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Like an old blues singer, Memphis sometimes shows it age, but it still has appeal. 


For a quick weekend warmup, head to Chicago for some of the finest, hottest jazz anywhere.



The ghost of the inimitable Harry Truman looms large over the town of Independence, Mo. — his modest, two-story white home is newly renovated and open again for tours; the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum just underwent a $22 million renovation, and Clinton's Soda Fountain, where young Harry got his first job, still serves up scrumptious ice cream sodas and hand-dipped shakes on historic Independence Square.


Lakes, mountains, museums, golf courses, fine dining and non-stop family musical entertainment have helped Branson, Mo., earn the nickname of "Live Music Show Capital of the World."


So your daughter runs around in Disney Princess costumes and wishes upon a star every night. Your son secretly thinks that he looks like Johnny Depp when he lunges about the house with his cardboard sword, humming "The Pirates of the Caribbean" theme song. Both your kids are clamoring for a change of scenery, but you assume that family finances dictate that none of you will be wearing mouse ears for some time to come. Is there any destination close enough to Springfield for a weekend jaunt that will be magical enough to satisfy your Disney-crazed offspring and yet won't put too big of a strain on the family budget?


Mix a strong ethnic heritage, spectacular lakefront views, festivals for everyone and anyone, and world-class museums. Add a dash of glamour, some great shopping ... that's Milwaukee.


When I first announced that I was moving from my hometown of Springfield to Kansas City, the general reaction from friends and neighbors was undisguised horror. "Nothing could be more boring than Kansas!" one friend even sputtered, while fixing me with a look of extreme sympathy. No doubt she was envisioning the stark black-and-white footage at the beginning of "The Wizard of Oz" and me getting swept away, head over heels, by tumbleweeds on the barren prairie.


Old World charm and elegance, five-star dining, winter sports, boutique shopping - is your destination Paris? No, a six-hour drive to Kohler, Wis., and the American Club.

 

 


The rich heritage of Abraham Lincoln stretches across the United States, but history buffs needing a Lincoln fix can find one about three hours away in Janesville, Wis.

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