The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Local travel itinerary ideas & freebies

I recently commented on not letting the current economic blues cramp your travel opportunities.

Recently I was looking for a Tri-State themed tour I started my search at (Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau) website proceeded to (Ashland Area Convention and Visitors Bureau site0 and finished off with Lawrence County OH information. I could have expanded my search to Portsmouth OH, Charleston WV and beyond but the immediate river cities provided plenty of content.

Locally we are fortunate to have some excellent places to visit that offer great tours without an entrance fee. One place that I frequently bring out of town guests to is the Huntington Museum of Art one of our regions hidden gems. It is nationally acclaimed and their permanent collections feature a nice collection of 19th & 20th century American and European art, American and European glass, Georgian silver, British portraits and antique firearms. At certain times you can view world class traveling exhibits like the recent Marilyn Monroe and Civil War in Photograph displays. There is a small admission fee but on Tuesdays they waive the charge and let you in for free.

Another treasure is the Museum of Radio and Technology. Here near Huntington’s Old Central City you can see the largest radio museum in the Eastern United States. On display are hundreds of old radios from the 1920's to the 1950's, telegraph items, early televisions, and complete recreation of a 1920's radio shop, library, gift shop, and much more. This is a favorite tour stop of River Barge Explorer and Delta Queen passengers during their port call here in Huntington. Open on weekends in the winter month’s admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.

For art enthusiasts the Birke Art Gallery is another great venue. Located on the first floor of Smith Hall on the Marshall University campus it both classroom, lab and exhibit space. It is an area that allows developing art students to display their works. Galleries and displays frequently change so check with the gallery staff for current information.

Across the river and through the woods to Ohio University’s Ironton campus I go to view their faculty and student art gallery. Located in the Dingus Technology you’ll discover wide ranging displays and exhibits. Also on display in the hallways of the various campus building are additional works created by local artists.

Crossing the Ohio River once again into Ashland KY I’ll head to the Pendleton Art Center (PAC) and explore this fascinating place. The PAC is Ashland’s home to artists and craftspeople who display a broad range of talents. This is a hands on interactive environment a place where you can see artisans working in their studios or take a class to improve your artistic talents. Time permitting the Left Bank Café located inside the PAC is a great place to stop for lunch, breakfast or a place to pick up a souvenir for those visiting from out of town.

I’ve timed my journey to depart the PAC in the early evening and then a few blocks to Ashland’s Central Park and the Winter Wonderland of Lights. This is a spectacular display of Christmas lights and sights. You’ll need to circle the area a few times to take in all that there is to see.

It’s time to head home back to Ironton but they’re one more driving tour before the PT Cruiser is parked for the night. We’ll take a swing through Coal Grove’s Paul Porter Park wonderful holiday light display before calling it a day.

Happy travels!