DRIVE TIME FROM LARGE METROPOLITAN AREA:
-Kansas City area: 3 1/4 hours
During Branson's holiday season, iconic Silver Dollar City after dark, is the definition of magical. Hundreds of thousands of lights glow and twinkle across the theme park landscape, from intricate designs on antique-style buildings to fully-covered massive outdoor trees. Other lit trees - adorned with hundreds of ornaments - stand inside crowded gift shops. No matter where you look, there's a Christmas reminder.
A great place to see live entertainment, year-round, Branson really pulls out the stops during the holiday season. Dozens of shows are booked throughout days and evenings, from secular and religious choirs to enormously talented musicians. During our press visit, we enjoyed Irish music, by Dublin's Irish Tenors & The Celtic Ladies, and marveled at incredible physical artistry among the Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai. We checked out live entertainment with a patriotic and Christian vibe, on board the Showboat Branson Bell, and we even caught an afternoon performance of A Christmas Carol The Musical.
Watching the performer who mimicked Elvis felt like we were seeing the actual singer. And the Rod Stewart performer looked exactly like the iconic entertainer, as he held a mike near his face.
This is only a sampling of what Branson offers during the holiday season. If you plan your visit right, you may also catch the daytime holiday parade. And, for more stellar indoor entertainment, board Titanic Branson. The massive, boat-shaped museum owns 400+ artifacts, valued at more than $4 million (a second Titanic operates in Pigeon Forge, TN).
*Amid the pandemic, do check in advance re: open venues and local COVID regulations.*
Please note: As a writer associated with the travel industry, I received complimentary meals, lodging, and admissions during my visit to Branson. While it has not influenced this post, I wish to disclose all potential conflicts of interest.
DRIVE TIME FROM LARGER CITY:
-Chicago: 1 1/2 hours
I stared through the window, open-mouthed, as 'wings' on the outside of the Milwaukee Art Museum slowly opened and closed, creating new views of the building's exterior every few minutes. This wasn't the first time I had visited the museum, but it was the first time I was lucky enough to view the wizardry of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, as it unfolded.
One of three structures in the museum complex, The Quadracci Pavilion is my favorite - especially when a visit coincides with the twice daily opening and closing of its 217-foot move-able sunscreen - the Burke Brise Soleil (“wings”). The Pavilion has been a local landmark since 2001.
Inside, Calatrava's architecture creates a breathtaking entry hall with a vaulted, 90-foot-high glass ceiling, Hung high high above us, a series of opened umbrellas created a whimsical vibe during my latest visit. In addition, a long, colorful glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly (one of my favorites!) temporarily hung near floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked Lake Michigan, and a pianist playing a baby grand piano.
Our group toured the museum during the annual Art in Bloom exhibition. It was so cool to see spring arrangements from local florists, designed to replicate the palettes and styles of multiple art pieces. But this event involves more than beautiful flowers and great art, displayed in the Collection Galleries.
For the 2019 event, additional Daily Activities included:
I loved my latest visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Did we see anything else? Of course! But the beauty of art is its indelible mark on each individual who views it. These were my indelible images.
*Amid the pandemic, the Milwaukee Art Museum reopened to the public by August 2020.*
Please note: As a writer associated with the travel industry, I received complimentary meals, lodging, and admissions during my visit to Milwaukee. While it has not influenced this post, I wish to disclose all potential conflicts of interest.
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