While there are many styles of vacations you can take your family on, many still favor the tried and true family road trip to destinations important to the history and culture of our country.
While many coastal cities, east and west, are significant to the birth and growth of America, Boston stands out as particularly significant to the early struggles of our great nation. Beacon Hill in Boston was home to the descendants of early English colonialists whose elegant, gas-lit streets are well worth wandering through. And of course no trip to Boston would be complete without a visit to the famous Boston Harbor which includes a fantastic interactive museum and two replica 18th century vessels. Boston is also home to America’s first college, Harvard, which was established in 1636, student lead walking tours are available.
New York City, New York
While the Big Apple has so much to offer one couldn’t possibly see it all in one trip, the historically minded will want to visit some particular locations: Ellis Island, landing spot of some 12 million immigrants is as fascinating as any place you might visit in the city and features a stunning museum; the Brooklyn Bridge is a must see landmark—it took 600 some workers 14 years to construct one of the world’s first steel wire suspension bridges which was the longest of its kind at completion in 1883; architectural buffs won’t want to miss Brooklyn Heights, one of the first areas of the city to be deemed a historic district.
San Antonio, Texas
While the Alamo is certainly a main point of interest, the entire city is a treasure trove of Spanish colonialism. The Alamo itself is one of only five missions that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site (i.e., don’t miss!). The new River Walk Mission Reach Trail will allow you to explore the grounds and buildings in which priests and Native Americans worked and lived together.
The Rockefeller Christmas tree is an American tradition and a must see for Christmas decoration thrill-seekers and the tree lighting has become an internationally recognized event singling the beginning of season in which we celebrate light, love, and giving.
As has been the tradition since 1931, enthusiasts submit entries from which the Rockefeller Christmas tree is chosen. The winner is usually an older Norway Spruce that’s at least 75 feet tall and 45 feet in diameter. Some 34 trees have come from New York state.
Angie and Graig Eichler of Oneonta, New York, donated this year’s tree. The tree is a Norway Spruce which weighs about 14 tons, is 94 feet tall and came right from the Elchler’s back yard. This impressive specimen will be the 84th Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Each of these massive trees has required a construction crew and cranes to erect and must be decorated via cherry picker.
Though this year things went a little differently, The Elchler’s didn’t apply to donate it. Instead, Erik Pauze, Rockefeller Center’s head gardener, knocked on their front door last spring while traveling upstate looking for the perfect 2016 tree.
While the lighting ceremony happened on Wednesday, November 30th the Rockefeller Christmas Tree will be on display through January, 7th 2017. For the 10th year in a row the retired tree will be turned into lumber and donated to Habitat for Humanity.
If you have never been to Niagara Falls, you should try it. It’s a wonderful trip for a couple, family, or group. The Niagara Falls is the most powerful waterfalls in North America. They were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciations (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment on route to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty, as a valuable source of hydroelectric power, and of course tourism. From the Canadian side, floodlights illuminate both sides of the falls for several hours after dark (until midnight). You will need a current passport to go to the Canadian side. The falls are 17 miles north-northwest of Buffalo, New York and 75 miles sout-southeast of Toronto, Ontario, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.
From the U.S. side, the American Falls can be viewed from walkways along Prospect Point Park, which also features the Prospect Point Park observation tower and a boat dock for the Maid of the Mist. The Maid of the Mist boat cruise, the oldest and best known tourist attraction at Niagara Falls, is named for an ancient Ongiara Indian mythical character. Cruise boats operate from boat docks on both sides of the falls and have carried passengers into the rapids immediately below the falls since 1846.
Goat Island offers more views of the falls and is accessible by foot and automobile traffic by bridge above the American Falls. From Goat Island, the Cave of the Winds is accessible by elevator and leads hikers to a point beneath Bridal Veil Falls. Also on Goat Island are the Three Sisters Islands, the Power Portal where a huge statue of Nikola Tesla can be seen, and a walking path which enables views of the rapids, the Niagara River, the gorge, and all of the falls. Most of these attractions lie within the Niagara Falls State Park.
The Niagara Scenic Trolley offers guided trips along the American Falls and around Goat Island. Panoramic and aerial views of the falls can also be viewed from the Flight of Angels helium balloon ride, or by helicopter. The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center showcases the natural and local history of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge. If you like to gamble, a casino and luxury hotel was opened in Niagara Falls, New York, by the Seneca Indian tribe. And there are many more hotels, shops, restaurants and attractions in the area – something for everyone.
New York is a city we never get tired of – We love New York!
There are so many great places to visit in the world I doubt we can see them all. The truth is, you don’t even have to go very far to have a wonderful get-away weekend. One of our favorite weekend places is New York City.
Of all the places we’ve been – as close as Cleveland or as far away as Australia, New York City actually has more fun per square foot. If you like Broadway shows this is the place for you. On our latest foray into the city we went to several shows: Drowsy Chaperone, Jersey Boys, Wicked, and The Apple Tree. You can buy your tickets ahead or take your chances when you get there. We have been lucky a few times and got seats down front because we waited until the last minute. But don’t count on this – you are better off to at least have tickets for one show.
If you like “seeing the sights” there is never a lack in New York. There are so many museums, art galleries, and historical tours, you’ll never run out. And there are always sporting events going on too.
The food in New York is an international treat! We enjoy going to our favorite restaurants while we’re there. This last trip we went to Foley’s, Frankie & Johnnie’s, Ruby Foo’s, and Carmine’s. Carmine’s is a family style Italian restaurant – so bring a group. And, of course, they all have fabulous desserts! At Carmine’s we had their “to die for” Chocolate Torte – YUM!
For shopaholics the territory is never-ending! There are big stores like Macy’s – the largest department store in the world – and smaller quaint shops all over the city. We never fail to do a little shopping while we’re there.
New York is a city full of many different cultures and peoples from all over the world – that is part of the charm – you get the feel of foreign travel without leaving American soil.