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To honor the George Washington Bicentennial 1999, Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens and the Virginia Tourism Corp. are planning a statewide celebration. The highlight is a partnership of Virginia's Washington-related sites and attractions offering events, exhibits and tours mapped out in "The Footsteps of George Washington: A Driving Tour."

The free, 16-page brochure offers five self-directed driving routes to 24 sites -- each focusing on different aspects of the nation's first president. "The Real George Washington" tour visits his home, church and the tavern where he spent his last birthday, while the "Politics & Revolution" tour takes visitors to Williamsburg and Yorktown.

In addition to the tours, the brochure provides an events calendar and historical information about Washington. Call 888-828-4787.

A museum reborn

After a $36.8 million overhaul and name change, the former Stanford University Museum of Art reopened last month. Improvements to the structure, which was built in 1894, include renovations to the historic museum building, expansion of sculpture garden areas and the addition of a new wing.

Renamed the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts -- after the philanthropists who donated $10 million to the project and 180 pieces by Rodin -- the museum now houses the world's second-largest Rodin collection (after the Musee Rodin in Paris). Closed since 1989, after being severely damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake, the museum attracted nearly 17,000 people to its reopening.

Its 27 galleries are filled with permanent ancient and contemporary collections from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and Native America. Greek, Roman and Egyptian arts and artifacts, European and American paintings, drawings and prints are also displayed. The outdoor gardens exhibit Rodin pieces and contemporary sculpture. Until late March, exhibitions include "Picasso: Graphic Magician -- Prints from the Norton Simon Museum" and "Eadweard Muybridge, Before and After Science: Photographs from Stanford Collections."

The arts center is at Lomita Drive and Museum Way on Stanford's campus in Palo Alto, Calif. Admission is free. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and until 8 p.m. Thursday. Closed Monday, Tuesday and major holidays. Call 650-723-4177.

Turtle nursery

The big attraction in Australia right now is Heron Island, a 40-acre coral cay and national park off central Queensland along the Great Barrier Reef. Through April, masses of green sea turtles migrate to the island and lay eggs on the beach. Nighttime visits to the beaches give visitors the chance to see baby turtles emerge from their nests.

Heron Island has only one place to stay overnight -- the Pandanus Lodge, which offers 117 cabins and suites from $110 to $178 per person per night (including meals). Call 800-225-9849 or visit

Florida car bargains

Between March 29 and May 15, Budget Rent a Car Corp. is offering a One-Way Florida Drive-Out rate of only $9.95 a day. This means customers can rent an intermediate car (Ford Contour, Nissan Altima, for example) from participating Budget Rent a Car outlets in Florida and drive to one of 50 cities along the East Coast and in the central states for $9.95 a day for the first five days. Drivers must be 25 or older.

Unlimited mileage is included; weekly rates of $159 are available for six- or seven-day rentals. One-way arrival destinations include Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia. Subject to availability. Call 800-527-0700.

-- Randi Kest

Pub Date: 02/28/99

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