Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers excursions that transport you back in time and let you relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. Trips to Cass are filled with rich histories of the past, unparalleled views of a vast wilderness area, and close-up encounters with the sights and sounds of original steam-driven locomotives. The town of Cass remains relatively unchanged. The restored company houses add to the charm and atmosphere of the town. From the company store and museum to the train depot, you'll find an abundance of things to do prior to your departure on the historic Cass Railroad. The Cass Scenic Railroad is the same line built in 1901 to haul lumber to the mill in Cass. The locomotives are the same Shay locomotives used in Cass, and in the rain forests of British Columbia for more than a half-century. The passenger cars are old logging flat-cars refurbished and made into passenger cars. Once you board the train, the real excitement begins! The great pistons of the carefully restored Shay locomotive will start pulsing, driven by hundreds of pounds of steam pressure. The shaft begins turning, the wheels find traction, and the locomotive begins to move. With thick, black smoke belching from its stack, the train pulls away from the station, passing the old water tower from which the locomotive tanks are filled. As the train rounds the curve up Leatherbark Creek, you'll pass the Cass Shop, where the locomotives are serviced and repaired, and a graveyard of antiquated, but fascinating equipment on sidetracks. As the pressure builds, the locomotive is driven at full steam, and the laborious journey up the mountain toward the two switchbacks begin. The loud huff of the stack, the clanking of gears and pistons, the furious scream of the whistle at the crossings, and the ever present clackety-clack of the rails will indeed make you feel as if you have been transported back i
This unassuming town in Pennsylvania's coal country bills itself as "the Christmas tree capital of the world." According to local lore, a group of enterprising Indiana County gentlemen were the first to grow Christmas trees as a crop back in 1918. The area still grows more than a million pines, firs and spruces commercially every year. But perhaps Indiana's most famous Christmas-related product is native son Jimmy Stewart, star of the iconic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life. Indiana holds an annual festival and parade in mid-November named after the film.
Railroad Park is a 19 acre green space in downtown Birmingham that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of our great city. Situated along 1st Avenue South, between 14th and 18th Streets, the park is a joint effort between the City of Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation. Hailed as "Birmingham's Living Room," Railroad Park provides a historically rich venue for local recreation, family activities, concerts, and cultural events, while connecting Birmingham's downtown area with Southside and UAB's campus.
Right in the heart of downtown Orlando, this park is the heart of the city itself. In addition to its beautiful view of Orlando’s skyline, Lake Eola has an amphitheater where plays and concerts may be enjoyed throughout the year. Walkers and runners can burn a few calories along a 0.9-mile trail that circles the lake. Pedal-propelled swan rental boats may seduce, but exercise caution in summer months.
This town in central Alaska advertises its ZIP code (99705) as "Santa's ZIP Code." And why not? After all, it's got the right name -- even if the reason for it is more about economics than holiday spirit. When a development company bought the area in 1952, it decided to call it North Pole in the hopes of attracting a toy manufacturer or theme-park developer to the area. While that didn't pan out the way the developers had hoped, the town does lay claim to the Santa Claus House, the "official" home of the jolly gift-giver. A 42-foot tall, 900-pound Santa statue welcomes visitors to the sprawling store, which, predictably, specializes in Christmas-related merchandise and collectibles.
Cascading over piles of limestone boulders, this first-magnitude spring on the west bank of the Withlacoochee River is one of Florida’s newest and most awe-inspiring swimming holes. Dive deep into the cool, crystal-clear waters that descend almost 25 feet into the earth’s surface, but make sure to get there early; this once-hidden gem is becoming more and more popular by the day.
In Hawaii, Santa doesn't arrive by sleigh -- he much prefers an outrigger canoe, to say nothing of the traditional palaka costume he wears in lieu of red velvet. Each December, he alights on the shore by the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach hotel, where the public can greet his arrival and pose for pictures.