Ventureout Interview Rock Barn

Ventureout Interview Rock Barn

Where the “fun” is Always Shining

Mary Ann & Bill Knox
Rock Barn Golf & Country Club
Conover, North Carolina

“Rock Barn is so wonderful. We feel so blessed. Everyday we sit on the patio and we say aren’t we the luckiest people in the whole world,” said Mary Ann Knox.

Over 12 years ago, Mary Ann and her husband Bill retired to Rock Barn Golf & Country Club from the Washington, DC area. The wanted to retire on a golf course and found the perfect place just outside the Charlotte, NC metro. Rock Barn Country Club & Spa is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Conover, NC, and features 36 holes of award-winning golf. The community boasts two challenging, picturesque, championship golf courses, a The Robert Trent Jones and a Tom Jackson course.

Mary Ann says, “We couldn’t have afforded this house in the DC area, it would have been $2 million plus in that area. I feel like the biggest cheerleader for Rock Barn. This community and the club are such an incredible value. We have more money to live the life we’ve always dreamed of. Rock Barn has vitality. We’ve lived in Rock Barn 12 years. The time goes so fast, it feels like we retired just the other day. It’s not a community, it’s a family.”

“I remember it was a culture shock to move from the DC area. But, at Rock Barn, it is living in a resort. They have everything we need here. We usually eat at the club. And, we have a world class spa that is currently being renovated to include a salt cave in addition already spectacular spa deck with jacuzzi, pools, and even a waterfall.”

The Spa at Rock Barn, is a European day spa featuring a mineral pool, a therapeutic waterfall, indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, saunas, essential oil infused steam rooms, and a bracing cold water pool. The spa also offers health and beauty treatments as well as poolside dining.

Mary Ann is the chairman of the membership committee. She says the whole culture of the club has changed. “New people move in and re-energize the community. That’s what makes the community so vibrant. Some old members have rejoined the club. It’s kind of an evolution. People are taking on new roles. We value our members. Since May 2018 we have added 72 new members and we offer a junior membership to encourage younger people to join. The staff at the club is excellent. They learn everyone’s name. They really get to know the people and the staff gets to know everyones’ name and drink.”

“When we lived in the DC area we didn’t have time to socialize like we do now. We have a club, “The Prime Timers” with over 100 people over the age of 55. Once a month we meet and even we went line dancing one time.”

The resort life, however, hasn’t been the only thing that Mary Ann has found at Rock Barn. she has now found her passion in helping others. Mary Ann volunteers in the local soup kitchen. She says “I didn’t have time when I was working. I have found my passion working with nursing homes. Just seeing the smiles on their faces is so rewarding. It’s good to give back to the community at large.”

Mary says, “Family and friends is what matters. My sister and her husband live down the cul de sac. We have created a family legacy— a tradition to pass on. My teenage grandkids want to visit. There are so many things to do. All of my grandkids and sister’s grandkids live to golf.”

“I stay so active. I never envisioned it would be so wonderful.”

Caribbean Teal Waters Are Calling

Caribbean Teal Waters Are Calling

Belize Beaches

Belize: An Adventurer’s Paradise

For a couple interested in residential offerings, it’s fun and instructive to rent a private water taxi for several hours and tour the coast, stop for lunch, and maybe pick out your favorite oceanfront lot.”
— Matt Brown

As Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula stretches toward the Caribbean Sea, it signals the southern edge of the country, where it then shares a border with Belize. An otherworldly place of sultry beauty, ancient Mayan relics, and flourishing culture (and eco-tourism!), it’s all framed by the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and dotted with luxury resorts and communities tucked on tropical cays and islands.

Belize Cyrstal Blue WatersBelize is an adventurer’s paradise, with the teal waters of the Caribbean Sea beckoning on the east and a fascinating rain forest ecosystem in the highlands to the west. The country is only 68 miles across, so it’s easy to spend the morning drifting with sea turtles on the reef and the afternoon exploring the ruins of the ancient Mayan pyramids of Caracol and Xunantunich.

But most importantly, Belize is a place intently balancing its emerging and bountiful popularity with its boundless commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. National Geographic recently released its list of “Best Places to Visit in the Upcoming Year,” and Belize received high praise for its protection of the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve coral reef by banning all offshore drilling, passing a law to phase out single-use plastics, and taking steps to protect mangrove forests, home to the endangered manatee and countless other aquatic species.

That commitment will have to be girded as resort operators like Marriott, Wyndham, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville have plans to build resort communities in Belize within the next several years. Even Leonardo DiCaprio and a business partner have purchased a private island called Blackadore Caye for $1.75 million with plans to sensitively develop a restorative, 68-villa eco-resort.

Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, gained its independence from the crown in 1982. But, Queen Elizabeth still graces the dollar, English is the official language, and the government is a parliamentary system that believes in contract law like Australia and Canada. Unlike some other Caribbean countries, real estate purchases are fully titled and deeded (rather than leased for 99 years or not allowed at all). There is no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, and residency is relatively easy to gain.


West Villages Florida | Move Closer Together


The country is easily accessed (just a four-hour flight from Chicago and two hours from Miami or Houston) through the international airport in Belize City (BZE). The islands are reached by a short 20-minute airplane ride or water taxi.

Much of the popular resort and residential activity resides on Ambergris Caye, a long narrow strip of land (you’re never further than 500 yards from water) and the largest of Belize’s offshore islands. And although the Belize mainland is essentially a rain forest, the island only gets about 1/5 of the rain as inland (to be safe, the dry season runs from January to May). Ambergris Caye also restricts cars and trucks to commercial purposes, so everyone drives a golf cart or ATV.

Ambergris Caye, Belize Among the existing island resorts is the opulent Grand Caribe just north of San Pedro, the main city of Ambergris Caye. The waterfront Ramon’s Village Resort in San Pedro is an elegant slice of thatched-roof heaven, and the Grand Baymen Condo Resort also beckons on the Ambergris beachfront.
Local Coldwell Banker realtor Matt Brown suggests a creative idea for exploring Ambergris Caye. Brown reveals, “For a couple interested in residential offerings, it’s fun and instructive to rent a private water taxi for several hours and tour the coast, stop for lunch, and maybe pick out your favorite oceanfront lot.” Matt Brown moved to Belize in 2011 from Canada and saw the potential in this English-speaking country for an easy transition into an incredible new life in a pristine location.

On the mainland, the family Coppola (as in Francis Ford) offers two embracing resorts: the waterfront Turtle Inn near the charming Creole fishing village of Placencia in south Belize, and the Blacaneaux Lodge, which actually was the Coppola’s tropical paradise hideaway in the rain forest from 1980 to 1993, when they opened it to the public as a 20-room luxury resort.
Perhaps the most valuable asset for all of these resorts is their relationships with trusted dive shops, fishing boat captains, and interpretative eco-guides who help Belize’s wonders come to life.

One of those wonders is the Great Blue Hole, the largest aquatic sinkhole in the world that spans three football fields in diameter and over 400 feet deep, located about 40 miles off the Belize coast on Lighthouse Reef. The Great Blue Hole came to modern attention when Jacques Cousteau explored it in 1971. Just this last December, Cousteau’s grandson Fabien joined with billionaire Richard Branson to fully map the hole and discover its coral fringes and ancient stalactites. Needless to say, the Great Blue Hole is on many a recreational diver’s bucket list. Search the Discovery Channel to view the December exploration.

Belize Marine LifeAnother wonder was stumbled upon in 1989 when the rain forest revealed to researchers the Actun Tunichil Miknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulcher or ATM), a Maya sacrificial burial site hidden nearly a mile underground and the resting place of the “crystal maiden,” a complete skeleton of a 20-year old woman that sparkles from crystal calcification. Accessing the cave requires precarious rock climbing and underwater swimming and is accordingly highly regulated. National Geographic ranks ATM at the top of its new list of “Sacred Places of a Lifetime.”

You will also want to explore the Altun Ha and Lamanai Mayan sites, visit the tidy Belize Zoo, where its lush landscaping will have you thinking you’ve stumbled into the jungle. There is also cave tubing on rushing underground rivers, plus myriad zip-lining options. Try hiking the lush jungle trails of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the only jaguar reserve on the planet. Or, just luxuriate in the old-world charm and secluded stretches of beach on Caye Caulker.

For more information and travel details, visit online at

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Sun-drenched and Animated in Cabo

Sun-drenched and Animated in Cabo

The Ideal Cabo Lifestyle

In English, the Spanish word ‘cabo’ means cape, as in a point of land jutting into the sea or some other large body of water. But, for many worldly travelers, the word Cabo simply refers to the most naturally stunning, perpetually enchanting, and sun-drenched resort destination in the world – all tucked at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico and wrapped by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Sea of Cortez on the east.

Cabo, or more correctly Los Cabos, is an area comprised of two colorful resort towns, Cabo San Lucas (Cape Saint Luke), located right at the tip, and San Jose del Cabo (Saint Joseph of the Cape), curled up the east coast and home to the Los Cabos International Airport (SJD).

Cabo San Lucas took modern root in the mid-1900s when the sleepy village was discovered as a paradise for sport fishermen chasing world-record marlin, dorado, and yellow fin tuna.

Today, the town has a unique and animated vibe, a kind of melding of bohemians, A-listers, expats, and locals, all dusted with a hint of Casablanca, Cristal, and Quervo. The town is nourished by some of the premier culinary establishments in the world, like Seared at the opulent One & Only Palmilla Resort, Romeo & Julieta’s chic Italian fare across from the Cabo San Lucas marina, and the sleek, oceanfront Manta at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel.

But, you can also throw on your flip flops and kick back at popular cantinas like Cabo Wabo or rocker Sammy Hagar’s place in town. Chow down on fish tacos and a margarita at the Squid Roe Bar & Grill & Clothesline, or visit The Office on the Beach (with tables right in the sand), or The Usual Suspects marina bar, where “Whatever Happened in Cabo Never Happened.”


Southern Hills  Country Club Living from the mid $200s


San Jose del Cabo, on the other hand, evokes more of a traditional Mexican village feel, its centerpiece being the Parroquia San José, a Jesuit Mission that dates back to the 1730s. San Jose has a rustic-chic gallery district, where the art walk on Thursday nights (in-season) is a must for perusing the rich offerings of local artisans.

Just above San Jose in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains is the foodie magnet of Flora’s Field Kitchen, part of a 10-acre farm that celebrates everything to do with fresh and organically grown food.

In between the two towns is a bustling, 20-mile seaside stretch called the Corridor that is sprinkled with a vast assortment of luxury hotels, golf resorts, and vacation homes, some right on the sea and some cradled in the cliffs that rise up just beyond pristine beaches.

Cabo Golf

Late afternoon on the beautiful Diamante Dunes course, Cabo San Lucas.

A generation ago you’d have to scratch out a round of golf at Los Cabos on a dusty nine-hole muni. But today the premier golf course architects in the world have brought forth over a dozen stunning golf expressions, with holes that track along the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez, and are perched on bluffs overlooking the water, or trace through massive inland dune ridges and desert canyons.

Several of the top courses are in private resort communities like the Dunes course at Diamante, ranked

#36 on GOLF Magazine’s prestigious 2018 Top World Rankings. Diamante is also home to the Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal. As mentioned, they’re very private. But, there also are glorious and accessible courses like Palmilla, Cabo’s original championship course built in 1992, which offers 27 holes of Jack Nicklaus brilliance. Nicklaus also shines with the ocean course at Cabo del Sol and the jaw-dropping Quivira 18 overlooking the Pacific. Green fees roughly range from $100-$400, depending on the course and season.

In and On the Water

Los Cabos is renowned for its coral reefs and unimaginable diversity of aquatic life in the Sea of Cortez. Snorkeling and scuba diving are most popular at the sheltered Santa Maria Cove and the Chileno Reef – both just offshore of the Corridor – plus the Cabo Pulmo Marine Life Preserve, located 60 miles up the coast. In the winter, pods of grey whales can be seen breaching the surface of the Sea of Cortez, where they bear their young after migrating 6,000 miles from the frigid waters of Alaska.

You’ll have every imaginable watercraft available to rent from glass-bottom kayaks and jet skis to water taxis and ocean-going catamarans. Los Cabos is a legendary surfing destination. And, every October, Cabo San Lucas hosts the highest-paying marlin tournament in the world, called the “Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore.”

It should be noted that many of the waters off Los Cabos need to be viewed with caution as currents can be very strong and treacherous. Some beaches are designated non-swimming.
Day Trips

If you kept going up the east coast from Cabo Pulmo Marine Preserve, you would reach the capital of Baja California Sur at La Paz, a captivating colonial town founded by Hernan Cortez in 1535 and now regarded as a vital eco-tourism and research center.

Travel an hour up on the Pacific side and nestle in to the town of Todos Santos, an oasis in the desert.Literally an oasis with underground springs creating a lush environment and unique Hexagon Caves (a smaller version of the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland). Todos Santos has a sweeping coastline popular with surfers, an old town awash in galleries, colonial architecture, and even the alluring 11-room Hotel California that has absolutely nothing to do with the iconic song from The Eagles.

On your way back from Todos Santos, about 10 minutes before you reach Cabo, is a sensitively developed oceanfront residential community and resort called Rancho San Lucas. The 834-acre property offers a rich variety of villas and oceanfront estates set along a stunning 1.2-mile beach framing the Pacific. A Greg Norman golf course, with seven holes on the ocean, is due to open toward the end of 2019.

The resort at Rancho San Lucas is called The Grand Solmar and is a sister to the Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort and Spa

The resort at Rancho San Lucas is called The Grand Solmar and is a sister to the Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort and Spa, tucked literally at the tip of the peninsula and right next to the legendary Arco de Cabo San Lucas. El Arco is an arched rock formation set tight against the beach that has been eroded away by the churning currents where the Pacific and Sea of Cortez meet and tangle. Have your boat captain bring you as close as you dare for the selfie of a lifetime!

Los Cabos and the surrounding areas offer an abundance of festivals during the year with themes of jazz, art, food and wine, kite boarding and surfing, fishing, and even the festival of mangos at Todos Santos. The headliner is the Fiestas Tradicionales, celebrating the patron San Lucas in October, although Sammy Hagar’s Birthday Bash that month runs a close and raucous second place.

Check with for all the naturally stunning, perpetually enchanting, and sun-drenched details.

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The Best of Savannah

The Best of Savannah

Founded in 1733, Savannah is one of the South’s most historic cities and popular tourist destinations. What is considered the best of Savannah is largely in the eye of the beholder.

In recent decades, this thriving metropolitan area on the Georgia coast has been attracting an increasing number of retirees, thanks to the comfortable subtropical climate and affordable cost of living that includes low property taxes. 

A regional hub of cultural activities, Savannah also offers outstanding medical and professional services in a stable economy underpinned by local manufacturers like Gulfstream Aerospace. And tuition for both degree and non-credit courses at several local state colleges is free for most residents age 62 and older.

Savannah, Georgia is one of the south's most popular cities.


Oct. 27-Nov. 3, 2018
SCAD Savannah Film Festival
Eight days and nights of cinematic celebration with movie screenings at four downtown theaters, plus documentary, shorts, and animation competitions, lectures, workshops, and big-name Hollywood honorees.

Nov. 5-11, 2018
Savannah Food & Wine Festival
A full week to enjoy the historic city’s most savory traditions, with celebrity chefs, wine and spirits samplings, the Taste of Savannah main event, and the Jazz + Bubbles Brunch grand finale.

Feb. 14-17, 2019
Savannah Book Festival
The perfect Valentine’s Day weekend for book lovers! Best-selling authors are featured at ticketed functions, while Festival Saturday events—with presentations by more than 40 emerging writers—are free and open to the public.

March 16, 2019
Saint Patrick’s Day
One of the nation’s longest-running and most lively celebrations of Irish heritage and culture, a week of River Street festivities climaxes with the annual parade that winds through the historic downtown squares.

March 28-April 13, 2019
Savannah Music Festival
The 30th annual event will bring 500 artists to town for 17 days of eclectic music, including blues, classical, country, folk, gospel, jazz, opera, rock, and much more.


Savannah has become a culinary destination that offers dozens of award-winning dining venues, including these favorites:

Circa 1875
Savannah’s acclaimed downtown French bistro with domestic and Old World wines

Crystal Beer Parlor
Fried green tomatoes, fresh seafood, juicy burgers, and craft brews on the side

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
The ultimate local-cuisine lunchtime tradition with shared seating at tables for 10

Paula Deen’s Creek House Seafood & Grill
A waterfront location for the celebrity chef’s signature Southern seafood fare

Sandfly Bar-B-Q
Southern-style sauces on pork and chicken, plus beef brisket and Brunswick Stew

The Telfair Museum is among the best museums in Savannah.


Telfair Museums
The South’s oldest public art museum includes three sites in the Historic District: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House, and the Telfair Academy.

SCAD Museum of Art
The renowned Savannah College of Art and Design is home to the region’s finest collection of contemporary art and learning programs for kids, undergrads, and seniors.

Savannah Art Walk
Strolling tours of more than 20 Historic District galleries every second Saturday of the month where you can meet the artists and enjoy post-walk cocktails at the DeSoto Savannah Hotel.

Take a walk in the park in Savannah.


Historic Squares and Parks
As one of America’s first planned cities, Savannah’s Historic District has preserved 22 picture-perfect town squares that can be toured on foot or using the free trolly service. Nearby Forsyth Park is a 30-acre oasis for bike rides and weekly farmers markets, while Bonaventure Cemetery is a 100-acre garden of ghostly delight.

Savannah City Market
Four open-air blocks in the heart of the Historic District feature scores of unique shops, restaurants, art galleries, and nightlife entertainment.
Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens
Explore this university research center that’s open to the public on weekdays with formal gardens, bamboo groves, and events like the 25th Annual Autumn GardenFest (Oct. 26-27, 2018).

Take a stroll through the Savannah Art Walk to get a taste of true southern art.


Tybee Island
Just a 20-minute drive from downtown, Tybee Island features beautiful beaches, casual restaurants, the Marine Science Center, and Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Bluffton/Hilton Head
Discover the South Carolina Lowcountry from the galleries and cafes of Old Town Bluffton to the iconic lighthouse in Sea Pines’ Harbour Town, plus top-flight golf courses.


US News & World report ranks these Savannah medical centers among Georgia’s best:

Memorial Health University Medical Center
Complete health services with the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, children’s hospital, and Mercer University School of Medicine campus.

St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospitals
Two anchor hospitals and specialty centers for cancer research, heart treatment, women’s health, and neurosciences.


Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport
Upgraded passenger service facilities with non-stop flights every day from Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, New York, Toronto, and Washington D.C., plus weekly/seasonal direct flights from many other hometowns.

Tybee Island is Savannah's most popular beach.


The Landings
Located just a 10-minute drive from downtown Savannah, The Landings on Skidaway Island is an amenity-rich residential community for retirees and working families. About 8,500 residents currently enjoy The Landings’ lifestyle, but plenty of choice homes and homesites are still available for new neighbors. In addition to two deepwater marinas, there are 30 miles of hiking/biking trails, playgrounds, athletic fields, a two-acre community farm, and a dog park. Landings Club members have access to six on-site championship golf courses with seven clubhouse dining venues, plus three tennis centers with 32 courts, and a complete fitness facility with indoor/outdoor pools. And with 100+ special interest clubs, Landings’ residents can easily make new like-minded friends or simply expand their horizons. Check out The Landings –

Set on 2,300 oak-shaded acres surrounded by more than six miles of pristine coastal marsh frontage near Savannah, WaterWays is a growing Georgia residential community. Traditional Southern architecture characterizes the single-family homes in four distinctive neighborhoods and new custom homesites are now available in The Enclave and Parkway South. In addition to miles of nature trails for walking and biking, WaterWays features a unique interconnected lagoon system that’s perfect for kayaking and fishing adventures. The new fitness center at WaterClub West is now open and construction is well underway on the signature WaterWays Marina. The adjacent Marina Village will be the hub of community social activity. Check out Waterways –

Savannah Quarters
Blending historic charm with modern convenience, Savannah Quarters is a master-planned community with a number of residential choices. Low-maintenance town homes popular with retirees, single-family residences in a variety of floor plan styles and sizes, and large sites for custom-designed homes are all available in appealing locations. Club members enjoy their on-site recreations at the pool complex, on the Har-Tru tennis courts, and in the state-of-the-art fitness center. The club’s featured amenity is the Greg Norman Signature golf course, an award-winning design with a picture-perfect island green on the 15th hole. The golf clubhouse features fine dining and meeting space for community activities. check out Savannah Quarters –


Request information from these Savannah area communities:

The Landings on Skidaway Island - Savannah's Choice for Island Living

The Landings on Skidaway Island - Savannah's Choice for Island Living

The Landings on Skidaway Island is a private gated community known as much for its beauty as for its personality. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway and just 12 miles from the charming and historic city of Savannah, GA, The Landings celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012. Read More...

Waterways - Best Places to Live in Georgia

Waterways - Best Places to Live in Georgia

Waterways is a 2,300-acre master-planned community located just 30 minutes from historic Savannah, Georgia, in charming Richmond Hill. Surrounded by a 1,600 acre nature preserve, this is a place where six-and-a-half miles of marsh frontage, over four miles of winding lagoons, and more than a thousand acres of ancient oak hammocks embrace our new homes and homesites. Read More...

Savannah Quarters ® - Modern Living. Historic Charm.

Savannah Quarters ® - Modern Living. Historic Charm.

Developed by SunCal, Savannah Quarters, Savannah Quarters is a master planned community ideally located less than 15 minutes from the center of historic Savannah, GA. Read More...

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Hattiesburg, MS The Hub City of the South

Hattiesburg, MS The Hub City of the South

Hattiesburg train station is as historical as it is vital to present-day Hattiesburg.The main road that frames the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi and stretches west from downtown – first through college-town neighborhoods, then past modern suburbs, and ultimately into endless acres of pine forest – is called Hardy Street.

The street is named after Captain William Harris Hardy, a civil engineer who breathed life into a couple rutted dirt roads in 1882 by bringing the railroad through and making the region a hub for transportation and timbering. Only thing was, the burgeoning town needed a name. Turns out Capt. Hardy had a wife back in Meridian, who was as Southern and gentile as a magnolia blossom, and her name was Hattie. And a town was born.

Over the decades since, Hattiesburg has become an oasis in south Mississippi for students and their educators. Entrepreneurs have taken the Southern culinary scene by storm. This city is the heartbeat of health care, and a community of folks who won’t stop until anyone moving into their silver years is engaged, healthy, and has a myriad of learning opportunities.
Favorably situated just 90 minutes by interstate from New Orleans, and the pristine gulf coast beaches of Alabama, Hattiesburg is built on three community pillars: military, education, and a sprawling medical system that provides care to a 19-county region.

While the university itself offers broad continuing education programs, some of its faculty and graduate students also teach at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), part of a nationwide network of centers that offer intellectual and cultural experiences for people in their retirement years. Located on the Southern Miss campus, OLLI boasts 176 annual classes, from beginner arts and crafts to expansive learning field trips to Mackinaw Island, the Biltmore Estate, and even an architectural dig in Scotland.

The Town of Hattiesburg, Mississippi emphasizes preservation. Thanks to the earnest vision of a handful of local physicians more than 50 years ago, Forrest General Hospital and Hattiesburg Clinic are today a national-class network of four hospitals, eight regional clinics, a sparkling Orthopedics Institute, a new Hospice House, and 60 satellite locations. If the greater Hattiesburg statistical area correctly has a population of 150,000, then likely one of every 16 people in the region works in the health care industry. Suffice to say, you’re in very good hands in the Hub City.

Complementing those two pillars is a bundle of community leaders who throw challenge on their backs and mold it into progress. Among them are Rob and Craig Tatum, real estate entrepreneurs whose great-great-grandfather was a former mayor of Hattiesburg.

Recent projects of theirs include The Claiborne, a top-of-the-line independent-living and assisted living/memory care community offering every possible amenity to its residents. In downtown, the duo has transformed two century-old buildings into stylish residential lofts. And, in the burgeoning Midtown District, they just opened Hotel Indigo Hattiesburg, a luxury property that is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group.

Says Rob, “For generations, Hattiesburg has been very good to our family, so our goal now is to spare no expense in giving back to the community. If there is an extra dollar to be spent to ensure quality, we will spend it.”

Certainly the most visible of Hattiesburg’s community leaders is 36-year old Mayor Toby Barker, a former state legislator whose youthful exuberance is contagious. Mayor Barker recently established the first Director of Customer Service position, a unique role, indeed, for government.

Downtown Hattiesburg is the city's center for arts, cultural, and culinary magic.

The Hattiesburg Zoo is the #1 tourism destination in the state. The city’s culinary credibility is embodied largely in the native soul of Robert St. John, a nationally acclaimed restaurateur, author of 10 books, a Cooking Channel celebrity chef, and owner of five local restaurants, including Tabella, Crescent City Grill, and Purple Parrott (where the bread pudding is heavenly), all located in midtown near the Southern Miss campus.
And, there is much more to recommend Hattiesburg for a visit or longer. A certified retirement community, Hattiesburg was ranked one of the “8 Tax Friendliest Towns” in America. And, its 25-block downtown Historic Neighborhood District has one of the best collections of Victorian-era houses in Mississippi and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also on the National Register is the Saenger Theater, opened in 1929 and a rare example of a vintage Art Deco-style vaudeville and movie theater. Downtown is also said to be home of the first guitar riffs of rock and roll and boasts a live music scene that some say rivals Austin, TX.

The Hattiesburg Zoo is regarded as the #1 tourism destination in the state and houses 100 animal species, plus interactive educational programs, a High Ropes Adventure Course, and train and carousel rides. The city has also reclaimed 44 miles of historic rail line and transformed them into the Longleaf Trace, a 10-foot-wide paved trail for biking, hiking, bird watching, and more.
You just might even run into gun-slinging Super Bowl champ and legendary Southern Miss quarterback Brett Favre at the hardware store. He’s the kind of hero you could name a town after. But, the gentile, magnolia blossom that is Miss Hattie has a much nicer ring to it.

There’s More to Las Vegas …It’s Henderson, NV

There’s More to Las Vegas …It’s Henderson, NV

Henderson, Nevada is everything Las Vegas is not. Henderson has no strip, very few neon lights, little street noise, and a has a heavy concentration of outdoor adventurers.

Las Vegas is the neon sign that spells out everything not many of us get to see or do more than once or twice in a lifetime…unless of course, we’re in Las Vegas. While having access to this full-time may be appealing to some, most who love a few days and nights perusing the strip probably also appreciate a bit of distance from it.

Enter Henderson. Henderson, NV, a suburb of Las Vegas, is everything Las Vegas is not. No strip, very few neon lights, little street noise, and a heavy focus on outdoor adventure. With a more family-focused population of 300,000, Henderson ranked #2 on Forbes’ 2017 Top Ten Safest U.S. Cities list, while Las Vegas, needless to say, did not rank. And, while one may not have the same experiences in Henderson, there’s no lack of excitement or adventure in this Las Vegas Valley town.

Henderson is right in the middle of everything that the West is so famous for, with all the luxuries of city life and a progressive western culture that’s intoxicating.

Access to outdoor adventure and nearly a dozen National Parks and Conservation Areas is one of the most popular reasons to land in Henderson, either for a week or for a lifetime. There are seven National Parks within a days drive, all of which make for the perfect weekend trip — the uber-famous Grand Canyon National Park, for example. Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park are both just under three hours away, and if necessary, could each be packed into a day trip.

Henderson, NV does boast some of the most gorgeous golf courses in the region.


Hike through Red Rock National Conservation Area or nearby Spring Mountain Recreation Area, hang out with lions (at The Lion Habitat Ranch), and everything in between. Cycling and hiking trails, educational attractions, and amusement parks are plentiful. The Adventuredome Theme Park is a huge family favorite, with Cowabunga Bay Waterpark a close second. The Ethel M. Chocolate Factory & Botanical Cactus Garden is an unusual but effective combo. There won’t be much moaning at the mention of this educational day trip. A trip to the Hoover Dam is also a favorite.

Golf is (Really) Good Here

Henderson proper hosts eight golf courses, with 60+ courses in the greater Las Vegas Valley alone. Chimera, Wildhorse, Reflection Bay, and DragonRidge all are thought to be exceptional courses. But, there are a couple of standouts.

In 2017, Golf Magazine named Cascata, six miles from Henderson in Boulder City, the sixth best course in the state of Nevada. Shadow Creek, in North Las Vegas, was named first.

By Bike is the Best Way

Henderson is seriously bike-friendly, both in town and through the dessert.

The River Mountains Loop Trail is a shining example of this. Even The New York Times agrees that the River Mountains Loop is the best way to see the backcountry here, calling it a “challenging” and “more rugged kind of fun.” The loop winds cyclists through the Mojave Desert, into Henderson, and beyond to Lake Mead and historic Hoover Dam.

The Amargosa Trail is an urban trail that runs through the foothills of the McCullough Range and into many of Henderson’s most popular parks, including Paseo Verde Park.

A Night on the Town

Peruse restaurants in Henderson’s Anthem Neighborhood to find meals on par with those served at Circo at Bellagio. One of Anthem’s newest additions, Craft Kitchen, has integrated a Bellagio-inspired bakery that is said to turn meals into masterpieces.

The District at Green Valley is another restaurant- filled plaza with a variety of cuisines to please every palate. Me Gusta Tacos, a sustainable Mexican eatery, is a local favorite.

Henderson may not be Vegas, but there’s no shortage of casinos and nightlife in this resort town.

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