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The Amelia Island Bed & Breakfast Association features the Holiday Cookie Tour on Saturday. Fernandina's pro bakers share a recipe and a taste of their signature baked goods. Visitors can walk through the common area of seven inns, decked out in holiday finery. Held from 1 to 5 p.m., the tour includes admission to the Addison on Amelia, Amelia Island Williams House, Ash Street Inn, Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, Fairbanks House, Florida House Inn and Hoyt House. Tickets are $20 and are available at each of the seven inns, the Visitor's Depot on Centre Street and the Chamber of Commerce Gateway Office. Visit ameliaislandinns.com.

Wait a minute, ice in Florida? The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center presents ICE!, a walk-through interactive attraction, opens Monday and runs through Jan. 4. Visitors can visit a frosty winter wonderland of three-dimensional holiday scenes and sculptures. Hand-carved by a team of professional artisans from Harbin, China, who use nearly 2 million pounds of ice, there are sculptures and monuments and even slippery slides made entirely from ice. The attraction's theme this year is Santa's Arctic Blast and it features several new scenes that star Jolly "Cold" Saint Nicholas. The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center is at 6000 W. Osceola Parkway. Admission fees range from $9.99 to $24.99. For information, call 407-586-4423.

Hope-full: Bob Hope exhibit in St. Augustine, Fla.By Mary Forgione

November 14, 2008

If you've never laid eyes on the money clip the PGA gave Bob Hope in 1942 or the driver he used during his many USO tours, head to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla., to take in "Bob Hope: Shanks for the Memory." The museum claims to be displaying the "largest collection of Hope memorabilia" in the 300-piece exhibit which will continue throughout 2009. The online components at the hall of fame's website are fun too: a jokes page and a photo gallery. Tickets cost $19.50 for adults, $17.50 for seniors, students and military dependents. Info: www.wgv.com.

Capitol Visitor Center opens after delay, overrunBy JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer Jim Abrams, Associated Press Writer Wed Nov 12, 2:37 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Three years behind schedule and almost $360 million above budget, the Capitol Visitor Center prepares to open its doors to millions of tourists who now must endure long lines without food, restrooms or shelter to catch a glimpse of the halls of Congress.

The underground center, the largest single construction project in the Capitol's two-century history in terms of size and expense, is to open to the public on Dec. 2. The final cost of the project is put at $621 million, more than double the $265 million estimated cost had the center been completed on schedule in December, 2005.

For the 3 million tourists who visit the Capitol every year, the facility is long overdue. People now form lines at the bottom of Capitol Hill and wait in the heat, the cold and the rain to sign up for tours. They then must trek up the hill to enter the building.

With the Capitol Visitor Center, located below ground between the Capitol and the Supreme Court, visits will begin in the vast Emancipation Hall filled with statues moved from the Capitol and a model of the Statue of Freedom that is perched above the Rotunda. The actual Capitol Dome looms overhead through skylights. Dec. 2 is the 145th anniversary of the raising of the statue atop the Dome.

Before beginning tours of the Capitol itself, people can stroll through an exhibition hall with historic documents, artifacts and interactive computers, see shows in two theaters and eat at a 530-seat restaurant area. There are two gift shops and 26 public restrooms, compared to five inside the Capitol.

Among the artifacts are a letter from George Washington to the Continental Congress reporting the defeat of the British at Yorktown, Franklin Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech and John Kennedy's message to Congress proposing travel to the moon.

Also on view is the catafalque, the raised bier first built to support the casket of Abraham Lincoln and since used when presidents and military leaders such as JFK, Douglas MacArthur and Reagan have lain in state in the Rotunda.

Visitors will also be able to book tours of the Capitol in advance at http://www.visitthecapitol.gov, a Web site to open on Nov. 14, or by phone, 202-226-8000.

The idea of the visitor center dates back to the 1970s, and in 1991 Congress authorized funds for planning.

But momentum for the project did not come until 1998, when a mentally unstable man burst through the doors of the Capitol, killing two police officers before being subdued in the office of then-Republican Whip Tom DeLay. That impressed on lawmakers the need to move security stations for visitors away from the main building. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2000.

Security was also a key factor in the cost overruns. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress decided to add two tunnels, one for truck deliveries and one linking the Capitol with the Library of Congress, that could also serve as emergency evacuation routes.

Despite grumbling from some lawmakers about rising costs, Congress also approved the addition of House and Senate office space. Then there were the usual overruns associated with a project where 9,000 workers set more than 400,000 pieces of stone, some weighing as much as 500 pounds. The excavation phase required the removal of 65,000 truckloads of dirt.

Acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers, at a news conference Monday, defended the center, "a treasure in itself," that would both enhance security and contribute to the experience of visiting the Capitol. "I don't think it's extravagant," he said. "We have built a building that's here to last another 215 years."

Changes were still taking place even as the opening approached. Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, balked at the budget because he said the center's exhibits ignored the nation's religious heritage.

To avoid further delays, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and top Republican Robert Bennett of Utah agreed in principle to several changes, including engraving "In God We Trust" in stone in a prominent place. The cost: an additional $150,000.

Travel tips for the inaugurationBy The Associated Press The Associated Press Wed Nov 12, 9:07 am ET

Here is some advice if you are hoping to go to the inauguration:

HOTELS: Most downtown hotels are already filled, but there are still some rooms available in outlying areas of the city and the suburbs. Many hotels are requiring three- and four-night minimums. Travelers can check Web sites such as Expedia and Orbitz for deals as well as http://www.washington.org. "You really want to get at it right now," advises William Hanbury with Destination DC, the city's tourism bureau. Groups requiring 10 or more rooms can call Destination DC at 1-800-422-8644.

OTHER OPTIONS: Hanbury says people are coming up with innovative approaches such as sleeping in church basements, school cafeterias or on friends' couches. Some D.C. residents have posted ads on Web sites such as Craigslist offering to rent out their homes.

TRANSPORTATION: Many streets downtown and around the National Mall will be closed on Inauguration Day, so plan to use public transportation whenever possible. Your best options include Metrorail and Metrobus and the DC Circulator bus. You can avoid waiting in line in Metro stations by pre-purchasing all-day Metro passes online -- http://www.wmata.com/onlinestore/default.cfm?nocache. Be aware that security is heightened. For example, your bags might be checked on Metro and Amtrak trains.

TICKETS: Tickets to the inauguration ceremony are free -- but sure to be scarce -- and will be distributed through members of Congress in January. Contact your senator or representative to request a ticket. Congressional offices will get the tickets about a week before the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony; in-person pickup is required. Be wary of any Web site or broker claiming to sell tickets; Congress is the only way to go.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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