Frank Lloyd Wright House on Crystal Bridges grounds to open Nov. 11, 2015

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1-FLW-House-in-New-Jersey

Bachman-Wilson House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in its original New Jersey location
Photo: TarantinoSTUDIO © 2013; courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

Originally published by Group Tour Magazine – September 18, 2015

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In 2014, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced the acquisition of a rare Frank Lloyd Wright house originally built in 1954 along the Millstone River in New Jersey. Since then, the house has been disassembled, transported 1,200 miles across the country and meticulously reconstructed on the grounds of the museum.

Construction is now in the final stages and the house is scheduled to open to the public on November 11, 2015, the fourth anniversary of Crystal Bridges’ opening.

Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow said, “We are excited to share this historic object that embodies our mission to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites art and nature. As the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Arkansas, it enhances our region’s offerings with unique engagement opportunities for schools, families and individuals with an interest in architecture, all at no cost to the public.”

Known as the Bachman-Wilson House, the home was threatened by repeated flooding at its original location. The previous owners, architect/designer duo Lawrence and Sharon Tarantino, determined that relocating the house was the best option for preservation. After their multi-year search, Crystal Bridges acquired the house in 2013, and the house arrived in Northwest Arkansas in April, 2014.

The house is now situated a short distance from the museum, along the trails, with views overlooking the native woodlands and Crystal Spring. 

The Frank Lloyd Wright house will open to the public on November 11, 2015, with no admission cost, during the same hours as the museum’s art galleries.

“Our goal is to provide as much access as possible while being responsible stewards of the house,” said Crystal Bridges Chief Engagement Officer Niki Stewart. “To that end, we will welcome visitors to see the house on their own with general admission, or take a guided tour. Because of the intimate size of the house, we are requiring reservations to enter, while the grounds around the house are accessible without a ticket.”

Beginning November 2, tickets may be reserved online or by calling 479-657-2335. Crystal Bridges’ members will have an opportunity to preview the house in advance of the public opening. Member preview tickets may be reserved in person at Guest Services or by calling the Member Priority Line at 479-418-5728.

Guided tours will be offered five days per week (no tours Tuesday or Friday) as an hour-long indoor and outdoor experience led by specially trained volunteer tour guides.

General admission will be a self-guided experience, available each day except Tuesday.

Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival Student Days

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Medival-Bocci-BallOriginally published by Group Tour Magazine – Oct. 8, 2015

GOLD CANYON, Ariz. — Discoveries made in science during the Renaissance era not only changed the world, but continue to influence modern-day society. The SciTech festival is a proud presenter of the Arizona Renaissance Festival Age of Discovery Student Days, March 1, 2016 and March 3, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Student Days were created to highlight the educational aspects of the Renaissance. Language, science, exploration, mannerisms, customs, comedic theater, jousting tournaments, artisan demonstrations and music are just some of the learning opportunities that await students.

Explore the festival’s 30 acre, 16th-century European Village. Roam the streets and pathways where students can talk to Galileo about Astronomy. Observe, in awe, as artisans craft their wares using scientific techniques, demonstrating blacksmithing, glassblowing, shoemaking and weaving. Go to the CROFT-Local Yokel Village and watch aspects of chemistry at work in the daily chores of 16th-century life. Speak to Da Vinci about his sketches and technical drawings, or pose as Mona Lisa would have. Learn about what Arizona was like in the 16th century.

The festival also includes a 13-stage theater, an arts and craft fair and a jousting tournament. Students will enjoy Da Vinci’s Flying Machine, among many other people-powered rides and games.

Visit renfestinfo.com for more information. Click here to download the 2016 Student Days order form.

Tis the season to fall in love with Little Rock

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River Market - full sign-tolleyNothing is more exciting than feeling the summer temperatures slowly begin to drop and seeing the leaves begin to turn. What better way to enjoy the beauty of fall than by experiencing the changes in the beautiful state of Arkansas? From numerous trails and picnics to comedy clubs and concerts, Little Rock offers something for everyone.

Begin your fall get-away in the heart of Little Rock, the River Market. From May to October, the Farmer’s Market opens at 7am on Tuesdays and Saturdays to provide you with some of the freshest fruits and vegetables you’ve ever seen (let alone tasted)! Next stop is breakfast at one of the best places in town! The Root Café is open Tuesday-Friday from 7am-2:30pm, Saturday 8am-3:30pm, and Sunday 9am-2pm. Don’t let the drab-looking exterior dampen your spirits or fool you. It’s the only way the owners could disguise the awesomeness that awaits inside! The unique atmosphere is best for smaller groups, as the dining area is not the largest in Little Rock. Even though the Eggs Benedict and pancakes are definitely worth the wait, it’s best to get there early to avoid a long line! If you happen to miss breakfast, no worries! You won’t be disappointed with the fried okra appetizer as you wait for a mouth-watering mushroom sandwich or a burger like you’ve never had before!

While in the River Market area, make sure to check out some of the great local museums such as The Historic Rock Museum, The Arkansas Arts Museum, The MacArthur Museum of Military History, and The William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum. Many of these museums offer free admission. The Clinton Presidential Library & Museum sits on almost 30 acres that it shares with The Clinton School of Public Service and The Clinton Foundation. The museum contains over 100,000 artifacts, documents, and pictures. At any given time, the museum has on display over 500 artifacts, 200 documents, and 1400 pictures pertaining to the life and presidential career of former President Clinton. There are 3 exhibit levels containing fascinating history surrounding the timeline of Clinton’s career, letters and gifts, his limousine while in office, events and celebrations during his time at The White House, replicas of The Oval Office and Cabinet Room, and more! Excluding major holidays, this museum is open Monday- Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 1pm-5pm. Senior adults 62+: $5, Adults 18+: $7, Children 6-17: $3, children under 6 and active military: free admission. Admission rate for groups of 20+ is $5/person. College and retired military admission is $5 with ID. Hand-held audio tours are available for an extra $3 and are extremely worth the additional fee! The museum also houses a small restaurant, Café 42, which overlooks the Arkansas River. It is open weekdays from 9am-4pm for coffee and lunch from 11am-2pm.

Another great scenic attraction is the Big Dam Bridge. It’s free and full of beauty! It’s the nation’s longest bridge specifically built bicycle and pedestrian bridge. It took 8 years from design to finished structure. There are approximately 20 miles of scenic riverside trails through Little Rock and North Little Rock that the outdoors person will love! Being easily accessible to the River Market and museums makes it in a great location, too!

Hungry, yet? Another great dining option in the River Market is Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro. This local restaurant will quickly become a family favorite! Open Tuesday-Thursday 11am-9pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm, this colorfully casual restaurant has a menu item for everyone! The patio area overlooks the market and is the perfect place to snack on Dizzy’s infamous cheese dip or homemade salsa! Yum! Craving something specific? If you’re in the mood for some famous Arkansas BBQ, I know just the place! Whole Hog Café offers the best BBQ beef, pork, or chicken you can imagine! With 7 different sauces and 6 sides, the options are endless at this award-winning restaurant! Open Sunday- Thursday from 11am-8pm and Friday-Saturday from 11am-9pm.

Ready for some night-life options? The Loony Bin is a must for comedy lovers. Shows performed Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30pm with an additional 10pm show on Friday and Saturday nights. Great food and drink menu available. Ticket prices depend on the comedian performing, but are always very reasonable. Be prepared to laugh yourself breathless! All shows are for ages 18+ or 21+.

If the bar/dance scene is more to your liking, Willie D’s is calling your name. Open Tuesday-Saturday 7pm-2am, Willie D’s offers more fun than you can imagine! Reservations are available to ensure room for your entire group of friends, family, or coworkers!  Please make sure to give 48 hours advance notice for reservations. Split into 3 spaces, Willie D’s has a section for whatever mood you and your group are in. The main area offers dueling piano shows where you and your friends can make requests and sing along to your favorite tunes. With 2 full-service bars, a kitchen that serves until at least 11pm, nightly specials, and great service, what’s not to love? Prost is the name of another happenin’ section of Willie D’s that has a full-service bar, big screen TV’s, pool tables, and beer pong tables available. Don’t miss karaoke on Friday night! The last section, Deep, is only open on Friday and Saturday nights. If you love to shake your booty to Top 40 hits and hip hop, this is where you should be! This Little Rock favorite has been recently renovated to be better than ever before and the dance club is 100% smoke free!

When you’re finally ready to call it a night, staying in the area would be wise! Little Rock Marriott, Holiday Inn Presidential, Hampton Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, and DoubleTree are all great options in the River Market District. The Capital Hotel is a definite historic luxury hotel favorite! Many online booking sites have rates for these hotels listed from $85-$200/night. Most offer group rates and other discounts. Enjoy your stay in Little Rock and be sure to check back for more food, fun, and future adventure ideas!

A Piece of Heaven on Earth- Gulf Coast, MS

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Hurricane Katrina will long be what many people think of and associate with the great coastline of Mississippi. Although the impact of Katrina will forever be etched in our hearts and minds, the towns that were in the eye of the disaster almost 10 years ago have overcome and rebuilt far beyond what was ever imagined! The people of the south are a hearty and dedicated group, determined to prove that the MS Coast will continue to be a favorite vacation spot for visitors young and old. Whether you’re into history, art, nightlife, entertainment, golf, camping, beach life, or good food, the MS Gulf Coast has something for you!

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is 62 miles or scenic shoreline with 26 miles of incredible soft sandbanks. Along the route, there are many areas designated for endangered species. Visitors are often seen stopping along the road to take pictures of these beautiful endangered animals. One frequently seen bird, the Least Tern, is a tourist favorite! The coastline is a great spot for photography lovers!

During March-October, your group must plan a trip to Ship Island­—a short ferry ride directly off the coast of Gulfport. Ship Island is one of the most popular water-borne attractions. A family owned and run business since the early 1900’s, Ship Island offers fun for everyone! The smoke-free ferry ride lasts just under an hour, and has different departure and return times available to accommodate the needs of your group. During your ferry ride, be sure to keep your eyes open for dolphins! They love to perform for the ferry groups! Coolers up to 42 quarts are allowed, but no class containers please. Umbrellas and chairs may be brought with you, or you may choose to rent them on the island. The island features a large swimming area, a snack bar, covered picnic areas, restrooms, showers, gift shops, room to explore and collect shells, and even free guided tours by park rangers of Fort Massachusetts! Groups of 20+ must make reservations within 48 hours of expected arrival. Group discounts are available except for Saturdays, holidays, and holiday weekends. Adult price is $23 (age 11+) and $15 for children (age 10 and under). No charge for children under the age of three. Spend a few hours or make it an all-day trip! Another thing to keep in mind is many hotels offer Ship Island discounts!

Untitled-1Another kid-friendly attraction is Gulf Islands Water Park. It’s opened from May-September, but daily operation is only during the months of June and July. The water park offers water fun for all ages with the lazy river, a water roller coaster, slides, rafts, and wave pools! The little ones will really enjoy Lil Pelican’s Bay and Ship Island Wreck. Group rates are available for groups of 15-99 people and a 72-hour advanced booking is required. Group rates are $21.99 Saturday-Sunday and $19.99 Monday-Friday. Group meal vouchers can also be purchased for $7.25.

Lover of classic cars, motorcycles, and boats? Stop at Busted Wrench Garage Museum and Gift Shop in Gulfport. The 6,000 square foot exhibit hall is open Monday-Friday from 8-5 and Saturday from 10-5. What makes this a favorite stop is that the museum is fascinating and free! If you’re looking for a little more adventure, mosey on down to Pascagoula. Gulf Coast Gator Ranch and Airboat Rides is a year-round place of excitement! Open from 9am-6pm Monday-Friday and 12pm-6pm on Sunday, there is plenty of time to plan your fun. From an enclosed boardwalk, you can feed and few the alligators before the 30 minute airboat ride through the swamp with your personal tour guide! Prices are $30 (ages 10+), $15 (ages 4-9), and children under age 4 are free of charge.

While in the area, visiting local eateries will blow your mind! Two local favorites are The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint with locations in Ocean Springs and Gulfport, and Half-Shell Oyster House with locations in Biloxi, Gulfport, and in the Biloxi Hard Rock Casino. The Shed is a very eclectic restaurant and has won numerous BBQ awards. It was even recently featured on Food Network! Enjoy a full rack of baby back ribs, 3 sides, and 2 slices of BBQ bread for only $34! Not that hungry? A pulled pork plate with 2 sides and bread should fill you right up for only $12! Craving more of a seafood type meal? Be sure to check out Half- Shell Oyster House and their famous charbroiled oysters. Customer favorites include the shrimp and grits, seafood pot pie, gumbo, and other seafood specialties. Visiting this New Orleans inspired atmosphere and restaurant will be a real treat! If you’re more in the mood for mouth-watering burgers, make sure to stop at Woody’s Roadside in Ocean Springs, MS. Open from 11am-10pm, there’s plenty of time to try their famous wings, BBQ, burgers, daily specials, and more!

Accommodations are abundant along the coastline, and many visitors enjoy staying in one of the many casinos for as low as $59/night. The Islandview Casino in Gulfport is directly off Highway 49 and is a straight shot to the Outlet Malls and a vast choice of dining options. If non-smoking is your preference, The Palace Casino is 100% non-smoking and your place to stay and play. Looking for something more quaint and quiet? Gulf Hills Hotel and Conference Center in Ocean Springs is perfect. Rooms start around $100/night, but group rates are available. This hotel was a favorite of Presley, Monroe, Garland, and Mansfield in years past. With fishing, kayaking, bird-watching, playing tennis or golf available to you on-site, this could turn into your new favorite getaway, too!

Magic in the Mountains- Chattanooga, TN area

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Prepare yourself for a journey quite similar to how you felt as a child wandering through the magical world of Disney. Sights, sounds, and experiences you almost cannot put in words await for you! Chattanooga is known for its many Civil War museums, Nature Center, Ocoee River rafting, Tennessee Aquarium, and ghost tours. However, if you’re looking for attractions a little off the beaten path, follow me…..

ruby falls Ruby Falls is great in any weather! Why? Because it’s always 60 degrees and never rains! Ruby Falls is over 1100 feet beneath the surface. At 145 feet tall, it’s the largest and deepest waterfall that is available for public viewing. Located deep inside Lookout Mountain, tours are available 8am-8pm daily. The tour guides are absolutely amazing at pointing out and explaining the different cave formations and interesting facts about the sites around you. You will definitely want to have your camera or phone ready to snap amazing pictures of colors and formations that can only be explained by a visual image! Adult tickets are $18.95 and children        (3-12) tickets are $10.95. Lantern Tours are available on Friday nights at 8:30 pm March-September, and during the month of November. Two weeks’ notice is required, no one under age 8, and cost is $26 each.

Next stop on your journey is Rock City Gardens in Lookout Mountain, GA. Prices are much like those for Ruby Falls. Only 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City Gardens offers free parking and an experience you will never forget. Prepare to become awe-struck by ancient rock formations, gardens showcasing over 400 native plant species, a 90-foot waterfall, a swing-bridge spanning over 180-feet overlooking the Chattanooga Valley, and one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see­­—“See 7 States”. Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia are all said to be visible from this landing in the sky. Café 7, located at Lover’s Leap, is a great place to enjoy a meal while overlooking the states. Starbucks, ice cream, pizza, and burger options are also available in the area.

Continuing the outdoor adventure, you will take about an 8 minute drive to Incline Railway. Open daily from 9am-7pm, the 15-minute (each way) enclosed trolley car ride offers more scenic views of this historic location. At a grade of 72.7%, be prepared for a unique ride in one of the world’s steepest passenger railways in the world! No worries, though; it’s completely enclosed, travels less than 10 mph, and is very safe! Upon arriving at the top, there is an observation deck overlooking the TN Valley, food options, and gift shops. Within a short walking distance, you will find Civil War attractions including Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map & Museum and Point Park, which is part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Parks. There is also a half-price discount offered during the months of December, January, and February.

Untitled-2Although there are many great lodging options, such as the Chattanooga Choo Choo and The Read House Historical Inn and Suites, a mountain-view masterpiece named the Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast is in a category all to itself. Conveniently located across the street from Rock City and only minutes away from Ruby Falls and The Incline, Chanticleer Inn offers stone cottage type lodging featuring French country motif, hardwood floors, spectacular views, private patios, home-cooked breakfast, and luxury upgrades for many different occasions. From May 1-November 1, there is a 2-night minimum; however, single night stays are available occasionally. Rooms start around $150/night and are more than worth the price. Military and police discounts are always available. The Chanticleer Inn is a smoke-free and pet-free facility.

Many companies in Chattanooga offer discount packages that include these attractions. To save quite a bit of money, package options are highly recommended, and almost everywhere mentioned above offers group discounts with advance purchase. Many packages that include the three main stops mentioned above price around $48 for ages 13 and up, and $26 for ages 3-12. Package prices can vary greatly depending on group size, tours, catering, special times, etc. However, package pricing is always better than single purchases at each location! Be prepared to be amazed at the sights that you will see on this trip, and the amazing memories you will create with your friends and family!

Sip Your Way Through Southern Minnesota

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While researching different areas for things to do – we came across this great blog post from our friends at Explore Minnesota.  Many travelers might not realize that Minnesota boasts over 34 wineries and 75 breweries.  Grab your friends, hop on a motorcoach and sip your way through southern Minnesota.  Your tastebuds will thank you for it!

 

Sip Your Way from Minnetonka to Waconia

By Grant Erler

The southwest corner of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is well known for its many scenic lakes and attractions like the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. And in 2016, the Ryder Cup will come to Hazeltine National Golf Course in Chaska. But did you know this area is quickly becoming a hot spot for beer, wine and spirits connoisseurs?

Check out all eight establishments, located between Minnetonka to the east and Waconia to the west, and get a taste of the local libations.

Lucid Brewing

As one of the premier new breweries in Minnesota, Minnetonka-based Lucid Brewing is a great place to start your trek. Be sure to sign up for the Saturday tour on the brewery’s website to get a fascinating look at the brewing process and, of course, some free samples. Lucid is well known for its wonderfully hoppy Foto IPA, as well as the crisp and zesty Silo Belgian Saison.

Excelsior Brewing Company

Located in the historic town center, Excelsior Brewing Company has quickly become a local favorite. The taproom has a wonderfully friendly atmosphere and is a great place to relax with friends after a day out on the lake or strolling on Water Street. Try the full-bodied Bridge Jumper IPA.

Not far away is the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail, which runs from Hopkins to Victoria and also passes near Enki Brewing.

Enki Brewing exterior

Enki Brewing

Located in the 100-year-old creamery building in Victoria, Enki’s taproom offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere in the winter and a relaxing patio in the warmer months. Enki has a full range of brews, from the citrusy Tail Feather IPA to the indulgently rich Cacao Porter.

Waconia Brewing Company

Just two blocks from the shores of Lake Waconia in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown, you’ll find the latest addition to the southwest metro’s brewery scene. Waconia’s first brewery since 1890 offers a wide variety of taps including its flagships: Amber, Witbier, Kolsch and West Coast IPA, plus a rotating number of seasonal offerings.

Parley Lake Winery

Located among the rolling hills near Parley Lake, this winery offers a variety of wines including the ever-popular Frontenac Gris. The winery is right next to the Carver Park Reserve, which has a number of trails through the woods and prairies for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the winter.

Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery

Schram is the state’s first combination winery and brewery, located on a six-acre vineyard overlooking Reitz Lake, just southeast of Waconia. Enjoy a glass or bottle of wine or mead (honey wine), as well as the continuously rotating selection of beers in the tasting room. You can even try your hand at some bocce ball while you’re there

Sovereign Estate WinerySovereign Estates Winery

Situated on the north shore of Lake Waconia, along the popular Dakota Trail, Sovereign Estates features both indoor and outdoor tasting rooms, as well as an elegant bistro. The vineyard is on a south-sloping hill, offering beautiful views of the lake. A popular choice is the award-winning Talon Crest, a dry and fruity La Crescent white.

J. Carver Distillery

The Waconia-based distillery is named after Jonathan Carver, one of the first Europeans to explore and chart the area in 1766. Just like their namesake, the folks at J. Carver Distillery are exploring uncharted territory as they are set to become the first legal distillery to operate in the history of Carver County. Initially, they will produce gin and vodka and will eventually offer barrel-aged whiskey, bourbon, brandy and liqueurs.

Download a map of the “SW Minne Beer, Wine & Spirits Tour” and start your adventure, or learn more about the area from the SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on these communities, please visit:

Colorado Springs, CO – More than you can imagine!

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DSCF8625Located near the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs is one amazing city.  It is a big city with a uniquely small town feel and is the perfect destination for your next charter bus outing.  It is often overshadowed by Denver, the ski resorts and Rocky Mountain National Park; however Colorado Springs is an ideal place to relax and unwind this summer.

Your bus driver can get you safely to one of the most beautiful places in all of Colorado; the Garden of the Gods.  DSCF8688The Garden is a public park and a National Natural Landmark.  The red rock formations that make up the park were created millions of years ago and to this day they astound and amaze every visitor.  The park is used extensively for hiking, rock climbing and horseback riding.  Most people though enjoy taking a day to wander through the natural formations.  Start with a visit to the Visitor’s and Nature Center and then explore at your leisure.  Kissing camels, Gateway Rock and Balanced Rock are some of the more famous geological formations within the park.  Spectacular views of Pike’s Peak are available throughout The Springs (as the locals call it) but are particularly beautiful from the Gardens.

Since Pike’s Peak is right there near The Springs then why not go straight to the top?  Well, your charter bus probably does not want to make that trip, but your bus can easily get you to the Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway, better known as the Cog Train.  The Cog Railway has been in operation since 1889 and is the highest railroad in the United States.  Your charter coach can drop you off at the Cog Depot and you can take the leisurely climb to over 14000 feet above sea level.  While you ride you will be able to see the splendor and beauty of the mountains.

Depending on when you go you are likely to see various forms of wildlife from the comfort and safety of the train.  Be sure to bring some warm clothes because it will be cold when you reach the top.  And while at the top be sure to enjoy one of the world famous Pike’s Peak donuts at the Summit House.

Now that you have explored two of the most beautiful natural landmarks in the area it is time to take in something uniquely American; the United States Air Force Academy.  The campus is located just north of The Springs and is highlighted by the Cadet Chapel.  When it first opened the design was considered controversial, but now the familiar spires and modernist architecture have become a symbol of the academy.  Let the bus do all the work of getting you there and then enjoy a self-guided tour of the chapel and the nearby visitor’s center.

Well that is a lot to take in and by now if you have not had a good meal you definitely are in need of one.  A great place for groups is the Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.  Not only is this the oldest brewery in The Springs, but Phantom Canyon is known for fantastic meals and big portions.  You can rustle up some really good grub here by starting with the house made pretzel bites served with beer cheese and whole grain beer mustard.  For the main course you cannot go wrong no matter what you choose, but be daring and try the Lemon Tabasco Fried Chicken or the Lamb Belly Tacos.  OF course, Colorado Bison Burgers are available and also delicious.  If you have saved room for dessert the Goat Cheese Cheesecake is to die for.  There is a full billiard room on the second floor and savvy guests know that pool is free on Monday nights with any food purchase.

DSCF8739Of course when a lot of people visit Colorado they want a good steak and there is no place better in The Springs than The Famous Steak House.  The USDA Prime New York Strip with onion rings may well be the greatest steak you have ever tried.  Tender and juicy, it is the steak that put famous in the restaurant’s name.  Filet mignon is also available and also amazing.  Surf and turf options a4re on the menu as well as the rack of lamb.  Reservations are accepted and
necessary.

So when it comes time to charter a bus and head to the great state of Colorado be sure and make a stop for a few days in The Springs.  The beauty of the land, the friendliness of the   people and the dining options are among the best in the nation.  Enjoy!

GoMotorcoach to Comic Con? Why not?

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comicconThe days of a simple convention for comic book fans are long gone.  With the increased popularity of comics, science fiction, gaming and the like, the comic con has become a huge spectacle across the country.  Allow me to share a story of once comic con experience and let you know why we should have chartered a bus.

If you have ever attended a Con you know that they tend to be quite crowded with all sorts of people.  People enjoy dressing up in imaginative costumes based on their favorite characters, books, movies, etc.  This is known in the industry as Cosplay and the costumes can get very elaborate.

It was not all that long ago when my friends and I decided we wanted to attend a Con that was about a four hour drive from us.  Since none of us owned a vehicle large enough for everyone we looked at two options; charter a bus or rent a large van.  I can tell you now we made the wrong choice with the van.  If only we had spent a few dollars more we’d have had a much better experience.

First of all the gas was expensive and the fuel economy was awful in that van.  A charter bus would have alleviated our need to fork out all that cash each time we had to stop for fuel.  Although the charter would have needed to stop as well, it most certainly would have done so while we were inside and enjoying the festivities.

But that really was not even the main concern.  When we arrived the line to get into any of the nearby parking lots was longer than the lines inside to see an actor that once played a villain on an old Star Trek episode.  We arrived in what we thought was plenty of time to park, get our costumes together and start enjoying ourselves.  Instead we spent almost 90 minutes trying to park this huge van.  Nearby we could see busses pulling up to the entrance to the convention center and dropping off their guests while we sat idle.  It was frustrating to be sure, but at the end of the night the frustration was at its peak when we tried to leave and go to our hotel.  Had we just chartered a bus like some of those other groups we’d have been well rested for the second day of the Con.

However parking was not the only reason the bus would have been better.  Inside the bus there was room to move around thus giving riders plenty of room and time to get their costumes and make up done.   Instead, we had to wait in line to get into the restrooms to take care of that.  So before we could ever get started in enjoying the show and meeting the stars we had to impatiently wait for our turn in the bathroom.

A typical Comic Con can cost a lot of money to attend especially if you are the type to gather autographs and memorabilia.  And just where is everyone going to find a place for all of that in the van?  Unfortunately Dalek and R2D2 replicas takes up substantially more space than you’d think.

The charter bus experience is perfect for your group to attend a Comic Con.  You’ll have plenty of room to walk around and get ready, you’ll get dropped off right at the front door and there will be plenty of room for a few extra friends on the way home.  Add in the fact that if you have chartered a bus you can partake in a few adult beverages while enjoying the con and you have a win-win situation.  So the next time you and your friends decide to travel across the state to see 100 people dressed like Doctor Who; take the bus.  You’ll be very happy you did.

Music City, USA

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Live MusicNashville, TN is one of the great American destinations and is a perfect stop for your next chartered bus tour.  Contrary to popular opinion, Nashville is not just for country music fans. The name “Music City” was earned for the many varieties of music that one can enjoy during a visit.  In addition, Nashville has long been known as one of the most affordable cities to visit in the country.  So what makes Nashville such a great destination?  Let’s start with a visit downtown.
Ryman

Your charter coach can drop you off at the world famous Ryman Auditorium.  Originally built as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, Ryman Auditorium was home for The Grand Ole Opry from 1943 – 1974.  It is still used today for concerts and shows, but you can take a tour and see where history was made.  Take a few minutes and stand on the stage where artists such as Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton made their Opry debuts.  There are plenty of artifacts from the Opry on display throughout the auditorium.  As you walk around you can really feel the history of this national landmark.

Ernest TubJust steps away from the Ryman is Broadway; however it’s nothing like the Broadway you’d find in New York City.  This Broadway is a street where you can hear music from all manner of artists every night of the week.  You can walk down the street and pass a seemingly endless line of restaurants, shops and bars where live music is always being played.  No matter what your taste you are sure to find something to sit back and enjoy. Another must see place on Broadway is the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.  This shop has been located at the same location since 1947 and still sells vinyl records.  If you are a collector of  vintage vinyl then you will definitely want to visit.  And yes, they too will offer live music.

A couple of blocks away from Broadway you will find the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  All of the greats in the country music industry have been enshrined here with their own bronze plaques.  You seriously do not need to be a fan of country music to appreciate the talents of the individuals honored here.  The museum itself is filled with all sorts of memorabilia from the artists themselves and tells the history of country music.

You’re going to get pretty hungry wandering around downtown and there is no shortage of  delicious places to eat and, of course, hear live music.  Since you are in Nashville then you may want to partake in a bit of BBQ.  There may be no better place than Rippy’s Ribs & BBQ.  Rippy’s is only one block from Ryman Auditorium and they serve up some of the best BBQ in the city, if not the entire south.  Try a slab of ribs with Rippy’s homemade BBQ sauce with a side of onion rings and coleslaw and you will think you were in hog heaven.  Rippy’s can even organize a private party for you and your fellow bus travelers if you wish.  You can enjoy live music in the main dining area, sports on flat screen TV’s in another or try the open air rooftop patio.  Pulled pork, catfish, baked beans; you seriously cannot make a bad choice here.

HermitageNow that you have enjoyed downtown, let your bus take you to see the home of President Andrew Jackson; The Hermitage.  Located just a short drive from downtown, The Hermitage is a fascinating place to visit.  You can start your tour in the museum and then take a short stroll to the home where President and Mrs. Jackson resided.  The tomb of Andrew and Rachel Jackson is located in the gardens by the home.  Numerous log cabins make up the grounds and tour guides take you through the home and provide you with historical facts.

One of the best things about Nashville and the surrounding areas is that it is easily accessed by bus which will make your visit here all the more comfortable and enjoyable.  Why fight for a place to park downtown when the bus can take you there and pick you up when you are done? Get the group together, get on the bus and head to Nashville this summer.  You will have grand ole time.

Say “I Do” and Go Motorcoach

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The magical day has arrived.  You are getting married and all of your friends and family members are there to celebrate with you.  Everything needs to be perfect.  Of course no wedding ever goes off without a hitch, but there are some hitches that can be prevented.  Surprisingly your friendly neighborhood charter coach can make a big difference.  How?  I’m glad you asked.

Have you ever noticed that wedding receptions are often notorious for poor behavior at the reception?  It is no secret that alcohol consumption is a very typical occurrence at the wedding reception.  Often times the drinking begins way before the actual ceremony.  You want your guests to all be safe, but how can you do this when you have so many other things to worry about on the big day?  You can do this easily by hiring a charter bus to take your guests from the ceremony to the reception and back to the hotel in complete safe.

Let’s say that the family and many of the guests are all staying at the same hotel.  This is quite common especially with destination weddings.  The ceremony may be several miles away at a beach, a local church or in some beautiful botanical garden.  What better way to get all the guests there than by bus.  There is no need for the guests to all hop in their own cars and fight for parking when your bus can get all of you there in complete comfort.  No parking available?  No worries at all because that bus you chartered is dropping everyone off and going away until it is once again needed.  When the ceremony ends it is back on the bus and off to the reception, which could be held at any number of places.

Now here comes the fun part; your guests are free to relax without having to think about the drive home.  They can celebrate merrily with the happy couple well into the night without worrying whether or not they had one too many.  When the newlyweds escape the madness in their limousine they can do so knowing that their guests are all traveling back to the hotel under the watchful eyes of their skilled bus driver.  Sure, the bus driver was given a nice meal at the reception, but did he/she have a drink?  Nope.  Your driver is a professional and takes his/her job seriously.  You can rest assured that only beer the driver will have is a root beer.

Even if the hotel is not that far from the reception hall you can still benefit from using a bus.  Go with a smaller motorcoach and you can shuttle your guests back to the hotel in shifts.  Some guests may not be the party animals they thought they were and will want to get back and begin a restful night of sleep sooner than others.

And not only are you keeping your guests safe, but you are also keeping everyone else on the road safe as well.  No one wants to hurt anyone else or be the cause of an accident and with your motor coach shuttling the guests then the roads are less crowded and safer for everyone.

A typical wedding these days’ costs thousands of dollars and what better way to ruin the entire day than by seeing your guests leave when they are not sober and in no condition to drive.  By hiring a charter motor coach you can have peace of mind knowing that your guests will arrive safely at their destination.