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Most famous for hosting the annual New Year's Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl, Pasadena is more than just a football town. Its extravagant City Hall boasts a beautiful Baroque dome, a courtyard garden and relaxing fountain. On South Orange Boulevard, known as Millionaires' Row, there are landmarked mansions to rival the most opulent homes of Beverly Hills. That chattering in the air is probably the local population of naturalized Red-crowned Amazon parrots.
For some, a tour of the Queen Mary, docked here since its retirement in 1967, evokes waves of nostalgia for the days of the huge ocean liner with its opulent rooms, 1930s deco décor and teakwood decks. Others, particularly the younger set, are entranced by the spine-tingling haunted ship stories on the nighttime ghost tour. But for everyone, a visit to this floating hotel and museum is a must on any trip to Long Beach. At one time a less-than-appealing place to visit, Long Beach has transformed itself into an upscale tourist resort, with many waterfront attractions, including a new, state-of-the-art aquarium with a fabulous shark exhibit, two excellent art museums, charming shops, public golf courses, the annual April Grand Prix international auto race and lots of recreational activities along its eight-mile stretch of beach. Take the kids to the waterfront entertainment complex with rides and live performances or to the farming demonstrations at Rancho Los Alamitos. Feeling romantic? Cruise the canals of Naples (that's right, Naples Island in Long Beach) in a genuine Venetian gondola. One thing is for sure: tensions and stresses dissolve in this laid-back, friendly city.
With close to 150 trails, Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest ski areas in the United States. Its diverse slopes appeal to a broad range of skiers and snowboarders, from novices to experts, and equipment for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling is widely available for rent and sale.
Kissimmee provides the perfect base camp for a date with Mickey. Only a few minutes' drive from the Walt Disney World theme parks, the Florida town is packed with family-friendly activities like mini golf, dinner theater and ice skating. Get close to nature on an airboat ride through the swamps or pick oranges at a local grove. For a more educational diversion, stroll through the historic downtown or visit the Osceola County Historical Society and Pioneer Museum for a peek into turn-of-the century life.
The city of Bangor is perhaps most well known as the setting for many of Stephen King's stories, a reputation that has led to the nickname Transylmainia. There is more to Bangor than just tales of horror, however. There is a thriving arts scene, with museums, galleries, theaters, a symphony orchestra and a popular sidewalk art festival every summer. The area around Bangor includes the coastal Acadia National Park and the wooded Baxter State Park, providing plenty of outdoor adventure.