CIVIL WAR TRAILS. By the end of this year, more than 200 Civil War sites in Virginia will be marked by a series of trailblazing signs that interpret key military action. More major battles were fought in Virginia than any other state. By calling the toll-free number 1-888-248-4592, you may request a free Civil War guide and a glossy, full-color map of battlefields. The map shows key sites in several of the war's military campaigns including northern Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley, the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, the Overland Campaign and Lee's Retreat. The latter was the first of five major Civil War trails that opened to the public in 1994.
- DIG DINOSAURS. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis sponsors digs for kids every summer. Children ages 8-13 may join scientists and technicians to search for real dino fossils. The site is on Warm Springs Ranch outside Thermopolis. Dates for the two-day kid digs are June 16-17, July 7-8, July 28-29 and Aug. 11-12. In addition to the digs, there are art classes and surface fossil hunts. The cost is $50 per child for each two-day dig. For information, call 1-800-455-DINO.- WASHINGTON, D.C., HOTEL RESERVATIONS. Capitol Reservations is a privately owned reservation service for 75 hotels in and around our nation's capital. It offers 20 to 40 percent off retail rates for many of the hotels it represents. Make reservations by calling 800-847-4832, or visit the Web at (www.hotelsdc.com). The discounted rates are offered year-round including hotels near Capitol Hill, the Smithsonian and the White House. Discounts vary according to the level of occupancy. Additional discounts are offered on weekends and during the summer because corporate and convention travel is slower during those times. Properties represented by the company range from four-star luxury hotels to corporate hotels to family-style accommodations. Capitol Reservations agents can tell you which hotels are near the subway.
- SPEAKING OF WASHINGTON, D.C. . . . Exhibits at the National Gallery of Art this year include "Degas at the Races," through July 12; "Manet, Monet and the Gare Saint-Lazare," June 14-Sept. 20; "Van Gogh's Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam," Oct. 4, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999.
- SPLENDORS OF EGYPT IN OREGON. Through Aug. 16, an exhibit of artifacts from ancient Egypt will be on display at the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Avenue. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until June 13, and 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. thereafter. Tickets, which are time and date specific, are available from the museum, 503-226-2811, and Ticketmaster outlets, 503-224-4400.
- WHISTLER IN CHICAGO. "Songs on Stone: James McNeill Whistler and the Art of Lithography" will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from June 6-Aug. 30. Some of the artist's most elegant and radical work was done in lithography. The exhibit, which will be in Regenstein Hall in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Building, will include a wide variety of lithographs as well as some of his greatest paintings, pastels, watercolors, drawings and etchings. From Chicago, the exhibit moves to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
- JACKSON LAKE LODGE will give you admission to the National Museum of Wildlife Art and a scenic Snake River float trip or a bus tour of Grand Teton National Park if you stay at the lodge before June 10, 1998. Room rates for this spring special range from $99 to $180, not including tax or gratuities. For information or reservations, call 1-800-543-3100.
- FREE ADVICE FROM RICK STEVES. A copy of the most recent issue of "Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door Travel Newsletter" is available free by sending a postcard to Europe Through the Backdoor, Box 2009, Edmunds, WA 98020; or by visiting the Web at (www.ricksteves.com). Articles in the 64-page booklet discuss a number of topics including how to pack light. A word of warning: The booklet is packed with information about Steves' tours. Steves, if you recall, hosts a travelog series that appears on PBS. He apparently wears another hat as a travel agent.
- FANS OF ANDREW WYETH, the artist, shouldn't miss the Brandywine River Museum on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pa. The museum is open daily, except Christmas, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 adults, $2.50 for children, students and seniors. Tours of N.C. Wyeth's studio take place through Oct. 31, Wednesday through Sunday. Tours leave from the museum and cost $2.50 (in addition to museum admission). Wyeth's studio has been restored to reflect its character at the time of his death in 1945.