Annapolis, Md. • This picturesque state capital near the Chesapeake Bay is known for its history, sailing and seafood. Annapolis served as the capital of the United States for nine months in 1783 and 1784. The city also is known for its colleges — both the U.S. Naval Academy, and St. John’s College, founded in 1696 as King William’s School. The city’s historical ambience is a big draw, as well as its restaurants, shops and taverns. Some of the city’s main attractions can be visited for free. The quaint downtown layout over a compact area is better suited for pedestrians than cars, making it ideal for a walking tour.Maryland State HouseMaryland’s state capitol is known as the oldest in continuous legislative use in the nation, as well as the first peacetime capitol of the United States. The Continental Congress met inside from November 1783 until August 1784. The Old Senate Chamber, which is undergoing renovations to be finished late this year, was where Gen. George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Washington’s resignation set a precedent for placing control of the military under civilian authority. In 2007, the state of Maryland bought Washington’s personal copy of his resignation speech, and it is scheduled to go on display when new exhibits are installed. Congress also ratified the Treaty of Paris in the building to officially end the Revolutionary War. Lawmakers still meet for an annual 90-day session in the building.The exterior of the wooden dome was completed in 1788. It was built out of timber with no metal nails. The lightning rod on top is a “Franklin” rod, constructed and grounded to Benjamin Franklin’s specifications.African-American historyThe Banneker-Douglass Museum, named for Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass, is dedicated to preserving Maryland’s African American heritage. The museum, which has free admission, serves as the state’s official repository of African-American material culture. Annapolis also is home to the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial by the City Dock. The memorial commemorates the 1767 arrival of the African slave written about in Alex Haley’s book “Roots.” A statue of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native who was the first black justice on the high court, is on a mall next to the capitol.
Louisville, Ky. • When it’s Kentucky Derby season in Louisville, money seems to flow faster than the Ohio River. Hotels and restaurants fill up; bars serve mint juleps and fine Kentucky bourbon. Shopping includes a hunt for the colorful hats worn as a Derby tradition. Parties are thrown, and wagers are plunked down on can’t-miss colts and longshots alike as fans guess which horse will win the famous race at Churchill Downs.Yet there are other sure bets for relaxation and entertainment that don’t cost a thing as folks head to bluegrass country for the Derby, which takes place May 3. Kentucky’s largest city offers a mix of free contemporary and historic sites — along with blooming dogwood trees.Cave Hill CemeteryThe final resting place for many of Louisville’s most prominent citizens of the 19th and 20th centuries, the nearly 300-acre cemetery opened in 1848. It features ornate marble and granite monuments, shaded by trees seemingly as distinctive as the headstones dotting the landscape. Trees of many varieties loom over the rolling grounds situated east of downtown. Each spring and fall, the cemetery is ablaze in colors. It draws tours from groups of garden, Civil War and history buffs. About 5,500 soldiers are buried here, mostly from the Civil War.Luminaries buried in the cemetery include politicians, business leaders and bourbon barons. Two of the most notable are George Rogers Clark — an early frontiersman and soldier and the brother of William Clark, who co-led the Lewis and Clark expedition — and Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders’ granite memorial features a bust of the goateed entrepreneur, whose likeness is still synonymous with the chicken chain he started. Visitors sometimes place a bucket of chicken at his grave.Waterfront Park
Nancy Dearborn, a new Sun City resident, is forming the World Travelers Club.Dearborn said the club will offer a place to talk about travel and meet other people who would like to visit abroad.The first meeting will be 11 a.m. April 16 at 15456 N. 99th Ave., Sun City. For information, call 319-573-5877.Dearborn offers trips through Go Ahead Tours.“It’s a safe way to travel and it’s a way to make lasting friendships,” she said. “I really recommend the tour we offer. This club is for people who like to travel internationally. It’s to get like-minded people together who don’t want to go on their own.”Current tours include a 12-day trip to England, Scotland and Ireland from June 30-July 11.