America is huge and full of cultural, historical and geographic wonders. While going on this year’s Hot Rod Power Tour, you’ll want to make sure to take full advantage of each stop along the way. Here’s a guide to the top attractions on each leg of the 2015 Hot Rod Tour.
If you’re bringing your kids along for the ride, Madison fortunately has an array of affordable and family-friendly attractions to please everyone. The Vilas Park Zoo is free to visit at all times during the year, and Madison boasts a whopping 13 beaches and over 200 parks. The home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison also has all of the perks of a college town including a thriving nightlife.
Allerton Park is the grounds of an immaculate Georgian manor house that was once a private residence but is now a convention center. The formal gardens are perfectly maintained and contain more than 100 sculptures. The 14 miles of hiking trail along the Sangamon River will take you through a geographic sampler of meadows, prairies, floodplains and forests. For some historical perspective on prairie life, visit the Museum of the Grand Prairie, a two story facility glorifying 18th and 19th century art and culture.
Madison, IL and St. Louis, MO
For automobile history enthusiasts, the Chain of Rocks Bridge connecting Illinois to Missouri is the must-see attraction of this area. There’s just one catch: You can’t drive over it. When it was constructed in 1929, Chain of Rocks was one of the largest architectural undertakings of the time, but it fell into disrepair and now stands over a national park connected to 300 miles of trails on each side of the Mississippi River. Now protected under the National Register of Historic Places, Chain of Rocks stands as a testament to early 20th century industrialism.
To see something truly unique, visit the Peabody Hotel and meet the Peabody Ducks, a group of birds who live in the lobby’s fountain. Twice daily, these living mascots do something spectacular: At the commands of their human Duckmasters, the ducks march in a military style drill around the building. The Peabody is also home to the only French restaurant in the world that does not serve duck on its menu. No trip to Memphis is complete without a trip to Graceland, but also be sure to see the The Blues Hall of Fame and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
History buffs will want to visit the Civil Rights District where the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute stands to commemorate the conflicts between civil rights activists and the Birmingham Police in the 1960s. If you’re wondering why a giant iron statue of a half-naked man is standing over the city, visit the Vulcan Museum and learn about the history of the city’s iron industry. Nature lovers itching to stretch their legs will enjoy Moss Rock Preserve, a 350 acre park complete with rock outcroppings, waterfalls and wildlife including rare plant species.
Gulf Port, MS
Few aquariums in the world can compete with the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulf Port, which gives visitors a look at a part of the world most humans never see. In addition to the dozens of sharks, stingrays and crabs who live there, you can meet a group of friendly bottlenose dolphins who love to interact with guests. The true attraction for automobile lovers, however, is the Busted Wrench Garage, a massive showroom of rare and unique vehicles including classic cars, motorcycles and boats.
Baton Rouge, LA
A self guided tour of the USS Kidd and Nautical Center provides a glimpse into 20th century sailor’s life. The staff includes military veterans who can provide further insight, and the on-site restaurant has killer crab cakes. Baton Rouge also has one of the most outstanding architectural pieces in the land: the Old State Capitol. A marvel to behold from the outside, the view of the stained glass ceiling from the lobby’s spiral staircase is even more breathtaking.
There’s only so much time in a day, but hopefully this guide gives you some direction to make this year’s Hot Rod Tour one to remember.
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