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2019 TR AV E L S O UTH TO U R P L A N N E R


“The Angel’s Share” Is Bourbon That Evaporates From The Barrel. When You Visit, Breathe Deep.

BetterInTheBluegrass.com


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BRING FRIENDS

2 0 1 9 T R AV E L S O U T H T O U R P L A N N E R Courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Meet the Tour Operator

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Charming Small Towns

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Courtesy www.ExploreAsheville.com

TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS SHARE THEIR SECRETS TO SELLING THE SOUTH.

DISCOVER THE MAIN STREET VIBE OF THESE SMALLER SOUTHERN DESTINATIONS.

Tastes and Tunes

The Festive South

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Courtesy Venkman’s

Courtesy KY Bourbon Festival

SAVOR THE FLAVORS AND TAP YOUR TOES AT THESE ICONIC SOUTHERN ESTABLISHMENTS.

CELEBRATE WITH SOUTHERNERS AT THESE FESTIVALS AND EVENTS.

The Scenic South

PUBLISHED FOR

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3500 PIEDMONT RD. NE, STE. 210 ATLANTA, GA 30305 404-231-1790 WWW.TRAVELSOUTHUSA.COM

PUBLISHED BY Courtesy Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

TREAT YOUR GROUPS TO THESE GORGEOUS SOUTHERN DESTINATIONS.

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Courtesy Eastern Shore COC

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ON THE COVER: Sara Bradley serves guests at the Freight House in Paducah, Kentucky

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


BOARD of DIRECTORS LEE SENTELL DIRECTOR

JIM DAILEY TOURISM DIRECTOR

KEVIN LANGSTON DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TOURISM DIVISION

ALABAMA TOURISM DEPARTMENT

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND TOURISM

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

W W W . AL AB AMA. T RAVEL

WWW.A R K A N S A S .C O M

WWW.EXPLO R EG EO R GIA.O R G

KRISTEN BRANSCUM COMMISSIONER

DOUG BOURGEOIS ASSISTANT SECRETARY

D. CRAIG RAY DIRECTOR

KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

LOUISIANA OFFICE OF TOURISM

VISIT MISSISSIPPI

W W W . KEN T U CKY TOU RISM. COM

WWW.LO U I S I A N A TR A VEL.C O M

WWW.VI S I TM I S S I S S I PP I.O R G

WARD FRANZ DIRECTOR

WIT TUTTELL DIRECTOR

MARK EZELL COMMISSIONER

MISSOURI DIVISION OF TOURISM

VISIT NORTH CAROLINA

TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TOURIST DEVELOPMENT

W W W . VISITMO. COM

WWW.VI S I TN C .C O M

WWW.TN VA C A TI O N .C O M

DUANE PARRISH DIRECTOR

RITA MCCLENNY PRESIDENT/CEO

CHELSEA RUBY COMMISSIONER

SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS, RECREATION & TOURISM

VIRGINIA TOURISM CORPORATION

WEST VIRGINIA DIVISION OF TOURISM

WWW.VI R G I N I A .O R G

WWW.G O TO WV.C O M

WWW.DISCOVERSOUTHCAROLINA.COM

missouri mule MISSOURI A twist on the traditional mule, the Missouri Mule contains bourbon, applejack, lemon juice, Campari, Cointreau and fresh mint. The drink was created by the head bartender at the A merican Bar in London for Harry Truman, the only president from Missouri; the mule is also Missouri’s state animal.

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E a r t h y a n d o t h e r w o r l d ly. O f t e n at t h e s a m e t i m e .

There are places you see. And others you behold. Blessed with indescribable wonders that stop you in your tracks. Rugged, yet beautiful. Expansive, yet inviting. West Virginia is full of mysteries that pull you in. And memories that will bring you back.

WVtourism.com

Dolly Sods Wilderness


go SOUTH

Courtesy KY Dept. of Tourism

BRING FRIENDS

B R A N S C U M E M B R A C E S C U I S I N E A N D C O O P E R AT I O N B Y MAC L ACY

“W

hy not us?” Kristen Branscum, chairman of Travel South USA and commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Tourism, has a mind-set that doesn’t allow for second guessing. When it comes to promoting her state, she sees no reason why Kentucky cannot shine on America’s brightest stages. “I started in this position in 2016, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that Kentucky’s culinary assets were deserving of national attention — but we weren’t getting it,” said Branscum. “So I invited the producer of ‘Top Chef’ to come to the Kentucky Derby and experience some of it for herself. She came in May of 2017 and then asked us to show them around that October to scout some sites. They announced the following Valentine’s Day they were coming to Kentucky.” In its 2018-2019 season, Bravo’s wildly popular show “Top Chef” is doing 14 episodes. Ten of those will take place in Kentucky at sites in the state’s two largest cities — Louisville and Lexington — and in one of the state’s most popular outdoor areas, Lake Cumberland. “This is the equivalent of a national ad buy hitting a highly qualified demographic, which we could never do otherwise,” Branscum said. “Kentucky fights above its weight in the culinary scene right now, but in a cou-

ple of years, all that changes. We’ve got people around the country on Twitter saying, ‘If “Top Chef” is going there, it must be good!’ So it’s already working.” Branscum didn’t miss a beat when she was asked if the state’s cuisine ever stood alone without its internationally known counterpart, bourbon. “No,” she answered. “They’re synonymous. Our visitors want bourbon in the food or bourbon in their cocktails. It’s like cheesesteak in Philly.” Branscum said visitors come to Kentucky to disconnect. “They may do that in a houseboat or a cabin, or in the city, but they come to Kentucky to find something they can’t throw away,” she said. When asked if Travel South USA’s 12-state voice brings anything to the table for her state, Branscum was equally quick to respond. “At first, I didn’t know why I needed to meet with my competitors,” she said. “But after a couple of meetings, I realized that we’re also part of a travel region, and it all made sense. The South is competing with all the other regions of the country, especially in the international market, so it’s a must. “This organization is the greatest resource a state travel director can access, so we’re lucky to have it. I’m not sure all our respective industry members always realize how fortunate we are to have Travel South.”

KRISTEN BRANSCUM

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the commonwealth KENTUCKY Kentucky has two favorite drinks: bourbon, the holy grail of Bluegrass beverages, and Ale-8-One, a crisp ginger-and-citrus soda. Locals have long mixed the two to create simple cocktails. Now, W hiskey Dry in Louisville is taking the combination to the next level by adding coffee, sorghum syrup and homemade black-pepper tincture for a new cocktail called the Commonwealth.

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Montgomery

Decatur

Huntsville

Tuscaloosa

Muscle Shoals

Mobile

Birmingham

GROUPS LOVE ALABAMA “Alabama offers a great value for a solid destination. That directly converts to great profits for me. Multiple sold-out Mystery Tours have taken my groups to outer space in Huntsville and they’ve experienced the trials and victories of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham and Montgomery.” - Clayton Whitehead, CTP, CITM, Vice President, Sports Leisure Vacations. 9521-H Folsom Boulevard. Sacramento, CA, USA 95827 “Our tour takes participants on a journey through living history in Birmingham, Greensboro, Marion, Selma and Montgomery and teaches one of the most important lessons of the 20th century.” - Steve Cox, International Expeditions, Helena, AL

Contact Rosemary Judkins Sales Manager, Alabama Tourism Department 334.242.4493 rosemary.judkins@tourism.alabama.gov


go SOUTH

BRING FRIENDS

Courtesy AR Dept. of Parks & Tourism

S O M E S O U T H E R N R O A D T R I P S S TA R T FA R T H E R AWAY T H A N O T H E R S

“T

B Y MAC L ACY

here is something about the South that says ‘road trip,’” said Liz Bittner, president and CEO of Travel South USA. “That is a perfect way to approach anyone’s travel interests today, whether they’re from Paris or Pittsburgh. People have a vision of what spending time in the South is like, and the term ‘road trip’ captures that very well.” Bittner, the leader of a 12-state organization that sells its destinations increasingly worldwide, said certain assets are essential to creating that image. “We have to tell great stories to gain new visitors, and we have to illustrate them with great photography,” she said. “Especially in the South; domestic and international visitors want to hear stories about the people they will encounter, and they want to be inspired by great photography. Consumer demand today is the same whether we’re selling to someone in this country or to someone overseas; they want to hear about a slower, more defining local experience.” “Both our Showcase events work because of this mind-set,” said Bittner. “At Domestic Showcase, every state can create a complete travel identity for itself and fill in all the detail for any kind of travel story a tour operator might want to create. We make it very easy to envision a new itinerary and

meet the people needed to make it happen. “At our International Showcase, we’re working with international delegates who need more geographical references, so we use pods of several destinations that serve the same region of any given state. It helps them to connect the dots and see how their travelers could use one storyline to connect a region in Kentucky with a region in Tennessee, for example.” Bittner said the increasing number of international flights into the South, like British Airways’ daily flights to Nashville and New Orleans, and the airline’s new service coming next spring to Charleston, South Carolina, serve both markets. “Most people don’t realize that new international flights can affect domestic fares,” she said. “The airlines are very competitive, and new flights can lower fares no matter where those flights are coming from.” As for the upcoming Domestic Showcase in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Bittner said the timing could not be better. “The Carolinas were hit with storms this year that the media widely reported on, but the media doesn’t come back when the storms are over. It’s great that we can go into Myrtle Beach with 600 to 700 influential delegates and have them return home to tell the story of how those areas are vibrant and healthy after those events.”

LI Z B I T T N E R

WWW.TRAVELSOUTHUSA.COM 10


find the rhythm of the river Float through history in harmony with the sounds of the South.

Image by Geoff L. Johnson

Augusta Canal National Heritage Area Augusta Once a major engine of the Industrial Revolution in the South, the Augusta Canal now draws visitors and locals alike to its miles of trails and gentle waters. Groups can hike, bike, canoe, dive in to history, or even enjoy a sunset cruise with live music.

ExploreGeorgia.org


CONSIDER

the

SOURCE TOUR OPERATORS SHARE WHAT THEY LOVE ABOUT THE SOUTH

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BY BRIAN J EWELL

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roups travel from all over the United States and many foreign countries to experience the history, culture and hospitality of the South. Helping them along the way are the many tour companies that package Southern destinations and help facilitate memorable, authentic travel experiences. We talked to five tour operators that are active in the region to find out where they’re going, what kinds of activities their travelers are looking for and what it is about the South that resonates so much with travelers from faraway places. Here’s what they had to say.

WITH BEAUTIFUL COASTAL SCENERY AND A DYNAMIC ENTERTAINM ENT SCENE, MYRTLE BEACH IS A PERENNIAL FAVORITE DESTINATION AMONG TOUR OPERATORS.

Courtesy Myrtle Beach Area CVB

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Let’s Go Travelin’

BRING FRIENDS

JUDY JOHNSON, OWNER

B

ased in Hermitage, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, Let’s Go Travelin’ is an inbound and outbound tour operator that specializes in indepth experiences throughout the South. The company is also a member of Travel Alliance Partners. Tell us about your company and the kinds of trips you do. We have a really strong music background. I’ve always been involved in music, and I worked in the entertainment industry for years, so with my groups in the South, I do a lot of Southern music. We do a lot of unique tours that delve into the history and culture of the music. In Nashville, we go into drum and percussion stores and into guitar stores to talk with those knowledgeable people. We also go to a recording studio to be part of a recording with a new upand-coming artist. You get to listen to them perform and see what the engineers are doing. We want people to feel like they’re part of it, to understand what makes the people who they are. What other Southern destinations are popular with your travelers? We do a lot of music tours along the entire American Music Triangle. It reaches all the way from Bristol in east Tennessee, through Nashville, to Muscle Shoals, Tupelo, over to Memphis, down

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to the Mississippi Delta and into Cajun country. A lot of that area is untapped in the tour market. A lot of people drive through the Mississippi Delta, but they don’t get to know the Delta. But there’s so much rich music heritage there that we love to share with them. We also get into the Old South, with Atlanta, Savannah and Charleston. Macon has a beautiful cherry blossom festival that will equal anything in Washington, D.C. What is it about these destinations that is resonating so much with your travelers from other parts of the U.S. and from international destinations? The area is just gorgeous, so they come for that. They come for the music. And then they come back because there are new avenues they haven’t explored before. People have been to Memphis, Nashville and Pigeon Forge, but we’re trying to show them everything that’s in between. We’re really working to get our domestic travelers to understand the history of blues and jazz that came out of the Deep South. We want them to look at states like Mississippi that might be considered poor economically and see that it is one of the richest states in the country in terms of music history. If we can help share that message with them, it gives a whole new view to an area of the country that has been an underdog.

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I NSI DE A NAS HVI LLE R ECOR DI NG STU DIO Courtesy NCVC

ADVENTU R E I N AS H E VI LLE

NORTHERN KENTUCKY

THIS PLACE IS NEWPORTAQUARIUM.COM WUNDERB

HOFBRÄUHAUS NEWPORT BREWERY & RESTAURANT

OF

Courtesy Answers in Genesis

“THE” ATTRACTIONS

TH E ARK ENCOU NTER I N NORTH ER N KENTUCKY

BBRIVERBOATS.COM

HOFBRAUHAUSNEWPORT.COM

A FULL DAY OF FUN! CLOSE TO THE ARK, CREATION MUSEUM, & MANY OTHER CINCINNATI & NORTHERN KENTUCKY DESTINATIONS

Courtesy www.ExploreAsheville.com

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Friends and Neighbors Tours

PATRICIA MILLS, OWNER

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ased in Galena, Missouri, Friends and Neighbors Tours has been in business since 1996. The company services preformed travel groups, many from Canada and Michigan. Where in the South are your groups going these days? There’s a lot of stuff in Kentucky that my groups like to go do. We do the horse farms and the Corvette museum. They like entertainment, so they like Nashville and Pigeon Forge as well. We also do the Biltmore in Asheville. A lot of them are wanting to do fall foliage in the Southern states. Instead of doing the New England states, a lot of them want to spend fall in the South. Also, instead of going to D.C. for the cherry blossoms, we can go to Georgia and see them in Macon. It’s not as crowded, and I get great rates on hotels. It’s a different experience for the travelers, and I can include other things from the Southern states.

AS H E VI LLE ’S BI LTMOR E ESTATE

What sorts of experiences are they looking for when they travel with you? Entertainment is the highlight. Also, when they’re in an area, like in the Appalachian area, they want to see

Courtesy www.ExploreAsheville.com

hello

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Huntsville,AL 4

Huntsville, Alabama | huntsville.org

Get ready for your adventure in the Rocket City!

Marvel at more than 800 illuminated Chinese lanterns at the Huntsville Botanical Garden Shop the nation's largest privately owned arts facility at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment and stay for a concert

3

Hear stories of spies, lies & ghosts while touring Historic Districts, Historic Huntsville Depot, and The Weeden House

2

Commemorate Alabama's Bicentennial at Alabama Constitution Hall Park

1

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing and future human space exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center ...and more!

Pam Williams

Tourism Sales Manager

256.551.2204 pam@huntsville.org

HuntsvilleCVB

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@Go2HuntsvilleAL

VisitHuntsvilleAL #iHeartHsv

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the mobilian ALABAMA W hat could be better than a drink named af ter the city that started Mardi Gras? From the John Emerald Distilling Company in Opelika comes the Mobilian, a drink made with the company’s special corn-based vodka, along w ith lavender simple sy rup, lemonade and muddled blackberries. This refreshing drink will have you celebrating Mobile’s Mardi Gras all year long.

the culture. They want to see the crafts. It brings them back to when they were younger because it’s similar to what a lot of them grew up doing. So they love arts and crafts, and a lot of them buy those things to bring back. What aspects of Southern culture are so attractive to visitors from outside the region? It’s the hospitality — the kindness of the people and their friendliness. I have people from New Jersey,

and at first, they’re kind of taken aback by it. It shocks them that we’re so friendly with each other. Do their attitudes about the South change over the course of their travels? Absolutely. I see it through the repeat customers. If I do a similar trip back to the same area, I notice that all the names on my rooming list are familiar. The people are coming back because they enjoyed the previous tour.

PLAY AND GET AWAY ON THE

NORTHSHORE

Visit St. Tammany Parish and bring your appetite for great Louisiana cooking, and for living. Come paddle the bayou, pedal the Tammany Trace, tour Honey Island Swamp, do the Dew Drop, toast the town at Abita Brewery or Pontchartrain Vineyards, and indulge your sweet tooth at The Candy Bank.

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 N o r t h s h o r e . c o m /g r o u p s WWW. T R A V E L S O U T HU S A . CO M

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Breakaway Tours

CHARLENE TROGGIO, OWNER

B

ased in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, Breakaway Tours has been in business for 27 years. The company runs about 200 departures annually, focusing primarily on destinations in the eastern part of the United States. Where are you taking people in the South? Every year we go to Myrtle Beach. Every year we go to Virginia Beach. We try to do at least one or two trips to Savannah and New Orleans. We do Asheville and the Biltmore. We do Pigeon Forge, and we sometimes do the West Virginia trains. We do a bunch of Northern Kentucky for the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. We also do Louisville from time to time. We love Louisville — it’s a great city. And we’re in Tennessee all the time: Nashville, Memphis and Pigeon Forge, and we just started doing some of Franklin.

PLEI N AI R ART I N A SAVAN NAH SQ UAR E Courtesy Visit Savannah

What aspects of the South resonate with your travelers? Looking out the window today, I would say weather. But it’s also the charm of the South. Life is different in the South: the hospitality, the lifestyle and the beautiful attractions. It’s a beautiful country no matter where you go, but the South is particularly beautiful. Are you noticing any trends in demand for specific destinations? Nashville is selling itself right now. Savannah started picking up for us after we added the Paula Deen restaurant there. And our beach trips are doing really well. We do trips to places like Myrtle Beach in shoulder season. We take them down there, drop them off, and then we don’t see them again until it’s time to leave. They have the free time to do whatever they want to do, and it’s a fantastic deal. How do these trips affect your customers’ perceptions of the South? I think they know what they’re going to see, and usually their expectations are borne out. There’s a lot of word of mouth about the South. They’ve heard from a lot of other travelers that this or that is great.

318 Howard St reet • Greenwood, Mississippi 662.453.2114 • thealluvian.com

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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.


Best of Nashville Tours and Beyond

TAMMY BEENE, PRESIDENT

T

ammy Beene’s mother-in-law started Opryland Tours in Nashville in the late 1970s. In 2009, Beene stepped into the business, now called Best of Nashville Tours and Beyond. Today the company operates tours to dozens of cities in the United States. Where are your groups going? In 2018, we did 30 tours. We’ve done a lot in Memphis due to the new Guest House at Graceland. That’s been a big selling point for us. We’ve done a lot in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and definitely a lot in New Orleans and Louisiana. What kinds of activities are you including in your itineraries? We add as much local stuff as we can. We go to some tourist places, but we also try to get people involved in the cities and small towns. We like to give them a look at what the locals eat or do. People seem to like that.

N EW OR LEANS’ FR ENCH Q UARTER FESTIVAL By Zack Smith, courtesy French Quarter Festival

How are you delivering fresh experiences in familiar destinations? Depending on where we go, we try to put festivals into the itinerary so the customers are doing the same things the locals are doing. There’s not much extra expense in that. And they’re also wanting to do more food tours. Lately, my groups are starting to become really good foodies. So I’m incorporating more food tours in 2019.

Welcome Home Celebration

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What elements of the South are resonating with your customers? I have people come from as far away as Minnesota. They want to experience the grits, biscuits and gravy. And they love the word “y’all.” By the end of the tour, I’ve got everyone saying y’all, even the Minnesotans. People come because they want to experience our culture. They want what they have seen on TV and what the state tourism offices are promoting up north. And the No. 1 thing that I always get, even on the first day of the tour, is ““Y’all are all so nice and friendly here.” And we’re taking a leadership role in making that happen.”

P L A N N E R


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new cherry bounce NORTH CAROLINA The New Cherry Bounce has its roots in a brandy drink served to members of the North Carolina General Assembly in 1792. Today, a bar in Raleigh called Deep South serves an updated version of the drink that features a mixture of cherry vodka, cranberry juice and fresh lime juice served over ice and topped off with club soda.

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Colonial Trailways

O LE SMOKY DISTI LLERY I N PIG EON FORG E

RON PARKS, TOUR MANAGER

W

ith offices in Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama, Colonial Trailways is a charter transportation company that owns 56 motorcoaches. In addition to their charter business, they run 25 to 30 of their own tours each year, focusing primarily on the Southern states.

Courtesy Pigeon Forge Dept. of Tourism

What Southern destinations do you visit? We do a lot of Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. In Tennessee, we go to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. In Kentucky, the Ark is a very popular thing. In Louisiana, we do a lot of Cajun tours and New Orleans. We do a lot in Georgia, quite a few places. Most of it is in Atlanta or around Atlanta. A lot of people want to go to the College Football Hall of Fame over there. And we do a lot of Branson, too. What sorts of Southern travel experiences are your customers looking for? When we put the trip together, we ask people what they want to do. In Tennessee, they do a lot of shows in the theaters there. We also go to a lot of theaters when we’re in Branson. We sometimes take people skiing in Gatlinburg in the wintertime because they can make snow there. And people like to do tours of the mountains, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. Are you seeing any trends in consumer demand for Southern destinations? It varies from year to year. One year everybody wants to go to Branson; the next they want to go to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We have some groups that have traveled with us for years, and every year they go somewhere different.

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Your passengers can take a tour and a sip at the legendary Anheuser-Busch Brewery and find out why St. Louis was named “The Best Beer Scene” by USA Today. Or they can cheer on the 11-time World Champion Cardinals at Busch Stadium or Ballpark Village. And no trip is complete until they’ve experienced the city’s thriving live music scene or learned about its history at the National Blues Museum. It‘s the Midwest at its finest. Discover more reasons to tour here at explorestlouis.com.


NOW we’re

COOKING THESE SOUTHERN HOTSPOTS MARRY MUSIC AND FOOD

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BY SAVAN NAH OS BOU R N

T

he South is full of signature flavors and lively music, and groups traveling throughout the region can find places to experience the best of both. At these unique venues, food and music go hand in hand, accompanied by colorful characters and fascinating histories, to deliver unforgettable Southern travel experiences.

COM BI NI NG SOUTH ER N CLASSIC FOO D AN D EXCITI NG M USICAL PERFORMANCES, VENKMAN ’S HAS B ECOM E AN ATLANTA HOTS POT.

By John Boydston, courtesy Venkman’s

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Rattlesnake Saloon

BRING FRIENDS

TUSCUMBIA, ALABAMA

B

ased in northeast Alabama at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the Rattlesnake Saloon is a spectacular Western-themed dining and music venue built under the shelter of a spacious rock cavern. This establishment traces its roots to 1916, when a farmer named Owen Foster purchased the first tract of a 6,000-acre property for 25 cents an acre. During the farm’s early years, Foster used the rock cave shelter that later became the Rattlesnake Saloon as a hog pen. The 33-foot hole that now runs all the power cables to the saloon was originally drilled through the rock to funnel feed to the hogs without having to climb around the steep bluff. Foster later opened the Seven Springs Lodge and began hosting tourist activities such as trail riding, ATV and motorcycle events and chuck wagon races. Together with the help of his sons, Foster initiated plans to transform the old hog pen into a true Wild West watering hole: a saloon and restaurant nestled under the natural shelter of the rock. During the construction phase, a rattlesnake nest was uncovered nearby, inspiring the Foster family to dub their new venue the Rattlesnake Saloon. Since the saloon’s grand opening in 2009, guests from all 50 states and at least 30 countries have found their way to this remarkable restaurant in the rock. True to its title, the Rattlesnake Saloon showcases a traditional Western aesthetic with swinging bat-wing doors, a wood-paneled facade and hitching posts for horses. Open Thursday to Saturday, with limited hours on Sunday, the restaurant caters to lunch and dinner crowds with country fare such as fried apple fritters, black angus burgers, crispy golden onion rings and fried

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dill pickles. Guests can take advantage of more than 30 tables and chairs throughout the open-air portion of the shelter, with additional seating available inside the saloon. During the evening hours, tables fill fast as local rock and country bands fill the cavern with music. WWW.RATTLESNAKESALOON.NET

Floyd Country Store FLOYD, VIRGINIA

F

or over a century, the Floyd Country Store has played a central role in the culture and community of Floyd, Virginia. During the early 1980s, local musicians began hanging out around the general store to play music together, sometimes drawing crowds to listen. The informal gathering became known as the Friday Night Jamboree and has continued to take place on Fridays ever since. Today, the classic event has become more formal, featuring a gospel group from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and two dance bands from 7:30 to 10:30. What’s more, the Floyd Country Store has garnered international acclaim as music lovers travel from all over the world to hear the timeless music of Appalachia in its purest form. “I think it epitomizes a simplicity and a celebration of life, and a lot of people come to Floyd to see that exercised in a really beautiful way,” said owner Dylan Locke. “We see everyone from 2-year-olds to 90-year-olds on the dance floor, from old-timers to newcomers. It’s got this beautiful cross section of generations.”

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Discover CARTERSVILLE & BARTOW COUNTY

a re a l Ge o rg i a ge m

between Atlanta, GA & Chaaanooga, TN

ALABAMA’S RATTLES NAKE SALOON

BOOTH WESTERN ART MUSEUM

A DAYTI M E S HOW AT RATTLESNAKE SALOON

TELLUS SCIENCE MUSEUM

TOLL FREE 800.733.2280 VISITCARTERSVILLEGA.ORG Photos by Chris Ganger, courtesy AL Tourism Dept.

WWW. T R A V E L S O U T HU S A . CO M

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When Locke and his wife, Heather Krantz, took over the business in 2014, the couple worked hard to revitalize the cafe, retail shop and live music shows. They expanded the store’s range of entertainment, adding Saturday night dances and concerts, film screenings, community workshops and more. They also reworked the menu, placing a renewed emphasis on fresh, Southern-inspired cuisine.

“It’s incredibly healthy food, all made from scratch and locally sourced, while still connected to the cuisine of Appalachia,” said Locke. Patrons can savor these heritage-rich recipes through menu items like East Carolina-style pulled smoked pork barbecue, or chicken Brunswick stew and pinto beans with onions and skillet-baked cornbread. WWW.FLOYDCOUNTRYSTORE.COM

PECAN PI E AT FLOYD COU NTRY STOR E

FLOYD COU NTRY STOR E Courtesy Floyd Country Store

Courtesy Floyd Country Store

Harrodsburg brings together group experiences that are both unique and memorable. It’s no wonder its been honored with accolades including:

· Named one of Smithsonian Magazine’s “20 Best Small Towns to Visit”

· Named one of BBC NEWS Magazine’s “Five Hidden US Travel Destinations”

Group-friendly activities & adventures with over 300 affordable rooms just minutes SW of Lexington

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Larry B’s Rhythm Room VAN BUREN, ARKANSAS

W

hen Larry and Hazel Bedell first moved to Van Buren, Arkansas, they knew they wanted to start their own business. After a building opened up for rent in Van Buren’s historic downtown area, the couple joined forces

The Outer Banks

®

OF NORTH CAROLINA

America’s First Beach

DESS ERT AT LAR RY B’S R HYTH M ROOM Courtesy Larry B’s Rhythm Room

with experienced local chef James Thomas to open an upscale dinner club where guests could enjoy fine dining, great service and nightly live music. Their shared dream came to fruition with the grand opening of Larry B’s Rhythm Room in March 2018, and it was not long before locals and travelers alike began pouring through the doors. “We get such big parties every night, we have to rearrange tables — I’m talking about groups of 20 to 30 people,” said Hazel Bedell. “People just love it. They always say they’re glad to have somewhere to go and enjoy gourmet food.” Open from Tuesday to Saturday each week, the restaurant specializes in soul food with a twist, showcasing classic Southern cuisine such as shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes and black-andblue burgers. The most famous item on the menu is Hazel Bedell’s specialty: chicken and waffles with rum butter and rum syrup. “We get a lot of people that come and keep coming back because they want to try everything on the menu,” said Bedell. The entertainment brings something new to the table each night as well, whether it is Jazz Night, Ladies Night, Oldies but Goldies or Date Night. Larry Bedell, a seasoned performer of over 50 years, often leads the performances himself on Fridays and Saturdays. WWW.LARRYBRHYTHMROOM.COM

The Outer Banks is a special area. This barrier island chain was where the English first attempted to colonize in the New World. It also plays host to lighthouses, tales of pirates, and the inspiring stories of heroes. Tour the remodeled Visitors Center at Wright Brothers National Memorial. Ride along our country’s first National Seashore at Cape Hatteras, and follow in the footsteps of the first English settlers at Fort Raleigh National Historic site. Contact us for your group’s next adventure. Call Lorrie Love at 877-629-4386, or email love@outerbanks.org

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Local Outer Banks Cuisine

AmericasFirstBeach.com/Planners Courtesy Myrtle Beach Family Golf

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charboneau distillery’s rum milk punch MISSISSIPPI In Natchez, Mississippi, Charboneau Distillery produces one of the most popular domestic rums in the country. The distillery’s on-site restaurant, King’s Tavern, features mixology classes where visitors can learn to make the decadent Rum Milk Punch. This wintertime drink features white rum, milk, vanilla extract and simple syrup, along with a dusting of nutmeg and chocolate.

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ATLANTA

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enkman’s has quickly become one of the most popular dining establishments in Atlanta since its opening in 2015. Based in the heart of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, the chic restaurant and music club was founded by two musicians, Nicholas Niespodziani and Peter Olson of the band Yacht Rock Revue, who sought to create a high-end venue where people could enjoy quality food and music in one location. “As we were touring all over the country, we saw a lot of cool venues starting to combine good food and good music,” said Niespodziani. “A lot of places, you have to choose one or the other, and we thought — hey, By Emily Butler, courtesy Venkman's Courtesy Venkman's there’s no reason you can’t have both.” Part of the restaurant’s success is tied to the wide appeal of its entertainment lineup, which ranges from jazz concerts to ’60s tribute shows and classic rock bands. Parents are also welcome to bring their kids for some of the children’s programming, with past shows such as “Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers” and “The New Adventures of Brer Rabbit,” a 40-minute musical puppet show. GET THE MOST FOR YOUR GROUP “It was kind of a crazy idea, but we’ve found a lot of niches that are really cool For more information on incentives for you and your group or to and provided a place for people to gather book your group, call toll free 1-877-778-8138 that really wasn’t there before,” said Nieemail: bwebb@harrahs.com or scrowe@harrahs.com spodziani. In the spirit of fostering community, the menu features a number of sharable items, such as hot pretzel bites, pimento grit fritters and pommes frites with pickle sauce. Other options include bourbon cured salmon Benedict, chicken and grits, CHEROKEE, NC hot pastrami and grilled cheese with toMURPHY, NC mato soup.

T W O WAY S

T0 WIN

WWW.VENKMANS.COM

Must be 21 or older to enter casino floor and to gamble, and must present a valid state or federal photo ID upon request. Know When To Stop Before You Start.® Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700. An Enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. ©2019, Caesars License Company, LLC.

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300 YEARS OF STORIES

For more than 300 years, New Orleans has been inspiring stories. Our Spanish, French, African and Caribbean influences create a cultural gumbo of distinctive architecture, cool Jazz and celebrated cuisine that only New Orleans knows how to dish out. From second line parades to centuries old streetcars, this timeless city offers something amazing around every cobblestone corner.

NEWORLEANS.COM

Start creating your New Orleans story today!


Puckett’s of Leiper’s Fork LEIPER’S FORK, TENNESSEE

O DELICIOUS FOO D AN D TEN N ESS EE M USIC AT PUCKETT’S GROCERY AN D R ESTAU RANT

Photos courtesy Puckett’s Grocery

riginally founded by the Puckett family during the 1950s, Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant of Leiper’s Fork has been a staple of the Leiper’s Fork community for more than 60 years, attracting a diverse clientele of tourists, farmers and musicians. Though it primarily functioned as a grocery store under the ownership of the Pucketts, later proprietors expanded the shop into a full-scale dining and live music venue. Today, other Puckett locations can be found in downtown Franklin, Nashville, Columbia and Chattanooga. Still serving the Leiper’s Fork community with “real food, real people and real atmosphere,” the original Puckett’s property continues to attract loyal patrons with fresh, home-style cooking and weekly live music. During the week, guests can enjoy open-mic nights and performances from traditional folk bands. A lineup of gospel artists performs on Sundays. Over the years, Puckett’s has won various Sizzle Awards, including Best Catering, Best Meat ‘n’ Three, Best Value, Best Live Entertainment, Best Burger, Best Breakfast, Favorite Retail Merchant and Best Business Lunch. Guests will want to sample a little bit of everything from the restaurant’s award-winning menu, which includes mouthwatering Southern cuisine like buttermilk biscuits, sweet potato fries, fried catfish, pulled pork sandwiches and cherry-smoked ribs. WWW.PUCKETTSOFLEIPERSFORK.COM

Blue Moon Saloon and Guest House LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA

A

fter traveling abroad for several years during the late 1990s, Mark Falgout decided to purchase an 18th-century Arcadian house in Lafayette, Louisiana, and convert the property into a hostel-style guesthouse.

B LU E MOON SALOON Courtesy Blue Moon Saloon

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moDeRn SPiRit. Southern Soul.

Recipe for a G

ood Time in

Roswell, GAions ingredients &

Just north of Atlanta, 200 independent restaurants, craft breweries, history, nature, art and culture combine for an experience that is Uniquely Roswell.

direct

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“When I decided to come back, I thought, if I can’t be traveling, then I would like to be around folks who are,” said Falgout. “I asked myself, if I showed up in a new town, where would I like to stay? I knew I’d look for a place with a friendly staff, someplace centrally located where I could meet fellow travelers as well as locals.” The Blue Moon Saloon and Guest House officially opened its doors in 2001 and has since become one of the top Cajun music venues in the state. The guesthouse has six rooms: four private rooms and two dorm-style rooms with bunk beds. Next door, the Blue Moon Bungalow offers the most spacious accommodations, with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a full-service kitchen. When guests check in to the Blue Moon Saloon, they receive a free-cocktail ticket and admission to all the live shows, which take place nearly every night of the week. One of the most popular events is the weekly Cajun Jam on Wednesday. “If you want to come down to the mecca of Cajun and Creole music in Lafayette, then Blue Moon is the place,” said Falgout. WWW.BLUEMOONPRESENTS.COM

For more information call 800-776-7935 or visit us at www.visitroswellga.com.

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the sazerac LOUISIANA Considered A merica’s f irst cocktail, the Sazerac was created in New Orleans in 1838 by a French Quarter bartender. The classic recipe includes r ye whiskey or cognac, along with absinthe, bitters and a single sugar cube. This spring, a new cocktail and liquor museum called the Sazerac House will open in New Orleans.

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KENTUCKY ARTISAN CENTER OPEN DAILY 9 - 6 SHOP ● DINE ● EXPLORE www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov

BEREA EXIT 77 859-985-5448 The Kentucky Artisan Center is an agency in the Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

BUSES WELCOME!

“The Greatest “ by Augustin Zarate; “Noble Series” by Brook Forrest White Jr; “American Kestrel” by Jim Sams; Willow bark basket by Jennifer Zurick; “Art Pin” by Mark Needham; Glass by Stephen Rolfe Powell


Take Your Tour

Over the Top

Missouri’s most iconic attraction has reached new heights.

Renovations to the Gateway Arch – including an updated museum, new parks and trails, and more – have transformed the Arch into a completely different experience. But that’s just part of what’s exciting and new in the Show-Me State. Let us show you what else makes Missouri a top stop for your group tours.

Contact Donna Cordle Gray at DonnaCordle@legacydimensions.com for group info.


DINNER AND A SHOW

Amazing music, memorable meals and sweet treats make Missouri a top entertainment spot.

F

rom blues to jazz, bluegrass to country, classical to rock ... the Show-Me State has the music in her – and the venues are as varied as the tunes. Add dinner or a delectable dessert (or both) for an experience you won’t forget. Some of the biggest names in the business perform at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in St. Louis ... names like Jason Aldean, Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, Ozzie Ozbourne, and Miranda Lambert. Don’t pass on the chance to take in a concert or Broadway show at the opulent Fabulous Fox while you’re in town. Whatever venue you choose, treat yourself after the show to that delicious local invention: gooey butter cake. Park Avenue Coffee’s version comes highly recommended. Fall in love with music – especially classical performances and Broadway productions – all over again amid the amazing acoustics and extraordinary architecture of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. And while you’re there, be sure to sample some of the best barbecue in the country. More than 100 restaurants – including Jack Stack Barbecue, Gates Bar-B-Q and Char Bar Smoked Meats and Amusements – serve up a variety of meat smoked to perfection. Relax with a glass of wine and a great concert overlooking 40 acres of grapevines at Shawnee Bluff Vineyard near Eldon. In 2019, the beautiful outdoor venue plays host to such entertainers as the Marshall Tucker Band and Diamond Rio. Nearby, the Shawnee Bluff Winery offers wine and brick oven pizza overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks. The Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts in Springfield offers an array of entertainment year-round, with a 2019 schedule that includes gospel singer CeCe Winans and the best musicals from Broadway. When you’re in the neighborhood, visit Leong’s Asian Diner for Springfield’s signature dish – cashew chicken, invented by chef David Leong. Branson has long been known for its country music shows, but you’ll also find gospel, classic rock, bluegrass and more. The music continues at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner, a 1950s-style restaurant where singing servers (many are professional singers and songwriters) deliver deluxe burgers and blue-plate specials topped off with ice cream specialties.

It’s well worth the effort to plan a musical Missouri tour to coincide with the fall Roots N Blues N Barbecue Festival in Columbia. It’s three days of mouthwatering barbecue (and check out the food truck choices) and amazing performances by an impressive lineup of artists that in the past has included the Avett Brothers, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal and Los Lobos. If bluegrass is your heart’s desire, every May and October, Arcadia Valley hosts the free Mountain Music Festival featuring bluegrass, old-time mountain and Americana music. The event is located 80 miles southwest of St. Louis in the Ozark mountains, home to some of Missouri’s most exquisite and popular state parks. To make the experience even sweeter – plan a stop at Thee Abbey Kitchen Restaurant, Bakery and Creamery in Arcadia for made-fromscratch treats and fresh-from-the-farm soups, salads and sandwiches. They say variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to food and music, Missouri knows how to spice up your trip to the Show-Me State.


THE PERFECT STAGE FOR GROUPS TO

PLAY TOGETHER MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

See for yourself why Branson, MO should be your next group travel destination. Learn more about Branson’s 11th Annual Professional Travel Planner FAM Tour | April 9-12, 2019 Contact Lenni Neimeyer, CTIS, CSTP at lneimeyer@bransoncvb.com.

ExploreBransonGroups.com 417-243-2105

April 26-27 Sept 18-19, 25-26 Oct 2-3,9-10, 16-17, 23-24 Nov 1-2, 6-7, 13-14, 20-21

Oct 18 • Nov 8 • 8pm

Oct 26 at 8pm

Nov 5 & 12 at 8pm

Oct 11 at 8pm Nov 1-2,6-7,20-21 at 3pm

Visit TheMansionTheatre.com or call 417-335-2000

Nov 22-23 at 8pm

Branson MO


so close you can feel it Feel the vibe and proximity of Kansas City. Feel the roots of history and the legacy this area holds. Feel the hospitality of a hometown, even if it’s not your own.

VISITINDEPENDENCE.COM | 816.325.7816 | #SOCLOSE

MISSOURI

DO TIME IN

JEFFERSON CITY History and Ghost Tours Available | www.MissouriPenTours.com 866-998-6998

/missouripentours

/missouripentours


SPEND A

day OUTDOORS

SOUTHERN LANDSCAPES LAST A LIFETIME

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BY SAVAN NAH OS BOU R N

B

eyond the hustle and bustle of big-city destinations, travelers can experience the South through some of its most distinctive natural treasures, from breathtaking mountain vistas to lush swampland and towering rock formations. These serene retreats offer opportunities to encounter wildlife, see natural landmarks and discover wonderful hidden gems in the surrounding communities. Next time you plan a trip through the scenic South, be sure to check out the following natural wonders.

LAKE FAUSS E POI NTE STATE PARK IS ON E OF N UM EROUS SCENIC WETLAN D AR EAS I N LOUISIANA .

Courtesy Louisiana Office of Tourism

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Natural Bridge State Resort Park

BRING FRIENDS

SLADE, KENTUCKY

S

ince 1889, millions of visitors from around the country have traveled to eastern Kentucky to witness the splendor of Natural Bridge, a natural sandstone arch that is 78 feet long and 65 feet high. This geological marvel offers a spectacular view of the Daniel Boone National Forest, especially during the fall when the treetops transform into a colorful array of red, gold and orange. Groups can take full advantage of the 2,400-acre park from Hemlock Lodge, a cozy mountain lodge with a full-service restaurant and 35 rooms with private balconies. On Saturdays from May through October, the park hosts community dances on Hoedown Island, a small event site next to the lodge’s outdoor pool and four-acre pond. During the dances, a local squaredance caller leads guests through traditional folk dances such as Appalachian square dancing, line-dancing, the two-step, the polka and the waltz. To reach Natural Bridge from Hemlock Lodge, groups can follow a three-quarter-mile trail of moderate difficulty that climbs over 400 feet through a beautiful canopy of hemlocks, tulip trees, white pines and thickets of rhododendron. The trail ends just below the arch, where hikers can access the top through a natural fracture in the rock. Visitors can also ride to the summit on a sky lift, which begins a half-mile from the park entrance and stops within 600 feet of the arch. The sky lift is open daily from the first weekend in April through the last weekend of October.

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In addition to its namesake attraction, Natural Bridge State Resort Park offers a number of excellent opportunities for camping, canoeing, hiking, fishing and birding. The park encompasses more than 18 miles of hiking trails, with many more trails available in the nearby Red River Gorge Geological Area. Mill Creek Lake, a tranquil 40-acre lake surrounded by forest and sandstone cliffs, is a popular site for boating, as well as fishing for bass, bream, catfish, crappie and rainbow trout. WWW.PARKS.KY.GOV

Yadkin Valley Scenic Byway NORTH CAROLINA

O

ver the past two decades, the Yadkin Valley has steadily grown into North Carolina’s first and largest wine region. Once a major tobaccogrowing region, it is now home to nearly 45 wineries, as well as a professional viticulture and enology program at Surry Community College. Travelers can enjoy all the sights and scenery this thriving viticultural area has to offer along the Yadkin Valley Scenic Byway, which extends 65 miles across Yadkin and Surry counties. Some of the highlights along the route include the Yadkin River; the Brushy Mountains, an isolated spur of the Blue Ridge Mountains; and Pilot Mountain, a 2,400-foot-high granite monadnock that looms over North Carolina’s rolling hills. “Driving through it gives you this feeling of seren-

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NATU RAL BRI DG E STATE PARK I N KENTUCKY Courtesy KY Dept. of Parks

A YADKI N VALLEY WI N ERY Courtesy Visit NC

A CASCADE I N NORTH CARO LI NA’S YADKI N VALLEY By Sam Dean, courtesy Visit NC

WEST VIRGINIA'S GROUP TOUR DESTINATION!

WEST VIRGINIA. BY RAIL. Plan your 2019 groups now and save money! Two day packages beginning at under $200/person! All inclusive.

CALL: 304.636.9477 EXT. 117 MTN-RAIL.COM

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AMERICAN HISTORY

GUM BO FESTIVAL AT ATCHAFALAYA NATIONAL H ERITAG E AR EA

MISSISSIPPI MUSIC

SOUTHERN CHARM

A WOO DCRAFT DEMONSTRATION AT ATCHAFALAYA

ity,” said Suzanne Brown, media relations specialist at Visit North Carolina. “You’re surrounded by mountains, woodland foothills and farmland. In some ways, the experience makes me think of drinking wine; you take it in slowly and appreciate all the different nuances.” Every winery has an interesting story to tell, and visitors will discover a deeper sense of place and community as they visit some of the region’s family-owned vineyards. Known as “Chianti in the Carolinas,” Raffaldini Vineyards is a Tuscanstyle villa and vineyard that specializes in Italian wine-grape varietals. Groups can arrange special events or behind-the-scenes tours of this picturesque property, which features a sweeping view of the Brushy Mountains. Travelers can also pay a visit to Shelton Vineyards, one of the valley’s oldest and largest vineyards, to enjoy an excellent wine selection and on-site restaurant. The charming “Trail Town” of Elkin is another hidden gem along the byway, marking the confluence of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Yadkin River Trail. In Hamptonville, groups can stop by Shiloh General Store to browse a wonderful selection of fresh baked breads, creamery products, deli sandwiches and preserves made by the local Amish community. WWW.VISITNC.COM

the crop duster ARKANSAS

For planning assistance contact,

Ashley Gatian, Sales Manager

800-221-3536 • ashley@visitvicksburg.com

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W E A R E S O C I A L \VisitVicksburg

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Scan this QR code to visit our mobile site.

C O C K TA I L S

At the Capitol Hotel and Bar, one of the most upscale institutions in downtown Little Rock, mixologists have created the Crop Duster, an A rk ansasinspired reimagination of the classic Av iation cocktail. It features the gin, maraschino liquor and lemon juice of the original mixed with homemade blackberry preserves to create a deep, rich color and f lavor.


GETAWAY TH E J U NG LE GAR DEN AT LOUISIANA’S AVERY IS LAN D Photos courtesy Louisiana Office of Tourism

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area LOUISIANA

S

panning 14 parishes across the state of Louisiana, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is the largest wetland and river swamp in the United States. This vibrant landscape covers a vast range of topography, from bottomland hardwood forests to winding bayous and backwater lakes. The Atchafalaya Basin is a prime example of how Louisiana earned the nickname “Sportsman’s Paradise.” Groups can explore the rich wilderness along bicycle or paddling trails, pitch a tent under a canopy of ancient live oak trees or plan a fishing excursion to hunt for catfish, shrimp, oysters and crawfish. The heritage area is also home to more than 270 species of birds, providing fantastic bird-watching opportunities. There are numerous outfitters based in the area that offer guided paddling excursions and swamp tours, taking passengers along remote waterways as they keep an eye out for wildlife like egrets, alligators, bears and raccoons. In addition, visitors can take advantage of many distinctive restaurants, shops and festivals throughout the region showcase Louisiana’s lively Cajun culture. “It’s such a diverse area,” said Justin Owens, assistant director of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area. “You can go fishing in the morning and go to a Mardi Gras celebration in the afternoon. There’s nowhere else on earth like it.” Notable festivities in the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area include the Gumbo Festival in Thibodaux and the Rougarou Fest in Houma, an event inspired by the Cajun iteration of Big Foot. Another popular event, SugarFest, pays homage to Cajun culture through craft demonstrations, fresh local cuisine and live music. WWW.ATCHAFALAYA.ORG

Ridgeland offers your group a getaway complete with beautiful shopping, the Mississippi Craft Center, over 1600 hotel rooms and 140 restaurants and fun in the sun. To assist you, we offer: - Group Rebate Programs - Itinerary Planning - Spouse Programs - Welcome Bags and Name Badges In Ridgeland, the more the merrier...Inside + Out.

Arts, Wine and Wheels Weekend - April 2019


Elephant Rocks State Park BELLEVIEW, MISSOURI

I

mpressive rock formations may not be the first visual that comes to mind when it comes to Missouri’s natural scenery, yet Elephant Rocks State Park is home to one of the state’s most fascinating geological features: a series of huge red-and-pink granite boulders that stand in a row like a line of circus elephants. Formed more than 1.5 billion years ago, the unusual rock formations have at-

M ISSOU RI ’S ELEPHANT ROCKS STATE PARK

tracted the curiosity of geologists and visitors alike for generations. The largest boulder in the park weighs around 680 tons, stretching 34 feet long and 27 feet tall. “The elephant rocks are very striking,” said Liz Coleman, public relations specialist at the Missouri Division of Tourism. “It’s amazing to find that kind of feature in Missouri, compared to the farmland in northern Missouri and hills and valleys of the Ozarks.” To reach the boulders, groups can follow a paved, one-mile path called the Braille Trail that was designed as the state’s first accessible trail for those with physical or visual disabilities. Along the way, visitors will pass several remnants of the park’s former days as a rock quarry, including a dig site that has since become a pond and wildlife-viewing area. Groups can include several other major outdoor destinations in the area with their visit to Elephant Rocks State Park, such as Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park is home to the highest point in Missouri, as well as the highest waterfall, which is best viewed during the spring when the water flow runs at its heaviest. Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park is known for the unique rock formations in the East Black Fork River that create “shut-ins,” or little pools and waterfalls for visitors to swim in. WWW.MOSTATEPARKS.COM

Courtesy Missouri Div. of Tourism

Savor the South!

Enjoy southern hospitality just a beat from New Orleans; experience Jefferson Parish. Enjoy festivals year-round, historic districts, shopping and value priced accommodations. Catch the adventure on our swamp and bayou tours, then savor classic Cajun cuisine. Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. 3 Call 504.731.7083 3 Toll Free 1.877.572.7474 3 VisitJeffersonParish.com

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VI SI T

T Y B EE Picture your group here. We can. Discover yourself on Savannah’s Beach. Just 20 minutes from historic Savannah. VisitTybee.com


firefly sweet tea vodka and lemonade SOUTH CAROLINA On Wadmalaw Island just south of Charleston, Firef ly Spirits has become one of the most popular distilleries in the South. Though it produces a variety of f lavored products, its most iconic is Firef ly Sweet Tea Vodka. Locals love to combine this infused vodka with lemonade to create a cocktail that showcases the signature f lavors of South Carolina.

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Cass Scenic Railroad State Park CASS, WEST VIRGINIA

N CASS SCENIC RAI LROAD STATE PARK Courtesy Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

#

Official NASA Visitor Center

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estled in the rugged mountain country of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, the historic lumber town of Cass was founded during the railroad boom around the turn of the 20th century. Today, visitors can stop by Cass Scenic Railroad State Park to hitch a ride on the 11-mile-long heritage railway that once carried lumber to the mill in Cass. Transporting guests to a time when steam locomotives played a pivotal role in everyday life, the Cass Scenic Railroad takes passengers on a 4.5-hour round-trip journey up to the overlook at Bald Knob, the third-highest point in West Virginia and home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. One of the trains, the Class C-80 Shay #5, has been climbing up Cheat Mountain for nearly 100 years, making it one of the oldest engines in continuous service on its original line and the second-oldest Shay locomotive in existence. Along the way, the train stops for 30 minutes at Whitaker Station, giving guests the chance to use restroom facilities and explore a re-created 20th-century logging camp. A King of the Road hobo lunch is served on board after the Old Spruce junction. Groups can also stop by the old Cass Company Store to pick out a special souvenir, enjoy hand-scooped ice cream from the soda fountain or grab a bite to eat at Last Run Restaurant, which was featured in West Virginia’s “101 Unique Places to Dine.” WWW.WVSTATEPARKS.COM

See the world’s largest collection of space artifacts and explore the fascinating future of space travel! Celebrate the 2019 50th anniversary of the moon landing in Huntsville, Alabama - where it all started with Dr. Wernher von Braun and his rocket team!

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

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Skyline Drive VIRGINIA

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he gateway to Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive is widely recognized as one of the most famous mountain drives in America. In addition to providing access to more than 500 miles of trails throughout the park, the route includes 75 dramatic overlooks that offer panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Virginia Piedmont. “From the road, you’ll see streams, lakes, valleys and all kinds of animals: bears, deer, fox — maybe even a horse or two,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “It’s just a timeless, scenic feast for the eyes.” Four overlooks stand out as visitor favorites: Hogback, Spitler Knoll, Big Run and Crimora Lake. Another distinctive feature along the route is Mary’s Rock Tunnel, a 670-foot-long tunnel that was carved through the solid granite of Mary’s Rock in 1932. Every season of the year brings a new shade of beauty to this special mountain vista. During the winter, visitors can see the mountain valley wreathed in snow and ice, and spring brings in a wealth of colors as wildflowers like azaleas and mountain laurel bloom along the roadside. From late September to mid-November, a stunning display of fall colors takes over the landscape.

gg Since 1817

Star of the Western Frontier Relive 200 years of history that inspired True

Grit, Lonesome Dove, Hang’em High and more.

WWW.VISITSKYLINEDRIVE.ORG

Explore the Ozarks by train and savor all the flavors of Arkansas Wine Country. Discover a growing collection of public art

by world-renowned urban contemporary artists.

U.S. Marshals Museum Opens Fall 2019

@ExperienceFortSmith

Contact Us!

@ExpFortSmith

Carolyn Joyce | Tour & Travel Sales Director | (800) 637-1477

gg TourFortSmith.com

VI RGI NIA'S S KYLI N E DRIVE

carolyn@tourfortsmith.com

Courtesy VTC

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LIF E MOV ES PRE T T Y FAS

L I FE MOV ES PRE T T Y FAS T Mississippi’s fertile ground has given rise to incredible music, cuisine and culture made famous around the world. Travelers and adventurers will find authentic Mississippi moments from the Delta and northern hills to the Gulf Coast. Don’t miss out on your next adventure in Mississippi.

VISITMISSISSIPPI.ORG/DONTMISSOUT

LEVON’S BAR AND GRILL—CLARKSDALE M O N M O U T H H I S T O R I C I N N & G A R D E N S — N AT C H E Z BILOXI LIGHTHOUSE—BILOXI


MAIN street MOMENTS EVERY STORE HAS A STORY IN SOUTHERN SMALL TOWNS

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ith centuries of history, colorful arts communities and a heritage of hospitality, small towns offer groups an idyllic way to spend an afternoon experiencing Southern culture and grace. These charming destinations allow visitors to rub elbows with locals, take in beautiful architecture, enjoy a great meal and revel in a leisurely lifestyle, if only for a short time. Plan on spending time in one of these small-town treasures on your next trip through the South.

NOT FAR FROM MOBI LE , TH E TOWN OF FAI R HOPE EXEM PLI FI ES H ISTORIC SOUTH ER N CHARM .

Courtesy Eastern Shore COC

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Shepherdstown

BRING FRIENDS

WEST VIRGINIA

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racing more than 300 years of recorded history, Shepherdstown has much to offer as the oldest city in West Virginia. This wonderful historic gem embodies all the best traits of the small-town South: a warm and welcoming community, a dynamic downtown and the beautiful surrounding scenery of the Appalachian Mountains. “We are a 21st-century town in 18th-century clothes,” said Marianne Davis, director of the Shepherdstown Visitors Center. “The whole town is part of the National Registry for Historic Places, so we’re very fierce about historic preservation.” There are no chain stores or traffic lights in historic Shepherdstown. In the heart of town, visitors will discover a colorful selection of gift shops and specialty stores along German Street, with original brands such as the Tonic Herb Shop, Grapes and Grains Gourmet, German Street Chandlery and Coffee, and O’Hurley’s General Store. Other cultural highlights include six art galleries, the Shepherdstown Museum and the Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra, one of only three professional classical music orchestras in the state. To learn more about the local lore and landmarks, some groups might show interest in scheduling a tour with Shepherdstown Mystery Walks, a candlelit walking tour of Shepherdstown’s most mysterious and historic locations. A newer company called Shepherdstown Ghost Tours offers a similar excursion with more emphasis on local tales of murders, strange deaths and other unusual occurrences.

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Shepherdstown also provides a great base for pursuing outdoor recreation in the surrounding area. Visitors can rent bikes, kayaks or canoes from Shepherdstown Pedal and Paddle in downtown to paddle down the Potomac River or to ride along the scenic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath. Groups can also bike from the city to Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest day in American history. “We like to let Shepherdstown surprise our visitors,” said Davis. “People love the fresh air, the friendly people, the variety of things to eat and places to shop, hike, bike or fish. They’re amazed we haven’t destroyed it all and put up shopping malls.” WWW.SHEPHERDSTOWN.INFO

Laurel

MISSISSIPPI

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he beautiful downtown of Laurel, Mississippi, has experienced unprecedented revitalization over the past 10 years, with enterprising millennials who grew up in the area beginning to open new restaurants, boutiques and businesses, transforming the town center into a thriving tourist destination. Standing at the forefront of this movement are Ben and Erin Napier, a young couple who brought national attention to the small Southern town through their hit HGTV show “Home Town.” Now entering its third sea-

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A S H EPH ER DSTOWN GAR DEN

Courtesy Shepherdstown Visitors Center

S HOPPI NG I N LAU R EL Courtesy Visit Jones Co.

LAU R EL TV PERSONALITI ES B EN AN D ERI N NAPI ER

MAY DAY I N S H EPH ER DSTOWN Courtesy Visit Jones Co.

Courtesy Shepherdstown Visitors Center

S T A Y L A F AY E T T E Plan your escape to t he Happiest Cit y in America.

L A F AY E T T E T R AV E L . C O M /Groups

800 346 1958

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son, the show follows the Napiers throughout their beloved hometown as they renovate historic homes for first-time buyers and families. Visitors can take a driving tour of Laurel to see some of these wonderfully restored homes up close, as well as stop by the Napiers’ two downtown shops, the Laurel Mercantile and the General Store. A few other signature venues in downtown are the Slowboat Brewing Company; the Knight Butcher, a local butcher shop; Adam Trest

Home, a popular home decor and design shop; and the historic Lott Furniture Shop. Those who enjoy the arts will appreciate a visit to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, which opened in 1923 as Mississippi’s first art museum. The museum houses an excellent collection of American art, European art and Japanese woodblock prints, with featured works from esteemed artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Jean-François Millet.

FAI R HOPE H ISTORY M US EUM

FLOWERS I N FAI R HOPE

Courtesy Eastern Shore COC

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Throughout the year, the city hosts a variety of vibrant cultural festivals and events in downtown, including an annual music festival called Laurelpalooza; the Loblolly Festival, which celebrates Laurel’s heritage as a sawmill town; and community cook-offs like the Crawfish Cook-Off and Laurel Main Street’s Chili Cook-Off.

GROUP FRIENDLY

WWW.LAURELMS.COM

Fairhope ALABAMA

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ordering the deep blue waters of Mobile Bay, the small town of Fairhope, Alabama, is known for its charming city parks, eclectic downtown shopping and sweeping views of the Gulf Coast. Travelers can begin their visit with a trip to the city’s cultural center at Fairhope Municipal Pier, a bayfront property that encompasses a quarter-mile pier, a beautiful rose garden and fountain, a large sandy beach, covered picnic areas and several beachfront restaurants. The pier and beach mark the beginning of the Eastern Shore Mobile Bay Loop of the Coastal Birding Trail, which extends more than 200 miles through six distinct birding regions in Alabama. Within a short distance of the pier, visitors can stroll through the lovely cobblestone courtyard of Fairhope’s French Quarter, where they can grab a hot, fresh beignet from Panini Pete’s or sample artisan chocolates at FMC Chocolates and Confectionaries. Groups will stumble across many other quaint specialty shops as they wander through town, with popular stops such as the Happy Olive, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop; Paige and Palette, a third-generation family-owned independent bookstore; and Christmas Around the Corner, a Christmas-themed shop that remains open 365 days a year. Fairhope also harbors a thriving arts community. Each March, the prestigious Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival draws thousands of people from across the Southeast to enjoy live music, tasty Gulf Coast cuisine and more than 230 exhibitors in downtown. “It’s a great way for people who are traveling to be exposed to a lot of local art that you may not be able to experience in other places,” said Liz Thompson, director of tourism and special events at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce.

crafted

the well experience your travelers are looking for

For a hand crafted experience call the ShelbyKY Tourism Office and let us build you a custom itinerary full of local favorites. Located between Louisville and Lexington.

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WWW. T R A V E L S O U T HU S A . CO M

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richland coffee GEORGIA This sweet coffee cocktail features Richland Single Estate Old Georgia Rum, which is distilled in the town of Richland, Georgia, as well as dark-roast coffee from one of the state’s numerous coffee roasters. Bartenders add a half-ounce of Richland’s pure cane sugar, stir and top it with a layer of heav y cream.

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Blowing Rock NORTH CAROLINA

S A SCENIC OVERLOOK N EAR B LOWI NG ROCK Courtesy Blowing Rock TDA

H ISTORIC BRATTONSVILLE

Courtesy Culture and Heritage Museums of York Co.

ince the early 1900s, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, has served as a popular mountain retreat for families traveling from the Charlotte and Raleigh areas. The town is situated right along the famous 469mile Blue Ridge Parkway, providing the perfect home base for outdoors enthusiasts as they hike and enjoy other recreational activities in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. This section of the route winds past landmarks such as Julian Price Memorial Park, a 4,200-acre heritage site at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, as well as Tweetsie Railroad, a Wild West-themed amusement park. In Blowing Rock, travel groups will feel right at home as they explore the walkable town center, visiting unique and quirky stops like the century-old Hanna’s Oriental Rugs and Gifts, Neaco’s Hip Home Décor and the town’s original 1800s-era post office. The city is also home to more than 30 restaurants within a three-mile radius, making it easy for groups to split up and pick their dining venue of choice. “It’s great to be able to spend time in a small, friendly town where you can park your car once and walk to everything,” said Amanda Lugenbell, assistant director of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority. Travelers can relish the local scenery from town as well. In the center of town in Annie Cannon Gardens, just a block from Main Street, the 1.2-mile Glen Burney Trail travels 800 feet down into John’s River Gorge past several stunning waterfalls. Other major attractions in town include Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, a lavish country estate and Neocolonial manor; Mystery Hill, an interactive history and science museum; and the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. “The art and history museum is one of our hidden gems,” said Lugenbell.

When’s the last time the smell of smoke in your clothes brought back the memory of a perfect day? Your first time won’t be your last time. It’s the timeless craft of a local cooperage that gives our town a certain something that other places can’t quite capture. To find out where you can see bourbon barrels being made, go to visitlebanonky.com.

WWW.BLOWINGROCK.COM 18leto11819v1_Grp Trv Leader_Bourbon_5x4.5.indd 1

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narroway.net

the Broadway of Christian Entertainment


McConnells

TH E BIG OAK I N THOMASVI LLE

SOUTH CAROLINA

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DOWNTOWN THOMASVI LLE Courtesy Thomasville Visitors Center

Courtesy Thomasville Visitors Center

H ISTORIC BRATTONSVI LLE I N SOUTH CARO LI NA

Courtesy Culture and Heritage Museums of York Co.

istoric Brattonsville is a 775-acre Revolutionary War site and living-history attraction in McConnells, South Carolina, where visitors can interact with costumed interpreters, engage in traditional 18th-century activities and learn about the region’s fascinating history. Originally home to Brattonsville Plantation, the property was owned and occupied by three generations of the Bratton family. It was also the site of the 1780 Battle of Huck’s Defeat, one of the first significant Colonial victories over the British during the American Revolution. Today, there are more than 30 historic structures still standing on the grounds, including the 1700s-era Colonel William Bratton House, Hightower Hall, the family homestead and an outbuilding believed to be used for storing dairy products. Several re-created structures have been added to complete the experience, such as a replica slave cabin and kitchen. “It can be very moving for visitors to walk inside the slave quarters and learn about the things that happened there,” said Kevin Lynch, site manager at Historic Brattonsville. “You don’t get the chance to experience that many other places.” Throughout the year, groups can take advantage of interactive, family programming such as Sheep-Shearing Family Day in May and a reenactment of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat in July. In September, the museum partners with local descendants of former plantation slaves to produce an annual event called “By the Sweat of Our Brows,” a powerful program that highlights early African-American social traditions, music and art. During the first and second weekends of December, the Christmas Candlelight Tour showcases the historic Christmas traditions of the Carolinas through festivities and hands-on activities. WWW.CHMUSEUMS.ORG/BRATTONSVILLE

Thomasville GEORGIA

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ust 35 minutes north of Tallahassee, Florida, Georgia’s Thomasville epitomizes small-town appeal with a romantic aesthetic of wrought-iron benches, vibrant flowerbeds, family-owned shops and artisan eateries. “We’re very lucky to be such a small town in rural southern Georgia, yet we have 60

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SOME HISTORY IS WRITTEN IN BOOKS. OURS IS FORGED IN STEEL. Visiting Birmingham lets you experience a city on the rise while seeing first-hand the foundation upon which it was built. The Industrial Heritage Tour that features Sloss Furnaces and Vulcan Park offers a glimpse into a steel industry past that’s still on display today. Book your next tour in a place rich with history. Book your next tour in Birmingham. inbirmingham.com | # INB irmingham | 800 - 458 - 8085


mountain martini WEST VIRGINIA At Hill and Hollow restaurant in Morgantow n, bartenders rely heavily on West Virginia ingredients to create a variety of cocktails. The restaurant’s signature Mountain Martini is a twist on the classic drink. It features Wicked Spirits Endless Wall Vodka, produced in Harrisville, West Virginia, along with a second ramp-infused vodka, dry vermouth and olives.

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a very active cultural and artistic community, and our downtown is absolutely thrilling,” said Bonnie Hayes, tourism director at the Thomasville Visitors Center. Thomasville’s charming downtown is the city’s No. 1 attraction, drawing visitors from all over the state to shop and dine. The city center comprises more than 100 independent shops and boutiques, some in buildings dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Visitors can sample specialty cheeses in the awardwinning Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop or browse through fine leather handbags, belts and other home goods in South Life Supply Company, which custom designs leather goods for big-name clients. “We have to keep a waiting list of people wanting to open shops in downtown,” said Hayes. “We have very few empty shops, and they’re never available for more than a month.” Thomasville’s downtown has also become known as a popular foodie destination, showcasing reputable venues like Jonah’s Fish and Grits, George and Louie’s Seafood Restaurant, and Sass Sweet and Savory Sisters. Visitors also enjoy visiting some of the city’s beautiful antebellum and Victorian homes. On weekends, groups can tour the Lapham-Patterson House, one of the most unusual specimens of Victorian architecture in the nation. WWW.THOMASVILLEGA.COM

GROUP RATES AVAILABLE

In the wake of Japan’s attack, American soldiers marched into battle while citizens rallied on the Home Front. In ration lines and victory gardens and factories across the United States, they built an Arsenal of Democracy. Experience how the Home Front supported the front lines and helped win the war—at The Arsenal of Democracy, a permanent exhibit at The National WWII Museum.

#1 Attraction in New Orleans #3 Museum in the United States #8 Museum in the World

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945 MAGAZINE STREET, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70130 P L A N N E R 504-528-1944 x 222 | NATIONALWW2MUSEUM.ORG/GROUPS T O U R


Come take in all of the soul–satisfying sights, sounds, flavors and places Louisiana serves up daily. Plan your getaway today at LouisianaTravel.com. Š 2019 Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism


LOCAL

and LEGENDARY

FESTIVALS IN THE SOUTH HAVE WORLDWIDE FOLLOWINGS

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ocal culture comes alive during the festivals and events of the South, where travelers can sample distinctive cuisine, purchase beautiful handcrafted goods and experience some of the South’s rich musical heritage. Consider incorporating some of these distinctive events next time your group travels South.

VISITORS GET UP-CLOSE VIEWS OF HOT-AIR BALLOONS AT THE GREAT MISSISSIPPI RIVER BALLOON RACE IN NATCHEZ.

Courtesy Historic Natchez Foundation

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National Banana Pudding Festival

CENTERVILLE, TENNESSEE

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hat began as a simple effort to raise funds for local nonprofit organizations has become a cultural hallmark of Hickman County, Tennessee. The National Banana Pudding Festival takes place the first weekend of October each year, attracting thousands of banana pudding lovers and chefs from around the world. “There is so much community pride in the festival,” said Peggy Owen, co-chair of the festival. “When we do exit interviews each year, we always ask what guests enjoyed the most. Of course, the first thing they say is the banana pudding, but the second most common answer is the hospitality and warm welcome of the people.” During the two-day event, cooks can put their best pudding recipes to the test during the National Cook-Off for Best Banana Pudding in America. Winners receive cash prizes of up to $2,000 as well as bragging rights to the best banana pudding in the country. In addition to watching this event, guests can visit the Puddin’ Path to sample 10 different banana puddings prepared by local nonprofit organizations. After sampling the puddings, visitors can vote for their favorites by placing dollar bills in the nonprofit’s donation jar. All proceeds are divided equally among the nonprofits. Throughout the weekend, groups can enjoy family entertainment by over 50 performing artists, including musicians, storytellers, puppeteers and dancers, among others. Other highlights include the Little Nanner’s Children’s Area for small children and Banana Land, “Where

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the Big Kids Go Bananas.” Visitors can also purchase the National Banana Pudding Cookbook, with recipes from previous competition winners. The National Banana Pudding Festival takes place the same weekend as the Hickman County Quilt Show and the Country Arts and Crafts Fair, two other trademark events in the county. WWW.BANANAPUDDINGFEST.ORG

Kentucky Bourbon Festival BARDSTOWN, KENTUCKY

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ased in Bardstown, Kentucky, also known as the Bourbon Capital of the World, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival draws more than 50,000 people to town each September to celebrate America’s native spirit. The festival began in 1992 as a simple bourbon tasting and dinner and has grown exponentially over the past 27 years. Today, it continues to support and celebrate local bourbon distillers, including internationally recognized brands such as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams and Woodford Reserve. “We are so fortunate to be here in the Bourbon Capital of the World and have access to so many of these great leaders in the bourbon industry,” said Jill Hawkins, executive director of the festival. “That kind of access is very important for a lot of our fans. They love having the opportunity to engage with the distillers and their families and get to know them.” Over the course of the weeklong event, visitors can savor different bourbons, browse arts and crafts, watch live demonstrations from local distillers and root for

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A BAR R EL R ELAY AT TH E KENTUCKY BOU R BON FESTIVAL

NATIONAL BANANA PU DDI NG FESTIVAL

Courtesy KY Bourbon Festival Group Travel_StCharles _Dec_18.pdf

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Courtesy National Banana Pudding Festival 11/20/18

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their favorite distillery brands during the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay. The bourbon barrel relay is an opportunity for distilleries to showcase the skill and athletic abilities of their staffs as team members work together to roll 500-pound bourbon barrels throughout a designated course, earning points based on speed and accuracy.

Groups can also pick up a few tricks of the trade by attending classes on bourbon-based cocktails, food and bourbon pairings, bourbon production and other topics. The event culminates in a formal black-tie dinner, during which more than 1,200 guests join together to raise a glass to the industry and dine with bourbon dignitaries. WWW.KYBOURBONFESTIVAL.COM

Arkansas Folk Festival MOUNTAIN VIEW, ARKANSAS

S ARKANSAS FO LK FESTIVAL

Courtesy Mountain View Area COC

et amid the Arkansas Ozarks and charming small-town community of Mountain View, the Arkansas Folk Festival is an annual spring event that celebrates the music, crafts and culture of the Ozarks. The festival takes place on the third weekend in April each year, marking the seasonal opening of the Ozark Folk Center State Park. During this time, thousands of visitors flood into town to browse beautiful handmade crafts, tap their toes to live folk and bluegrass music, dance on the Courthouse Square and watch a colorful downtown parade. “People will come out and bring their folding chairs

O F F TH E E AT I N P R E D AT H N A W

The journey to an unforgettable dining experience begins when you venture a ways off the main road and follow the bayou as it flows through wetlands and authentic Cajun communities. Your groups can discover generations of unique traditions, culture and flavors in the eating establishments, culinary festivals and events on the Cajun Bayou Food Trail, just 45 minutes south of New Orleans. Plan your trip at lacajunbayou.com/foodtrail. 68

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blue ridge punch VIRGINIA In Charlottesville, Virginia, Ragged Branch Distillery produces a bourbon whiskey and uses the spirit to create a Blue Ridge twist on the classic island punch. The cocktail features Ragged Branch W heated Bourbon, Pineapple Gomme, Campari, fresh lime juice and blueberries. The ingredients are shaken together, poured over ice and garnished with a pineapple frond.

before anything has even started and leave them overnight just to have a good spot,” said Nikki Morrow, executive director at the Mountain View Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s funny; while we’re here setting up cones and barrels, there’s the courthouse lawn with all the empty chairs. It shows you the kind of laid-back atmosphere that exists here in Mountain View.” Nearly 60 floats and bands participate in the lavish festival parade on Saturday morning, which draws local dignitaries such as the state’s governor and Miss Ar-

kansas. Visitors can stop by the Artisans Market on the Square to see the handiwork of some of the state’s finest craftspeople, who create items such as beeswax products, hand-blown glass beads, goat milk soaps, ornate woodcarvings and stoneware pottery. The festival heralds the spring opening of Ozark Folk Center State Park, so visitors can take advantage of free shuttles between the center and downtown. The Ozark Folk Center carries on the festival’s mission to showcase the heritage and culture of the Ozarks

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throughout the summer and fall seasons. The center encompasses a heritage herb garden, a dedicated craft village with more than 20 working artisans and a 1,000seat theater that hosts live folk concerts on Thursday through Saturday nights. WWW.MOUNTAINVIEWTOURISM.COM

National Tom Sawyer Days HANNIBAL, MISSOURI NATIONAL TOM SAWYER DAYS

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ens of thousands of visitors flock to Hannibal, Missouri, each July for the weeklong National Tom Sawyer Days, a time-honored tradition of more than 60 years that pays homage to the life work of beloved American author Mark Twain. Held during the week of the Fourth of July each year, the festival takes place in historic downtown Hannibal, where visitors can enjoy live music, arts and crafts and various festivities based on Twain’s characters and stories. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” one of Twain’s best-known classics, comes alive during the annual Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher competition. Seventh-grade schoolchildren must demonstrate their knowledge of local history and literature during a 100-question interview

Courtesy Hannibal CVB

DON’T JUST LEARN A B O U T H I S TO R Y

HAVE A BLAST

Plan your trip to Virginia now at

Get to know where the world’s finest bourbons are born at visitbardstown.com.

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Take your Group On an adventure to remember

From the places and the people, to the feeling and the attitude, we offer a unique variety of group entertainment definitely worth the visit. Personalized Itineraries History and Architecture Arts and Culture Home-Town Hospitality

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from a panel of judges. Once the contestants have been narrowed to five Toms and five Beckys, the children are then judged based on how they stay in character as they interact with visitors throughout the festival. The winners are announced on the Fourth of July and retain the title until the subsequent year. “We have to choose new winners every year because, of course, Tom and Becky never grow old,” said Megan Rapp, assistant director at the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau. Another major highlight of the festival is the State Fence-Painting Contest, during which contestants receive points for authenticity of costume, speed and quality of painting. At the signal, participants run to pick up a large paintbrush and a bucket of whitewash, then race to paint their designated four-by-five-foot fence piece. Other events include a mud volleyball competition, a Tomboy Sawyer Competition for girls and a frog-jumping competition based on Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Kids can either bring their own frogs to the event or rent one from a local Boy Scout troop. If groups have time, they may also want to stroll down Main Street to stop by Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum.

So Many Reasons To choose PULASKI COUNTY, MO

EXPLORE:

WWW.VISITHANNIBAL.COM

trail of tears MILITARY MUSEUMS Route 66 & devils elbow

Great Mississippi River Balloon Race NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI

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uring the third weekend of October this year, more than 20,000 visitors will flock to the historic city of Natchez to watch dozens of vibrant hot-air balloons fill the sky over the Mississippi River for the 33rd annual Great Mississippi River Balloon Race. The celebration is one of the Magnolia State’s most colorful and iconic events, showcasing worldclass musical acts from all over the country, arts and crafts, carnival rides for children and over 40 hot-air balloons. “The whole town — hotels, restaurants, businesses — pretty much plan their year around it,” said Carter Burns, executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation. “It’s a really special event because of its beautiful location in the middle of downtown. A lot of balloon races are held near airports and other removed areas.” The festival is held on the lovely grounds of an antebellum mansion high on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, allowing festival attendees to easily spot the balloons flying overhead during the races. The festival kicks off on Friday night with a Balloon Glow as balloon pilots inflate their balloons and hit the propane burners to create a stunning display of gigantic lanterns in the night. Afterward, the evening concludes with fireworks over the river. Visitors can enjoy watching three sets of competition ballooning over the course of the weekend, with two on Saturday and one on Sunday morning. The races are judged on accuracy, not speed, as pilots carefully steer their crafts past designated targets and attempt to throw beanbags as close to the targets as possible. After the three races, points are tallied to award each contestant their final score. Each year, an original festival logo is designed for shirts, hats and posters so visitors can take home an unforgettable piece of their experience.

fun stops ozarks beauty photo opps customized rich history itineraries GUIDED TOURS

EXPERIENCE:

T YOU? HOW MAY weaAnSnSinISg to day! LET’S start pl -FREE Welcome Receptions -Lodging/Dining Assistance -Museum Tour Coordination -Step-On Guide Referrals

.

WWW.NATCHEZBALLOONRACE.COM

GR EAT M ISSISSI PPI RIVER BALLOON RACE

PULASKI COUNTY

Branson

PulaskiCountyUSA.COM 573-336-6355

karenh@pulaskicountyusa.com

Courtesy Historic Natchez Foundation

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HISTORY NATURALLY MADE

THE LITTLE ROCK NINE MONUMENT AT THE ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL COMMEMORATES THE STUDENTS WHO PAVED THE WAY FOR INTEGRATION. MOSAIC TEMPLARS CULTURAL CENTER IN LITTLE ROCK SERVES TO EDUCATE VISITORS ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE. VISIT THE LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE AND LEARN MORE AT CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM.

ARKANSAS.COM


long island iced tea TENNESSEE Though its name sounds Northern, the Long Island Iced Tea was created in K i ng sp or t , Ten ne s s e e, i n t he m idd le of t he P rohibition era . A local man named Charles Bishop developed the original recipe, which combined f ive liquors and a drizzle of maple syrup. The modern recipe also features lemon, lime and cola, and is served throughout Kingsport.

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Synchronous Firefly Season CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH CAROLINA

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f the 2,000 species of fireflies in the world, only three known species of synchronous fireflies can be found in North America. Fortunately for U.S. travelers, Congaree National Park in central South Carolina provides an excellent viewing area for this curious phenomenon. During a brief period between midMay and mid-June, hundreds of fireflies appear at dusk below the canopy of trees in the park’s old-growth bottomland hardwood forest to create a splendid naturallight display of synchronous flashing. “The first time I saw the fireflies come out, it was like Christmas lights in the forest in spring, with hundreds of fireflies blinking in unison. It took my breath away,” said Jonathan Manchester, interpretive park ranger at Congaree National Park. “Every year I come back, and it’s phenomenal every time.” During the event, groups can take advantage of extended opening hours at the Harry Hampton Visitors Center. Park staff section off part of the Bluff Trail to create a one-way Firefly Trail with guide ropes and low-light markers to help visitors see the path. WWW.NPS.GOV/CONG

you bring the group. we’ll bring the smiles.

VISITSAVANNAH.COM

THIS ISN’T ORDINARY. THIS IS SAVANNAH.

74 THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE


Plan your visit at ArkEncounter.com Williamstown, K Y (south of Cincinnati)


ALABAMA | ARKANSAS | GEORGIA | KENTUCKY | LOUISIANA | MISSISSIPPI | MISSOURI

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NORTH CAROLINA | SOUTH CAROLINA | TENNESSEE | VIRGINIA | WEST VIRGINIA

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2019 Travel South Travel Guide  

Find group travel ideas for southern downtowns, festivals, iconic eateries, scenic destinations in Travel South USA's 2019 Travel Guide.

2019 Travel South Travel Guide  

Find group travel ideas for southern downtowns, festivals, iconic eateries, scenic destinations in Travel South USA's 2019 Travel Guide.