ARANJUEZ

ARANJUEZ

At the meeting point of the Tagus and Jarama rivers, this low-lying meadow was a cherished spring escape for Spanish kings and queens for many centuries. The stunning gardens of this UNESCO World Heritage Site blend architecture and nature.  Have lunch at the star-studded Casa Jose restaurant (casajose. es), where sophisticated renderings of traditional Spanish dishes include grilled hake with almond and saffron and roast pork with orange and parsley.


ALCALADE HENARES

ALCALADE HENARES

This World Heritage Site is less than 20 miles from Madrid. One of the most important cities in Spanish history, Cervantes, Tirso de Molina, and Lope de Vega are just a short list of the renowned writers who have called this “city of words” home. Visit the Universidad Complutense, which dates back to 1499, and is an important stopping point on the “Path of the Spanish Language” route celebrating the Spanish language’s history.


MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL

MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL

This mountain town is nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama at the foot of Mount Abantos about 30 miles from Madrid.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the Monastery and Real Sitio de San Lorenzo are prime examples of Spain’s imperial glory.  Walk through this scenic outpost which was once the powerful stronghold of Philip II King of Spain, ruler of one of the world’s largest empires.


CHINCHON

CHINCHON

This picturesque medieval city brims with warm character and wonderful restaurants less than 30 miles away. It is far enough away that it feels like an adventure, but close enough to visit in a day. Settle into a cafe off the main square lined by its distinctive changing balconies and order up orange juice for the kids and an aperitif the city’s signature anise liquor for mom and dad.


Appomattox, Virginia

Discover the Historic Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park, forever written on the pages of Civil War history. Walk the dusty roads of Clover Hill Village, and witness life in the 1800’s. Experience Cub Creek Pottery, a residential apprenticeship pottery studio. Awe at the thousands of antique German steins on display at Steins Unlimited. Enjoy the unique African artifact collection on display at the Hazel Moon Resource Center. Delight in the unique architecture of our Turn of the Century Walking Tour. Visit the birth­place and gravesite of Joel Walker Sweeney, or immerse yourself in history at the Appomattox County Historical Museum.

For those who simply want to relax and unwind, the pristine waters and outdoor recreation of the James River and Holliday Lake State Park await you, along with disc golf, hiking, fishing, golfing and more. Finally, enjoy shopping in this picturesque community offering great antiquing, charming restaurants, romantic Bed and Breakfasts, and true southern hospitality.


Lynchburg, Virginia

Travelers in search of the ideal getaway can follow the lead of American visionary Thomas Jefferson who deemed Lynchburg “the most interesting spot in the state.” This is the place Jefferson chose to build his year-round retreat, Poplar Forest.

The close proximity of the region’s historic sites, wilderness areas, and urban diversions, make it possible for visitors to cover a lot of territory at a leisurely pace. Hike the Blue Ridge Mountains in the morning, shop for antiques in the afternoon, and top it all off with a delightful evening of dinner and jazz. Plan a two-day visit to see Old City Cemetery, Point of Honor, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, or National D-Day Memorial.

Unlike Thomas Jefferson, you won’t find it necessary to design and build your own accommodations to retreat here throughout the year. Lynchburg offers over 1,800 rooms ranging from quaint bed and breakfast inns to luxury hotels. Once you discover Lynchburg, you’ll understand why our visitors return to stay for another week, a month, a summer-even a lifetime!


Winchester-Frederick CO., VA

Come to the top of Virginia where you can celebrate pink apple blossoms in the spring. Over 30 events await you during the 82nd Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, including the coronation of Queen Shenandoah, a grand feature parade, and much more!

Return in the fall to pick apples from one of our many orchards and enjoy agricultural festivals that celebrate peaches, apples and pumpkins. Our Follow the Apple Trail audio driving tour will guide you through the scenic roads of Frederick County while informing you of our apple heritage.

Union and Confederate forces fought for control of this important Virginia crossroads. The city changed hands more than 70 times during the conflict; 13 times in one day. A Civil War  Orientation for the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District is located within the Winchester-Frederick County Visitor Center. The orientation center is a useful tool in planning your visit to local Civil War sites.

Make our home your getaway, by browsing the unique shops in Old Town. Enjoy delicious cuisine whether in a fine or casual setting, and be entertained at our professional theatres, the Wayside Theatre and Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre.


European Train Travel Guide

European Train Travel

Traversing the Continent by rail is romantic. It’s also practical. After all, who isn’t desperate for an alternative to air travel? Especially one that involves few delays or security lines, stations in the center of the action (forget schlepping to the airport!), affordable ticket prices, and a chance to take in the scenery up close. Riding the rails is also easier on the environment. A trip on the Eurostar from London to Paris produces one-tenth the carbon dioxide per passenger of a plane flying the same route. And as of November 2007, the service is carbon-neutral, thanks to the purchase of offsets. Ready to roll?

Europe By Rail

Rail Europe (888/382-7245; raileurope.com) specializes in selling single tickets, as well as all of the major multitrip passes. BritRail passes (from $259 for four days) are the only option avail­able to North Americans for unlim­ited travel throughout Britain. (Snag these before your trip ­they’re not sold in the U.K.) Eurail passes cover the Continent and include the Global Pass (from $744 for the 15-day first-class option), valid in 20 countries. For less­sweeping itineraries, there’s the Eurail Select Pass, which is good for three to five adjoining coun­tries; 25 regional passes, each encompassing two or more coun­tries; and 17 single-country passes. Whichever you choose, don’t wait until you hit Europe to buy-it’ll be 20 percent more expensive there.

FIRST CLASS VS. SECOND First-class tickets cost about 50 percent more than second class. That typically buys a reclining seat, a meal, more space for luggage, and a quiet train car. Second class is absolutely fine if your trip is only a few hours-and your mother­in-law isn’t along for the ride.


Sarasota’s “Big Five” Art Organizations

For many who come to Saraso­ta for a weekend, week or season­long stay, the white sands and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico may be the primary draws.

But Sarasota also treasures its reputation as Florida’s cultural capital, with theater, visual art, opera, ballet and classical music available for top-caliber enter­tainment after a day at the beach or on the water.

Sarasota’s “big five” arts orga­nizations – the John and Mable Ringling Mu­seum of Art, Sara­sota Opera, Sara­sota Ballet, Sara­sota Orchestra and Asolo Rep­ertory Theatre – each work in their own way, and sometimes collective­ly, to let tourists know there’s more to do here than pick up shells.


Explore The Heart Of New Mexico

Explore the Heart of New Mexico, an adventure guaranteed to revitalize heart and soul. From the bustle of city life to the tranquility of nature, whichever road you travel in Central New Mexico promises plenty of fine attractions and jaw­dropping scenery.

Take a walk through time as you discover the mystic beauty of ancient Native American ruins and Hispanic lore. Stroll through Madrid on the Turquoise Trail, travel Route 66, and bask in the scenery. Wide­ open spaces, natural beauty, and out­door recreation abound in the Heart of New Mexico. Visit heartnm.com.

Authenticity is Albuquerque, with its unique blend of multiculturalism, natural beauty, profound historic attractions, spectacular climate with four distinct seasons, museums, galleries, and shopping, creating a distinct and unforgettable experience for each visitor. Albuquerque  Bio Park, Albuquer­que Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Rio Grande Zoo, Anderson­ Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, Historic Old Town, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Sandia Peak Tramway, Petroglyph National Monument, and Sandia Peak Ski Area the list of things to do is endless. Diverse cultures, authentic art, and vibrant traditions have shaped the centuries-old story of Albuquerque. Mild climate and blue skies offer accessible and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities including golf, mountain adventures, and hot-air ballooning. A world of adventure, culture, and authentic experiences awaits.

Celebrating the Pueblo Indian Heritage

Owned by 19 Indian Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque shares the allure of New Mexico’s American Indian Pueblo tribes year round by presenting their unique languages, colorful traditional dances, distinct arts and crafts, and strong cultural values to thousands of visitors each year.

The Center’s venue, modeled after Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, includes a museum, a restaurant featuring Native Fusion cuisine, changing exhibitions, cultural programs, a gift shop, galleries, and a mural-filled plaza of artwork by renowned Pueblo artists.

Visit indianpueblo.org.