Alaska's heritage in from the cold
The true history of Alaska lies in its remaining indigenous communities, which still live much the same way as their ancestors. These cultures are celebrated at the new Alaska Native Heritage Center, which opened last month in Anchorage.
Because many of these communities are inaccessible to tourists, the center brought representatives from five cultural groups to the state's largest city. There, in re-created villages, they demonstrate their heritage with arts and crafts, dance and educational activities.
The center, situated on 26 acres of wooded land, comprises a Welcome House and five village sites. In the Welcome House, visitors are introduced to the cultures through interpretive displays, demonstrations and an educational film. The village sites represent the cultures of Athabascan from central Alaska; Yup'ik/Cup'ik from the west; Inupiaq/St. Lawrence Island Yupik from the north; Aleut/Alutiiq from the Aleutian Islands in the southwest; and the Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian from the southeast.
Arrangements have been made with Princess Cruises to include the center as part of its city tour package, and plans are now being worked out with Holland America as well.
The center is at Glenn Highway and Muldoon Road, about 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage. Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Admission: $19.95 adults, $14.95 children 5-12. Information: 800- 315-6608 or www.alaskanative.net.
DISNEY PARK OPENS IN CHICAGO
With all Chicago has to offer, it's no wonder the Windy City went this long without a little dose of Disney. That changed earlier this month when the Walt Disney Co. opened its five- story DisneyQuest Chicago interactive theme park in the heart of the city, just a year after opening the flagship site in Orlando, Fla.
Think a technologically advanced Disney World. Visitors to DisneyQuest Chicago can go for a "Virtual Jungle Cruise" in a real river raft, take roller-coaster rides aboard "CyberSpace Mountain," help Hercules battle Hades in "Hercules in the Underworld" and whiz through the streets of Agrabah atop "Alladin's Magic Carpet Ride."
A third DisneyQuest is scheduled to open in Philadelphia in summer 2000. DisneyQuest Chicago is located at 55 E. Ohio St., at Ohio and Rush streets. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday. Tickets are $16. Call 312-222-1300.
Bethany Beach tours
This year's annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour through Bethany Beach, Del., is scheduled for July 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can tour interesting bayside and seaside homes while also enjoying this popular beach town. Tickets are $15 each and can be reserved by sending a check to the Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, P.O. Box 1617, Bethany Beach, Del. 19930-1617. Include name, address and telephone or fax number. Early ticket reservation is encouraged. Call 302-537-5848.
A ticket to Southern Maryland
A new combination ticket to four Southern Maryland museums has been introduced to make visiting this historic region easier and more affordable. The Time & Tide Passport can be used at the Calvert Marine Museum, Historic St. Mary's City, Sotterley Plantation and St. Clement's Island-Potomac River Museum. For $16 (adults) and $10 (children 12 and under), the Passport also offers a map and information about other area hot spots, such as Point Lookout State Park, Jefferson Patterson Park in St. Leonard, Calvert County, and Annmarie Garden on St. John Creek, near Solomons. Passports can be purchased at any of the four museums or by calling 800-SMC-1634.
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach," has released his eighth annual list of America's best beaches. Regionally, Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Best City Beach in the Northeast), and Assateague State Park in Maryland (Best Swimming Beach in the Northeast) made the list compiled by the former University of Maryland professor. Winners of the Best Overall Beaches title include Wailea Beach, Hawaii; Coast Guard Beach, Mass.; Ocracoke Island, N.C.; and East Hampton Beach, N.Y. Dr. Beach is a professor at Florida International University and uses 50 criteria for his picks. His "America's Best Beaches" ($17.95, University of Florida Press) lists all winners and has great pictures. Available in area bookstores.
-- Randi Kest