Just the ticket for talk-show fans
Vacations sometimes mean missing your favorite talk show. But they don't have to if you're heading to New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, where you can see a host of stars taping their namesake programs.
Tickets to shows are free -- as long as you have a date you'd like to attend -- but often book months in advance. If they're booked, you'll have to pay a price.
But first, try for freebies and keep in mind that most shows have a minimum-age limit of 14 to 18. Here's how to make contact:
"The Rosie O'Donnell Show": write to "Rosie O'Donnell" Tickets, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10112.
"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno": Send a self-addressed stamped envelope and a letter noting the desired date of viewing and three alternates to "The Tonight Show" Tickets, 3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, Calif. 91523.
"The Jerry Springer Show": 800-96-JERRY or 312-321-5365 in Chicago.
"The Oprah Winfrey Show": 312-591-9222 in Chicago.
For those willing to pay a price, there's New York TV Show Tickets Inc., which provides a Ticketboard Exchange (at www.nytix.com) where you can sell or exchange tickets to shows in the Big Apple. Be advised the going rate for a Rosie O'Donnell ticket is $100. The catch? They request you call a 900-number as payment for their service.
Miniature golf: A natural teaching technique
Life's a ball -- a golf ball, in fact -- at the "Planet Golf" exhibit at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences. The interactive exhibit, which continues through Sept. 12, uses miniature golf to illustrate tidbits about the natural world.
Each hole is themed with different topics, including water pollution, dinosaur extinction and rain forest threats. The front nine holes explore how nature works. At one hole, the ball follows a Chinook salmon's life cycle. The back nine focus on human interaction in the biosphere with one hole depicting the necessity of recycling. The more visitors learn, the better they score.
The museum is at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Logan Circle. Cost: $3 plus museum admission ($8.50 for ages 13 and older, $7.75 seniors and military, $7.50 for ages 3 to 12, free for members and children under 3). Hours: 10 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Call 215-299-1000.
Dining out back in time
Visitors to the Hudson Valley can sample authentic 18th-century dinners in the gardens of Historic Van Cortlandt Manor through September. Dishes such as ragout of beef, butter chicken, mushroom fricassee and salmagundi will be served by waiters in period attire. Open-hearth cooking demonstrations, live music, dancing and games are also part of the event in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. Dinners are scheduled for Aug. 7, Aug. 14-15, Aug. 21, Sept. 4 and Sept. 11-12. Cost: $50 a person. Reservations required; call 914-631-8200, Ext. 628.
From Washington to Clinton
Significant and often unknown presidential sites are the focus of a new book, "Presidential Places: A Guide to the Historic Sites of U.S. Presidents." Written by Gary Ferris, this guide highlights presidential birth and death sites, inaugural locations, and schools and churches attended by the nation's 42 commanders-in-chief. This comprehensive, 256-page guidebook costs $15.95 and is available at local bookstores or by calling 800-222-9796. guide in hand
Vegetarians on the road
Looking for a vegetarian meal worthy of a pit stop on your next road trip? The Vegetarian Resource Group rides to the rescue with a free, four-page sampling from its book, "Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Food Restaurants in the U.S. and Canada." For the excerpt, send five first-class stamps and a written request to: "Vegetarian Vacation Guide," Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, Md., 21203.
A copy of the group's 368-page book is available by sending $16 (make check payable and address envelope to the Vegetarian Resource Group at the same address) or by visiting www.vrg.org. Call 410-366-VEGE.