Summer travel '09: Freebies across the USA

Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls in the Blue Ridge foothills an hour east of Greenville make a cool two-fer on hot summer days. The 1,600-foot tunnel, whose construction was cut short by the Civil War, was used in the '50s to cure blue cheese. Nearby, accessible Issaqueena Falls cascades 200 feet and comes with its own Indian maiden legend. 864-646-3782, — Jayne Clark

South Dakota

Walleye pike is a Midwest treat, and the second South Dakota Walleye Classic & Festival in Akaska Aug. 12-16 will lure top fishermen. It's also a place to have family fun, hook, line and sinker — viewing a chainsaw artist, watching Native American dancers, comedians and cowboys re-enacting a historic South Dakota shooting.— Kitty Bean Yancey


Nowhere in Music City can you hear more live tunes for free than along Nashville's Honky Tonk Highway, a stretch of bars along Lower Broadway. Performers at clubs such as Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Robert's Western Wear and Legends Corner play for free (though it's good form to tip). Many legends got their start in these clubs and occasionally, a star drops in to play a set. 800-657-6910;— Jayne Clark


The Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston's Herman Park has just undergone a $2.4 million renovation that improved seating, sound and sight lines. With a season that runs from late March to November, performances range from the Houston Symphony to Chinese acrobats. Tickets for the 1,708 covered seats are available on the day of the show on a first-come, first-served basis. There's also plenty of lawn seating. 281-373-3386, — Jayne Clark


There are two chances every week to catch the dulcet tones of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. On Thursdays during the summer, the choir rehearses at 8 p.m. for 90 minutes at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Conference Center. Then on Sundays, the choir performs at 9:30 a.m. on the church's weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word. 801-240-3221,— Chris Gray Faust


Four centuries after Frenchman Samuel de Champlain first paddled Lake Champlain in 1609, modern explorers can peddle its shores — and celebrate the anniversary — with the help of Lake Champlain Bikeways. A network of routes covers more than 1,400 miles across Vermont, New York and Quebec, and lets bikers choose rides based on interests from wineries to sugar mapling. The principal route around Lake Champlain is 363 miles long, but more than 40 additional options range from six to more than 60 miles in length and include paved and gravel roads and shared use paths through urban areas. 802-652-2453;— Laura Bly


Chincoteague may best be known for the wild ponies that are rounded up every July, but there's plenty of other wildlife on the dunes, marshes and maritime forests of the 14,000-acre Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Located on the Virginia side of Assateague Island, the refuge is a haven for birdwatchers, as well as kayakers, fishers and surfers. In winter, a big-game lottery allows hunters to take aim at white-tail deer and sika elk. 757-336-6122;— Jayne Clark


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