Unique Places in United States of America

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in United States of America

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    The Museum of the Mountain Man

    by PA2AKgirl Updated Jun 2, 2004

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    Now, I would have thought this would have been about mountain men...was I wrong to assume this? I mean, the name, does it not say...

    BUT, it's a good museum anyway. Mostly, it's a museum about 2 things: 1) westward expansion and 2) local county history. They do have some good exhibits given it's in a TINY town (Pinedale, Wyoming) and the people are very nice. The one woman who works here is from Pennsylvania, so we talked about that too. However, she made it seem that if we continued onto the Grand Tetons that day, we were going to die a terrible death from the snow and ice. She just wanted us to hang out at the museum all day. Seriously, though...it's a decent museum. They also have a 28 minute video, perhaps that has something to do with mountain men...that was a little too long for us since we were now terrified about the conditions north of Jackson.

    After leaving, I got pulled over for going like 34 in a 30. The guy asked me why I was driving so fast and i told him it was because I had just been to the museum and I was so excited about everything I had seen, I wasn't paying attention. I also had some BS excuse about not knowing what road I was on. He asked us what we were doing "in his neck of the woods" and where we were headed. When Jeanette said "Alaska" he just ran my license and told us to have a great trip.

    The museum is located off of 191, 75 miles south of Jackson Hole.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Museum Visits

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    Respecting Nature: Amelia Island Motto

    by deecat Updated Jul 30, 2006

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    One year in the 1980s, right before Christmas, the school where I taught burned, & my room was completely destroyed. I lost everything &, of course, was quite upset, close to depressed. To cheer me up, my husband booked a Spring Break vacation at Amelia Island, Florida It was one of our best vacations; however, it took us literally 3 years to pay for it!
    We stayed in a 2-bedroom golf villa with a golf course view.
    Amelia Island is off the northeastern coast of Florida, almost at the Georgia border. Amelia Island Plantation Resort (where we stayed) was developed in the early 1970s with a master plan to protect tidal marshes, conserve oceanfront dunes, grasslands, & savannahs. "An unprecedented 40-foot wide strip of natural vegetation was added as a buffer to all waterways allowing them to remain a wildlife refuge, travel corridors, & food sources."
    The Island has 13 miles of lovely beaches that are framed by 40-foot dunes capped by sea oats...simply breathtaking. Because of the salt marshes & moss-covered trees, there are more than 250 types of birds.

    While at Amelia Island, be sure to see the fifty-block area of shady streets where you can view 19th-century Victorian "cottages" from Amelia's golden era. What amazing architecture. See the Fairbanks House, nicknamed "Fairbanks Folly" because of its opulent excesses--it's now a popular bed & breakfast.
    The downtown Fernandina Beach has stores with antiques, clothing, & collectibles, but it's the architecture that dates from 1873-1900 that's just fascinating. There are gas lantern replicas & wrought iron benches & cobblestone walks.
    Also, make sure you visit Amelia Island Museum of History...it's unique because it is a narrative by docents who tell of the 4,000 years of the Island's history.
    Even though it was expensive & took 3 years to pay for, we've never regretted our incredible vacation on lovely Amelia Island, Florida

    Front View of Villas at Amelia Island, Florida
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    • Golf
    • Architecture

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    Peoria's Tricentennial Giant Oak Tree

    by deecat Updated Mar 4, 2005

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    If you're ever near Peoria, Illinois, stop at Bluff Historical District (High &Moss Streets) to see the "Sentinel on the Bluff", a gigantic Bur Oak.

    In the mid 1600's, the French explorers toured this region inhabited by Peoria Native Americans, & in the 1750's early surveys by European settlers include a reference to this particular tree.
    In the 1850's, Dr. & Mrs. E.H. Bradley acquire the land upon which the tree stands; 1930's the Bradley family purchases adjoining backlot, has large house razed to allow tree's roots to grow unhampered!

    Later, in the 1960's, The Park District purchases the site to save the oak tree.

    1971: site is illuminated, & 3 years later, Giant Oak Park becomes l name of the tree site.
    1976, the tree is designated a "Bicentennial Tree" by the International Society of Arboriculture & National Arborist Association because the tree was living during the American Revolutionary Period.
    During the years of 1976-1977, Frank Hanbury, Jr collects 200 acorns from the tree & plants them in 4 western states.

    By 1991, The Giant Oak Tree is designated Peoria's "Tricentennial Tree", & the beginning of a seed propagation project by Illinois Department of Conservation & Peoria Urban Forestry Board begins.

    1992-1993 sees the Peoria City Beautiful, City of Peoria, & the Peoria Park District, through deed of land transfer secure the eastward expansion of the tree's root system.

    From 1994 until today (2005), Peoria Park District owns & maintains the Giant Oak Park.
    Where did I receive this history of the tree?
    I discovered it on a brass placard within the enclosed portion of the park. The tree has been protected by a black wrought-iron fence so it is not vandalized or damaged in any way.
    Dimensions of the Giant Oak: (1994)
    50 feet high
    110-foot spread
    54.5 inch trunk diameter

    The Brass Commemoration ends with these stirring words: "To the brave old oak tree, Cheers!"

    Giant Bur Oak in Peoria
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    • Eco-Tourism

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    Mystic Hot Springs

    by PA2AKgirl Written May 29, 2004

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    Located in the southern part of Utah, Mystic Hot Springs are a nice way to spend an evening. I've been to many hot springs before--some that are just holes in the ground, some that are huge round community tubs, some that are pools...but they are individual HUGE iron bath tubs that fill up from the springs coming off the mountain. They are arranged in groups of 2, 3, 4 and alone. Definitely more than one person can fit in a tub, but seeing that I was traveling with a friend, NOT someone I was involved with at all, we opted for separate tubs:)

    The view is beautiful...again in the desert. But you can't have alcohol up there. UGH, that sucks! (but it IS Utah...) And the whole setting is a little too much like a commune for my liking. You walk in, pay your $5.00 (for 24 hours) and it's like the people who run the place (and live in this small house, play music, tell you about the benefits of wind power of all things...) want you to stay. Forever. There's also camping, which was considered until we noticed that it was in the middle of a trailer park. Not my ideal setting to put up a tent. It's a nice daytime getaway, not for an extended stay. Other hot springs will be mentioned in my tips that are better for that.

    It's off of exit I-70 in Utah, exit 32
    475 E. 100 North
    Monroe, Utah 84754

    view from the tubs

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    Cool Things To Do in Illinois

    by deecat Updated Feb 28, 2005

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    While visiting Illinois, here are a number of "cool" places to visit that many people never consider.

    Beall Woods Nature Preserve and State Park is near Mt. Carmel and is situated along the scenic Wabash River. It is one of the largest virgin deciduous forests in the nation!

    Nauvoo was a Mormon town but the Mormons were driven out. Today, this restored town offers historic craft demonstrations & tours of 19th-century homes.

    Aurora is fifty miles southwest of downtown Chicago in the Fox River Valley. Local history is well-preserved here, and the Historical Museum specializes in 19th-century life, and the Blackberry Historical Farm Village is modeled on an 1840s farm. But the real "gem" here is the Paramount Arts Center built in 1931, one of the country's most glorious movie palaces. It's been restored and has plays & musicals throughout the year. You can also do a Backstate Tour.

    Cahokia is a small town in southwestern Illinois. It's one of the oldest towns in the state, but you should see it because of the Cahokia Mounds, the only prehistoric city north of Mexico City.

    Starved Rock State Park is situated southwest of Chicago near Utica. The park is on the Illinois River so you can fish and go boating. There are 15 miles of walking trails that wind their way around bluffs & canyons. There's a 60-foot waterfall and a 125-foot majestic sandstone bluff called, of course, Starved Rock

    Oak Park is less than 10 miles west of downtown Chicago and is celebrated for the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright's Home and Studio are open daily for tours, and about two dozens of famous "prairie-style" houses are located here. One of Wright's most famous churches, Unity Temple is also located in Oak Park. You may also wish to visit Ernest Hemingway's birthplace.

    Paramount Theater in Aurora
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    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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    Amana Villages National Historic Landmark: Iowa

    by deecat Written Mar 10, 2005

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    Near Cedar Rapids, Iowa,visitors are able to see original and restored buildings, craft and furniture shops as well as museums connected with the Amana Society, a German Protestant religious society. The Amana Colonies are seven communities that are spread over 26,000 acres along the Iowa River Valley in Eastern Iowa. Today there are about 1500 residents who are usually descendants of society known as the Colonies of True Inspiration who fled Germany to the United States to escape persecution.

    The seven villages are laid out in a kind of old-world style, and the entire settlement (475 sites & buildings) is a national historic landmark. That's probably why it is also Iowa's number one tourist attraction.

    At first this community was a "communal lifestyle place"; today, it is part of a free enterprise system.

    I found the plain churches quite quaint. They have no stained glass windowns or any ornate items. We were told that women sit on one side of the church, and men sit on the other side. No ministers preside; instead, lay elders conduct the services.

    Interestingly, in the graveyards, only plain stone markers are used; their reason...to show that all people are equal in the eyes of God. Each of the seven villages has its own cemetery.

    The people in the seven communities produce clocks, cheeses, wine, hardwood furniture, meats, and woolens. All of these are available for purchase in the shops throughout the villages.

    You might know that I would like the Chocolate Haus the best. They make hand-dipped fudges and chocolates from 100-year-old recipes.

    I noticed that there are plenty of hotels, motels, and Bed & Breakfast in the area for those who wish to stay over.

    It's obvious to see why more than one million people visit the Amana villages every year; it is quite unique.

    Amana Villages in Iowa
    Related to:
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    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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    Michigan's Mackinac Island

    by deecat Written Mar 17, 2005

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    On our trip around Lake Michigan, one of our stops was Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw). Because no cars are allowed on the island, we took a 20-minute ferry ride across the Straits of Mackinac.

    Oblivious to the fact that I'm quite allergic to horses, we proceeded to tour this enchanted island of horse-drawn carriages.

    The island's name means "Great Turtle" because it resembles the humped shell of a turtle coming out of the water.

    Without car noises and smells, you feel as though you have gone back a century in time. Boats & planes deliver mail, supplies, & groceries as well as tourists.

    Just off the ferry docks is the main street called Huron Street. Take a stroll to smell the fudge being made; two of the best fudge makers are Murdick's and Ryba's. Walk east on Huron & then up Fort St. to the White Fort Mackinac. Use the 150-foot-high ramp to reach South Port Entrance. Here, you can see the Officer's stone Quarters (island's oldest bldg.) and the Soldier's Barracks.

    After walking Market Street with its old houses with hanging flower baskets, we went to Marquette Park to where carriages are lined up to rent for a tour around the island. We then saw the Grand Hotel (1887) with its 660-foot porch (over 2 football fields in length) that has many rockers and multitudes of geraniums. After the hotel, we were taken to the horse stables. Suddenly, I could not breath, and my throat closed up. The same thing happened to another girl on the tour. Authorities rushed us to the ferry, and we were off. As soon as the fresh air hit us (& we were away from the horses), we could breath again!

    Even though I strongly suggest seeing Mackinac Island, I, myself, cannot return.

    Located in Lake Huron a few miles east of St. Ignace at the divide between Michigan's upper & lower peninsulas.

    Mackinac Island's Downtown
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    Indiana Dunes State Park

    by deecat Written Mar 21, 2005

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    3 miles north of Chesterton, Indiana, on In49 is Indiana Dunes State Park, & it includes over 3 miles of Lake Michigan's southern shore.

    Huge sand dunes rise along the shore;thousands of years ago, the lake deposited sand on the beach while the water level slowly sank. Then, winds blew in from the lake & formed these dunes. When the wind comes over the shore, plants, dunes, & hills slow the wind so that it is forced to drop its load of sand, which, in turn, creates shoreline sand dunes. A really unusual feature is the "blowouts". After many years, the sand blows away & leaves behind dead stumps of what were once living trees. See "blowouts" on Trail #10. It's really quite weird.

    Thank goodness, much of the remaining dune area is protected as Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
    Additional hiking trails are found in this Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. These trails go by historic structures, woods, wet prairie, ponds, & up to Mt. Baldy.

    Mt. Baldy is one of the largest dunes on Lake Michigan's shore. It's known as a "live dune" because it is still being blown along by the wind. It moves 4 to 5 feet farther from the lake each year. I've heard it called the "smoking dune" because the sand blowing off the top looks like smoke.

    We had a family reunion there one year. From the beach, we were able to swim. Some of the family went fishing; the children built sand castles; & some of the history buffs explored evidence of Indian heritage at the Bailley Homestead.

    Some of the teenagers toured the nature center & learned much about the area, finding out that cross-country skiing is allowed during the winter months. They also found out that it took 50 years to save the dunes; this valuable area was being destroyed by industrialization. After the area was established as a protected area, that led to the acquisition of almost 9,000 acres of dunes & wetlands.

    Spend some quality time at the Indiana Dunes State Park, one of nature's real "wonders".

    Indiana Dunes State Park
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    • Adventure Travel
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Architectural Gem: Marshall, Michigan

    by deecat Updated Mar 25, 2005

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    My best friend, Marilyn, lives in Charlotte, Michigan, right next to Marshall, Michigan, a real architectural gem. There's a townwide dedication to preserve the past, & this led to a massive restoration. They did this long before it became fashionable; it's been going on for half a century.

    I think Marshall looks like a picture-perfect 1800s town. There are blocks of Greek Revivals, Italianate villas, & turreted Queen Annes. The town is filled with antique shops, which Marilyn & I visited.

    A land speculator from New York state bought parcels of land, & wealthy families from upstate New York settled here. They named the town after Chief Justic John Marshall; soon, it became the county seat of Calhoun County.

    Because the residents, especially Senator James Wright Gordon thought that Marshall would become the state capital, he built a governor's mansion. Alas, they were not chosen as the capital; instead, Lansing received that designation. So, Gordon moved into the home on South Marshall Street. It still stands today, & the locals call the neighborhood that surrounds it, "Capitol Hill".

    I loved the old-fashioned dime store that sells most everything, & the local hardward store that reminds me of the 1950s. It's great fun to go in & out of all the brick storefronts. Much of the wares are Victorian in nature.

    Oh, yes, Marilyn took me to Schuler's of Marshall to eat. It's a dining institution for more than 50 years. It serves prime rib, delicious filets, freshly baked breads, & a towering ice cream pie that is topped with hot caramel sauce!

    The historical society is in the Honolulu House, which looks strange in this Victorian community. But, a former U.S. consul to the Sandwich Island (Now Hawaii) reportedly built the home to resemble one he owned in the islands. Pick up a free walking-tour guide with more than 100 historic houses & buildings..

    Honolulu House in Marshall, Michigan
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    Admirers of Abe Lincoln: Springfield, Illinois

    by deecat Written Mar 29, 2005

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    If you admire President Lincoln as I do, then you must see Springfield, Illinois.

    It became the state capital when the General Assembly voted to move the capital from Vandalia to Springfield; it was in the center of the state. That same year, Lincoln moved to Springfield.

    It was here that Lincoln met & married Mary Todd They bought a home here; it was the only home that Lincoln ever owned. 3 of their 4 sons were born here. Once elected the 16th president of the US, Lincoln had to leave Springfield; he made a farewell speech from the back of his train that included this remark, "I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return." How prophetic.
    After his assassination, a funeral train carried his body to Springfield.

    Lincoln Home National Historic Site

    You can visit Abe & Mary's home in Springfield. The house contains period pieces (many original).

    The Lincoln Home Visitor Center (426 S. 7th St) contains an exhibit of various other Lincoln sites in the area.

    The Great Western Depot, where Lincoln delivered his farewell speech, now contains restored waiting rooms & exhibits. The law offices of Abe & his partner William Herndon are located in the surviving portion of a Greek Revival commercial block. There's also the old federal courtroom where Lincoln argued cases.

    The Old State Capitol is a Greek Revival structure with a domed cupola & Doric porticos. Lincoln delivered his "House Divided" speech here in 1858. His body lay in state here after his assassination.

    Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site
    Lincoln's coffin was placed in a white marble sarcophagus in the center of the burial chamber, itself surmounted by a tall granite obelisk. It & much of the statuary are very beautiful. A large bust of Lincoln stands at the approach to the tomb. Lincoln's remains now lie sealed in a vault beneath the floor of this same monument. Three of his sons & his wife Mary are also interred in this monument.

    Abe Lincoln's Springfield Home
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    Originally a "5&10 Store: Wal-Mart Museum

    by deecat Updated Jul 30, 2006

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    The main reason that Allan and I drove from Bella Vista to Bentonville, Arkansas, was to see this visitors center and experience the history and origin of Wal-Mart. My sister Ronda has worked at Wal-Mart in our hometown of Robinson, Illinois for years, and I wanted to see for myself what this company is all about.

    It truly is an educational and historical facility filled with fascinating displays, videos, photographs, and philosophies. More than that, it is a history of retail. Located in the Walton family's original 5 & 10, it looks like a store from the old dime store days.

    There are individual learning stations scattered throughout the facility where I learned about the amazing growth of this company.

    I especially enjoyed seeing Mr. Sam's 1979 red and white Ford F-150 custom pickup truck that has about 66,000 miles on it. The truck also has cages on the back for his much-loved hungting dogs. [see third photo]

    I also enjoyed the reconstructed Wal-Mart Home Office [left exactly as it was on the day that Sam died!]

    In addition, I really loved all of the family photographs, the Sam philosophies, and the memorials to Sam, his brother, and his youngest son [see 2nd photo]

    Impressive also was all the information about Sam's wife, Helen Walton who is still living and continues to do numerous good works for this community.

    The center is FREE and is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

    Wl-Mark Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas Allan perusing displays at Wal-Mart Museum Sam Walton's Truck at Wal-Mart Museum
    Related to:
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    History and Architecture Rule in Galena

    by deecat Updated Mar 1, 2005

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    Galena is one of my favorite Illinois towns to visit. It's such a historical and architecturally interesting place set on rerraces cut by the old Fever River.. It was once a major crossroads for French exploration of the New World and even the commercial and cultural capital of the Northwest Territory!

    Once lead was discovered in the region, Galena was named for the ore. By 1845, Galena was producing nearly all the nation's lead, which lead to wealth and opulence. That's why there are grand mansions still standing today that were built on the fortunes acquired from the lead and steamboat businesses.

    After the Civil War, Galena's importance declined very rapidly. Today when you walk the streets of Galena, it is as though you have stepped back in time. The 19th-century architecture includes Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne.. Would you believe that 90% of Galen's buildings are listed on the National register of Historic Places?

    It's a great place for shopping, going on tours of the historic buildings such as the Dowling House, Galena Post Office & Customs House, Grace Episcopal Church, and, of course, Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site. You might also want to take in the Vinegar Hill Lead Mine & Museum.

    We stayed at the famed Desoto House Hotel right on Main Street (1855) in the Ulysses S. Grant Room. It's the oldest operating hotel in Illinois.. What a grand old place it is.(800/343/6562).

    The surrounding area is also marvelous with rolling hills, orchards, golf courses, and small, interesting towns.

    Desoto House in Galena
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    Remembering Childhood

    by deecat Updated Jul 30, 2006

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    If I asked, "Want to see the Daisy Museum?", you'd probably think it was a flower museum. Not at all. It's a museum in Rogers, Arkansas, that gives the history of the famous Daisy airgun [b-b-gun], located at 202 West Walnut Street and well worth a visit.

    Since 1960, Daisy's corporate offices in Rogers, AR, have kept an impressive airgun collection. In 1999, the company chose to utilize that collection to create an entertaining museum to serve as a tourist attraction for the Northwest Arkansas town. In 2004, they relocated the Airgun Museum to this current location. [Old Rexall Drugstore and Soda Fountain]

    I found the Daisy Museum to be fun because it brought back memories of childhood with "B-B gun"! I'll never forget my dad always warning never to point a Daisy at any living thing.

    The museum has a nice gift shop where memorabilia can be purchased as souvenirs or gifts. I saw traditional and old-fashioned toys, scented soaps that were handmade, and great post cards.

    Kids love the fact that they can beg their parents to look at the rifles, pistols, youth guns, ammo, and accessories such as logo caps, posters, and the famous Red Ryder Cowboy Carbine Tin Sign.

    You are able to walk through the museum at your own pace. I saw antique Daisy advertisements that I remember seeing as a teenager, antique Daisy airguns [over 145 of them!], a display of primitive airguns dating back to the 1700s, as well as the very latest Daisy airguns.

    While in Rogers, Arkansas, don't miss this museum.

    The Rogers, Arkansas, Daisy Airgun Museum
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    Butterflies, Flowers, Golf, and Bass! GEORGIA

    by deecat Updated Feb 22, 2005

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    The story goes that about 60 years ago, Carson Callaway took a walk in the west Georgia woods and discovered a bright red azalea. He had never seen one quite like it before, and neither had anyone else! It only grew in pine woods. Today, because of careful management, they grow in abundance throughout the 14,000 acres of Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia..
    My original interest in Callaway Gardens was to see the butterfly gardens that a friend of mine kept raving about. Also, we had heard about the great golf course there.
    Little did I know that some of the best bass fishing was also there!
    Mountain Creek is the largest of its 13 lakes, and it has been open to fishing since the 1960s, but the other dozen have been closed to the public. Mountain Creek is a "atch and keep fishery", and for $20, you can rent a johnboat for half-a-day. In that amount of time, you'll probably fill a stringer with largemouths of about 3 pounds each.
    There is an angling pro shop at Callaway Gardens' boat house that will provide everything that you'll need.
    Spring and fall are the best months to fish.
    The fishing was great, but I really enjoyed the flowers and the butterflies, the three 18-hole courses and a par-three executive course. We also enjoyed tennis, swimming, and hiking.
    I think that its one of the most comprehensive resorts in the Southeast.
    The good thing is that accommodations range from elegant to luxurious in Callaway Gardens Inn, Callaway Country Cottages, and private Mountain Creek Villas. Also, the inn features both casual and fine Southern cuisine.
    Open all year
    Rates: From $118.00 for 2 per day
    Activities: Golf, tennis, canoeing, boating, hiking, fishing, bird watching, biking, wildlife photography, and antiquing.

    Flowers at Callaway Gardens in Georgia
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    • Fishing
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    Lavish Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

    by deecat Updated May 3, 2005

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    The largest & most expensive home ever built in the United States is the Biltmore Manor with its 255 rooms. It reminds me of a fairy tale house.

    Since the late 1700s, people have been visiting Asheville, North Carolina, to visit George Vanderbilt's, Biltmore Estate.

    After Vanderbilt built his home, a great deal of money was invested in the public and private buildings of Asheville...that is until the crash of 1929. Progress was stopped, which, in a way, was good because much of Asheville's fine old architecture was saved.

    But, if you have to see just one thing in Asheville, make sure that it is the Biltmore House with its remarkable architecture. It took five years to complete and includes 50,000 pieces of art, antiques, and other furnishings. The distance from the front door of the mansion to the street is 3 miles!

    Shops include A Gardener's Place and The Stable Shops. We still have a set of wine glasses with the Biltmore emblem engraved on them that we bought there.

    Save at least one day so you can leisurely tour the house, garden, and winery. Also, have lunch at one of the Biltmore restaurants. You might want to visit Biltmore Village, which is a cluster of shops and galleries located in the old employees' quarters outside the Biltmore gates.

    Open every day except Thanksgiving & Christmas.
    9 am to 5pm
    $31.00 for adults

    Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
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United States of America Members Meetings

Jul 25, 2014 
VT Catch Up
Aug 15, 2014 
Celebrate VT's 15th Anniversary
Aug 15, 2014 
VT's 15th Anniversary - The TMZ Hollywood Tour
Aug 15, 2014 
VT 15th Anniversary - First Dinner

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