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Saturday, September 23, 2017

5 Things Everyone Should Know About the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge

Visiting Pigeon Forge? 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Alcatraz East
Each year, around 10 million people visit the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. Whether vacationing with their children or enjoying time on their own, most are searching for unforgettable memories while visiting the area. One place that should be at the top of everyone’s list is Alcatraz East Crime Museum, a new attraction on the Parkway that provides both an educational and entertaining time, and includes information and activities for the whole family.

“We’ve had an amazing response since opening our doors in December,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East, “We have something for all ages, and most families spend 2-3 hours going through the exhibits. Guests walk away saying they knew they would love it, but it was better than expected, and that makes us feel very proud.”

While visitors to the area enjoy taking a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains while visiting this vacation destination, Alcatraz East offers a break from the outdoor activities. Here are 5 things everyone should know about Alcatraz East Crime Museum when visiting the Pigeon Forge area:

1. America’s Favorite Subject. With all the movies and TV shows related to the topic of crime, this is a must see. The museum features five themes that give visitors a glimpse into notorious crime history, forensic science, law enforcement, our justice system and pop culture. There are over 100 interactives throughout the museum, providing visitors with a hands-on experience.

2. It’s Not About Alcatraz. Although it’s part of the name and the famous prison inspired this attraction, Alcatraz East is a crime museum, featuring an in depth look at American crime history, with artifacts from different eras and topics. The one-of-kind building was designed as a combination of Tennessee’s first state prison from 1898, and guard towers inspired by the Alcatraz lighthouse in California. The two-story building offers over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space.

3, One-of-a-Kind Artifacts. From white-collar crimes to Old West gunslingers, the museum features original artifacts from Jesse James to Whitey Bulger. Things to watch for include the famous O.J. Simpson chase white Bronco, John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, a submachine gun from the movie Scarface, Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle. Tennessee is well represented, with objects such as the Old Smoky electric chair and moonshine stills as well as notable Dr. William Bass, highlighting his achievements- which advanced forensic anthropology.
Visiting Pigeon Forge? 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Alcatraz East

4. Interact with the Museum. Kids (and their parents) can have fun and learn at the same time through the museum’s Top Detective Challenge. Follow clues throughout the museum to solve the crime of a stolen artifact, and receive a prize if you crack the case! There is also an opportunity for parents and kids to enjoy the thrill of The Heist Laser Maze (think Thomas Crown Affair!).

5. Temporary Exhibits. Beginning mid-May, Alcatraz East debuted the first of its temporary exhibit programs, which will be an annual rotation in two areas of the museum. Through April 2018, “Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur: The Ugly Truth About Wildlife Trafficking will reveal how endangered species are effected by poaching and what the public can do to help end the practice.

“Every year, families make lifetime memories here in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area,” states Vaccarello, “We are happy to now be a part of those memories, giving them a look at history, crime prevention, while having an interactive experience.”

Alcatraz East officially opened December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

The 25,000 square foot museum is designed with a jail fa├žade, has a star-studded board of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. Please visit the Alcatraz East website to learn more.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Visiting Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County

Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County, Pennsylvania
Bald Eagle State Park is located in Centre County Pennsylvania and covers 5,900 acres. The Allegheny plateau is to the north of the state park and the ridge & valley area is to the south. It's a large park that draws in thousands upon thousands of visitors every year.

When visiting, you'll find in-season summer activities like boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and camping. During the winter season you'll find ice fishing, sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, hiking, etc. This state park has something for everyone to enjoy, no matter your age or ability.

Inside the park you'll find the Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir and Dam, which was formed by damming up the Bald Eagle Creek and smaller waterways. This reservoir and waterway covers approximately 1,730 acres. In regards to elevation, it's 958 feet above sea level and was founded on July 4th, 1971.
Bald Eagle State Park Foster Joseph Sayers Dam

You'll find an on-site marina where you can rent docking slips daily or seasonally. If you plan on doing any type of boating, you'll want to check in with the marina to find out what's allowed and what's not. You'll find 6 boat launches within the park that are open 24 hours a day that offer parking and public restrooms for guests to use.

Recently we had a brief visit to the Bald Eagle State Park and didn't get to see as much as we would like. When we arrived the weather was beautiful but within 2 hours...some strong storms came through and we had to pack up and leave. Sigh.

We did enjoy our picnic and were hoping to enjoy the beach for some swimming, but thanks to the storm, we didn't make it that far. The sandy beach is open for swimming and activities from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend every year. The beach area includes restrooms, a snack bar, playground and parking is located nearby.
Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County, Pennsylvania

We're planning another visit in the near future up to Bald Eagle State Park and hoping to enjoy a nice picnic and some hiking on our return visit. They have several "marked" hiking trails for you to enjoy. Some of these trails offer easy walking and other's are more advanced.

If you plan on staying overnight, there are campgrounds nearby. The Russell Letterman Campground has close to 100 modern camping sites, a few cottages, hot showers, restrooms, a playground for the kids and activities for guests to enjoy and is located in Howard, Pennsylvania. There are other campgrounds in the area too!

You can learn more about Bald Eagle State Park by visiting the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources online. In addition, we'll be following up this post with another one once we complete our upcoming visit.

6 Things to Do Over a Long Weekend in Phoenix

You're in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, for a long weekend, and a plethora of possible activities stretches before you. Phoenix is full of lots of culture, art, and outdoor activities that will make your weekend fly by. Fill up on memories and fantastic photos when you explore the outdoors via inner tube or hot air balloon or when you visit major cultural attractions. Here are some ideas to help you plan your getaway to this exciting city.

Do a First Friday
6 Things to Do Over a Long Weekend in Phoenix

Image via Flickr by _jket

On the first Friday of each month, downtown Phoenix hosts a First Friday extravaganza, which happens from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Local venues, cultural hubs, galleries, and performing arts spaces open their doors and let thousands of people visit. You can take a trolley or walk between these spots, visit retail establishments, and, of course, pop into a restaurant for dinner and drinks!

Tube the Salt River

If you're in Phoenix over the summer months, visit Salt River for a tubing excursion. Hop in a tube and float down the river for as long as you please, from a short two-hour trip to a long five-hour trip. You can bring booze and friends, and you'll see gorgeous sights along the way, like the Tonto National Forest.

Visit the Musical Instrument Museum

Discover a museum unlike any you've ever visited before. The Musical Instrument Museum is one of Phoenix's most popular stops. There, you can see musical instruments from all around the world, some of which you've definitely never heard of. Galleries are arranged by geography, so you can feel like you're traveling the world as you explore the way different cultures make music.

See a Basketball Game

See the Phoenix Mercury or the Phoenix Suns play pro basketball at the Talking Stick Resort Arena while you're visiting Phoenix. If basketball isn't your thing, the arena also hosts lots of concerts, so you're sure to find something amazing to view while you're there. The arena itself is in the downtown entertainment district, so once your show or game is over, you'll find great nightlife spots.

Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Several companies will take you on an astounding hot air balloon ride over Phoenix and the surrounding landscape. Check out Rainbow Ryders or Hot Air Expeditions when you're looking to book your ride. Do a ride at sunrise or sunset for gorgeous views and photo opportunities, or splurge on a private ride for a romantic date.

Tread the Scottsdale ArtWalk

If your long weekend includes landing on Thursday evening, then head to nearby Scottsdale. Every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the galleries of downtown Scottsdale open their doors for free gallery shows at the ArtWalk. Walk along Main and Marshall streets to view masterpieces from local artists. You can take carriage rides if you wish, and you'll love the diverse range of people you see while you're there.

Enjoy a long weekend in this hub of the American Southwest. Whether you're exploring the outdoors or enjoying air conditioning indoors, you're sure to enjoy your time in Phoenix.