Road-trip: what can't we miss seeing where you live?

June 29 |
On the Playa
Photo by Serolynne. Used under Creative Commons license.
For YEARS, my friend and I have joked about planning a full-on cross-country road trip. We'd have a hired RV, bobble heads, nodding dogs, and hula girls on the dashboard, and we'd visit loads of tourist sites across America — you know, the worlds largest pencil museum, the biggest ball of twine, pet cemeteries, shoe trees.

We need must-visit places — we hope they give us the fortitude to plan this trip. No more joking! I'd like the Homies to give us touristing recommendations in their area. What should I come see in your city or state? -Mich

My advice is this: If you visit Nebraska, don't allow yourself to drive on I-80. That flat, ugly stretch of Interstate gives NE a bad name.

If you have a smartphone, you might also buy the app Roadside America for $2.99. It alerts you to nearby giant balls of twine and gives you information, links, and directions. It was the first app I bought (aww, I'm experiencing nostalgia!)

What have you got to offer, guys? Or rather, what has your state got to offer?

  1. Wow. This is an epic post. Will definitely be checking back for more comments!

    There's a lot more to New York State than New York City. I live in the Hudson Valley, and it's gorgeous. One of my favorite local places is Olana, in Hudson. It was the home of Frederick Church, an artist of the Hudson River School. The design is inspired by his visits to the Middle East, so it's this amazing Persian-style building on a hill with incredible views. Incredible.

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  2. I love this post!!! We live in Cleveland right now but are in Wisconsin this weekend for a wedding (Madison specifically) and then we are driving to Austin, Minnesota for the week. You guys are giving such great suggestions for our first family roadtrip!! Anyone have anymore for these areas??

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  3. If you ever happen to make it to Maine, drive Rte 1, stop in Belfast at Perry's Nut House, they have a lot of crazy stuff and make home made fudge…I don't mean regular chocolate or peanut butter, I mean those as well as blueberry cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, and Pirates fudge. OMG, YUM!
    My friend Kyle made the "mummy" they have there, it is very authentic looking and worth seeing. Also go to Bar Harbor and go deep sea fishing, or on a whale watch….or go on a lobster boat and catch your own. Hit Acadia National Park and camp there, watch the sun rise, go to Thunder Hole and spend an early evening at Sand Beach looking for sea glass and sand dollars.

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    • If you're in Belfast, also skip out about 10 miles to Brooks, a little town of about 1k people, to Ralph's Cafe for breakfast! This is my favorite place in the world for breakfast or dessert! They have Tiramisu pancakes, stuffed french toast with home made raspberry or blueberry compote, or my favorite, the potato cakes.

      A lot of people tell me they've been to Maine, but have never been north of Portland. That's not Maine, that's northern New Hampshire! Go to Moosehead lake, and try to spot a moose. It's gorgeous there.

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    • I think the saying is that you can't do coastal Maine without eating at Dorman's icecream (Thomaston), Moody's Diner (Waldoboro), and Wasses' HotDogs (Rockland, Belfast).

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  4. WOWSA!!!
    I never knew my roadtrip question was gonna get this many replies!!
    This has given me a kick up the butt to start actually thinking about planning a trip :)
    thanks everyone
    x Mich

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  5. Surely there are more Offbeat Southern Californians!

    LA:

    LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). HUGE multi-building art museum with everything from Picasso to Japanese screens. Currently showing the Tim Burton exhibit, and there's an impressive fashion and textile collection, too. One of my favorite museums.

    FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) has a tiny perfume museum, and the gallery has at least two costume exhibits per year (one for TV, one for film). Call to confirm whether the gallery or museum will be open; driving and parking an RV in downtown LA will be tricky.

    If you dare visit Venice, walk along the canals. Much prettier than the boardwalk.

    If you or any of your friends wear a bra size larger than a D cup, go to Jenette Bras in East Hollywood – they only stock D through K cups, and also have swimwear and lingerie. (Then go to Scoops around the corner for the best ice cream in LA – they have both dairy and soy-based.)

    East Los Angeles College is home to the Vincent Price Art Museum (most of the art was donated by Price himself), but it's only open during the week – call for hours.

    If you start to crave highbrow culture, you can't forget the Huntington Library and Gardens, near Pasadena (home to things like a Gutenberg Bible and Gainsborough's Blue Boy).

    I'm not big on the touristy stuff like studio tours and the Hollywood sign, but I'm a fourth-generation Angeleno and got tired of it a long time ago. Your mileage will probably vary.

    Long Beach:

    The Queen Mary. Do take the "Ghosts and Legends" tour! Also, lots of events, some of them public, take place on board, so check their calendar. I saw The Buzzcocks perform at the Ink n' Iron tattoo convention there just a few weeks ago, and the annual Halloween mazes are very popular.

    Retro Row. 4th Street between Cherry and Junipero is filled with thrift and vintage shops, plus a one-screen Art Deco theater that plays mostly indie films.

    California State University's Long Beach campus boasts a beautiful Japanese garden if you're into plants.

    Orange County:

    Going to Disneyland/DCA is not everyone's cup of tea, but I love it (I have, and frequently use, an annual pass). Do not miss the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, or the just-opened Ariel's Undersea Adventure if you go. (If possible, have a local show you around – we know of, and will tell you about, things the tour guides won't.) There's even an RV campsite not too far away.

    Antique and retro shoppers love Orange – almost every store near the town's traffic circle sells old stuff. You probably won't want to lug an antique dresser home, but there's also small stuff like vintage Hawaiian kitsch.

    Do drive on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) through OC, especially in Huntington Beach. Gorgeous views!

    HB also boasts a pet cemetery, Native American ruins in the Bolsa Chica wetlands preserve, a Victorian cottage (Newland House – open on weekends), very gentle waves if you fancy a surfing lesson at Bolsa Chica State Beach, and one of the best public libraries in the state, if not the country. Oh, and "The Ultimate Challenge" – a statue of a naked surfer, riding a wave, his bare butt facing traffic on PCH. Yes, conservative Orange County has a statue of a naked surfer.

    If any of you are music nuts, the Fullerton Museum Center has an ongoing exhibit on its best-known resident, Leo Fender, and the Telecaster electric guitars he pioneered. Do check the Bowers Museum's calendar before passing it up – it's tiny, but they get some of the best traveling exhibitions (I saw the Terracotta Warriors there).

    San Diego:

    San Diego is fairly tame after you've done LA, but I have a soft spot for Old Town – home to a Spanish mission, presidio, and the Whaley House (one of only two houses the State of California has decreed "haunted"). Bonus: good place to buy adorable Mexican tchotchkes without having to cross the border.

    FYI: if you have an urge to cross into Mexico for the day, do NOT bring an RV. There have been many reports of US citizens in RVs being held without cause by the police, with the goal of getting them to leave the RV behind in exchange for their release.

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  6. I don't really have a home town as such, since I grew up as an army brat. However, I highly recommend the John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon, as well as driving through the Columbia River Gorge. That area of the country is so beautiful, it makes my heart hurt when I'm away.

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  7. I'm a transplant New Mexican and love the place!
    Like Rodrigeus said – Petroglyphs and Acoma cliff dwellings.
    Like Jessi said – Carlsbad Caverns.

    But you also gotta check out White Sands and Roswell – especially if you're into the scifi stuff.

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    • Oooh yes, and don't forget Ruidoso! It can be a bit touristy but is beautiful and not far from White Sands. If visiting White Sands, you may have the opportunity to see the annual Balloon Glow – breath taking!

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  8. All righty, I'm here to represent North Idaho. Specifically, the odd little towns that lie along I-90.

    We have historic Wallace, which is full of museums and the like, it has decreed itself the center of the universe, and it is where much of the film Dante's Peak was filmed.

    We have Kellogg, which has a lovely Alpine Village historical sort of area in the uptown area (and by up, I mean uphill). It is also home to Silver Mountain ski resort (which also features concerts in the summer), which is reached by a 3.1 mile long gondola ride up the mountain.

    And near to the wee town of Cataldo (where I grew up), we have the Mission of the Sacred Heart (or as we call it, the Cataldo Mission), which is a church built in 1848, making it the oldest standing building in Idaho. The Mission, Parish House, and surrounding grounds are a state park, and are quite lovely. But I'm a little biased.

    The town I live in now, Coeur d'Alene, has, most obviously, Lake Cd'A, which is great for… aquatic things. Next to the lake is a park, as well as Tubbs Hill, which is covered in hiking trails. I've been meaning to actually go out and check out all the touristy stuff, but I haven't as of yet.

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  9. I've found a lot of delightfully funky destinations on the Atlas Obscura website – they have a good fb feed, not sure if they have an app yet.

    As a Portland resident I'm going to leave it at just that one recommend, because otherwise I'll go a little crazy talking about waffles and bike paths and second-hand stores and local hops and all that NW hipster shit I love so dearly.

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  10. being a nebraska native it does get a bad rep. Chimney rock and car stonehedge are pretty neat out west. Stop in omaha and hit up downtown. small enough to be able to spend a few hours on the cobblestone. A few cute shops and places to eat.

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  11. I love all of these KY comments! Makes me proud :)

    However…maybe it's just me, but I'd avoid Fourth Street Live at all costs if you're headed to Louisville. It's full of out-of-towners on business trips that don't know where else to go. Try Market Street, The Highlands, or Frankfort Ave if you're looking for a good bar or restaurant…that's where the really good stuff is! Consuminglouisville.com is a great blog to check out if you're in the mood for food or drinks. Try Holy Grale for fancy beer and pub food, Ramsi's Cafe for food themed on basically every region of the world, and Toast on Market for ah-mazing breakfasts.

    Also, I always make sure I take my visiting friends to Joe Ley Antiques. It'll be a memorable trip, I promise.

    If you're going to Lexington, you HAVE to eat at Doodles. Their beignets alone will change for life, f'real.

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  12. I've got another plug for Wisconsin.
    First: food- get some cheese curds; either deep-fried or fresh enough to squeak as you chew them. If you go to the Dane County Farmers' Market (around the capitol building) remember to walk counter-clockwise. I personally recommend getting fresh cheese curds from Farmer John at the farmers' market, as his cheese curds are consistently squeaky. Also notable are the awesome cinnamon rolls, spicy cheese bread, and baked cheese at the market
    In Madison, but not at the farmers' market is Babcock Hall ice cream. It is a.maz.ing.
    If you like beer, I suggest trying something from the New Glarus Brewing Company (like Spotted Cow).

    Places- The Chalet of the Golden Fleece in New Glarus, or all of New Glarus if you're interested in Swiss heritage-themed tourist attractions. Also, the general area around New Glarus is full of beautiful rolling hills.
    In Madison, the Wisconsin Historical Society has an Odd Wisconsin exhibit- stuff like a politician's waistcoat with a bullet hole in it. Not super kitschy, but interesting.
    Fort Atkinson is home to the Hoard Historical Museum and National Dairy Shrine. If the name isn't tempting enough, there's a guided tour with animatronics explaining some of the history of the dairy industry.
    Baraboo has the Circus World Museum, and it's relatively close to the Forevertron, which is something you probably need to see on this trip. Not gonna lie, the Forevertron is epic. Wikipedia says that it is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world.

    If you go up through Minnesota, you could visit the SPAM museum, which has free admission, and possibly a free sample of SPAM. Or go see the largest twine ball made by one person in Darwin, MN.

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    • Actually, what you really need to do is go to Osseo, WI and get some pie at the Norske Nook. Seriously. Can't believe I forgot to mention it earlier, but the pie there is a spiritual experience. It's amazing. Go. Get some pie. The other food is also extremely good, but you MUST get some pie.

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  13. Minnesota: Highway 61 north from Duluth (gorgeous town) up to Grand Marais (another gorgeous town). It runs along Lake Superior and is known to Minnesotans as the North Shore. Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Temperance River State Park, and Cascade River State Park are all beautiful places to stop along the way. I recommend eating anything with wild rice, especially the stuffed mushrooms at Grandma's in Duluth and the wild rice pizza at Sven and Ole's in Grand Marais.

    More Minnesota: Smack dab in the center of the state is the source of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park. The river trickles out of Lake Itasca, and you can walk across it and wade down it for quite a ways. I loved telling people as a child that I had walked across the Mississippi River! Itasca State Park is a magical place full of the largest red and white pines in the state and a scary-tall fire tower that you can climb and see for miles around.

    Minneapolis, where I live: Minnehaha Falls is my favorite place. I could go on and on about all the lakes and parks and festivals in Minneapolis, but really, don't miss Minnehaha Falls. It's situated in south Minneapolis, roughly halfway between the Mall of America and downtown. You can rent bikes in the park and eat at the seafood restaurant in the main building (or just get locally-made ice cream there, which is what I do).

    Downtown Minneapolis: Foshay Tower observation deck. From 1929 to about 1975, the Foshay was the tallest building in Minneapolis. It was recently renovated and restored to its art deco glory, and now houses the W hotel and a couple of (amazingly delicious) restaurants. For $10 you can go to the open air observation deck on the 30th floor, which offers amazing views, despite being dwarfed on most sides by modern-day skyscrapers.

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  14. If you get around to visiting south-eastern Montana, I'd strongly recommend checking out the Makoshika Dinosaur Museum in Glendive, along with the visitor's center in Makoshika State Park. Paddlefishing the end of May/beginning of June is quite a sight there, too!

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  15. If passing through Ohio, a must visit is Yellow Springs! Its full of art, kitsch, hippy like friendliness, and the best coffee on earth (The Steal Your Face at Brother Bear's). There's so much to see and do in this tiny village of less than 3000! The village is surrounded by a land trust; Glen Helen and John Bryan are overflowing with natural beauty, mineral springs, and wildlife. Camping is very primitive though. If possible, pass through during the Spring or Fall Street Fairs, or if passing through in July, come on the second Friday for Carnival. Third Friday (every month), is filled with artwork street performers, wine tastings, and more.. most village shops are open "late" (until 9)and the best little unknown Peruvian cuisine is at The Williams Cafe.
    Wile in Ohio, also swing through Dublin. Its a tiny historic Irish village. The Irish Festival, during the first week of August, is AMAZING! The little village has a great deal of authentic Irish charm, complete with stone fencing from the original settlers. Being of Irish descent (Grandpa was an immigrant) St. Pat's is a BIG day. I've traveled all around the country and have yet to come across a better St. Pat's celebration than the one in Dublin, Ohio… unless, of course, you jump the pond and go straight to the source. There are Irish Pride flags everywhere and no green beer in sight, only the authentic for this village; Guinness, whiskey, and Irish food abound. Irish music and dancers… I could go on and on. Dublin is definitely a place to stop if you want a cozy back in time feel. There are plenty of 'current day' sights in the area as well… and lots of areas to hike and take in nature (waterfalls too!)
    Cincinnati is full of sights as well. I'm a fan of the festivals – German, Tall Stacks, the Flying Pig…
    Ohio has a lot to offer, throughout the state. The best time to come through would be late spring, late summer, or early fall… trying to time it for festivals could add to the fun. The colors in the fall are beautiful, especially in the northern and southern ends of the state… mid Ohio can be flat and boring at times but there are gems tucked in. Happy Touring!

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  16. I'm really not joking when I say this: Every fall, my town, Minocqua, Wisconsin, celebrates BEEF-A-RAMA!!! Each merchant in town makes a beef roast. They all get judged by looks and flavor and THEME… then we parade them down the street in the BEEF-A-RAMA parade!!! Google it… it's HUGE here!!

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  17. There is also a MUSTARD MUSEUM downstate from me.

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  18. COME TO MICHIGAN!!!

    If there a couple places in the Mitten that I can tell you to go to its Ann Arbor, and Detroit Rock City.
    Ann Arbor would be the liberal haven of Southern Michigan full of micro-breweries and leagues of University of Michigan fans. Great restaurants, cute little shops, lots of local support and lots of good little bars and brew pubs.
    Detroit, despite its reputation, has a lot of great things going on right now. Detroit is about an hour from Ann Arbor straight down I94 which is how you would get to Ann Arbor from Chicago… Anywho, be sure to go down to Woodward Avenue in Detroit and check out Comerica Park, or Tiger Stadium, the Fox Theatre, and one of my favorite places just down the road is the Magic Stick. Its a bowling alley, pub, music venue, and dive bar all in one building…but in all different rooms so you can hop from spot to spot…cheap drinks. Also, Check out the Eastern Market. With the economy as bad as its been in Detroit for a really long time now, many community gardens have sprung up in empty lots and are bringing fresh food to the Eastern Market every Saturday. So if you get a chance go to the farmers market, we need the support. Speaking of food, American Coney Island…go there, its a diner style restaurant, most are Greek owned and include gyro's on their menu's. There is also Greek Town with a casino and many tasty restaurants and pastry shops. CorkTown over on Michigan Ave is the Irish neighborhood and there are some great bars and Slow BBQ..delicious BBQ and Michigan beer.
    Many of the neighboring cities on the edges of Detroit are a lot of fun too! Hamtramck, Royal Oak, and Ferndale all have really fun bars, vintage shops and downtown areas. Hamtramck is largely a Polish neighborhood with some of the best food I've ever had!
    Give Michigan and Detroit a chance! It is a great place filled with even greater people! And I can't tell you enough that the micro-brew scene here is crazy and delicious!
    -Kelli from Ypsilanti, Michigan

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  19. Wisconsin has some really beautiful drives. And, I know this is cliche', but if you like beer some awesome brewery tours. You can pick up tourist maps at the rest stops with where cheese producers and beer producers in the state are. Milwaukee is a great stop during the summer. We have 14 ethnic festivals, summer fest(a two week music festival), plus dozens of other local festivals and events.

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  20. This is terrible, but it took me a very long time to think of something. Unfortunately, there just isnt a lot to do in Windsor-Essex county

    But come for our events. Benni Benassi played for the uni frosh week. We have an amazing food festival every summer. Right now the world U17 hockey challenge is happening. Art in the Park is an international art fair type thing. Ceasars Windsor has some great shows, for relatively inexpensive because it is ceasars windsor. Red bull air races have happened here the last few years. Beaverfest is a new music festival that has just started, with some legit acts. Last year the barenaked ladies played at the local college. Deadmau5 and tiesto were here last summer. Phog fest is great, windsor international film festival is kinda cool, and FAM fest is an interdisciplinary arts festival. We are right next to detroit, so you can catch any major sport within 20 min. Cirque du soleil will be here within the next few months, and elton john played here a few months ago.

    Obviously, with our lower drinking age and proximity to the states a lot of americans come over to go downtown and party, which is fine I guess, but nothing special. It just is one of the big appeals of the city. But if you do come over for that, my favourite place is called the Loop, because it plays a good variety of music, from house to indie to old school rock to glam rock to everything.

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  21. CT has some pretty cool places, considering, ha!

    Everyone from out of state feels the need to drive through the Merritt Parkway, which is nice. I think I can't get too excited because I sit in traffic during rush hour. If you're on it, The Merritt Canteen is a must. It was on some Food Network Show
    http://www.merrittcanteen.com/

    The Dinosaur State Park, tickets are $5
    http://www.dinosaurstatepark.org/index.htm

    Mystic Seaport is super cute
    http://www.mysticseaport.org/

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  22. If you come through St. Louis budget time for Forest Park. The zoo, science center, history museum, and art museum are all free (except for some special attractions.) If you come through in June-August you should go to the Muny (also in Forest Park). Open-air, nighttime, musical theater, adorable kids chorus, Ken Page stars in one of the shows each summer (once he was Belle's Father, now he's playing Jasmine's father). If you arrive early enough, and wait in line, there are free seats in the nosebleed section. No dress code because St. Louis summer at night (bug spray! water!) Can we tell the season is starting and I am overly excited about it? yes we can.

    And seconding earlier STL suggestions to go to the Botanical Garden and City Museum.

    edit to add: Another great place (though more pricy) is the Fabulous Fox Theater. They have concerts, plays, Broadway musicals. But the theater itself is just amazing to look at. Like the Muny there isn't really a dress code – huge range of dress.

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  23. As mentioned above, a visit to Maine requires touring lighthouses, eating lobster, going to Acadia National Park, and visiting Moosehead Lake to try and see moose.
    Maine also seems to have an abundance of food-themed festivals. LobsterFest, the Blueberry Festival, the Strawberry Festival, The Yarmouth Clam Festival, the Potato Blossom Festival, and Moxie-Fest! A trip to Maine is incomplete without tasting Moxie (a soda with a truly unforgettable flavor…seriously, it will be burned into your tastebuds) and eating at least one whoopie pie.

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  24. As Kate mentioned above, there's a lot more to New York state than just NYC. I grew up in Woodstock, NY, about 2 hours north of the city – it's a great town to walk around and explore, with funky art, yummy food, and the gorgeous Catskill Mountains all around you. Plus, it's the namesake of the famous Woodstock Festival!

    Now, a word on NYC, as this is where I currently reside – I must do a shout-out to Queens, a borough that tourists often do not visit. But they should – it's awesome! The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Flushing Meadows Park (featuring the unisphere and the world's fair site) in Flushing, Little India in Jackson Heights (my neighborhood!)and all the amazing ethnic foods that anyone could want.

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  25. I know its a little late from the original post, but good old Colorado is great. Estes Park already got mentioned, but also not to miss:

    -Canon City/Florence area along the Arkansas River on Hwy 50. Florence has a great main street full of antique/junk shops. Canon (pronounced Canyon) has a prison museum set up in one of the original federal penitentaries which housed an actual cannibal. Across the street from there is the Dinosaur Depot, which is a very tiny museum dedicated to the dino digs up north of town which were some of the best back in the day. Also the Royal Gorge Bridge, the world's highest suspension bridge (over water) is just west of town.

    Oh, and south of that area in the San Isabel National Forest, which is stunning on its own, is Bishop's Castle. The builder has been working on it longer than I've been alive and every time I go there, it is just amazeballs!

    -Denver has some cool things too like the Denver Mint tours and the Molly Brown House.

    -Fort Collins is great for beer lovers as there are several microbrewers here and on the first friday of every month (possibly just april thru like octover), the downtown art galleries and stores stay open into the evening for gallery walks. And there is a great ghost tour through the downtown here too!

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