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  • Davenport, Iowa
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    Davenport,

    Iowa

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    Davenport is a city in and the county seat of Scott County, Iowa, United States. It is located along the Mississippi River on the eastern border of the state, and is the largest of the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area with a population estimate of 382,630 and a CSA population of 474,226; it is the 90th largest CSA in the nation. Davenport was founded on May 14, 1836 by Antoine Le Claire and was named for his friend George Davenport, a former English sailor who served in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812, served as a supplier Fort Armstrong, worked as a fur trader with the American Fur Company, and was appointed a quartermaster with the rank of colonel during the Black Hawk War. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 99,685 (making it Iowa's third-largest city). The city appealed this figure, arguing that the Census Bureau missed a section of residents, and that its total population was more than 100,000. The Census Bureau estimated Davenport's 2019 population to be 101,590.Located approximately halfway between Chicago and Des Moines, Davenport is on the border of Iowa across the river from Illinois. The city is prone to frequent flooding due to its location on the Mississippi River. There are two main universities: St. Ambrose University and Palmer College of Chiropractic, where the first chiropractic adjustment took place. Several annual music festivals take place in Davenport, including the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, the Mississippi Valley Fair, and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. An internationally known 7-mile (11 km) foot race, called the Bix 7, is run during the festival. The city has a Class A minor-league baseball team, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Davenport has 50 plus parks and facilities, as well as more than 20 miles (32 km) of recreational paths for biking or walking. Three interstates, 80, 74 and 280, and two major United States Highways serve the city. Davenport has seen steady population growth since its incorporation. National economic difficulties in the 1980s resulted in job and population losses. The Quad Cities was ranked as the most affordable metropolitan area in 2010 by Forbes magazine. In 2007, Davenport, along with neighboring Rock Island, won the City Livability Award in the small-city category from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In 2012, Davenport, and the Quad Cities Metropolitan Area, was ranked among the fastest-growing areas in the nation in the growth of high-tech jobs. Notable natives of the city have included jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Susan Glaspell, former National Football League running back Roger Craig, UFC Welterweight Champion Pat Miletich, IBF Middleweight and WBA Super Middleweight boxing champion Michael Nunn, and former two time WWE Champion and WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins.
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    Have You Booked Your Summer Vacation Rental Yet?

    Panama City is at it again—topping everyone’s summer vacation list. According to a recent study by TripAdvisor Rentals, the town, which boasts 27 miles of shoreline, takes top billing for most popular spot for a summer escape. Florida cities occupy four positions on the top-ten list based on data gathered on TripAdvisor bookings through March 28, 2017. It reflects rentals on properties for June, July, or August. Median July pricing is for two-bedroom rentals in a given destination. Beach destinations, to be sure, make up eight of the ten vacation spots. Ocean City, Maryland clocked in at number two with Destin, Florida; Myrtle Beach, North Carolina; Kissimmee, Florida; and Orlando coming up close behind. Rounding out the list are Alabama’s Gulf Shores; Virginia Beach; Davenport, Florida; and the increasingly popular North Myrtle Beach. Hotels, of course, are plentiful in each of those towns, but if you’re planning to take some serious downtime this summer, you’d be better served renting a house. After all, you can save money by eating in and if you’re traveling with a group, it’s an economical way to plan a long stay. More than half travelers in the Trip Advisor survey book their stay three to five months in advance, which means now’s the time to lock something in while there’s a decent amount of inventory available. And if you’re wondering just how worthwhile a vacation rental is, we’ll tell you that you can get a two-bedroom rental during July in perennially popular Panama City for around $1,843. Myrtle Beach has accommodations for about $1250 and quaint Davenport, Florida, has rentals for under $700. Condos that hover around $1000 for the week actually make Orlando an affordable choice for a family. 

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    10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2011

    Once in a while, you discover a town that has everything—great coffee, food with character, shop owners with purpose. Each year, the Budget Travel team celebrates these places with our "Coolest Small Towns in America" competition. It starts with a call to you—our readers—to nominate the most interesting towns you know with populations of less than 10,000. From there, our editorial team whittles the selections down to the three most promising contenders. It's then up to you to vote on your favorite. This year's winner was Lewisburg—an irresistible small town in West Virginia. Each of the nine runners up has something special to offer, from the quiet, artistic enclave at La Pointe, Wisconsin to the scenic beaches of Astoria, Oregon. In honor of the sixth anniversary of our "Coolest Towns" franchise, we've also compiled a slideshow of all of the contenders from previous years. You won't find a more charming slice of small town Americana than you will right here. 1. LEWISBURG, WEST VIRGINIA (POPULATION 3,830) Arts in AppalachiaA small town is usually lucky if there's a decent one-screen movie theater, maybe a community dance troupe. But a Carnegie Hall? This speck on the map in the Greenbrier River Valley lays claim to one of only four in the world (105 Church St., carnegiehallwv.com, ticket prices vary). The 1902 building now serves as Lewisburg's creative control tower, attracting an unlikely band of artistic characters, back-to-the-land types, and retirees. Jeanne and Michael Christie embody Lewisburg's blend. The duo run the Davenport House B&B, where guests can bottle-feed one of the property's baby lambs after taking coffee and breakfast on their private patio (Tibbiwell Lane, off of Davis Stuart Rd., thedavenporthouse.com, one-bedroom cottage from $120). Michael is a painter whose work has shown in New York City's Hoorn-Ashby gallery, and Jeanne is the former director of front-office operations at the Greenbrier hotel, 10 miles down the road. "You know, you always think of the ideal American town, where the kids are safe, the streets are clean. We have that, but we also have Wynton Marsalis coming through," says Jeanne, who'd just finished a morning of shearing sheep. While Michael is a seventh-generation West Virginian, many of their friends and neighbors are newer to the community, drawn in large part by the creative atmosphere anchored by Carnegie. For example, Hall Hitzig, who goes by the moniker the Crazy Baker, came in 1986 and "never looked back" (thecrazybaker.com). Now, he makes granola in the nearby mountains—and sells it everywhere from Puerto Rico to Arkansas. Hitzig's sticky toffee cake also wins raves at Lewisburg's sunny Stardust Café (102 E. Washington St., stardustcafewv.com, cake slice $8). At Stardust, co-run by Hitzig's twin sister, Destiny, and her daughter Sparrow, glasses are filled with "local spring water" (don't call it tap), and the greens are cultivated largely in local gardens. Lewisburg's arts scene is hardly limited to traditional performers like Marsalis; next door to Stardust, for instance, Tamera Pence identifies the potter of each espresso mug at her year-old emporium, Bella the Corner Gourmet (100 E. Washington St., bellathecornergourmet.com, mugs from $14). "We're very locally driven here," she explains. "And we're also a central hub. I have clients bringing their coolers in all the way from Charleston, more than two and a half hours away." -Nina Willdorf 2. ASTORIA, OREGON (POPULATION 9,477) Pioneers on the PacificAstoria has always been on the frontier, both the Lewis and Clark variety (they set up camp here in 1805) and the geographic (it sits both at the mouth of the Columbia River and in a teeming temperate rain forest). Sure, the place has prettied itself up nicely since those pioneer days with the addition of aging Victorians and craftsman-style bungalows, but the folks in sleepy coastal Astoria have never lost touch with their rough-and-tumble side. Take, for example, the surfers off of Astoria's scenic beaches, where ocean temperatures rarely break 60 degrees until midsummer. "You really have to suit up," says Mark Taylor, owner of Cold Water Surf (1001 Commercial St., coldwatersurf.com). "We're talking five-millimeter wet suits, gloves, and booties—but Astorians have always been a tough bunch!" Even the city's swankiest design hotel, the Commodore, embraces a decidedly masculine and nautical aesthetic (258 14th St., commodoreastoria.com, from $89). Reopened two years ago after being shuttered since 1966, the property pairs modern furnishings with sly nods to the city's history as a seaside cannery hub: thick braided ropes, nautical charts, and fishing floats. As afternoon rolls around, locals gather at the four-year-old Fort George Brewery + Public House for burgers made from local beef, as well as pints of the hoppy Vortex IPA, the Belgian-style Quick Wit ale, and as of this year, the 1811 Pre-Prohibition Lager, created in honor of Astoria's bicentennial (1483 Duane St., fortgeorgebrewery.com, pints from $4.25). You didn't really think these former pioneers would celebrate with champagne, did you? -Beth Collins 3. CLAYTON, NEW YORK (POPULATION 1,978) A River Runs to ItSome shore communities take their location for granted. Not so with Clayton. "I have lunch on the river every day," says Gregory Ingerson, a guide at the 320-ship Antique Boat Museum (750 Mary St., abm.org, admission $12). The curators are so proud of their nautical heritage that they use Q-tips to clean the exhibits, right down to the well-preserved heel marks in the floor of one turn-of-the-century houseboat. Clayton sits on a peninsula that juts out into the St. Lawrence River, so far north that the fire department's boat flies the American and Canadian flags. One of the benefits of that isolation is that the river itself is like a neighbor. In the summer, the old ferry terminal, where wealthy visitors once caught rides to their cottages on the Thousand Islands (birthplace of Thousand Island salad dressing), now hosts concerts. Out on the water, the family-run Ferguson Fishing Charters offers morning fishing trips followed by picnics on a private island, where a guide cooks the day's catch over a fire for lunch (fergusonfishingcharters.com, half-day charters for a group of four $325). Back on dry land, K's Motel & Cottages' two-night "ship watch special" includes a room, a two-and-a-half-hour boat cruise, admission to the Antique Boat Museum, and two meals (1075 State St., thousandislands.com/k, $159 per person). -Ray Pagliarulo 4. EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS (POPULATION 2,073) Honeymoons and MoreSure, you could sleep in one of the Queen Anne-style B&Bs, visit the monumental 67-foot-tall hilltop Christ of the Ozarks, catch a Branson-style show, or hunt for ghosts in the historic downtown. You could easily spend a week on the tourist circuit in this late-1800s Victorian spa retreat. But you'd never get to meet the real Eureka Springs. Eureka Springs may be the honeymoon capital of the Ozarks, but don't let the kitschy, heart-shaped Jacuzzis fool you. "The guy on the street corner playing fiddle?" says local artist Cathy Harris. "He is a trained concert violinist." "And those men at the bar just may be geniuses," adds Harris's husband, J.D., a sculptor with beaded gray dreadlocks. "We had a team win the international Mensa competition two years in a row." The current of creativity bubbles up just about everywhere, if you look hard enough. At the Eureka Thyme gallery, Marsha Havens skips the trinkets of other tourist traps in favor of works that draw on Ozark inspirations: wooden bowls made from found downed trees and clay bird whistles that warble like the real thing (19 Spring St., eurekathyme.com, wooden bowls from $50). You might even say that an artisan spirit is part of the recipe of Garden Bistro, where partners Lana Campbell and Robert Herrera draw from local ingredients for their Amish-style bread baked in flowerpots and unfussy plates of family-style veggies grown on her farm (119 N. Main St., 479/253-1281, pork chops $19). The biggest surprise of all may be the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, a palatial ivy-covered grand hotel with claw-foot tubs and manicured gardens (75 Prospect Ave., crescent-hotel.com, doubles from $129). From this perch, you'll be inclined to look back to see Eureka Springs, but the leafy Ozarks keep the valley all but hidden from view—an apt vista for a town dubbed Tree City USA. -Nicholas DeRenzo 5. LA POINTE, WISCONSIN (POPULATION 309) A Superior HamletIt's called the Island Wave, and to the folks on Madeline Island—a quiet, North Woods enclave of artists on Lake Superior—it means you greet everyone, even when you're driving. It's a lovely idea, but in summer it can get, well, dangerous. That's when La Pointe, the island's only town, swells with visitors. "The line goes out the door for hours on July 4th," says Marie Noha, owner of the Mission Hill Coffee House (105-106 Lakeview Pl., on Middle Rd., 715/747-3100, coffee $1.45). And then there's the winter, when the only way off Manhattan-size Madeline is by wind sled or ice road. Then the Island Wave becomes a way to connect to the outside world. "I don't mind the loneliness," says Amitty Romundstad, manager of the Inn on Madeline Island (641 Main St., madisland.com, doubles from $95). The literary and opera societies meet in the off-season, and occasionally there's a gorgeous show put on courtesy of the northern lights, when hearty La Pointe locals gather on the ice road to be dazzled together. "We're not a community," says novelist and boat captain Richard Coleman. "We're a tribe." -Debra Weiner 6. PHOENICIA, NEW YORK (POPULATION 309) A Riverside RetreatThe library in Phoenicia burned down this spring, and suddenly there were books everywhere. Not casualties of the fire, but boxes and boxes of donations to replace what was lost. Residents now check out books (and fishing poles) at the temporary library branch housed in the old medical building on Ava Maria Drive. Phoenicia may look like a one-street river town sandwiched between hills in New York's Catskills—it does a wicked tubing business in the summer—but it's got a bookish, cosmopolitan vibe in its soul. "It's not just crazy guys with cars in their yards," says Michael Koegel of Mama's Boy, a hip little cafe and smoothie bar (7 Church St., mamasboymarket.com, mac 'n' cheese $4.95). Like Koegel, many Phoenicians came from Manhattan, and they've brought a healthy dose of quirk with them. For instance, former New Yorker Alan Fliegel, who owns A Community Store, sells locally made clothing and underground comic books—and runs a well-stocked communal art gallery upstairs (60 Main St., 845/688-5395, comic books from $1). Yet like its library that loans fishing poles, Phoenicia hasn't lost touch with its down-home roots. If you spend the night at the cozy Phoenicia Lodge, you may feel like you've woken up in Mayberry (5987 Rte. 28, phoenicialodge.com, doubles from $70). You certainly will after breakfast at Sweet Sue's Restaurant (49 Main St., 845/688-7852, mixed-berry pancakes from $5.25). The pancakes (pumpkin, pineapple-coconut, and 20-plus other varieties) are legendary, as are the lines waiting to get inside. -R.P. 7. NEWTOWN BOROUGH, PENNSYLVANIA (POPULATION 2,384) Amish Country CharmNewtown Borough isn't the kind of place where you'd expect to see millionaires tooling around in a fancy car. In fact, the rural Bucks County burg is close enough to Amish Country that most of the convertibles around these parts are horses-and-buggies. But when Rick Krotz and his brother-in-law Bill Kane hit an astounding sort of daily doubl—Krotz won $607,000 on the Cash 5 lottery in 2006, and Kane netted $3 million from a single scratch-off ticket in 2009—this is exactly the place they wanted to be. Both men grew up nearby and had always loved Newtown's well-worn charms. It's home to the nation's oldest movie theater, Newtown Theatre, a 375-seat, red-brick treasure that's been in operation since 1906 (120 N. State St., newtowntheatre.com, tickets $9). The Brick Hotel, built in 1764 and still looking sharp decked out in hunter green shutters and striped awnings, is one of the few places that can honestly claim that George Washington slept here (1 E. Washington Ave., brickhotel.com, doubles from $80). And director M. Night Shyamalan likes the look of Newtown so much, he filmed Signs here in 2002. So last year, the lottery brothers bought Ned's Cigar Store (4 S. State St., nedscigar.com, cigars from $3). It's now filled with mahogany chairs, cherrywood cabinets—and a steady stream of hopeful lotto-ticket buyers. "I guess they think our luck might rub off on them," Krotz says. "That would really be the dream come true—to sell someone else a big winner." -Andrea Minarcek 8. CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA (POPULATION 896) Unspoiled on the GulfIf someone asked you where to get the best New England clam chowder, you might be inclined to say, "Duh, New England." You'd be wrong—by over 1,000 miles. For the past three years, the Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport, R.I., has been won by Tony's Seafood Restaurant of Cedar Key (597 2nd St., tonyschowder.com, cup $4.65). In fact, the town is America's second-largest producer of farmed clams, one of many surprises in this two-square-mile hamlet 130 miles north of Tampa. Despite its prime location on the Gulf of Mexico, Cedar Key has escaped the pull of developers-its spit of beach isn't long enough to attract large-scale building projects. Instead, it still feels like a ramshackle, old fishing village straight out of Hemingway. "People always say it's like Key West 30 years ago," says innkeeper Ada Lang. Built in 1919 and restored in 2004, Ada's Wabi Sabi Cottage is a time-capsule example of a "Cracker" cottage, a style of wood-frame house popular in the 19th century (689 4th St., 352/543-5696, from $130). The last time outside developers set their sights on Cedar Key was in the late 1880s, when pencil makers carted off the island's namesake cedars. (There's still a bit left in the worn wooden exteriors of tackle shops and clam shacks on Dock Street.) If you're looking to catch your own lunch, Kayak Cedar Keys offers boats specially equipped with rod holders and anchors, perfect for whiling away hours in search of redfish and trout (kayakcedarkeys.com, rentals $50 per day). Weary paddlers can rest up at Point Cottage, an octagonal stilt house overlooking Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge (12218 Franko Circle, pointcottage.com, $179 a night, sleeps six). And there's always dinner at Tony's. The menu is extensive, but don't you dare skip the chowder: The recipe has been entered into the Great Chowder Cook-Off Hall of Fame. -N.D. 9. RIPON, WISCONSIN (POPULATION 7,733) College Town PerfectionThey must have made odd neighbors: the Utopian Socialists on the prairie and the entrepreneurial abolitionists up on the hill. The socialists lived on a commune. The abolitionists later founded the Republican party. And yet, in the 1850s, they joined forces to found Ripon (the town) and then Ripon (the college). Town and gown have been intertwined ever since, proudly perched in the middle of the cornfields 85 miles northwest of Milwaukee. In some college towns, the locals and students get along like rivals at the Michigan-Ohio State football game. Not in Ripon. The professors sit on the local school board. The students sing in the church choirs, and church folk welcome the school's 1,000 or so students with a potluck every fall. Friday evenings in summer, across from the college president's office in the old public library, townies and academics alike turn out for concerts on the Village Green. "My favorite is Tuba Dan's polka band," says Professor Mary Avery, who oversees a student group that helps local businesses, such as the Watson Street Sub Shop, create financial plans (314 Watson St., watsonstreetsubs.com, subs from $6.75). Watson Street in turn lets the students use its storefront for fund-raisers. "We are the quintessential college town," says David Joyce, president of Ripon. "Or maybe it should be the quintessential town with a college?" -D.W. 10. GREENSBURG, KANSAS (POPULATION 777) The Real Emerald CityWhen you pull into Greensburg, you may well think you're not in Kansas anymore: Elegant wind turbines and LED streetlights have replaced cornfields and barns. After a 2007 tornado destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, those who stayed vowed to build the ecofriendliest town ever. "Being green is such a part of our identity that people assume we changed our name after the storm," says Ruth Ann Wedel, site manager of GreenTown, the city's rebuilding campaign. (For the record, the "green" comes from stagecoach driver D.R. Green.) Like the name, the idea of going green dates back further than you'd expect. "These are not hippie-dippy concepts," says Stacy Barnes, director of the 5.4.7 Arts Center (204 W. Wisconsin Ave., 547artscenter.org, free). "These are the same tenets used in pioneer days—south-facing windows in chicken coops to increase sunlight, reusing everything like Mennonites do. We got lazy over the past century." The gallery, named for the day the storm hit, houses contemporary art from around the U.S. Many businesses here pay tribute to the past. Green Bean Coffee Co. serves milkshakes to fill the void left by the destruction of the old soda fountain (105 E. Kansas Ave., notyourmommascoffee.com, shakes $3.50). Nearby, you'll find innovations both high-tech (solar panels) and low (banisters made from tractor parts) at the Silo Eco-Home B&B (402 S. Sycamore St., 620/723-2790, doubles from $110). Just goes to show: It's not so hard being green after all. -N.D.

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    Things To Do In New Orleans During the Final Four

    Heading to New Orleans for the NCAA Final Four men's basketball championships? Well, while you're in the Big Easy, there's plenty to see, do and eat in between games. First and foremost, no trip to New Orleans is complete without a proper po’ boy. Opinions vary widely as to where to go for the best heaping submarine sandwiches, but if you're in the French Quarter, pop into Johnny's Po-Boys for an authentic po' boy experience. For those who want to catch some good jazz while they're in town, head to the legendary Preservation Hall for live jazz nightly from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Not far from the quarter is Frenchmen Street, home to several bars, restaurants and music clubs where an eclectic mix of bands compete for crowds. For a bite to eat on Frenchman Street, head to The Three Muses, where innovative bar snacks and entrees are served with a big side of live music. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Jeremy Davenport plays at the Ritz-Carlton’s Davenport Lounge. Cozy up with a cocktail on one of the lounge's plush couches and enjoy Davenport's horn and vocal sounds. Breakfast of champions? Well, you can't go wrong with beignets and a café au lait at the Café Du Monde. For something more substantial, opt for the jazz brunch at Commander's Palace, then take a stroll through Lafayette Cemetery across the street, and gawk at the amazing mansions in the surrounding Garden District. Take the St. Charles Line streetcar back to the French Quarter. For an off-the-beaten track experience, head to the Backstreet Cultural Museum for a kitschy glimpse into New Orleans’ vibrant African American culture. Not far is the New Orleans African American Museum, which delves even deeper in the city's African American history. Want to get out of the city? Take a Cajun Pride swamp tour for a boat ride through nearby bayous and for some live gator sightings. To experience the Mississippi River, take a dinner and jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. Need a place to stay? Check out these affordable hotels in NOLA. More from Budget Travel: America's Top College Football Towns 15 Things You Didn't Know About New Orleans A Handful of America's Nicest Easter Egg Events

    Budget Travel Lists

    7 Reasons To Visit Connecticut NOW

    An easy day-trip or weekend getaway from most major cities of the northeast, Connecticut offers the perfect mix of New England charm and scenery, Ivy League college town flavor, and enough action to satisfy every food lover and history buff. Here's why New Haven, Mystic, and Essex need to be on your fall getaway bucket list. See the fall colors Largely due to the state's temperate seaside weather, the colors of Connecticut's leaves tend to be colorful longer than most in other New England states, typically from early October through early November, so now is the time to go! Catch a glimpse of the fall foliage by taking a ride on the Essex Steam Train, where you can take an hour-long tour through the Connecticut wilderness from the comfort of your comfy swivel chair (first class section only). Part of the Valley Railroad Company's fleet since the late 1800s, the Essex Steam Train offers several touring options Thursday thru Monday: a regular coach seat ($19 for adults, $10 for children), a first class ticket ($31 for adults, $22 for children), and the option to make your trip a steam train and riverboat adventure (from $29 for adults, from $19 for children). Whichever way you choose to ride, you'll learn a little about the history of the area and have access to some of the best views of nature in the state—and a peek at nearby Gillette Castle in East Haddam. Adrenaline junkies can drive about an hour north and experience the fall colors by zip line Sunday thru Tuesday at The Adventure Park at Storrs (from $38 for adults ages 12 and up, $33 for children ages 10 and 11, $28 for children ages 7-9). Visit the Yale campus and world-class museums—for free! One of New Haven's biggest draws is that it's home to Yale, a beautiful Ivy League University that offers free guided campus tours Monday thru Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on weekends at 1:30 p.m. Tours are about an hour and 20 minutes and depart from the Yale Visitor Center located at 149 Elm Street. If you'd rather stroll the grounds at your own pace, you can purchase a copy of the Blue Trail map at the Visitor Center for less than $5 and have access to a brief history of the campus and suggested routes for exploring the historic campus. Also on campus are top notch museums like the Yale University Art Gallery, home to Van Gogh's Le Café de Nuit among other treasures, the Yale Center for British Art—where you can see pieces by Sir Peter Paul Rubens and William Blake among others (Note: Currently closed for Conservation and reopening in Spring of 2016)—and the Knights of Columbus Museum—all of which are free and open to the public. Unleash your inner foodie In New Haven, stop by a student favorite, Claire's Corner Copia, and try the Lithuanian cake. Warm up with a hot Russian fruit tea, kind of like a delicious cross between mulled wine and sangria but with no alcohol and twice as much fruit. Stop by Louis' Lunch to taste America's First Hamburger—a steal at $6; grab a $4 slice of homemade pie and a $2 Foxon Park Soda to wash it all down with. For the best pizza and happy hour in town, head to Kitchen Zinc for signature artisinal pies like Lobster Mac & Cheese or my favorite, Fig & Speck, and a chance to mingle with the Yale after-class crowd for al fresco cocktails, $5 draft beer and wine specials, and half-price pizzas Tuesday thru Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 9 p.m. til 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Movie buffs should visit Mystic Pizza, located about an hour away in Mystic, Conn., owned and operated by the Zelepos family since 1973, and the setting for the film starring Julia Roberts. In Essex, about a half hour away, stop by the Essex Coffee and Tea Company on Main Street for a swig of steamed apple cider and according to them, "the best macaroons in the known universe." (I concur). Experience living history at Mystic Seaport One of the biggest attractions in Connecticut is Mystic Seaport, a living history village by the sea where you can experience how things were in this late-18th-century maritime settlement. Don't miss the chance to tour the Charles W. Morgan, a historic whaleship, and the Joseph Conrad, a full-rigged ship, both of which are currently docked at Mystic Seaport. You'll also have the chance to walk around town, tour models of what homes were like during the time, visit the chemist, chapel, school house, and print shop among other town staples, and see the L.A. Dunton, a National Historic Landmark 19th-century fishing boat. Mystic Seaport is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tickets start at $25 for adults ages 18-64, $23 for seniors over age 65, $23 for college students with a valid I.D., and $16 for children ages 6-17. Children ages five and under get in free. The best part? Your ticket automatically includes a second day's admission as long as you re-visit within the week and get it validated on the way out. Treat yourself to dinner and a show Connecticut is home to many theatres, but there's nothing quite like seeing a show at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. Walking from the parking lot over the bridge and hearing 20s music play as you enter harkens back to the golden age of theater and really makes it feel like you're entering another time. For a great night out, try the Friday Dinner Theatre Package, from $82 per person, for a three-course dinner at the Gelston House and a ticket to the 8 p.m. performance—just make sure you make reservations before 2 p.m. on the day you plan to visit. Stay in a historic B&B—or in the center of New Haven in style Use the Westbrook Inn as your base for exploring the Essex, East Haddam, and Mystic areas, all of which are within a 30-minute drive. Not only is this adorable B&B is super elegant—featuring nine Victorian style antique rooms and a two-bedroom cottage—but the owners are really friendly, and best of all, you're just a five-minute walk from the beach. You'll also have private bathrooms, complimentary access to WiFi, and hotel-like amenities like hair dryers, irons, and TV, as well as complimentary use of the B&B's extensive library and game collection. Family game night, anyone? Rooms from $139 a night including free parking and a delicious breakfast in the morning. Stay in the middle of all the action at the luxurious Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, located on Temple Street, an easy 5 minute walk from campus. New Haven is such an easy city to walk around, with most attractions being within walking distance of the hotel, so I parked my car there and went for a stroll around town. For great views of the Yale campus from above, treat yourself to breakfast (or brunch, lunch, or dinner) at John Davenport's at the Top of the Park, located on the Omni's top floor. Rooms at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale start at $185 a night this time of year. Check their website for more info about seasonal sales and packages. It's easy to get around New Haven is about a 90-minute drive (or train ride!) from New York City but having a car is highly recommended for exploring the parts of Mystic, Essex, and East Haddam mentioned in this story—I was able to rent a car on Hotwire.com from $27 a day from where I live in Queens, NYC. These places also make a great getaway or day-trip from Boston, Providence, and other cities and areas of the northeast, so make a road trip out of it. Check out CTvisit.com for more vacation ideas.

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    DESTINATION IN Illinois

    Moline

    Moline ( moh-LEEN) is a city located in Rock Island County, Illinois, United States. With a population of 43,977 in 2010, it is the largest city in Rock Island County. Moline is one of the Quad Cities, along with neighboring East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois and the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa. The Quad Cities have an estimated population of 381,342. The city is the ninth-most populated city in Illinois outside the Chicago Metropolitan Area. The corporate headquarters of Deere & Company is located in Moline, as was Montgomery Elevator, which was founded and headquartered in Moline until 1997, when it was acquired by Kone Elevator, which has its U.S. Division headquartered in Moline. Quad City International Airport, Niabi Zoo, Black Hawk College, and the Quad Cities campus of Western Illinois University-Quad Cities are located in Moline. Moline is a retail hub for the Illinois Quad Cities, as South Park Mall and numerous big-box shopping plazas are located in the city. In the mid-1990s, the city undertook major efforts to revitalize its central business district, which had declined after suburban growth and retail changes after the 1950s and 1960s. Today, Moline's downtown again serves as one of the civic and recreational hubs of the Quad Cities; many events take place at the 12,000-seat TaxSlayer Center (formerly known as The MARK of the Quad Cities and iWireless Center) and at John Deere Commons. Downtown Moline features hotels such as Radisson, The Element Moline, The Axis Hotel, and Stoney Creek Inn, along with commercial areas such as Bass Street Landing and the historic 5th Avenue. Moline acquired its name after it was platted (surveyed and planned) in 1843. The name derives from the French moulin meaning "mill town".