FITZWILLIAM, N.H. (AP) -- One of the most spectacular botanical displays of summer takes place in Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam, where 16 acres of wild rhododendrons bloom in mid-July.
An accessible trail loop, six-tenths of a mile long, takes visitors through the flowering grove, designated a National Natural Landmark. This is the largest of 19 rhododendron clusters in New England.
The park, on Route 119W, about two hours from Boston, also has mountain laurel blooming in June, and Indian pipe and woodland asters in late summer. And for hikers interested in a more challenging trail, the Little Monadnock Mountain Trail climbs from the rhododendron loop for a mile, then connects to the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. The summit of Little Monadnock is a half-mile away.
For more information, go to www.nhparks.state.nh.us/ParksPages/Rhododendron/Rhododendron.html or call (603) 239-8153.
Lake of the Ozarks
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- If you're longing for a few days by the water this summer, but you're worried that it's too late in the season to reserve a place, consider Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri.
The fingers of this sprawling lake stretch over 54,000 acres with 1,150 miles of shoreline. Created in 1931 with the completion of Bagnell Dam and the Great Osage River Project, the manmade lake is located 175 miles from St. Louis and 165 miles from Kansas City. Recreation includes swimming, boating and fishing for bass, stripers and catfish.
Lake of the Ozarks also is the site of some of the top golfing tournaments in the Midwest, including the PGA Club Pro Championship. Golfers may choose among 15 courses offering 261 holes.
Accommodations range from campgrounds, houseboats and rental condos to B&Bs, motels and resorts. For a free vacation planner, visit www.funlake.com or call (800) 544-8474.
Old World Wisconsin
EAGLE, Wis. (AP) -- After struggling for years to secure adequate state funding, Old World Wisconsin -- which calls itself the largest outdoor museum of rural life in the country -- is reaping benefits from new promotions.
Workshops in various historic skills, including making lye soap, log construction and blacksmithing, are proving so popular they are being expanded. And last year's sold-out performances of "Dracula" and "A Christmas Carol" will be followed this year, July 9 to 11, by a production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
An "Adopt an Animal" program is supporting Old World's historic breeds, and donations to the program also paid to start a day camp for children to be held at Old World this summer.
Established in 1979, Old World features pioneer homesteads and restored historic buildings, reflecting the largely rural lifestyle of a century or more ago. For details, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) -- Free bus tours are offering a look at the area burned by the conflagration that closed much of Glacier National Park in 2003.
Dates for the four-hour tours include June 2 and June 5.
The blaze, which investigators traced to a party around a campfire, burned some 57,000 acres and was fought at a cost of $30 million.
On the bus tours, Glacier and Flathead National Forest officials will discuss responses to the Robert fire and other local blazes. Participants will have the opportunity to get off the bus to look closely at burned areas.
Reservations are available by calling (406) 888-7939.
Summer in Illinois
CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago's new Millennium Park will host the Grant Park Music Festival, June 23 to Aug. 29, a free annual outdoor event.
A concert on July 16 will kick off the grand opening of the park in downtown Chicago. The park, located on the 24 acres between Lake Michigan and bustling Michigan Avenue, features a swooping, shimmering band shell designed by architect Frank Gehry.
Summer visitors to the Windy City will also want to check out a Seurat exhibit at the Art Institute, a tropical flower show at the Garfield Park Conservatory, and the Taste of Chicago 2004 festival featuring live music and food from 70-plus local restaurants. The art and flower shows open June 19; the food festival runs June 25 to July 4.
Elsewhere in Illinois, Peoria will host a Soul Fest celebrating black history, culture and food, Aug. 13 to 15; Metropolis will host the Annual Superman Celebration June 11 to 13, and the Belleville Optimist Family Rodeo returns to Eckert's Farm June 18 to 19 with contests in bareback riding, calf-roping and bull riding.
For a complete calendar of upcoming events in Illinois, call (800) 2-CONNECT or www.enjoyillinois.com.
ASSATEAGUE, Va. (AP) -- The wild pony roundup at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia -- an annual summer ritual -- is scheduled for July 28.
Visitors can see the ponies -- many with distinctive brown-and-white coloring -- roaming free in the marshy grassland of Assateague Island, descendants of a herd that some say swam to the island from a shipwreck 300 years ago.
For more information, visit www.chincoteague.net or call (757) 336-6161.
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