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From:                                        Date:2008-8-26 Click:4039


    

Even if youre not a member of the GOP, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., are showcasing their attributes for the 2008 Republican National Convention, which makes the Twin Cities a delightful vacation spot during the coming weeks.

A civic festival called, logically enough, CivicFest, is open to the public through Sept. 4. The 30,000-square-foot display celebrates Minnesota and American history and features 35 exhibits, including a replica of the presidents desk in the Oval Office and a 20-by-60-foot scale model of the White House previously displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.

On Aug. 30 and 31, a full day of nonstop entertainment called Spark24 will transform downtown Minneapolis with total immersion into the areas arts, culture, music and dance.

Hail to the Chief, an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts through Sept. 21, displays presidential-themed objects, including presidential portraits, a marble bust of George Washington, a Richard Avedon photograph of Dwight Eisenhower, plus proclamations, handwritten correspondence and other material.

And more than 1,000 bicycles, helmets and locks will be available Sept. 1-4 for GOP convention delegates, media and the general public free of charge, thanks to Bikes Belong, an industry trade group, and Humana.

Learn more at the Web site of the Minneapolis St. Paul 2008 Host Committee, www.msp2008.com.

Curacao is more affordable

The rich history, distinctive architecture and tropical climate of the Caribbean island of Curacao are all the more accessible with budget-friendly promotions at hotels and resorts, car rental agencies, museums and other deals, including a $100 air-fare credit for travelers visiting through Dec. 15.

Participating hotels are offering a night free and a $140 food-and-beverage credit, and theres a free shore or boat dive from participating dive operators.

Trips must be booked before Sept. 15. Everyone from the adventurer to family vacationers can unwind at Curacaos dive sites or on secluded beaches and enjoy rich local cuisine and championship golf courses. Go to www.curacao.com.

Breezy, easy getaway in Berkshire Hills

Simple pleasures such as hiking, fishing, boating, horseback riding or a day on the links take on added pleasure in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

For the shopper, antique stores, sculpture galleries and boutiques selling arts and crafts offer plenty, plus there are the Hancock Shaker Village and the Norman Rockwell Museum to tour.

And as always, the surroundings enhance appreciation of outdoor activities. Go to www.berkshires.org.

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