Close to home: 51 fresh summer destinations

Named for a Swahili term meaning "fatherland," the North Carolina Zoo's newly expanded, $8.5 million Watani Grasslands Reserve gives its seven elephants and nine rhinos a lot more room to roam — and adds a 130-foot "immersion walkway" and interpretive exhibits for their human admirers. Located about 75 miles west of Raleigh, the zoo is known as the country's largest walk-through, natural-habitat zoo. 800-488-0444; — Laura Bly

North Dakota

If you've ever wondered what motivated a French nobleman to build a cutting-edge meatpacking plant and a 26-room mansion in a remote spot on the Midwestern frontier in the 1880s, now there's a $2 million interpretive center to explain it all. The center at Chateau de Mores historic site in Medora houses galleries showcasing memorabilia from the Marquis de Mores and his family, including a refrigerator car used to ship dressed beef — a revolutionary idea at the time. 701-623-4355; — Jerry Shriver


High-flying adventurers can don a helmet and a harness and hook up with the new Hocking Hills Canopy Tour, which employs a 3,300-foot network of cables and rope bridges to enable customers to soar above the treetops and past the rock cliffs of Hocking County in southeastern Ohio. Modeled after "zipline" attractions in Costa Rica and Hawaii, the three-hour, $75 tour is open to people who weigh between 70 and 250 pounds. 740-385-9477; hockinghillscanopy — Jerry Shriver


The largest traveling exhibit of Roman art, on loan from the Louvre in Paris, lands at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art June 19-Oct. 12. Roman Art From the Louvre will be shown at only three U.S. venues. The 184 works (most of them sculptures, some weighing more than 6,000 pounds) span the first century B.C. to the early fourth century. 405-236-3100; — Jayne Clark


The comeback of Astoria's riverfront continues with the restoration of the Red Building, a former boat-repair facility built on pilings over the Columbia River. The 1896 structure, with its 5,000-square-foot wrap-around deck, sports a restaurant serving local cuisine, a wine tasting room, a chocolate shop and loft space. Next up: a Greek-style amphitheater and distillery with tasting room. The complex sits on the 5-mile Astoria Riverwalk. — Jayne Clark


Surviving: The Body of Evidence has nothing to do with a whodunit: It's the new exploration of human evolution at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Designed to appeal to both kids and adults, with fossils, interactive exhibits and thought-provoking discussions of genetics, the exhibit runs until next May. While at the museum, check out its popular stone sphinx. 215-898-4045; — Kitty Bean Yancey

Rhode Island

About 500 multicolored butterflies will be fluttering at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence this summer in an exhibit in a 2,100-square-foot greenhouse that opens Saturday. An endangered red panda is in the house, too, and the elephant area has been expanded as part of the zoo's ongoing $35 million improvement program. 401-785-3510;— Kitty Bean Yancey

South Carolina

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