Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 26, 2020

Beautiful Cedar Rapids


Our armchair travels have taken us to the Midwestern U.S. state of Iowa. The state lies between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It is known for its cornfields and rolling plains.

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We begin with a city in eastern Iowa, Cedar Rapids. The history of the city includes Czech, Slovak, and Moravian vibes. You can see lots of interesting architecture and it is the home of iconic American Gothic artist Grant Wood.

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National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is located in the lovely Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, They offer first-class exhibitions. One of their permanent exhibitions is Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey. This is a multimedia interactive experience covering both World Wars, life in Czechoslovakia during Communist rule, and their journey to the New World. You can see Czech and Slovak ethnic costumes, art, woodworks. There are also concerts and different events.



Brucemore a beautiful 19th-century mansion sits on a historic estate. It is a memorial to the lives of prominent local families. It was built in the Queen Anne style and later renovated. You can enjoy a guided tour of the 21-room mansion and see the art and furnishings. The grounds are lovely and the mansion hosts concerts, theater performances, and other events.


The Paramount Theater opened its doors in 1928 and was known as the Capitol Theater. On the stage, you could see live shows, comedians, dancers, acrobats, and films. It has played host to such celebrities as B.B. King and Willie Nelson. The theater was designed like a palace and has a Hall of Mirrors similar to the one in Versailles. The theater was renamed when it was purchased by Paramount Studios in 1929. It is listed on the National Register of Historic places, Today it is one of only 300 movie palaces left in the U.S. The theater hosts concerts, a Broadway series, and other events.

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The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has the largest collection of artwork by Grant Wood, Jaques Marvin Cone, and Mauricio Lasansky in the world. The Riley Collection offers ancient Roman portrait busts. Part of the museum is Grant Wood’s studio where the artists lived and worked between 1924 and 1935. The museum focuses on 20th century American Art and has over 7,000 works of art.

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Being home to many Czech, Slovak, and Moravian immigrants Cedar Rapids created the Czech Village and the New Bohemian Main Street District. You can take part in festivals, see performing arts from all around the world, and more. In the district, you’ll find the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, many fine restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.

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The African American Museum of Iowa is located on the banks of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids. It has become one of the major educational institutions on Iowa African American history.

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The Indian Creek Nature Center has diverse land that includes prairie, forest, and wetlands. You can enjoy hiking, bird watching, and fishing. In the winter there is cross-country skiing.

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The center offers many different programs for both adults and children like summer nature camps.

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Ushers Ferry Historic Village in the Seminole Valley has 20 historic buildings that show what life was like in a small Iowa town at the turn of the 20th century.

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The Iowa Masonic Library is one of the top five largest Masonic libraries in the world. In its collection are more than 150,000 volumes and it’s open to the public, There are both Masonic and general books. You can also find three extensive museum collections among them the Charles H, Swab Memorial collection.

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Lindale Mall offers more than 100 stores and restaurants. There is a large selection of jewelry, accessories, shoes, and clothing. The mall has seasonal holiday displays and hosts various events.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 12, 2020

Exploring Minnesota

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Superior National Forest in northeast Minnesota has pristine rivers and lakes. In the town of Ely, you can find the International Wolf Center which is a great place to begin exploring this landscape. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is also in the forest and is popular with paddlers in the U.S. and Canada.

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It is right on the border between the two countries and is a great area for taking kayaking and backcountry canoe trips. There is also excellent fishing. The wildlife here is plentiful and includes bears, moose, and wolves.

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Voyageurs National Park is a backcountry park that can be accessed by air or water. It is an excellent place for boating, canoeing, fishing, and other kinds of outdoor activities.

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There is a lot of wildlife to see such as bears, moose, loons and more. It also includes one of the best campgrounds in Minnesota along the shoreline the Wooden Frog Campground.

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Ely lies deep in northern Minnesota and is surrounded by hundreds of lakes and thick forest. It offers easy access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Ely is popular with kayakers and water explorers.

Take the time to check out downtown Ely and the local art centers. The town’s main street is lined with galleries and shops selling many different items including artwork. You can find great places to dine or rest at Internet cafes and coffeehouses,

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It is also a great area for bird lovers since 160 species of birds migrate in and out of the boreal forest surrounding Ely.

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The International Wolf Center near Ely is an educational center promoting and supporting the survival of wolves. There are hands-on exhibits, demonstrations of wolf tracking methods, and information of all kinds on wolves, You can learn about the natural history of wolves by observing the resident wolf pack. Among the different programs here are the Wolf Photography Workshops. Overnight visits can also be arranged.

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The North American Bear Center educates visitors about black bears. You’ll learn about ecology, bear behavior, and about bears. At the Bear Center is a mural showing the wildlife in the area, A wall of windows overlooks the bear enclosure that includes waterfalls and a pond, Exhibits have background sounds and video footage.

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The Munsinger Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud is the place in the summertime where you can enjoy 80,000 annual plants. These are trees, benches, swings, fountains, and ponds, The gardens have over 1,100 rose bushes and an all-white garden with white flowers and flowering shrubs. Every other Sunday there is Music in the Garden and the annual Art Fair in the Gardens that features artists and musicians from all over the state.

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Itasca State Park is the oldest state park in Minnesota and includes wildlands and lakes among them the headwaters of the Mississippi River. There are hiking trails, fire towers, and old-growth Red Pine forests. The Wilderness Drive and Bike Route is a one-way trail looping through the park. Overnight accommodations include campsites, lodges, cabins, and the year-round Mississippi Headwaters Hostel. You can get information and begin exploring at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center and the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center.

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Lake Itasca is small but since it is the headwaters of the Mississippi it is one of the most important natural locations in the state. It is located in Clearwater County and includes the University of Minnesota Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories campus. Boaters love the lake and it is stocked with game fish.

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Gooseberry Falls State Park is located on the north shore of Lake Superior. It is beautiful at any time of the year and has a great cross-country ski trails system. There are many hiking trails for summertime. In the spring the waterfalls are at their fullest. The park is near Duluth.

The Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls of the Gooseberry River plunge through a magnificent gorge. Altogether there are five waterfalls to enjoy and the amazing Civilian Conservation Corps log and stone structures.

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Lake Superior is gigantic and the largest of the Great Lakes. The 256-mile Superior Hiking Trail is very popular as well as the Gitchi Gami paved biking trail. Fishing for trout and salmon and other fish is a sport enjoyed here.

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Grand Portage is home to High Falls the largest waterfall in Minnesota at 120 feet high. It is located on the tip of Minnesota’s Arrowhead.

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There are endless trails to enjoy that stretch through forests and along shorelines. You can enjoy them on foot or by bike and in the winter on a snowmobile.

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For a fun time, there is the Grant Portage Lodge and Casino with gaming tables, restaurants, and entertainment.

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Pipestone National Monument is located in the southwest. It was a sacred quarrying location of Native American tribes sourcing the rock for special stone pipes. At the site, you can see red pipestone and an active quarry that represents the traditional quarrying methods of Native Americans. At the information center, cultural demonstrations take place.

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Bemidji is known as the first city on the Mississippi River and the birthplace of Paul Bunyan and his famous ox Babe.

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In northern Minnesota, there are many activities for visitors.

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There is hiking in the Northwoods or boating on one of the local lakes. In the wintertime, there is ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other outdoor activities. Bemidji hosts cultural attractions from concerts to locally themed museums.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 10, 2020

Beautiful St. Paul

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Saint Paul is the capital of the U.S. state of Minnesota and along with its neighboring city Minneapolis forms the “Twin Cities”. There is a lot to see and a lot to do.

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Minnesota History Center offers information on everything from when the Hmong tribespeople migrated from Laos and China in the 1970s to settle in Minnesota to the conflicts of the Dakota War. Here you can also find a vast book collection in the Minnesota History Center Library. It is open to the public for research and learning purposes.


Cathedral of St. Paul sits atop a hill overlooking downtown St. Paul. It is the fourth-tallest church of its kind in the U.S. The building has a copper dome and spire. It is the official shrine to Paul the Apostle in the U.S. The façade has a combination of Gothic, Baroque, and Beaux-Arts architecture. In the interior you can see a beautiful bronze baldachin and several chapels dedicated to patron saints of the city’s various immigrant communities.

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The cathedral was modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. It has become a pilgrimage site for many Catholics. The church hosts concerts all through the year. The Shrine of the Nations surrounds the sanctuary, symbolizing the contributions of immigrants in the history fo the cathedral.

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Take a walk along legendary Summit Avenue. You can see lovely mansions built in the 19th century. This street is considered to be one of the most fashionable and stylish in town. Summit Avenue is home to the largest and longest collection of Victorian buildings in the U.S. 373 of the original historic mansions are still standing.  It all begins are the highest point with the city’s most prominent landmark, the Cathedral of St. Paul.

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There are historical sites to see like the Landmark of Summit Terrace or the F. Scott Fitzgerald House, where author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote many manuscripts in the rooms until 1920.

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The Frank B. Kellog House was home to the famous U.S. diplomat and Nobel Prize winner.

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James J. Hill House was built by the founder of the Great Northern Railroad. It is a red sandstone Richardsonian Romanesque-style mansion  and the largest home in the state. The Gilded Age home features a 100-foot reception hall, a two-story art gallery, and thirteen bathrooms. You can take a guided tour of the first-floor art gallery displaying the artwork of Minnesota artists.

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The Wabasha Street Caves were carved out of the Minnesota hillsides in the 1840s. They are located on the south banks of the Mississippi River. At one time the caves were favored by the Mafia but today they host swing nights every Thursday. Local tour companies offer guided tours through the complex with reenactments and period costumes. You’ll find a coffee shop Grumpy Steve’s Coffee serving great coffee and the best Belgian waffles.


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The Science Museum of Minnesota sits on the north banks of the Mississippi. There are many hands-on science exhibits. There is a great section of the human body and one colossal fossil collection.

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One of the most iconic attractions is the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is a beautiful Art Nouveau construction with bonsai trees and san sui gardens.

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Among the manicured gardens are elegant bridges with busts of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and the fiberglass creations of the Como “zoo” like sculptures of Don the Gorilla and carvings of giraffes, penguins, and wolves.

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Como Park Conservatory houses a wide variety of animals in natural habitats among them lions and snow leopards, primates like gorillas and spider monkeys, and also sloths and zebras. There are sea lions, seals, and penguins. Among tropical creatures anacondas and the Galapagos tortoise.

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Next door is Como Town a family amusement park.

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The State Capitol was constructed in 1905. In the Senate House, Supreme Court, Rathskeller Café you can find the original furnishings. There are guided tours available or you can take a self-guided tour. Among the highlights is the self-supported marble dome that is the second-largest of its kind in the world.

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In good weather, you can get a look at the iconic Quadriga, the golden horses on the roof.

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Grand Avenue makes its way through western Sain Paul, out to the banks of the Mississippi and northward to the metro area of Minneapolis. It has some of the best shopping in the Twin Cities. There are shady trees and Victorian street lights, Tibetan craft stalls, and whole-food markets. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants.

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The Landmark Center has found its home in a restored 1902 Federal Court Building that includes restaurants galleries, function rooms, and performance spaces. It hosts theater and dance productions and concerts.

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Gateway Trail begins in the city and heads on through the leafy neighborhoods of Maplewood and Oakdale and Pine Springs to secluded woodlands and ponds.

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The second part of the trail has hiking trails and bike paths. In the wintertime, you can go cross-country skiing.

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The Gibbs Museum is on a farm that once prospered in the late 1800s. You can see the original farmhouse and barn. Guided tours are available by costumes interpreters. There is a log and sod home and a one-room schoolhouse. Visitors can see presentations that depict life on the farm.


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Posted by: RasmaSandra | April 22, 2020

Marvelous Minneapolis


Minneapolis is a major city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. It forms “Twin Cities” with the capital of the state St. Paul. The city is divided by the Mississippi River.

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The Basilica of St. Mary is a Roman Catholic minor basilica. It was ranked by Pope Pius XI as the first basilica established in the U.S. The basilica sits on its own block in downtown Minneapolis. It hosts concerts and music festivals and displays local, national, and international artwork.

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The Mill City Museum was built in the ruins of the world’s largest flour mill. It stretches along the historic Mississippi Riverfront. Visitors learn about the history of the flour industry. The river, the city of Minneapolis, and how they all intertwine. The building has an eight-story façade giving it a modern look.

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Minnesota Children’s Museum has been rated as one of the top children’s museums in the country. Children learn and explore through a hands-on and stimulating environment. It emphasizes play as being the critical ingredient in a child’s development.

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Fort Snelling is a former military fortification. There are plenty of stories about how the Dakota and other Native Americans lived and worked here. Immigrants, fur traders, soldiers, and slaves passed through here.

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It is located on the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.

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Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the most visited modern and contemporary art museums in the country. The Walker began as the private art collection of lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker in the late 1800s.

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The sculpture garden is one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture parks.

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The centerpiece is called “Spoonbridge and Cherry” by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

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Minnehaha Park features the 53-foot Minnehaha Falls. This is one of the oldest parks in Minneapolis. There are lovely limestone bluffs and river overlooks. People come to the park for the beauty of nature and performances at the bandstands. You can bike along the paths, disc golf, walk through the gardens, and children can play in the playgrounds.

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You’ll find statues of Hiawatha and Minnehaha from Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha”.

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Paisley Park is the late musician’s Prince private estate and production complex. It was built after the success of the song “Purple Rain” in the 1980s.

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Prince recorded, created, and performed in his private sanctuary. Today it is open to public tours.

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Minneapolis Central Library was the city’s first public library building. It is known for its impressive exterior and amazing interior. It was built in 2006. It includes a collection of over 2.4 million items.

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Mall of America opened in the early 1990s and draw millions of visitors. The outer ring of the mall offers multiple floors of shopping.

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The center is home to Nickelodeon Universe, a theme park. It is the largest mall in the U.S and the 12th largest in the world.

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The Minneapolis Institute of Art or MIA has artwork from many countries and in different styles among them paintings by the European masters. On display are sculptures, photos, paintings, drawings, textiles, and prints, Public tours are available and admission is free.

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The Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota is an architectural highlight. This is a four-story stainless steel structure. The collection focuses on American modernism, traditional Korean furniture, and ancient Mimbres pottery from the American Southwest.

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The museum’s Public Art on Campus has art displayed all around the campus.

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Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park stretches along the Uptown neighborhood and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Visitors can lie in the sun or explore the shorelines of Lake Harriet,

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Bde Maka Ska,

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Lake of the Isles,

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Cedar Lake,

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and Brownie Lake. There are nearly 15 miles of trails that connect them all to Lyndale Park. There are boat docks, a biking path, hockey rink, fishing pier, cross-country ski trails, a bandstand, and garden In the summer there are free movies and music.

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The Lyndale Park Rose Garden

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Grand Rounds Scenic Byway

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In Minneapolis fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show can drive by the mansion made famous in the credits. Mary Richards supposedly lived in the mansion in an apartment on the third floor. This Victorian mansion is located on Kenwood Parkway and features seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

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The American Swedish Institute demonstrates the region’s Swedish heritage and its importance. The institute consists of the Nelson Cultural Center

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and historic Turnblad Mansion, whose owner was Swan Turnblad, the owner of the largest Swedish newspaper in the U.S. Tours of the mansion are given.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | April 14, 2020

Rochester On the Zumbro River


Rochester is a city in southern Minnesota. It’s known for being the birthplace of the healthcare organization the Mayo Clinic. It is a beautiful city with great views of the Zumbro River.

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The Plummer Building dates from 1928. It is the iconic symbol of the Mayo Clinic and a National Historic Landmark. The building was named after Dr. Henry S. Pummer, who designed it. He created the procedures and systems used by the Mayo Clinic.

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The historic third floor includes the offices of Dr. Charlie and Dr. Will Mayo. Patient care is handled in the Gondo and Mayo Buildings,

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The eleven acres surrounding the building include formal gardens, a bird trail, quarry, and water tower. It is used for receptions and weddings among other events.

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Quarry Hill Nature Center is a lovely and peaceful place with live animals, birds, and fish. It also includes a taxidermy collection. Making their home here are 35 species of animals that are native to Minnesota. There are also exotic species, a huge aquarium with seven varieties of fish and two raptors.

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Indoors in the Nature Center ou can see a bird hive giving visitors a close-up look at a honeybee colony. The Bird Study Room shows native birds of Minnesota mounted.

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Mayowood was built in 1911 by Dr. Charles H. Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic. The estate included the doctor’s decorative arts collection and beautiful gardens. Over forty rooms are furnished with English, German, French, Spanish, and American antiques. The Mayo family donated the home and ten acres to the Olmstead County Historical Society.

Today it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available.

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The Wall of Remembrance is a memorial honoring American veterans across generations. It is a tribute to over 3,000 women and men from southeast Minnesota who sacrificed for their country. The Walk of Remembrance honors U.S. veterans and allies for their services. The Trees of Remembrance have 50 “sponsored” trees representing each state. It was begun in 1995 and is open every day with free parking.

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The Minnesota Children’s Museum gives children the opportunity to learn through play. The museum has interactive exhibits that include looking at state habitats and a park on the rooftop.

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Silver Lake Park is found on the south fork of the Zumbro River. There is a beautiful freshwater reservoir called Silver Lake. It is just one mile north of downtown Rochester. The park encompasses the lake.

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Here you can enjoy biking, jogging and rollerblading. At the lake, you’ll find the Giant Canada geese. You can have leisurely strolls around Silver Lake or enjoy a picnic. Children love the Children’s Adventure Playground which is handicapped accessible. There is also a swimming pool. Angles love to fish for black crappie, bluegill, and white sucker

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Apache Mall has 87 stores for your shopping pleasure. When it’s time to sit down and relax you can find a variety of food and drinks. There are quick service and full-service restaurants. You can find many services and amenities among the free WiFi.

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The Calvary Episcopal Church is the oldest church building in Rochester. The highlight here is the sacred site that is an original chapel mad of brick dating from 1862. It became a historic site in 1966. The church has lovely stained glass windows that were made in the Tiffany Studio in New York City. The stone baptismal dates from 1871 and the walnut altar base from 1880. There is a beautiful spiritual oasis garden.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | April 2, 2020

Duluth on Lake Superior



Our armchair travels have brought us to the Midwestern state of Minnesota in the U.S. The state borders Canada and Lake Superior, which is the largest of the Great Lakes. This state is all about lakes and it has over 10,000 of them.

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We begin In the port city of Duluth on Lake Superior. The city has a waterfront Lakewalk Trail that passed along Canal Park offering views of the Aerial Lift Bridge. This landmark connects the city to the Park Point sandbar.

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Duluth is the birthplace of iconic folk singer Bob Dylan who lived here for the first six years of his life. Therefore, each May the city has the week-long Duluth Dylan Fest. It also has the almost two-mile-long Bob Dylan Way what is a walking trail with landmarks that are linked to the star as well as top cultural attractions.

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You can see his childhood home at 519 North Third Avenue where his family lived in a second-floor flat. A marker is at the home.

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North Shore Scenic Drive has spectacular views of Lake Superior and taking this drive is a great way to see the sights along the way.

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It begins at the waterfront Canal Park and as you drive along you can see acres of aspens, the majestic Sawtooth Mountains, waterfall, cliffs, and  beaches. It makes for a great drive stopping in the northern shore towns along the way.

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Two Harbors Lighthouse dates back to 1891. It is Minnesota’s oldest continuously operated lighthouse.

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Nearby is the Split Rock Lighthouse.

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Gooseberry Falls State Park has hiking trails, picnic areas, fantastic scenery, and a spectacular waterfall, Continuing along the route you’ll find Lutsen and the Superior Hiking Trail or the Appalachian Trail of the Midwest, During the winter this is a great place for skiing and snowboarding and there are chairlift rides, During the spring BMX biking is available.

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At the northernmost end of the drive is Grand Marais an artist colony. It has interesting art galleries, boutique shopping, and great dining, You can go kayaking or canoeing at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area,

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Canal Park stretches along the shore of Lake Superior and is a popular recreation area, It is home to Lakewalk, a promenade with walking and biking trails.

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The eastern end of the walk connects with Leif Erickson Park

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and Duluth Rose Garden. This is a great place to enjoy harbor views and have a picnic.

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You can see a replica of Erikson’s Viking ship. This wooden sailing ship took the journey from Norway to Boston and on to Duluth in 1927.

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Children enjoy the Playfront Park which is the city’s largest playground.

In Canal Park you can rent electric boats, Seadoos, paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks. Bike rentals and carriage rides can be arranged.

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Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum has made its home in a former 1912 church. The original organ is still there. There is an impressive collection of old books and important historical documents.

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The Aerial Lift Bridge thrills visitors. It spans a narrow opening that connects Park Point to the mainland of the city, It is one of Duluth’s most photographed structures. The bridge operates 24/7. It allows water vehicles to pass from the harbor to the main lake passageway, At night the bridge is lit up with hundreds of LED lights,

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Glensheen Mansion sits on top of a bluff that overlooks the city and the lake.

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It is one of the most visited historic houses in Minnesota.

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The landscaped gardens are lovely. Guided tours are available.

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The Great Lakes Aquarium features habitats, animals, and sea creatures that represent the regional Great Lakes Basin. You can see on display amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and invertebrates, There are touch pools that let you get closer. You can see bullheads, black crappies, and porcupine fish in natural habitats,.

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Lake Superior Zoo is a fun experience where you can see a collection of cuddly exotic and North American animals.

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You can see wild animals like tigers too. There are playgrounds and a mini-train. Tours are available.

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Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center is a popular tourist destination. The museum is located in Canal Park and offers you a look into the maritime history of the lake. You’ll learn about the important role Duluth Harbor played in shaping the early American steel industry.

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An amazing exhibit devoted to the Edmund Fitzgerald the doomed freighter.

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The 80-foot tall Enger Tower was built in 1939 of bluestone. It is a tribute to Norwegian American businessman and philanthropist Bert Enger. The tower sits high on top of Duluth’s bluffs and has a green beacon. It is located in Enger Park and offers impressive views of the city and Duluth Harbor. Visitors can take the narrow staircase straight to the top.

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Strolling the ground you’ll see lovely gardens and you can ring the Japanese Peace Bell that was installed as a gift from Duluth’s sister city, Ohara, Japan.

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Superior Hiking Trail stretches out along the edge of the gardens paralleling the ridgeline above Skyline Drive. It is  favorite place for rock climbers and boulder enthusiasts. Locals enjoy climbing the Slab Boulder at the east end of the park and the Upper and Lower Walls on the west side.


Lake Superior Railroad Museum on the downtown waterfront is housed in the historic 1892 French chateau-style Union Station. On display, you can find steam, diesel, and electric trains. There is also a three-quarter scale replica of downtown Duluth in 1910 during the city’s industrial boom. One of the highlights here is the diesel-powered Great Northern 92 Engine. One of only ten such built between 1946 and 1947.

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In the summer and autumn months, you can experience a ride along the old lakefront line on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. It passes downtown Duluth and Canal Park and then heads for the shoreline of Lake Superior. You’ll hear commentaries from local historians about area history,

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 17, 2020

Touring Louisiana

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The Melrose Plantation in Natchitoches was originally called Yucca Plantation. At that time it was owned by freed slaves, Maria Therese and Claude Thomas. The house was built in the 1790s. The main house is a West Indies Creole plantation house with early Greek Revival details. At the turn of the century, the house was owned by John Hampton Henry and his wife Carrie, who was a patron of the arts.

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The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and all of the buildings have been preserved over the years.

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The Laura Plantation in Vachene is a sugarcane plantation. The home has original period furniture and exhibits that highlight the memoirs of Laura Locoul. Among the highlights here is a large exhibit dedicated to the lives and personal stories of those who were enslaved on the farm. Among the collections are rare photos and documents about the African-Americans who lived and worked on this Creole farm and about other slaves in the state.

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The Rosedown Plantation is a State Historic Site and one of the most well preserved domestic Southern plantations. It offers a look into the lives of the plantation owners and the slaves during the mid-19th century.

lou rosedown gardenOn the grounds, you can find beautiful camellias, azaleas, and rare trees and shrubs.

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Another State Historic Site is St. Martin Catholic Church that was established in 1765 in St. Martinville. In the left wing of the church is the grave of Emmeline Labiche, who was thought to be the heroine of the poem “Evangeline” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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A statue of Evangeline stands in the churchyard.

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Rip Van Winkle Gardens are located on top of a salt dome on Lake Peigneur in New Iberia. These semi-tropical gardens surround the historic Joseph Jefferson Mansion dating back to 1870. The home has 22 rooms and is decorated with period furnishings.

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The gardens can be seen seven days a week and tours are available, Visitors can enjoy lunch in the on-site café or even spend the night in one of the cottages in the gardens.

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The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens also referred to as the Burnside Plantation in Darrow dates from the late 1700s. The main house is called the “Sugar Palace” and has 16 rooms full of period furnishing and Louisiana artwork.

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Visitors can enjoy the gardens with several ponds and an elegant line of magnificent old oak trees Guided tours of the house and grounds are available,.

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The Whitney Plantation is the only plantation museum in Louisiana that focuses on slavery. The French-Creole Big House is one of the best-preserved Creole plantation houses in the area. The detached kitchen is the oldest in Louisiana.

Other buildings on the property include a barn, a blacksmith shop, a church, a pigeon roosting house, and seven slave cabins, There is also a memorial dedicated to the people who were enslaved on the plantation and 40 statues of slave children.

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Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie was established to grow sugarcane. Visitors can see what plantation life was like in the 1800s. The name of the plantation comes from an 800-foot-long  alley lined with oak trees and some are over 300 years old.

Other highlights include the reconstructed slave quarters, the tent of the Confederate Commanding Officer, a blacksmith shop with the plantation’s original forge. Guided tours are available.

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Folsom the Global Wildlife Center is a preserve for threatened and endangered wildlife. It is the largest preserve of its kind in America.

lou folsom

Safari wagon tours are available and visitors can see giraffes, zebras, camels, and other animals, The animals roam about freely and visitors can feed them.

lou chauvin

The Chauvin Sculpture Garden was developed by the reclusive artist Kenny Hill. It features a large array of strange and creative artwork.

Kenny Hill Sculpture Garden

On the site, you can find an art center and a small local museum.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 8, 2020

Baton Rouge on the Mississippi River


Lovely Baton Rouge the capital of Louisiana sits on the Mississippi River. It has impressive antebellum landmarks.

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The Old State Capitol is a wonderful Gothic-Revival castle that was built in 1847. It stands high on a bluff over the Mississippi. Today it houses a museum of political history, It also hosts different events and can be rented as a venue for weddings and other occasions.

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The Old Governor’s Mansion is an impressive building dating from the 1930s. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours are available. It was home to nine governors and their families. You can see many of the original furnishings and decorations.

baton kidd

The USS Kidd Veterans Memorial center on the destroyer USS KIDD. The ship was named after Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd, Sr. who was killed on the USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. The ship was launched in 1943 and nicknamed “Pirate of the Pacific.” Over the years it has been used in movies and historical documentaries. Visitors can climb aboard and have a look at the ship.

The memorial complex also has an observation tower and museum. The Historic Warship & Nautical Center has many amazing artifacts, a model ship collection, and a miniature replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall located in Washington, D.C.

baton university

The Louisiana State University was moved to Baton Rouge in 1869. Among the highlights are the LSU Rural Life Museum and the LSU Museum of Natural Science. The American Indian mounds that are located on the grounds are supposedly over 1,600 years old.

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Baseball games take place at Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field

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and football at the LSU Tiger Stadium which is home to the LSU Tigers football team.

baton university tiger

Mike the Tiger is the official mascot of LSU and was first acquired in the 1930s. Today the tiger’s habitat has been upgraded to a 15,000 square foot compound.

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The LSU Rural Life Museum represents the lifestyles and cultures of pre-industrial Louisiana. Among the highlights are Louisiana Folk Architecture, a collection of seven buildings showing the various cultural influences of settlers in Louisiana. The Barn with items from prehistoric times to the 20th century, and The Working Plantation, a complex of buildings furnished to reconstruct life on a 19th-century working plantation.

baton capitol

The Louisiana State Capitol was built in the early 1930s. It is a landmark structure with 34 floors. Its limestone exterior has symbolic images that represent the state. The exterior stairs are flanked by two groups of statues.

225 Capitol Statues, Collin Richie Photo, 1.5.15

The Patriots, an armored soldier and the mourners of a warrior killed in battle

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and The Pioneers, a robed woman surrounded by settlers. Visitors can tour the building and look out over the city on the observation deck. The capital in on the National Register of Historic Places.

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On the National Register of Historic Places, Magnolia Mound was built in the last half of the 18th century. It represents the architectural influences by early settlers from France and the West Indies, The home is a wooden structure and still maintains its 18th and 19th-century appearance. It is surrounded by old oak trees.

baton blue bonnet

The Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center provides research and educational resources in a natural setting. A mile of gravel paths and boardwalks lead to distinct areas of the park such as a cypress-tupelo swamp and hardwood forests. Along the trail, you can catch a glimpse of wildlife. At the Exhibit Building, you can get information about the flora and fauna of the region.

baton zoo sign

BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo is home to exotic and domestic animals. You can see large cats, rhinos, fish, reptiles, and amphibians of Louisiana.

baton zoo parrot

You can enjoy the Realm of the Tiger featuring tigers, Siamang gibbons, a walk through aviary with colorful Asian birds, a koi pond and a rock garden. This exhibit raises awareness of threats to tigers and raises funds for their conservation.

baton zoo flamingos

Visitors love the Flamingo Cove and Giants of the Islands featuring the zoo’s Chilean flamingos and Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises.

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Take a ride on the Cypress Bayou Railroad.

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The Louisiana Arts & Science Museum offers a mix of arts and science. It is housed in a beautiful old railroad depot along the Mississippi River. The art galleries have changing exhibitions and a permanent collection of fine art. Among the highlights are American and European art. Ethnographic art, modern and contemporary art of Louisiana, photography, and antiquities.

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Capitol Park Museum informs visitors about the culture, history, and industry of Louisiana. There are static and rotating exhibits. Among the exhibits, you’ll find “Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America”, and “Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation.”

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Downtown Baton Rouge is the place where you’ll find great dining and vibrant nightlife. The downtown area stretches along the Mississippi River. You’ll have a variety of choices from restaurants to bars to casinos. The Live After Five showcase offers a series of free outdoor concerts.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 24, 2020

Lively New Orleans


New Orleans is a Louisiana city that sits on the Mississippi River close to the Gulf of Mexico. The city has been nicknamed the “Big Easy”. New Orleans is known for its vibrant nightlife, live music scene especially jazz, and its cuisine. In the late winter, the city fills up with people when its Mardi Gras time with parades, costumes, masks, and street parties.

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The French Quarter is where most tourists head for. The main attraction is the architecture as well as great entertainment and dining. Some of the old buildings date back to 300 years. You can see arcades, wrought-iron balconies, and red-tiled roofs. There are picturesque courtyards. You can also enjoy places that offer the best of jazz.

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In the French Quarter, the most famous street is Bourbon Street which at night turns into a vibrant and loud pedestrian area.

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Royal Street has lots to offer from history to fine cuisine to unique shopping. It is also home to some higher-end shops, galleries, and hotels.

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A notable building on Royal Street is the Court of Two Sisters dating from 1832 and is a restaurant with jazz brunch.

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Frenchmen Street has good restaurants and is frequented by artists.

Other places of interest in the French Quarter are Jackson Square. With buskers, musicians, and artists and St. Louis Cathedral which is located right off the waterfront.

orleans jackson

Jackson Square is the main square right in the heart of the French Quarter. It was originally called Place d’Armes.

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In the center of the square, you’ll see an equestrian statue of General Andrew Jackson.

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At one end of the square is the landmark St. Louis Cathedral with cone-shaped spires.

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The Cabildo dates from 1795 and was the residence of the Spanish government, It is a historic building that today is a museum with an outstanding collection. In this building the first town council met in 1799 and in 1803 the Louisiana Purchase was agreed to. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum collection focuses on New Orleans history and Louisiana, especially the people of the state.

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The whole area is very impressive and laid out along the banks of the Mississippi. There are the Riverboat Docks, the Moon Walk Promenade, and the Millhouse.

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Preservation Hall is an old building that is known for jazz music. It features traditional jazz by local artists. The building has limited seating so each day the opening times and events are posted on the door.

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The signature event every year in New Orleans is Mardi Gras. Celebrations last for two-weeks and end with the finale on Shrove Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday. You’ll enjoy parades, entertainment, and all kinds of festivities. Of interest are the impressively decorated floats that go by during parade time. At this time the French Quarter is packed.

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The Blaine Kern Studios take part in the Mardi Gras every year and is the leading producer of floats in the world. You can take a visit to the studios and see the sculpted props, huge floats, amazing costumes, and all kinds of figures, Guided tours are available and you can see the workshops of the artists and sculptors.

orleans war museum

The National WW II Museum had exhibits and documentary snippets that tell the history of WW II as it was fought in Europe and in the Pacific. The museum has three sections. One devoted to the war in the Pacific, one to the war in Europe, and the third a building housing WW II aircraft. In the 4D theater, you can see the film “Beyond All Boundaries” that was produced and narrated by Tom Hanks. As you watch the film the chairs rumble as tanks go by and stage props turn the film into a real sensory experience.

orleans war museum tank

Walking through the exhibits you can see short black and white documentary-style film segments that show how the items on display were involved in the war. Each visitor is assigned a profile of someone who was in WW II and oral updates are available at stations all through the complex so you can follow the soldier’s progression through wartime.

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Also on premises is the Stage Door Canteen, which features entertainment from the 1940s, with matinees and dinner shows.

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New Orleans City Park Includes different attractions like the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art and The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

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Families with children enjoy the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park,

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Storyland, and the City Splash Water Park. In the park, you can also find tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course.

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There are lovely places for walking and the park has one of the world’s largest stands of mature live oak trees.

The New Orleans Museum of Art is one of the finest in the South. It features an impressive collection of French and American art as well as African and Japanese artwork. There are also temporary exhibits. Outside enjoy The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden with over 60 sculptures. You can walk along the paths, lagoons, and live oak trees.

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The Garden District is a well to do residential area that has lovely mansions, mature trees, and lush gardens. You can explore it on foot or take a guided tour.

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Along First Street, Camp Street, and Prytania Street you can see elegant 19th-century houses with extensive grounds.

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Audubon Park was created on the grounds of what once was the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884. In the park are fine stands of oaks, the Audubon Zoo, hothouses, the Audubon Gold Club, some small lakes and lots of green space for relaxing.

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The Audubon Zoo has a selection of domestic and exotic animals.

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Among the most popular are the jaguars, leopards, giraffes, orangutans, elephants, rhinos, lemurs, and alligators.

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There is also a rare white alligator. In the summer you can cool off in the splash park that is called the Cool Zoo.

orleans steamboat

Take the Steamboat Natchez for a cruise on the Mississippi River. It is a great way to see the city of New Orleans. Harbor cruises last about two hours and include an optional lunch of Creole cuisine, A dinner cruise is also available and includes a live jazz band, buffet-style dinner and awesome night views of the city.

orleans aqua

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located along the waterfront. It focuses on the species found in North, Central, and South America. You can learn about the water creatures that lurk beneath the surface of nearby surrounding waters. Exhibit highlights freshwater fish from the Mississippi River and marine life from the Gulf of Mexico. You can see everything from sharks to stingrays to sea turtles.

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The Great Maya Reef is viewed from a 30-foot-long walk-through tunnel that has been designed to look like a sunken Maya City with fishing swimming around the ruins.

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The Amazon Rainforest has colorful birds, exotic fish, and even snakes from South America.

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Among the popular animals are sea otters and penguins.

orleans aqua penguin

You can enjoy hands-on experiences with African penguins and have a chance to scuba dive or snorkel the Great Maya Reef.

The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve has six separate sites in southeastern Louisiana. Two of the sites are in the New Orleans area.

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The Barataria Preserve consists of natural levee forests, bayous, swamps, and marshes.

orleans battlefield

The Chalmette Battlefield preserves the site of the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. This was a decisive American victory over the British at the end of the War of 1812.

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Adjacent to the battlefield you’ll find the lovely plantation-style Malus-Beauregard House with exhibits on the Battle of New Orleans.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 16, 2020

Lafayette Along the Vermilion River


Lafayette stretches along the Vermilion River in southwestern Louisiana.

lafayette acadian

Acadian Village is a 32-acre private park established in the 1970s. It was created to preserve Acadian history. You can see a 1800s Cajun village with eleven buildings, seven of them are authentic 19th-century homes. Tours are available and the grounds can be rented for different events.

lafayette art

The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum is associated with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The collections include over 4,000 art objects from the 18th to the 21st century. There are works of art from America, Europe, and Asia. You can also enjoy ancient Egyptian art, folk art, Japanese woodblock prints, and artwork by local artists of Louisiana.

lafayette children art

The Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers a hand-on experience with interactive exhibits. Offering children knowledge on various subjects like health, food, money, and other topics. The museum has found its home in the old Heymann Food Center. It also offers programs like classes, workshops, school field trips, and programs for Girl and Boy Scouts. There are also special events hosted throughout the year.

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Avery Island is home to the well-known MacIlhenny Tabasco Company. The island is located in the heart of the Louisiana bayou country. You can get a tour of the company.

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Also on the island at the Jungle Gardens and Bird City you can enjoy great-tasting Cajun dishes at Restaurant 1868. The nature preserve lets visitors see flowers such as azaleas and camellias.

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You can also delight in animals like alligators, deer, and egrets.

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Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours for a real thrilling adventure take a swamp tour. Guided tours will take you through the Lake Martin Cypress Island Preserve. You’ll see cypress trees, Spanish moss, and birds like herons, owls, and woodpeckers and reptiles like alligators, frogs, and snakes.

lafayette swamp tour

These are two-hour tours available in English or French. They also offer special tours like bird watching, photography, and night tours.

lafayetter food truck

Hop on board for the Cajun Food Tours The tours include learning about Cajun history and culture. You’ll head for locations where you can get a taste of Cajun dishes like boudin, cracklin,’ etouffee, gumbo, king cake, and fried seafood.

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Tours stop at the Cajun Market Donut,

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La Cuisine de Maman,

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Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn, and others. These tours introduce visitors to the local cuisine available in Lafayette, which was voted the Tastiest Town in the South.

lafayette cypress lake

Cypress Island preserve has about 9,500 acres of protected cypress swamps and hardwood forest land. You can find lovely picnic pavilions. Take the Levee Trail that will lead you through the preserve and around the lake.

lafayette cypress birds

From January to June you can see many kinds of birds that come here to make nests among them little blue herons, roseate spoonbills, and several types of egrets like cattle, great, and snowy egrets.

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Vermilionville is a museum and a park that educates people about the culture of south-central Louisiana. It sits on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion. The park focuses on the cultures of the Acadian, Creole, and Native Americans between 1765 and 1890.

lafayette vermillion

The park has 19 attractions, 13 artisans showing the crafts of the early settlers, and seven restored homes. The park also hosts workshops and different events.

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Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site is the oldest state park in Louisiana. It focuses on the culture of the Bayou Teche area. The site explores various cultures of the region. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline,” tells the story of two Acadian lovers, Evangeline and Gabriel.

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You can see the tree by which they met and Evangeline’s grave.

lafayette long evangeline statue

Tours are available of the Maison Olivier, a historic 1815 plantation home.

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