Posts Tagged ‘free events’

Photo: Jim Twardowski

Each year, as soon as spring has sprung, I head to the local garden center. This year, I find a flower bed filled with bright red impatiens, a manicured front lawn, and a backyard filled with blooming azaleas, gardenias, agapanthas, and hydrangeas.

When I travel, I enjoy spending time in lushly landscaped gardens. Walking amongst the blooming plants provides inspiration for my own yard.

You, too, can find public gardens by visiting the American Public Gardens Association website. Featuring information on public gardens in all 50 states, track down and learn about gardens ranging from sculpture and topiary to aviary and Japanese. Use the “Garden Search” tool to locate one in your state, and here is a sample of what you might find:


The Brandywine Conservancy preserves art and the environment in Pennsylvania. American art is exhibited in the Brandywine River Museum — a 19th-century grist mill. Surrounded by wildflower and native plant gardens, providing a variety of blooms from early spring until the first frost, the museum houses a collection of works by Andrew, Jamie and N.C. Wyeth, as well as American illustrations, still life, and landscape paintings.


Hundreds of gardens are located on college and university campuses across the country, but the 63-acre University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden sits in a valley with the rolling Palouse hills as a backdrop. Geographically arranged, visitors will see Asian, European, Eastern, and Western North American plant groupings.


The American Camellia Society is based at Massee Lane Gardens and hosts the Festival of Camellia’s every February. The 100-acre botanical garden is located in the middle of Georgia, and a nine-acre section contains over 1,000 varieties of camellias.

National Public Gardens Day is on May 11 and Better Homes and Gardens is providing free admission to participating gardens. Simply visit the BHG website and download the voucher.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, visiting a public garden is a relaxing way to enjoy nature. And, you might just gain a greater appreciation for your own backyard!

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & Away, Global Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Michelle Meiklejohn

What began as a group of friends playing music and eating potluck suppers on Friday nights, soon evolved into the Tucson Kitchen Musician’s Association. Now with more than 300 members, the nonprofit organization sponsors the annual Tucson Folk Festival. Celebrating its 27th year in 2012, the festival will be held May 5 and 6.

About the Festival

Drawing more than 10,000 viewers annually, the free festival attracts people from all walks of life with the promise of live acoustic music performed on five stages. Other activities include a song writing contest, and workshops ranging in topics from native flute making to Hootenanny.

Headlining the festival on Saturday, May 5, is BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, a band that has received 11 Grammy nominations during its 30+ year career. In 2009, the band won a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album for “Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.”

Where to Stay

In celebration of Arizona’s Centennial, the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is offering guests a two-night stay at the best available rate, and a third night for $19.12, in recognition of the year Arizona became a state.

Guests can also receive 25% off the following resort amenities:

  • All resort and food beverage outlets including: AZUL, Janos, and J BAR
  • Red Door Spa products, an Ultimate Facial, and any 80-minute body treatment
  • Green fees for golfers
  • Regular priced items at La Paloma Country Club and Racquets
  • The Essentials Gift Shop and the Sunsations Shop

Reservations can be made online or by calling 866.716.8137. For the above discounts, use promotion code ANW (valid through Dec. 31, 2012).

Other Tucson Tourism 

Receive two-for-one admissions and discounts at popular attractions when you purchase a Tucson Attractions Passport for $18. The Passport can be bought online, and is good for 45 attractions including the Biosphere 2, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Fox Tucson Theatre, International Wildlife Museum, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Titan Missile Museum, Tucson Museum of Art, and more.

Jim Twardowski, RN, is a travel writer based in New Orleans.

Read Full Post »

One of the many great things about being a healthcare traveler: You get to experience new communities like a local—enjoying everything from regional cuisine to unique landmarks—for the duration of your assignment. And in the summertime, you can also enjoy a number of outdoor concerts and other events, free of charge, at cities throughout the country.

If you’re fulfilling a contract in or near the Big Apple, for instance, check out the “Today” show’s Summer Concert Series, which take place at 49th Street and Rockefeller Plaza. While you’ll need to arrive by 7:00 a.m. for any of the gigs (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3041478/ for dates and artists), you get to enjoy performances by popular musicians without spending a single cent. Coldplay is slated to take to the stage this Friday, June 27, and upcoming shows include performances by Rascal Flatts, Natasha Bedingfield, and Celine Dion.

On assignment at a facility in or close to the Windy City? You can see a free “theatrical spectacle” (think “Cirque du Soleil”) at Navy Pier’s Gateway Park on Friday and Saturday, July 11 and 12. The American premiere of Compagnie Transe Express’ production of “Maudits Sonnants” is presented as part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s World Stage Series. The hour-long aerial performance is set to start at roughly 9:00 p.m. on both nights and will feature a musical chandelier brought to life by performers who ring bells, beat drums, and swing on trapezes. A fireworks display over Lake Michigan concludes the event.

If you’re honoring a 13-week commitment in Flagstaff, Arizona, you should know that the city’s Downtown Business Alliance is presenting a free flick every Friday night through September 12 at Heritage Square. “Movies on the Square” starts at 6:00 p.m., and each film is preceded by live entertainment. This Friday, you can see a Middle Eastern-style dance performance by the Gypsy Chicks before watching “The Bee Movie” under the stars atop your own blanket or lawn chair. Additional upcoming movies include “The Last Mimzy,” “October Sky,” “Evan Almighty,” “Nacho Libre,” and “Lady and the Tramp.”

To find out about no-cost events in and around your assignment location, check bulletin boards at supermarkets and the local library, ask permanent staff for recommendations, and contact the area Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau. And if you’d like to share information about freebies in your contract locale with fellow travelers, please leave a comment with the particulars.

Read Full Post »