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Romance, roots and relaxation.

THE birds are chirping. The flowers are in full bloom, and there you sit lifeless and locked behind closed doors.

What's wrong with this picture?

Summer is in the air, and it's the best time of year to turn restless hearts and bodies into energetic and adventurous souls.

A wellspring of exciting travel opportunities awaits the eager and well-prepared vacationer this season. Romantic nooks, historic heritage trails and great family getaways are well within reach of the careful planner. Major airlines, such as United and American, offer discounted rates to selected areas, as do some credit card and rental car firms, bus lines and the Amtrak passenger rail system.

Mild weather, reasonable prices and various events and attractions offer a grand opportunity to lure the lethargic bunch out of their cubbyholes and make vacationing within the U.S. a practical, pleasurable choice.

Families traveling with small children should look at more than price when considering hotel accommodations. Check with your travel agent to see if the facility offers on-site baby-sitting services, activities for youths and adults and other amenities before making a final decision, experts say.

Couples desiring a relaxing hideaway may want to try bed-and-breakfast establishments for an intimate, homey atmosphere. Although B&B prices are comparable to hotel rates, guests get the luxury of home-cooked meals in a private residence often shared by no more than three other couples.

Whether you're traveling alone, with children or with that someone special, there are plenty of attractive destinations to choose from this year. Thaw your senses under Florida's balmy sun with a plunge down Disney World's new 120-foot, free-fall water slide. Change your pace and kick up your heels at one of Texas' African-American hoedowns or rodeos. Tour Detroit's renovated Motown Historical Museum. Sway to the beat of Mississippi's down-home Delta blues. Marvel at Missouri's caverns and multifaceted festivals, or simply soak up some rays while crabbing along Virginia's oceanfront.

Many states reward visitors by offering dream vacations options that include an inspiring and exciting array of culturally enriching sites and activities.

Mississippi, the Magnolia State, woos guests to its shores with its uniquely Southern style. If down-home blues suits your fancy, the B.B. King Homecoming, held in the musician's hometown of Indianola, during the first weekend in June, is a must. Another attention grabber is the Seventh Avenue Festival in Columbus. Or round up the family the second weekend in July for a musical feast when Canton honors its own during the Elmore James Hickory Street Festival.

Crisscrossing the state of Missouri, you're bound to hit several historic points of interest. There's George Washington Carver's birthplace in Diamond, Mo., Dred Scott's gravesite in St. Louis, the classical Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, and a Midwestern rendition of the Bill Pickett Invitational Black Rodeo in Kansas City.

Cultural pride, like everything else in Texas, is big and runs deep. From Fort Worth to San Antoino, Texans celebrate the music, talents and culture of diverse peoples. In June, Fort Worth natives observe the city's history as the last major stop on the legendary Chisolm Trail with a three-day festival and rodeo. Houston hosts a Caribbean Festival in the spring. And, in August, San Antonio comes alive with the Texas Folklife Festival and annual Carver Jazz Festival.

Several cities, including Detroit, have created historic heritage trails of their own. Vacationers headed North may choose to attend Detroit's soulful Gospelfest, held the Sunday before July 4, the Afro-American Festival in mid-July and the smooth-listening Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival held over Labor Day weekend. Baby boomers visiting the area are sure to wax nostalgic as they view a restored Hitsville, USA, the original Motown recording studio, now home to the Motown Historical Museum, or tour the new interactive Motown exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.

Music, lights, history and dozens of amusing thrills keep Florida travelers enthralled. Visitors to the Sunshine State can join the summertime fun in Miami, June 3 and 4, for the Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival, a lively series of events which includes a sailing regatta, golf tournament and two-day street festival. Tallahassee, the state's capital, flavors the summer calendar with a bit of ethnic flair of its own when it hosts the Caribbean Carnival, which features reggae, calypso and soca as well as West Indianinspired dishes and parades.

Families and lovers alike will revel in excitement in and around Orlando's amusement mecca. There's a camera safari, hiking and horseback riding along Kissimmee's Lake Tohopekaliga. Vacationers who want to combine the excitement of the sun coast with the beauty of the tropics can easily escape to the Bahamas by way of plane or cruise ship.

Outside Orlando, the state's main attraction, Disney World, continues to intrigue both young and old. The Magic Kingdom's new Extraterrorestrial Alien Encounter is a frightening sensory thriller which uses the latest in in-theater special effects. Disney World's new, Blizzard Beach, an illusory wintry water wonderland, is another spinechilling adventure. Beach guests can bobsled down the "snowy" slopes of Mount Gushmore or plunge down the 120-foot-high Summit Plummet, reportedly the tallest, fastest free-fall speed slide in the world.

Disney visitors can find bargain deals at Broadway Hotel, the final building to open at the All-Star Music Resort. Other accommodation sites near the theme park area may also offer savings for families who plan early.

So don't delay. Break away from the routine of everyday life and embark on your dream vacation today.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Johnson Publishing Co.
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Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:summer vacation ideas for African Americans
Author:Jones, Lisa C.
Publication:Ebony
Date:May 1, 1995
Words:905
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