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Meet me on the river


Courtesy Visit GreenvilleGreenville, South Carolina
Surrounded by lakes, rivers, waterfalls and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville is an outdoor paradise.

“Falls Park on the Reedy River has become the centerpiece of our downtown,” said Taryn Scher, spokesperson for Visit Greenville. “Visitors should never miss crossing the Liberty Bridge that spans the river above Falls Park.”

The Liberty Bridge, a 345-foot-long, 12-foot-wide structure supported by a single suspension cable, is touted as a one-of-a-kind attraction in the United States.

“The views of the waterfall and gardens at Falls Park are spectacular,” said Scher. “This is also the iconic place you have to have your picture taken.”

Scher suggested having a gourmet meal overlooking the falls at Passerelle, a French bistro that opened in June, and then taking a Segway tour that explores the city, a walking history tour or a brew tour that offers tastes in five breweries every Saturday.

“Our Tastes of the South is a culinary tour that includes five great restaurants featuring Southern specialties, of course,” added Scher.

Fun-loving groups visiting in May can also enjoy the Duck Derby, an annual event that includes food, live music and the exciting race of rubber ducks on the Reedy River.

New Orleans

Travelers feel like they’ve gone back in time while cruising on the Steamboat Natchez in New Orleans.

“We offer three two-hour cruises on the Mississippi River,” said Adrienne Thomas, director of marketing and public relations for Steamboat Natchez. “Leaving from our port in the French Quarter, we travel 15 miles round-trip. This is an educational experience as we identify ships along the way, talk about all the history and offer time in the steam engine room on this last true steamboat that cruises the Mississippi River.”

Groups can choose a lunch cruise, a dinner cruise or a Sunday brunch cruise. Every excursion includes live jazz performances.

“We also have a steam calliope, a steam organ that once was the way people knew it was time to saddle up and go to town. It announced the arrival of ships that transported goods and people,” said Thomas. “It plays three times a day.”

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, located on the Mississippi River, offers visitors a walk-through tunnel that showcases sea life from the Caribbean reef. Touch a sting ray, and observe sharks, tarpon and more in a 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit. Just a block away is the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, the largest freestanding museum dedicated to insects.

“And even if you’re not here for Mardi Gras, you can get in the spirit at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, the place where many of those magnificent floats are built,” said Thomas. “A tour offers not only the history of Mardi Gras but an up-close view of the costumes, masks and the tricks of the float-building trade.”