Eureka Springs: top art destination

Known for its history, architecture and cultural offerings, Eureka Springs, Ark., is a favorite among travelers looking for a distinctive getaway. Now, for the second year in a row, Eureka Springs has been named as one of the top 25 arts destinations among small cities in the United States by American Style magazine, a national arts lifestyle publication.

Artists have traveled to Eureka Springs since the 1800s. Today there are more than 200 artists who call this charming city in the Ozarks home, so it’s no surprise a traveler will find art galleries, performance and educational venues there.

Highlights might include the new North Main Street Art Colony, where visitors will find artists working in their studios. The colony is at 185 N. Main St. Expand your artistic creativity at several educational venues, including the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. In addition, the Main Stage Creative Community Center is renovating an 1889 commercial building that will house a facility for dance, theater, music and summer camps.

For more information on visiting Eureka Springs, click on or call (866) 566-9387.

Go vertical on the Space Coast

Visitors to Kennedy Space Center in central Florida this summer can experience simulated thrills of a space launch or see the real thing. AAA photo
Guests at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex now have an oppportunity to experience a simulated space launch.

The new $60 million attraction called Shuttle Launch Experience debuted May 25. It simulates a space shuttle journey into Earth’s orbit, giving participants similar sensations, sounds and sights–including a re-created view of Earth from space–experienced by astronauts in a fully vertical launch position. A team of NASA experts, astronauts and attraction designers worked three years on the project.

Witness a live launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on Aug. 9. This will be the 22nd U.S. mission to the International Space Station.

The Shuttle Launch Experience is included in regular KSC admission, discounted for AAA members. The price, including tax, is $34.50 for adults, $25.50 for children. To order, click on or call (800) 222-7623, ext. 6422.

Barge the river for holiday season

Holiday events take place throughout New Orleans, including caroling in Jackson Square. Louisiana Office of Tourism photo
RiverBarge Excursion Lines offers travelers a little something in their stocking this summer for holiday cruises on the lower Mississippi River.

Book a barge cruise by Aug. 15 and receive a $150 cabin credit, free parking in New Orleans (space is limited), and a reduced single occupancy supplement of 25 percent. The incentives are applicable for the Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and 19 departures.

The Cajuns and Creoles cruise, Nov. 27–Dec. 4, includes a swamp tour and stops at several river towns. All-inclusive fares start at $2,405.
Spend two nights in New Orleans and explore historic plantations and landmarks on the Delta South cruise, Dec. 4–8. All-inclusive fares start at $1,385.

The Southern tradition of the holiday bonfires is the theme of the Dec. 18–27 cruise, which also includes two nights in New Orleans, as well as a traditional Christmas dinner on board the R/B River Explorer. All-inclusive fares start at $2,935.

A New Year’s in New Orleans package, Dec. 30–Jan. 2, includes an open bar, reduced single occupancy and free parking in New Orleans. Watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks from the River Explorer’s decks and explore the city using the barge as your home. All-inclusive fares start at $925.

The River Explorer has 98 cabins and accommodates 196 guests. All meals are regionally influenced and served open seating. Snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, meals, onboard entertainment, taxes, port charges, gratuities and scheduled shore activities are included in the fare. The River Explorer observes a no-tipping policy.

For more information, contact your AAA Travel agent. Click here to find an office near you or call (888) 366-4222.

New this summer in the South
The Louisiana Boardwalk has a growing selection of dining and retail options. Shreveport/Bossier City CVB photo

For the long weekend getaway or family vacation this summer, here’s a round-up of new attractions, activities and hotels you might want to check out.

In Louisiana

The Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City has two new restaurants that were getting ready to open at our deadline. O’Brien’s Irish Pub, with fare such as fish and chips or shepherd’s pie, also serves beers from around the world. Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro opens another Louisiana location that will serve Cajun cuisine, seafood, sandwiches, salads, pizza and–of course–sinfully delicious cheesecake. There are Cheesecake Bistros in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Metairie.

Courtyard by Marriott is scheduled to break ground June 27 for its 125-room hotel. Plans are for the hotel to be open in time for Mardi Gras next year.

The Louisiana Boardwalk has more than 850,000 square-feet of shopping, dining and entertainment options, including 50 shops and a 14-screen movie theater. The development, located on the riverfront at 390 Plaza Loop, opened in November 2003 with anchor Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

For more information, contact the Shreveport-Bossier City Convention and Tourist Bureau, (800) 551-8682 or

In Mississippi

The Mississippi Gulf Coast continues its recovery with several openings and new air service.
Allegiant Air started service from Las Vegas on June 1. Offered Mondays and Fridays, the flights come through Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, 14035-L Airport Road in Gulfport. Service to Orlando is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Allegiant is the fifth airline to serve the Gulfport airport.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has its official opening July 7 in Biloxi. American rapper Kid Rock will perform in concert to a sold-out audience. A “soft” opening will be July 5, featuring Three Doors Down. Other Hard Rock Live acts scheduled this summer include Poison & Ratt on July 12, Cheap Trick on July 19, Vince Neil & Slaughter on July 26, Blue October on Aug. 2 and Steppenwolf on Aug. 23. The Daughtry concert Aug. 4 is sold out.

The Premier Entertainment development includes an 11-story hotel with a spa and fitness center, full casino and the signature Hard Rock Cafe, as well as four other restaurants including a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse opened Emeril’s Gulf Coast Fish House at the Island View Casino and Resort on June 22. It’s one of the first restaurants to open on the beach in Gulfport since Hurricane Katrina. Dinner will be served daily at 5:30 p.m. The restaurant will not initially offer lunch service.

A VIP grand opening June 20 benefitted The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. Lagasse and his wife, Alden–a Gulfport native–are head of a national campaign to build a performing arts center at the museum.

Another beachfront restaurant, Salute, opened June 19. Offering Italian cuisine, the restaurant is located at 1712 15th St. just off U.S. Highway 90 in Gulfport. Most of the seating for 350 guests will have views of the water.

For more information, contact the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, (228) 896-6699 or

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