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Camping Gems

Camping Gems

Find those fun and funky “special” places across the country. Hit the road and discover all the odd roadside attractions that make getting there more than half the fun. Road tripping gives you an excuse to search out hidden gems along your route. Look inside for suggested trips and inspiration to plan your own camping gem journey.

Camping Gems | Franklin, Brentwood and Leipers Fork

Day Trips Close to Nashville, TN

Civil war driving tour, Plantations, Natchez Trace scenic drive and more

Located in Central Tennessee just outside of Nashville, the three communities of Franklin, Brentwood and Leipers Fork make an excellent destination for Tennessee vacation. All part of Williams County, each of these communities has something unique and interesting to offer visitors. Each community as its own rich history, and each has its own interesting destinations and attractions.This region is a true camping gem.

Brentwood
A mere 13 miles from Nashville, Brentwood is a beautiful suburban destination. Visitors can enjoy shopping, relaxing and more. The community also has fascinating historic sites, as well as excellent options for recreation.

Crocket Park in Brentwood is a great destination for some recreation and even has a historical site. This park features the historic Cool Springs House, plenty of open fields and more. Primm Park is another recreational and historic point of interest. Visitors to Primm Park will see the Boiling Spring Academy, a private school originally opened in the early 1830s. Primm Park is also the location of several mounds, built by prehistoric Native Americans that lived in the region. Visitors to this park have the opportunity to learn about the prehistoric cultures of the region as well as the more recent history of the community at the historic sites in Primm Park.

Franklin
This community, although a bit farther from Nashville also has plenty of destinations to attract visitors. Franklin is an important spot in the history of the Civil War. The Battle of Franklin was fought in this town and there are several historic sites where visitors can learn about the Battle of Franklin and its role in the Civil War.

The Carter House in Franklin was a key spot in the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War. Built in 1830, this historic home is open for tours. Visitors can take guided tours of the house and grounds, as well as see a video and explore the museum. Visitors can also take the self-guided Civil War Driving Tour. This tour takes drivers to points of significance during the Civil War located throughout the scenic region. This driving tour is not only a great way to find some historic sites, but it is also a great way to see the beautiful scenery in the region.

Another interesting Civil War destination is the Historic Carnton Plantation. Visitors will find a   great example of one of Nashville’s old mansions at this destination. Carnton Plantation became a field hospital in 1864, during the Civil War, and today visitors can see the confederate cemetery on-site.

A bit out of town from Franklin, Bowie Park and Nature Center is a great destination to enjoy some recreation. The park has plenty of natural areas including a beautiful forest. Visitors to the park can enjoy all sorts of recreation, including hiking, biking and more. Deerwood Arboretum & Nature Center is another place to enjoy recreating in the regions natural setting. The Arboretum is a 27-acre park with native trees, birds, and more. Recreational enthusiasts can also enjoy hiking or biking on the mile long trail within the Deerwood Arboretum & Nature Center.

Leipers Fork
This community is a great rural community just outside of Nashville. It is also a historic town along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Whether you are visiting from Nashville or traveling along the Natchez Trace, Leipers Fork is a fantastic destination. Visitors to Leipers Fork can enjoy the rural atmosphere of the town, while also enjoying learning about the history of the region and seeing some of the few remaining historic homes once common to Williams County.

The Natchez Trace played an important role in the development of Leipers Fork. Today, visitors will find that Leipers Fork is a great destination on the Tennessee portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Natchez Trace was, for thousands of years, an important route used by American Indians and later by settlers. Now, the historic trail is a 444-mile parkway through multiple states. Travelers along the parkway can visit many historic sites and enjoy all sorts of recreation including camping, hiking, biking and more.

Camping Gem | Coastal Rhode Island

History, Sailing and Fishing - Experience Coastal Rhode Island

Rhode Island's plentiful coastline is a real camping gem. All along the miles of coast you will find all sorts of different activities to enjoy. For the more adventurous, Rhode Island offers many opportunities for off-shore saltwater fishing, and for those seeking a bit more relaxation, there are miles of stunning beaches to enjoy a day in the sand and sun.

One of the first things that comes to mind when you think about the coast is sandy beaches, sun and clear blue waters. The miles of coastline on Rhode Island offer all of these things to its visitors. Many of Rhode Island's beaches are perfect for enjoying all of the summer coast activities that you look forward to on vacation. The sandy beaches are ideal for talking long walks on the beach, playing in the sand and building sand castles. Of course, Rhode Island's beaches are also an excellent place to enjoy all sorts of exciting water sports.

The ocean coastline on Rhode Island is perfect for water sports like surfing, body surfing and more. Experienced swimmers and water sport enthusiasts can explore the many varied types of coastline on Rhode Island. Less experienced swimmers may want to stay within Narragansett Bay, where the waters are more protected because of the breakwater. Narragansett Bay is also a great spot to have fun snorkeling, kayaking and of course boating.

Rhode Island is famous for its sailing history. This state hosted the America's Cup for years, and has earned its reputation as a sailing destination. For travelers that have their own boat, Rhode Island is an ideal destination, with all of the islands within Narragansett Bay to explore and of course the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. You can also take a charter a boat trip. There are many options for charter boating, including tours of the Bay, and fishing trips.

In addition to being a destination for sailing, Rhode Island is also known for its excellent fishing. On the coast you can enjoy a wide variety of saltwater fishing. The protection of the bay and shorelines create excellent bottom fishing opportunities.. The in-shore and rock casting are also excellent in Rhode Island. Fishing enthusiasts travel to Rhode Island for the bluefin tuna, striped bass, swordfish and more. Rhode Island also offers excellent offshore fishing, and one great way to enjoy this experience is to take  a charter fishing trip. The captains of the charter boats have a wealth of local knowledge and experience to make sure you have a great trip.

Walking and hiking on the many trails along Rhode Island's coast is another way to enjoy all of the fun of the coast. The Cliff Walk on the eastern shore of Newport is a great option for those visiting the city. Not only does the walk pas through a historic district, but it travels along impressive cliffs, and provides the chance to experience some of Rhode Island's more rugged coastline.

Another hiking option is the Coastal Nature Trail. You can explore much of Rhode Island's coastline and different regions on the trails of the Coastal Nature Trail. This trail will show you much of the diversity of Rhode Island's coastline, from bulges to freshwater wetlands. The Coastal Nature Trail also has some points of historical significance, inkling Fort Adams and much more.

The coastal town in Rhode Island are also another fantastic way to enjoy all that the coast has to offer. Within these towns there are resorts, golf courses, delicious dining and shopping. If you love antiquing there are small town on the coast perfect for spending some time exploring the state's antiques. Rhode Island's coastal towns also have plenty of museums and family oriented attractions.

No matter what type of coastal experience you are looking for, there is something for you on the miles of seashore in Rhode Island. There are sandy beaches, stunning cliffs, rugged trails, exhilarating fishing and much, much more. Coastal Rhode Island is the perfect destination for an adventure filled or a simple relaxing vacation.

Mount Dora, Florida - Outdoor Activities

Rivers, Lakes, Spring & Antiques - Something for everyone in Mount Dora, Florida


Located in Central Florida, just a thirty minute drive away from Orlando, Mount Dora is an ideal destination for a quiet and relaxing getaway. Visitors to Mount Dora will enjoy recreation, shipping, relaxation and a delightful time exploring the historic town. Whether you stay for a weekend or a week, there will be plenty to entertain throughout the trip.

The town of Mt. Dora has a long and rich history. Visitors can learn about this history at the Royellou Museum, and at the Antique Boat Museum. Another excellent historic point of interest is the Lakeside Inn. The in is on the National Register and has been in operation for over 128 years. Not only is the Lakeside Inn an excellent Mount Dora point of interest, but it is also a great place to stay. Visitors can also stop at the Old Mount Dora Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Station, which is the Chamber of Commerce today.

In addition to a fascinating history, Mount Dora is also known for its excellent festivals held throughout the year. Visitors in the spring can coordinate their visit with the art festival. In the fall Mount Dora hosts a craft festival. Visitors will also find antique boat shows, sailing and bicycling events on the annual calendar. Of course what would a city renowned for its festivals be without a great holiday event. Mount Dora celebrates the holiday season with an amazing display of lights, during the "Lighting of Mount Dora," followed by even more events.

Mount Dora is also known for its excellent opportunities for antique enthusiasts. Visitors at certain times during the year might be lucky enough to enjoy one of the town's antique shows. Mount Dora also has an excellent Flea Market, as well as a top notch Antique Mall. Throughout the year thousands of people visit Mount Dora to explore the Renninger's Twin Markets.

Located in the aptly named Lake County, Mount Dora is a surrounded by lakes, including Lake  Dora, Lake Eustis, Lake Harris and many more. Visitors to this region can enjoy relaxing on the lakefront, and they can also enjoy all of the recreational access that the many lakes afford. Lake County has a great Blueways system. A Blueway is a waterway trail, and Mount Dora is a great spot to start an exploration of these trails.

Kayakers and canoeists have a unique opportunity to explore the nature in the region. In a county filled with small and larger lakes, water recreation is one of the best ways to explore all that the area has to offer. The Blueways near Mount Dora vary in difficulty from trails great for beginners to those that require expert level skills. Lake County's system of Blueway trails pass into wilderness areas and also offer great access for hiking trails as well as camping adventures.

Visitors to Mount Dora will also find excellent parks and wilderness areas to explore. The nearby Seminole State Forest and WekiVa Springs State Park are just two of the places nearby where visitors and residents can enjoy the beautiful nature of Central Florida. Mount Dora is an amazing spot to enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, relaxing, sunset gazing and much more. No matter what your interests, Mount Dora will have something to interest anyone during a relaxing and fun stay.

Camp Mesa Verde

RVing and Camping Mesa Verde


Mesa Verde National Park is one Colorado destination not to be missed. The park celebrates the history of the Pueblo people in the southwestern United States. Visitors to Mesa Verde can enjoy some of Colorado's amazing archeological sites, including some of the best cliff dwellings in the country.

Located in the southwestern corner of Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is a great spot to enjoy some of Colorado's amazing archeological sites. Within the park, visitors will find over 4,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. An adventure to Mesa Verde can start at the Far View Visitor Center.

The Far View Visitor Center introduces all visitors to the park. There are exhibits of historic Native American art. Visitors also have to stop at the Far View Visitor Center to purchase tickets for the guided tours of the most remarkable cliff dwellings in the park. When the Far View Visitor Center is closed, the tickets for the guided tours of the cliff dwellings are available at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The Museum has displays that illustrates Ancestral Puebloan life. In addition the museum has a range of Puebloan artifacts.

After starting a visit at the Far View Visitor Center and the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, visitors should be sure to explore one of the cliff dwellings within the park. Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House, are only open to visitors with tickets. Spruce Tree House and Step House are both open seasonally for self guided tours.

Taking a guided tour of at least one of the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde is an absolute must for any visitor that is up to the journey. Guided and self-guided tours of any of the cliff tours are difficult and require a certain amount of stamina due to the distance of trails, quantity of steps and ladders and the high elevation of the destination.

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde. Visitors have to purchase tickets for an hour long guided tour. The tour covers about a quarter of a mile, but it involves climbing ladders, and a vertical climb. This walk and climb allows visitors to see the rooms and areas where the Pueblo people once lived. The tour for Cliff Palace starts at the Cliff Palace Overlook.

Another cliff dwelling that visitors can tour is Balcony House, which is one of the tours that provides the most adventure of all of the tours. Also an hour long, this tour takes visitor up a 60 foot rock face, multiple ladders and even a tunnel. Overall visitors get to really experience the cliff dwelling.

Long House is another guided cliff dwelling tour, which provides one of the most in depth look into the dwellings. This tour starts with a tram ride, and has a 3/4 mile walk, in addition to ladders and a nice long tour. The last cliff dwelling is the Spruce Tree House, which is open throughout the year. During the winter the dwelling is only accessible on a ranger guided tour, but during the spring through the fall visitors are allowed to take self-guided tours of the dwelling.

Visitors that aren't able to take a tour of the cliff dwellings, and those that want to see even more of the park can take the Mesa Top Loop Road. This is a driving tour of some amazing overlooks of the park. Mesa Top Loop Road takes drivers on a six mile loop that allows visitors to explore and see some of the parks beautiful sites. Tourists on the Mesa Top Loop Road can stop and see Cliff Palace from the Sun Point and Sun Temple stops.

Mesa Verde National Park also has many hiking trails throughout the park. There are trails for more experienced hikers as well as shorter trails for those that are more pressed for time. Each of the different trails takes visitors in to some of the most scenic sites within the park. There are trails that take visitors to petroglyphs and other important sites.

Throughout Mesa Verde National Park there are many fascinating sights to enjoy. Visitors can learn all about the history of the park and the Puebloan culture at the Far View Visitor Center and the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. The park has amazing cliff dwellings, fascinating hiking trails. Mesa Verde National Park is an amazing Colorado attraction.

Louisville, KY - Horse Racing Capital of the World

Experience the Thrill of Kentucky Derby and The Oaks


Each May Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky hosts two of the most exciting horse racing events you will find in the United States, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. Each of these events has its own culture and traditions, that have evolved over time. Visitors from all corners of the US come together each year to take in the excitement and festivities of these world class events.

Churchill Downs is one of the top ranked hours racing tracks in the United States. Located right in south Louisville its accessibility is a testament to the long history and importance of horse racing in Kentucky. This course officially opened in 1875 and in the same year hosted the first Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs has also hosted other important horse racing events, and is an ever popular destination for residents and visitors alike in Louisville. This year, 2011, marks the 137th year of both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Oaks is held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby. This race is for three year old thoroughbred fillies. The horses and jockeys compete on a 1 1/8 mile course. Every year the winner of this race receives a $500,000 purse. The winner is also draped with a garland of lilies, which has given this race the name "Lillies for the Fillies."

Attendees of the Kentucky Oaks get the chance to participate in the many traditions of the event. The day of the Kentucky Oaks is now "Ladies First" day. It has earned this distinction because the race is limited to fillies, and the official flower is the lily, and because it is a day to celebrate the importance of women. Now, the official color is pink, to help highlight and raise money for causes important to women.

Visitors to Churchill Downs on the day of the Kentucky Oaks wear all sorts of pink to show their spirit. As the Kentucky Oaks is held the Friday before the Kentucky Derby it also falls during the Kentucky Derby Festival. This festival lasts for the two-weeks leading up to the one-of-a-king event. If you want to truly experience the spirit and culture of the Kentucky Derby, attending some of the events held during the festival is a must.

The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday of May. This is for three year old thoroughbred horses, both geldings and fillies. The horses race on a  1 1/4 miles course. The excitement, speed and duration of this race has earned it the title "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports." It is also sometimes referred to as "The Run for the Roses" because winners are draped in a blanket of roses after completing the race. The winner of the Kentucky Derby also has the chance to become a Triple Crown winner, as the Kentucky Derby is the first of the three races that make the Triple Crown. The other two Triple Crown races are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

All of the excitement and festivities of the Kentucky Derby make it one of the most attended stakes race in the United States. Attendees of this race can watch from the standing room only area, or can get tickets for the trackside dining, or can instead enjoy the fun party atmosphere at The Infield. Each year the Infield at the Kentucky Derby is packed full of people ready to have fun. Part of the Infield is dedicated for those revelers ready to have lots of raucous fun. For the families that want to enjoy the fun of the Infield the area near Turn 1 has a more sedated family setting.

Throughout the remainder of the year, visitors to Louisville can learn about the race, culture and history of the Kentucky Derby at the Kentucky Derby Museum. This museum is located on the front steps of Churchill Downs and is a great attraction throughout the year in Louisville. This museum preserves and shares all of the fun and excitement of the Kentucky Derby and its history throughout the year.

Camping Gem | Dinosaur National Monument

Discover the Secrets of Vernal, Utah and Dinosaur National Monument

Fossils, petroglyphs and amazing natural beauty.

Vernal, Utah and the nearby Dinosaur National Monument are a great destination for a camping trip. The town of Vernal is a beautiful small town with plenty of attractions to enjoy.  In addition, there are plenty of places nearby to enjoy recreation and camping.

The town of Vernal is located in the northeastern corner of Utah. To the north and west of Vernal is the Ashley National Forest. This national forest is over 1.3 million acres of forest land in Utah and Wyoming. To the east of Vernal is Dinosaur National Monument. Also in the region, the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and the Uinta Mountains. Throughout the region in and around Vernal there are countless opportunities to enjoy recreation, camping and more.

Visitors to Vernal will find all sorts of interesting places to explore in town. Vernal is located right in the heart of a region filled with evidence of the prehistory of the United States. The Utah Field House of Natural History Museum is a great spot to learn about the different dinosaurs and animals that inhabited the area long ago. In addition, the shops in the town of Vernal are great for finding souvenirs to remember the regions history. Other great places to visit in and near Vernal are the Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum and the Dry Forks Petroglyphs.

Of course, Dinosaur enthusiasts won't want to miss a trip to the nearby Dinosaur National Monument. Throughout this park there are many sights and places to visit that offer glimpses into the past. In addition, many of these places to go also offer excellent recreation.

The Harpers Corner Area in Dinosaur National Monument is in the Colorado side of the National Monument. Visitors to these area can take a scenic drive, which is a great way to see the canyon country part of the area. There are places to view scenic overlooks of the Green River Canyon and the Yampa River Canyon. This region also has plenty of hiking trails, where visitors have to opportunity to see fossils in the same spot they have been for centuries.

Another fascinating area in the National Monument is the Cub Creek area in Utah. This region is filled with trails to enjoy hiking on. On these trails there are petroglyphs, pictographs, and even structures for more recent history when the area was homesteaded. Also on the Utah side of the monument is the Jones Hole Creek area. This area also has pictographs, and it is a great place to enjoy some fishing. In fact, the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery raises rainbow and other species of trout to stock areas in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The Rainbow Park and Island Park area in Utah is an excellent region in the park for recreation. Visitors can see much of the most beautiful geologic features in the Dinosaur National Monument. There are plenty of opportunities for river rafting trips on the Green River. While enjoying the geology and recreation in this portion of the park, visitors can find a historic ranch, and plenty of petroglyphs.

Throughout Dinosaur National Monument there are plenty of opportunities for recreation. The park is great for camping, biking, hiking, rafting and more. Biking enthusiasts will be able to find maintained dirt roads, excellent for bicycling. The remoteness of the park makes for great backcountry camping, and it is also an excellent place to enjoy the beauty of the night sky.

Hiking is a fabulous way to truly explore the park. Many trails are easily accessible from the visitor centers and paved roads. However, for those visitors that enjoy more remote and difficult conditions, will find plenty of trails in the more remote parts of the park.

River rafting is another really fun activity to enjoy in Dinosaur National Monument. The Green River and the Yampa River both pass through the monument. Both rivers provide stunning views of the remote and beautiful areas of the park. River rafting offers visitors unparalleled views into the park, while enjoying the excitement of river rapids. The Green River has some amazingly difficult rapids between the Gates of Lodore and Split Mountain. Warm Springs Rapid among others is a tricky rapid on the Yampa River.

Vernal and Dinosaur National Monument give visitors an opportunity to take a glimpse into the ancient history of this region of our country. The area is filled with amazing fossils, prehistoric animals and dinosaurs. There are many ways to experience this history, at museums or in the wild. Vernal provides visitors with the museums and Dinosaur National Monument allows visitors to discover this part of history while enjoying some world class recreation.

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