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fam - Aug. 1-5, 2017

From fashion to microbrews and everything in between, there are plenty of creative ways to inspire your group’s trip to Columbus. This FAM will take you on unforgettable experiences that will explore all the local restaurants, attractions, dining and more that are made in Cbus. Here is a sampling of the activities that await you in Columbus: • Craft your own card on an antique, hand-operated letterpress and then pick from dozens of scents to hand pour your own custom candle. • Catch a baseball game at America’s best ballpark. • Take a lesson in how essential oils are blended to create custom scents, then weigh, blend and pour the ingredients for your own beer soap crafted with local brews. • Explore the largest Planetarium in Ohio at the nation’s top-rated science center. • Be the first through the gate of the 30th anniversary of the Dublin Irish Festival. *Itinerary subject to change, based on availabilitity

We look forward to hosting you in Columbus! Apply to attend at grouptravelleader.com/2017columbusfam This FAM invitation is limited to qualified tour operators with at least 2 years of professional experience and is non-transferable. FAM attendance is for business associates only and limited to 1 attendee per company. Travel accommodations to and from Columbus and personal incidentals are NOT included in the FAM trip and is the responsibility of the individual attending the FAM. This FAM includes four nights of accommodations, transportation during the FAM, and all meals and attractions as listed on the itinerary. A pre/post hotel FAM rate will be available for those wishing to extend their stay.

experiencecolumbus.com/tours


Handle rare Museum artifacts • Walk on Omaha Beach • Visit Pegasus Bridge • Bus tour of Paris

Yesterday’s Lessons for Tomorrow’s Leaders Study the Decisions That Won The War and What They Mean Today

Unforgettable 12-Day Overseas Educational Journey in New Orleans and Normandy

An Immersive 7-Day Leadership Program at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans

College: June 13-24, 2017 • High School: June 19-30, 2017 College: June 11-22, 2018 • High School: June 17-28, 2018

High School Juniors & Seniors and College Students July 16-22, 2017 and July 8-14, 2018

The National WWII Museum Summer Student Programs Now enrolling for Summer 2017 and 2018 – Receive College Credit!

Take a Ride on PT-305! • Climb in a Sherman Tank Go behind the scenes with Museum curators

Enroll today by visiting www.ww2museumtours.org/student-travel or calling 1-877-813-3329 x514


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table ofCONTENTS VOL 27 | ISSUE 4

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6 EDITOR’S MARKS

12 C H A N G I N G H O R I Z O N S

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LOUISIANA FOR STUDENTS L O U I S I A N A F E S T I VA L S

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O N TH E COVER

A young traveler relaxing in a hot spring at sunset enjoys a stunning view of the Sierra Nevada mountains near Mammoth Lakes, California. By Rachid Dahnoun

FEATURES

THESE CITIES GIVE STUDENT GROUPS GREAT PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES.

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KEYSTONE Pennsylvania offers enduring travel experiences for groups.

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CALIFORNIA SPOTLIGHT

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HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA

SHOPPING GUIDE

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MAC T. LACY CHARLES A. PRESLEY BRIAN JEWELL HERBERT SPARROW DONIA SIMMONS DAVID BROWN

Founder and Publisher Partner Executive Editor Senior Writer Creative Director Art Director

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ELIZA MYERS CHRISTINE CLOUGH SAVANNAH OSBOURN ASHLEY RICKS KELLY TYNER STACEY BOWMAN

Online Editor Copy Editor Staff Writer Circulation Manager Director of Sales & Marketing Advertising Sales Director

888.25 .0455 KELLY@GROUPTR AVELLEADER.COM

The GROUP TRAVEL LEADER is published ten times a year by THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc., 301 East High St., Lexington, Kentucky 40507, and is distributed free of charge to qualified group leaders who plan travel for groups of all ages and sizes. THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER serves as the official magazine of GROUP TRAVEL FAMILY, the organization for traveling groups. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants and other travelrelated companies may subscribe to THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER by sending a check for $59 for one year to: THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Circulation Department, 301 East High St., Lexington, KY 40507. Phone (859) 253-0455 or (859) 253-0503. Copyright THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited.


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shopping is my outlet

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REGISTER YOUR GROUP AND RECEIVE

West Palm Beach, Florida

HUNDREDS FREE GIFT & COUPON BOOK WORTH IN SAVINGS!

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Little Rock, Arkansas

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Contact us at tours@NEDevelopment.com or visit NEDTours.com for more information on any of these fabulous shopping destinations.


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EDITOR’S T HE

can and I will.” I have uttered that mantra under my breath dozens of times over the past two months. And I’m starting to believe it. If you have been involved in the tourism industry for any length of time, you may have noticed that this line of work comes with some specific occupational hazards. Chief among them is weight gain. With all the wining, dining and dessert sampling that happens on FAM tours and at conferences in our industry, it’s all too common for frequent travelers to gain some weight as part of their jobs. After 13 years in travel journalism, I have experienced this danger firsthand — again and again. The force of the Dark Side is strong. Though I try to keep my weight in check and sometimes succeed, my willpower tends to fluctuate between moderation and abandon, discipline and indulgence. And my weight fluctuates along with it. Though I am generally healthier than I was 10 years ago, there’s a nagging 10 to 15 pounds that likes to sneak up on me throughout the course of a year. I have fallen into something of a cycle: For the first few months of the year, I hunker down and work to shake the weight off. Then I spend the rest of the year gradually packing it back on, knowing that I can always lose it again next year. When I started the now-annual weight loss regimen in January, I turned to a free online series of

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workout videos to help me exercise. That’s when I met Nicky Holender. Nicky is a professional trainer who works with a lot of celebrities and professional athletes in Los Angeles, and he’s also the host of the “Stronger” workout series that you can find on YouTube or www.livestrong.com. His personality is more charming than intimidating, and his favorite motivational catchphrase is “I can and I will.” Nicky’s videos have been kicking my butt every morning for eight weeks now, and the results of these workouts have been really pleasing. But what has surprised me most is the power of that catchphrase. In the middle of a very difficult move, when I feel my willpower slipping and my muscles about to fail, I begin to repeat that mantra to myself. And somehow, this extra bit of motivation gets me to the end of the routine. I’m usually skeptical of motivational tricks, but I’ve come to believe that the power of focus and self-confidence embodied in “I can and I will” can help push us to places we never thought we would get on our own. And it’s not just about exercise. Am I facing a huge mountain of work that I don’t think I’ll be able to complete? “I can and I will.” Am I struggling to find the creativity necessary to tackle my next big project? “I can and I will.” Have I become weary of smiling, shaking hands and meeting new people at professional events? “I can and I will.” The things we get to do in the tourism industry are a ton of fun, but they also involve a ton of work. That work can sometimes be exhausting. The challenges can be overwhelming, and sometimes a series of setbacks can make us want to quit altogether. But if you’re passionate about something, quitting is not an option. Even if I fall into bad habits again and gain all the weight back, this is the one lesson I’ve learned from Nicky that will always stick with me. I can and I will. Can you?


We’d like to be your custom publishing partner. The Group Travel Leader Inc has two decades of expertise in working with industry partners to produce stunning print pieces. We write, design, sell, and mail your finished magazine. You’ll be surprised by how easy and affordable it can be.

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CONTACT KELLY OR STACEY TO DISCUSS YOUR CUSTOM PIECE. S TA C E Y @ G R O U P T R AV E L L E A D E R . C O M

888.253.0455

K E L LY @ G R O U P T R AV E L L E A D E R . C O M


FAMILY MATTERS

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KIM VINCENT, PRODUCT AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER FOR GLOBUS FAMILY OF BRANDS, ADDRESSES DELEGATES AT THE 2017 SELECT TRAVELER CONFERENCE. By Dan Dickson

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SALEM, Ohio — In 1928, a young man purchased a rowboat to transport visitors across Lake Lugano in Switzerland. That single rowboat would be the beginning of one of the world’s leading travel companies: Globus Journeys. Today, the Globus family of brands is a global company reaching every corner of the world, yet remains family owned and steeped in values the founder had when he first set out across Lake Lugano — to enlighten travelers by showing them the very best of destinations. Today, the Globus family of brands includes Avalon Waterways, Monograms, Cosmos and, of course, Globus Journeys. Those companies have also become well recognized by travel groups and group leaders for quality and dependability in travel. Globus is extending its outreach to group travel planners in 2017 with the commitment to sponsor meal functions at five major travel conferences held by The Group Travel Family. “Globus is a strong believer in group travel and recognizes the value that the group leader plays,”

said Charlie Presley, founder of The Group Travel Family. Globus will sponsor meal functions at the Select Traveler Conference, the African American Travel Conference, the Going On Faith Conference and Boomers In Groups, as well as the TravelTalks meetings in 35 U.S. cities this year. Each of the listed conferences is attended by travel planners that organize trips and select destinations for thousands of clubs and organizations. Globus will bring its message of new and interesting tour products and destinations to attending travel groups at each meeting throughout the year. At TravelTalks, which serves the mature group travel market in 35 cities, Globus has developed a fun and informative “elevator pitch” that engages the group planner with the Globus service and adds an enjoyable element to the morning meeting. When you travel with Globus, you are considered a group with only eight people traveling together, and group leaders begin earning special benefits. Globus offers over 135 group packages. Meet with Globus at any of the above travel conferences, contact Globus direct at 866-8212752 or visit www.globusfamilygroups.com.

YOUTUBE CHANNEL IS A WEALTH OF TRAVEL CONTENT SALEM, Ohio — The new buzzword is “content,” and The Group Travel Family is creating travel and destination content for the group travel industry and travel planners with its YouTube channel. That outreach has resulted in over 100,000 viewed videos by travel planners nationwide. Content is simply information that can be used to better one’s life, work and, it is hoped, the world in general. “The Group Travel family holds seven major group travel conferences a year, and we realized that a lot of great information was being deliv-

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ered, but only to the delegates in attendance,” said Joe Cappuzzello, president of The Group Travel Family. “That led us to develop the informational videos and build a YouTube channel.” The informational videos, in the form of interviews, are two to three minutes long. The Group Travel Family YouTube Channel has more than 1,700 individual videos on the group travel industry and a wealth of information to solve group travel planners’ challenges, as well as insight on new tour products and destinations. Educational seminars, keynote addresses and motivational presentations are also included on

the Group Travel Family’s YouTube channel. They run about 30 minutes. The Group Travel Family adds video content after each travel conference it holds. “It is our goal to deliver destination content to travel groups year-round,” Cappuzzello said. The Group Travel Family Channel includes the Select Traveler Conference, the Going On Faith Conference, the African American Travel Conference, Boomers In Groups, the Small Market Meetings Conference and the TravelTalks meetings. View them at www.youtube.com/ grouptravelfamily. 


DIAMOND TOURS TARGETS GROUPS IN SEVEN MARKETS SALEM, Ohio — Traveling groups across the country will enjoy a large selection of tour destinations as Diamond Tours continues its commitment to a leadership role in the travel industry. Diamond Tours is committing to reach out to new travel groups in seven target markets where its executives see tour growth potential. The announcement came as Diamond Tours inked a sponsorship agreement with The Group Travel Family and plans to participate in all group travel markets in 2017. The nationally recognized tour company will bring its message to these groups through The Group Travel Family, an organization of group travel associations that, collectively, has 25,000 travel groups in its membership. Your group can still book a tour with no deposit, and Diamond still prints the group’s trip fliers free of charge. The company has retained that policy from its beginning to help group leaders. If you are a group leader and want to learn more about Diamond Tours, simply attend your regional TravelTalks meeting by registering free of charge at www.grouptraveltalks.com, call Diamond Tours at 800-336-5711 or visit www.diamondtours.com.

OHIO AMISH COUNTRY TO WELCOME GOING ON FAITH SALEM, Ohio —Ohio’s Amish Country will host church, religious and faith-based travel planners this year at the Going On Faith Conference. Going On Faith is the nation’s leading faith-based travel organization and brings together over 300 delegates for education, networking and tour/destination awareness. Registration is at a record high, with travel planners representing 25 states expected to attend. Though the destination is widely known as Ohio Dutch Country, it is officially Holmes County, Ohio. Holmes County is rolling out the red carpet for travel planners as well as the travel industry delegates. The conference will sell out by May 1. To register, call 800-628-0993 or send an email to  tburton@grouptravelfamily.com.

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JOIN US FOR A TRIP TO COLUMBUS IN AUGUST. EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS FAM

All Access Pass at BalletMet Open House

Brian and Kelly will be highlighting the trip in real time on social media, and Brian will write an article on this tour for publication in The Group Travel Leader magazine.” — MAC LACY, PUBLISHER

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Have you always wanted to experience the top attractions in Columbus, Ohio? Are you looking for ways to learn more about trip possibilities in central Ohio and have a great time doing it? Do you have a few days to see Columbus firsthand in August? Would you like to spend a few days with executive staff of The Group Travel Leader magazine while you’re at it? If so, we have just the opportunity for you. Experience Columbus is inviting up to 25 of our travel planner readers to enjoy a four-day site inspection trip August 1-5 in and around Columbus. Qualified travel planners will be guests of the Experience Columbus staff and will enjoy sampling more than a dozen of Columbus’ signature tourism experiences such as a butterfly immersion at Franklin Park Conservatory and Breakfast on the Savannah at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. And once you get to Columbus, all your expenses are covered. “Join The Group Travel Leader’s executive editor, Brian Jewell, and Kelly Tyner, our director of sales and marketing, for this fun and educational site inspection trip to experience the best of Columbus and its surrounding communities,” said publisher Mac Lacy. “Brian and Kelly will accompany our Columbus hosts on this trip and will be sharing their travel experiences with everyone in attendance. “Brian and Kelly will be highlighting the trip in real time on social media, and Brian will write an article on this tour for publication in The Group Travel Leader magazine,” said Lacy. “Tour participants will have the opportunity to share their impressions and experiences about Columbus with our staff and meet some wonderful hosts from the state. It’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone involved.” All accommodations, sightseeing, transportation and meals are included once participants arrive in Columbus. No travel expenses to and from Columbus will be reimbursed. This readership event and site inspection tour is limited to 25 qualified travel planners. Applicants will complete a brief travel profile that will be used by Columbus tourism staff to select attendees. To submit your travel profile and request a spot on this exciting trip, go to www.grouptravelleader.com/2017columbusfam and fill out your profile online. To inquire by phone or to ask a question, call us toll-free at 888-253-0455, and ask for Kelly. Registration for this complimentary site inspection trip in Columbus closes May 15, so don’t delay. Join Brian, Kelly and Experience Columbus for a wonderful trip August 1-5.


INDUSTRY NEWS W E’RE A LL ASTRONOMERS ON AUGUST 21 B Y K AT H E R I N E TA N D Y B ROW N

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nly one in 10,000 people ever sees a full solar eclipse, when the moon lines up between the Earth and the sun in a perfect billiards shot. Those stats could change come August 21, when the Great American Eclipse carves a 100-mile-wide diagonal path of totality across the United States from Oregon on the Pacific to South Carolina on the Atlantic. Eleven states fall into that zone. Here’s how a few are enticing viewers. In IDAHO’S SNAKE RIVER VALLEY, Twin Falls has teamed up with Mother Nature for a Southern Idaho Eclipse Adventure, complete with an astronomer-led eclipse experience with catered lunch in the great outdoors. While there, nature lovers will want to explore the area’s wonders: Shoshone Falls, dubbed the Niagara Falls of the West; the Sawtooth National Forest, with 40-plus peaks over 10,000 feet; the Snake River for rafting and kayaking and its trails for hiking and biking; Zip the Snake! Zipline; and gorgeous views from the 486-foot-high Perrine Bridge. Prime rib and Idaho trout dinners at Elevation 486 restaurant are a must. Blessed with lots of wide sky for Milky Way viewing at night, the SANDHILLS COUNTRY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA is a prime spot for solar eclipsing. The birthplace of rodeo, the North Platte area will stage an eclipse-weekend rodeo, and at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, visitors can tour Buffalo Bill’s history-rich home and saddle up for a trail ride. Rail fans get a bird’s-eye view at the Golden Spike Tower, which overlooks the world’s largest railroad classification yard, and can climb into locomotives at the Cody Park Railroad Museum. After perusing Grain Bin Antique Town, 15 historic grain bins filled with antiques, shoppers can chill at Feather River Vineyards and Winery, the state’s largest. A mere 16 miles from the longest totality

viewing in the world (two minutes, 41-plus seconds), THE WESTERN KENTUCKY TOWN OF HOPKINSVILLE is ready for expected throngs of scientists, eclipse chasers and curiosity seekers with festivities such as the three-day downtown Little River Festival and its annual Little Green Men Festival at nearby Kelly, where a 1955 extraterrestrial sighting made national headlines. Bourbon aficionados can meet distillers, sip libations and watch the sun disappear at MB Roland Distillery’s weekend Kentucky Bourbon Mashoree. Covering 170,000 acres in western Kentucky and Tennessee, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area will offer evening planetarium shows and marvelous outdoor viewing.

Offering the longest viewing time on the East Coast, COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, celebrates Total Eclipse Weekend with events at attractions, museums, hotels and restaurants. Located two blocks from the South Carolina State House and two to three from four major hotels, Motor Supply Co. Bistro welcomes sun spotters at a prix-fixe lunch with open bar at noon on August 21. Named “best restaurant” in three 2016 city readers’ polls, the eatery invites its guests to reserve a table inside and watch the world turn twilight from the parking lot. Also in the Congaree Vista district, the South Carolina State Museum offers an Eclipse Weekend Pass with telescope gallery tours, shows in its state-of-the-art planetarium, a Saturday night Soiree and a Monday Totality Party. W W W.GR E ATA MER IC A N ECL I PSE .COM

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Changing S I X I D E A S FO R B E T T E R C R U I S E E X P E R I E N C E S

BY B O B H O E L S C H E R

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aving spent considerable time at sea recently, I’ve had time to give some thought to some “low tech” ideas for improving the cruise industry’s overall guest experience. Here are a half dozen that I’ll particularly recommend.

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1) Water stations in ships’ buffet areas seem to invariably have posted notices asking guests to not fill their personal water containers there, citing valid health-related concerns. However, I’ve found that this request is frequently ignored, simply because shallow cabin bathroom sinks make it next to impossible to fill these containers there, and there is no other alternative readily available. Therefore, cruise lines should install conspicuous water-bottle-filling machines such as those found at numerous U.S. By Bob Hoelscher park sites.

2) If a particular vessel does not have enough elevators to accommodate its passenger complement, consequently causing frequent, extended waits at the landings, posting signs requesting that guests not push both the up and down buttons — in a misguided attempt to snag a ride in either direction, thus bogging down the process even further — would be most helpful. 3) I was impressed lately to see four soft-serve — and self-serve — ice cream machines located adjacent to the buffet area of the Norwegian Epic. Youngsters of all ages often enjoy snacking on an ice cream cone, and the daylong availability of these machines was obviously extremely popular with the ship’s passengers. Of course, if supplies of the dairy mix and cones

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needed are not constantly being monitored and refilled, or if the machines are dispensing unfrozen “soup,” the entire effort would be for naught. Happily, the Epic’s crew worked diligently to ensure that this did not happen. 4) The very substantial and bulky service carts used by the cabin stewards and stewardesses on most vessels are frequently difficult for guests to navigate around in narrow passageways. Earlier this year, I noted with admiration that the staff of Celebrity Constellation was using much smaller carts that resembled large black suitcases, but of a roughly square shape that could easily be positioned in the doorway of a stateroom being serviced rather than protruding into the hallway. 5) The bane of single travelers dining in a ship’s buffet is to leave one’s table to get a second helping, pick up a dessert, or simply refill a beverage, and to return to find the table cleared, and sometimes even to find other guests occupying the space. Consequently, I have developed a small, laminated wallet-size card for placement on the table that alerts service personnel of my situation and prevents this from happening. It is important to note that numerous buffet area staff members on many lines have commented that this is a great idea. Similar cards should be provided to all single guests, since employees have been taught to clear a table as soon as it appears that it has been vacated by its occupant(s). 6) Internet access facilities such as lounges or cafes need to have stations available with power outlets for guests who bring their own laptops or notebooks. I also suggest that designers of new vessels bring back a guest opportunity that seems to be disappearing lately, with the demand for more balcony staterooms and expanded spa facilities. On some cruises I took when I was much younger, I particularly enjoyed nighttime visits to the darkened, forward-facing outdoor observation areas directly above or below older ships’ bridges. There, the intrusion of ambient light was minimized in order to maintain night visibility for the ship’s officers. These viewing areas also allowed travelers to see the night sky, decorated with millions of stars and distant galaxies, moonlight dancing across the waves, and to enjoy gentle ocean breezes as the vessels made their way to the next port of call.


NTA HOLDS FIRST OF TWO TRAVEL EXCHANGES IN 2017 B Y M AC L AC Y

Courtesy NTA TOP: NTA PRESIDENT PAM INMAN, RIGHT, ENJOYS BALLPARK VILLAGE EVENT CENTER: 2017 NTA CHAIRMAN JAY SMITH, RIGHT, WITH SCOT MONDORE OF THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BOTTOM: DELEGATES MEET IN THE TRAVEL EXCHANGE IN ST. LOUIS

NTA members gathered February 26 to March 2 for their 2017 Travel Exchange in St. Louis. As one of America’s iconic baseball cities, it offered a perfect metaphor for this transition year for NTA’s annual industry event. You could say that in the first game of a crucial doubleheader, NTA drew roughly 1,000 delegates and fans to St. Louis. A second 2017 Travel Exchange, its traditional fourth-quarter annual meeting, will be held December 14-18, in San Antonio. In 2018, the association returns to one annual meeting when the Exchange is held in Milwaukee, November 4-8. “We have about 200 tour operators here with us this week, including 45 who are attending for the first time this year,” NTA president Pam Inman told a media gathering early in the week. “We also have 25 Chinese inbound operators with us this week from a group of 220 inbound operators who have enrolled in our China Inbound Program since its launch in 2008.” Inman recognized Lin Wang, NTA’s new director of China market services, who came aboard just a few weeks ago to help manage the China inbound program NTA launched with the official approval of the China National Tourism Administration. “We’re happy to have Lin with us to help facilitate this major initiative when Chinese tourism to this country is surging,” she said. In a prepared statement, Inman also addressed the current hardships that U.S. travel restrictions have placed on the travel industry. “We’re in the business of welcoming visitors, and NTA members know firsthand that travel builds bridges of understanding,” she said. “I

hope international travelers can look past the politics and see the people here.” Following the briefing, new NTA chairman Jay Smith of Sports Travel and Tours in Boston addressed the need for NTA to finish the second game of this doubleheader with a win. Smith referenced his personal mantra for the year ahead: “Just bring one.” “This is a business of passion,” said Smith, whose company packages sports events inside and outside the United States. “My personal challenge to all our delegates here this week is to bring another industry member with them to San Antonio in December. Our members wanted us to return to the fourth quarter, and we’ve done it. So now I am asking that we all bring someone with us for that convention.” Smith made it clear that for his company’s purposes, he likes the move back into the fourth quarter. “Those are better dates for my business,” he said. “I’m in a better position to plan then than I am in January. It requires our industry members to have their rates ready earlier, but I think it’s better for a lot of tour operators who are planning and buying.” Smith’s two primary goals during his year as chairman are to grow the association’s base and to support the management team’s long-term objectives. “I stayed on the board a second term to support the management changes we made two and a half years ago,” he said. “I’m invested in this process and want to see us succeed and return to our traditional role as the host of a major fourth-quarter meeting for the travel industry.”

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tart with an open stage. Throw in some teaching moments and a heaping helping of fun, and you have the makings of a perfect student group tour. Many of America’s most enthusiastic artists belong to high school choirs, marching bands, orchestras and dance troupes, and they love to travel almost as much as they love to perform. Performance tours are among the most popular types of student tours, and destinations across the country open the doors for young performers to reach new audiences when they travel. Here’s a look at six of the most popular performance tour destinations in the United States, along with some ideas of the educational activities and can’t-miss fun stops for groups to enjoy while they’re there. Courtesy Choose Chicago

Courtesy Courtesy San Antonio CVB

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MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina Abundant Atlantic beaches, affordable accommodations and high-profile attractions make Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand area of South Carolina a popular destination for performing student groups. Travel organizers will find a wealth of places for their young musicians to play. PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES: Nearly every major attraction in the Myrtle Beach area offers opportunities for student bands, choirs and other groups to perform. Groups can play the main stage at the House of Blues; entertain guests shopping at Broadway at the Beach; and play a preshow at the Calvin Gilmore Theater, home of the Carolina Opry, among many other choices. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: Several Myrtle Beach theaters, including the Calvin Gilmore Theater and the Palace Theater, offer educational workshops for student groups, and the young performers get to meet the professional singers, dancers, actors and technicians who work there. For an alternative educational experience, Crazy Sister Marina offers eco-tours for students; on these, students get to go on boat excursions in the ocean and pull up nets full of sea life with marine biology experts.

JUST FOR FUN: Broadway at the Beach is the headquarters for fun in Myrtle Beach. This shopping, dining and entertainment complex features theme restaurants such as Margaritaville and a new Hard Rock Café, attractions such as Wonder Works and Ripley’s Aquarium, and dozens of stores. — W W W.V ISI T M Y RT L EBE ACH.COM —

BRANSON, MISSOURI With more theater seats than New York’s Broadway district, Branson, Missouri, is known nationally for its live performance scene. In addition to taking in music, comedy, and acrobatic and variety shows, student groups can demonstrate their own chops with performances at venues and events throughout town. PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES: Many student

groups that travel to Branson to perform do so as part of large-scale competitions, such as Director’s Choice for band groups and FAME, an event for show choirs. But no matter when they visit, groups can find stages on which to perform at many of the Branson theaters, as well as attractions such as Showboat Branson Belle and Silver Dollar City.

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: Teaching moments happen often in Branson. The Titanic Museum is a wealth of information and experiential activities, and the College of the Ozarks gives young visitors an overview of the history and culture of the area. Young performers can also meet and learn from professional counterparts during the city’s Branson On Stage program. JUST FOR FUN: The Branson Ferris Wheel made its debut in 2015 after a long career thrilling visitors to Navy Pier in Chicago. Standing 150 feet tall, it features 40 gondolas and more than 16,000 lights, and offers riders an unparalleled view of Branson and the surrounding Ozarks. — W W W. E X PLOR EBR A NSON.COM —

SAN ANTONIO The historic Alamo, the stunning River Walk and a colorful culture make San Antonio one of the most popular destinations in the United States, particularly with student groups. Young travelers can perform in the heart of the city’s tourist district and learn plenty of things along the way. PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES: The Arneson River Theater is an outdoor amphitheater on the banks of the River Walk, and student groups can perform there to the delight of visitors to nearby restaurants and passengers on passing canal boats. Other memorable performance venues include a ranch, the San Antonio Zoo and Sea World San Antonio, as well as the 18thcentury Gothic San Fernando Cathedral. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: The Alamo was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and tours there give visitors an insider’s look at the Battle of Texas. But the Alamo is only one of five

OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM: SNORKELING IN STUNNING HAWAII; ENJOYING A PERFORMANCE AT THE SECOND CITY; PRITZKER PAVILION IN CHICAGO’S MILLENNIUM PARK; A SEA LION ENCOUNTER AT SEA WORLD IN SAN ANTONIO. Artwork by Donia Simmons

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Spanish Colonial missions in town, and each is open to visitors. San Fernando Cathedral is the site of “Saga,” a 24-minute outdoor video presentation that outlines the city’s history.

STUDENTS PERFORM AT ALABAMA THEATRE IN MYRTLE BEACH.

JUST FOR FUN: Treat your group to some great food by visiting the Culinary Institute of America’s campus at Pearl, an up-and-coming shopping and dining district in San Antonio. Students can dine in the on-site restaurant or even participate in a hands-on cooking class of their own.

Courtesy Myrtle Beach CVB

but many different celebrations take place throughout the year. Students can also perform at venues such as the Performing Arts Center on Kauai and Maui’s Academy for the Performing Arts.

— W W W.V ISI T S A NA N T ON IO.COM —

HAWAII

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: Almost every student group that visits Hawaii takes time out of its itinerary to stop at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which marks the site of the Pearl Harbor attack. And the Polynesian Cultural Center introduces young travelers to the rich heritage of indigenous groups that give Hawaii its distinct culture.

Ask any student and many adults to name their top dream destinations, and Hawaii is likely to rank near the top of the list. For groups with the means and the time to venture to the 50th state, the Hawaiian Islands offers a plethora of opportunities for performance, education and sun-soaked play.

PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES: Special events and parades are among the chief live performances opportunities for student groups in Hawaii. The annual Honolulu Parade is among the most popular,

JUST FOR FUN: Outdoor activities rule the day on the islands. Students can try their hands at sailing in Kauai or enjoy mountain biking, ATV rides and helicopter tours at sites around the state. Other options include whale-watching, snorkeling, waterfall hikes and swimming with manta rays. — W W W. H VCB .ORG —

THE BEST CLASSROOM

HAS SAND ON THE FLOOR AND AN OCEAN VIEW.

More culture. More nature. More education. Experience more in Ocean City, MD.

EDUCATION

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

ENTERTAINMENT

BOOK YOUR TRIP NOW! Call Norma Dobrowolski CVB Destination Sales & Marketing Manager | 800.626.2326

ococean.com/group-travel

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CHICAGO With its central location, clean atmosphere and wealth of activities, Chicago is among the most popular student group destinations in the country. Hundreds of groups visit the Windy City to play, perform and learn each year, and they have an almost-endless menu of options to make those trips unique. PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES: Many of Chicago’s most famous attractions have dedicated performance spaces for student group use. These include the famous Field Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre at Navy Pier and Pritzger Pavilion at Millennium Park. Numerous other historic theaters and marquee venues throughout the city offer stages to students as well

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: Chicago’s Museum Campus is home to some of


the top museums in the country, among them the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Shedd Aquarium. Students can also learn about the city’s ethnic heritage at smaller institutions, such as the National Hellenic Museum and the Ukrainian National Museum, or take in the world-famous skyline on a river cruise with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. JUST FOR FUN: Pockets of outdoor fun can be found in various places throughout Chicago. The city has 26 public beaches as well as miles of lakefront and fun attractions, such as the Lincoln Park Zoo and Maggie Daley Park. And skyscraper attractions such as Skydeck and 360 Chicago give visitors thrilling views of the city.

Courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority

— W W W.CHOOSECH IC AGO.COM —

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO

BILTMORE’S FESTIVAL OF FLOWERS

Orlando, Florida Many travelers think Courtesy of movie sets and roller coasters when they think of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. But experienced student group leaders think of performance opportunities and innovative educational programs. Universal’s STARS program offers a variety of options for band, choral and dance groups, all within a setting that young performers will find thrilling.

PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES: There are various times throughout the day when student groups can march and perform in the Universal parks. The Morning March allows bands to welcome guests into the park; the afternoon Superstar Pre-Parade gives them a chance to kick off a procession of favorite Universal characters. Choirs and orchestras can perform on fixed stages throughout the park as well. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES: Universal’s student department has created some fascinating behind-thescenes experiences for students. In addition to touring the working movie and television studios at the site, groups can take workshops that introduce them to the sound design, music and Foley arts that bring films to life, and performance groups can record their own renditions of orchestral score sections from popular movies such as “Despicable Me.”

JUST FOR FUN: Universal Orlando’s two parks — Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure — are the headquarters of thrill rides in central Florida, and most student groups spend at least two days in the park enjoying the rides and attractions. Perennially popular is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. — W W W.U N I V ER S A LOR L A N DO.COM —

STUDENTS SAILING IN HAWAII

SEE THE BEST OF NASHVILLE Catch the new stars, superstars, and legends of country music at the world’s longest running radio show, the Grand Ole Opry. Shows run every Friday & Saturday, plus Tuesdays in March through December.

Tour the Opry House and go behind the scenes of the show that made country music famous. Tours available daily.

Tour the Ryman, known as The Mother Church of Country Music. The history of this National Historic Landmark comes to life as never before with the state-of-the-art “Soul of Nashville” pre-tour experience and new multi-media exhibits. Tours available daily.

Enjoy a cruise, meal and show aboard the General Jackson Showboat. Midday and evening cruise options available March through December.

call today to book your Nashville eXPErieNCE! JAMIE LYNN THOMPSON

TOURISM SALES MANAGER 615.882.5439 | jthompson@opry.com

SANDY JUSTICE

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TOURISM SALES MANAGER TRAVEL LE ADER 615.882.5345 | sjustice@opry.com

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CALIFORNIA

STATE SPOTLIGHT REDWOOD N AT I O N A L PA R K

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mountains and hike among the country’s tallest trees. For these iconic and diverse

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experiences, you have to go to California. Many student groups that trek to the Golden State have their sights set

on Disney Land and other theme parks. But there’s much more than thrill rides to

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California, whose cultural offerings and natural wonders are second to none. In Southern California, students

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and experience a slice of life on an aircraft carrier at the USS Midway Museum in

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San Diego. Moving up the coast, a trip to

San Francisco wouldn’t be complete with-

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Courtesy Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Courtesy Reagan Foundation

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HOLLYWOOD UP CLOSE There’s no shortage of great experiences awaiting student groups in and around Los Angeles, the hub of Southern California. But most young travelers won’t want to visit the City of Angels without taking time to appreciate the film industry that has made the area rich and famous. One of the best ways for student groups to do that is on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, during which they’ll see sites and memorabilia related to hit TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and the blockbuster movie franchise “Harry Potter.” Groups can choose a guided two-hour tour, which includes access to many active production areas, or a one-hour, self-guided tour. Of special interest to student groups will be a new program called Stage 48: Script to Screen. This experience follows the process of creating film and television shows from the first script writing through filming, post production and even award season, all on a purpose-built soundstage. Other specialized workshops are available for students as well.

REMEMBERING REAGAN Most students traveling today don’t know anything about the Reagan presidency — or the Bush or Clinton presidencies, for that matter. But at the Ronald Reagan Foundation facilities in Simi Valley, they can learn lots of fascinating things about American government and the president who led the nation through the end of the Cold War. Most student groups begin their time at the Reagan Foundation with a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. In addition to housing Reagan’s official archives, the museum presents numerous displays and artifacts that give visitors a sense of Reagan’s early life, his career in politics and the main issues he faced as president in the 1980s. Groups that have time should also plan to visit the campus’ Air Force One Discovery Center. Students get an opportunity to role-play government, military and media scenarios in a realistic environment by becoming advisers to the president, top military officials and members of the White House Press Corps during a historical military action in Grenada in 1983.

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Courtesy Midway Museum

3 USS MIDWAY MUSEUM A short drive south of Greater Los Angeles brings groups to San Diego, one of the most beautiful and beloved cities in California. In addition to its great climate and beautiful coastline, San Diego enjoys many first-class museums and educational attractions students will love, not the least of which is the USS Midway Museum. When it launched in 1945, the USS Midway was the largest aircraft carrier in the world, and more than 225,000 sailors served on it before it was decommissioned in 1992. Today it is docked in San Diego, and guests are invited to explore its 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft; a self-guided audio tour helps them appreciate the experience of living and working aboard the ship. The Midway Museum offers several special programs for student groups. Onboard educational workshops use elements of the ship to teach lessons in math, science, social studies and history. Youth groups can also take advantage of opportunities to spend the night in accommodations on the aircraft carrier. W W W.M I DWAY.O RG

Courtesy Pier 39

4 FUN IN SAN FRANCISCO For students interested in technology, San Francisco is something of a mecca, being the city closest to Silicon Valley. And though there’s plenty of learning for students to do on a visit to the area, there’s also a lot of fun. One of the best places to take groups for exciting experiences is Pier 39, a complex with dining, entertainment, shopping and attractions in the heart of the city’s waterfront. Groups can choose from a slew of attractions and activities based around Pier 39, such as sailing excursions and sightseeing cruises. The Aquarium of the Bay, on the pier, offers specialized classes and guided tours as well as hands-on experiences with sea stars, sea urchins and leopard sharks. If you take students to Pier 39, allow time for them to get to know the pod of sea lions that sun themselves on the marina deck. The wild sea lions first appeared in 1989, and now hundreds of the marine mammals can often be found lounging and barking on the deck, much to the delight of visitors. W W W.P I E R3 9.C O M

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NATURE’S GIANTS It’s a long drive — more than five hours — from San Francisco to Redwood National Park in northern California, which is located closer to Eugene, Oregon, than any other major city in the Golden State. But the trek will be well worth it for nature lovers, who will relish the opportunity to spend time among some of the largest trees on earth. Redwood National Park and an adjacent state park preserve the distinctive old-growth forest that features redwood trees that can grow hundreds of feet into the air. Groups enjoy hikes, photography walks and ranger-led expeditions through the parks, which include lessons about the bears, seabirds and other animals that live in the ecosystem. Student groups can take advantage of several educational programs in the park. The Redwood Family Coastal Camp is a twoday, one-night backpacking trip along the California Coastal Trail, which connects Redwood national and state parks. Another option, Documentary Explorers Camp, lets young film enthusiasts spend time in the park creating documentaries about its natural wonders. W W W.N P S.G OV / RE DW

Courtesy NPS

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Discover The Huntington May 27, 2017 – January 7, 2018

Titanic at the Reagan Library combines real artifacts with real stories – telling the story of Titanic in a way no Museum has done before! Hundreds of items on display include:

A deck chair from the Titanic • The submersible used to find the wreckage A Widow’s Seat from the Carpethia • Madeleine Astor’s Titanic Life Jacket Sets, props & costumes from 20th Century Fox’s “Titanic” • and much more Groups of 25 or more will receive a group discount. Inquire today! msalvesen@reaganfoundation.org 805-577-2704

Group Tours Available Pasadena Adjacent huntington.org

Tickets include admission to the Reagan Library... Walk through the Oval Office, Touch an actual part of the Berlin Wall and climb aboard Air Force One! 40 Presidential Drive • Simi Valley, CA 93065 • ReaganLibrary.com • 800.410.8354

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Courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary

PENNSYLVANIA EXPERIENCES, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: EXPLORING PHILADELPHIA’S EASTERN STATE PENITENTIARY; LEARNING ABOUT BUFFALO AT THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE MUSEUM; MIXING CHOCOLATE AT THE HERSHEY STORY MUSEUM; A HORSEBACK TOUR ON THE GETTYSBURG BATTLEFIELD

Courtesy Visit Hershey Harrisburg

Courtesy Hershey Foundation

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By Gabi Logan Courtesy NPS


THESE TOUR DESTINATIONS OFFER S IG N AT U R E TR AVE L E XP E RIE NC E S BY E L I ZA B E T H H E Y

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s one of the original 13 Colonies, Pennsylvania is steeped in history from the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg to Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia to Gettysburg National Military Park, which honors the turning point of the Civil War and the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” But groups will find much more to keep them intrigued and entertained in the Keystone State. Lovers of all things chocolate can get their daily fix in Hershey as they learn about chocolate-making and enjoy Hersheypark’s thrilling rides. Natural wonders abound in Lancaster County, with farm tours of century-old Amish communities and local cuisine. In Pennsylvania’s northeastern region two hours north of Pittsburgh, Cook Forest State Park has been ranked as one of the nation’s top 50 state parks by National Geographic Traveler magazine and offers an abundance of high-energy activities.

GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK At Gettysburg National Military Park, groups start at the Museum and Visitor Center. For an excellent overview, the film “A New Birth of Freedom” is sponsored by The History Channel. The “Cyclorama,” the nation’s largest painting, immerses visitors in the fury of Pickett’s Charge during the third day of the battle. Light and sound effects add to the experience. French artist Paul Philippoteaux painted the masterpiece in 1896. It took more than a year to complete and measures 377 feet in circumference and 42 feet high. A behind-the-scenes program titled “What in the World Is a Cyclorama?” allows time to study the painting and its battle scenes. Of the museum’s 12 galleries, all but one are based on phrases from the “Gettysburg Address.” Each gallery is organized around the museum’s

major themes, such as the Gettysburg Campaign and the causes and consequences of the American Civil War. Readings from battle participants bring the conflict to life in the two “Voices” theaters. Gettysburg Licensed Guides can join a motorcoach for a two-hour tour or for optional extended tours. A unique way to experience the battlefield is by horseback. The National Riding Stables provides horseback tours of the battlefield alongside historical interpretation. Confederate Trails Horseback Tours rides behind Confederate lines through Gettysburg’s wooded paths and open fields. “On the battlefield bus tours, guides get groups engaged and out of the motorcoach for interactive experiences that can involve demonstrations or roleplaying for a greater understanding of the battle,” said Carl Whitehill, director of communications for Destination Gettysburg. According to Whitehill, another site worth working into any itinerary is the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, the nation’s first National Cemetery and where Lincoln delivered the “Gettysburg Address.” PHILADELPHIA In the City of Brotherly Love, the Reading Terminal Market features more than 80 merchants that offer an array of fresh-baked Amish goods, farm-fresh produce, unusual spices, free-range meats, flowers, ethnic foods and more. Like more than 100 years ago, the market still offers something for everyone. Considered by many to be one of the finest public markets in the nation, it’s the city’s most popular tourist destination after the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The 75-minute Taste of Philly food tour starts at the market’s welcome desk and discloses the history behind Philly’s favorite sandwiches, breakfast foods and snacks. It’s often led by someone seen on the Food Network or the History Channel. Participants sample small bites of several high-

lighted foods. It’s recommended to go early or stay late and enjoy a meal from the many market businesses. An abbreviated tour is also available for large groups. Another fascinating tour takes place at the Eastern State Penitentiary, which opened in 1829. Eastern’s seven earliest cellblocks radiate from the surveillance rotunda and may represent the nation’s first modern building. Punishment was based on a Quaker-inspired system of isolation accompanied by labor. In the era when the White House had no running water and was heated with coal-burning stoves, each prisoner had a private cell, central heat, running water, a flush toilet and a skylight. Among America’s most notorious criminals held here, Al Capone, in 1929, was sentenced to one year. His cell was furnished with antiques and oil paintings, and visitors can peek into that cell. “The Voices of Eastern State” audio tour, features three former wardens and 25 guards and inmates who narrate an eerily intriguing walking tour. HERSHEY At Hershey’s Chocolate World, visitors can design milk chocolate bars using authentic factory equipment and create personalized packaging while the chocolate cools. Attractions include “Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery” movie in 4-D and the newly revamped Chocolate Making Tour ride for a behind-the-scenes look at the art of chocolatiering. Groups can hop on Hershey Trolley Works for a closed-loop tour of the town, Hershey’s childhood home and other sites. “Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Experience at Chocolate World is more like a wine-tasting class, but with chocolate, and it’s very interactive and educational,” said Rick Dunlap, public relations director for the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau. “Touch screens allow visitors to vote on what they smell and taste, and the results tally in real time on the stage.”

Artwork by Donia Simmons

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Another attraction, The Hershey Story: The Museum on Chocolate Avenue, houses the Chocolate Lab, a hands-on classroom with constantly changing confectionary experiments. The Origins of Chocolate tasting bar invites guests to become cocoa connoisseurs as they sample pure, warm liquid cocoa from six regions of the world. Hersheypark entertains groups with 13 roller coasters and more than 70 rides and attractions. The Boardwalk features 14 water attractions, plus the Coal Cracker water flume. Opening in early April, the Hershey Triple Tower will be the first choose-your-thrill triple tower in the nation. The three towers stand at 189 feet, 131 feet and 80 feet high, and riders can choose positive and negative G forces. The park’s seasonal celebrations include Springtime in the Park, Hersheypark in the Dark and Hersheypark Christmas Candylane. Ideal for educational programs and guided tours, Hershey Gardens added a 16,000-square-foot butterfly atrium last July that houses North American and tropical butterflies. The 23 acres encompass themed gardens, seasonal displays and more than 5,000 rosebushes. PENNSY LVANIA DUTCH C OUNTRY In the heart of Lancaster County’s Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the Amish Experience offers its Amish Farmlands Tour at Plain and Fancy Farm. The 90-minute excursion weaves through back roads and country lanes for a glimpse of Amish life. Unveiled in February, the “What Price Freedom?” presentation begins with the Magic Lantern Show, and a live actor portrays one of the show’s

characters, recounting the story of slavery in America and the underground railroad. Afterward, a bus tour takes the audience to Underground Railroad sites. The tour concludes with the film “Jacob’s Choice,” which depicts the Amish quest for religious freedom in Pennsylvania. Kitchen Kettle Village’s 42 shops and food specialties surround one of Lancaster County’s original canning kitchens. Local farm women “put up” more than 90 varieties of jams and relishes that visitors can sample. AAA Buggy Rides offers three different outings through the countryside with options to visit an Amish farm or business. “Kitchen Kettle does a nice job incorporating its 1950s culinary heritage alongside newer offerings like fine wine and shopping for unique crafts,” said Joel Cliff, director of communications and advocacy for Discover Lancaster. “Their new Village Insider tour puts visitors behind the scenes on both aspects of this community,” allowing them to experience its “renowned hospitality,” said Cliff. At Kreider Farms, guided tours feature cows on their milking carousel and the maternity barn. For beautiful 360-degree views from the recently opened Silo Observation Tower, groups can climb the staircase spiraling around the outside of this former silo. And from March 11 through October 14, “Jonah” at Sight and Sound Theatre delivers a spectacular performance. On three sides, a 300-foot stage surrounds the 2,000-seat auditorium. The production uses state-of-the-art technology and live animals.

PHILADELPHIA

Happy Groups, Happy Planners We make it easy: ■

Assistance with itinerary planning

Convenient motorcoach dropoff and parking

Plenty of new and educational attractions and events throughout the city

We’re here to help. Contact Jim DePhilippo at 215-636-3312 or jim@discoverPHL.com

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GROUPS CAN TAKE HORSE-PULLED BUGGY RIDES IN THE PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH COUNTRY OF LANCASTER COUNTY. Courtesy Discover Lancaster

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WWW.VISITPA.COM

Photo by Ilana Blumenthal

C O OK FOREST STATE PARK, C O OKSBURG Near the Allegheny Mountains, Cook Forest State Park boasts the tallest trees in the northeast in its Forest Cathedral area. The 250- to 300-year-old white pine and hemlock trees reach almost 200 feet high and up to five feet in diameter. Nearly 47 miles of trails can be hiked within the park. The Seneca Point Overlook showcases the river valley, and the 70-foot climb up an old fire tower offers another lookout. “This is the first Pennsylvania state park to preserve a natural landmark, which is the Forest Cathedral,” said Ryan Borcz, park operations manager. “The 1.2-mile Longfellow Trail is our most well-known trail and winds through this old-growth forest.” The Clarion River, a nationally designated Wild and Scenic Waterway, invites groups to canoe, tube, kayak, swim and fish. Class I rapids provide excellent canoeing and kayaking, especially during spring and fall. Two popular paddling trips are four and 10 miles; canoes can be rented outside the park. In winter, groups can snowshoe, cross-country ski, ice skate and sled. Year-round throughout the park, naturalists offer free, interpretive hands-on activities, guided walks and evening programs. The Log Cabin Environmental Learning Center provides indoor space for programs and displays historic logging and rafting tools, models and artifacts. Sawmill Center for the Arts, inside a historic sawmill, features traditional crafts, a gift shop and classes. Demonstrations and craft classes are presented summer through fall. The adjacent Verna Leith Sawmill Theater presents plays, musicals and other entertainment throughout the summer.

“For EVERYONE who wants to know what FREEDOM means….” - Lily R. Philadelphia, PA TripAdvisor

Interested in planning a group visit? Artwork by David Brown Contact Group Services at groups@nmajh.org or 215-923-3811 x141.

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5th and Market • Philadelphia, 25PA TRAVEL LE ADER 215.923.3811 • NMAJH.org T HE


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Photos courtesy Huntsville-Madison Co. CVB STUDENTS CAN LEARN ABOUT EARLY LIFE IN THE HUNTSVILLE AREA AT ALABAMA CONSTITUTION VILLAGE.

HUNTSVILLE SPECIALIZES IN FUN AND EDUCATION FOR STUDENT GROUPS

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he unsettling feeling of weightlessness can grab the imagination of students used to the anchor of gravity. This simulated experience at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center allows young travelers to picture themselves floating through the vastness of space. Huntsville, Alabama, invites students to dream big as they experience the realities of space, try their hands at painting and explore the human genome at the city’s attractions that welcome youth. After hands-on lessons in science at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, history at the EarlyWorks Family of Museums and art at the Lowe Mill, students might rethink their career options.

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The convention and visitors bureau even offers Educational Escapes, a planning service for visiting students so group leaders can figure out which program best fits their desired curriculum. Students can try on the hat of an astronaut, an artist, a historian and a genetic researcher at these four attractions geared toward experiential education and fun. U. S . S PA C E A N D ROCKET CENTER Impressionable youth can gaze at both the Quick Plane that first flew in 1908 and the Saturn V rocket that traveled to the moon in 1969 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. “It still gives me chills when I think of what we were able to accomplish in a very short amount of time,” said


To see where the real action happens, group leaders can book a bus tour to the Marshall Space Flight Center, where NASA commands several projects, such as the International Space Station.

Pam Williams, tourism sales manager for Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We went from first flight to landing on the moon in 61 years. Even if you aren’t a space enthusiast, the space center is a historic and patriotic attraction.” Students can explore the world’s largest space attraction’s extensive collection of artifacts, including rockets, engines and spacecraft, among them the imposing Saturn V, a National Historic Landmark. For a thrill, groups can ride the Space Shot to experience launchlike gravitational pressure and about three seconds of weightlessness. Imax movies, interactive exhibits and space travel simulators also illustrate the incredible feats humans can accomplish with the help of math and science. For a more in-depth understanding of the marvels of space travel, student groups can choose from several programs, such as the famous Space Camp, Aviation Challenge and Space Camp Robotics. The weeklong Space Camp trains participants to live and work outside the Earth’s atmosphere by taking command of their own simulated space missions. Shorter programs of from one to two days allow groups to experience some of the camp’s highlights.

U.S. SPACE AND ROCKET CENTER

LOWE MILL ARTS AND E N T E R TA I N M E N T

Inside a maze of art studios, students can tap into their inner van Gogh with a class on painting from a working artist. The Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment facility features 148 studios for 200 artists of various media, six fine-art galleries and performance venues. Many of the artists offer classes in their mediums, so students can choose from lessons in painting, pottery, comic book illustration and other art forms. One of the studios, called Green Pea Press, leads traditional printing-press classes where participants can create posters, T-shirts and other handmade souvenirs. The thriving creative community sits in a historic cotton mill where visitors can wander through studio after studio meeting artists who encourage questions on their creative process. The 171,000-square-foot complex is the largest

hello

Huntsville

Get ready for your adventure in the Rocket City! Huntsville, Alabama | huntsville.org

By Dennis Keim

ART AFTER HOURS AT LOWE MILL

bucket list 1

Embrace adventure at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

2

Discover the nation’s largest seasonal butterfly house at the Huntsville Botanical Garden

3

Shop the Artist Market at Lowe Mill and stay for a concert & picnic

4

Hear stories of spies, lies, alibis & ghosts while touring our Historic Districts, Historic Huntsville Depot, Weeden House ...and more!

Pam Williams

Tourism Sales Manager HuntsvilleCVB

@Go2HuntsvilleAL

VisitHuntsvilleAL #iHeartHsv

256.551.2204 pam@huntsville.org

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privately owned arts facility in the United States. “It’s a good place to go rather than a shopping mall,” said Williams. “It’s a great way to introduce students to art. It’s a very eclectic, fun place. They offer tours, or you can just browse and shop.” The site offers not only visual arts, but also restaurants, chocolate, coffee, gourmet popsicles and free concerts. E A R LY W O R K S FA M I LY OF MUSEUMS

A LAB EXPERIENCE AT HUDSONALPHA INSTITUTE FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY

Students can dip candles, card cotton and stoke the fires in the blacksmith shop at the Alabama Constitution Village. Part of the EarlyWorks Family of Museums, this livinghistory museum transports guests back to the early days of Alabama’s statehood, which became official on the museum’s grounds in 1819. “You are treated to a glimpse of what urban life was like in Huntsville in 1900s,” said Williams. “They talk about how Alabama became a state. Our statehood bicentennial is in 2019, but we’re starting to celebrate this year because it’s the anniversary of when Alabama became a territory. So it will really be a two-and-a-half-year celebration starting this August.”

NASA Visitor Center

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See the world’s largest collection of space artifacts and explore the fascinating future of space travel! Looking to stay a bit longer? Sign up for an inspiring experience at Space Camp! Two- to six-day Camps are available for all ages: children, families, adults and corporate groups.

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The open-air museum uses costumed interpreters to re-enact life in 1819 inside eight buildings, including a law office, a post office and a blacksmith shop. During the Village Living History program, students can not only ask interpreters questions as they watch them work, but also participate in various activities during the two-hour course. The nearby Historic Huntsville Depot, also part of the EarlyWorks Family of Museums, focuses on the Civil War history of Huntsville. Built in 1860, the depot remains one of the nation’s oldest railroad structures. Groups can climb aboard locomotives and experience the Civil War through interactive exhibits and guided programs. Tours reveal intriguing graffiti left in the building by Confederate soldiers held there as prisoners during the war. HUDSONALPHA INSTITUTE FOR B I O T E C H N O L O GY Diagnosing genetic abnormalities sounds like challenging work for even the brightest minds. But when the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology combines this serious science with scavenger hunts and detective kits, the important research becomes a fun way to spend an afternoon. The nonprofit genome research institute strives to present the material in an engaging way for a specific goal. “One of their main reasons for being in existence is youth outreach,” said Williams. “They are trying to cultivate the next generation of students who might be able to cure cancer.” Programs at HudsonAlpha not only offer entertaining science-based activities, but also provide a glimpse into tangible genetic research careers. The site has a research component as well as a business incubator. Once the research labs discover something new, the facility’s business operation takes over to market the product to the masses. Groups can learn the intricacies of this process while enjoying the site’s hands-on, lab-based field trips. Students can spend an hour or a day learning to operate high-tech biotechnology tools to solve the given genetic problem.

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Huntsville, Alabama • (800) 637-7223 www.rocketcenter.com

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RETAIL RISING

T H E SE N E W DE V E L OPM E N T S W I L L E XC I T E SHOPPE R S N A T ION W I DE

B Y R AC H E L C A RT E R

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ome people see shopping as a necessary evil; others treat it like a competitive sport or simply enjoy it as a relaxing

pastime. No matter how you approach it, shopping is serious business. Some shopping areas, whether stand-

alone malls or full neighborhoods, are famous around the world, and

some are simply welcome additions to the regional retail landscape.

In New York City, the new Westfield World Trade Center is a signature entry point for Lower Manhattan, and the company’s 40-year-old UTC mall in San Diego is undergoing a major expansion and renovation.

Around the country, outlet shopping continues to be popular, and new outlet centers are adding to shoppers’ options in Florida, Maryland and Texas.

THE NEW TANGER OUTLETS IN DAYTONA BEACH FEATURES 75 STORES.

Courtesy

1

WESTFIELD UTC — SAN DIEGO

San Diego’s University Towne Center mall opened in 1977, so when shopping center giant Westfield launched the first of a multiphase, $1 billion renovation nearly 35 years later, “it was time,” said Adrienne Pacheco, senior marketing director for the mall, now known as Westfield UTC. The initial $180 million renovation wrapped up in 2012 and was largely cosmetic, with new flooring and updated storefronts. But the project also added a new dining terrace and reconfigured the former Robinsons-May shell to house a 14-screen ArcLight Cinemas theater, a 24 Hour Fitness gym and a Forever 21 store. Crews started work on the second phase in July 2015, and the grand opening is slated for October. With a $585 million price tag, the second phase will add over 250,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space to the center’s existing 1.1 million square feet. “It’s a large expansion, but we made every effort to keep it upscale and refined and very comfortable,” she said. When it’s complete, “you won’t be able to see the transition from old to new.” Room and Board is taking over the former Sport Chalet space, but Westfield hasn’t yet announced tenants for the new retail space. However, retailers will be in keeping with the center’s approach of curating “unique and first-to-market retailers,” such as Warby Parker, TravisMathew and Bonobos. Nordstrom “won’t miss a beat” when it moves from its existing space at the mall into a new, two-story flagship store being built on-site complete with an in-store restaurant and coffee shop. The Pointe will be a promenade of restaurants with al fresco dining around fire pits and a koi pond, and The Winery wine bar anchoring one end. Other restaurants include Javier’s, known for its elevated Mexican fare, and dumpling house Din Tai Fung. An 18,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor event space will overlook The Pointe, and the expansion will also feature a valet area with an arrival lounge and a new 2,300-space parking garage. W W W.W ESTFI ELD.COM / U T C

Courtesy Tanger Outlets Daytona Beach

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Tour SOUTHEAST INDIANA

RiveR Town Spend a day along the Ohio River Scenic Byway and explore historic Aurora. Follow an urban arts trail with your artist guide, tour landmark mansions, enjoy a “Linens & Luxury” luncheon and visit a small brewery with a big history. “Wonderful experience, Top-notch service!” - CB&S Bank Shining Stars, Russellville, AL

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CLARKSBURG PREMIUM OUTLETS CLARKSBURG, MARYLAND

When the Clarksburg Premium Outlets opened in October, “it was one of the best grand openings in recent history for the entire premium-outlets platform,” said Michael Mitchroney, general manager. Simon Property Group’s new shopping center is in Clarksburg, Maryland, just off Interstate 270 about 30 miles northwest of Washington and 50 miles west of Baltimore. The center features 90 stores, with several more still under construction, and “premium” is the key word for the retailers, which include high-end, name-brand outlets such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Salvatore Ferragamo, Kate Spade and Coach, as well as national brands like Nike, Under Armour, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy. “We have the greatest mix of brands possible in the marketplace,” Mitchroney said, adding, “It’s a great opportunity to touch all the bases and cater to the customer.” Simon designed the center to offer visitors a relaxing shopping experience. The LEEDcertified project is a two-story outdoor center that features outdoor gathering spaces with seating areas with tables and chairs as well as soft seating, a fireplace, two fountains, a playground, a bike path that runs through the property and an amphitheater “where we’ll put on events during the warmer months.” Market Hall is the indoor eating area, with six fast-casual food options. Comfortable seating, charging stations with outlets and USB ports, and the media lounge with couches and TVs all help set the Market Hall apart from a conventional mall food court. For the motorcoach market, “the center was designed with groups and buses and tourism specifically in mind,” Mitchroney said. A centrally located bus plaza right outside Market Hall allows groups to arrive under an overhang with heaters, outdoor seating and vending machines, and the center has bus parking. For groups of 10 or more, the center also provides someone to greet them and gives each guest a VIP Shopper Club savings passport that offers discounts and deals at a variety of retailers. W W W. PR E M I U MOU T L E T S .COM /OU T L E T/CL A R K SBU RG

“Windows of Aurora” Hillforest Victorian House Museum

OHIO Indianapolis

INDIANA

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Cincinnati

KENTUCKY

Louisville

Lexington

South of I-74 & west of I-275, 20 minutes west of Cincinnati

www.TOURSoutheastIndiana.com 800-322-8198

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FORT WORTH TANGER OUTLETS FORT WORTH, TEXAS

During the late 1800s, Fort Worth, Texas, was the last stop for cattle drivers on the Chisholm Trail, a fact that earned it the nickname Cowtown. But Fort Worth is no cowtown when it comes to shopping: A planned Tanger Outlets mall will join the likes of Ridgmar Mall, Hulen Mall and Grand Prairie Premium Outlets when it opens in November. Tanger Factory Outlet Centers bought 44 acres in September, and crews broke ground on the new Tanger Outlets development in October after the company surpassed its 60 percent leasing threshold. Contracted retailers so far include H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic and Restoration Hardware, and Tanger is in lease negotiations with more to fill out the space. When complete, the outlets will offer more than 80 designer and brand-name retailers. The 350,000-square-foot shopping center will be the retail anchor in the larger surrounding Champions Circle, a mixed-use project being developed next to Texas Motor Speedway. The $400 million, 500-acre development, at Interstate 35W and Texas Highway 114, will include additional retail, commercial, office and residential construction. A Marriott hotel with a conference center and a golf course was the development’s first project. “We are pleased to welcome Tanger Outlets as our new neighbor and look forward to future partnerships,” Eddie Gossage, Texas Motor Speedway president and general manager, said in a press release. “Tanger Outlets will be aCourtesy win for our Town over 1Center million visitors each year Easton seeking fast and fashionable savings.” W W W.TA NGEROU T L E T.COM / F ORT WORTH


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WESTFIELD WORLD TRADE CENTER NEW YORK CITY

From the outside, the all-white Oculus building looks like the skeleton of a butterfly — if butterflies had skeletons — while the inside looks like a sun-drenched art museum or an ultramodern church sanctuary. But the signature building, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is the centerpiece and transit hub of the Westfield World Trade Center (WTC), which opened in August. In addition to high-end shopping, fine dining and world-renowned architecture, New York’s Westfield WTC also offers connectivity. WTC is the new “front door” to Lower Manhattan, and the Oculus provides connections to 13 subway and Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) trains, as well as several ferries that run between Manhattan and New Jersey and Brooklyn. The center features 365,000 square feet of retail space with more than 100 retailers, among them Boss Hugo Boss, Kate Spade, John Varvatos, LK Bennett, Lacoste, Banana Republic, Under Armour, Cole Haan, Vince Camuto, Apple and Bose. Visitors will also find plenty of restaurant and dining options. Eataly chose the center for its second Manhattan location, which features firsts for the Italian market such as a breakfast menu, a juice bar, a salad bar and a counter where flatbread sandwiches are made to order. Other dining options are Market Lane, Lady M. and Epicerie Boulud. London steakhouse Hawksmoor will make its U.S. debut as the flagship restaurant at Three World Trade Center late this year. W W W.W ESTFI ELD.COM / W ESTFI ELDWOR LDT R A DECE N T ER

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DAYTONA BEACH TANGER OUTLETS DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

Daytona Beach is synonymous with the Daytona 500 race held every year at the Daytona International Speedway. And Tanger is synonymous with outlet shopping. With the opening of the Daytona Beach Tanger Outlets just 3.5 miles north of the racetrack — both located just off Interstate 95 — the city can add destination outlet shopping to its list of things that draw visitors to the area. After nearly a year of construction, the open-air shopping center celebrated its grand opening in November with CEO Steve Tanger and special guests Drew and Jonathan Scott of the popular HGTV show “Property Brothers.” The 350,000-square-foot center has about 75 stores with brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Michael Kors, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Vera Bradley, H&M, Nike and Levi’s. Brightly colored beach chairs and white umbrellas strewn around a green lawn offer shoppers a place to rest their feet and soak up some Florida sun, and a splash park allows kids to cool off. “Tanger Outlets is a truly exciting addition to the Daytona Beach market, and we are thrilled to welcome this world-class shopping experience as part of our area’s retail offerings,” Lori Campbell Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a press release. “Tourism is a crucial economic driver in our destination, and this new center will be key in continuing to attract visitors from all over the world.” W W W.TA NGEROU T L E T.COM / DA Y T ONA

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A CAJUN

CL A SSROOM

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Courtesy Global Wildlife Center

LOUISIANA IS FILLED WITH GREAT EXPERIENCES FOR STU-

YOUNG TRAVELERS CAN INTERACT WITH SOME OF THE 4,000 EXOTIC ANIMALS AT THE GLOBAL WILDLIFE CENTER IN FOLSOM.

DENTS AND YOUTH GROUPS THAT ARE BOTH FUN AND EDUCATIONAL. FROM HANDS-ON SCIENCE CENTERS AND ACRES

OF ROAMING AFRICAN WILDLIFE TO CHANCES TO EXPLORE THE STATE’S CAJUN AND BAYOU HERITAGE, THE HARDEST

THING FOR GROUP LEADERS MAY BE NARROWING DOWN ALL THE OPTIONS.

BELOW ARE FIVE LOUISIANA DESTINATIONS THAT WOULD BE IDEAL FOR YOUR NEXT SCHOOL OR YOUTH GROUP VISIT.

ACADIAN VILLAGE L A FAY E T T E

Acadian Village charts the history of the French settlers whose descendants would go on to be modern-day Cajuns. The site is home to a collection of 19th-century buildings that

includes not just houses but a blacksmith’s workshop, a general store and a doctor’s museum. Acadian Village director Thomas Gotte said the attraction provides visitors with “a glimpse into the past.” The nonprofit that operates the village also uses the proceeds to benefit the local specialneeds community. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the buildings and grounds. Or, a guided tour is available from one of the local volunteer guides. Groups looking for something a little more immersive might be interested in combining a guided tour with an educational workshop. The most popular of these explores Cajun music and dance, but other workshops let students try games of the bygone era or making bousillage, the traditional clay and straw material that provided wall insulation in the settlers’ homes. WWW.ACADIANVILLAGE.ORG

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LOUISIANA IS BRIMMING WITH GREAT EXPERIENCES FOR STUDENT GROUPS SCI-PORT DISCOVERY CENTER SHREVEPORT

Whether it’s a shark dissection for highschool seniors or an introduction to the planetarium for younger kids, the Sci-Port Discovery Center can create the perfect program of activities for every group. Tara Burton, the center’s community engagement manager, said the on-site registrar can work directly with teachers and group leaders, helping to tailor each visit to a specific interest and age. Sci-Port prides itself in offering a memorable experience. “Unlike most museums where you can’t touch anything, what makes Sci-Port so cool is that it’s very hands-on,” said Burton. She noted that there are so many events and demonstrations taking place that the schedule changes daily, constantly offering something new and different. The center features an Imax Dome theater, screening a selection of two or three films at any one time. Groups have the option of selecting any film from the center’s extensive catalog for viewing. The exhibit “BodyWorks” is dedicated to the study of the human body, and the Red River Gallery showcases the river’s natural and cultural history. Groups typically range in size from 10 to 100, and the busiest time for student visits is April and May. WWW.SCIPORT.ORG

AVERY ISLAND AND JUNGLE GARDENS Students who have always wanted to try hot sauce ice cream can fulfill their dreams with a tour of Avery Island, home of Tabasco. The self-guided tour traces the history of Louisiana’s favorite spicy condiment and allows visitors to view the modern brewing and bottling processes.

After touring the factory and historic plant, there is also the opportunity to explore Avery Island itself. Jungle Gardens is home to a multitude of wildlife that is indigenous to this unusual salt dome within the swamps. The three-mile nature trail is open to vehicles and pedestrians. Points of interest along the way include alligator and turtle ponds; a Buddha statue believed to be more than 900 years old; and Bird City, a protected colony of an estimated 100,000 snowy egrets. The factory tour lasts approximately one hour, with an additional 90 minutes suggested to tour the gardens. WWW.TABASCO.COM/AVERY-ISLAND

SCI-PORT DISCOVERY CENTER IN SHREVEPORT

Courtesy Sci-Port Discovery Center

A TABASCO PEPPER MASH BARREL ON AVERY ISLAND

s e h c o t i h c Nat

WWW.JUNGLEGARDENS.ORG

Courtesy McIlhenny Co.

“Nack-A-Tish”

Louisiana’s Oldest City

Celebrate • Discover • Explore Discover Your New

GroupTravel Destination!

Come Celebrate, Discover & Explore our historic sites, national parks and plantations. Visit our National Historic Landmark District where you can shop and dine. Discover the Cane River National Heritage Area. Explore the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum and the Cane River Creole National Historic Park.

800-259-1714 • www.Natchitoches.com

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Insta


JEAN LAFITTE SWAMP TOURS

JEAN LAFITTE SWAMP TOURS

Courtesy Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours GLOBAL WILDLIFE CENTER

Courtesy Global Wildlife Center

GLOBAL WILDLIFE CENTER

MARRERO

FOLSOM

Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours offers students the opportunity to see true bayou wildlife in its natural habitat. “We are in the middle of a National Park with no hunting allowed, so the wildlife is untouched,” said Lindsey Manthey, director of travel sales. This calming environment is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including the famous wetland cypress trees and, of course, alligators. Trips are recommended any time of year: Summer’s humidity attracts the larger gators and birds such as the heron and egret; winter’s milder temperatures are perfect for viewing deer, otters and migratory birds. The tours are all led by guides born and raised in the bayou. Each boat can hold up to 60 people, and with six boats in all, groups of up to 360 people can be accommodated. Tours last approximately an hour and a half, and boats have a restroom and a snack bar.

On a sprawling 900-acre site, the Global Wildlife Center is the largest of its kind in the United States — a natural environment where more than 4,000 exotic and endangered animals can roam free. Giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, camels and many other species all live here, and daily tours provide an opportunity to meet the animals, feed them and pet them. “The one-on-one hands-on interactions with the animals are what make a visit so awesome,” said the center’s Brittany Ricks. She added that tours are also very educational, with the tour guides providing tips so that children of all ages can learn how they can help protect the environment. The center has several lesson plans for teachers and welcomes groups of all ages. School groups must have at least 15 participants, but each wagon can hold from 120 to 160 people, so larger groups can be accommodated. Reservations are required and should be made at least one month in advance.

WWW.JEANLAFITTESWAMPTOUR.COM

WWW.GLOBALWILDLIFE.COM By Herb Sparrow

CAJUN CUISINE Rich, natural, unapologetically Cajun. Just south of New Orleans where Cajun runs deep. Groups can explore authentic bayou culture through outdoor experiences, restaurants, festivals and attractions. You’ll find storytellers up and down the bayou, and you’ll take a little piece of the story home with you. As sure as the bayou flows to the Gulf, we want to share it all with you.

877.537.5800 WHARVEY@LACAJUNBAYOU.COM LACAJUNBAYOU.COM/GROUPS #CAJUNBAYOU

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BEYOND

BEADS

B Y F I O NA YO U N G - B ROW N

CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL IN NATCHITOCHES FEATURES FIREWORKS ON THE RIVER EVERY SATURDAY EVENING BETWEEN THANKSGIVING AND NEW YEAR’S DAY.

Courtesy NHDBA

LOUISIANA’S FESTIVALS CELEBRATE

MORE THAN MARDI GRAS MUCH

NO MATTER THE TIME OF YEAR, VISITORS TO LOUISIANA CAN BE SURE OF FINDING AT LEAST ONE FESTIVAL TAKING

PLACE, AND LIKELY MORE THAN ONE. WHETHER YOU’RE CELEBRATING CULTURAL HERITAGE, MUSICAL HISTORY, OR A SPE-

CIFIC TIME OF YEAR, EVERY FESTIVAL OFFERS GOOD FOOD, LIVELY MUSIC AND A CHANCE TO ENJOY THAT LAID-BACK

LOUISIANA JOIE DE VIVRE. HERE ARE FIVE FESTIVALS ACROSS LOUISIANA THAT YOUR

GROUP MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER VISITING TO LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL.

INTERNATIONAL RICE FESTIVAL CROWLEY

Every Louisiana resident knows that rice is an essential part of the regional cuisine, and so it is only fitting that there should be a festival to celebrate this humble grain and the local farmers who produce it. As Gwen Hanks, executive director of Acadia Tourism, said, “This is all to honor our farmers; without them we’d starve.” The International Rice Festival is the state’s largest and oldest agricultural festival and has operated continually for more than 80 years, except for a break during World War II. Thousands of people gather in Crowley each October for a long weekend that features music, dance, food, two parades, a Queen’s Ball and more. Those who may have overindulged can run off some of the calories in a 5K race; others can browse the classic cars, watch a demonstration of old-time rice threshing and wander through the arts-and-crafts fair. The entertainment is in full swing from early morning to midnight each day. Hotels in the area fill up quickly, so event organizers suggest making reservations early. If people contact Acadia Tourism, they can be put in touch with local motels and any other facilities they might need. Parking and admission are free, and armbands are available for purchase to cover the cost of carnival rides. WWW.ACADIATOURISM.ORG WWW.RICEFESTIVAL.COM

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FRENCH QUARTER FEST NEW ORLEANS FRENCH QUARTER FEST By Zack Smith, courtesy French Quarter Fest

THIBODAUXVILLE FALL FESTIVAL

Courtesy Bayou Lafource Area CVB

By Herb Sparrow

Visitors could be forgiven for thinking that New Orleans is home to one continuous festival; there is always something happening. The French Quarter Fest, held every April, is the world’s largest showcase of Louisiana music and features four days of music, including the jazz and blues for which the region is famous. Originally a small neighborhood festival, it is now the second-largest event in the state after Mardi Gras and includes more than 1,700 local musicians. Over 60 local restaurants also participate, serving “The World’s Largest Jazz Brunch” in Jackson Square. Event marketing manager Rebecca Sell said the French Quarter Fest is special because it provides “a very authentic New Orleans experience.” She noted that not only does it attract large numbers of out-of-town guests, it is also consistently voted a favorite event by locals. Because the event does attract so many people, Sell advises groups to book their hotels early. “Many people will make their reservations at the end of one festival to come back the next year, so it is never too early to book,” she said. WWW.FQFI.ORG/FRENCHQUARTER

THIBODAUXVILLE FALL FESTIVAL THIBODAUX

For those wanting to enjoy a true celebration of bayou lifestyle, the Thibodauxville Fall Festival is a must. It is held every November in Lafourche Parish, also known as Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. With the bayou running the length of the parish, it is a “cultural identity that is engrained in who we are,” said Timothy Bush, president of the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. He described the event as “an arts festival and the biggest block party you’ve ever attended.” Besides the music, arts fair and duck race featuring more than 2,000 rubber ducks, the highlight of the weekend is the food. Groups should plan to come to town a day early so they can enjoy Big Boy’s Main Street Cook Off, a showcase of Cajun cuisine with more than 45 teams competing to produce the best regional dishes. The Thibodauxville Fall Festival attracts more than 15,000 people each year and can be easier on the budget than the bigger New Orleans festivals or a fun stop on the way to the Big Easy. WWW.LACAJUNBAYOU.COM

CONTRABAND DAYS L AKE CHARLES

Hoist the mainsail at the Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival, 11 days of fun on the shores of Lake Charles. According to local lore, legendary pirate Jean Lafitte came ashore at this spot and buried his treasure. Each May, the festival opens with a re-enactment that includes local citizens trying to defend their town against the marauding pirates. “The Contraband Days Louisiana Pirate Festival is a tradition in Southwest Louisiana, with the event celebrating its 60th anniversary this year,” said Angie Manning, communications director at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The storming of the seawall is always great fun for everyone as the pirates sail in while the city’s militia defends the seawall. Ultimately, the pirates make the Lake Charles mayor walk the plank, and that commences the festivities with music, food, carnival rides and multiple events on land and sea.”

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THE INTERNATIONAL RICE FESTIVAL’S RICE QUEEN

Other events on the festival’s busy schedule include a carnival, parades and pirate costume contests, and of course, it wouldn’t be a Louisiana festival without a large selection of local food and live music. A variety of shows and the largest competitive arm-wrestling tournament in the Gulf South are open to visitors, and the festival ends with fireworks display on the final night. Contraband Days attracts more than 100,000 visitors, so groups are advised to book early at one of the Lake Charles area’s many hotels and resorts. WWW.CONTRABANDDAYS.COM

CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL N ATCH I TO CH ES

Jill Leo, director of festivals and events with the Natchitoches Historic District Business Association, said one of her favorite things about the town’s Christmas Festival is that it is a family event with something for everyone. Since its humble beginnings in 1927, the event

has grown to attract visitors from across the country, yet it still holds significance for locals. “This is a local family tradition; people and their families have grown up with this festival,” Leo said. Festivities kick off the weekend before Thanksgiving, when the more than 300,000 lights are switched on. From then through New Year’s, every Saturday sees live music performances and a fireworks display along the riverbank. Other events such as carol services are dotted through the month, with the main Christmas Festival and parade taking place the first weekend of December. Leo warns this is also the most crowded weekend and suggests that if groups want a less-busy experience, they should plan to come the following weekend. The event website has links to local hotels and can help groups find accommodations. They also ask that groups call ahead so that they can arrange free bus parking.

Courtesy International Rice Festival

CONTRABAND DAYS IN LAKE CHARLES

WWW.NATCHITOCHESCHRISTMAS.COM Courtesy www.lindseyjanies.com

By Herb Sparrow

rejuvenate your mind & body

© Cajun Encounters

Adventure, Excitement, Relaxation & Inspiration. That’s what you’ll find in St. Tammany Parish. Visit the Northshore and bring your appetite for great Louisiana cooking, and for living. Only 45 minutes from New Orleans.

LOUISIANA’S NORTHSHORE

8 0 0 - 6 3 4 - 9 4 4 3 • w w w. L o u i s i a n a No r t h s h o r e .c o m /g r o u p s

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N AT I V E IMMERSION CourtesyOklahoma Eiteljorg Museum Courtesy Tourism

BY AS H L E Y R I C KS

THESE DESTINATIONS SURROUND VISITORS WITH NATIVE AMERICAN

CULTURE GROUP T HE

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roup travel is increasingly becoming an immersive experience: Travelers can get to know a city and its people by exploring homegrown favorites, enjoying the region’s cuisine and experiencing activities that allow outsiders to feel like locals for a day. These five destinations from across North America are filled with heritage, attractions, local cuisine and even accommodations that create a perfect fit for groups looking for total immersion into Native American culture.


FEAST DAYS ARE A TIME OF CELEBRATION AT THE MANY PUEBLOS IN NORTHERN NEW MEXICO.

Courtesy Visit Santa Fe

OPPOSITE PAGE: A DANCER APPEARS IN FULL REGALIA AT THE STANDING BEAR POW WOW AT STANDING BEAR STATE PARK IN OKLAHOMA.

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO Santa Fe is a convenient hub for exploring the native cultures of northern New Mexico, where native groups have lived for thousands of years. With more native people still living on their original land in the state than the entire area east of the Mississippi River, the area provides many opportunities for groups looking for authentic experiences. “You can see a deer dancer petroglyph that’s 1,000 years old, then go to the pueblo and see a deer dancer doing the same dance that was depicted in the petroglyph,” said John Feins, public relations manager for Tourism Santa Fe. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian are just three of the many museums in the city but are highlights for groups interested in the native cultures of the region. One of the largest events of the year is the Santa Fe Indian Market in August. Going on for 95 years, the market has grown to include more than 1,000 artists from over 100 tribes. This year, the market will take place August 19-20. A newer counterpart, the Indigenous Fine Art Market, is also growing in popularity. This festival, which takes place the same week as the Indian Market, focuses exclusively on contemporary Native American art but affords the same opportunities to peruse and purchase art. For groups who can’t visit the Indian Market, there are artists working year-round at the Palace of the Governors. The historic building has been in continual use for over 400 years. W W W.S A N TA FE .ORG

Courtesy courtesy Visit Santa Fe

By Daniel Nadelbach, courtesy Visit Santa Fe

By Thosh Collins, courtesy Visit Santa Fe TOP: A FASHION SHOW AT THE ANNUAL SANTA FE INDIAN MARKET LOWER MIDDLE: A BEADWORK PORTRAIT BOTTOM: A DANCER PERFORMING FANCY DANCE

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Courtesy Rapid City CVB

Courtesy Rapid City CVB TOP: BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK BOTTOM: POW WOW DANCERS

R A P I D C I T Y, SOU T H DA KOTA Rapid City, in western South Dakota, sits in the center of Sioux culture, as well as among some of the most iconic attractions in the nation. Natural wonders like the Black Hills and the Badlands, and the man-made masterpiece the Crazy Horse Monument, are all an easy trip from Rapid City. For groups spending some time in town, the Prairie Edge Trading Company in downtown is a great place to stop and look for a unique Native American souvenir. The shop includes gallery space with stunning works of art upstairs and shopping downstairs. Travelers can bring home sweetgrass braids, a Pendleton blanket or jewelry created by Native American artisans. Another popular stop is the Journey Museum, which tells the geological and cultural history of the Black Hills, from the rocks and formations that make up the landscape to the people who have called it home. The Pine Ridge Reservation, an up-and-coming destination a short distance from Rapid City, is beginning to appear on itineraries. Groups may be interested in seeing historic sites such as Wounded Knee, the site of the 1890 massacre and the 1973 protest that is part of the Oglala Lakota reservation lands. Also on the reservation is the Heritage Center at the Red Cloud Indian School, a museum and cultural center that celebrates Lakota culture and Native American art.

TWO CASINOS

TWICE THE FUN

W W W.V ISI T R A PI DCI T Y.COM

TOP: A DEMONSTRATION AT THE OCONALUFTEE INDIAN VILLAGE BOTTOM: A CARVED, WOODEN BEAR

THE PERFECT GETAWAY FOR YOUR GROUP Enjoy over 1,000 slots, 70 table games, and a 300-room hotel tower at the gambler’s paradise of Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy, NC. And from over 3,700 games and 1,108 hotel rooms to dining and shopping, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort offers it all in Cherokee, NC. Choose your perfect getaway. For more information on incentives for you and your group or to book your group, call toll free 1-877-778-8138 or email bwebb@cherokee.harrahs.com.

Courtesy Visit Cherokee

CHEROKEE, NC

MURPHY, NC

Must be 21 or older to enter casino floor and to gamble, and must present a valid state or federal photo ID upon request. Know When To Stop Before You Start.® Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700. An Enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. ©2017, Caesars License Company, LLC.

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Courtesy Visit Cherokee


CHEROK EE, NORTH CAROLINA Cherokee is nestled in mountains off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the North Carolina entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The city is a beautiful destination known for its Native American heritage and abundance of outdoor activities. The Museum of the Cherokee tells the story of the Cherokee tribe’s identity and history, from its early days to the Trail of Tears period and modern culture. Groups can also book a Cherokee Experience at the museum, which includes a Cherokee language course as well as a cultural workshop or traditional performance by a Cherokee dance group. One of the most popular attractions during the summer season is the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a re-creation of an 18th-century Cherokee village. Groups have the option of taking a guided tour of the Cherokee huts, roundhouse and different cultural demonstrations or exploring on their own. Also adjacent to the village is a botanical garden that features various regional plants the Cherokee use for food and medicine.

CHEROKEE SITS AT THE GATEWAY TO THE APPALACHIAN MOUNTAINS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Courtesy Visit Cherokee

Groups visiting Cherokee should also plan to include a performance of “Unto These Hills,” a story based on the life of Tsali, an important figure who is considered responsible for the Eastern Band of Cherokee being allowed to remain on their native lands in the hills of North Carolina. This year will feature a new production rewritten to be more historically accurate but will still feature the “beautiful story of Tsali’s sacrifice for his people,” according to Robert Jumper of Visit Cherokee. The show runs May through August. W W W.V ISI T CHEROK EE NC .COM

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Courtesy Tourisme Wendake

Courtesy Tourisme Wendake TOP: THE HURON-WENDAT MUSEUM IS A TOP ATTRACTION IN WENDAKE. BOTTOM: A YOUNG WOMAN TELLS VISITORS ABOUT HURON CUISINE.

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

W E N DA K E , QU E BE C In the suburbs of Quebec City, about 150 miles west of Presque Isle, Maine, Wendake — pronounced Wen-dah-kee — is a popular destination to experience the Huron and Wendat cultures. The Huron-Wendat Traditional Site should be included in any trip to the area. Visitors to the traditional site can enjoy cultural demonstrations and try their hand at making cornhusk dolls, or listen to tribal members share their historic and modern ways of life. Groups can book an overnight stay in the longhouse or add an evening to gather around the fire and listen to tribal members share myths and legends under the stars. Another popular stop for groups is the Huron Wendat Museum. The permanent exhibit tells the history of the Huron-Wendat nation, from the tribal creation myth through modern times. Groups can also add a tour of the nearby Tsawenhohi House, which originally belonged to the Grand Chief Nicolas Vincent Tsawenhohi, who was declared a National Historic Person by the Department of Canadian Heritage in 2001. Three grand chiefs have lived in the home during its time as a personal residence. Wendake is also home to multiple First Nations restaurants. La Sagamite is a stand-alone restaurant Grove, Oklahoma that highlights Huron-Wendat cuisine, with dishes such as a three sisters soup and a selection of game meats and seafood on their menu. Their signature dish features game meats that are flambeed right at your table. There is also the Nek8arre restaurant at the Huron-Wendat site that features a selection of entrees that include buffalo, duck and salmon, as well as indigenous dishes such as sunflower seed soup. Guests looking for a total experience should also check out the Hotel-Museé Premieres Nations, which features overnight accommodations with rooms that highlight indigenous culture and an on-site First Nations restaurant.

, WOW. V i s i t C h e r o k e e Nat i o n . c o m © 2017 Cherokee Nation Businesses. All Rights Reserved.

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W W W.T OU R ISMEW E N DA K E .C A


Visit Oklahoma,

where legends live and breathe. Travel back through centuries in a traditional Cherokee village. Commune with the spirit of Chief Standing Bear beneath his towering monument. Behold fiery colors in motion at a legendary powwow. Then lose yourself amid the world’s largest collection of Western and American Indian art.

In Oklahoma, discover the native traditions of 30+ tribal nations.

Find adventures and itineraries at TravelOK.com/Group.


HERITAGE ON DISPLAY

Courtesy Eiteljorg Museum By Joshua Voda, courtesy NMAI

BY AS H L E Y R I C KS

NATIVE

MUSEUMS CAN BE FOUND AROUND THE U.S. 44

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rom those in Washington, D.C., to those in the suburbs of Chicago and the tribal lands of central Florida, museums across the country tell fascinating stories about America’s native heritage. Travelers will see fascinating artifacts, some more than 2,000 years old, at these prestigious museums. But the experiences aren’t all about history. Art, oral traditions and live demonstrations help these museum visits provide insight into the many cultures that continue to thrive in Native American communities across the country. Here are five Native American museums where groups can enjoy unusual cultural experiences while learning more about our native history.


By Joshua Voda, courtesy NMAI Courtesy Mashantucket Pequot Museum

A DANCER APPEARS AT THE DAY OF THE DEAD CELEBRATION AT THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

MASHANTUCKET PEQUOT MUSEUM M A S H A N T U C K E T, C O N N E C T I C U T The Mashantucket Pequot Museum is on Pequot tribal lands in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Groups visiting the museum will take a journey through Pequot history, entering the museum through a simulated world of ice to learn Pequot, Algonquin and New England history. The dire wolf, an extinct species of the genus Canis, on display in the glacial area is a popular photo-op with many visitors. One of the most impressive elements of the permanent exhibit is the 16th-century Pequot village, which re-creates various aspects of tribal life. The exhibit includes examples from everyday life, including men hunting, women gardening and children learning from elders. There is even a depiction of a wigwam being constructed. “Without A Theme,” a special exhibit opening this spring, will feature works from Native American artists across various mediums and styles. This exhibit will highlight the diversity of their artistic strengths. “We want to let native artists just be artists that happen to be Native American rather than always having to be a native artist producing ‘native art’ when there’s so much to offer,” said Cliff Sebastian, marketing and development representative for the museum. The biggest event of the year is the annual Veterans Pow Wow held each November to honor all service members, both native and nonnative. Veterans get free admission to the event. There are also many special events coming up in 2018 to mark the 20th anniversary of the museum. W W W. PEQUOT MUSEU M.ORG

Courtesy NMAI LEFT: A MASTODON IN THE ICE AGE EXHIBIT TOP RIGHT: HOPI PUEBLO BLANKET DETAILS BOTTOM RIGHT: DANCERS AT THE HAWAIIAN CULTURE FESTIVAL

SMITHSONIAN NAT IONA L M USEU M OF THE A M ER ICA N INDI A N WA S H I N G T O N A N D N E W Y O R K The core of the Native American collection now under the care of the Smithsonian came from George Gustav High, who collected about 8,000 objects during his extensive travels. “He made sure he had pieces that represented the native nations from across the hemisphere, from the sub-Arctic to TierraCourtesy del Fuego,” Eileen Eiteljorgsaid Museum Maxwell, supervisory public affairs specialist for the museum. The High collection pieces are now on display to the public at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Now on display at the D.C. museum through October 2018 is “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and Native American Nations.” The exhibit features items used in treaty ceremonies between the federal government and different tribes across the United States, from ceremonial clothing to pipes that played an integral role in the formation of Indian treaties.

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The “Nation to Nation” exhibit has been extremely popular since it opened to the public in D.C. “We have a comment book at the end of the exhibit, and the comments section includes some of the best we’ve ever received on an exhibition,” said Maxwell. On display in New York is “Infinity of Nations,” which includes “700 of the finest works from throughout the hemisphere, including some of the most iconic pieces from the collection,” Maxwell said. Groups should also plan to eat at the Mitsitam Café, the Zagat-rated restaurant at the Washington museum. The cafe serves a seasonal menu of Native American dishes from the different regions of the continent.

showcases the culture and history of the Seminole tribe. The museum’s permanent collection features life casts of tribal members that depict what everyday life was like for Seminoles during the 1890s. The displays demonstrate ceremonial activities, dancing, hunting and more. The museum is divided into three galleries that display rotating exhibits throughout the year. Opening this month is an exhibit that features the work of Elgin Jumper. The exhibit will feature portraits of tribal elders and landscape photography. Groups will also want to explore outside the museum with a walk down the boardwalk through the cypress dome to see the traditional Seminole structures and cultural demonstrations on the museum campus. At the halfway point is a recreation of Seminole ceremonial grounds as well as a court for playing stickball. Farther along at the Seminole Village, tribal members lead cultural demonstrations and Seminole artisans share traditional crafts such as woodcarving, jewelry-making and sweetgrass basket weaving with visitors. Also along the boardwalk are the clan pavilion and hunting grounds.

W W W. N M A I.SI. EDU

Courtesy Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum TOP: A SEMINOLE CHICKEE HUT BOTTOM: A SEMINOLE DOLL

A H -T A H -T H I - K I MUSEUM CLEWISTON, FLORIDA The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in central Florida,

THE BUT TERFLY G ARDEN • SPIR AL G ARDEN • VILL AGE G ARDEN

WELCOME to our GAR GARDENS GA RDENS RDENS

MILKWEED

Monarch butterflies cannot survive without Milkweed.

A CHICKASAW ADVENTURE Join us for a celebration of the role gardens play in our lives. In working gardens, landscapes and demonstrations, we share the tools and traditions that have shaped our culture.

Discover many garden adventures!

Help us fight declining numbers of Monarchs.

ChickasawCulturalCenter.com • Sulphur, OK • 580-622-7130

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Throughout the year, the museum hosts the Seminole Discovery Days, a series of events that feature different elements of Seminole culture. Each event features a different theme, such as archaeological discoveries from the area or a beadwork demonstration. W W W. A H TA H TH I K I.COM

E I T E L JORG M USEU M OF A M E R IC A N I N DI A NS A N D W E ST E R N A RT INDIANAPOLIS Indianapolis’ Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art started as the private collection of the businessman Harrison Eiteljorg, who acquired a substantial compilation of Western art and cultural artifacts. In 1989, when his collection outgrew his home, he started the museum. After the museum opened its doors, the collection continued to grow beyond Eiteljorg’s purchases, and it now includes an extensive array of artifacts from the past 200 years. The museum has two galleries devoted to

Western art. The second floor is the Native American Art Gallery. The special exhibit “Dogs: Faithful and True” is open through August 6. The exhibit explores the roles of worker and companion that dogs played in the native, pioneer and other Western cultures. On display are objects, photographs, paintings and sculpture that feature canine companions and workers. A schedule of special dog-related events has also been planned to accompany the exhibit. Every June, the museum hosts the Indian Market and Festival; this will be the market’s 25th year. The weekendlong celebration includes music and dance, cultural demonstrations and art by more than 150 artists from over 60 tribes in the United States and Canada. This year, a special exhibit to coincide with the market will feature contemporary Native American art. The Eiteljorg Museum is on the grounds of White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, with the Indiana State Museum, the NCAA Hall of Champions and the Indianapolis Zoo a short walk away. W W W. E I T ELJORG.ORG

Courtesy Eiteljorg Museum TOP: A TRADITIONAL HAIDA TOTEM POLE BOTTOM: A TAOS PAINTING OF A MAN SHELLING CORN

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MITCHELL MUSEUM E VA N S T O N , I L L I N O I S The Mitchell Museum, in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, was created to showcase Native American cultures from all over the United States and Canada. With artifacts from over 1,100 cultures on display, groups will have a wonderful opportunity to learn about tribes from every region of the continent. The permanent collection features pieces from the different regions that range from prehistory to the present, but most of the artifacts on display are from the 19th century onward. “We try to talk about the traditional cultures but bring it to the present, and bring that culture forward to the present day and current events,” said Kathleen McDonald, director of the museum. The museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a special exhibit, “Connecting Cultures: 40 Years at the Mitchell Museum,” which

features art created by native artists. Also on display for 2017 is the exhibit “Pottery: A Timeless Tradition,” a sampling of pottery and artifacts from cultures spanning the northern tundra to the deserts of the Southwest and the woodland tribes of the East. Groups visiting the museum will also have the rare opportunity to explore authentic structures, like a fishing wigwam and the Ciporoke — pronounced chi-po-tee-kay — at the museum to see how these structures were built and used by the Ho-Chunk tribe in the area. W W W. M I T CHEL L MUSEU M.ORG

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Courtesy Mitchell Museum A PAINTED CERAMIC CUP FROM THE “POTTERY: A TIMELESS TRADITION” EXHIBIT


OKLAHOMA’S NATIVE CULTURES

I

n the late 1800s, many of the tribes of the United States were relocated to Indian Territory. Today the territory is the state of Oklahoma and home to dozens of nations, each with its own culture and history. From one end of the state to the other, there’s no lack of indigenous attractions, historic sites and cultural experiences. Here are some of the most popular. • THE CHEROKEE HERITAGE CENTER, TALEQUAH — All three bands of the Cherokee tribe — the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians — are represented at the center. The “Trail of Tears” exhibit and the Diligwa Living History Village and Outdoor Museum are both popular with groups. • CHICKASAW CULTURAL CENTER, SULPHUR — This attraction features interactive exhibits, cultural demonstrations and an Imax theater. • RED EARTH FESTIVAL AND MUSEUM, OKLAHOMA CITY — The Red Earth Festival, held annually in June, is the largest dance competition in North America. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the festival. The museum is open year-round and features a collection of over 1,400 traditional and contemporary items.

• STANDING BEAR STATE PARK, MUSEUM AND EDUCATION CENTER, PONCA CITY — The Ponca chief Standing Bear was the subject of the first civil rights case in the United States when he argued that Native Americans are people and entitled to the rights and protections of the United States. Today, visitors can learn more about his story and Native American culture through the tribal displays, exhibits and artwork featured at the site.

• FORT SILL NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK AND MUSEUM, FORT SILL — The fort was a frontier army post in the 1800s that became the destination for many Native Americans forced from their homes during the period of Indian removal. One of the most famous residents was the famous Apache warrior Geronimo, whose grave is on the property. WWW.TRAVELOK.COM

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sound-off

STAFF H AT I

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AVO I T

It’s a tie between climbing part of the Matterhorn with my grandfather in Zermatt, Switzerland, and a trip to London, where we visited Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guards and did a brass rubbing at Westminster Abbey. But most importantly, we went to a little toy shop that sold the original Paddington Bears. I still have mine 37 years later.   — Kelly Tyner, DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING

On family road trips, I always claimed the backward-facing bench seat at the back of my family’s nine-passenger station wagon. I watched large swaths of America play out in “highdefinition” from my large-screen window view of this great land. It was the best way to travel. I would travel this way again in a heartbeat. — Donia Simmons, CREATIVE DIRECTOR

AV

O Y F O

My family went to San Antonio, Texas, for a business trip with my dad. On that road trip, I learned all the ways I wanted to kill my sister in her sleep, what the word gringo meant and that I can travel from Indiana to Texas without using the bathroom once. Oh yeah, San Antonio was cool, too.

HI

HOO ?

As kids, we joined our cousins from North Carolina for a trip to the beach each summer. We went to Crescent Beach, which has since been swallowed by North Myrtle Beach, I think. We’d spend our days in the ocean and our evenings playing games. My uncle had a boat, and sometimes we’d go flounder fishing or set crab traps on nearby piers. For years, I never knew a vacation could be anything else. — Mac Lacy, PUBLISHER

— Stacey Bowman, DIRECTOR, ADVERTISING SALES

I remember a particularly fun trip to Cave City, Kentucky, that my family took when I was probably 9 years old. Exploring Mammoth Cave felt like entering another world to me, and my brother and I loved the midway rides, go-karts and bumper boats at the nearby entertainment centers. Every time I pass the exit for Cave City on Interstate 65, I think of that trip.

During the holidays one year, my family stayed at Great Wolf Lodge and received a noise complaint because of a lengthy pillow battle instigated by my dad. — Savannah Osbourn, STAFF WRITER

— Brian Jewell, EXECUTIVE EDITOR

EDITOR’S NOTE Welcome to Staff Sound-Off, the monthly column where our staff members answer questions about their travel practices and preferences. We hope you enjoy these tips. If you have a question you’d like to see us answer, send it to me and it may appear in a future issue. BRIANJ@GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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Photo by Lindsey Best © 2017 Blue Man Productions, LLC.

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Profile for The Group Travel Leader, Inc.

The Group Travel Leader April 2017  

The Group Travel Leader April 2017 issue features group trip ideas on shopping,student travel destinations, California, Louisiana and Pennsy...

The Group Travel Leader April 2017  

The Group Travel Leader April 2017 issue features group trip ideas on shopping,student travel destinations, California, Louisiana and Pennsy...