National Trust names dozen destinations with history well preserved

Times may be tough, but picking your next vacation spot doesn't have to be, thanks to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Trust's 2009 list of Distinctive Destinations – a dozen U.S. tourist spots touting ample things to see and do with a strong commitment to historic preservation and revitalization — comes with a wallet friendly twist. From a quaint town in the Deep South to a sunny spot on the West Coast, travelers can expect a vacation with a history lesson that won't break the bank.

"We are certainly aware that the current economic downturn affects travel patterns, David Brown, executive vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said. "One of the virtues of this list is that it offers budget conscious travelers sites that can be visited on daytrips or weekends, as well as extended stays. From the site perspective, each offers an array of distinct touring, dining and shopping experiences that visitors will want to support."

Hit these historic hot spots in 2009 and soak in the diversity of America's cultural heritage:

•Athens, Ga.– Get a taste of southern hospitality in this college town where musical legends the B-52's and R.E.M. got their start.

•Bristol, R.I.– Soak in the natural beauty in this quintessential coastal town just one hour south of Boston.

•Buffalo– This lakeside locale is home to a city chockablock with late 19th/early 20th century architecture and 500 walking tours.

•Fort Worth, Tex.– For some serious cowboy culture, hit this frontier town – home to the nation's only daily cattle drive.

•Franklin, Tenn.– South of Nashville, this quaint town shows off its antebellum mansions and Civil War battlefields.

•Hot Springs, S.D.– This scenic spot in the Black Hills less than an hour from Mt. Rushmore is home to the Mammoth Site which features the remains of more than 75 Ice Age mammoths and other prehistoric species.

•Lake Geneva, Wis.– Architecture is celebrated in this city near Milwaukee and Chicago, featuring homes ranging from Gothic Revival cottages to Queen Anne style mansions.

•Lititz, Pa.– Head to this town west of Philadelphia for a history rich with Moravian heritage from its old stone mills to its log homes.

•Santa Barbara, Calif.– For a retreat centered on rest and relaxation, head to this West Coast beach town.

•Santa Fe– The Trust gives top nods to this city for being one of the best-preserved cities in the country with its distinct architecture and remote locale.

•Saugatuck-Douglas, Mich.– Double your fun in these neighboring harbor towns and scope out the art galleries and shops.

•Virginia City, Nev.– For a taste of America's western expansion, visit the museums and mines of this town in the center of the silver and gold rush history.

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