Q: A group of us is planning to drive to Chicago. We need to go through Indianapolis; we'll take two days each way. I keep telling my sister there is nothing to see on the way. She, being my older sister, tells me I'm wrong. Any suggestions?
Esther R. Starobin
A: You may not like this, but I'm with Big Sis on this one. Plus, you need a very short list because you won't have a lot of spare time if you're doing the 12-hour drive in two days.
To get there, you'll take Interstates 68 and 70 most of the way. Stretch your legs at Rocky Gap State Park, with three swimming beaches on a large lake near Cumberland, Md. Stop in Wheeling, W. Va.; get there by 1 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday and take a guided tour of Victorian houses that grace the historic district (304-233-1600). Off Interstate 70 in Ohio, you can stop at the National Road/Zane Grey Museum (1-800-752-2602) in Norwich, or drive by the boyhood home of astronaut John Glenn on Friendship Drive in New Concord. Plan to stop overnight in Columbus. Visit the new "Manatee Coast" exhibit at the Columbus Zoo (614-645-3400); the "All That Jazz" exhibit at the Ohio Historical Center (1-800-686-1545); or the botanical gardens at Franklin Park Conservatory (1-800-214-7275). On the road from Columbus to Chicago, via Indianapolis, spend a couple of hours at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum (317- 484-6747) or the Tippecanoe Battlefield (765-476-8411) outside Lafayette, Ind. On the way back, you'll probably take Interstates 90 to 80 to 76 before cutting across on Interstate 70 to Maryland. Stroll around the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. In Ohio, you'll skirt the shores of Lake Erie. Detour to the waterfront Cedar Point amusement park (419-627-2350) near Sandusky. Or visit the Edison Museum (419-499-2135) in Milan, Ohio, Thomas Edison's birthplace. Football fans? Detour down to Canton, stay overnight, and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame (330-456-8207). In Pennsylvania, visit Old Bedford Village (1-800-238-4347), a living history pioneer town.
Q: We understand that there are relatively small cruise ships that ply the Caribbean mainly for people who enjoy snorkeling or scuba. These ships have a rear platform that is lowered so you can go into the water right off the stern of the ship. What can you tell us?
A: Many yacht-size boats ply the Caribbean and specialize in scuba charters. Two better-known companies are Nekton Diving Cruises (1-800-899-6753, www.nektoncruises .com) and Aggressor Fleet (1-800-348-2628, www.aggressor.com).
The Nekton Pilot is equipped with a dive platform similar to the one you describe and offers cruises in the Bahamas and off the coast of Belize. A seven-day cruise, including all diving activities, costs about $1,500 a person. The Aggressor Fleet operates 13 boats throughout the Caribbean and the Pacific; all are equipped with a dive platform that allows divers to walk directly into the water. A seven-day Turks and Caicos Islands trip costs about $1,500 including diving.
Get a copy of "The Hennessey Guide to Live-Aboard Dive Boats" by R.L. Hennessey, with detailed descriptions of 150 boats specializing in dive charters. The book is available through local stores, or call 1-800-664-2206 to order directly.
Q: I would like information on hiking, activities and remote lodging in Acadia National Park in Maine. The trip would be in March or April.
Kristin Regan Whitridge
A: This 40,000-acre park along the Atlantic Coast has 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads for biking and walking. It has two campgrounds, but only the Blackwoods campground is open in the off-season. It's first-come, first-served for camping sites in March and April, and support services in the off-season consist of chemical toilets and a hand pump for drinking water. All campsites are in the woods within a 10-minute walk of the ocean. Because of the area's fragile ecosystem, overnight backpacking is prohibited. There are no cabins within the park. Information: 207-288-3338, www.nps.gov/acad.
There are private cabins for rent on Mount Desert Island, where most of Acadia National Park is located (a smaller section of the park is situated on nearby Isle au Haut). Contact the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, 207-288-5103, www .barharborinfo.com.
I'd also read several books to help plan the trip. "Great Walks of Acadia National Park & Mount Desert Island" by Robert Gillmore, "Acadia National Park," by Ruth Gortner Grierson, and "Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park," by G.W. Helfrich, are worth a look.
Elizabeth Fenton of Falls Church says that visitors to Sydney (Travel Q&A, July 11) should consider staying at a bed-and-breakfast. She described Sydney B&Bs as similar to those found in Europe. "The host families are invariably kind and friendly, and an invaluable source of local information," she said. Fenton highly recommends "The Australian Bed & Breakfast Book: Homes, Farms, B&B Inns," by J. Thomas. She chose her inns from the book and was not disappointed.
Michael Kuehlen of Washington recommends a few more Web sites for the reader interested in renting an apartment in Munich (Travel Q&A, July 4). Mitwohnzentrale (www.mwz-munich.de) acts as an agent for people in Munich who want to sublet their apartments or houses. "You usually pay their rent plus a 15 percent commission, which adds up to a lot less than most of the places you mentioned," Kuehlen said. He also recommended contacting www.homecompany.de/english/bundesweit.htm, an umbrella group that lists similar rental agents throughout Germany.
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