Once upon a time in Pa.

Story Book Forest marks 50 years of entertaining children ... and adults

The Smart Traveler

August 13, 2006


A doorway beckons visitors to pass through a book made of concrete that stands some 28 feet high. The simple verse on its open pages reads in part, "Here dreams are real ... and so are your story book friends."


Avalon Travel / $19.95

New Jersey has gotten a raw deal. Despite its varied landscape, state parks, miles of farmland and countless beaches, to most of the world it remains a gritty and oppressive place, the "death trap" of Bruce Springsteen's iconic Born to Run. Author Laura Kiniry covers the Garden State from Jersey City to the Jersey Shore, from Princeton to South Jersey. There's also a roll call of New Jersey idiosyncrasies such as: the six-mile-long, 60-foot-wide Atlantic City Boardwalk with a capital "B"; Lucy the (65-foot-tall wooden) Elephant, built in 1881; and Grover's Mill, the hamlet that served as the fictional landing site for the Martians of Orson Welles' 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast.



The world wants to visit Florence

Florence, Italy, has replaced Sydney, Australia, as the No. 1 city in the world for travelers, according to Travel+Leisure's annual "World's Best" awards. The list of award-winners is based on an annual survey of 23,000 readers who provided evaluations for nearly 500,000 destinations, hotels and airlines. Beirut, Lebanon, was No. 9, although the survey was taken before fighting broke out between Israel and Lebanon. The list is in this month's issue and is also online at travelandleisure.com / worldsbest.



Brookstone sheds new light on outdoor grilling with its Handle-Mount Grill Light. The polycarbonate weather-resistant light clamps onto the handle of the grill cover and can be left on all year. The pivoting head holds two, 8-inch-long cathode bulbs that illuminate the entire grill area. The light shuts off automatically after six minutes to conserve battery power. Runs on four "D" batteries (not included). Works with most grills, but check ahead to be sure. A great item to keep at a vacation home or to give as a house gift when traveling to friends and relatives. Handle-Mount Grill Light is $50 from Brookstone; 866-576-7337; brookstone.com.



Negro leagues museum gets designation

It's official: Kansas City, Mo.'s tribute to Negro leagues baseball is now America's National Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution designating the 15-year-old museum as the nation's official tribute to the sports league created during segregation. National recognition gives the museum more leverage to obtain memorabilia and collectibles for its exhibits. A similar resolution also passed the Senate this year. The House action makes the designation official without the president's signature. More than 60,000 fans visit the museum each year to learn the story of the league formally organized in Kansas City in 1920.



Royal display of robes

Dresses and diamonds fit for a queen -- Queen Elizabeth II, to be precise -- are going on display at Buckingham Palace. The exhibit, timed to celebrate the monarch's 80th birthday this year, opened last month to the public as part of the annual opening of the palace's state rooms. The 80 outfits include evening gowns and jewelry worn by the queen at events from the 1940s to the present day. Several are by couturiers Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, who worked for the queen for decades. The Buckingham Palace State Rooms are open to the public until Sept. 24. Details at www.royalcollection.org.uk.


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