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Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel....

Culture and History Travel Across the U.S.

One of budget travel’s top trends involves the culture and history of the United States. Though not as ‘old’ as Europe and other parts of the world, the U.S. has wide-ranging culture and history to explore (and at great prices). From the uniquely accented Southeast to the fascinating friendliness of Minnesota, America has an interesting past and present just waiting to be explored.

A landmark report released by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) revealed that more than 65 million Americans say that visited an historic site or museum or attended a music, art, or other cultural event sometime during the year. The report also found that historic/cultural travelers tend to take longer trips, include multiple destinations for each trip, participate in more activities, and stay more often in hotels, motels, and B&Bs than most other groups of travelers.

“This report makes it clear that the historic/cultural traveler is a market to which the travel industry needs to pay close attention in the future,” says William S. Norman, president & DEO of the TIA. “The shear volume of travelers interested in arts and history, as well as their spending habits, their travel patterns, and demographics, leaves no doubt that history and culture are now a significant part of the U.S. travel experience.”

The Southeast

Please pass the grits and praise the travel gods that culture and history are alive and well in the Southeast. Whether it’s the Civil War or civilization that you wish to explore, the Southeast has risen as a top destination. Just head to Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, or another southern state for a taste of southern culture and historic travel.

The Clarksville, Tennessee area provides a perfect example of a weekend getaway for travelers seeking an historic adventure. Just 40 minutes from Nashville on I-24, visitors will enjoy gracious hospitality in this gateway on the Cumberland River. The possibilities include: stately southern mansions; Fort Campbell’s Pratt Military Museum; Historic Collinsville (an 1800s pioneer settlement); the bustling Cumberland RiverWalk; a cruise aboard the Queen of Clarksville riverboat; the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center; antique shops; live theater; varied dining; and much more. For more information, call (800) 530-2487, ext. 579, or visit www.clarksville.tn.us.

Down in the Georgia ((800) VISIT-GA; www.georgia.org), two unique Peach State areas draw travelers interested in southern culture and history: Georgia’s Classic South and the Magnolia Midlands are both part of the state’s Historic South region.

Georgia’s Classic South makes it easy to explore the culture and heritage of the region. Travelers can bless the hounds, cheer the horses, shoot birdies, catch fish, chop a pine tree, pick a bale of cotton, plow a field, and lots more. Other activities include visiting stately homes, strolling gardens, paddling an historic canal, and living off the land like a pioneer. From the shores of Lake Thurmond or Oconee to the river banks of the Ogeechee or Savannah, Georgia’s Classic South is a classic destination.

The Magnolia Midlands area offers plenty of adventure for all ages and interests. Visitors can: explore antique trails, farmland, and festivals that link similar southern towns; tour turn-of-the-century courthouses; discover family genealogy, history, and southern hospitality; buy tickets to a show, symphony, or outdoor pops concert; meander through museums that feature civil war artifacts, whale fossils, and mosasaur skeletons; and so much more. It’s all possible by visiting Hazlehurst, Baxley, Statesboro, Vidalia, Metter, Douglas, and more of the Magnolia Midlands.

Further south in Mississippi, another classic Southeast destination awaits. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is known as the “Playground of the South,” thanks to dozens of historic sites, varied museums, and a diversity of shopping areas. Fun for the entire family, visitors can also relax on 26 miles of sugar-white beaches, play on more than 20 lush golf courses, go deep-sea fishing, enjoy regional cuisine at a wide choice of restaurants, and enjoy distinctive southern hospitality. Of course, travelers will also want to try their luck at one or more of 12 action-packed casinos, where the shows, food, and excitement make it easy to come out and play in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For more information, call (800) 237-9493 or visit www.gulfcoast.org.


The welcome is just as warm up north in the state of Minnesota ((800) 944-1442 ext. 707; www.exploreminnesota.com), where America’s proud history and culture are just as prevalent. Minnesota is home to the largest lake in the world, America’s only million-acre canoe wilderness preserve, and the crystal-clear sours of the great Mississippi River. There are also hundreds of magnificent miles of all-season trails, world-class fishing, championship golf, and hundreds of family-friendly resorts, inns, and campgrounds. Along with the strong culture and history of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, other Minnesota highlights include: Historic Bluff Country & Southern Prairie; Northeastern Minnesota Arrowhead Country; and North Central Western Minnesota.

In Greater Minneapolis ((888) 676-MPLS; www.minneapolis.org), the city’s Convention & Visitors Association (GMCVA) is collaborating with Minneapolis hotels for the 2001/2002 (5th Annual) Cool Dates/Warm Rates promotion. The promotion focuses on Minneapolis during the winter/off-peak months from November, 2001 to March, 2002. The great hotel rates make for an ideal time to visit the city on a budget, with cultural and historic highlights including many museums and galleries, as well as a thriving downtown with 275 ethnic restaurants, unique shopping neighborhoods such as uptwon and the warehouse district, non-stop collegiate and professional sports, and so much more. Nearby and convenient, other possibilities include the Mall of America, Children’s Theatre Company, Science Museum of Minnesota, internationally acclaimed Guthrie Theater, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and the Minneaplolis Institute of Arts.

Thus, from the Southeast to Minnesota, culture and history are a travel trend that many U.S. destinations embrace. They also embrace budget-minded visitors with an interest in these reasons to travel.