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    St. Louis,

    Missouri

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    St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri, United States. It sits near the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, on the western bank of the latter. As of 2020, the city proper had a population of around 301,500, while the bi-state metropolitan area, which extends into Illinois, had an estimated population of over 2.8 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, the second-largest in Illinois, the seventh-largest in the Great Lakes Megalopolis, and the 20th-largest in the United States. Before European settlement, the area was a regional center of Native American Mississippian culture. St. Louis was founded on February 14, 1764, by French fur traders Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, who named it for Louis IX of France. In 1764, following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War, the area was ceded to Spain. In 1800, it was retroceded to France, which sold it three years later to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase; the city was then the point of embarkation for the Corps of Discovery on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In the 19th century, St. Louis became a major port on the Mississippi River; from 1870 until the 1920 census, it was the fourth-largest city in the country. It separated from St. Louis County in 1877, becoming an independent city and limiting its own political boundaries. St. Louis had a brief run as a world-class city in the early 20th century. In 1904, it hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the Summer Olympics. A "Gamma" global city with a metropolitan GDP of more than $160 billion in 2017, metropolitan St. Louis has a diverse economy with strengths in the service, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and tourism industries. It is home to nine of the ten Fortune 500 companies based in Missouri. Major companies headquartered or with significant operations in the city include Ameren Corporation, Peabody Energy, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Anheuser-Busch, Wells Fargo Advisors, Stifel Financial, Spire, Inc., MilliporeSigma, FleishmanHillard, Square, Inc., U.S. Bank, Anthem BlueCross and Blue Shield, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Centene Corporation, and Express Scripts. Major research universities include Saint Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis. The Washington University Medical Center in the Central West End neighborhood hosts an agglomeration of medical and pharmaceutical institutions, including Barnes-Jewish Hospital. St. Louis has three professional sports teams: the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League, and the St. Louis BattleHawks of the newly formed XFL. In 2019, the city was awarded a Major League Soccer franchise, St. Louis City SC, which is expected to begin play upon the completion of a 22,500-seat stadium in the city's Downtown West neighborhood in 2023. Among the city's notable sights is the 630-foot (192 m) Gateway Arch in the downtown area. St. Louis is also home to the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden, which has the second-largest herbarium in North America.
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    Budget Travel Lists

    10 Macabre Cities to Visit for Halloween

    New Orleans, Louisiana From above ground mausoleums and tombs to haunted hotels to voodoo culture, New Orleans has a distinct culture that involves elements of the macabre. Founded in 1718 before the United States was officially founded, it has a history full of urban legends, including werewolves prowling the bayou or vampires in the French Quarter. Popular landmarks include the tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau in the St. Louis Cemetery, walking past the gruesome past of LaLaurie Mansion, or Blacksmith’s Shop Bar where the ghost of pirate Jean Lafitte resides. Walk the cobblestone streets past brightly colored houses with iron balconies on a ghost tour on a foggy night to experience the unusual. Savannah, Georgia Savannah may ooze more than southern charm. With more than 300 years of gruesome history, the entire historic district is reportedly haunted. There’s been rumors and sightings of paranormal activity at Hamilton-Turner Inn as well as Marshall House, a haunted hotel that was a hospital three times in the past. Madison Square was the site of a bloody Civil War battle and has many haunted mansions that line the streets. Wander through Bonaventure Cemetery or Colonial Park Cemetery if you dare. Sleepy Hollow, New York This village thrives in its folklore history due to the Headless Horsemen in the famous story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. You may experience a ghostly encounter when walking through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery or exploring the town by lantern and shining jack-o-lanterns. Wander through popular colonial era manors include Philipsburg Manor, Van Cortlandt Manor, or Lyndhurst Mansion to learn more about local Sleepy Hollow history and haunts. Salem, Massachusetts Founded in 1626 as a Puritan fishing community, Salem is the location of the famous 1692 Salem witch trials in which Colonial America’s mass hysteria led to 19 people being hanged with more dying from other causes. Much of the town’s cultural identity revolves around this event, and many of the sites from the witch trials over 300 years ago still stand. Many historic sites are reportedly haunted, including one of the oldest cemeteries in the country, Old Burying Point Cemetery, and home of a Witch Trial Judge, The Witch House. Explore the muted colors of the town and brick-paved streets yourself to learn more about the sinister history rooted here. Tombstone, Arizona Riddled with a violent past, this historic mining ghost town is said to be home to lingering spirits of cowboys, grieving mothers, and citizens killed in large fires. OK Corral, the site of the famous Old West gunfight, is reportedly haunted by the cowboys. Boot Hill Graveyard and Bird Cage Theatre are popular destinations where unexplainable phenomena occur in Tombstone. St. Augustine, Florida Presumably the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers and is home to centuries of history, beautiful houses, and supposedly, spirits. The masonry fortress Castillo de San Marcos is the location of many battles and invasions. Dangerous criminals in grotesque conditions were held at The Old Jail and apparitions with tragic deaths have been described at St. Augustine Lighthouse. Stroll the cobblestone streets among the Spanish colonial architecture to immerse yourself in this ancient city. San Francisco, California Among the vibrant scenery and sloping hills, some locations around San Francisco may send you chills even amidst the warm weather. Alcatraz, or “The Rock,” is a famous maximum-security military prison and haunted landmark that housed inmates including Al Capone. See if you hear voices or footsteps behind you if you visit. Take your pick of the macabre from friendly ghosts at The Queen Anne Hotel, dead army men performing their daily routine at the National Park The Presidio, or ethereal beings at the Sutro Baths. Charleston, South Carolina Known as a port city with cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages, Charleston also has some dark history from the first shots of the Civil War fired at Fort Sumter to slave labor on plantations. Learn about the macabre with locations like the White Point Garden where 50 pirates were hanged in the 1700s, the Old City Jail which housed the state’s first female serial killer, or The Old Exchange Building & Provost Dungeon which held Revolutionary War soldiers. San Antonio, Texas Bursting with rich culture and modern attractions, San Antonio also has a creepy past. The Menger Hotel is reputed to have strange occurrences but is decidedly the location of The Battle of the Alamo, Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders recruitment, and a devastating fire. The Southern Texas region also gives way to the Spanish urban legend of La Llorona, the weeping woman. Walk along the river or visit the Alamo Williamsburg, Virginia Existing as early as the 18th-century, Williamsburg has diverse Colonial America history, including part in the U.S. Civil War. Not all of its history is for the faint of heart though. Said to be cursed by the slave of the wife, the Peyton Randolph House was built in 1715 and the location of at least 30 deaths. The Public Hospital was the country’s first insane asylum Other haunted locations are the Wythe House, colonial prison Public Gaol, and Fort Magruder Hotel which was the site of the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862.

    Budget Travel Lists

    11 social distancing adventures near New Orleans

    In New Orleans, the famous strip of bars and restaurants dubbed Bourbon Street holds some of the most active nightlife, but in March, everything was turned upside down by the arrival of COVID-19. New Orleans was hit dramatically at the start of the stateside pandemic. The city has progressed through the reopening phases slower than the rest of the state of Louisiana. Louisiana is currently in phase two, allowing for restaurants to open at 50% capacity among other restrictions. Considering that case counts remain low, among other requirements, New Orleans plans to move up phases every two weeks. Even so, tourist trips to New Orleans are still possible. Here are ten ways to explore this hub of culture and history while waiting for the city to fully open up. 1. Audubon Park Take a walk through the wild and reconnect with nature at the Audubon Park. Located in historic Uptown, Audubon Park offers countless outdoor adventures. Rent bicycles to ride through the trees. Walk along the Mississippi River, Or take a look at the planetarium to see the history behind the famous draping trees. Masks are required. Photo: Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock2. Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge Lace-up your outdoor shoes and head to the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge to walk among wildlife like alligators, deer, and unique breeds of birds. The refuge is located just northeast of New Orleans. The refuge requires you to maintain social distancing guidelines as there are no closures at this time due to COVID-19. 3. The Fly “Tucked behind Audubon Zoo across the Mississippi River levee, this waterfront portion of Audubon Park is a great spot to relax and take a breath from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans. Known to locals as ‘The Fly', folks come out here to hang out, toss a frisbee, have a crawfish boil, barbecue, or watch the sun go down over the river,” according to their website. 4. Bayou St. John The banks of Bayou St. John neighborhood provide an off-the-beaten-path chance for adventure. Rent a kayak at Bayou Paddlesports to let out the water sports fanatic inside. Explore firsthand one of New Orleans’s most famous waterways on a kayak or a paddle board. 5. Crescent City Connection Bridges Take a walk overlooking the city skyline, especially beautiful at dusk. These bridges connect over the Mississippi River and provide countless beautiful views. Photo credit: Allard One/Shutterstock6. Fontainebleau State Park 43 minutes North of New Orleans, in Mandeville, lies this multifaceted state park. Only a few of the many activities include riding bicycles through the Tammany Trace, staying in lakefront cabins in the style of old fishing camps from the 1930’ and even laying on the white sandy beaches of Lake Pontchartrain. 7. New Orleans Botanical Gardens Explore ten acres of gardens in the heart of New Orleans. Founded in the 1930s, these gardens have been cultivated for 90 years and features over 2,000 different plants. The gardens offer educational and inspirational experiences. Reserve your ticket online here. 8. St. Louis CemeteryBecause New Orleans is built on swamp land, cemeteries have to be built above ground. The result is a myriad of eerie, historic "cities of the dead." St. Louis Cemetery is home to over 100,000 dead. Wander around the cemetery and imagine the lives of the people interred there. ©John Wang/Getty Images9. Couterie Forest The Couterie Forest is the highest point of elevation in New Orleans. It is a perfect way to escape the city without ever leaving. Home to a Bird Reservoir and countless paths through swamps and ancient trees, the Forest transports you to another land. This outing is perfect for bird watchers too. “Couturie Forrest was named New Orleans’ top bird-watching destination, and it’s not uncommon for birders to see 40 species or more in a single outing,” says their website. 10. Bike Ride through River Road River Road is the home to the grandest homes in New Orleans. However, these homes were once plantations, making their wealth off of the labor of slaves. Even so, learn about the history of the city and the meaning behind its founding through a bicycle tour. It is the perfect combo for history buffs and bicycle lovers. ©Chris Moore - Exploring Light Photography/Getty Images 11. Saint Bernard Parish The parish is the perfect spot for history buffs. An hour out of New Orleans, this was the location of the Battle of New Orleans. Walk where soldiers from the 1800s once walked. Learn more about the battles and histories behind the founding of the city. Then take an exclusive boat tour through the surrounding bayou while you’re at it! Ann Florence Brown is a Budget Travel intern for summer 2020. She is a Senior in Journalism at the University of Mississippi.

    Inspiration

    Coastal Mississippi provides adventure and variety for the budget traveler

    There is an incredible amount to do, see and experience across Coastal Mississippi: from outdoor activities, such as kayaking, boating, fishing and hiking, to a wide variety of attractions, museums, festivals, world-class gaming, and championship golf courses. When it comes to food, this is the place to be! From quaint coastal seafood spots to fine dining, we’ve got it all. In short, Coastal Mississippi checks all the boxes: great food, great weather, great prices, great people, and a great way of life. With 55 percent of frequent travelers saying they primarily travel to discover new experiences, cultures, lifestyles, food, and places, regularly using terms such as “hidden gem,” “undiscovered,” and “unexpected,” Coastal Mississippi – The Secret Coast is perfectly poised to surprise and delight as a region that offers all the relaxation, adventure and variety that travelers want without the overexposure that they don’t! Ocean Springs Front beach. Credit: Alex North Photography Here is a brief overview of what The Secret Coast has to offer: Outdoor activities. We offer some phenomenal outdoor experiences, such as world-class golfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, birding, fishing, boating our many waterways, Schooner sails, and even a 70-minute shrimping trip, that is an absolutely wonderful excursion for the entire family, and shows you exactly how shrimp and other marine life live and end up on our plates! Have some fun in the sun and explore the barrier islands that sit just miles off Coastal Mississippi. With white-sand beaches and beautiful Gulf waters, the islands are an ideal day trip. While all of the barrier islands offer something unique that is worth exploring, Ship Island is the most accessible to travelers thanks to its ferry service out of Biloxi and Gulfport.Our culinary scene is booming: the Mississippi Coast has a huge variety of gastronomic offerings, from beach seafood shacks serving the freshest Gulf seafood, to fine dining (including two James Beard nominees!) and fusion cuisine. There is something to satisfy every taste bud, and there are plenty of hands-on opportunities to experience the very essence of Coastal Mississippi’s culinary scene.Culture fix at the world-renowned Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (designed by famous architect Frank Gehry!), and discover the beautifully eccentric world of the illustrious Anderson family at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and Shearwater Pottery Workshop and Showroom. Ocean Springs and Bay St. Louis boast wonderfully artsy, walkable downtown areas amongst the ancient live oaks, where you can wander in and out of shops, galleries, bars and restaurants all day long. Festivals held across the Coast throughout the year, showcasing the region’s crafts, artisan-made items, local delicacies, seafood, talented musicians and much more. To get to the moon, you must go through Mississippi first! The INFINITY Science Center is NASA's official visitor center for the Stennis Space Center, and offers a blend of space, Earth science, engineering and technology content, spiced with innovative programming, that leverages expertise from the area's leading-edge research and test operations. This combination guarantees an experience you will not find anywhere else.Coastal Mississippi offers an array of lodging options to cater to any preference, from luxury casino resorts and international hotel brands, to boutique hotels and Coastal bed-and-breakfast inns.For those on a budget, this is the place for you: Forbes and similar outlets have released the states where $100 goes the farthest, and Mississippi topped the list. There are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of free things to do in the area, as well as reasonably priced offerings or ways to save as you explore are around every corner, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast Attraction Pass, priced at $45, valued at $80. Credit: Coastal MississippiRoad Trip Across The Secret Coast Highway 90 runs all the way from West Texas to East Florida, but the most beautiful part is right here in Coastal Mississippi. Scenic Highway 90 takes you right by the Gulf of Mexico and a 26-mile-long beach (view video HERE), all the way from Waveland, MS to Moss Point, MS, across two stunning bay bridges and right past many historic sights worth seeing. On your Highway 90 journey between the Louisiana and Alabama borders, you will pass through several beautiful and unique towns, all offering their own charming personality: Waveland The only city on the Gulf Coast to prohibit commercial buildings on its beachfront, Waveland offers miles of unobstructed beach views of the Gulf of Mexico. Buccaneer State Park offers relaxing, small-town beach camping, a beachfront waterpark, and a host of nature-based activities, such as birding, crabbing, and kayaking. Bay St. Louis Considered “a place apart”, this quaint seaside town was named one of the ‘Coolest Small Towns in America’ by Budget Travel and was also recognized as a top 10 small beach town by Coastal Living Magazine (2010). From friendly folks to historic buildings, this unique city embraces the heritage of our region. Pass Christian View unforgettable historic homes and magnificent oaks during your visit to “The Pass”. The area’s unique way of life is defined as relaxed and resolute, casual and carefree. If you’re aiming to find a friendly and laid-back atmosphere, Pass Christian offers it in large doses. Pick up a one-of-a-kind antique or gift from a range of local retailers or grab a locally-brewed coffee at Cat Island Coffeehouse, with an incredible view of the Mississippi Sound. Long Beach If you’re searching for beautiful scenery and a calm southern getaway, Long Beach is the perfect place for you. Ride through this bicycle-friendly town and rent kites for the little ones while at the public beach. Stop into any of the local eateries to experience an eclectic array of culinary delights – many served up with an incredible view of the Mississippi Sound. Gulfport Offering a plethora of parks and water recreation areas throughout the city, up-close-and-personal adventures with marine life, zip-lining tours through the coastal canopies, and an array of dining and entertainment options, Gulfport has something for everyone. Take a boat excursion out to Ship Island, a fishing charter to some of the best spots, or simply stroll around Gulfport’s beautiful harbor and eclectic downtown area, featuring an ever-evolving public art scene in an old fishmonger’s alley. Coming soon to Gulfport: Mississippi Aquarium! Biloxi Once known as the “Seafood Capital of the World”, Biloxi offers both revival and relaxation in equal measures. Jet-ski in the Gulf of Mexico, take a Shrimping Trip or a sunset sail on a Biloxi Schooner, or relax with your toes in the white sand and enjoy the beautiful views of the Mississippi Sound. Catch a Biloxi Shuckers baseball game and sample some locally-brewed coastal cold ones, or challenge your friends to a game of blackjack and watch a headliner show at one of the casinos. The options are endless. Biloxi Schooner. Credit: Coastal Mississippi. Ocean Springs Known as the City of Discovery by locals and visitors alike, this historic coastal town is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a whole host of experiences. A quaint, Main Street community nestled amongst centuries-old live oaks on the scenic shore of Coastal Mississippi, Ocean Springs boasts a rich history, artistic flair, lush landscape and small-town appeal. Colorful and sophisticated, this community is known for its arts and festivals. It is home to the Ocean Springs Art Association representing more than 300 local artists, the largest annual fine arts festival in the state, Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and Shearwater Pottery. With over 200 independent shops, galleries, restaurants and nightlife, this community captures southern, small-town charm with its walkability, white sand beaches, and year-round activity. Pascagoula Mississippi’s Flagship City boasts incredible antebellum architecture and a rich 300-year history. Pirate Jean Lafitte, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Zachary Taylor, and Jimmy Buffett all spent time in Pascagoula and considered it home, a hideaway or a respite throughout the years. Visit La Pointe-Krebs House, circa 1718, in all its rugged splendor with a panoramic view of Krebs Lake. Spend the afternoon at Scranton Nature Center at I.G. Levy Park, featuring a variety of exhibits. Or simply relax with a picnic at Beach Park for the day, overlooking the Mississippi Sound. Moss Point Home to some of the most beautiful and unique natural habitats, Moss Point is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Visit the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, located along the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48, and discover the amazing world of Coastal Mississippi’s abundant native flora and fauna by kayak or on a River, Marsh & Bayou boat tour. Anna Roy is the Public/Media Relations Manager for Coastal Mississippi. This piece was produced for Budget Travel's Rediscover America series.

    Road Trips

    How to road trip the Midwest on a budget

    Defined by wide-open swathes of farmland, friendly small towns and attractive urban cities (not to mention the bonus of much lower prices for gas and lodging than you’d expect to pay on the coasts), this down-to-earth territory holds all the makings of a memorable road trip. St. Louis, Missouri With affordable attractions, tasty food and river city culture, St. Louis makes a great starting point to kick off a Midwestern road trip. At 630ft, the iconic Gateway Arch is required viewing, and America’s tallest man-made monument. The CityArchRiver project recently revamped the land that surrounds the landmark, updating facilities and adding green space and bike trails. Take the tram ride to the top for the best bird’s eye view in town, or catch a ride to cruise the mighty Mississippi on a paddlewheel-powered riverboat (snagging an America the Beautiful Pass will save you a few bucks on ticket prices). During baseball season, Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village come alive with avid Cardinals fans rooting for the home team. Even if you’re not attending the game, the sports energy in town is contagious. Site of the 1904 World’s Fair, 1300-acre Forest Park is a one-stop cultural cache that includes museums, a zoo, a science center, a greenhouse, lakes and pedestrian paths — all free to access. There’s no charge to tour the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery grounds and admire the Budweiser Clydesdales either. After exploring, sample some classic fried ravioli at any of the old-school Italian restaurants on the Hill and order up some ice cream or frozen custard at Ted Drewe’s. See the full list: 51 affordable discoveries across America 2020 Hop on Route 66 to get your kicks © Flash Parker / Moment / Getty Route 66 Heritage Project, Illinois Get your kicks! Gearing up to celebrate its centennial in 2026, America’s Mother Road accounts for 300 miles of scenic byway on its Central Illinois leg between St. Louis and Chicago, (running 2,400 all told out to California). Meet up with Route 66 by crossing the Mississippi River at the Chain of Rocks Bridge and make a day of it heading northeast to take in the scenery through Litchfield, Springfield, Bloomington/Normal and Pontiac. Commemorate the journey by snapping selfies against Americana-rich backdrops like the 30ft Gemini Giant at Wilmington’s Launching Pad drive-in, Paul Bunyon holding a hot dog in Atlanta and the Joliet Correctional Center where Jake and Elwood served time in the Blues Brothers. Hole up in a mom-and-pop motel if you need a break from the long day of driving, and keep your own motor running with a pit stop to refuel at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook. A mix of museums and public art await you in Chicago © roman_slavik / Shutterstock Chicago, IL Route 66 ultimately deposits travelers in Chicago at the end of the road. A two-time World’s Fair host, the Windy City delivers a winning combination of history, sports, food and culture, inviting visitors to stick around and explore for as long as they like. Take your pick of Museum Campus attractions like the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum, then venture north up Michigan Avenue to the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Hot tip: a CityPASS packages these and a couple other top attractions to save visitors 50% on premium admission prices across the board. After strolling through Millennium Park and taking a few photos at the Bean, take a spin on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier and window-shop your way up the Magnificent Mile. Chicago boasts a strong theater community with performing arts showcases, concerts and events happening every night of the week, often with last-minute or day-of ticket discounts available. You definitely won’t lack for great eats, whether you opt to indulge in affordable local favorites like deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs and global cuisine galore, or splurge on a high-end meal at one of the city’s finest dining establishments. Milwaukee is a former Rust Belt city with a under-the-radar food and drink scene © Visit Milwaukee / JMKE Photography Milwaukee, Wisconsin From Chicago, it’s just a quick 90-minute journey north up I-94/I-41 to Milwaukee, a town that manages to stay humble while still impressing visitors with its style and substance. The Harley-Davidson Museum is a pilgrimage destination for legions of brand-loyal customers. After a visit, learn all about the city’s beer heritage with a tour of Miller Brewery or Sprecher Brewery. You’ll need something to eat, and wholesome dairy is what’s on the menu (this is Wisconsin, after all), namely in the form of cheese curds, butter burgers and frozen custard. Milwaukee’s Public Market in the Third Ward offers a one-stop opportunity to sample it all under one roof. When the weather’s nice, the river and lakefront encourage locals and visitors to get outside and enjoy some water recreation. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Art Museum (the Santiago Calatrava-designed “wings” that fan open and shut twice a day are a free show in and of themselves), a reputable repertory theater and a rocking roster of summer festivals keep Milwaukee solidly rooted in the arts. At the end of the day, the historic (and haunted?) Pfister Hotel proposes stylish confines in which to rest your weary head. Visiting Lambeau Field packed with Green Bay fans is an experience like nothing else © Brenda Spaude Green Bay, Wisconsin Keep on trucking up I-43 for about two hours and join “the Pack” in Green Bay, Wisconsin’s oldest settled community where pro football reigns supreme. Don some green and yellow to show your loyalty for raucous tailgating at the 80,000+ seat Lambeau Field; the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, tours of the stadium and the Titletown entertainment district next door are available all year long. Sports aren’t the only attraction here, though — breathtaking hiking territory abounds with landscapes that show off dolomite cliffs, waterfalls and beachfronts. Made from hearty stock, Green Bay residents don’t shy away from the long cold winters, opting instead to make the most of the season with ice skating, tubing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. You can always thaw out in front of any of the local restaurants, cafes and brewpubs that feature cozy fireplaces. Or, belly up to a local bar for a good old traditional Friday-night Wisconsin fish fry. Duluth, Minnesota It’s a five-hour jaunt across S.R. 29 to Chippewa Falls and then up US 53 over the Minnesota state line into Duluth. Along the idyllic banks of Lake Superior, the great outdoors are alive and well here, especially during the fall when the Northwoods foliage bursts into spectacular shades of burnished orange, red and gold. Settled by the Sioux and Chippewa tribes, the city now serves as entrance to the North Shore Scenic Drive that runs 154 miles up to Grand Portage, just shy of the Canadian border. The Aerial Lift Bridge is Duluth’s crown-jewel landmark, raising and lowering nearly two dozen times each day to accommodate the passage of ships and boats traveling into and out of the harbor. The Canal Park district appeals to visitors with charming local restaurants to frequent and the Lakewalk to wander. Gooseberry Falls is one of Minnesota's best parks © Explore Minnesota / Micah Kvidt Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota From Duluth, follow the North Shore Scenic Byway 40 miles northeast past glimpses of the lake, forests and rock formations to wind down the journey at Gooseberry Falls, one of Minnesota’s most stunning state parks. Stretch your legs with a walk around the Falls View Loop to drink in the namesake Upper, Middle and Lower cascades. A slice of cherry crunch or French Silk at Betty’s Pies in nearby Two Harbors makes the perfect sweet finale. You might also like: Midwest travel ideas: 8 under-the-radar destinations to visit in America’s HeartlandHow to road-trip Canada on a budgetAudiobooks to narrate your US road trip Produced by Budget Travel for GEICO. All editorial views are those of Budget Travel alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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    The 10 Best Zoos in the US

    There are plenty of fun, interesting ways to walk on the wild side all across North America, but these destination zoos lead the pack by offering some of the most memorable visitor experiences rooted in animal encounters, community outreach, conservation efforts, unique programming and special events. Lincoln Park Zoo The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 on Chicago’s north side, making it one of the oldest in the country. Movie buffs might remember the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House from its appearance in the 1999 film Return to Me; although the habitat has since transformed into the $26 million Regenstein Center for African Apes, the mighty gorillas are still a major draw. There’s also an amazing conservatory on site to check out. Best of all, the zoo stays open 365 days a year, and while you may have to pay for parking, admission is always free. San Diego Zoo Long respected for its conservation initiatives, the Balboa Park-based San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals across 650 different species, many rare or endangered. The property is massive and navigation can be a little overwhelming; double-decker bus tours make it easier to get the lay of the land. A few of the most popular animal attractions include the Australian Outback koalas, the 2.5-acre elephant habitat and the penguin-populated Africa Rocks exhibit. Hearts broke when the zoo’s beloved giant pandas were returned to their Chinese homeland in spring 2019. However, the adorable red pandas are still around to admire. Cincinnati Zoo Paired with a world-class botanical garden, the Cincinnati Zoo has been delighting Midwestern youngsters and their families since 1875 when it opened under the direction of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A pioneer in successful breeding efforts, the facility launched the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in 1986 to help propagate and preserve globally endangered species. Amid the lovingly tended collection of animal exhibits, visitors tend to gravitate toward the cheetah run, the meerkats and the lions, but the world-famous Fiona — a charming young hippo born in early 2017 — is the biggest animal celebrity in residence. Bronx Zoo A much-loved New York City fixture since 1899 and the largest city zoo in the US, the Bronx Zoo gives guests a glimpse into the world-wide animal kingdom within the beating heart of the urban jungle. With more than 260 forested acres to explore and 6,000 animals from aardvarks to zebras, this expansive attraction merits at least a full day to truly appreciate. Expect to do a lot of walking; you can always hop on the Wild Asia monorail or the seasonal Dinosaur Safari for a quick breather. The facility is also notable for having opened the very first veterinarian-staffed animal hospital back in 1916. Henry Doorly Zoo Home to the largest indoor desert habitat in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s soaring glazed geodesic Desert Dome has come to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska. Inside, a 55-foot tall central “mountain” divides the landscape into distinctive Namib, Australian and Sonoran habitats; nocturnal creatures make their home in the Kingdoms of the Night exhibits on the lower level. Elsewhere on the property, immersive Asian Highlands, Alaskan Glacier Bay and African Grasslands exhibits transport visitors around the world without ever leaving Omaha. The stunning Scott Aquarium facility showcases sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Indianapolis Zoo Arranged in five distinctive biome areas, the Indianapolis Zoo delivers a comprehensive visitor experience for animal lovers of all ilks. The organization partners with global researchers to promote animal conservation and education, acknowledging the work of worthy recipients with the coveted Indianapolis Prize awarded annually. The ethereal Dolphin Pavilion often doubles as an event space (guests can even arrange in-water adventures to swim along), and the Simon Skojdt International Orangutan Center furthers efforts to study and support these majestic animals in the wild. Access to the lovely White River Gardens is included in the price of admission. St Louis Zoo One of several appealing attractions that populate Forest Park, the city’s verdant crown jewel, the free-to-visit St Louis Zoo receives approximately 3 million visitors each year. A leader in animal management, conservation and awareness with assistance from the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Institute, this friendly Midwestern facility houses and cares for more than 17,000 resident mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects on site. The zoo originated during the 1904 World’s Fair, taking shape around the original Flight Cage that still stands as part of the Cypress Swamp exhibit in the Historic Hill section. Woodland Park Zoo This Seattle-based organization enlightens visitors as to the vital roles conservation and sustainability play (particularly in the Pacific Northwest region) through field projects and interactive exhibits spanning 70 developed acres. Bioclimate zones range from tropical rainforest and Australasian to temperate forest and African savanna habitats, housing more than 1,100 animals across 300 species. African Lions and Malayan Tigers and Brown Bears — oh my! Don’t miss the Assam Rhino Reserve, a partnership project with the International Rhino Foundation that raises funds to protect these threatened animals from illegal poaching. Detroit Zoo With sections that showcase African forest and grasslands dwellers; Arctic animals; and American, Asian and Australian-hailing creatures, the 125-acre Detroit Zoo offers plenty of incentives to visit. The state-of-the-art Polk Penguin Conservation Center is currently closed until summer 2020 for repairs, but once it reopens, visitors will be able to again observe the antics of 75 resident penguins in a spectacular 25 foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic facility. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the butterfly garden, the bird enclosures and a diverse variety of other animal exhibits. Sedgwick County Zoo Wildlife park meets mainstream animal attraction at this award-winning Wichita zoo, where guests can watch elephants splash, play and eat in the third largest dedicated habitat in the country. Spend some time in the Downing Gorilla Forest, then marvel at the big cats in the immersive Slawson Family Tiger Trek. Animals are grouped according to geographical origin, making it easy to beeline directly to African, Asian, North American or tropical settings. A leisurely wander through the impressive aviary caps off the adventure in fine feathered form.

    Inspiration

    6 Perfect Spots to Immerse Yourself in Southeast Montana's History

    Interstate 94 and 90 are ideal for cruise control with long stretches of highway straight as an arrow. The prairie landscape goes on forever, dotted with cattle, crops, and badlands as you cruise along Interstate 94 and 90 in Southeast Montana. Break up the drive with stops at national monuments and state parks, not only to stretch the legs but to discover the fascinating stories that shaped the West. This corner of Montana has been home to prehistoric people, dinosaurs, homesteaders, and one epic battle between the U.S. Army and Native Americans fighting to preserve their way of life. The gateway to these parts is the city of Billings. The pace of life is slower in these parts of Big Sky Country – enjoy the ride! 1. Pompeys Pillar National Monument Courtesy Donnie SextonStart your journey in Billings, armed with a picnic lunch, then head east 30 miles on I-94 to Pompeys Pillar, a sizable rock outcropping. You’ll see first-hand the only physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from their epic two-year journey to the Pacific Ocean from St. Louis. Part way up this 200 ft. high sandstone rock, Captain William Clark carved his name and date, July 25, 1806. Clark named the rock “Pompy,”a nickname he had given to the son of Sacagawea, the only woman to take part in the expedition. A boardwalk leads to the top of the rock for sweeping views of the Yellowstone River and valley and a chance to view Clark’s signature. The interpretative center is a must stop to learn about this grueling journey. Picnic under shaded cottonwood trees adjacent to the mighty Yellowstone River, the same waterway Clark and his men would utilize on their return trip via dugout canoes. 2. Makoshika State Park Courtesy Donnie SextonContinuing east on I-94, dinosaur lovers will delight in Makoshika, an 11,538-acre badlands park located within a stone’s throw of the town of Glendive. The word Makoshika comes from a Lakota Indian phrase, meaning ‘bad land’ or ‘bad earth.’ Imagine hiking over the playground of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops. Back in 1889, a researcher scouring the area by horseback documented 500 triceratops skulls. The topography, from cap rocks, hoodoos, wrinkled hillsides, deep ravines, and boulders tossed about, begs to be photographed, especially at sunrise and sunset. With over 12 miles of trails, crowds will not be a problem in Makoshika. If your journey is via a motorhome or more adventurous with a tent and sleeping bag, this is the place to spend the night with both designated camping sites as well as backcountry camping. Add to this birding, an archery site, disc golf course, summer programs for kids, an amphitheater, mountain biking, visitor center, scenic drives – Makoshika has you covered! 3. Medicine Rocks State Park Courtesy Donnie SextonIt’s a bit off the beaten path but worth seeking out this otherworldly gem. To reach Medicine Rocks, exit I-94 at Wibaux, then head south on Hwy 7 for approximately 70 miles, passing through the town of Baker. The entrance is clearly marked. The area is characterized by sandstone rock formations, thousands of years in the making, shaped by wind and water, and peppered with holes and caves. It was a vision quest site for Native Americans, who would camp and scour the landscape for buffalo. Charging Bear, a Sioux Indian, described the site as a place “where the spirits stayed, and the medicine men prayed.” Their stories remain in the petroglyphs carved into the rocks. Cowpunchers and settlers of the old west left their names carved into the rocks as well. Don’t be tempted to carve your name on the rocks, as its both illegal and degrades this historic site. Hike it and camp it, and keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, antelope, and sharp-tailed grouse. 4. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Courtesy Donnie SextonSome say there are days when you can hear the war cry of the Lakota and Cheyenne Indians riding into battle against the U.S. Army back on June 25-26, 1876. Often referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, it was one of the last armed efforts by the Plains Indians to protect their land and culture. By the end of the bloody battle, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, along with over 260 men, would lose their lives. Between 60-100 Native Americans were killed, according to estimates. The Little Bighorn Battlefield memorializes the site of the battle. Interpretive signage along the 4.5-mile drive provides an insight into how the action unfolded. The road ends at the Reno-Benteen Battlefield, where additional troops, under the direction of Major Reno and Captain Benteen fought. A visitor center, museum, and Indian memorial, along with a national cemetery, make up the complex. In addition to the drive, walk the Battlefield on the various pathways scattered around this historic site. The Battlefield is 65 miles southeast of Billings on I-90. 5. Pictograph Caves State Park Courtesy Donnie SextonThink back 2,000 years and imagine prehistoric people painting on the walls of one of three caves at this historic state park. Little did these artists know, working in black and white pigments, they were creating a history book of sorts for future generations to understand life in ancient times. Later images, estimated to be 200-500 years old, were created with red pigment and featured rifles, horses, and other animals. The park is a short 15-minute drive from Billings on Coburn Road. The park is day use only and makes for a sweet spot for picnicking. Check out the visitor center and gift shop. Bring binoculars to get an up-close look at the pictographs. Those keen on birding should be amply rewarded with sightings at the park. 6. Chief Plenty Coups State Park Courtesy Donnie SextonIt’s a 40-minute drive via Hwy 416, then 418 to Chief Plenty Coups State Park, the home and farmstead of one of the great leaders of the Crow Tribe. Chief Plenty Coups started as a Crow Warrior, but through his visions, could see the white man taking over the Crow land. He felt it best to adapt and work with the whites so the Crows and their culture could survive. His wisdom and leadership would result in him being appointed chief of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe by age 28. He became one of the first Crow to own a farm and work the land on the Crow Indian Reservation. His efforts to bring harmony between his culture and that of the white people resulted in Plenty Coups being honored by his people as their last traditional tribal chief upon his death. If your visit coincides with their Annual Day of Honor, this year falling on August 31, you can enjoy a free buffalo feast.

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