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Top Cycling Destinations Wisconsin Wineries Great Smoky Mountains Haunted Attractions College Visits Valley Forge Family Friendly Destinations Colonial Williamsburg

Biking Provides A Fabulous Way To Take In The Fall Color

(NAPSI)-If you’re spinning your wheels about where to go on vacation this fall, consider a cycling vacation in Wisconsin, one of the nation’s most bicycle-friendly states.

The League of American Bicyclists recently voted Wisconsin the second-best biking state in the nation and the state is continuing to build momentum as a top cycling destination. Natural beauty, rolling hills, a picturesque landscape and a bike-friendly attitude make Wisconsin one of the best places for bicycling in the country.

The state has a long history of welcoming cyclists and it was one of the first states to convert railways to multiuse paths (that is, rails to trails). The Elroy-Sparta trail, for example, is one of the most popular in the state with its unique, three-quarters-mile-long train tunnel carved in the hillside.

Wisconsin’s cycling reputation is so strong that its southwest corridor was included in Chicago’s recent bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. It’s also a favorite among bicycle manufacturers. Prominent bicycling companies such as Trek, Pacific Cycle and Saris love the combination of the state’s urban and country landscape and so call the state home.

Bicyclists interested in learning more about Wisconsin’s cycling landscape can order their own free “Wisconsin Biking Guide” at www.TravelWisconsin.com.

Here are some of the state’s best trails and routes:

• Elroy-Sparta National Trail (www.elroy-sparta-trail.com)

• Cycle Southwest Wisconsin (www.cyclesouthwestwisconsin.com)

• Ozaukee Interurban Trail (www.interurbantrail.us)

• Gandy Dancer Trail (www.polkcountytourism.com/gandydancer.html)

• CAMBA Mountain Bike Trails (www.cambatrails.org)

On-road touring opportunities can be found throughout Wisconsin, including several with historical themes, such as the Lead Mining Heritage Tour in Grant County; the Frank Lloyd Wright Tour in Iowa and Sauk counties; the Great River Road−South tour, which runs through La Crosse, Vernon and Crawford counties; and the Cheese Country Trail, which runs through Mineral Point, Darlington, Belmont and Monroe.

The state also offers plenty of expert-level mountain bike terrain, including many trails in the Cable area, which hosts one of the nation’s largest off-road events, the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. In north-central Wisconsin, the Boulder Junction Area Trail System offers mountain bikers a 10-mile loop on local ski and snowmobile trails, as well as a paved trail running south to Trout Lake.

Other top mountain bike trails include the Perrot State Park Trails in western Wisconsin, the John Muir Trail in the Kettle Moraine State Park-Southern Unit and the Governor Dodge State Park Trail in southwestern Wisconsin.

Travelers looking for year-round Wisconsin getaway ideas, travel planning, events and free guides can discover their own fun at TravelWisconsin.com or by calling (800) 432-TRIP. Or “like” Travel Wisconsin on Facebook at Facebook.com/TravelWisconsin and follow along on Twitter at @TravelWI.

Photo courtesy of R.J. & Linda Miller

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Wisconsin Wineries Offer Culinary Adventures

NAPSI)óPeople are looking for experiences that reflect the authenticity of the destination, and local foods and culinary adventures are part of these experiences. Wisconsin wineries reflect this trend as many are producing wines developed from Wisconsin-grown grapes. In fact, there are two regions in Wisconsin that have been named ìAmerican Viticultural Areasî by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Only geographical locations that use at least 85 percent of the grapes grown in that area to make wine are granted the title.

Here are a few regions that deserve a visit:

Driftless Region

Established before the Civil War, the Wollersheim Winery is a national historic site. Wollersheimís wines are national- and international-award winners. The winery makes many different wines, seven from the grapes grown in its 27-acre vineyard (www.wollersheim.com, 800-847-9463). The new Tourdot Winery in Wisconsin Dells showcases wines made from Wisconsin and California grapes. Visitors can sample wines year-round and tour the estate (www.tourdotwinery.com, 608-253-4400).

Fox Valley

LedgeStone Vineyards is located on the same Niagara Escarpment as the famous Niagara wine region that provides Wisconsin with the climate and geography to grow grapes that will lead to high-quality wine. Visitors to the vineyard can relax and enjoy a glass of full-bodied red wine, grown, produced and bottled on-site, with artisan cheeses and bread all year round (www.ledgestonevineyards.com, 920-532-4384). Trout Springs Winery is another unique winery featuring the stateís only combination of a game farm, plant nursery and Class A Trout Hatchery, known collectively as Branch River Farms, offering fine vintage wine with an exquisite culinary experience (www.troutspringswinery.com, 866-687-9463).

Door County

Door County features blossoming orchards and lush vineyards throughout the county. The Simon Creek Winery, Wisconsinís largest vineyard, makes a variety of wines. The Door County Cherry, a sweet wine produced from Door County cherries, is a guest favorite. The winery has also been awarded a silver medal by the American Wine Society for its American Gewurztraminer and “Untouchable Red” American Ruby Cabernet wines (www.simoncreekwines.com, 920-746-9307). For 25 years, the Orchard Country Winery & Market has grown a variety of cherries, apples and grapes to ferment into wine. Guests can join a walking tour of the vineyard and orchards and taste more than 30 estate-grown pure fruit and traditional grape varieties (www.orchardcountry.com, 866-946-3263).

Glacial Hills

Wine enthusiasts can enjoy several wineries in the Glacial Hills region. The Northleaf Winery, a family run microwinery, offers wines crafted on-site from grapes grown from coast to coast and in Wisconsin. Visitors can enjoy complimentary wine in its restored 1850 tasting room (www.northleafwinery.com, 608-580-0575).

Northwoods

The Northwoods is famous for its wonderland of lakes and forests, making it an idyllic setting for a day or night of wine tasting. Three Lakes Winery is best known for making Wisconsinís Original Cranberry Wine and offers free wine tastings and seasonal tours as well as a retail shop located in a turn-of-the-century train station (www.tlwinery.com, 715-546-3080). Or step into another time at the Chateau St. Croix Winery & Vineyard. Itís the image of a European estate complete with an art gallery, vineyard, carriage house, stable garden and fishing pond, where visitors can taste more than a dozen different varieties of handcrafted wines (www.chateaustcroix.com, 715-483-2556).

For more information about Wisconsin wineries and other Wisconsin getaways, visit TravelWisconsin.com or call (800) 432-TRIP. Also, be sure to “like” Travel Wisconsin on Facebook at Facebook.com/TravelWisconsin and follow along on Twitter @TravelWI.

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“Leaf-Peeper Headquarters” For Great Smoky Mountains

(NAPSI)-Cooler temperatures appear to trigger two chemical reactions. One is in hardwood trees, causing colorful landscape changes and the other is in travelers’ brains, generating the urge to go see those trees.

Where To Go

One popular spot to do so is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the largest wilderness tract in the eastern U.S. (800 square miles) and America’s most visited national park (9 million people a year). It’s a target for many of those travelers, and the resort town of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., becomes “Leaf-Peeper Headquarters.”

“Mother Nature puts on her show, and Pigeon Forge provides lodging, restaurants, family attractions, shopping, theater entertainment and its own autumn decorations,” said Leon Downey, the city’s executive director of tourism.

Pigeon Forge is in the valley of the Little Pigeon River, and businesses throughout town build decorative displays with hay bales, mums, gourds, pumpkins and sunflowers for HarvestFest during the height of fall color season.

The Dollywood theme park celebrates the season with its National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration, and Dollywood’s steam locomotive offers special train rides into the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

What To Watch

More than a dozen theaters, some seating up to 1,500, offer more than 20 shows for entertainment after nightfall when a day’s leaf-peeping is done. Country and gospel music are plentiful, magicians spring their surprises in two theaters, family-friendly comedy reigns at another and there’s even a murder-mystery theater.

Where To Eat

Visitors never need go hungry in Pigeon Forge. True Southern country cooking is featured at the Old Mill Restaurant and Mama’s Farmhouse, barbecue is plentiful and a new restaurant--the Partridge and Pear--offers a hint of Christmas feasts every month of the year.

What To See

One of the most spectacular sights is visible from Pigeon Forge’s central street, the Parkway, when the golden glow of a Tennessee sunset bathes the west-facing slope of Mt. LeConte. It’s a popular hiking destination; Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee at 6,643 feet, is reachable by car.

Whether on Mt. LeConte, Clingmans Dome or any other Smoky Mountains ridge, there’s a variety of color. Maples turn red and orange; sourwoods turn pink; sumacs turn red; tulip poplars turn yellow; and beech trees turn yellow.

How To Learn More

Full visitor information is available online at MyPigeonForge.com and toll-free at (800) 251-9100. Tennessee’s fall foliage hotline is (800) 697-4200.

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Have A Hauntingly Good Time

(NAPSI)-For anyone into enjoying a good scare, America’s haunted houses offer more than a ghost of chance at some fun.

To help you find your thrill, there’s a magazine dedicated to haunted mansions, and it’s recently come up with the top 25 must-see haunted houses.

According to Haunted Attractions’ magazine, these are:

1. House of Shock in New Orleans for its sets, actors and show opening.

2. Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion in Poughkeepsie for its interactive theatrics.

3. Scarehouse in Pittsburgh for its outstanding and modern approach.

4. Dead Acres in Columbus for originality.

5. House of Torment in Austin for its stunts and unique attractions.

6. Fear Itself in Mishawaka, Ind., for amusement-park-quality theming.

7. Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati for movie-quality sets and detailing.

8. Nightmare on 13th Street in Salt Lake City for delivering high-quality sets and illusions along with one of the best preshow events in the country.

9. Wisconsin Feargounds in Waukesha for amazing actors, details and features.

10. Blood Manor in NYC for its fast pace, blood-filled haunt.

11. Frightworld in Buffalo for the best indoor midway and fantastic sets.

12. Headless Horseman in Ulster Park, N.Y., for its wonderful Autumn atmosphere and its multiple attractions.

13. Chambers of Horror in Atlanta for being one of the most intense and graphic haunted house anywhere.

14. Universal Horror Nights in Orlando for consistent and amazing sets.

15. Hobb’s Grove in Fresno for the 24 acres of eerie walnut trees and its three fine attractions.

16. Knott’s Scary Farm in Anaheim for consistency, great effects and great acting.

17. Erebus in Pontiac, Mich., is one the largest attractions in the world filled with original illusions.

18. The Nest in Phoenix for a fantastic event with multiple attractions.

19. Haunted Hotel in Louisville for great scares like the amazing and scary shower scene.

20. Screamworld in Houston for its pace and consistent delivery of scenes and actors.

21. Reindeer Manor in Red Oak, Texas, for pyro features, acting and costumes.

22. Phobia in Houston for being a completely insane attraction with the most energetic actors seen anywhere.

23. Bennett’s Curse in Hanover, Md., for its solid scares and the most screams heard anywhere.

24. Haunted Nashville for unique haunts and good variety.

25. Scream Acres in Florence, S.C., for a great haunt run for a charity with a good haunted house and hay ride.

“Each of these haunts provides incredible haunting entertainment, unique events and fantastic fun,” said publisher John Kennedy.

Learn More

To learn more about these and other frighteningly fun spots, see www.hauntedattraction.com or call (513) 898-1569.

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Making The Most Of Your College Visit

(NAPSI)-If you and your high schooler plan to scout college campuses this year, you may appreciate a few tips that can help your visit make the grade.

• Arrive Early. Be sure your travel itinerary gives you enough time to arrive at each college campus 15 to 20 minutes earlier than your scheduled appointment. You’ll want plenty of extra time to park, make your way to the right building on campus and freshen up.

• Dress to Impress. While your initial visit might just include a tour of the campus with a current student, always have your college student-to-be dress to impress. You never know who you might come across while you’re checking in at the admissions office or on a campus tour.

• Dine On Campus. Ask for a voucher for your high schooler to experience a meal in one of the dining venues on campus. This will provide a chance to test out the food and get a better sense of the overall vibe and social scene on campus.

• Take Note. Be sure your high schooler makes notes about each college that you visit. Have them write down specific anecdotes that will help them recall what they liked best about that college, such as great academic honors program or unique majors. Also, grab the school’s newspaper to learn more about the college community and get a sense of the voice of the students on campus.

• Rest Up, Comfortably. If the college campus is a good distance away from your home, you may want to stay overnight in a hotel. Choose a hotel like Embassy Suites Hotels, which offers a two-room suite with a bedroom and a separate living room with a sofa bed so everyone in the family has plenty of room to unwind. The family can also enjoy Embassy Suites’ extra amenities such as complimentary drinks and snacks at the nightly Manager’s Reception* and a free cooked-to-order breakfast for the same price as an ordinary hotel. Visit www.EmbassySuites.com for more information and to make a reservation.

*The service of alcoholic beverages is subject to state and local laws.

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Biking Escapes Through Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

(NAPSI)-Rolling hills, lush countryside and the scenic Valley Forge National Historical Park make Montgomery County, Pa., a favored destination for cyclists, both amateur and professional.

Fifty-five miles of interconnected trails and more than 20 in this park let visitors exercise their freedom to explore history and discover local lore.

The northwestern part of Montgomery County offers lightly traveled, tree-lined roads and a newly completed, nine-mile paved loop around Green Lane Park. One of several county parks, it boasts three bodies of water and an annual Scottish-Irish Festival that coincides with the Univest Grand Prix cycling race for men each September.

The 6.6-mile Joseph Plumb Martin Trail in Valley Forge National Historical Park provides the perfect, picturesque path through this Revolutionary War icon, once the site of General George Washington’s winter encampment of 1777−78. Here, he forged his ragtag troops into the fighting force that eventually won America’s independence.

The Schuylkill River Trail and the Perkiomen Trail intersect within the 3,600-acre park, where bike rentals are available from late spring to early fall. The Schuylkill Trail extends north to Oaks and winds through urban and suburban neighborhoods all the way to Center City, Philadelphia. The 2-mile Audubon Loop takes cyclists from the Perkiomen Trail, which runs along the lovely Perkiomen Creek, to the wildlife sanctuary at John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove.

Each summer, amateur riders cycle in the River to River Heritage Bicycle Tour along the scenic Route 113 corridor from the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River. Courses vary among 25-, 50-, 75- or 100-mile loops, featuring hilly terrain through rural townships and quaint boroughs filled with farms, churches and businesses dating back to the 1700s.

There’s a wealth of other recreational opportunities—like guided canoe trips, kayaking expeditions, zip-lining tours, fly-fishing and golf-available in Valley Forge and Montgomery County. Turtle Creek, one of the area’s more than 40 public courses, is described by Golf Digest as having some of the best turf in the Northeast. You’ll golf on land originally owned by William Penn, the focal point of which is a 1734 Virginia-style, Colonial stone farmhouse.

For more information on both outdoor and indoor recreation in Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pa., visit www.valleyforge.org.

 

Note to Editors: For additional photos of the Valley Forge area, please go to http://www.cleanpix.com/cleanpix/portal/W17nT:TAy:eAA. For additional assistance, please call (610) 834-7990.

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An Attraction That Offers A Trip Back In Time

(NAPSI)-It's not often that families can find vacation attractions that have something for everyone. Fortunately, that's just what a tourist destination in Moline, Ill. has to offer.

Once there, visitors can experience exhibits on topics as diverse as agriculture, technology and the history of an American legend.

Opened in 1997, the John Deere Pavilion, a glass- and steel-enclosed, barn-shaped visitors center, is the cornerstone of the John Deere Commons.

Described as one of the most comprehensive agricultural exhibits in the world, it showcases vintage company equipment along with modern-day machinery and interactive exhibits. The 14,000-square-foot structure and 12,000-square-foot exterior patio also feature a wide variety of exhibits celebrating the legacy of John Deere and what's described as the heritage of the heartland.

Another current exhibit includes "Anthem: A Song of the Land." This feature film highlights the common bond of farmers around the world through interviews and video of farm families in the United States, Germany, France and Brazil.

Here, guests can wander through time and take a firsthand look at the progression of agriculture dating back to the 1800s as well as learn about the future of the industry. Open year-round, the Pavilion offers free admission.

Nearby, the John Deere store has been called a must-stop for collectors of company memorabilia. It stocks more official John Deere−licensed toys, clothes, collectibles, books and videos than any other place in the world.

The store stocks styles of clothing for all members of the family and offers a large collection from the Ertl toy line.

Also in the area is the John Deere Historic Site. There, visitors can take in the home Deere built, explore an archaeological exhibit showing his original blacksmith shop, see daily demonstrations from a resident blacksmith and visit a gift shop. The historic site is open seasonally.

To learn more about these and other John Deere attractions around the world, visit www.johndeereattractions.com or call (309) 765-1000.

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Family Fun

(NAPSI)-Colonial Williamsburg offers yearlong value for families through interactive programs, theater, museums, hotel packages, dining, spas, golf and shopping.

Located in Williamsburg, Va., the Budget Travel magazine Readers' Choice for the best place for a family vacation, Colonial Williamsburg can help you become an active part of the story.

Historic Delights

You and your family can explore the capital of Virginia, see award-winning Revolutionary City street theater, taste history-inspired coffee and chocolate at R. Charlton's Coffeehouse, try your hands at 18th century trades and more.

Enjoyable Activities

While in the area, you can also enjoy the thrills of roller coasters, shows and water slides at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

Learn More

To learn more about Williamsburg and about money-saving travel packages, visit www.ColonialWilliamsburg.com.

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AMERICA'S HEROES



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