Summer travel '09: Freebies across the USA

Start your engines and race over to the Dale Trail in Kannapolis, where a 9-foot-tall, 900-pound bronze statue pays tribute to the town's favorite son, NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. Other points of interest: his boyhood neighborhood of Car Town (really) and the traffic circle (known locally as Idiot Circle). The county tourist bureau has maps, plus a guide to area race shops that welcome visitors to watch NASCAR vehicles being prepped for competition. 800-848-3740, — Jayne Clark

North Dakota

Take a spin on The Enchanted Highway, lined with seven giant metal sculptures by North Dakotan Gary Greff. Whimsical eye candy includes a bronc-riding cowboy, geese in flight and the "Fisherman's Dream." Dreamed up by Greff to bring visitors to an economically disenchanted region, the 32-mile route runs from Exit 72 off Interstate 94 east of Dickinson south to the town of Regent. More sculptures — including the world's largest motorcycle — are in the works. Gift shop proceeds "are the only funding we get," Greff says. 701-563-6400;— Kitty Bean Yancey


There's lots to see in southeastern Ohio's Hocking Hills Region. Ash Cave. The Rock House sandstone formation. Cedar Falls. State parks. And if you stay at a Hocking Hills Tourism Association member lodging and are 21 or older, you now can borrow, free, a digital Flip Ultra video camera to record the sights and sounds. They're available at the Hocking Hills welcome center where Route 33 meets Route 664. 800-462-5464;— Kitty Bean Yancey


Who knew Frank Lloyd Wright designed a high-rise where the wind comes sweeping down the plain? Nineteen-story Price Toweris "the only skyscraper he ever designed, a building that's unlike any other in the world," says spokeswoman Jennifer Cordero. The tower in Bartlesville near Tulsa, was inspired by a tree and contains an arts center and hotel. But anyone can gawk at the soaring exterior and sculpture garden. Admission to the arts center is free on the third Sunday of every month.— Kitty Bean Yancey


Oregon is celebrating its 150th birthday this year — and Astoria, a city at the mouth of the Columbia River that dates to the Lewis & Clark expedition — is the state's oldest American settlement. Visitors to the city, which boasts Victorian homes on steep hills, as well as neighboring Warrenton, with its marine beaches, can download audio tours to their iPods or burn onto CDs. One tour, "The Reel Astoria," showcases locales where films such as Free Willy, Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies, were set. 800-875-6807,— Chris Gray Faust


Calorie counters, steer clear: In York County, the self-proclaimed Snack Food Capital of the World, freefactory tours dispense such mouth-watering munchies as potato chips, ice cream and pretzels (in Hanover, Snyder's celebrates its centennial this year). 888-858-9675;— Laura Bly

Rhode Island

Put some sparks in your summer vacation with a visit to the state capital during Waterfire Providence, a mesmerizing public art installation that draws thousands of spectators to the city's three rivers. One hundred wood-filled braziers are lit just after sunset and the revelry extends past midnight, starting Saturday and continuing May 29, June 13, July 25, Aug. 8 and 22, and Sept. 5. 401-273-1155,— Laura Bly

South Carolina

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