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Tennessee tourism

Tennessee is within a day's drive of 65 percent of the U.S. population and a new campaign to get visitors to make the trip appears to be working.

Spending by travelers in Tennessee was estimated at $10.8 billion in 2003, an increase of 2.3 percent over the previous year, according to preliminary state figures.

Susan Whitaker, the state's tourism commissioner, said Tennessee's main advantage in spurring travel is the diversity of its regions, with Memphis in the west, Nashville in the middle and the Smoky Mountains in the east.

The campaign features a slogan, "The stage is set for you," along with TV spots with singers Dolly Parton and Isaac Hayes.

The state's top 10 attractions, based on the number of visitors, are Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies; Bristol Motor Speedway; Ober Gatlinburg, an amusement park and ski resort; Tennessee Aquarium; Memphis Zoo; Casey Jones Village in Jackson; Golf & Games Family Park in Memphis; Graceland; and Grand Ole Opry House & Opry Museum in Nashville.

Smoky Mountains National Park, which Tennessee shares with North Carolina, gets as many visitors as the top eight state attractions combined.

For information:; (615) 741-2159.


Smithsonian magazine has named Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., as the destinations for this year's CultureFest, a five-day festival that showcases local treasures of cultural significance.

The event, which will take place Nov. 10-14, includes lectures, live music, tours, performances, story telling and other events.

Venues include the Arizona Science Center, the Bead Museum, the Challenger Space Center, Desert Botanical Garden, Huhugam Heritage Center at the Gila River Indian Community and Papago Park.

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"Sideways' journey

A new movie called "Sideways" is set in the wine country of California's central coast. Before the film's Oct. 20 debut, Santa Barbara's tourism office had already printed a brochure to lead fans to the places featured in it.

The Fox Searchlight feature film, written and directed by Alexander Payne, is a comedy about a pair of mismatched best friends (Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) on a road trip in the days before one of them is to be married.

The fold-out tourist map spotlights 19 locations around the Santa Ynez Valley, all of them featured in the movie.

They include boutique wineries such as the Andrew Murray Vineyard, Foxen Winery and Kalyra Winery; restaurants like the Hitching Post II and Solvang Restaurant; a bowling alley, a church, a golf course, Gaviota State Beach and Ostrich Land.

Oenophiles and day-trippers alike can get the "Sideways" map by calling (800) 676-1266 or by visiting

Associated Press