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THE MATURE TRAVELER

Setting Sail to Discover Ohio's AmeriFlora '92 : The horticultural and floral exhibits celebrate America's quincentennial.

March 22, 1992|BILL HUGHES

Mature travelers can discover America's version of Columbus with a tour or visit to AmeriFlora '92, the Ohio capital's mammoth floral and horticultural tribute to the American Quincentennial Celebration.

Proclaimed as a once-in-a-lifetime event and the first International Floral and Garden Exposition ever held in the United States, AmeriFlora will run from April 20 through Oct. 12.

Five years in planning and construction and more than $95 million have gone into the 88-acre site in Columbus, the largest city in the world named after America's discoverer.

What was originally planned as this country's first internationally sanctioned flower and garden show, AmeriFlora has grown into America's largest 1992 event celebrating the 500 years since Columbus came to America.

More than 25 countries are participating with garden and floral exhibits, and AmeriFlora has expanded with additional business, industry and government pavilions, extensive entertainment programs and more. Approximately 4 million Americans are expected to attend.

Since visiting gardens and floral exhibits rank high in senior travel interests, two local senior tour companies have organized tours direct from Los Angeles for the event. Many other general tours and package trips are offered through travel agents.

The International Horticulture Exhibition actually takes place only during the first two months of AmeriFlora, though many nations will participate throughout the six-month run.

A special exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute opens May 31. Called "Seeds of Change," the exhibit will outline the effects on the world since trade began between North America and other continents. From the many possibilities, the horse, potatoes, corn, sugar and disease were selected as the five "seeds" shaping lives around the world. All were introduced to the Americas or taken back to Europe by Columbus.

There's also the U.S. Pavilion, sponsored by General Motors, where Americans can get a preview of the wide-screen film to be seen at Expo '92 in Seville, Spain.

In addition to the extensive gardens and other displays, AmeriFlora will be loaded with entertainment, with daily parades and more than 50,000 performers of all types and from many nations throughout the six-month run. These will be held at a 3,000-seat amphitheater, in the Community of Nations and other locations.

International dining will be offered at many sites, including a Bavarian Fest Haus, Irish Rover Unicorn Pub, Hawaii Kai pavilion, plus the Taste of Nations Food Pavilion and Old World Market Food Court.

Daily admission will be $19.95; $16.95 for senior citizens.

The two California senior tour companies offering escorted tours for mature travelers direct from Los Angeles are Corliss Tours of Monrovia and Gadabout Tours, based in Palm Springs.

Corliss offers an eight-day trip that combines AmeriFlora with another major Ohio event, "Tall Stacks '92" in Cincinnati. This is a gathering of many Ohio and Mississippi steamboats, including the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen, plus other paddle-wheels and riverboats. There will be riverboat races and loads of on-shore displays and entertainment.

In addition to two days at AmeriFlora and two days in Cincinnati, the tour also visits Kentucky's Bluegrass Country, with stops in Louisville and Churchill Downs. It departs Oct. 10. The price of $1,444 per person, double, includes round-trip air, motor-coach touring, first-class hotels, seven meals and all entry fees. For information, call Corliss at (800) 456-5717 or (818) 359-5358.

Gadabout's tour offers three nights in Columbus and two days at AmeriFlora, and also two days at Cincinnati's Tall Stacks. Gadabout's tour also tours Ohio's Amish countryside, larger than Pennsylvania's more celebrated Pennsylvania Dutch country. They have an Amish luncheon in Berlin and a shop for Amish quilts and homemade jams, jellies and other crafts.

Also included in Gadabout's nine-day tour are a visit to Dayton, home of the Wright Brothers and a tour of the outstanding Air Force Museum. This tour departs Oct. 11 and is priced at $1,333 per person, double, from Los Angeles. It includes round-trip air and motor-coach touring, six meals and special entertainment such as a performance of "Showboat" during the Tall Stacks riverboat celebration. For information, call Gadabout at (800) 952-5068 or (619) 325-5556.

For more information about AmeriFlora and Cincinnati's Tall Stack, Ohio has a toll-free number--(800) BUCKEYE.

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