Baltimore has "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Washington has that whole nation's capital thing, but Philadelphia is the place to be on Independence Day. After all, the country's forefathers drafted and ratified the Declaration of Independence there, and it is home to the Liberty Bell (which was cracked and repaired at least three separate times before being permanently retired from ringing in 1846).
This year, the City of Brotherly Love expects more than 4 million visitors for the nation's 225th birthday party. A week's worth of events, ending with a finale July 4, is already under way and includes concerts, parades, outdoor film screenings, historic re-enactments and, of course, fireworks.
This year's theme, "A Tapestry of Independence," celebrates the contributions of America's cultures and the ways in which they combine to make one nation. Many events will focus on multicultural education and acceptance.
For a list of events, go online to www. americasbirthday.com or call 800-770-5883. Information about travel to Philadelphia is available at www.gophila.com or by calling 888-467-4452.
50 YEARS AND HE'S STILL A PRIVATE
For the past five decades, Beetle Bailey, the forever-young, lanky, comic-strip private, hasn't advanced a single rank. He hasn't combed his hair, straightened his hat or picked up a work ethic -- and that's just the way we like him.
"Fifty Years of Beetle Bailey: The Cartoon World of Mort Walker," running July 12-Oct. 21 at Connecticut's Stamford Museum & Nature Center, chronicles the development of the lazy cartoon soldier and his creator, Mort Walker, from their begin-nings. Displays include early cartoon strips, photographs, toys and games and a room devoted to hands-on cartooning. (For more information about the exhibit, call the museum at 203-322-1646.)
If you think you know all there is to know about Sarge, Beetle and the gang, here's a test to see how well you've been paying AT-TEN-SHUN!
(1) Beetle Bailey didn't begin his comic-strip life as a private. What was he originally?
(2) His original name wasn't Beetle, but it did have a bug theme. What was it?
(3) In what war did Beetle enlist?
(4) What is Sarge's dog's name?
(5) Beetle's sister and her family have their own comic strip. Which is it?
(6) Who was Beetle modeled after -- in appearance and character?
(1) A college student, (2) Spider, (3) Korean War, (4) Otto, (5) Hi and Lois, (6) Walker's army buddy, Dave Hornaday.
Reservation for one
In some ways, singles have it pretty bad. Sure, there are perks -- like not having to share a bathroom -- but for the most part, it's a lonely affair, especially when you're traveling.
But it doesn't have to be.
"Traveling Solo," by Eleanor Berman (Globe Pequot; $17), offers ideas for the single traveler. Now in its third edition, the book lists ways and means to get the most out of solo travel by learning to revel in the solitude or join other singles on specially designed trips, including vacations for wine lovers, photography workshops, volunteer opportunities, spa getaways and sports camps.
For more resources, you can also check out www.travelaloneandloveit.com. The site is maintained by a flight attendant with 31 years of experience traveling solo.
Click here for culture
Got a cultural craving you need to satisfy? Turn to www.culturefinder.com, a searchable site that lists more than 350,000 arts events -- including Broadway shows, operas, ballets and art openings -- in 3,200 venues throughout the United States and Canada. The site even sells tickets.
Just type in who you want to see, and culturefinder.com will tell you where and when the show is running. Or, if you're flexible, search a city to see if any of its current shows are up your alley.