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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE


BRING YOUR GROUP TOUR TO LIFE.

Fall in love with the rhythm of the waves with hands-on experiences and uncommon access offered exclusively for groups. Plan your group’s Live the Life Adventure at VisitVirginiaBeach.com/GroupTour.


When your group tour guide really doesn’t have to say anything.

Gibbs Gardens | Ball Ground, GA

Georgia Tourism invites you to join us on our fantastic Spring FAM to Southeast Georgia’s Plantation Trace. Look for more information about the 2018 FAM in upcoming issues of Group Travel Leader.

Plan an unforgettable vacation for your next group tour. Make it fun, fill it with adventure. Embrace the culture, the taste, nightlife and picture perfect scenery at every turn. Because in Georgia the experiences are endless and they are all Pretty. Sweet. Plan your trip today at ExploreGeorgia.org.


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KENTUCKY

6 EDITOR’S MARKS

T R AV E L G U I D E

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

B L U E G R A S S S TAT E PA R K S

NEWS

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DOWNTOWN KENTUCKY

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AFRICAN-AMERICAN SITES

Real-life Adventure

O N THE COVE R

A couple relaxes during a scenic mountain hike in Slovenia. Photo by Natalia Deriabina.

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FEATURES

ADVENTURES AT THE BEACH.

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History on the

COAST Tour operators share their travelers’ favorite outdoor activities.

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ON SITE IN COLUMBUS

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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

888.253.0455

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.


If you’re gonna play in Texas … You gotta have your registration planned.

S Register at NTAonline.com/convention

SAN ANTONIO PHY NAIM HASAN PHOTOGRA

DEC. 14–18 #TREX17

ent Appointm g schedulin opens

Oct. 11!

“Appointments at NTA are the foundation of our tour planning process ... the face-to-face connections we make are a valuable part of our future working relationships.” —Fraser Neave, Wells Gray Tours


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here do the problems in your organization really come from? I once heard former Ritz Carlton president Horst Schulze tell a fascinating story about trying to track down the source of a problem in a newly opened luxury hotel he had managed earlier in his career. The problem was slow room service. Guests were waiting too long for their food, and when it arrived, it was often cold. A strong leader, Schulze decided to take action and give the culprit a stern dressing down. So he started in the most logical place: the kitchen. But the head chef pushed back, insisting his team was getting orders cooked and out the door quickly, and after timing their work for a few days, Schulze believed him. So next, he turned to the room service delivery staff, ready to read them the riot act for being too slow and lazy. But they insisted they were moving as quickly as they could. The problem, they said, was that they had to wait far too long for the service elevators to take them to the guest rooms. Schulze asked the engineering staff to look into problems with the service elevators. They answered the equipment was working exactly the way it should. So Schulze dug deeper, studying the usage patterns of the service elevators. He discovered they were indeed moving slowly because the housekeeping staff was using the elevators far more than normal.

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When he asked the head housekeeper why the staff was tying up the service elevators, she explained they were constantly having to run linens back and forth between the laundry area in the basement and the guest rooms, where housekeepers were waiting to put them on beds. A well-stocked hotel has three sets of linens for every guest room: At any given time, one set is on the bed, one set is in the laundry, and one set is on the housekeeper’s cart. But this hotel had only two sets of linens per room, meaning that the housekeepers didn’t have any in reserve; so they had to replenish their carts throughout the day with loads brought up fresh from the laundry. The decision to buy two sets of linens instead of three had been a cost-saving measure. Having identified the core of the problem, Schulze was ready to address the penny-pinching person who had made that decision. He dug back into the archive of paperwork until he found the form authorizing the change. There, he discovered the most startling thing: his own signature. In his attempt to save money before opening the hotel, he had caused a ripple of problems that was ultimately negatively impacting the guests. When we face challenges in our organizations, it’s easy to look for culprits elsewhere. We place the blame on outside factors, like a bad economy or tough competitors. Or we point the finger at people on our own teams, saying they’re not doing enough. There’s no doubt that outside factors can contribute to your success or failure. But more times than we like to acknowledge, the biggest issues we face are problems of our own making. If your groups are getting smaller, your tours aren’t selling well, or you are having a difficult time getting customers into your business, the bad news is you might be the problem. The good news, though, is you are also the solution.

OCTOBER 2017


CONFERENCE SCENE

OHIO’S AMISH WELCOME THE GOING ON FAITH CONFERENCE B Y M AC L AC Y

AMISH CHILDREN HELPED SERVE ICE CREAM

A GASOLINE-POWERED ICE CREAM MAKER WAS A HIT

Ohio’s Amish region, now the largest per capita community of Amish and Mennonite worshipers in America, wowed 300 delegates and guests with its authentic faith-driven hospitality August 22-24 during the 2017 Going On Faith Conference in Berlin, Ohio. The state’s Amish region and its convention and visitors bureau, Ohio Amish Country, are centered in and around Holmes County in northeastern Ohio, and Amish volunteers were evident throughout the three-day event, assisting with ice creammaking, meal preparation, meal service and many other displays of support. “What a genuine outpouring of graciousness and warmth we all felt,” said Going On Faith Conference CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “Speaking for all our delegates and staff, I cannot thank Ohio Amish Country and the entire region enough for all they did for us. It was a very special three days for everyone who attended.” More than 140 faith-based travel planners from 23 states joined nearly 150 travel industry members from across the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and Poland for sales appointments over the three days. Ohio Amish Country provided a complimentary selection of locally produced

cheeses, trail mixes and chocolates throughout the marketplace for all participants. The conference’s daytime sessions and meals took place at the Grace Mennonite Church in Berlin, and the two evening events were held at the Amish Door Restaurant in Wilmot and the Amish Country Theater in Walnut Creek. Both venues sit high atop hills in the area’s picturesque countryside and offer expansive views of Amish farmland below. Meal sponsors were the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce and its partners for the two evening events, the Globus Family of Brands and the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum for breakfasts, and MSC Cruises (USA) and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau for lunches. Little Rock, Arkansas, is the site of next year’s conference, which will take place August 7-9. Many planners took part in preconference site inspection trips before arriving, and most delegates participated in local sightseeing tours that featured regional highlights, among them the Warther Museum, Lehman’s Hardware, Heini’s Cheese Chalet, Smucker’s and P. Graham Dunn. For information on the 2018 Going On Faith Conference, visit www.gofconference.com.

DELEGATES WON GIFTS AT THE OPENING EVENT

SIGHTSEEING TOURS WERE WELL ATTENDED

DELEGATES SAMPLED AMISH CHEESES Photos by Dan Dickson GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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FAMILY MATTERS SOCIAL MEDIA IS CRE ATING A FOLLOWING

THE GROUP TRAVEL FAMILY YOUTUBE CHANNEL HAS HAD OVER 100,000 VIEWS.

SALEM, Ohio — Social media may be a popular buzzword, but The Group Travel Family is using it to educate travel planners and develop new travel clubs. “We have found an audience that is hungry for up-to-date content regarding travel planning for groups,” said Charlie Presley, The Group Travel Family’s founder. The Group Travel Family serves 25,000 travel planners nationwide who represent bank, baby boomer, mature-market and religious travel groups. Destination and product education has been a focus of The Group Travel Family, and by embracing social media, it has expanded its reach. The Group Travel Family currently connects with over 10,000 travel planners via its Facebook pages and has reached more than 100,000 views of its videos on its YouTube channel. “We began video recording our conference content a few years ago to make the education available beyond the walls of the conference,” Presley said. The effort was a success, with groups viewing the content 24/7. “It has been gratifying to know that all of the valuable destination and product content has been viewed by 100,000 travel planners,” he said. To view the Group Travel Family videos, go to: W W W.YOU T U BE .COM /GROU P T R AV EL FA M I LY

DIAMOND TOURS IS BUILDING ITS BRAND SALEM, Ohio — Diamond Tours continues to grow its group tour business with new destination offerings and a commitment of delivering the company message to travel leaders at The Group Travel Family. Diamond now focuses on faith-based, baby boomer, African-American, mature market, bank, alumni and chamber-of-commerce travel programs. They find these qualified travel clubs at travel conferences operated by The Group Travel Family. For over 15 years, Diamond Tours has supported group travel and its travel planners at these conferences. The Group Travel Family has 25,000 travel

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groups in its membership. “Diamond Tours has a long history of dedication to serving group travel planners, and it has paid off in a loyal following,” said Joe Cappuzzello, president of The Group Travel Family. Diamond Tours began serving travel groups 25 years ago with a single regional tour product and now offers tours nationwide, specializing in departures from any group or organization’s meeting place. The growth of the company can be traced to its singular focus on group travel planners and serving their needs. They have maintained a policy that allows any group to book a tour with no deposit, and

Diamond still prints the groups trip flyers free of charge. If you are a travel planner and want to learn more about Diamond Tours, consider attending a Group Travel Family conference. You can also attend your regional TravelTalks Meeting by registering at www.grouptraveltalks.com or calling 800-628-0993.

OCTOBER 2017


GROUPS ARE LEARNING TO ‘LOOK BEFORE YOU BOOK’ SALEM, Ohio — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is busy spreading its message of motorcoach charter safety to travel planners this year with presentations at Group Travel Family conferences across the country. If you are responsible for group travel with your organization — and most readers of this publication are — safety is your primary concern. Knowing the federal requirements for motor carrier safety can lower the risk for your travelers, whether you are hiring a commercial motorcoach or operating your own. Specific regulations apply to commercial motorcoaches you charter and others apply to vehicles you own. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration outlines these guidelines online and in printed publications that are distributed to travel planners at Group Travel Family conferences. As you charter motorcoaches, consider checking the ratings of your carriers online with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. And remember, although price and comfort are important, the real value is in the safety of your group as they travel. That is the objective of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Group Travel Family is proud to help in spreading the message. Visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/lookbeforeyoubook today to keep your passengers moving safely, or attend your local TravelTalks Meeting, where the subject of bus safety is discussed. Register for your local TravelTalks by calling 800-628-0993.

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INDUSTRY NEWS ANAKEESTA IS NOW OPEN HIGH ABOVE GATLINBURG GATLINBURG, Tennessee — A 14-minute ride 600-feet up from downtown Gatlinburg in a distinctive Chondola, featuring both quad chairs and enclosed six-person gondola cabins, takes visitors to Anakeesta, Gatlinburg’s newest attraction, which opened Sept. 1. At the top of the mountain, Firefly Village is a treehouse-themed village with shops, a food truck featuring pulled pork, beef brisket and smoked wings and a 1940’s inspired bakery. From there visitors can stroll through the elevated treetop canopy walk that includes 16 hanging bridges more than 40 feet in the air, soar through the trees on dual-racing ziplines, climb through the Anakeesta Treehouse Playground or simply enjoy the views of Mount Leconte and downtown Gatlinburg. There will also be a Memorial Fire Walk on the highpoint of the mountain featuring an

exhibit by photographer Jeremy Cowart titled “Voices of Gatlinburg.” The name Anakeesta is a Cherokee word referring to high ground. W W W. A NA K EESTA.COM

Courtesy Anakeesta

IOWA CENTER TO INTERPRET MISSISSIPPI RIVER

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Ark Encounter

Heartland Travel Showcase

FEB. 16-18, 2018 • BUFFALO, NY

Register Today at heartlandtravelshowcase.com or call Karen Eylon at 1-800-896-4682 Ext. 4

#onlyintheheartland

Questions? Email Karen at keylon@ohiotravel.org

Grow Your Business at Heartland Travel Showcase 99% of Tour Operators Who Attended HTS in 2017 Were Satisfied with Their Appointments and Overall Experience! Heartland Travel Showcase is filled with unmatched destinations and sellable group ideas in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario. Grow your business, and build relationships at one of the largest regional group tour showcases in the country.

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ANAKEESTA FEATURES A TREE CANOPY WALK WITH 16 BRIDGES HANGING UP TO 40 FEET IN THE AIR.

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LANSING, Iowa — The new Driftless Area Education and Visitor Center, overlooking the Mississippi River in northeastern Iowa, will provide visitors with detailed information about the unusual features of the four-state driftless area. Currently under construction, the building expects to have interpretive displays installed by April 2017, with a grand opening shortly afterward. The rugged terrain of the driftless area, also known as the Paleozoic Plateau, covers about 24,000 square miles in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. It is so named because the most recent glaciers skirted the area and did not deposit much of the sand, gravel, rocks and clay known as drift. The 10,000-square-foot, three-story facility will have two outdoor observation decks for views of the river and its bluffs. Its interpretive displays also will explain the cultural, social and economic history of the region, including an array of artifacts about Lansing’s commercial fishing industry local ice harvests, clamming and clamshell button manufacturing. W W W.T R AV EL IOWA.COM

OCTOBER 2017


Changing

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arly this year, I experienced an exceptional 10-day/nine-night Celebrity Constellation sailing that featured the United Arab Emirates and Oman and that was billed as an “immersion” cruise, since it featured a day and a half in Abu Dhabi, where we embarked and disembarked; two days in Muscat, Oman; a day in Khasab, Oman, which is a much more rural community than Muscat that is situated on the Strait of Hormuz; and three full days in Dubai, with only one day at sea. Having this much time available for exploring ports as fascinating as these was a definite plus, since most itineraries that visit the Arabian Coast include only a single day in each city on the way to or from the eastern Mediterranean or India. I found the concept so attractive that I’ve booked another of Celebrity Cruises’ immersion voyages departing in January aboard Celebrity Millennium. This one, two weeks long, will travel from Singapore to Hong Kong and include multiday stops in Thailand and Vietnam.    Getting back to the Arabian Coast, I was amazed by how extraordinary a place it is, an ideal destination for travelers who feel they’ve “seen it all.” The winter weather was ideal, and everything in the region appeared to be spotless, neat and safe, with crime virtually nonexistent. There are no slums or squalor, and no panhandlers or poverty, plus the sightseeing is excellent, and the mosques are eye-popping. Everybody is friendly, welcoming and respectful; My longtime friend and frequent traveling companion “Gig” Gwin, who has been to every country on earth, agreed with me that Dubai is the most astounding, incredible city we’ve ever seen, even if it doesn’t offer the extensive historical and cultural treasures found in places like Europe and China. I’ve attempted to compare the city’s amazing architecture to that found on the Las Vegas strip, except that Dubai, without casinos, is seemingly 10 times as large. Incidentally, for group coordinators who like to plan ahead, Dubai will be hosting a World’s Fair in 2020, which promises to provide an even more spectacular visitor experience. While at the magnificent Dubai Mall, we splurged for the “luxury” trip to the 148th-floor observatory of

GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and it was worth every penny. Both Abu Dhabi and Muscat are also hugely impressive, if not quite in the same league as Dubai. I’m convinced that if the area weren’t so distant — 12 time zones from my home in Washington, nine from the East Coast — this would be a top destination for American groups. However, even though it was a 14-hour, nonstop flight back to New York City on Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi, airfare wasn’t any more expensive than a normal trip to Europe. Celebrity offers very attractive pricing for these programs, surely comparable to cruising anywhere else. This was my first experience with the line since the fall of 2010, and I was pleased to reconfirm past impressions that it has its act together. Staterooms, shipboard service, dining options and food, activities, entertainment and shore excursions on Celebrity Constellation were all excellent, and the cheerful, ever-smiling crew members were most accommodating. Special mention must be made of the outstanding two-day, “hop-on, hop-off” Big Bus Tour in Dubai, which not only covered the city from A to Z but also included a complimentary and most enjoyable Desert Sunset Experience on the third day of our visit. DUBAI MUSEUM

HERITAGE VILLAGE

SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE

‘GIG’ GWIN AND A FRIENDLY KHASAB MERCHANT

Photos by Bob Hoelscher

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dventure is in the eye of the beholder. Some of the most popular destinations in the United States are beloved for their natural beauty, and outdoor activities available in these places can range from mild to extreme. And although high-intensity outdoor adventures get a lot of media coverage, adrenaline-pumping activities aren’t necessarily the best fit for most travelers. To get a perspective on what kind of outdoor activities are in demand among today’s group travelers, we spoke with representatives of five tour companies that range in size. Their insights paint a picture of a diverse environment where younger travelers are driving demand for more active options, all while more traditional customers still want to feel safe and comfortable. Read on to see how travel planners are integrating the outdoors into their itineraries and find some ideas about how you can cater to the interests and activity levels in your group.

Courtesy Country Travel Discoveries


F I V E T O U R O P E R AT O R S D I S C U S S T H E I R A C T I V E G RO U P S

WILLING TO WALK

For years, traditional wisdom had held that group tour planners should keep walking to a minimum on their itineraries. After all, most customers were senior citizens, and many had mobility issues that would make long walks difficult or impossible. But Edward Stirrup, president of Tour Trends in Plymouth, Massachusetts, said this is no longer the case. “A lot of the seniors are diverse groups,” he said. “Some like to do outside activities, walking tours and things like that. I had a group come over that wanted to do some sailing.” Stirrup said although most of his customers are still seniors, they aren’t intimidated by walking. A recent tour he hosted in Massachusetts for the Mayflower Society followed the trail of the original Pilgrims and “involved quite a bit of walking.” “These people come from all over the country and range in age from 50 up to about 90; but they’re very game and want to get out there and walk,” he said. “We also do a lot of military reunions, and the guys from World War II are getting up there in their 80s or early 90s. But they still like to get out there and see what they can do.” Many of Tour Trends’ itineraries feature trail walks or other outdoor explorations that involve participants’ spending a lot of time on their feet. “We do quite a few trails out in Nova Scotia and Quebec,” Stirrup said. “In the U.K., they like to get out and explore places like Stonehenge, where they do a lot of walking.” Some trips to the Caribbean feature opportunities for groups to go sailing, which is a very active experience. And Stirrup said he is getting some requests from smaller groups to arrange golfing trips to places such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

RANGE OF ABILITIES

Landmark Tours, based in Minneapolis, has been in business for 27 years, and CEO John Lyons said he has seen a significant change in the abilities and interests of his customers. “In the early days, it was a lot of riding around on the bus,” he said. “But now we’re adapting to a new demographic. Our average traveler is still in the 60- to 80-yearold age bracket, so there’s a real mix of abilities in that age group to cater to. We’re not rock climbing, but we have put a lot of soft adventure into things over the years.”

Because of this mix of abilities, Lyons looks for a variety of methods for helping people experience significant outdoor attractions. “We will use any means possible to get our travelers to the top of a mountain,” he said. “You can ride the train, the gondola or the tram. We can also throw in a jeep ride in some places.” Waterborne activities are another example. Though sightseeing cruises have long been popular, Lyons said Landmark customers now enjoy other aquatic experiences as well. Those range from serene, scenic float trips to pontoon boat parades and even jet boat excursions. Beyond these soft-adventure inclusions, Lyons said he has a fair number of customers who use free time on trips to pursue more active experiences. “We have built in a lot more free time to allow people to go out and do some more adventurous things,” he said. “They might rent a kayak, do a little fly-fishing or even go whitewater rafting. Sometimes they are looking for help from us in seeking those things out, and we are aiming to give them as much help as possible.”

OPTIONS INCLUDED

Cathy Greteman, owner of Star Destinations in Carroll, Iowa, sees demographic changes influencing the way her customers want to travel and is adjusting her products accordingly. “This is the boomer era,” she said. “Boomers are a little more active than the generations we saw years ago. So it’s fun to create tours based on people who are more active and looking for more active experiences. People like the option of something a bit more physical.” Options have become a key way that Star Destinations deals with varying activity levels among its clientele. On many tours, the company will offer a day with optional activities — all included in the price of the tour and all of equal value — so that people can explore their specific interests. “It may be an option to do some shopping, to do a cooking school or to do some hiking or walking with a naturalist,” Greteman said. “It’s amazing how it usually works out very evenly when you have several different options. It’s usually a third of the group for each activity. And when they come back, every person feels like they’ve made the best choice.” Greteman said active programs are particularly

TOP: AVALON WATERWAYS’ NEW ACTIVE DISCOVERY CRUISE PROGRAM OFFERS OPPORTUNITIES FOR KAYAK EXCURSIONS IN EUROPE. BOTTOM: COUNTRY TRAVEL DISCOVERIES IS EXPERIMENTING WITH CYCLING TOURS. GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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popular in destinations such as Italy, Ireland and Iceland, where the scenery compels visitors to spend time outdoors. She has also seen an increase in outdoor activity among river cruise customers. “I’m noticing that on our river cruises, we have many more people wanting to do biking,” she said. “All of the vessels offer bikes now. So whether they take a biking tour or just check the bikes out in port, it’s something we’re seeing a lot of people interested in.”

‘ACTIVE DISCOVERY’

For the Globus family of brands, a large travel organization that includes Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and river cruise line Avalon, a wide diversity of destinations and customers means that some level of outdoor activity has always been in the product mix. Recently, though, the company has increased its focus on active experiences, particularly on its Avalon river cruises in Europe. “We’re doing a little shift away from the traditional concepts in river cruising,” said Vanessa Parrish, channel marketing manager for the Globus family of brands. “We have a new concept called Active Discovery. It’s aimed at allowing the guest to see Europe in a different

KAYAKING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Courtesy Country Travel Discoveries

way, on the Rhine or the Danube. “The active component allows you to bike ride through Vienna. You can take a canoe ride. You can take a running tour if you’re a runner.” Parish said that the Active Discovery program has proven popular and that Avalon is doubling the number of departures offering the program in 2018. On land tours, Globus offers a lot of outdoor activities in specific destinations, such as the national parks of the West. In Costa Rica, a destination known for its adventure experiences, the itinerary includes a mix of soft-adventure inclusions and options for more intense thrills. “People want to see the jungle,” she said. “We go to a national park, to a hot spring and a volcano experience that is a lot of fun. We also go to Monteverde, which has a skywalk of bridges in the jungle. We also have

PL AY A ND GE T AWAY ON T HE

NORTHSHORE

Join us where life is a celebration. Visit St. Tammany Parish and bring your appetite for great Louisiana cooking, and for living. Come paddle the bayou, tour Honey Island Swamp, do the Dew Drop, or toast the town at Abita Brewery or Pontchartrain Vineyards. Less than an hour from New Orleans, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Baton Rouge.

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 14

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optional excursions on all of our tours. In Costa Rica, that might be horseback riding to a paddle trip down the Penas Blancas River and an adventure park with zip lining. Those adventurous things are very popular.”

A NATURALIST WALK WITH COUNTRY TRAVEL DISCOVERIES

A LANDMARK TOURS GROUP ASCENDS A MOUNTAIN VIA A CHAIRLIFT.

NEW ADVENTURES

Country Travel Discoveries, based in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, focuses on tours that explore unusual, backroads destinations. Owner Steve Uelner said the company is slowly taking on opportunities to package more active outdoor experiences into its products. “My take is that the active seniors who want to be outdoors may be a little more apt to plan their own trips,” he said. “Having said that, we have in the last couple years or so developed tours that have been more active.” The company recently began offering a trip to Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia that features guided kayaking, as well as biking, whalewatching and other outdoor activities, along with an optional zip lining excursion. About 20 people took that trip in 2016. Uelner is expecting more interest on an upcoming bicycle tour in Europe. “It’s called the Heart of the Danube Cycling Tour,” he said. “It’s going to be 11 days, traveling along the

Courtesy Country Travel Discoveries

Courtesy Landmark Tours

Danube on land. Most of the days there is a biking portion of the trip, anywhere from 16 to 28 miles. But it’s easy activity, and you’re not biking up a mountain.” Next year, Country Travel Discoveries will offer a similar trip in England, Scotland and Wales that will include both biking and hiking components. These new cycling trips came from an outside inspiration: Missouri Life Magazine. “They sponsor a biking trip across the state of Missouri every year, and they approached us with the idea of doing trips in Europe,” he said. “They have an audience that they can market to, and we’re marketing it to our customers, too.”

HUNTINGTON BEACH IS OFFICIALLY KNOWN AS “SURF CITY USA. ”

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BEYOND THE BEACH T H E SE C I T I E S F E A T U R E H E R I T AGE W I T H T H E I R H IGH T I DE S

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tories about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s childhood, John F. Kennedy’s wedding and a jail designed to mimic an upscale mansion can make a trip to the beach more than just a pretty picture. Coastal cities founded well before the U.S. government existed offer intriguing tales from the past that can delight groups. These towns captivate not only with stories from the history books but also with their preserved architectural structures, from Spanish missions to Gilded Age mansions. History feels present on a walk through these coastal towns. Groups can admire the grand homes, learn about fascinating former locals and soak in the enduring beauty of the beach at these historic coastal cities.

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A HISTORIC CANON AT ST. AUGUSTINE’S CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

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S T. AUGUS TINE, FLORIDA

Motorcoach groups in St. Augustine, Florida, sometimes hear a sudden bang on the bus door. When the door opens, in walks a woman in a nightgown carrying a Ouija board. The Crazy Ida Alice Tour takes groups by surprise and then holds their attention as the step-on guide plays the character of one of Henry Flagler’s eccentric wives. During the ride, groups listen to how a Spanish colonial city founded in 1565 became the architecturally significant destination it is today. Though the city is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States, the northeastern Florida city owes much of its current popularity to Flagler. A partner and co-founder of the Standard Oil Company with J.D. Rockefeller, Flagler decided to turn the city into a winter playground for the rich during a honeymoon there with his wife, Ida Alice. Flagler radically altered the appearance of St. Augustine with Moorish Revival-style structures he began constructing in 1887. To avoid spoiling the ornate feel of the city, Flagler even designed the St. Augustine Old Jail to blend in as a Victorian home with its pink exterior and front porch. Today, groups can choose from several ways to discover the city: step-on guide, cruise, trolley or dinner performance. “We don’t have a dinner party per se, but we do have theater companies that will do performances for groups while they are having dinner,” said Evelyn Vasquez, director of leisure sales for the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have titles like ‘Murder in the Old City’ and ‘The Wives of Henry Flagler.’ During dessert, the group can watch the show, and then the next day, they can do a tour of hotels that Henry Flagler actually built.” Groups can wander through Flagler’s former Hotel Ponce de Leon, now part of Flagler College, and see other historic attractions, like the Memorial Presbyterian Church, St. George Street and the Castillo de San Marcos. W W W.FLOR I DASH IST OR ICCO AST.COM

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SUNSET AT CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS

Photos courtesy St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & the Beaches CVB

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PORTLAND, MAINE

Longfellow first developed literary aspirations while spending his youth along the shores of Portland, Maine. Groups can learn how Portland shaped this influential American poet at the WadsworthLongfellow House. Virtually all the house’s furniture and artifacts originated with the Wadsworth and Longfellow families. Portland remains proud of its native poet as well as its maritime history, since the town served as a booming shipping port from 1789 through World War I, primarily because of its position as the trans-Atlantic port closest to Europe in the United States. “Portland fits into the larger scope of American history,” said Robert Witkowski, creative director of media relations for Visit Portland. “There are so many historic things to do. We have a great city in both size and accessibility for groups of different sizes. People can go their own way and do their own thing but not be scattered too far.” Groups can immerse themselves in the past with the Architectural Walking Tour of Portland’s four historic neighborhoods. As participants walk past neighborhoods filled with cobblestone streets and red-brick buildings dating from the late 1860s, guides discuss how Maine’s largest city evolved from a small British colony to a mecca of American commerce. The Portland Observatory showcases this seafaring past with a tour of its museum and 1807 maritime signal tower, the only known surviving tower of its type in the country. Groups can also examine the area’s history at Fort Scammel, the Victoria Mansion, the Tate House and the Neal Dow House. W W W.V ISI T PORT L A N D.COM

— SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA

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Though most American history begins in the 17th century, in Santa Barbara evidence of human habitation reaches back 13,000 years. Archaeologists discovered some of the country’s oldest human remains near Santa Barbara, which sits alongside other Paleo-Indian artifacts at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Five Native American Chumash villages flourished in the area when Spanish missionaries and soldiers first built a permanent European settlement in 1782. The Spanish sought to fortify the region against expansion by England and Russia and convert the natives to Christianity. “Santa Barbara was originally settled by the Chumash Native Americans,” said Michelle Carlen, director of sales. “The combination of Native Americans and Spanish settlers has led to some great storytelling throughout our town.” Groups can hear some of those historic accounts at the Mission Santa Barbara, known as the Queen of Missions. Guests can wander through the mission’s 1800s garden, 17th-century art displays and re-creations of the mission’s living quarters with its original adobe wall. The Royal Presidio of Santa Barbara, the last military outpost built by Spain in the New World, is also open for tours, with a museum and an active archaeological site. The original adobe structure, called El Cuartel, is the second-oldest surviving building in California. For a glimpse of Santa Barbara’s maritime history, many visitors explore Stearns Wharf, the oldest working wharf in the state. The 1872 wharf holds a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. Even the city’s newer structures appear historic because of the prevalent Spanish Colonial architecture’s whitewashed buildings and red roofs. After a day of busy historical tours, the stunning southern California beaches provide instant relaxation. W W W.S A N TA B A R B A R AC A.COM

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3 SANTA BARBARA MISSION

PORTLAND’S PORT GORGES Courtesy Visit Portland

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By Gabriela Herman, courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

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THE BREAKERS, ONE OF NEWPORT’S MOST FAMOUS “COTTAGES”

ROUGH POINT, A GILDED AGE MANSION IN NEWPORT Photos courtesy Discover Newport

Ocean C

ity,

NE WPOR T, RHODE ISL AND

It is no accident that Edith Wharton chose Newport, Rhode Island, as a setting in her novel “The Age of Innocence,” which is famous for capturing the opulence of the Gilded Age. Though the wealthy families referred to their collection of mammoth mansions along the Newport coast as “summer cottages,” the design aesthetic showcases grandiose luxury. Many of these mansions, as well as some of the older Colonial structures in Newport’s Old Quarter downtown, are open for tours. “Newport was involved in the American Revolution and then welcomed the Gilded Age’s elite,” said Andrea McHugh, marketing and communications manager for Discover Newport. “That’s when Newport mansions were built by names like Vanderbilt and Widener. Today, that footprint’s left behind, which leaves an architecturally fascinating city.” At the Museum of Newport History, groups can find an overview of the city’s history, from its founding in 1639 to its use as a British naval base in the Revolutionary War and its 20th-century reputation as a resort getaway for the affluent. From there, visitors can tour the Colonial downtown with stops at the Whitehorne House, the Redwood Library and Touro Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in the country. But even with all this impressive Colonial history, the real draw for groups remains the mansions along the Newport Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile walkway that borders the rocky coastline. Whether the group walks the entire route or 10 steps, the views of crashing waves on one side and famous gilded mansions on the other always impress. After looking at the imposing mansion exteriors, visitors can admire the adorned interiors on house tours of the Breakers, Rosecliff and Chateau-sur-Mer. Newport has also attracted presidents throughout the years, including John F. Kennedy, who was marMaryland ried at St. Mary’s Church. The Return to Camelot tour lets guests relive the 1953 wedding day with film clips, a live musical performance and a reception at Hammersmith Farm, Jackie Kennedy’s childhood summer home.

JUST THE BEACH

W W W.DISCOV ER N EW PORT.ORG

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• Year-round festivals, concerts and events

• 200+ restaurants and exciting nightlife

• Shopping, wildlife and historical museums

• Indoor and outdoor sports facilities

• 1,200-seat Performing Arts Center in the Roland E. Powell Convention Center

• New Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center

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TRIP NOW! 18

• Popular family reunion destination

Call Norma Dobrowolski

CVB Destination Sales & Marketing Manager 800.626.2326 | ococean.com/group-travel

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8/7/17 11:42 AM

OCTOBER 2017


— CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA —

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What do discarded oyster shells have to do with the development of Charleston, South Carolina? More than you might guess: Settlers in the area relocated in 1672 to a peninsula land called Oyster Point because of the mounds of shells left there by the Kiawah Indians. Settlers used these shells in the construction of Charleston, which soon grew because of its strategic location between the Cooper and Ashley rivers. It seems fitting that a city known for culinary masterpieces would be built upon oyster shells. Today, groups can enjoy a history lesson by tasting the city’s well-known flavors influenced by Gullah, British and French cultures. Staple dishes such as gumbo, she-crab soup and fried oysters tell a story of the city’s past. When not dining out, visitors can also explore the architectural marvels of the city. Charleston stands as a veritable living museum with preserved antebellum mansions and historic churches. Walking tours, carriage rides and cruises relate some of the most intriguing stories from the town’s 300year history. Outside of downtown, Fort Sumter is one of the most popular historic attractions: Confederate forces fired the first shot of the Civil War on the garrison. Park rangers explain the fort’s pivotal role in the war and lead guests to the site’s museum. No stay in Charleston is complete without an excursion to one of its many enchanting historic plantations, among the most popular are Magnolia Plantation and Boone Hall Plantation.

5 SWEETGRASS BASKETS IN CHARLESTON

Courtesy Charleston CVB

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EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS FAM

GROUPS VISITING COLUMBUS CAN RELEASE EXOTIC BUTTERFLIES INTO THE INDOOR GARDENS AT FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY.

Columbus is a vibrant city with suburbs that have something for everyone. The zookeepers bring out small animals to hold, pet and take photographs with the guests. Gahanna is charming and easily visited on foot. The conservatory offers so much, with so many venues in one place.” — SUE BIGGS CUSTOM HOLIDAYS 20

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ON SITE IN COLUMBUS O H IO’S CAPITA L CIT Y WOWS TR AV E L PL AN N E RS WITH E N GAG I N G E XPE R I E N CES

BY B R I A N J E W E L L

EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS ONCE, AND YOU’LL LIKELY WANT TO DO IT AGAIN.

That’s what 17 tour operator and travel planner readers of The Group Travel Leader discovered during a four-day familiarization trip to the Ohio capital city in August. Hosted by Experience Columbus, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, the trip included both Columbus proper and numerous smaller communities nearby that offer distinctive experiences for groups traveling in the region. During the trip, participants took part in numerous interactive experiences that have become hallmarks of Columbus’ group tour offerings. Highlights included holding baby animals at the Columbus Zoo, creating personalized scent blends at the Worthington Candle Lab and an immersive planetarium show at the COSI Planetarium. Follow along on this itinerary to experience Columbus for yourself. All photos by Brian Jewell

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Experience Columbus offered so many new venues on this FAM, it felt like it was customized. I came with the task of creating a new tour and now have the hard job of pairing it down to make a hit tour.” — KELLY FIELDS FIELDS TRIPS

Day

1

Guests traveled from throughout the Northeast and Midwest to arrive in Columbus, a city in central Ohio that is one of the state’s most thriving urban centers. After checking into their accommodations at the Holiday Inn Columbus Downtown Capitol Square, the group met in the lobby and boarded a motorcoach for an overview tour of the city. On this 90-minute introduction to the city led by Columbus City Adventures, the group saw the state Capitol, the campus of Ohio State University, the Short North dining and entertainment area, and the downtown Arena District while learning details about the city’s founding, history and modern culture. The city tour ended at the Boathouse at Confluence Park, a favorite Columbus venue that sits at the scenic confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers. An evening event there featured drinks and dinner accompanied by live music from a local Columbus duo.

EASTON TOWN CENTER

Day OHIO HERB EDUCATION CENTER

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• ARRIVAL IN COLUMBUS • COLUMBUS CITY ADVENTURES TOUR • DINNER AT THE BOATHOUSE AT CONFLUENCE PARK • OVERNIGHT AT HOLIDAY INN COLUMBUS DOWNTOWN CAPITOL SQUARE

• NORDSTROM: WHAT’S IN FASHION EXPERIENCE • EASTON TOWN CENTER • OHIO HERB EDUCATION CENTER: PRESERVING THE HARVEST • LUNCH IN GAHANNA AT 101 BEER KITCHEN • FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY: BUTTERFLY IMMERSION • ELDORADO SCIOTO DOWNS • OHIO HISTORY CENTER’S RED HERRING DINNER THEATER • OVERNIGHT AT HOLIDAY INN COLUMBUS DOWNTOWN CAPITOL SQUARE

OCTOBER 2017


PRESERVING THE HARVEST

The second day of the FAM began with a trip to Easton Town Center, Columbus’ premier shopping and entertainment development, for a breakfast and fashion experience at Nordstrom. From there the group went to nearby Gahanna, a charming small town, for an herbal experience at the Ohio Herb Education Center and lunch at 101 Beer Kitchen. The afternoon brought the tour back to Columbus, where the group explored the beautiful Franklin Park Conservatory. After a quick refresh at the hotel, the group left for Eldorado Scioto Downs to enjoy live horseracing, the Brew Brothers bar and a reception at the on-site Hampton Inn and Suites. The evening concluded with an engaging murder-mystery dinner theater performance from the Ohio History Center.

BUTTERFLY IMMERSION AT FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY

NORDSTROM: WHAT’S IN FASHION EXPERIENCE The FAM group arrived early at Nordstrom, one of the anchor stores at Easton Town Center, and enjoyed a full breakfast at the in-store cafe. There, they were joined by several of Nordstrom’s personal fashion consultants, who presented an overview of current fashion trends for men and women. After breakfast, participants enjoyed some free time for private consultation and shopping before the store opened to the public. EASTON TOWN CENTER After the shopping experience at Nordstrom, the group took a walk through Easton Town Center, a beautiful retail and entertainment development with more than 240 shops and restaurants that attracts some 25 million visitors a year. In addition to the shops, the travel planners experienced the fountains, squares, public plazas and other touches that make Easton a memorable place to spend a day. OHIO HERB EDUCATION CENTER: PRESERVING THE HARVEST A short drive from Easton brought the group to Gahanna, a quaint Columbus suburb that bills itself the Herb Capital of Ohio. There, they visited the Ohio Herb Education Center, housed in a historic 1855 home. The center offers numerous culinary and craft workshops. For this tour, the center presented the “Preserving the Harvest” program, which included a lecture and a hands-on experience making sage-infused honey. FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY: BUTTERFLY IMMERSION The group arrived after lunch at the Franklin Park Conservatory, a large indoor botanical garden and one of the city’s signature attractions. In addition to a guided tour through the various habitats under the conservatory’s glass roof and a look at the numerous pieces of Dale Chihuly glass art interspersed throughout, the FAM group took part in the Butterfly Immersion experience. Each participant got to release an exotic butterfly into the conservatory’s “Blooms and Butterflies” exhibit. EL DORADO SCIOTO DOWNS For an exciting evening, the group headed to Eldorado Scioto Downs, Columbus’ live horseracing and casino gaming venue. Participants enjoyed gaming credit at the casino and a cocktail hour at the Brew

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A BOTANICAL SCULPTURE AT FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY

A LAST SUPPER EXPERIENCE AT THE BIBLICAL HISTORY CENTER RED HERRING DINNER THEATER

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Brothers bar and restaurant, followed by a site inspection at the new Hampton Inn and Suites Scioto Downs, which is attached to the casino. OHIO HISTORY CENTER’S RED HERRING DINNER THEATER The evening wrapped up with a private dinner at the casino, where a troupe of actors from the Ohio History Center performed the “Red Herring Dinner Theater,” a murder mystery built around the death of a prominent politician during the Red Scare of the 1950s. The show included plenty of opportunities for group members to participate and enjoy a few laughs.

DALE CHIHULY GLASS ART AT FRANKLIN PARK CONSERVATORY

Day

3

GLENN AVENUE SOAP COMPANY

• BREAKFAST WITH CAMBRIDGE/ GUERNSEY COUNTY • COSI PLANETARIUM SHOW & TOUR • GLENN AVENUE SOAP COMPANY • LUNCH AT HOFBRAUHAUS • WATERSHED DISTILLERY TOUR • PROGRESSIVE DINNER WITH COLUMBUS FOOD ADVENTURES • OVERNIGHT AT HILTON GARDEN INN & HAMPTON INN UNIVERSITY AREA

Guests started their third day in Columbus with a breakfast at the hotel, where they were joined by members of the tourism community from Cambridge and Guernsey County, an area about 80 miles east of the city. The breakfast included talks and small demonstrations from Guernsey County attractions such as the National Museum of Cambridge Glass and the Living Word Outdoor Drama. After that, excursions took the group to the COSI Planetarium; the Glenn Avenue Soap Company, Hofbrauhaus and Watershed Distillery in Grandview; and a progressive dinner with Columbus Food Adventures. COSI PLANETARIUM SHOW AND TOUR The FAM group visited COSI, a science and industry museum near the riverfront, for an engaging planetarium show. The museum’s new planetarium is the largest in Ohio and features a 60-foot dome and digital projection system. The show consisted of eye-popping imagery from throughout the Milky Way galaxy, as well as a questionand-answer session with an astronomer. LEARNING TO MAKE SCENTED SOAP

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GLENN AVENUE SOAP COMPANY The group next headed to Grandview, a smaller municipality that borders Columbus, and visited the Glenn Avenue Soap Company, the only craft soap house in central Ohio. After learning about the company’s history and the science of essential oils and other scents

OCTOBER 2017


used in the products, guests got to participate in a demo of soapmaking, taking the finished product with them as a souvenir. WATERSHED DISTILLERY After a German lunch at the Grandview outpost of Hofbrauhaus, the group visited Watershed Distillery, which has been making a name for itself in central Ohio since 2010. Visitors learned about the distilling process and visited the warehouse, where assorted products are made. They also got to taste samples of the distillery’s various products, including a bourbon, several gins and a specialty Italian walnut liquor called nocino. PROGRESSIVE DINNER WITH COLUMBUS FOOD ADVENTURES Columbus has a thriving culinary scene, and the group got to experience the breadth of the city’s food culture on a progressive dinner with Columbus Food Adventures. The excursion began with a sampling tour at the city’s North Market and was followed by a beer tasting at Barley’s Brewing Company; a seafood paella experience at Barcelona, a tapas restaurant; oversized cream puffs at Schmidt’s in German Village; and a sample of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, a favorite Columbus treat.

WATERSHED DISTILLERY

Day

4

• BREAKFAST ON THE SAVANNAH AT THE COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM • AMERICAN WHISTLE COMPANY • CANDLE LAB • IGLOO LETTERPRESS • LUNCH AT THE WORTHINGTON INN • DUBLIN IRISH FESTIVAL • COLUMBUS CLIPPERS GAME AT HUNTINGTON PARK

The final day of the Columbus FAM started on a high note as the group arrived early at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for a breakfast and animal encounter at the large Africa exhibit. From there, they visited some of the small, unique manufacturing companies in nearby Worthington, including the American Whistle Company, the Candle Lab and Igloo Letterpress, before having an elegant lunch at the historic Worthington Inn. From there, the trip went to the suburb of Dublin for the opening day of the Dublin Irish Festival and concluded back in downtown Columbus with a beautiful night at Huntington Ballpark for a Columbus Clippers baseball game. COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM: BREAKFAST ON THE SAVANNAH The group was escorted into the famous Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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The food tour through the North Market and the beer tasting show what a great culinary city Columbus has become.” — M I K E CO U M OS A A A O F E A ST C E NT R A L P E N N SY LVA N I A

COLUMBUS FOOD ADVENTURES

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I really liked the variety of places we visited, as well as the personal greeting at each. This FAM has taught me how to be a much better group leader.” — KARLA LEWANDOWSKI QUEST COACH

before it opened and had a full breakfast in the cafe overlooking the savannah area of the zoo’s Africa exhibit. In addition to seeing large African animals from a distance, participants got to hold and take pictures with a baby penguin, kangaroo, cougar and bobcat. The visit ended with an opportunity to feed giraffes from a platform overlooking their habitat. WORTHINGTON BUSINESSES FAM participants spent the rest of the morning visiting a trio of small businesses in the affluent suburb of Worthington. At the American Whistle Company, they learned about the manufacturing process used to make sports and safety whistles. Experts at the Candle Lab helped them make their own scented candles based on customized scent recipes. And the owner of Igloo Letterpress demonstrated how historic printing presses are used to create handmade stationary and other paper goods.

COLUMBUS ZOO

IGLOO LETTERPRESS

DUBLIN IRISH FESTIVAL Next, the tour went to the suburb of Dublin and the opening day of the Dublin Irish Festival, one of the largest three-day Irish festivals in the world. Participants enjoyed some of the 65 Irish dance and music acts that took place on the festival’s seven stages and got a detailed look at a long-standing Irish wake experience from historic interpreters. COLUMBUS CLIPPERS GAME The group ended its Columbus experience in comfort at a luxury suite at Huntington Park, where they watched the minor league Columbus Clippers baseball team play on a beautiful evening, complete with catered food and drinks. It was a relaxing and fun ending to a busy trip and the perfect place to begin planning their next group adventure in Columbus.

Experience THE HERB CAPITAL OF OHIO

EXPERIENCE COLUMBUS RO G E R D U D LE Y 80 0 -35 4-2657 RDUDLEY@EXPERIENCECOLUMBUS.COM WWW.EXPERIENCECOLUMBUS.COM

GROUP PLANTINGS

MAKIN’ WHOOPIE (PIE)

If you are interested in hosting a FAM for readers of The Group Travel Leader, call Kelly Tyner at 888.253.0455.

LET THEM EAT (WINE) CAKE GET ROOTED IN CREEKSIDE BLUES & JAZZ

CALL TODAY! 614.418.9114 VISITGAHANNA.COM

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WITH THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER

WITH THE GROUP TRAVEL LEADER

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OCTOBER 2017


KENTUCKY 2018 GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE


m o r f s g n Greeti

KENTUCKY

VisitBerea.com Exit 77 or 76 off I-75 To customize your tour, contact Connie Mondine at 1-800-598-5263 or Connie@VisitBerea.com


CONTENTS 8 BOURBON 101 10

STUNNING STATE PARKS

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DOWNTOWN FUN

22

RELIGIOUS BLUEGRASS ATTRACTIONS

28

MEMORABLE MUSEUMS

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AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE ON THE COVER

PUBLISHED BY

Clockwise from the top: Courtesy Ark Encounter; National Quilt Museum photo by Lynda Self, courtesy Paducah CVB; courtesy Taylor Made Farm and Horse Country

NICHE TRAVEL PUBLISHERS 301 EAST HIGH STREET LEXINGTON, KY 40507 888-253-0455 WWW.GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Eastern Kentucky Pikeville/Pike County

ASHLAND, KY

• Paramount Arts Ctr. • Jesse Stuart Museum • Highlands Museum

PAINTSVILLE, KY

• Loretta Lynn’s Childhood Home • Mountain Homeplace • Van Lear Historical Museum

PRESTONSBURG, KY

• Mountain Arts Center • Jenny Wiley State Park • East KY Science Center

PIKEVILLE, KY • Hatteld McCoy Feud Tour • Dueling Barrels Distillery • Pikeville Cut-rough • Jenny Wiley eatre • East KY Expo Center

WWW.TOURPIKECOUNTY.COM


I

H E Y,

want to personally invite you to visit Kentucky, the front porch of the South! The memories your group will make in the Bluegrass State will last a lifetime, and your trip will undoubtedly be looked back on fondly for years to come. We are home to some of the finest dining, arts, entertainment, history and outdoor adventure around, all done with that special Kentucky flair. The Kentucky Group Travel Guide will help you discover the many ways to explore the Bluegrass State. Experience the excitement and pageantry of the horse industry, and go behind the scenes to see how these majestic animals live on our iconic horse farms. Bourbon is more than a drink in Kentucky; it’s our heritage and an artisan experience waiting for you, whether it be at a distillery, a bourbon bar or a bourbon-themed hotel. Discover vibrant arts and music, and learn of our history, with visits to museums and memorials commemorating everything from the Civil War to bluegrass music to the one known as “The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali.” Our charming small towns are an eclectic mix of beautiful historic architecture and revitalized energy, with shopping,

dining and entertainment. You can explore Kentucky’s diverse music history with a visit to the home places of the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, or country music legend Loretta Lynn. Create your own works of art with a visit to Berea and see artisans working in their studios. Travel to the UNESCO Creative City Paducah to tour the National Quilt Museum, the largest museum in the world devoted to quilts and fiber arts. In Kentucky, “local food” isn’t a trend but a Y ’A LL! way of life that is evident in our agrarian roots and our artisan culture. Whether it be traditional fare or an inventive new take on an original, Kentucky’s culinary experience is like no other. We invite you to take a journey with us through Kentucky’s beautiful countryside enjoying all the flavors we have to offer in all regions of the state. Big cities are no longer the only places to grab great food. From traditional down-home Southern fare to upscale fine dining to street food and everything in between, there is a Kentucky restaurant or meal to fit your inner foodie. Are you looking to reconnect with nature? Kentucky has 17 resort state parks that offer lodging, recreation and access to some of the most picturesque locations in the country. Kentucky is also the perfect retreat for groups seeking adventure, home to Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world, as well as thousands of miles of waterways and trails. The most adventurous groups will enjoy whitewater rafting at Cumberland Falls or rock climbing in the Red River Gorge. From all that we’re best known for – horses, bourbon and bluegrass, as well as our culinary delights and hospitality – you’ll find wonderful Kentucky travel itineraries for groups that will be unlike any other experiences. We can’t wait to have you in Kentucky, so give us a call and we can help plan that trip of a lifetime for your group!

Y O U R F R I E N D I N T R AV E L Kristen Branscum Commissioner Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism 866-660-8747 www.kentuckytourism.com

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Detail: Kaleidoscopic Calamity by Margaret Solomon Gunn

Hundreds of Beautiful Quilts on Exhibit

Aisles of Fabrics, Machines & Quilting Supply Vendors

World-Renowned Quiltmaking Instructors

For more information, visit QuiltWeek.com

Fall Paducah, KY

Spring Paducah, KY

September 12–15, 2018 Schroeder Expo Center

April 18–21, 2018 Schroeder Expo Center

NATIONAL BRAND PARTNER


B O U R B O N H E R I TA G E C E N T E R

ADD KENTUCKY

BOURBON TO YOUR TRIP

K

entucky is the bourbon capital of the world, so it is impossible to talk about it without mentioning its signature spirit. Some believe that the corn-based product originated in Bourbon County, one of the oldest counties in the state. During the 1700s, farmers would ship barrels of whiskey marked with the Bourbon County stamp down the Ohio River for trade. Over the long journey, the oak wood barrels aged the whiskey, giving it that distinct amber color. Eventually, many buyers began calling it “bourbon whiskey” to distinguish it from the rye-based whiskey common in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Today, Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon whiskey. One of the best ways to experience this cultural heritage is by following the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which represents trademark brands like Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam. In the past five years alone, approximately 2.5 million visitors from around the world have traveled the Bourbon Trail, making it one of the state’s most vital industries. The distillery tours give guests an inside look at the craft of bourbon-making. As a guide leads the group through the production facility, participants learn about the history of the distillery and what makes its bourbon unique. Afterward, the group enjoys a complimentary bourbon tasting. Visitors can pick up their Bourbon Trail passports at their first distillery stop.

Courtesy Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Inc.

MUSEUM

M A K E R’ S M A R K

BOURBON HERITAGE CENTER AND THE EVAN WILLIAMS BOURBON EXPERIENCE

Owned by the award-winning Heaven Hill Distillery, the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown explores the rich heritage of bourbon production in the Bluegrass. Groups can also learn about Heaven Hill’s flagship brand, Evan Williams, at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville’s historic bourbon district.

Courtesy Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Inc.

F O U R RO S E S

Courtesy Louisville CVB

www.heavenhilldistillery.com www.evanwilliams.com

BEHIND THE SCENES

JIM BEAM URBAN STILLHOUSE

Courtesy Four Roses

HARD-HAT TOUR AT BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY

During the hard-hat tour at Buffalo Trace Distillery, groups get to experience bourbon production up close as they delve behind the scenes of grain delivery, cooking, fermentation and distillation. The tour also passes through the E.H. Taylor Jr. Microstill, where the distillery’s renowned experimental batches are developed.

www.buffalotracedistillery.com

A B O U R B O N TA S T I N G P L AT E Courtesy Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Inc.

MIXOLOGY CLASS

VIP EXPERIENCE

HISTORIC TOUR

JIM BEAM URBAN STILLHOUSE

DINNER AT THE DISTILLERY AT MAKER’S MARK

WOODFORD RESERVE NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK TOUR

Based in the heart of downtown Louisville, the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse offers a new tableside cocktail experience where guests can expand their palate and acquire new mixology tips to take home. Parking is available at the Fourth Street Live parking garage.

www.jimbeam.com

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Maker’s Mark Distillery is now featuring an exclusive Dinner at the Distillery experience. Guests arrive on the property in late afternoon to tour a special outdoor exhibition of Dale Chihuly art, and then sit down to enjoy a world-class dinner prepared by resident chefs Newman Miller and Alex Dulaney.

www.makersmark.com

At Woodford Reserve Distillery, groups can explore more than 200 years of history and architecture during the National Historic Landmark property tour. After the tour, visitors can stop at Glenn’s Creek Café for a bite to eat.

www.woodfordreserve.com

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


FAMILY

FAVORITES GENERATIONS GATHER IN KENTUCKY’S STATE PARKS BY SAVANNAH OSBOURN

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roups can experience a true getaway at one of Kentucky’s 49 magnificent state parks. Each park offers its own distinct qual-

ities, from lakeside views to caving adventures and towering natural stone arches. Whether visitors are avid hikers or prefer to admire nature from afar, they can all enjoy the comfort and modern amenities of state park lodges with nature right at their doorstep.

L A K E BA R K LE Y STATE R E SORT PA R K W E ST ER N K EN T UCK Y

Overlooking the sweeping, blue waters of Lake Barkley, Lake Barkley State Resort Park has one of the state’s largest and most impressive lodges, designed by acclaimed architect Edward Durell Stone. Constructed with cedar and Douglas fir, the lodge contains nearly three and a half acres of glass windows, providing great views in every direction. “We consider it to be one our crown jewels in the parks department,” said Gil Lawson, information officer for the Kentucky State Parks Department. The park is near the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, a 170,000-acre strip between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake; there, visitors can hike, camp and perhaps catch a glimpse of one of the resident bison or elk.

A G RO U P R E N T S A H O U S E B O AT T O E N J O Y A R E L A X I N G D AY O N L A K E C U M B E R L A N D.

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy Kentucky Dept. of Travel and Tourism

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J E N N Y W I L E Y S TAT E R E S O R T PA R K Lake Barkley Lodge offers 120 rooms, four suites, nine cottage properties and a 78-site campground with access to bathrooms and showers. To spend an afternoon on the water, guests can rent a boat from the marina, which is less than a mile from Lake Barkley Lodge. Other amenities include an 18-hole golf course, horseback riding, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, trapshooting and nine miles of hiking trails, seven of them accessible to mountain bikers. “You walk out the back door and you’re right at the swimming pool and lake,” said Lawson. “Whether you’re there for business purposes or bringing your family to the lake, there are plenty of things to do.” The Windows on the Water restaurant earns its name by providing a panoramic view of the lake and wooded shoreline. The restaurant strives to use locally sourced meats and produce, serving traditional Kentucky fare like fried green tomatoes, catfish fillets and Kentucky hot browns. Groups planning a reception or a corporate event can take advantage of the park’s recently renovated 6,300-square-foot conference center. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/lake-barkley

L A K E C U M B E R L A N D S TAT E R E S O R T PA R K

All photos courtesy Kentucky Dept. of Parks, except where noted

L A K E CU M BER L A N D STATE R E SORT PA R K SOUTHERN KENTUCKY

Every summer, thousands of water-sports enthusiasts flock to Lake Cumberland State Resort Park to enjoy activities like swimming, water tubing and fishing. Though it is not the largest lake in the state, Lake Cumberland’s expansive qualities make it a boating paradise. Near the marina, groups can lodge in one of Lure Lodge’s 63 rooms and 29 cottage properties. The lodge restaurant, Rowena Landing, features a sweeping view of the marina below, and guests can watch boats traveling back and forth from the docks as they eat their fill of savory Southern cuisine, like fresh biscuits, fried apples and tender country ham. The name Rowena derives from the local Rowena Ferry Crossing that existed prior to the construction of Wolf Creek Dam, which created the lake during the 1950s. For a change of pace from lake activities, groups can play shuffleboard, miniature golf or tennis. Others enjoy exploring the park’s nine miles of lush hiking trails or lounging in the lodge’s indoor swimming facility. Just down the road from Lure Lodge, the Pumpkin Creek Lodge provides a more intimate lodging space; it features 13 rooms, a central gathering area with a large stone fireplace and a short walking path down to the waterfront. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/lake-cumberland

J EN N Y W ILE Y STATE R E SORT PA R K E A ST ER N K EN T UCK Y

Thanks to its proximity to Prestonsburg, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. The park is named after an 18th-century frontierswoman who was famously abducted by Native Americans and kept captive for nearly 11 months

“ [NATURAL BRIDGE] IS A HIKER’S PARADISE BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY TRAILS AND INTERESTING THINGS TO VISIT.” — GIL L AW SON, K E N T U C K Y S TAT E PA R K S D E PA R T M E N T

Courtesy Kentucky Dept. of Travel and Tourism

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before escaping back home on foot. For a leisurely afternoon on the water, guests can rent pontoons or paddling equipment like canoes and kayaks from the marina. Families often stop by the park’s playground and picnic; outdoor enthusiasts gravitate toward the park’s 10 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails. May Lodge was thoroughly renovated last year following a fire that occurred near the restaurant and lobby; it just reopened in June. Though the lodge’s 49 guest rooms were unaffected by the accident, the brand-new lounge area is much larger than the previous one and offers a great view of Dewey Lake. “You can stop in for a drink after spending a day on the lake boating or fishing,” said Lawson. “It’s very nice. The work allowed us to redesign that building and make it a little more customer friendly.” In the evening, visitors can grab a bite to eat at the Music Highway Grill and then close out the night with a musical under the stars at the Jenny Wiley Theatre, which hosts outdoor performances throughout the summer. Beginning each September, groups can take advantage of one of Jenny Wiley’s more unusual offerings: guided elk tours. Early in the morning, participants follow a resident park interpreter on a brief hike to common wild-elk locations, providing some rare photo opportunities. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/jenny-wiley

LAKE BARKLEY LODGE

NAT U R A L BR I DGE STATE R E SORT PA R K E A ST ER N K EN T UCK Y

Conveniently located just off the Mountain Parkway, Natural Bridge State Resort Park is one of the state’s most distinctive parks, characterized by a 65-foot-tall and 78-foot-long natural sandstone bridge. To reach the arch, visitors can follow a half-mile trail from Hemlock Lodge. Wooden and stone stairways lead to the top of the bridge, where hikers can relish an unparalleled view of the Daniel Boone National Forest, especially in fall when bright reds and yellows cover the treetops. “It’s a hiker’s paradise because there are so many trails and interesting things to visit,” said Lawson. In addition to the park’s campground and 11 cottages, Hemlock Lodge provides 35 rooms with private balconies, which overlook a descending slope of trees that leads to a 60-acre lake. Guests can follow a short boardwalk down to this area to canoe in the lake or swim in the adjacent outdoor swimming pool. During the warmer seasons, weekly square dancing takes place at an event space near the lake known as Ho-Down Island. Meeting groups often make use of the 2,500-square-foot Woodland Center. Natural Bridge State Park offers the only sky lift in the Kentucky parks system, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. There WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Find sample group tour iteneraries at prestonsburgky.org/events/

Explore prestonsburg

expect the unexpected The secrets distilled from the hills of Kentucky. The magic of nature as elk roam the forest. The rush of the wind as you bike through the mountains. Feel it all, right here in the Star City of Eastern Kentucky.

#feeltheburg

MOONSHINE

Hideaway Tours

MUSIC

Mountain Arts Center & Loretta Lynn Homeplace

PRESTONSBURGKY.ORG

MOUNTAINS

Trails & elk tours

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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are 19 miles of hiking trails in the park, and the neighboring Red River Gorge Geological Area offers hundreds of miles of trails through breathtaking and mountainous terrain, along with more than a dozen natural arches, though none as large as Natural Bridge. The park’s geological features lend the area to a variety of interesting nature programs throughout the year, such as a wildflower weekend in spring and a herpetology program where naturalists teach groups about native reptiles and amphibians. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/natural-bridge N AT U R A L B R I D G E S TAT E R E S O R T PA R K

CU M BER L A N D FA LLS STATE R E SORT PA R K S OU T H ER N K EN T UCK Y

Cumberland Falls State Park is not only home to the largest waterfall in the state; it is also the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a regular moonbow appears. Weather permitting, the phenomenon occurs during the full moon each month when moonlight reflects through the mist of the falls to create a faint arch of light above the water. Groups can find updates about the best viewing dates and times on the park website. Visitors will hear the low rumble of water as soon as they park near the gift shop and visitors center by the river. Within a minute’s walk, C U M B E R L A N D FA L L S they can lean against the railing by one of the viewing decks and feel mist gushing from the 125-foot-wide natural treasure sometimes called the Niagara of the South. Less than a mile away down Cumberland Falls Road, DuPont Lodge is a beautiful, rustic building overlooking the Cumberland River and characterized by sturdy hemlock beams and stone fireplaces. Lodging options include 51 guest rooms, 25 cottages and a 50-site campground. The Riverview Restaurant seats up to 200 guests and features delectable menu items like bourbon-glazed salmon, barbecue pork chop sandwiches and Themes: Music | Visual & Performing Arts | Culinary | Local History & Culture sweet hush puppies. Among the park’s 17 miles of hiking trails, Moonbow Trail intersects with several notable backpacking trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and Eagle Falls Trail provides an excellent view of the falls from the opposite bank of the river. A few other popular park activities are rafting, horseback riding, tennis, shuffleboard and fishing. One of the area’s hidden gems is an old firelookout tower called the Pinnacle Knob Tower that is situated on the edge of the park. Guided tours are offered throughout the year; seasonal campout events, during which groups can spend the night in the tower under full view of the night sky, are also offered. www.parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/ cumberland-falls

Can you keep a secret? We specialize in custom Mystery Tours

Visit Owensboro | 1-800-489-1131 | visitowensboro.com

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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ACCESSIBILIT Y TOUR OPENS IN MAMMOTH CAVE In 2016, Mammoth Cave National Park opened an accessible cave tour through some of the most unusual areas in the world’s longest cave. During the two-hour experience, guests take an elevator 267 feet below ground where they can follow an accessible half-mile path to the Snowball Room as well as portions of the Grand Avenue Tour. Refreshments and accessible restrooms are available in the Snowball Room, which is named after the pale, rounded rock formations that cover the ceiling. In July, the park also began construction on a paved half-mile path to Echo River Spring, with plans to expand the Green River crossing parking lot at the Echo River Spring trailhead, adding an accessible picnic area and accessible bathrooms. The park aims to complete the project by 2018. www.nps.gov/maca

Courtesy Mammoth Cave National Park

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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GO METRO LET’S

THERE ARE HOTSPOTS IN EVERY KENTUCKY CITY BY SAVANNAH OSBOURN

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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S

ometimes the best way to experience the local flavor of a city is by wandering through its downtown area. Visitors will often pass a vibrant

spread of shops, art galleries and local eateries, and it is not always easy to know where to start. To help groups narrow these options, we have highlighted a few key downtown attractions among Kentucky’s most exciting cities.

FOU RTH STR EET LI V E L OUISV IL L E

Based in the heart of Kentucky’s largest city, Fourth Street Live is Louisville’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment complex. “We have multiple locations all under one roof. So if you go to one bar and then decide to go to a different one, it’s very convenient,” said Ashley Satterfield, marketing director of Fourth Street Live. During the day, groups can visit retail chains like Footlocker or T-Mobile, or grab a bite to eat from spots like Taipei Café and Smoothie King in the food court. Sit-down dining options include Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, the Tavern on Fourth, the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, the Fudgery and the Hard Rock Cafe. Fourth Street Live is also well known for its vibrant night scene, which features everything from sports bars to upscale clubs and cocktail lounges, with popular venues like Howl at the Moon, the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse and the Thirsty Peddler. Several of these establishments offer casual activities like pingpong, bowling, billiards and arcade games. www.4thstlive.com

L I V E M U S I C, T R E N D Y C U I S I N E A N D E N T E R TA I N M E N T O P T I O N S C A P T I VAT E D A I LY C RO W D S AT L O U I S V I L L E ’ S F O U R T H S T R E E T L I V E .

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy Fourth Street Live

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Experience Paducah Come be a part of our story and immerse yourself in Paducah’s new Signature Experiences exclusively for groups. Learn more at www.paducah.travel!

1-800-PADUCAH

PCVB-KYgrouptravelguide09-16.indd 1

9/16/16 4:45 PM

Belle of Louisville Riverboats INTRODUCING THE MARY M MILLER

N EW PORT ON T H E LE V EE N E W PORT

At Newport on the Levee, groups can stroll among signature attractions and restaurants while enjoying a full view of the Cincinnati skyline across the Ohio River. “To have a major entertainment facility on the riverfront is just wonderful,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, vice president of sales and marketing at Meet Northern Kentucky. Visitors of all ages are sure to find something fun and engaging to do in this eclectic hub. At Newport Aquarium, one of the area’s most beloved attractions, guests can see a 14-foot-long alligator, stroke stingrays in a touch pool and cross a suspended rope bridge above a shark tank. A few other popular attractions in the area are Gameworks, Axis Alley and AMC Newport. There are plenty of eateries from which to choose, such as Mitchell’s Fish Market, Dewey’s Pizza and Cold Stone Creamery. One of the local favorites is Tom+Chee, a restaurant that specializes is gourmet grilled cheese, tomato soup and salads. To reach downtown Cincinnati, groups can safely walk across the Newport Southbank Bridge, commonly known as the Purple People Bridge. Shuttle services run across the TaylorSouthgate Bridge by the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Stadium. Next summer, Newport on the Levee plans to open the giant Skywheel on the main platform that will offer a 360-degree view of the waterfront and downtown Cincinnati. www.newportonthelevee.com

NEWPORT ON THE LEVEE

BRUNCH, LUNCH, DINNER & SIGHTSEEING CRUISES Two & Three Hour Cruises • Great For Any Sized Group Seasonal Special Events • Motorcoach Parking Handicap Accessible • Inclusive Pricing

belleoflouisville.org | 502.574.2992 | @BelleLouisville 18

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Courtesy Northern KY CVB

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


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STINGRAY HIDEAWAY OPENS AT NEWPORT AQUARIUM L E X I N G T O N FA R M E R S M A R K E T

Courtesy Lexington Visitors Center

LEX INGTON

No matter how many times visitors wander through downtown Lexington, they are sure to stumble upon a local eatery or boutique they have never seen, tucked away on a side street or in a historic neighborhood. Among the over 100 established bars and restaurants near the Lexington Convention Center are Pies and Pints, Shakespeare and Company, School Sushi, the Buddha Lounge and the brand-new Latin-inspired eatery Corto Lima. Every Thursday evening from April to October, local vendors, craft brewers and musicians gather in Fifth Third Pavilion for a signature local event known as Thursday Night Live. “It’s a great place to mix and mingle with locals,” said Niki Heichelbech-Goldey, director of communications at the Lexington Visitors Center. The 21c Museum Hotel offers a free contemporary art gallery, and the bimonthly LexArts Gallery Hop draws thousands of art lovers to over 50 art venues across town. On Monday nights, locals flock to the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Lyric Theater, which presents some of the best musical talents in the country during a one-hour live radio show. Groups would be remiss not to visit the city’s historic bourbon distillery district, just a few minutes from downtown. www.visitlex.com

Last spring, Newport Aquarium opened a new tropical exhibit called Stingray Hideaway where guests can interact with two-dozen stingrays and other colorful fish up close. Inside a 40-foot-high atrium, the highlight of the attraction is a 17,000-gallon touch pool where children and adult guests can stroke the silky wings of three distinct species of stingrays as they glide past. Visitors can also venture into a 30-foot-long underwater tunnel to see the playful creatures swim overhead; the tunnel has a special viewing tube that pops up inside the pool. This development is the aquarium’s most ambitious expansion since the shark bridge opened in 2015. www.newportaquarium.com

Experience Frankfort Kentucky!

We are the essence of everything that makes Kentucky special. Visitfrankfort.com

Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist Commission 800-960-7200 • salesdirector@visitfrankfort.com

20 min. from Lexington • 45 min. from Louisville

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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PIK E V ILLE

H I L L B I L LY D AY S

Courtesy Pike County Tourism CVB

Known as the home of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud, Pikeville offers a wide range of colorful festivals, restaurants and handcrafted products in its downtown area. To learn more about the Hatfield and McCoy feud, visitors can stop by sites such as the historic courthouse where the Hatfield family was put on trial for allegedly stealing a pig from the McCoy family. An Italian restaurant called Chirico’s Ristorante is located within the former McCoy family residence. The area offers some great dining options, like Bank 253, Bob’s Southern Smokehouse, Joyce’s Place and Blue Raven, which is recognized by Bon Appetit as an authentic Southern heritage restaurant. In April each year, over 120,000 people travel to Pikeville for Hillbilly Days, a three-day festival of mountain music, square dancing and comical hillbilly costumes. Later in the fall, a smaller event called Hatfield and McCoy Heritage Days takes place. Descendants of the two original families often attend to meet with visitors and answer questions. www.tourpikecounty.com

BOW LING GR EEN

Fountain Square Park is the highlight of Bowling Green’s charming downtown area. Encircled by quaint restaurants and boutiques, the F O U N TA I N S Q U A R E PA R K C O R S A I R D I S T I L L E RY park features a beautiful Romanesque fountain in an open, grassy area lined with park benches and mature trees. Many of the surrounding historic buildings have been lovingly restored over the years, creating Courtesy Bowling Green Area CVB Courtesy Bowling Green Area CVB a cozy, small-town atmosphere. “We have a really fun heritage walk around downtown if you’re interested in exploring the KENTUCKY history,” said Marissa Butler, marketing director ... at the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. THE SIGHTS & SOUNDS OF GEORGETOWN. SCOTT COUNTY Micki’s on Main is a well-established bar lounge and restaurant on the square, which frequently hosts live music on weekends. Its neighboring sister restaurant, 440 Main, offers a more formal setting. Groups can stop by Candle Makers on the Square for a unique local souvenir, or sample a steaming mocha or chai tea latte from Spencer’s Coffee. The old Capitol Theater presents monthly events and shows, such as the Lost River Sessions concert series. Nearby, the Corsair Distillery specializes in experimental concoctions such as spiced rum, red absinthe, vanilla bean vodka and pumpkin spice moonshine. Tasting tours are available throughout the week. www.visitbgky.com

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avor

MALL TOWN CHARM. PURE SMALL

INTERSTATE

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tops for groups at the top of the state

Left to Right: Ark Encounter, Coppin’s at Hotel Covington, Braxton Brewing Co., Mac’s Pizza Pub, Marriott RiverCenter, Newberry Bros. Coffee & Prohibition Bourbon Bar, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Mainstrasse Village, Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati Zoo, Smoke Justis, New Riff Distilling, Hofbrauhaus Newport, Covington, BB Riverboats, Ark Encounter

#makeitNKY meetNKY.com


FAITH

ENCOUNTERS KENTUCKY HONORS ITS PLACES OF REVERENCE BY SAVANNAH OSBOURN


K

entucky’s lush green hills and wooded escapes have drawn various religious groups over the years, from the innovative Shakers who

once populated Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill to the modernday Amish community of Marion. Some travelers seek spiritual respite at the beautiful Trappist monastery of Gethsemani near Bardstown, as well as at the full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark at Ark Encounter.

CR E ATION M USEU M A N D A R K ENCOU N TER

PET ER S BU RG

AND

W IL L I A M ST OW N

Opened in 2007, the Creation Museum has quickly established itself as one of Kentucky’s signature religious attractions. Based on the biblical Book of Genesis, the museum examines the nature of Earth’s origin from a creationist standpoint. Approximately 45 minutes away, the Ark Encounter displays a towering 510-foot-long timber ark that was built according to dimensions described in the biblical story of Noah and the flood. The ark spans roughly the length of one and a half football fields. Mark Looy, chief spokesperson for the attraction, described how he enjoys hearing the audible gasps on the shuttle when the ark comes into view. “It’s jaw-droppingly big,” said Looy. “And it’s even more impressive as you walk inside.” The gigantic timber structure contains three decks of colorful exhibits and educational videos, which can take up to three hours

G RO U P S F I N D A P R AY E R F U L R E T R E AT E X P E R I E N C E AT T H E A B B E Y O F G E T H S E M A N I.

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy Abbey of Gethsemani

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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ABBEY OF GETHSEMANI

to explore. Afterward, guests can grab a bite to eat at the 1,500-seat buffet-style restaurant or stop by the Ararat Ridge Zoo next door to see exotic creatures like zebras, kangaroos and Tibetan yak. Plans are in the works to create a world city reminiscent of the diverse Middle Eastern culture in which Noah would have lived. www.creationmuseum.org www.arkencounter.com

A BBE Y

ARK ENCOUNTER

Courtesy Ark Encounter

Courtesy Abbey of Gethsemani

OF

GETHSEM A N I

T R A PPI ST

Nestled amid 1,200 acres of charming, wooded property near Bardstown, the Abbey of Gethsemani has been a staple of Kentucky culture and history for over 150 years. French Trappist monks founded the abbey in 1848 after fleeing political turmoil in Europe, making it the oldest abbey in the United States. Today, many people know the site as the former home of celebrated Kentucky author, poet and social activist Thomas Merton. In 1948, Merton penned his autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain,” considered one of the most influential spiritual works of the 20th century. Though visitors cannot enter the monastery itself, they are welcome to stop by the welcome center and the church, where a community Mass and other services are held throughout the day. At the welcome center, guests can watch a 35-minute film about Gethsemani’s monastic community, called “One Day,” and pick up a souvenir of homemade Kentucky bourbon fruitcake or salted caramel fudge, which the monks also sell online to support the abbey. Groups can pick up a map of the property at the welcome center to explore the surrounding trail system.

An Equine Experience Like No Other…

Celebrating 40 Years!

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kyhorsepark.com 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511 (859) 233-4303 • (800) 678-8813 24

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


According to Brother Luke, one of the abbey’s residents, a spiritual hunger and curiosity often draw people, especially those seeking a respite from their daily routines. www.monks.org

AMISH COMMUNITY M A R ION

OF

MARION

The first Amish settlement came to Crittenden County in 1977 and today holds more than 400 members. The community’s simple lifestyle is characterized by hard work and deep faith. Without modern distractions like phones and motorized vehicles, the Amish people focus on church, family and manual labor, maintaining a more direct connection with their community and surroundings. In addition to growing most of their own food, members of the community take great care in crafting quality products like furniture, cabinets and quilts, which can be found at home-based shops throughout the area. Groups can pick up a map at the Welcome Center and take a self-guided driving tour, stopping by local bakeries, produce shops and craft stores. “People are fascinated with the lifestyle,” said Michelle Edwards, director of the Marion Tourism Commission, adding that with Lake Barkley just 30 minutes away, many travelers pass through the area for an afternoon excursion. As a traditional community, there are no commercialized attractions for tourists such as Amish restaurants and horse-and-buggy rides; but visitors can have an authentic cultural experience and take home artisan products like fresh breads and handwoven rugs. www.marionkentucky.org/amish

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TWO OUTDOOR ADVENTURE OPPORTUNITIES COME TO EASTERN KENTUCKY In June 2016, Treetop Adventure opened at Levi Jackson State Park near London, offering outdoor enthusiasts two and a half hours of aerial treetop thrills. Participants can choose from five different obstacle courses that are color-coded according to difficulty. The tree platforms are connected by a variety of zip lines, wooden plank bridges and cables, each presenting its own challenge as guests make their way across. Visitors of all skill levels are welcome. Nestled amid the mountains of Kentucky and Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park opened a new set of climbing routes last year, with plans to integrate more in the future. Between 50 and 75 routes are now available along the park’s stunning sandstone cliffs. www.treetopadventureky.com www.breakspark.com

Take a tour of the Kentucky Cooperage just minutes from Maker’s Mark Distillery and see how the world’s finest bourbon barrels are crafted. www.visitlebanonky.com

270.692.0021

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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ST. M A RY ’S C ATH EDR A L BA SILIC A OF T H E A SSU M P TION COV INGT ON

Inspired by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Designed by Detroit architect Leon Coquard during the early 1900s, the church was elevated to the rank of minor basilica by Pope Pius XII in 1953, making it one of only 35 minor basilicas in the United States. Visitors may recognize the circular Rose Window, visible above three arching doorways on the face of the building; the window was modeled directly on the iconic Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral. It is also hard to miss the 26 stone gargoyles perched along the basilica’s outer walls. Though arguably one of the most fantastical features of Gothic architecture, gargoyles serve a practical purpose by diverting rainwater from the church walls, with the mouth of the statue acting as a spout. “Photos do not do it justice,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, vice president of sales and marketing at Meet Northern Kentucky. “You have to see the sun hit the stained glass for yourself.” Groups are encouraged to take a guided tour of the basilica, which expounds upon the history of the artwork and the architecture and how the church has played a crucial role in the Covington community over the years. www.covcathedral.com

SHAKER VILLAGE

Courtesy Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

S T. M A RY ’ S C AT H E D R A L

Courtesy Northern KY CVB

AMISH IN MARION

SH A K ER V ILL AGE OF PLE A SA N T HILL H A R ROD S BU RG

Courtesy Marion Tourist Commission

EXPERIENCE ~

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill A Landmark Destination — The Historic Centre, The Farm & The Preserve

Old For Harrod State Park Costumed artisans, seasonal outdoor theatre, fort, museum & gift shop

• Beaumont Inn • Shaker Village • Bright Leaf Golf Resort • Over 300 affordable rooms just minutes SW of Lexington. • Olde Towne Distillery • Lemons Mill Brewery • Award-winning downtown • Unique shopping & dining • Year-round arts, cultural & music events. www.HarrodsburgKY.com • 800-355-9192

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

Once home to the third-largest Shaker community in the country, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill spans 3,000 acres of charming bluegrass landscape. The property features 34 of the village’s original 260 structures, in addition to a restaurant, an inn, gardens and 37 miles of hiking trails through native prairies and woodland. The Shakers designed many characteristics of the buildings to embody their spiritual values. For example, the double doors and double staircases in some of the houses are meant to reflect the dual nature of relationships. “They merged their spiritual and physical worlds almost seamlessly,” said Aaron Genton, collections manager at Shaker Village. “The beautiful physical world they created wasn’t just meant to look pretty. They were trying to create a place where they could prosper spiritually.” Groups can partake in a variety of programs and events offered throughout the year, from dance demonstrations to horse-drawn-carriage rides and gardening classes. One of the current highlights is an exhibit called “Shaker Modern” that demonstrates how Shaker ideals and perspectives connect with the modern world. This year, Shaker Village plans to extensively renovate the Centre Family Dwelling and Meeting House. shakervillageky.org WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


THINK

BIGGER Plan your visit at ArkEncounter.com Williamstown, KY (south of Cincinnati)


COMMONWEALTH

COLLECTIONS BY SAVANNAH OSBOURN

KENTUCKY REVERES ITS ERAS OF OLD


K

entucky’s finest museums explore a range of colorful subjects, from artisan quilt-making to regional caves and bluegrass music. Visitors

will discover both strange and wonderful artifacts throughout these galleries, among them a 19th-century mechanical model of the universe, the fiddle of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and the last telephone owned by Adolph Hitler.

BLUEGR ASS MUSIC MUSEUM OWENSBORO

Rooted in the folk music of Appalachia, bluegrass music contains elements of Irish, Scottish and English traditional music. Like jazz, the genre is characterized by improvisation and complex chord transitions. It was first brought to the world stage during the 1930s by legendary fiddler Bill Monroe, who later became known as the Father of Bluegrass. Based in Owensboro, the International Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to this eclectic genre. Though now located in the RiverPark Center complex, the museum plans to open its own 50,000-square-foot facility next summer. Once the new facility opens, guided tours will be offered daily. Groups can supplement their experience by scheduling a live performance from a local bluegrass band. As visitors explore the exhibits, they will learn about the history of bluegrass as well as the instruments that helped shape it. One of the prized artifacts on display is the first fiddle ever owned by Monroe. “Many people are familiar with the artists, but not a whole

L I N C O L N’ S WAT C H I S A F E AT U R E D AT T R A C T I O N AT T H E K E N T U C K Y H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y I N F R A N K F O R T.

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy Kentucky Historical Society

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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O L D S TAT E C A P I T O L

“THE MUSEUM’S MISSION IS TO HELP PUSH THE ENVELOPE ABOUT WHAT QUILTING IS. ” — F O WLER BL AC K, PADUCAH CVB

lot of people know about the history of the instruments, which came from all over the world,” said Katie Keller, marketing director at the museum. “The timeline is really neat because you see how immigrants influenced bluegrass.” Every Saturday night, the theater will host bluegrass jam sessions and concerts that will feature everything from traditional acts to more progressive groups that incorporate electric instruments and other genres like rock and roll. www.bluegrassmuseum.org

K EN T UCK Y HISTOR IC A L SOCIET Y

Courtesy Kentucky Historical Society

NEW

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FRANKFORT

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KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

HORSE COUNTRY EXPERIENCE LAUNCHES A local nonprofit called Horse Country Inc. launched in 2016 to represent over 35 of the state’s most distinguished horse farms, veterinary clinics and other equine destinations. To visit one or several of these sites, groups can hop on the Horse Country website and schedule an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour with the touch of a button. Horse-racing fans have never encountered a better opportunity to dive into the heart of horse country and meet some of the track’s greatest champions face to face. Many of these tours take groups through the stables, the breeding shed and other key areas of the farm while a guide discusses the history of the property. The experience typically lasts an hour and requires a moderate amount of standing and walking. www.visithorsecountry.com

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy Taylor Made Farm & Horse Country

Travelers can trace over 250 years of Kentucky history in the beautiful state capital of Frankfort, and the best place to start is with the Kentucky Historical Society historical campus, which comprises three landmark attractions located within a block of one another: The Thomas D. Clark Museum for Kentucky History, the Old State Capitol and the Kentucky Military History Museum. Groups can purchase one ticket to visit all three sites. According to Laurel Harper, director of marketing and communications for the Kentucky Historical Society, these museums enable visitors to experience the “breadth and depth of Kentucky history, and how much the state has contributed to [the] growth of the nation.” The Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History takes visitors on a chronological journey through the state’s history, with more than 10,000 artifacts on display. In the Hall of Governors, guests can learn about Kentucky’s principal political leaders through interactive touch screens and videos, and in honor of Kentucky’s 250th anniversary of statehood celebrated throughout 2017. Nearby, groups can tour the historic Old Capitol, where famed legislators like Henry Clay, Isaac Shelby and Thomas Metcalfe met during the mid-1800s. The Kentucky Military History Museum, housed in an old state military arsenal, reveals the personal narratives of Kentuckian soldiers from the American Revolution to modern day. www.history.ky.gov


NATIONA L QU ILT M USEU M PADUCAH

One thing will quickly become clear to visitors as they examine the intricate and breathtaking quilts on display in Paducah’s National Quilt Museum: These are not the same kind of quilts their grandmothers used to make. The museum features some of the finest fiber art in the world, with works ranging from traditional quilt patterns to interpretive 3-D products hanging from the ceiling. “There’s controversy within the quilting world between the purist and modernists, but the museum’s mission is to help push the envelope about what quilting is,” said Fowler Black, director of sales at the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s more than just art; it’s a way of telling a story.” To delve deeper into this art form, groups can sign up for an exclusive VIP tour called Creative Stitch. During this program, a museum guide takes the group behind the scenes of exhibits to view distinct quilting styles and fabrics. Participants then take this inspiration back to the classroom to design their own nine-patch quilts. Afterward, the museum frames the original quilt block so guests can proudly display it back at home. Black described how the male visitors are often surprised by how much they enjoy the experience. In fall and spring each year, over 30,000 quilters travel to Paducah from around the world to participate in QuiltWeek, a competitive fiberart event. www.quiltmuseum.org

I N T E R N AT I O N A L B L U E G R A S S M U S I C M U S E U M Courtesy International Bluegrass Music Museum

N AT I O N A L Q U I LT M U S E U M

Courtesy National Quilt Museum

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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HI DDEN R I V ER C AV E A N D A M ER IC A N C AV E M USEU M

H I D D E N R I V E R C AV E

HORSE CAVE

Courtesy Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum

HIGHLANDS MUSEUM

In the heart of downtown Horse Cave, Hidden River Cave has transformed over the past 30 years from an abandoned sewage dump to one of the most popular adventure attractions in southern Kentucky. “Hidden River Cave was once one of the most polluted caves in America,” said David Foster, executive director of the American Cave Museum. “We cleaned it up and restored it. Now, it’s the only place in the region where you can do a cave tour, zip lining and rappelling all in one location.” The guided cave tour takes groups through two subterranean rivers that flow more than 100 feet below ground. Along the way, visitors pass an early-1900s hydroelectric generator from the days when the cave supplied the local community with water and power. Cave tours include admission to the American Cave Museum, where visitors can learn about groundwater quality, cave wildlife, regional geology and more. The adventurous can try their hand at rappelling 75 feet from the mouth of the cave or zip lining 70 feet above the ground at 30 miles per hour. Hidden River Cave plans to expand the attraction over the coming year, extending the zip-line feature and adding an underground swinging bridge. www.hiddenrivercave.com

HIGHL A N DS M USEU M A N D DISCOV ERY CEN TER

Courtesy Highlands Museum and Discovery Center

ASHLAND

Birthplace of Beer Cheese

Group Culinary & Outdoor Adventures! • Beer Cheese Trail • Ale-8-One Tours • Harkness Edward’s Winery • Laura’s Hemp Chocolates

Hamon Haven Winery

• Creative Coffees Roastery Tour • Blackfish Bison Ranch • Bluegrass Heritage Museum • Holly Rood Historic Home

Coming 2018! Wildcat Willy’s Distillery LLC

Over 300 affordable hotel rooms only 15 min. E. of Lexington!

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800-298-9105

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

tourwinchester.com

Based in Ashland, the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center explores the rich history and cultural heritage of eastern Kentucky, engaging visitors through interactive media, life-size replicas and more. In the Country Music Heritage Hall, groups will learn about Kentucky’s Country Music Highway, which commemorates local country stars such as Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs and Loretta Lynn. Ashland marks the second stop along the highway as the hometown of the Judds. Visitors can create their own music on the Karaoke Korner stage or through an interactive sound sculpture called the “Music Quilt.” The “School Daze” exhibit challenges guests to imagine life in the era of one-room schoolhouses, and an exhibit called “Extremes in Fashion” explores the evolution of fashion from tea gowns to wool swimsuits and miniskirts. Designed by the Space Science Program at Morehead State University, the Space Science Hall examines the field of aerospace and how scientists use technology like satellites. The military gallery contains one of the museum’s most fascinating artifacts: the last telephone owned by Adolph Hitler. www.highlandsmuseum.com

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


KENTUCKY ARTISAN CENTER OPEN DAILY 9-6 SHOP ● DINE ● EXPLORE BUSES WELCOME BEREA EXIT

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859-985-5448 www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov

The Kentucky Artisan Center is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the State of Kentucky Left to right: Stephen Rolfe Powell • Brook Forrest White Jr. Patrick Dougherty • Jennifer Lackey Moore


A

STATE OF

MANY

HUES

VISIT KENTUCKY’S AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE SITES BY SAVANNAH OSBOURN


O

ver the past two centuries, Kentucky has played a significant role in African-American history. It is the birthplace of

Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed more than 3 million slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as modern heroes like world-champion boxer Muhammad Ali. Travelers can delve into their inspirational stories and many others as they explore the following noteworthy sites.

HOTEL M ETROPOLITA N PADUCAH

During segregation, the Hotel Metropolitan served as Paducah’s only African-American hotel, housing world-famous musicians and entertainers such as Billie Holiday, Ray Charles and Tina Turner on the second floor of the modest, shotgun-style house. Though the historic treasure later fell into disrepair, a nonprofit called the Upper Town Heritage Foundation acquired the building during the 1980s and restored it for public viewing. “It’s the quintessential candidate for a hidden gem,” said Fowler Black, sales director at the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau. Visitors should prepare themselves for an immersive experience. From the moment they step on the porch, guests are transported to the early 1900s as Ms. Maggie Steed, the hotel hostess, cautiously answers the door. “If it’s a group of white folks, Ms. Maggie will turn around the open sign and say through the window, ‘Children, I can’t help ya; get back on the bus,’ and scold everybody about getting her in trouble with Jim Crow laws,” said Black.

G RO U P S C A N I M A G I N E L I F E D U R I N G S E G R E G AT I O N AT T H E H O T E L M E T RO P O L I TA N, O N C E T H E O N LY A F R I C A N - A M E R I C A N H O T E L I N PA D U C A H.

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

Courtesy Hotel Metropolitan

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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“IT’S REALLY ABOUT ONE PERSON’S LIFE AND HOW THAT PERSON FACED THE LOWS IN HIS LIFE”

THE COOKSEY HOUSE

JEANIE KAHNKE, MUHAMMAD ALI CENTER

Courtesy Western KY African-American Heritage Center

inspired many with his unapologetic pride in his abilities and beliefs. Born Cassius Clay, Ali changed his name after converting to Islam early in his career. When certain news outlets refused to recognize his new name and faith, he famously said, “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.” “It’s really about one person’s life and how that person faced the lows in his life,” Kahnke said. “It took a lot of conviction, perseverance and dedication.” www.alicenter.org MUHAMMAD ALI CENTER

Courtesy Muhammad Ali Center

After some coaxing, Ms. Maggie allows the visitors inside and begins showing them around the house, describing how she built it back in 1908, a time when not many black women could claim to own and operate their own establishment. She goes on to talk about everyday life in segregated culture and how even celebrated artists like Billie Holiday had nowhere else to stay in town but the Hotel Metropolitan. At the end of the tour, guests are treated to tea or coffee and a slice of Ms. Maggie’s chess pie. It is recommended to pair the experience with a visit to the Civil War Museum just two blocks down the road, which is housed in the former home of a Civil War general. Tours must be scheduled in advance. www.paducah.travel

M U H A M M A D A LI CEN TER LOUISVILLE

Many people know Muhammad Ali for his feats in the boxing ring, but at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, groups also learn about his intellectual genius, his passion for social activism and his lifelong humanitarian efforts. “Since Muhammad passed away last year, it has raised global awareness about his legacy and what he meant to the nation, especially his home state of Kentucky. He never forgot where he came from,” said Jeanie Kahnke, senior director of public relations and external affairs at the center. Whether or not visitors are sports fans, the museum offers a thoughtprovoking glimpse into one man’s professional and spiritual journey. In addition to winning three national heavyweight championships, Ali 36

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

W E ST K EN T UCK Y A FR IC A N-A M ER IC A N H ER ITAGE CEN TER RUSSELLVILLE

Located in the historic Black Bottom District of Russellville, the West Kentucky African-American Heritage Center consists of six landmark buildings where visitors can learn the rich stories of the freed slaves who first developed the local African-American community. The largest of these buildings is the Neoclassical Bibb House, which belonged to early abolitionist and Revolutionary War veteran, Maj. Richard Bibb. Bibb freed 29 slaves during his lifetime and provided passage for several of them to travel to Liberia. His will ensured the freedom of his remaining slaves upon his death and gave them land on which to live. During the early 1900s, the Cooksey House was the home of schoolteacher Charles Cooksey for 40 years while he was working in the Colored Schools of Logan County. The Kimbrough House belonged to the first African-American in the country to serve on a jury, and the PayneDunnigan House pays tribute to Alice Allison Dunnigan, a civil rights activist and reporter who was the first black female journalist to serve as a White House press correspondent. As groups tour these buildings, they will learn the histories of former residents as well other African-Americans in the community, including soldiers who fought in the Civil War and local blues singer Mary Ann Fisher, also known as the “songbird of the South,” who sang alongside Ray Charles as his first female vocalist. Other exhibits explore harsh social realities such as segregated schools and the 1908 lynching from an oak tree of four innocent black men. “It’s the only exhibit in the entire South that deals with lynching,” said Michael Morrow, director of the museum.

www.slavery2freedom.com

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


NATIONA L U N DERGROU N D R A ILROA D M USEU M

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When the National Underground Railroad Museum opened in Maysville in 1995, it was the first museum in the country dedicated to the secret network of safe houses known as the underground railroad, which helped runaway slaves cross the border to freedom during the 1800s. “This region was the last divider between slave and free,” said Crystal Marshall, one of the docents at the museum. “Once you crossed over into Ohio, you were in free territory. When people visit here, they can look across the river and see the short distance that separated someone from their destiny.” The museum resides in the historic Bierbower House, originally owned by Jonathan and Lucetta Bierbower. The couple moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania during the 1830s and used their cellar to hide runaways until safe passage across the Ohio River could be guaranteed. “The house itself is the biggest artifact,” said Marshall. The upstairs area features exhibits and artifacts that shed light on the history of slavery in Kentucky, from records of African-American marriages to newspaper accounts of the abolitionist effort. As guests peruse these displays, they can learn about the methods and routes that abolitionists and runaway slaves used to evade capture. The museum is open for tours on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Other visits can be arranged with notice. www.nurm.org

BILL MONROE MUSEUM BREAKS GROUND Not many musicians can claim that a whole genre of music is named after their band. This past spring, the city of Rosine broke ground for the upcoming Bill Monroe Museum, in honor of Grammy Award-winning musician Bill Monroe, also known as the Father of Bluegrass. Monroe founded the original bluegrass band during the 1930s, called the Blue Grass Boys, after his home state of Kentucky. During his 58-year performance career, Monroe helped define the eclectic genre he described as “blues and jazz” with “a high lonesome sound,” developing the classic five-piece ensemble of guitar, banjo, bass, fiddle and mandolin. He was later inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, becoming one of only five artists to be recognized in all three. www.visitohiocountyky.com

“Making memories is our nature...” Henderson is framed by nature. The river rolls. The birds fly. With history and charm as its backdrop, Henderson inspires. Experience the muse of John James Audubon, W.C. Handy and others who turned life into beauty, art, commerce and success. Explore miles of riverfront parks, a vibrant downtown, beautiful wineries and the world’s largest collection of Audubon artifacts and art. Discover your nature at www.HendersonKy.org/group

1-800-648-3128 | abby@hendersonky.org

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

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“ T H E Y C A N LOOK ACROS S T H E R I V E R A N D SEE T H E SHORT DISTA NCE T H AT SEPA R AT ED SOM EON E F ROM T H E I R DE ST I N Y.”

BIERBOWER HOUSE

Courtesy National Underground Railroad Museum

CRYSTAL MARSHALL, NATIONAL UNDERGROUND RAILROAD MUSEUM

A BR A H A M LINCOLN BIRTH PL ACE NATIONA L HISTOR IC PA R K HODGENVILLE

The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about Abraham Lincoln’s early life and upbringing. When groups arrive at the park, they can stop by the Visitors Center to watch a 15-minute orientation film as well as browse the bookstore and gift shop. K N O B C R E E K FA R M The highlight of the park is the First Lincoln Memorial, a beautiful Neoclassical building that marks the site where Lincoln was born in 1801. “A lot of people think the memorial is copied from the one in Washington, D.C., but it actually predates the Lincoln Memorial by 11 Courtesy NPS years,” said Stacy Humphreys, chief of interpretation and resource management at the park. Barton Distillery The memorial was designed by acclaimed architect John Russell Pope, who also produced the Jefferson Memorial in Washington and was often considered the last great Roman architect. Inside the memorial, visitors will find a replica of the small log cabin where Lincoln was born and raised. After groups exit the memorial, they may notice the Sinking Spring at the base of the stairs, which would have served as the Lincoln family’s primary water source. Nearby, a marker stands where a boundary oak tree once stood on the edge of the farm property. According to Humphreys, the park draws a surprising number of international visitors each year, many of whom are intimately familiar with Lincoln’s biography. “A lot of people are struck by his strength of character and the way he led the country through the Civil War,” she said. “Here you have a man who How does a place so small become the Bourbon Capital of was born in a log cabin and eventually occupied the White House. I think that resonates with people.” the World®? Start with the second-oldest town in Kentucky, add Groups can also stop by the Knob Creek Farm a plethora of bourbon-inspired restaurants and shops, sprinkle down the road, where Lincoln’s family lived durwith seven distilleries, and serve on a scenic countryside. ing his later boyhood years. A reconstructed cabin Visit Bardstown – the small town with big escapes. resides on the Knob Creek property as well. www.nps.gov/abli www.visitbardstown.com | 800.638.4877 38

KENTUCKY GROUP TRAVEL GUIDE

WWW.KENTUCKYTOURISM.COM


Shelbyville . Simpsonville . Kentucky Atmospheric Dining: Claudia Sanders Dinner House Boutique shopping and the only Outlet Mall in Kentucky Agritourism Tours Behind the scenes horse farm tours NEW: Ground to Glass Distillery Tour

Step on Guide Service Available

VisitShelbyKY.com

502.633.6388


Next time someone asks what you did last weekend, have a better answer. In Kentucky, you can enjoy amazing food, music, entertainment, horse racing, distillery tours and much more. All delivered with true Southern hospitality and charm. To learn more and see sample itineraries, visit KentuckyTourism.com.

Come experience what we’re famous for.

#travelky


CITY SENS ES A

BY E L I ZA B E T H H E Y

for the

PHIL ADELPHIA DR AWS ARTS-AVID GROUPS

Courtesy Barnes Foundation

P

hiladelphia’s role in A m e r ic a n histor y draws many visitors. Independence Ha l l, where America’s founders signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, connects us to our heritage. And Philadelphia’s Historic District includes sites that celebrate the American Revolution and that should be part of any visit. But Philly’s arts-and-culture scene is worth some attention, too. Whether your group visits one of the city’s many museums, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, whose iconic steps were immortalized in the film “Rocky,” or takes in the prolific music, dance and theater scene, options are plentiful. Pennsylvania’s largest city is a delightful smorgasbord of visual and performing arts that deserves a place on your next itinerary. “Our fabulous Museum District along Ben GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

THE BARNES FOUNDATION SHOWCASES THE ART COLLECTION OF A PROMINENT PHILADELPHIA DOCTOR AND PHILANTHROPIST.

Franklin Parkway caters to many interests,” said Jim DePhilippo, tourism sales manager for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And the city’s youthful student population guarantees a wide variety of collegiate offerings from the Curtis Institute of Music and the University of Pennsylvania.” V I S UA L A R T S Headlining the city’s art scene is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. With over 200 galleries and 240,000 objects, it ranks as one of the world’s largest art museums. Notable exhibits include impressionist and postimpressionist works, an American collection that features the Shakers and the Pennsylvania Germans, “period rooms” and architectural ensembles from around the world. Under the museum’s umbrella, the Rodin Museum contains the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works outside Paris. Also included are two Colonial houses in

Fairmont Park: Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant. Historic house tours, a holiday open house and Fairmount Park bus tours, narrated by museumtrained step-on guides, dive into the park’s history. Friday nights at the museum offer live music, gallery access, cocktails and tapas-style dishes. Another of Philadelphia’s outstanding art museums, the Barnes Foundation, displays the world’s largest collection of paintings by Renoir and Cézanne, as well as significant works by Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh and other renowned impressionist, postimpressionist and modern European artists. The collection was assembled by Albert Barnes between 1912 and 1951 and includes African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting and wrought-iron metalwork. In the museum, masterpieces by Van Gogh and Picasso hang next to ordinary household objects: a door hinge, a spatula, a yarn spinner. The ensembles, arranged exactly as Barnes left them, were

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meticulously crafted to draw out visual similarities among objects we don’t normally put together. Groups can opt for a one-hour, docent-led tour, a private after-hours tour or a self-guided tour that begins with a 30-minute introduction. Upcoming exhibits include “Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema,” May 5 to September 3, 2018; and “Berthe Morisot: Woman Impressionist,” October 20, 2018, to January 14, 2019. Catered, private dining for up to 100 people is available in the tranquil Garden Pavilion, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a leafy courtyard. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, commonly called Penn Museum, is preparing for the opening of its Middle East Galleries next spring. Their special exhibition, “Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories From Syria and Iraq,” runs through November 2018. After a tour, add on a visit to the Penn Museum Archives, a Q&A with an archaeologist, a behindthe-scenes workshop or a hands-on activity, such as Japanese woodblock print-making. Buffet or boxed lunches are available. For 30 years, Mural Arts Philadelphia has united artists and communities to create art that

transforms public spaces. Mural Arts engages communities in 50 to 100 public art projects each year. The tour season begins in April, and private tours through the city’s diverse neighborhoods are available by foot, trolley, train or Segway. Groups can add a visual scavenger hunt or help paint a mural. PERFORMING ARTS With options as diverse as Broadway musicals, jazz, the Philly Pops and the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts offers a full calendar of performances. Groups can make a night of it with meet-and-greets and private dining at the Academy of Music, inspired by celebrity chef Jose Garces. Complimentary tours offer a glimpse into the Kimmel Center’s many facets. The Building and Theater tour features an in-depth look at the architecture and the art collection. The Art and Architecture tour visits the historic Baroque opera house. In Center City, the Walnut Street Theatre, founded in 1809, is America’s oldest theater and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It claims many firsts for American theater, among them gas footlights, the curtain

call and copyright laws protecting American plays. Upcoming shows for 2018 include “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Humans.” Elsewhere in the city, the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts of the University of Pennsylvania showcases innovative theater, music and dance. Each year, the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) presents four to five fully staged opera productions accompanied by live orchestras. Additional AVA performances feature young singers who have potential for international stature. F E S T I VA L S A N D E V E N T S Horticultural design is living art, and the Philadelphia Flower Show delivers a blooming extravaganza. Founded in 1829, it’s the world’s largest and longest-running indoor flower show, and it might be the most spectacular one, too. Next year’s edition will be held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, March 3-11. The theme, Wonders of Water, will feature fountains, ponds and rain gardens. Other delights will include numerous restaurants and shops, themed events, cooking demonstrations by top chefs, garden teas, a designer’s studio, a butterfly garden and make-and-take flower creations.

PHLCVB_GroupTravel_Oct-RV.qxp_Layout 1 9/18/17 8:15 AM Page 1

The Barnes Foundation

Arts & Culture: Perfectly Curated From world-famous collections to renowned theatrical and musical performances, the beauty and wonder of Philadelphia awaits.

Explore the possibilities at discoverPHL.com For Customized Itinerary Planning, contact:

Jim at 215-636-3312 or jim@discoverPHL.com 68 DePhilippo GROUP T HE

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OCTOBER 2017


N I d n S a l D t r N a e A H H the B Y R AC H E L C A RT E R

Courtesy North House Folk School

GROUPS CAN SCHEDULE HANDS-ON WORKSHOPS AT MINNESOTA’S NORTH HOUSE FOLK SCHOOL

ARTISANS CREATE ORIGINAL KEEPSAKES oo many people today have lost touch with how to make something with their hands, but there’s an ongoing renaissance of do-it-yourself-ism in the United States. People are making art for art’s sake and learning how to fashion objects for their own use: They brew their own beer, pour their own candles and throw their own pottery. Groups can tap into the surge of hands-on art and artisan experiences in these studios, galleries, folk schools and communities throughout America’s Heartland.

GLASS CIT Y |

TOLED O, OHIO

Nearly 130 years after Edward Drummond Libbey moved his family’s glass company from Massachusetts to Ohio, Toledo is proudly wearing the moniker “the Glass City.” Today, Libbey and Owens Corning still make glass products in downtown, and Owens Illinois still operates just across the Maumee River. Pilkington, formerly the Libbey-OwensFord Company, still makes automotive and architectural glass in the city. “The history is still very much entrenched in our culture,” said Cathy Miller, director of tourism for the Destination Toledo Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city’s glass legacy shifted to include art in the 1960s when Toledo became the birthplace of the Studio Glass Movement. At Firenation Glass Studio and Gallery in nearby Holland, groups can take blown-glass classes, arrange for private events, tour the GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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Tour SOUTHEAST INDIANA

Fall Mums, Farms & Markets Meet a friendly herd of alpaca, tour a greenhouse, visit an orchard and find locally made specialty foods and fresh produce in the Fall.

“Fun Farm & Market Experiences!”

- Clarksville Parks & Rec, Clarksville, IN

gallery and drop in on demonstrations during open houses. The Copper Moon Studio and Gallery also offers daily classes in fused glass. The Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion opened in 2006. Architects designed the building with exterior and interior walls made of large, curving glass panels, resulting in a series of see-through spaces in a nearly transparent building. The Glass Pavilion offers daily glassblowing demonstrations when it’s open and has studios where groups can make seasonal glass pieces to take home. The CVB’s new self-guided Glass City Tour highlights stops such as Edward Libbey’s home in the Old West End neighborhood and the Libbey Glass Factory Outlet, where groups get a 15 percent discount. W W W.DOT OL EDO.ORG

NORTH HOUSE FOLK SCHOOL |

GR AND MAR AIS, MINNESOTA

Nestled on the Lake Superior shoreline in northeastern Minnesota, Grand Marais is less than 50 miles south of the Canadian border. Its picturesque remoteness is part of the reason it became a hub for artists and artisans, but the main reason is Birney Quick, the Minneapolis arts professor who spent nearly 30 years championing the tiny town as an arts destination. The North House Folk School was founded in 1997 and, shortly after, started restoring two 1930s timber warehouses on the Grand Marais harbor. Soon after, the campus grew to include adjacent historic fishing buildings and two large docks. Groups of up to 50 can arrange to take the Tour of North House to see the school’s campus and six buildings. A guide gives a short presentation and leads visitors to see what’s happening in the different classrooms, such as spinning, basket weaving and blacksmithing, said program director Jessa Frost. The school can break up larger groups for half- and full-day classes on bead embroidery, woodcarving, leaf printing, bookbinding, pie baking, making wood-fired flatbread and more, she said. From June through September, the school has an instructor in residence on campus, “so there is an artisan demonstrating all day long,” she said — or at least from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Groups can buy items made by artisan instructors or peruse books and tools in the gift shop. W W W. NORTHHOUSE .ORG

VILL AGES FOLK SCHOOL |

OHIO Indianapolis

INDIANA

1

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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VILL AGES OF VAN BUREN, IOWA

In southeast Iowa, the Villages of Van Buren are 11 quaint communities scattered along the Des Moines River where visitors will find antique shops, art galleries, artisan studios and Amish communities selling all sorts of handmade and handcrafted goods. The Villages Folk School is a collective of artists and artisans who open the doors to their personal studios and private homes to showcase their work and show students the tricks of their trades. “The county is our campus,” said Mel Stockwell, Villages Folk School director. “When you come here, there’s not a classroom; our artists are our residents here year-round, and they open up their personal creative workspaces.” The school can arrange for a variety of group classes and workshops. Guests can learn how to make a small, coaster-size weaving at a rug-weaving studio, assemble a stained-glass window or make container candles. The school can arrange for painting classes in pastels and watercolors or even schedule plein-air painting classes. There’s an instructor for every 10 students, and participants work outdoors in rose gardens, at the pioneer museum or at the riverbanks painting old bridges. At Stockwell’s own letterpress print shop, visitors can see historic presses that she has saved and restored and try their hand at printing their names. The school can also arrange for blacksmithing, weaving and pottery studio demonstrations. W W W.V I L L AGESF OL K SCHOOL .COM

OCTOBER 2017


INDIANA’S AMISH COUN T RY |

ELKHART C OUNT Y, INDIANA

Elkhart County, Indiana, is better known as Amish country, and the Amish, of course, are known for their skilled handiwork. Groups can learn the secrets of Amish handmade goods from the Amish themselves. At Sonshine Baskets, guests can watch an in-person demonstration as the owner and her daughter weave reed baskets, said Sonya Nash, director of group and experiential sales and marketing for the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. New in 2018, Sonshine Baskets will offer an optional hands-on component. Visitors can finish weaving a partially made reed basket and choose their own stain color. The owners will apply the stain, and groups can either pick up their baskets later or have them shipped. At Silver Star Leather, the shop owners demonstrate how to make leather belts, purses, wallets and other goods. Groups can also arrange for in-home experiences. Groups learn how to make cinnamon rolls or an Amish’s family broccoli-cauliflower salad during in-home cooking classes or sit down to an Amish family-style dinner followed by a buggy ride.

Studio where they learn how to make a piece, usually a tile or a vase. After a few weeks, the studio will fire and glaze the pieces, which can then be picked up or shipped. Pewabic usually caps each workshop at about 25 students but can split up larger groups. Behind-the-scenes experiences include a guided informational tour about the historic studio that covers the store, the gallery, the education areas and the fabrication spaces, where guests can watch artisans at work. W W W. PEWA BIC .ORG

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PEWABIC |

DE TROIT

A Tudor-style building in Detroit houses one of the most well-known ceramic studios in the nation. Artist Mary Chase Perry Stratton founded the Pewabic Pottery in 1903, and her experiments with glazes changed the face of contemporary ceramics. The studio today uses outreach and education to make ceramics accessible to people of all ages and skill levels. That includes offering hands-on workshops, behind-the-scenes tours and open houses, said education director Annie Dennis. During a two-hour hands-on workshop, a docent leads a tour of Pewabic’s pottery, sharing the history of the pottery and the current fabrication processes. Afterward, visitors go to the Workshop

HAND-MAKING LEATHER GOODS IN NORTHERN INDIANA

Courtesy Elkhart Co., IN CVB

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U O Y l e e S f L n L a A F C B Y R AC H E L C A RT E R

By Mallory Glenn, courtesy Pure Michigan

ABUNDANT WOODLANDS AND WATERFRONTS MAKE MICHIGAN A FAVORITE HEARTLAND DESTINATION FOR FALL FOLIAGE.

EMBRACE AUTUMN IN AMERICA’S HEARTLAND ew England gets most of the attention every autumn, but America’s heartland is just as impressive when it comes to fall foliage. The Midwest delivers river bluffs, rolling hills and rural valleys bursting with a cornucopia of reds, oranges and yellows, purples, maroons and magentas. Visitors can take a scenic drive along a roadway or board a sightseeing cruise on a river to revel in these heartland states’ fall colors.

IOWA

Fall colors blanket Iowa every autumn, but the best color is generally in the northeast corner “because that’s the portion of Iowa that was untouched by glaciers,” said Jessica O’Riley, tourism communications manager for the Iowa Tourism Office. “It’s especially scenic up there. However, that’s not to diminish other places.” The Great River Road National Scenic Byway runs along the Mississippi River, which doubles as the state’s eastern border. Mount Hosmer overlooks Lansing and delivers panoramic views of the river and Illinois on the other side. Fifty miles south, Pikes Peak State Park has a 500-foot-high bluff overlooking the Mississippi, as well as trails and picnic shelters. Le Claire is the home base of Antique Archeology, the store featured on the History Channel’s “American Pickers,” and is also where the Riverboat Twilight launches fallcolor cruises. 72

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The 100-mile Driftless Area Scenic Byway snakes across the northeastern part of the state over hills and through valleys. At the Effigy Mounds National Monument, visitors will find more than 200 prehistoric Native American mounds, many in the shape of bears and birds. In southeastern Iowa, the 110-mile Historic Hills Scenic Byway goes through the Villages of Van Buren, which have large Mennonite and Old Order Amish communities and throw the Scenic Drive Festival the second weekend of every October. The Scenic City Empress Riverboat in Iowa Falls offers sightseeing cruises, group tours and private charters on the Iowa River aboard its 50-passenger pontoon riverboat. On the state’s far western edge, Stone State Park in Sioux City delivers impressive color among its 1,069 acres.

BLUFFS ON WISCONSIN’S GREAT RIVER ROAD

W W W.T R AV EL IOWA.COM

MISSOURI

Missouri’s fall colors are a rainbow of autumn because “most of our state is made up of oak hickory forest,” which includes about 25 different species of oak trees and a dozen or so hickory species, as well as dogwood, redbud, sassafras, tupelo and more, said Mark Grueber, community forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “We can get a lot of variety,” Grueber said of the state’s fall foliage. A scenic drive on Interstate 44 from St. Louis southwest to Rolla features rolling hills and forested vistas. Route 19 is a picturesque two-lane highway that winds through the heart of the Ozarks from Salem to Alton. Due west of St. Louis, Missouri wine country delivers fall foliage and award-winning wines. Route 94 leads to Augusta and Hermann, both popular destinations with several wineries. In Hermann, Stone Hill Winery offers daily tours and tastings, a restaurant and a private dining room. At Montelle Winery in Augusta, groups can take in views from the deck or arrange for a sunset dinner. In addition to wine tastings, visitors can sample Montelle’s apple, peach, cherry and grape brandies distilled on-site. One of the best ways to experience Missouri’s fall colors is to get off the road and onto the river, Grueber said. Several concessionaries can take groups for fall floats on the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, which are part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways system. H T T PS:// M DC . MO.GOV

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IOWA’S HARVESTVILLE FARM Courtesy Iowa Tourism Office

ILLINOIS’ GARDEN OF THE GODS WILDERNESS

Courtesy Illinois Office of Tourism GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM

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MICHIGAN

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Michigan has 19 million acres of forest, and every fall, it greets visitors with reds, purples, oranges and yellows “all mixed into each other, so you get these stands of really vibrant colors,” said Michelle Grinnell, director of media, public and industry relations for Pure Michigan. M-22 is a state highway that runs along the Lake Michigan coast from Manistee up around Lake Leelanau and back down to Traverse City. Along the route, groups will find many scenic stops on the water. Leland is called Fishtown by locals for its picturesque fishing docks and shanties, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is beautiful, Grinnell said. Just off M-22, Black Star Farms is a winery with an inn and a restaurant where groups can get a taste of Michigan, whether a wine flight or a sampling of the brandies made from local cherries, apricots, pears, plums, raspberries and grapes. Although short, the M-119 “Tunnel of Trees” highway is magical. Petoskey is the home base for the 30-mile drive north to Cross Village, and as the name implies, “you’re driving through this little road with a tunnel of trees,” she said. The state is also packed with you-pick apple orchards and markets, including some off M-119 where groups can pick apples, sip cider and eat apple doughnuts. W W W. M ICH IG A N.ORG

WISCONSIN

FALL IN MICHIGAN’S MARQUETTE COUNTY By Matt Schroderus, courtesy Pure Michigan

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The same countryside that churns out Wisconsin’s famous cheese also dishes up impressive fall vistas. Any of Wisconsin’s state parks are a good bet for groups because they offer both plentiful parking and impressive scenery, but Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo is one of the most popular, said Kristina LeVan, public relations coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. There, groups can enjoy “incredible views from atop the quartzite bluffs,” she said. Groups can take hikes through the area or rent canoes and kayaks.

OCTOBER 2017


The Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway follows Lake Superior’s southern shoreline along the Bayfield Peninsula, and the route gives people plenty of reasons to stop. The new Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center in Ashland features a five-story observation tower, a wildlife-viewing platform, a 100-seat theater and exhibits about the lake’s history and heritage. From the scenic town of Bayfield, groups can take a ferry to Madeline Island or book a sightseeing tour with Apostle Island Cruises through mid-October. Along Wisconsin’s stretch of the Great River Road, visitors will find 33 towns and plenty of pull-offs, such as Perrot State Park and Elmaro Vineyard, both in Trempealeau. Chicago’s elite escaped the hot city summers by retreating to Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva region, where their historic mansions still line the shoreline. Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s scenic tours highlight the mansions and the surrounding fall foliage while serving brunch, lunch or dinner onboard. Onshore, groups can fly through fall foliage on a zip-line tour with Lake Geneva Canopy Tours.

Create unforgettable Minnesota memories. Visit the Mississippi River headwaters. Cruise on Lake Superior.Travel the Great River Road or 20 other scenic byways. Experience worldclass dining and theater, concerts, museums, shopping and hands-on attractions.

W W W.T R AV ELW ISCONSI N.COM

ILLINOIS

The Mississippi River runs the length of Illinois, forming its western borders with Iowa and Missouri, and along that stretch is where visitors will find much of the state’s dramatic fall colors and river views. In the far northwest corner of the state, visitors can stand atop Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena and see fall colors in three different states: Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The resort offers several adventurous ways to take in the fall foliage, such as zooming down the mountainside on the Alpine Slide or flying through trees on the Soaring Eagle zip line. The resort’s Mississippi River Cruise is a 1.5-hour tour that ferries passengers on a scenic voyage down the river. In the Quad Cities, people can view fall colors aboard the Celebration Belle riverboat, which docks in Moline. In the quaint river town of Grafton, the Grafton Winery and Brewhaus and Tara Point Inn and Cottages sit on bluffs overlooking the meeting of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Cairo, Illinois, sits at the southernmost tip of the state where Illinois meets Kentucky and Missouri. There, Fort Defiance Park is surrounded on three sides by the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and offers visitors the chance to take in views from the old observation tower. W W W. E NJOY I L L I NOIS .COM

FALL BIKING IN ILLINOIS’ SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST

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Courtesy Illinois Office of Tourism

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D E s r H e t S I n u R o c E n H E C B Y R AC H E L C A RT E R

By Ray Melbaum, courtesy St. Louis Zoo

THE POLAR BEAR HABITAT IS A CENTRAL FEATURE OF THE ST. LOUIS ZOO.

MIDWESTERN ZOOS NURTURE IRREPLACEABLE WILDLIFE

t may not be obvious, but the mission of many zoos is to help people as much as animals: to help people make a connection with the animals, to help visitors understand their behavior and to help guests learn about threats to their conservation and natural habitats. One of the best ways to accomplish those goals is to allow visitors to get close to the animals, sometimes even to feed or touch them, during encounters and other experiences. When a guest makes a personal connection with an animal, “it makes an impression,” said Judy Domaszek, owner and park director of Wildwood Wildlife Park in Minocqua, Wisconsin. Here are some great zoos in America’s heartland where groups can have enhanced experiences with animals.

WILDWOOD WILDLIFE PARK |

MINO C QUA , WIS C ONSIN

The 168-acre Wildwood Wildlife Park is less zoo and more nature preserve, where visitors can meet, greet and even feed many of the animals. In May, the park introduced its new Safari Tram Ride, a narrated 30-minute tram tour that takes groups through all the African hoof stock, such as oryx, kudu, nyala and Thomson’s gazelle among others, that “barely exist in the wild anymore,” Domaszek said. When groups arrive, they enter the animal encounter area where they’re greeted by

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goats, pigs and sheep — and even African tortoises roaming around — and can meet “animal ambassadors,” such as a skunk, a porcupine, a woodchuck, a possum and a kangaroo. The park’s curators talk about each animal, which visitors may have the chance to touch. “We’re able to educate guests and correct myths about the animals, like porcupines don’t shoot quills,” she said. People can feed giraffes carrots and “get a kiss from the giraffe”; and guests can use a feed stick in the parakeet encounter area, where some of the 800 parakeets “land all over you, like Mother Nature,” Domaszek said. Visitors can also buy food for the white-tailed deer that roam throughout the zoo, feeding the deer wherever they encounter them. Twice a day, staff lead programs in the amphitheater, and visitors can explore exhibits in the park’s educational center. W W W.W I LDWOODW I LDL I FEPA R K .COM

OCTOBER 2017


S T. L O UI S Z O O |

ST. LOUIS

The 90-acre St. Louis Zoo is split into six zones, each featuring a different habitat and different wildlife. The Lion Zoo Railroad, which opened in 1963, runs through all the zones, and one ticket allows visitors to hop on and hop off in each zone. They can go to “The Wild” to see polar bears, puffins, orangutans and gorillas and then ride to “River’s Edge” to see hippos, rhinos, elephants, cheetahs and hyenas. Admission to is free, but the zoo charges for some attractions. Groups can get discounts on an all-access Adventure Pass or on tickets to a la carte attractions. With two to three weeks’ notice, the group-tours office will help customize experiences, which can include any of 17 behind-thescenes tours that offer special access and up-close animal experiences. Big Cat Tales takes groups behind the scenes to learn about lions, tigers and leopards, and the Gentle Giants tour gives visitors a chance to feed giraffes. During the one-hour Penguin Encounter, guests meet with two Magellanic penguins and “come nose to nose with a penguin,” said Jennifer Poindexter, director of sales and catering. W W W.ST LZOO.ORG

BROOKFIELD ZOO |

BRO OKFIELD, ILLINOIS

When the Brookfield Zoo opened in 1934 just outside Chicago, its original claim to fame was that it was a barless zoo, modeled after zoos in Europe that were starting “to adopt a different way of handling the connections between the guests and the animals,” said Linda Crouchelli, director of partnership marketing for the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. And the zoo continues to enhance those connections today as it updates its exhibits and experiences. The “Great Bear Wilderness” exhibit opened in 2010 and includes huge windows where guests “can see the follicles on the polar bear,” she said. “You can see the smooth finish on the dolphins.” In 2015, the zoo opened its three-acre “Hamill Family Wild Encounters” exhibit, and “the Group Travel_StCharles _Oct_17.pdf

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whole experience is about giving guests that upclose experience,” said Crouchelli. Visitors can feed, brush and take selfies with Nigerian dwarf goats, walk among emus and watch wallabies hop past. In the aviary, the zoo lets out 300 birds at a time that guests can feed with a feed stick. “The magnificence of having 300 birds flying in unison before your eyes is pretty incredible,” she said. W W W. BROOK FI ELDZOO.ORG

CINCINNATI ZOO |

CINCINNATI

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden regularly lands on lists of the nation’s best zoos, and right now the zoo has an extra special resident bringing in huge crowds: Miss Fiona, the baby hippopotamus that was born in January, six weeks before her due date. “She’s made quite a debut here,” said director of sales Susan McGee. “She’s had a tremendous impact on our visitors and the number of people coming in; it’s amazing.” The zoo strives to offer interactive, up-close wild encounters for all its guests, she said. When visitors walk in the front gate, a volunteer may greet them with a bird or an animal they can touch.

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Courtesy Chicago Zoological Society

GIRAFFES AT CHICAGO’S BROOKFIELD ZOO

The zoo also customizes experiences for groups. One group that comes weekly does a giraffe feeding each visit and uses a special map that highlights high points and helps maximize their time. Zoo staff will also arrange behind-the-scenes tours and VIP experiences that give groups more access or a different perspective. Groups can go down below the giraffe deck to feed them bamboo or get a closer look at the elephants, which take peanuts from visitors’ hands. W W W.CI NCI N NAT IZOO.ORG

INDIANAPOLIS ZOO |

A WALRUS ENCOUNTER AT THE INDIANAPOLIS ZOO Courtesy Indianapolis Zoo

INDIANAP OLIS

The Indianapolis Zoo was the first in the nation to be accredited not only as a zoo, but also as an aquarium and a botanical garden, “and our guests get to experience all that under one admission,” said Carla Knapp, public relations specialist for the zoo. The zoo is also only about a mile from the heart of downtown Indianapolis, and the area is walkable, so visitors can easily get to hotels, restaurants and other attractions when they visit. When a motorcoach arrives, the zoo does a step-on welcome for the group and highlights that day’s programs. The zoo offers animal chats and presentations several times a day that are included with admission; one of the most popular is the 20-minute dolphin presentation. For groups, the zoo can also arrange private versions of its seasonal public programs, such as the dolphin demonstration or a bird presentation. Another popular option is the zoo’s All-Star Dog Challenge, which is a group of canine rescues “that do some really incredible jumps and tricks, and catch Frisbees and do different behaviors,” Knapp said. From there, groups can also add hands-on experiences such as feeding lorikeets or parakeets. W W W. I N DI A NA POL ISZOO.COM

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OCTOBER 2017


When your group tour guide really doesn’t have to say anything.

Gibbs Gardens | Ball Ground, GA

Georgia Tourism invites you to join us on our fantastic Spring FAM to Southeast Georgia’s Plantation Trace. Look for more information about the 2018 FAM in upcoming issues of Group Travel Leader.

Plan an unforgettable vacation for your next group tour. Make it fun, fill it with adventure. Embrace the culture, the taste, nightlife and picture perfect scenery at every turn. Because in Georgia the experiences are endless and they are all Pretty. Sweet. Plan your trip today at ExploreGeorgia.org.

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Group Travel Leader October 2017  

The Group Travel Leader October 2017 features the 2018 Kentucky Group Travel Guide and group trip ideas for Outdoor destinations, Philadelph...

Group Travel Leader October 2017  

The Group Travel Leader October 2017 features the 2018 Kentucky Group Travel Guide and group trip ideas for Outdoor destinations, Philadelph...