New challenging bike trails are now part of the Powder Ridge Mountain Resort and Park in Middlefield, Conn. Contributed by Coppola Photography

Four Points of the Compass: Travel east for a local Guinness, take a Mr. Rogers tour

Test your comedy skills in N.Y. and visit Louisa May Alcott’s home in Mass.

Travelers looking for new adventures are advised to look east, to both the near and far locations of that compass point. From Atlanta, the Eastern seaboard offers a wealth of attractions at the end of a short flight or a leisurely car drive. Farther afield, countries of the east also offer new reasons to make the long-distance trek. So grab your gear and eastward-ho!

Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House, the first U.S. location in more than 60 years, recently opened near Baltimore. Contributed by Getty Images for Guinness
Photo: For the AJC

Halethorpe, Md.

No need to take an overseas flight to Ireland to catch an inside look at how the famous Irish stout is made. In August, Guinness opened its newest U.S. location, an $80 million facility in Halethorpe, Md., just beyond the Baltimore beltway. The Guinness Open Gate Brewery and Barrel House is named after the home of the original brewery at St. James’ gate in Dublin. Whether you take a guided or self-guided tour, visitors will go behind the scenes to see the various barrel systems in place to produce small batch beers and end with a sampling of four different brews. (The classic Guinness Draught and Foreign Extra Stout will still be brewed in Ireland and imported.) Check out the retail area where limited-release beers are available in growlers and crowlers (cans). The property also features a “great lawn” that accommodates 4,000 people for major events (think St. Patrick’s Day to the max). Pair your brew with a meal in the full-service restaurant, dubbed 1817, or nosh on small-plates in the tap room or from food trucks. Free, $10. 5001 Washington Blvd., 800-909-2645,

Watch Hill, R.I.

The charming seaside village of Watch Hill, located in the most southwestern point of Rhode Island, is home Ocean Park, an exclusive resort property frequented since 1868. Today guests are greeted by a cheerful white-and-yellow Victorian-style hotel built in 2004 to replace the property’s former grand hotel that dated back to 1914. The new facility has 49 rooms and 18 suites and contains more than 5,000 artifacts from the previous structure that were salvaged and restored. The property’s 13 acres include a private beach along the Atlantic Ocean, outdoor dining and event venues, a chapel, a croquet lawn, shuffle board court, putting green and lavish gardens, many of which are used as outdoor classrooms for the hotel’s cooking classes. The day spa is the only Forbes five-star spa in the state, and several championship golf courses are within a short drive. A recent addition to the historic surroundings is the Center for Wine and Culinary Arts, a 3,000-square-foot facility for workshops, tastings and group events. Trained sommeliers lead guests through wine courses, cellar tours and wine and cheese classes. Guest chefs and wine experts conduct dining tables and small-group cooking classes that invite participants to work side-by-side with the culinary team. Rates $1,000 and up. 1 Bluff Ave., 855-678-0364,

Interactive exhibits invite visitors to try their hand at writing comedy scripts at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y. Contributed by National Comedy Center
Photo: For the AJC

Jamestown, N.Y.

Need more laughs in your life? Find them in spades at the National Comedy Center, a new attraction in the hometown of Lucille Ball. The $50 million facility opened this summer during the town’s annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival. In addition to venues for live performances, workshops and festivals, the center boasts more than 50 exhibits including holograms of the country’s top comedians delivering their most famous routines, as well as donated artifacts and props. Interactive attractions include educational games and competitions. Visitors can try writing and delivering a sketch and even practice throwing a fake pie. Nearby is the Lucy Desi Museum that opened in 1996 and is packed with memorabilia, photos, costumes and artifacts from the couple’s long-running TV show. While you’re in town, visit Lake View Cemetery, where Ball is buried. Jamestown is located in Chautauqua County with its own array of attractions. Tour the purportedly haunted Dunkirk Lighthouse, a 61-foot historic tower overlooking Lake Erie that doubles as a military and maritime museum. Climb along a 60-foot-tall rock formation of caves and crevices at Panama Rocks on Chautauqua Lake. See the real stars at the Martz Observatory that offers lectures, tours and stargazing nights year-round. National Comedy Center, $12.50-$23.50. 203 W. Second St., 716-484-2222, Lucy Desi Museum, $11-$16. 2 W. Third St., 716-484-0800, Combo ticket $18.50-$30. 

A statue of Fred Rogers is one of the sights along a trail of destinations connected to the famous TV personality. Contributed by
Photo: For the AJC

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Fifty years ago, in 1968, an unassuming Presbyterian minister debuted a children’s television show that is still written about and studied today. Fred Rogers welcomed viewers to his TV neighborhood for 33 years, and many of the lessons he taught generations of kids (and adults) live on. For fans and the merely curious, a tour of the real Mister Rogers’ neighborhood is now possible by following the Fred Rogers Trail that starts in Pittsburgh and meanders through the nearby countryside. Along the way, travelers will stop at a number of sites that hold special connections to Rogers. Plan to spend three days exploring each location, starting at the Idlewild and Soak Zone children’s park, where the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe was a prime attraction until 2013. It’s been replaced by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that uses the same sets and trolley from the original park. On Day Two, make the 50-minute drive to Latrobe, Rogers’ birthplace, where Saint Vincent College now houses the Fred Rogers Exhibit of interactive displays and videos, as well as artifacts from the show, including puppets, Rogers’ classic cardigan and his sneakers. While you’re there, visit the St. Vincent Archabbey, the oldest Benedictine monastery in the country. Nearby is the Latrobe High School where another assortment of show memorabilia is on display and the Unity Cemetery where Rogers is buried. Finally, head back to Pittsburgh and book a room at the Ace Hotel, a former YMCA. Rogers was a dedicated supporter and partner of local Y’s, and to honor his memory, rooms are equipped with turntables and recordings of the TV show. Guests can also purchase records from Rogers’ label, Small World Records.

Concord, Mass.

From 1858 to 1877, a young Louisa May Alcott lived in this wood-frame house that sat amid acres of apple trees. And at a desk her father built for her, there she penned the classic “Little Women” in 1868. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication, and curators at Orchard House, the Alcott homestead museum, have organized a bounty of events to celebrate. Visitors will learn details of the author and her family’s life through a film festival, fashion exhibits of period attire, themed tours, book discussions, lectures and performances of the musical version of “Little Women.” Special highlights include a three-day pilgrimage through the Massachusetts countryside during which participants will discuss the significance of writing and the impact of Alcott’s work while reading, writing and walking along the literary trails of Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Alcott. December features a “Little Women” Christmas program, a living history event set in the home’s lavishly decorated halls. Along with the special events, visitors to Orchard House will find few changes to the original structure that still contains most of the furnishings owned by the Alcotts when they lived there, creating a window into the past. $5-$10. 399 Lexington Road, 978-369-4118,

Middlefield, Conn.

Nestled on the side of the 840-foot Besek Mountain, Powder Ridge Mountain Resort and Park is a 255-acre facility that offers a range of activities to keep guests entertained, be it for a day or a week. During the winter, the main attraction is the synthetic snow that makes skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowbiking available, regardless of the weather. Other events are less physically taxing: An Octoberfest welcomes the fall season, a Halloween ball transforms the lodge into a haunted house and a Sunday market brings more than 130 vendors to the site. Recently added experiences include disc golf, an obstacle course and two 1,400-foot zip lines. Mountain bikers will also find rugged new trails, reached by a lift for both rider and bike. Those who don’t feel up to the tough challenge will find additional trails tailored toward beginners and youngsters. And the resort’s rental center has all the gear you need, from ski poles to helmets and boots. After a day of intense activity, settle into a dinner at Fire at the Ridge restaurant, specializing in seafood, steak and pasta dishes. The resort offers accommodations for day-use as well as overnight stays — a great idea if you’re planning to check out the after-dark ski runs. 99 Powder Hill Road, 866-860-0208,

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Winterthur, Del.

The 175-room Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library was once home to the family of Henry Francis du Pont and has been a public museum for almost 70 years. In that time, it’s earned a stellar reputation not just as a house museum that looks almost exactly as it did when the family was in residence but as a center for American decorative arts. With a collection of almost 90,000 Americana artifacts dating from 1640 to 1860, Winterthur draws visitors year-round who delight in the Campbell Collection of soup tureens and changing exhibitions including a collection of tableware inspired by nature running through January 2019. Through May 2019, the museum marks the 300th birthday of furniture craftsman Thomas Chippendale with special exhibit of his works. In March 2019, an exhibition opens displaying 40 key costumes from the BBC show “The Crown.” Beyond the museum, the 1,000 acres of bucolic countryside incorporate a 60-acre garden ranked among the most impressive in the country, noted for its colorful year-round displays and the Enchanted Woods children’s garden. $5-$20. 5105 Kennett Pike, 800-448-3883,

Nagano, Japan

About an hour west of Nagano, Hakuba Mountain and its surrounding valley have long been known for its ski resort and average annual snowfall of 36 feet. It claimed the international spotlight when it hosted the ski jumping events during the 1998 Winter Olympic games. The 11 resorts, 146 lifts and 200 runs are key attractions throughout the winter. February is particularly busy with two big events: the Hakuba Snow Sculpture Festival and the Fire Festival. It’s also a popular destination in the summer as visitors flock to the area to kayak, tree climb and ride the rugged mountain bike trails. But when it comes to scenery, the most beautiful season may well be fall, when the mountains offer an unusual glimpse of nature. That’s when the foliage begins to turn and create a distinctive viewing perspective: snow atop the mountains, trees ablaze with gold and red autumn hues below the powder, and a forest of fresh green growth at the bottom. Giving tourists a front-row seat to this natural phenomenon is the new viewing terrace at the Iwatake ski resort’s Hakuba Mountain Harbor, overlooking the northern “Japanese Alps.” Along with breathtaking vistas, the terrace is home to an outpost of New York’s The City Bakery with a menu of treats such as pretzel croissants, fruit tarts, tortes and cookies that complement the full array of salads, pastas, pizzas, soups and sandwiches. Specialty coffees and hot drinks are also served.

Chumphon, Thailand

This capital of the Chumphon Province is about 240 miles southwest of Bangkok and has long been famous for its fabulous beaches of pearly white sand against crystal blue waters. But getting there was a challenge. For years, tourists have had the choice of a long train trip or an even longer car ride. That recently changed. AirAsia has made the journey a lot easier by introducing daily direct flights from Bangkok that take about an hour. That means there’s more time to loll on the beach, paddle in the sea and snorkel the coral reefs before taking in the city’s major attractions. Start by learning the ancient history of this area with a visit to the Chumphon National Museum, built in 1995. Interactive displays explore the area’s ancient history, culture and architecture, as well as the city’s World War II years and the 1989 typhoon that claimed more than 800 victims. Don’t miss the chance to explore two elaborately designed temples, the Wat Phra and the Tham Khwan Mueang, that both feature jaw-dropping, intricate architecture. When the sun goes down, the place to find authentic Thai food is the Chumphon Night Market, where cooks prepare dishes as you watch. Despite its name, the market is open early in the day when craft, produce and meat vendors are ready for business.,

Seoul, Korea

An elevated, linear park and pedestrian corridor in the heart of Seoul has added more than just a new scenic attraction to the bustling downtown area. Seoullo 7017, also known as the Seoul Skygarden, functions as an easily traversed walkway between the eastern and western sides of the city built along what was once an elevated overpass. The name reflects the area’s connections to the number 17: The park started in 2017, it rises 17 meters (about 56 feet) above ground and today, it’s being developed into a destination with 17 individual areas for restaurants, gardens and performing art stages connected by 17 walkways. The “70” references the date of the original roadway, which was built in 1970. While traffic zips along below, pedestrians can stroll leisurely across a bridge that’s shaded by thousands of potted trees and landscaped with shrubs and flowers. Enclosed trampolines provide play areas for kids, and pop-up concerts by local musicians provide entertainment.

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