March 2007 Issue
Now's the perfect time to plan a trip south for some sun, sand and sports.
It's not easy being an Ohioan at this time of year. With spring barely on the horizon and arctic winds making bone-chilling temperatures a daily grind, it's a good time to take a quick trip to a sunnier clime, or to plan a much-needed summer vacation.
Here are three sure cures guaranteed to make spirits bright.
The Carolinas | Making Waves
The Carolinas are calling with sandy beaches, balmy breezes and blue skies. There's something for everyone here - whether you're in search of R and R or a little buried treasure.
In North Carolina, visitors flock to The Outer Banks, a string of narrow islands and peninsulas lying along 125 miles of the coast. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the most extensive stretch of undeveloped seashore on the Atlantic Coast. Wild beauty abounds, as bottlenose dolphins frolic near the beach and flocks of geese greet visitors exploring the sand dunes. Presiding over all is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, which, at 208 feet high, is the tallest lighthouse on the American coast. The 258-step climb is well worth the view. Scuba divers are drawn to "The Graveyard of the Atlantic," off the North Carolina coast, where the remains of more than 2,000 ships have settled to the ocean floor over the centuries. Accessible only by boat, The Cape Lookout National Seashore offers a host of recreational activities, ranging from shell collecting to surf fishing and boating. The oceanfront resort town of Nags Head is known for its family-friendly shallow water, and the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island invites visitors to get acquainted with its resident sharks, eels, sea turtles and alligators.
South Carolina's hospitality is second to none, and that's especially evident in two of the state's premier resort towns.
Families began vacationing in Myrtle Beach more than a century ago, making their way by horse and buggy, and then ferrying over the Waccamaw River to reach the coast. Today, along with thoroughly modern transportation, the town boasts a broad range of entertainment, nightlife and outdoor recreation. A haven for water-sports enthusiasts, Myrtle Beach was named one of "America's Best Beaches" last year by the Travel Channel. And no wonder. Surrounded by 60 miles of beach, it's the ideal spot to surf, kayak, scuba dive and parasail. Fish tales come true at the Grand Strand Fishing Rodeo, taking place between April and October. Grab your pail and shovel, and head for the Myrtle Beach Sun Fun Festival June 1â€“5, where sand-castle sculptors ply their craft. The second-annual Beach, Boogie and BBQ Festival, held August 31 and September 1, features lip-smacking fare served amid outdoor entertainment.
Pristine beaches and seemingly endless recreational pursuits have made Hilton Head Island a favorite family vacation destination. There are plenty of opportunities to chart your own course, whether from a sporty Sunfish or a sleek 70-foot luxury craft available for rent at one of nine public marinas. Kayaks and canoes are also waiting for visitors wishing to explore area creeks, marshes or inlets along Calibogue Sound. Twelve miles of sandy beaches invite cyclists to leave the car behind, put the pedal to the metal and ride atop the waves on an aqua trike. Or just take it easy at one of the upscale resorts that dot the area.
Arizona | Desert Delights
Although wagon trains no longer cross the Arizona landscape, the magic of the Old West thrives in a desert oasis of magnificent natural wonders.
President Theodore Roosevelt was filled with awe when he beheld the Grand Canyon 104 years ago, proclaiming that it was "beyond comparison, beyond description, absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world." Today, the famous landmark continues to cast its spell on the more than 4 million visitors who make the pilgrimage to see it each year. Spanning 277 miles in length and averaging 10 miles in width, the majestic gorge offers a panorama of picture-postcard-worthy views courtesy of light- and shadow-play on earth-toned rock formations interspersed with desert cacti and sagebrush. The park offers a variety of activities year-round, including campfire talks; ranger-led hikes; children's programs; and nature, history and geology walks. Recreational opportunities for sports enthusiasts feature such pursuits as white-water rafting trips on the Colorado River and muleback journeys through the canyon. Start at the National Geographic Visitor Center and IMAX Theater, which chronicles the history and captures the beauty of the geologic formation on screen.
Discover the beauty, color and diversity of arid plant life at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The paved Desert Discovery Trail leads visitors through 50 acres of outdoor exhibits showcasing cacti, aloe and wildflowers. The intricate beauty and many facets of the desert are brought together at the 300-acre Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park in Superior. The state's oldest and largest botanical garden features breathtaking views of sheer mountain cliffs, a streamside forest and hidden canyons, along with an interpretive center and greenhouses filled with specimens from around the world.
Sunshine, mountains and lush desert vegetation make Tucson a favorite winter getaway. Bask in the natural setting of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, showcasing the relationship between plants, animals, minerals and fossils native to the region. More than 300 animal species make their home here, including mountain lions, prairie dogs and bighorn sheep. Almost two miles of paths lead visitors through terrain containing more than 1,400 kinds of plants. The museum's vertebrate paleontology collection contains the first and only significant dinosaur skeleton from southern Arizona.
No trip is complete without a visit to Saguaro National Park, home to the subtropical cacti that serve as the symbol of the desert Southwest. Known for their sometimes humanlike shapes, the cacti can live more than 200 years and attain heights of 30 or 40 feet. In addition to protecting the saguaro and other desert vegetation, the park's Saguaro West District has rock formations decorated with Native American petroglyphs and designs.
Florida | Play Ball
OK, you're tired of winter. You're tired of the cold, the snow and checking the forecast before you go to bed every night to see if you'll have to get up an hour or two earlier than usual just so you can get to work on time.
Whether you live in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo or parts in between, it's a feeling we all share.
Well, there is one solution. Grab your suitcase, pack your shorts and head to Florida. (Don't forget the shades and the sunscreen.) Not only will you see that bright orange orb in the sky (rumor has it it's called the sun), you'll also get a chance to see Ohio's boys of summer - the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds - prepare for the 2007 baseball season. Many Ohioans have already made the trip down a yearly ritual. And once you do it the first time, you'll wonder why it took you so long.
The Indians' spring home is Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, while the Reds train at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Spring-training ballparks are more intimate than major-league stadiums, which allows fans to get much closer to the action and get a better look at players, including such stars as Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner of the Indians and Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn of the Reds. Fans can watch the pitchers work their arms into shape and also see the top prospects from the hometown team. The teams square off in Sarasota on March 9 and in Winter Haven on March 10.
The spring training atmosphere is a relaxed one. You'll often see players jogging along the outfield track after being removed from the game, and they're usually available to sign autographs as they head for the showers. There's also a good chance you'll run into a player or two when you're out having dinner.
Fans traveling to Winter Haven, located in the central part of the state, can fly into Orlando or Tampa - both are about an hour's drive away. Those headed to Sarasota, along the southwest gulf coast, can fly into the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Both the Winter Haven and Sarasota areas offer plenty of lodging close to the ballpark.
Activities aren't a problem. You can spend the morning poolside or at the beach, take in a ballgame in the afternoon and enjoy a round of golf before dark. For information about the Winter Haven area, visit www.sunsational.org or call 800/828-7655. Information about the Sarasota area can be found by visiting www.sarasotafl.org or calling 800/522-9799.
Chain of Lakes Park, 500 Cletus R. Allen Dr., Winter Haven, Florida; for ticket information, call 866/48-TRIBE or visit www.clevelandindians.com.
Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St. (off Tuttle Avenue), Sarasota, Florida; for ticket information, call 877/647-7337 or visit www.cincinnatireds.com.
|March 1: Astros 1:05 p.m.
March 4: Tigers 1:05 p.m.
March 6: Yankees 1:05 p.m.
March 8: Phillies 1:05 p.m.
March 9: Pirates 7:05 p.m.
March 10: Reds 1:05 p.m.
March 13: Mets 1:05 p.m.
March 14: Blue Jays 12:35 p.m.
March 15: Devil Rays 7:05 p.m.
March 16: Nationals 12:35 p.m.
March 18: Dodgers 1:05 p.m.
March 23: Astros 7:05 p.m.
March 24: Braves 1:05 p.m.
March 26: Devil Rays 1:05 p.m.
March 28: Blue Jays 1:05 p.m.
March 30: Blue Jays 1:05 p.m.
|March 3: Twins 1:05 p.m.
March 5: Phillies 1:05 p.m.
March 8: Tigers 1:05 p.m.
March 9: Indians 1:05 p.m.
March 11: Pirates 1:05 p.m.
March 12: Blue Jays 1:05 p.m.
March 14: Devil Rays 7:05 p.m.
March 15: Pirates 7:05 p.m.
March 16: Blue Jays 1:05 p.m.
March 18: Braves 1:05 p.m.
March 22: Yankees 1:05 p.m.
March 24: Phillies 1:05 p.m.
March 26: Red Sox 1:05 p.m.
March 28: Pirates 1:05 p.m.
March 29: Twins 7:05 p.m.
March 30: Devil Rays 1:05 p.m.