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VOL. 38 | NO. 35 | Friday, August 29, 2014

Not too late to make Labor Day/late summer getaway

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Labor Day, the traditional end to summer. Public swimming pools are closing and college football is underway.

It’s also time for one last getaway before fall settles in, especially if you have school-age children.

Labor Day weekend is a great time to venture more than a few miles from home. It’s tough to enjoy a destination that’s a three-hour drive or farther on a regular two-day weekend.

But that third day opens up all kinds of opportunities.

These three destinations are easily reached by car from any point in Tennessee and offer plenty of family-friendly options:

Indianapolis

My family spent Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis last year.

Indy is great for events, especially of the sports variety. The city has a number of restaurants, bars and attractions centered in Downtown Indianapolis near Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

When visiting for Labor Day weekend, consider staying downtown near the action, such as the Mass Ave arts district or White River State Park.

The state park, within walking distance of the Colts stadium, is home to the Indianapolis Zoo and several museums, including the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, NCAA Hall of Champions and the Indiana State Museum. Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians, will be busy over the weekend with the Columbus Clippers coming to town to close out the season.

The Standing Warrior is one of the Terra Cotta Warriors now appearing (through Nov. 2) at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  This exhibit – their only U.S. stop in 2014 – tells the astounding story of the tomb complex of China’s first emperor, and features real Terra Cotta Warriors, considered by many to be the Eighth Wonder of the World.

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Of course you can also tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you take the kids, a few hours at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – the world’s largest – is a must. And a visit to the eclectic Broad Ripple Village north of downtown with its restaurants and shopping is another good option.

Atlanta

If you haven’t been to Atlanta in a while you’re missing one of the South’s great food cities.

Atlanta is worth visiting just to enjoy the great restaurants, from Miller Union to The Optimist to Two Urban Licks. Kick it all off with the fried chicken Benedict at Highland Bakery in the Old Fourth Ward. One of the more eclectic spots is Lunacy Black Market downtown, where the menu of small plates and affordable wine comes out hand-scrawled on cardboard.

Downtown Atlanta might be your best bet to find a hotel deal on the weekend, since properties in Midtown and Buckhead tend to have higher weekend prices. Consider spending the day visiting the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and Centennial Olympic Park if in Downtown.

The High Museum of Art has one of the best collections in the South. Also take a few hours to check out vintage finds in the Little Five Points neighborhood.

New Orleans

The French Quarter, Bourbon Street and the beautiful homes of the Garden District – you probably already know about all that.

But do you know about the fun scene on Magazine Street, particularly a five-mile stretch from Canal Street to Audubon Park? The street is lined with restaurants, bars, boutiques and thrift and antiques shops.

Yes, you can stay and play in the French Quarter, even if traveling with children. My 7-year-old son enjoyed the music on the streets, strolling the French Market and people watching in the Quarter.

If you’re a history buff like me, make a point to stop in at the National WWII Museum. There’s fun for the whole family here.

Managing editor Lance Wiedower’s column will appear every other Tuesday in The Daily News and The Memphis News. For more travel inspiration, read his blog at tripsbylance.com or follow him on Twitter at @tripsbylance.

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