. -- The Gold Rush brought a flood of argonauts, gamblers and adventure-seekers to California's gold-flecked hills. But modern-day visitors are wooed by something else -- a taste of the Wild West, yes, but one washed down with barbera and rose, perhaps with a little charcuterie or fried Brussels sprouts on the side.

We've ...Read more