Fair Time Getaways


You’re half-way through another Summer in everytown, USA; where did June go?  Time does have a way of escaping when we’re busy. Maybe you’ve managed a day out of town here and there, but that great escape just hasn’t happened.

via KansasTravel.org

via KansasTravel.org

Whether you pull off an entire week’s vacation or simply manage to sneak off for a couple of days, we all know a *big ticket*-style break  isn’t always in the cards;  that said, you need  to do SOMETHING  before the traditional Summer months have passed you by and you’re  back rooting through your Winter closet, looking for those longhandles and  fluffing up that parka. If you’re not averse to a little travel, parking in a weedy lot, milling noisy crowds,  a fuzzy purple admission stamp on the back of your hand and love the crazy kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and flavors of a dusty dog-day midway  – you may want to consider shaping a short “breather” holiday around fair time – throw  that cumbersome itinerary to the wind, strike out on your own and enjoy a  sampling of regional traditions while soaking up the sights in the “next” zipcode  – or neighboring state!

What better way to grab some time with friends and family, explore new-to-you historic landmarks and Summer scenery and enjoy plenty of down-home entertainment, great eats and crazy impulse shopping – (everyone needs a stuffed  blue tiger on a stick, right?) all without breaking the bank and absolutely at your leisure!? All across the country, Summertime is Fairtime – why not go where the dizzying blur of  carnival lights beckon and the obnoxious roar of a crowded grandstand chokes out the squawk of that needy cell phone – kick off your cares, shoulder your way through the sweet pendemonium  and chow down on dangerously delicious deep-fried, spun-sugar and double-dipped childhood treats while you play to your heart’s content!

Just because your LOCAL event has dragged up and headed down the road  doesn’t mean it’s over for the Summer; someone,  somewhere else has raised the fattest hog,  grown the biggest tomato or baked the very best  blackberry pie, ever – and folks will show up to see who got the blue ribbon this year.  The sweet language of fair time is universally spoken and understood; pity the stranger to that electric tingle of anticipation that arrives with the culmination of months of planning, growing, building, practicing, or just WAITING to push through that turnstile!  Let your travel team track down the best of the festivities wherever you care to go – County and State Fairs and annual, seasonal festivals dot the maps in every state, popping up like wildfires as temps soar, crops flourish and vacation times roll around.

via OhioStateFair

via OhioStateFair

Big name Country and Western stars and small-town upstarts, truck and tractor pulls, mutton bustin’, bull riding, team roping and barrel racing, demolition derbies, livestock judging, horseshoe tournaments, sheep dog trials, hog calling and horticulture shows, fine photography, woodworking, jewelry and crafts displays, games of chance and demonstrations of lost arts,  rows of gleaming, jewel-toned mason-jarred jams and jellies, pickles and preserves, pies, cakes and homemade fudge, proudly preserved regional traditions and that ridiculously sublime midwayfareyou just can’t  pull off at home served up piping hot and heavy on the condiments and a heaping helping of noise, dust and sugar –  all and more await fairgoers everywhere.

What’s not to love about these glorious celebrations of local agriculture, talent and tradition?  There’s just something magical about the skyline of a busy fairground  at dusk; for a few hours or a few days, the world is your oyster; you’re a kid again.  Choose one somewhere you’ve never been, pack a bag – and GO!  Get lost in the crowd at a concert,  re-home that goldfish in a bag,  grab an icy Coke and corndog and go catch yourself a classic case of ride-induced motion sickness; haven’t you earned it?




Summer Urban River Cruises

If your group is from the big city, sometimes you aren’t interested in leaving the hustle and bustle for too long. A relaxing day at the beach? But where are the sweet sirens and hoot-n-hollarers calling cabs?! We understand. You crave the busy atmosphere, and you always have. Fear not — there’s a way to keep your big-city climate while enjoying some water-themed leisure.

Many cities offer river cruises that take your travel group through your city of choice, just far enough away to see the skyscrapers but be able to take solace in a few moments of quiet. Here are five great river cruise tours that may just be the perfect short activity to break up your group’s hectic lifestyle.

St Louis River Cruise

via gatewayarch.com

Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruise (St. Louis)

Hop aboard either the Tom Sawyer or the Becky Thatcher, aptly named for the characters’ trip down the Mighty Mississip’, for as low as $14 to get the best view of the Gateway Arch. Enjoy a simple hour-long daytime cruise or a romantic sunset cuisine for a Mound City getaway unlike any other.

National Mall Water Taxi (Alexandria, VA to Washington, D.C.)

Another under-$20 river cruise, this much-anticipated water taxi takes riders from the home of George Washington past American icons such as the MLK and FDR Memorials, at a safe distance from the rest of the tourists. This trip through the Smithsonian/National Mall corridor will allow you the luxury of relaxing those busy feet while still enjoying the capitol’s sites and sounds.

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise (Chicago)

The Windy City just got a little windier on this river cruise exploring the finest architecture in the city that invented skyscrapers. At a slightly higher price than smaller cities, you get a 90-minute span through a highlight of some 50 buildings ranging from the gothic and art-deco to modern and postmodern. With this city’s status as an aesthetic masterpiece, it’s worth the price.

NYC River Cruise

via sail-nyc.com

Classic Harbor Line (New York City)

On the Schooner American 2.0, you’ll be taken through the New York-New Jersey Harbor, where you’ll pass everything from the iconic Chelsea Distric to Lady Liberty herself. This elegant liner shows you modern Manhattan is the finest way you could imagine.

Charles Riverboat Tours (Boston)

From $15, Boston tourists and dwellers alike can enjoy an hour-long narrated river cruise past monuments ranging from Beacon Hill and the elegant Back Bay quarter to America’s university titans Harvard and MIT. You’ll also enjoy picturesque views of historical Boston architecture.


Art Tours: Mural Art in San Francisco

The City By the Bay is a favorite destination for travelers the world over; its fantastic sights, sounds and smells treat groups on West Coast excursion to a veritable feast for the senses at every turn. A richly diverse historic center of vibrant culture, color and creativity, San Francisco is happy home to a thriving multi-ethnic population, and her neighborhoods serve as virtual gritty open air art galleries, where ashen city walls become free canvas, and the bared souls of artists from all walks of life are personified in grand fashion in brilliantly moving and eclectic renderings, a gutsy timeline of the ages and an ever- changing mural art exhibit, free for the walking!

Mural Art in San Francisco

via sanfrancisco.about.com

The Mission District is best known for hosting the most expansive collection of thought-provoking mural art in San Francisco, with Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley notorious venues. There are hundreds of plein air frescos around the City for fledgling connoisseurs to interpret; some may prove challenging, even cryptic or wry, while others speak bold messages to all who would listen. A number of important works by acclaimed artists reside indoors, protected from elemental assault, and a select few will require a bit of hunting to rouse from the understory of the bustling city; most bravely face the tops and bottoms of each new day, nodding at the mid-morning fog shouldering its way through the cityscape, and again with a survivor’s resignation at the setting of the tangelo sun into the vast, blue Pacific, tendering individual, gripping, blatant and beautiful messages of hope, social and political concern, change, growth, movement, endurance, love, peace, faith, joy, anger, angst and sorrow that touch us all in different but equally important ways as inconstant light re-interprets each vivid plane before dancing into the next hour and shadows fall across the many magical murals of San Francisco.


Faith Tours: Smoky Mountain Christian Village

Faith Tours Smoky Mountain Christian Village

via mypigeonforge.com

In today’s uncertain social climate, where change – even upheaval – seems the norm and tradition and dedication is oftentimes discarded in favor of what is convenient or “of the hour”…our faith can be neglected and perhaps even diluted in the fray of the day-to-day, however unintentionally. It is then that a time of refreshing becomes necessary , away from the secular bent, and we heartily seek spiritual, physical and emotional rejuvenation; what better place to shake off that world-weariness and recover your bearings than in a restorative, healthy and inspirational natural setting, in God’s own cathedral: the great, unspoiled outdoors?

Faith tour groups of all sizes in search of such a haven will truly enjoy a stay at secluded and serene Smoky Mountain Christian Village. Ideally located just a few short miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Village affords guest an ideal opportunity to base an exciting, entertaining and wholesome vacation itinerary around their stay in clean, cozy and well-appointed mountain chalets, rather than a ho-hum stay around a so-so itinerary.

A few days’ respite at the unique 44 acre, alcohol-free campus and ministry space loaded with recreational opportunities like swimming, horseshoes, basketball, volleyball, a ropes course, paintball and hiking, as well as downtime spent around a cozy, crackling campfire provides a perfect opportunity for personal reflection and fantastic fellowship, while an array of optional, exciting and challenging daytime family and group adventure packages keep guests on the go from sunup to sundown!

Relax away from the hubbub of noisy airports and the deafening din of downtown traffic knowing your homey cabin with its own spotless propane grill and shining, fully equipped kitchen is just minutes away from great groceries, fantastic shopping and dining, and local attractions and historic landmarks like the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Smoky Mountains Ziplines and Canopy Tours, Forbidden Caverns, Dollywood and Dollywood Waterpark , Christ in the Smokies, Ripley’s Aquarium, Tanger Outlets, The Apple Barn Cider Mill (famous for its wonderful breakfasts, candy factory and creamery!) the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the Elkmont and Roaring Fork historic districts, the Great Smokey Mountain Arts and Crafts Community and so much more!

Let Adventure Student Travel do the legwork; all you have to do is show up, unpack, set down your cares, and nestle into the sweet shelter of some of the oldest mountains in the world, where you’re free to explore the rich history and heritage of the region’s distinctive culture and experience the splendor and majesty of some of God’s finest work. Mountain Christian Village’s mission is this: to know Christ and make Him known by providing sacred space for groups and families to enjoy the presence of God and fellowship with one another; pastors are on staff for all your group’s ministry and prayer needs.

Top Group Destinations: Branson, MO

If you aren’t from the Midwest, you wouldn’t expect a small town in the middle of the Missouri Ozarks to be a massive mecca for prime entertainment. For the surprise of your life, book your next group trip in Branson, Missouri.

Your trip can easily be separated into four categories: eats, live entertainment, adventure, and sights! Here’s the breakdown:


Visit Stone Hill Winery, once the second-largest in the United States, boasting a shipment of 1,250,000 gallons per year before Prohibition. Re-opened as a 12,000-square-foot facility, guests can enjoy walking tours of wine and sherry production, along with six tasting rooms. Afterwards, hop on the Branson Showboat Cruise for a three hour dinner tour and show, where you’ll be taken back in time with excellent dancers, singers and entertainers that make this “America’s Most Entertaining Showboat Cruise!” If you’d rather stay ashore, Historic Downtown Branson tender hungry groups satisfying breakfast, lunch and dinner menus featuring classic American fare, fresh sandwiches, burgers and shakes, pizza and Italian, great steaks, authentic Mexican and all your favorite sweet treats — homemade fudge, desserts, ice cream, candy and more. For a crazy-good seafood deal, try Whipper Snappers, where you can enjoy an all-you-can eat crab and lobster buffet.

Branson Dixie Stampede

via ticketbranson.com


Start your night with a show from the Dutton Family — variety performing siblings who will make you smile with dance, song, comedy and more, making this a Branson entertainment staple. Country and Western music fans will not want to miss the one-of-a-kind Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, where guests are treated to a thrilling, over-the-top Dolly-style presentation of horsemanship, pageantry, traditional romance, and red white and blue patriotism, all showcased in a friendly rivalry between North and South. The Baldknobbers Jamboree Show started among 4 siblings more than 50 years ago, and still is going strong today with a blend of comedy, music and showmanship performances. If these haven’t caught your interested yet, enjoy a performance by one of countless celebrity impersonators — from the Beatles to Michael Jackson!


You’re in the Ozarks, after all — take a break from the entertainment district for a bit of wild hijinx. Brave a 90-minute lights-out tour of the famous Marvel Cavern, with nothing but lantern-light guiding your way. Costumed guides take you down into one of the country’s deepest caverns, first discovered years ago by Osage Native Americans. For a flight adventure, swing over to Branson Ziplines, where you can choose from a variety of different heights and lengths to hop off and speed through the trees overhead. For a more human-constructed adventure, Silver Dollar City should earn at least a full day on your group’s itinerary. Modeled after an 1800s Missouri town, world-class rides, shows, demonstrations, shopping districts and more are featured in this city-within-a-city. To get a nighttime scare, take a Ghost Tour through Historic Downtown Branson, where you’ll learn about all the local haunts, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a ghoul.

Titanic Branson

via titanicbranson.com


Some of the zaniest, wackiest, most interesting museums reside in Branson, starting with Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! The building itself is a marvel, taking on the appearance of a structure affected by the 1812 earthquake that made the Mighty Mississip flow backwards for three days. Inside, see anything from a vampire hunting kit and human unicorn to authentic shrunken heads and a playing card replica of the Colosseum. History buffs interested in the tale of the sea’s biggest disaster can find solace in the Titanic Museum, where you’re thrown into the story, with a boarding pass and all, as you ride on a near-exact replica and walk through a timeline of how the great ship sank. Finally, be certain to snap a few selfies with the celebrities recreated at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Theme Tours: Nashville Fashion

Fierce fashionistas,  die-hard shopaholics and consummate clotheshorses longing for a chance to unleash their considerable skills in fabulous Music City, USA will be no less than ecstatic to learn their Tennessee holiday will not only include gritty, glitzy  Nashville substance – the trademark sights and sounds you’d expect when exploring  this live entertainment mega-mecca, where blazing careers are launched and countless dreams realized – but a fresh and hearty splash of unrivaled Nashville fashion!

Nashville Fashion Show

via nfocusnashville.com

No longer just a city of country music, cowboy hats and custom boots, but a vibrant and eclectic center of movement, growth and creative expression –  groups on Nashville holiday will observe fashion-forward  young and old, alike struttin’ their style stuff and tripping the light fantastic in creative ensembles and ‘dos you just might recognize from the pages of popular style rags and trendy catalogs.  This unpretentious, faithful heart of the entertainment industry beats wildly with an authentic, mad love for the wide, wearable world; after all, what is a rising star without a trademark wardrobe or well-defined sense of personal style? It stands to perfect reason that Nashville would grow up to become a fashion force in its own right.

With just a little pre-departure legwork you and your travel partners can find yourselves in the midst of a wonderful fashion whirlwind during which regional and national favorites as well as emerging talents showcase their latest, greatest works at some of Nashville’s most popular venues! Fashion Week is an important, city-wide celebration of  Nashville’s thriving fashion and retail community, an over-the-top collaboration of professionals who partner to combine resources and passion to produce a magnificent annual Spring event that spotlights Music City’s burgeoning , bold and beautiful fashion industry-five magnificent days of nothing but clothing, designers, runways and the people who love them – not to be missed!

Considering a career in fashion design or merchandising? A tour of Tennessee’s O’More College of Design just a few miles South of Nashville in historic downtown Franklin may get you on the road to making those dreams a reality;  O’More prepares its talented students for every aspect of the fashion business – its graduates are proven industry leaders in their chosen fields.  Up for some serious shopping? Grab your group and head out to score a great haul at Nashville’s Premier Mall, Opry Mills- an unbelievable assemblage of over 200 storefronts just waiting to serve  and enhance your own sense of individual style with a stupendous – and

Nashville Fashion School

via omorecollegeofdesign.tumblr.com

budget friendly – offering of quality discount retail, famous name and designer “shopportunities.”  Fans of re-wearables will want to check out Closet Case Vintage, specializing in authentic pieces from the Edwardian and Victorian eras, as well as the 20′s through the 80′s, tendering a cool and eclectic mix of casual to formal wear hand-picked for “Closet Cases” everywhere; The Hip Zipper-Nashville’s oldest all-vintage storefront located  in the heart of East Nashville offers shoppers on vintage safari a wide range of the very best pieces.

A host of local brands producing quality goods boasting a straightforward , functional edge – rising stars grabbing headlines in their respective fields – credit Nashville’s unassuming, downhome personality  and air of  perseverance with their success;  its country roots prevail in a strong heritage scene –  and accessible, durable, wearable and well-made is the “new” high end.  Think vintage with a twist, homegrown grit,  and classic with an industrial edge –  functional and enduring Southern style that cleans up well  or comes to supper like a lady. Good ol’ Music City’s got fashion capitols New York and LA pulling off their high-dollar shades, setting down their iPhones and taking notice – come see what’s got their attention!


Written by Rochelle Berry

Top Group Destinations: National Parks


While some groups opt for trips to the big city or a white sandy beach, where their only objective is to explore new urban sites or kick back oceanside, other groups decide for something a bit more active. For the most incredible sights Mother Nature has to offer, a National Park trip is the perfect selection. With our specialized trips, you’ll be able to choose which park is right for your unique group.


So let’s get down to it! Here is a run down of what each of our National Park tours brings to the table. It’s about to get wild.


Yellowstone National Park

- America’s oldest National Park

-Located in Wyoming

-Geysers, mud volcanoes and mulitudes of other distinct geological features

-”Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone, featuring the Upper and Lower Falls

-Hayden Valley, where wolves and bears go to feast (view from afar!)

-Old Faithful geyser

-Naturalist guided tours

-Hot springs

-Lake Yellowstone, largest U.S. lake above 7,000ft


Yosemite National Park

-Giant Sequoia groves

-Sierra Nevada Valley featuring 5 different vegetation zones

-Glacier Point

-El Capitan rock climbing

-Granite domes (Sentinel Dome and Half Dome)

-Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing


Bryce Canyon National Park

-Not actually a canyon, but a “natural ampitheater”

-Made up of hoodoos — soft eroded rock formations

-Natural arches

-Red, white and orange rock formations give it a sunset appearance

-”Grand Staircase” expands to Zion and Grand Canyon National Park


Black Hills National Park 

-1.25 million acres of forest

-Black Hills Mountains, containing Harney Peak, highest in South Dakota

-Near Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Badlands National Park


Arches National Park

-2000 natural sandstone arches

-Located on Colorado River

-Climbing not allowed, but arches offer excellent photo opportunities


Acadia National Park

-The Jewel of the Atlantic Coast, in Maine

-Contains multiple islands, such as Isle au Haut, Baker Island, Schoodic Peninsula

-Cadillac Mountain, the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise each day

-Variety of terrains, from mountains and seasides to forests and cliffs


Top Group Destinations: Bahamas Cruise

Bahamas Cruise

If your group is looking for a relaxing, luxurious, almost sinfully good vacation, a Bahamas Cruise is your best bet. As a top destination for cruises, your trip will feel like a dream.


Start your dock in Nassau, where thousands daily spend their time downtown shopping, eating and sight-seeing. Plan your trip accordingly, and you may get a chance to experience Junkanoo, an annual cultural festival featuring brightly-costumed dancers parading through the streets.


On board, enjoy complementary stateroom service, gourmet meals, 24-hour snacks, exciting activites and fabulous entertainment. Off-shore, take in long stretches of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear blue waters and incredible wildlife and landscape sights.


For the adventurous, go snorkeling in marine-life-abundant waters, or hop on a surfboard and learn how to catch a wave. To get even deeper, choose a deep-sea diving excursion, where trained scuba divers will take you far out to experience the ocean in a way you never imagined.


If you’d prefer to stay out of the waters, enjoy marine life from a safe space aboard a glass-bottom boat, where you’re likely to spot unsuspecting critters swishing beneath.


No matter what activites you choose, this will be a trip your group won’t soon forget. Find out more here: http://www.exploringamerica.com/astour/bahamas/

Top Destinations: Washington D.C.


Washington D.C.

For an immersive experience in American history, heritage and growing culture, one destination is the obvious choice. Washington D.C. will provide any group with a one-of-a-kind experience and a rekindled love for the country that fought so hard to let its people be free. Whether you want to learn, pay tribute, or just explore new sights, there is something in our nation’s capital for you.

The meeting place of the Senate and House of Representatives for more than two centuries, Capitol Hill should be a top priority for any group. Tour the president’s home, and see artifacts, exhibits, short films and sculptures central to the most prominent moments in U.S. history. 

Lincoln MemorialStroll over the the National Mall for all your museum and national monument stops. Pay tribute at the Lincoln Memorial to one of our greatest presidents, where countless historical events such as Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream..” speech took place. Step inside for all the Lincoln relics you could possibly imagine. For fans of James Bond or those who want a glimpse into the real world of spies, the International Spy Museum is a must. Telling the history of spies and the real life practice of espionage in today’s society, the museum include methods and tools of spies from the Greek and Roman Empires, The American Revolutionary War, The Civil War and both World Wars. 

To view a city within a city, make a trip to the Pentagon for a tour of America’s Department of Defense. 28 acres serves as headquarters for more than 30,000 military and civilian employees. See the Hall of Heroes, an actual Medal of Honor, the memorial and chapel built to commemorate the September 11th attacks and much more. Bring your walking shoes for this mile-long tour.

tomb of the unknown soldiersTo pay tribute to those who have served our country, head to Arlington Cemetary. This 624-acre plot of land is split into 70 sections, with anything from nurses killed in action, military chaplains and those who have been killed in the war on terror since 2001. Witness the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns, a memorial to all those who have died in service without their remains being identified. You may also visit the tombs of past presidents and their families, such as the Kennedys.

All of these activities and so much more could fill your group’s trip to our nation’s capital!





Train Travel and Public Transportation in America

via shrinkthatfootprint.com

via shrinkthatfootprint.com

Solo traveler Adventurous Kate recently wrote about her woes over the American train travel system.


While she boasts about “the sleek bullet trains of Japan to the impossibly comfortable cars on Austria’s first-class cars to the ultimate luxury journey on rails, the Blue Train in South Africa,” she claims America’s AmTrak system leaves something to be desired.


With expensive rates, few expansions, a weak route network and a business class that compares to economy in most other countries, Kate wonders if any politicians who discuss train travel in the platforms will ever actually do anything to make America less car-centric.


95 percent of American homes own a car, and 85 percent use those vehicles to get to work each day, according to state.gov. Only a few cities in the U.S. have public transportation reliable enough to void not owning a car, with New York City claiming the lowest car ownership rate at 50 percent of households.


What do you think? Is America too car-centric, or are we just lucky enough to be financially stable enough to focus on individual transportation? Would you rather America have a more public-transportation mindset like many European countries that Kate mentioned? Comment below with your opinion.