The work of ancient builders
Most national parks protect natural wonders - mountains, forests, canyons. But Mesa Verde was the very first national park created to preserve man-made wonders - ancient cliff dwellings, made from sandstone, perched on ledges at elevations of 7,000 feet. This intricate architecture, dating to the 12th century, is as awesome to behold today as it was when cowboys and ranchers first saw it.
Sailing off in a new direction
Some people will never understand the attraction of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. Those who get it, do so immediately and will start planning their next trip as soon as they get home. The cruises offer an informal atmosphere and stops at smaller Caribbean ports.
Forever summer - in Wisconsin?
A howling wind sweeps the parking lot, where hail is bouncing off compacted mounds of plowed snow. But inside the massive, glass-enclosed bubble, it's always summer, forever 85 degrees. Fact is, if you don't have the time or money to head to the Caribbean this winter, the indoor water park resorts of Wisconsin Dells have created a rough facsimile that's good enough to fool the kids.
Top gardens offer sensory satisfaction
New guidebooks list hundreds of arboretums, nurseries and parks that garden lovers can stroll through. Here are some of the top picks by authors Marina Harrison and Lucy D. Rosenfeld and some of their e-mailed comments. Check visiting hours before going.
Hurricane-hit beach resorts see fewer sun-seekers
Cancun, usually a favorite spot for spring-breakers, is still recovering from last year's devastating hurricanes. Many of the reservations for Cancun have shifted to west coast destinations, such as Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Mazatlan.
Grab a slice of Florida's Key West
The book "Quit Your Job and Move to Key West" advertises itself as the complete guide to chucking your cold, boring, mainland life and moving to the southernmost city in the continental United States. For those whose spouses, bosses, creditors or others might object to such a rash move, visiting Key West is still an enticing option.
Piecing together a great family vacation
For busy families, planning a vacation can be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together - especially when the parents work. Start planning now to get the jump on a summer trip. To come up with some great travel ideas for a special vacation, we went to the family travel experts.
Adventure awaits in Minneapolis
The only castle in Minneapolis is more than a beautiful place to tour. It's also a place to have fun, see art exhibits and learn about America's Swedish heritage. Since 1929, the ornate chateaux-style castle has been the home of the American Swedish Institute. The castle, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is minutes from downtown Minneapolis.
Can Wyoming go Hollywood?
Tourism officials have long known that a good movie can attract tourists. "Brokeback Mountain" piques tourists' interest, but boosting the state's film industry is a challenge.
Mended Cancun may be stronger than before
Cancun's high-rise "hotel zone" is bustling again, but not with tourists. It's swarming with demolition crews and construction workers trying to put the pieces back together again. Four months after Hurricane Wilma broadsided the popular Caribbean playground, many of the more than 50 major hotels are still not up and running, with tentative reopening dates ranging from this month to this summer.
A Colorado gem serves as 'Switzerland of America'
Natural hot springs and an ice-climbing park are two of the draws to Ouray, a more rustic Breckenridge. The old mining town is virtually ringed by 14,000- and 13,000-foot peaks in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, not far from the ski resort town of Telluride.
Good times roll again in parts of New Orleans
More than five months after Hurricane Katrina, and a few weeks before Mardi Gras, the Lower Ninth Ward remains devastated. Adding to tourist offerings, some companies provide guided tours through damaged neighborhoods.
D.C. to be bursting with cultural activities
From a portrait of George Washington and photos of Weimaraners to witness accounts of historic events, the nation's capital is promoting the summer of 2006 as a celebration of American culture. The campaign theme, "Washington, D.C., Celebrates American Originals," is a reference to attractions that can't be found in even the most elaborate theme parks.
Silverton Mountain skiing is for experts only
Precautions taken at Silverton Mountain render the threat of avalanches low. Yet little can be left to chance at this breathtakingly steep, rugged throwback of a ski area that bridges the thrills of the backcountry with some basic conveniences of conventional resorts. Now in its fifth season, Silverton Mountain isn't for everyone and won't be for the foreseeable future because its young owners don't really want it to be.
New face of Detroit will greet visitors
Although the Motor City was destination No. 1 for professional football players this season, it is probably not among the top tourism destinations for most Americans. But city officials and members of the Super Bowl host committee want out-of-towners to know that a new and improving Detroit awaits them.
Tour Turin after the Games
Can't find a hotel room in Turin for the Olympics? Worried about getting stuck in traffic on the single-lane road that leads to the Games' Alpine hub? Don't want a repeat of the nightmare at the Salt Lake City airport the day after the 2002 Winter Games ended? Visiting Turin after the Olympics may have its advantages.
Adventures in snow
Dogsledding in Minnesota provides a great outdoor excursion in winter. Paul Schurke, a polar explorer and wilderness activist, says his mushing trips are for anybody "ages 7 to 70."
Land of diversity
The Flagstaff, Ariz., area lures visitors with breathtaking scenery, outdoor activities and a chance to explore American Indian culture.