Meet Hugo, The Perfect Summer Cocktail

Meet Hugo, The Perfect Summer Cocktail

A couple of summers ago in Italy while awaiting the birth of my 6th. grandchild my daughter’s friend introduced me to Hugo.  After one sip of this blissfully refreshing cocktail I wondered why we’ve never met before!

When in Italy, specially in the Veneto region my cocktail of choice had always been the Bellini served at either one of my favorite cafes, Florian’s or Quadri’s in Piazza San Marco.

Of course if one wanted to be real authentic I suppose a Bellini at nearby Harry’s Bar would be better; after all it was the Venetian bar where the cocktail was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948.  But I much prefer the ambiance of Florian’s outdoor cafe; the perfect spot to people watch.

My husband on the other hand loves the Aperol Spritz.  He says it’s a thirst quencher.  I find it a bit too bitter.

But I digress!  I was introducing you to Hugo.  What exactly is a Hugo Cocktail?  It’s an alcoholic aperitif originating in the Alto Adige or South Tryol province of Italy.  This region includes parts of the Dolomites and Italian Alps mountain ranges.  It’s actually one of my favorite regions of Italy, which again makes we wonder why I’d never met Hugo during one of my visits to the area.

The Hugo Cocktail, like the Bellini and the Spritz, is a Prosecco based cocktail; makes sense because the best Prosecco comes from within the Veneto region of Italy and the Alto Adige region is just north of the Veneto.  The other ingredients in the Hugo include Elderflower Syrup or Liqueur, sparkling water, fresh mint leaves and lime.  It truly is refreshing, the perfect summer cocktail.

Since traveling to Italy doesn’t seem to be an option this summer and most likely the rest of the year I’ve decided to bring my favorite places to me by making our favorite drinks and foods from each country.  So today I’ll share my recipe for Hugo Cocktails as well as Bellinis and Spritzes.  Just in case you don’t know what to do with that bottle of Prosecco you just popped open you’ll have 3 options.  So pour yourself a drink and a plate of Cicchetti(bar snacks),sit back, and dream of Italy!  Buon Appetito!

Hugo Cocktail

Ingredients:

5 oz. Prosecco

1 oz. Elderberry Liqueur – I use St. Germaine

2-3 oz. Sparkling Water

2 Lime Slices

4-6 Fresh Mint Leaves

Ice

Directions:

Place Mint Leaves in a wine glass and slightly crush or muddle.  You want to let the minty aroma out but not smash the leaves.

Add ice and lime slices.

Pour Prosecco, Liqueur, and sparkling water over ice.

Stir and drink up!

Bellini

Ingredients:

3 Parts Prosecco

1 Part Peach Puree – Use 3-4 White Peaches (you can use any other peach if you can’t find white peaches)

Directions:

Peel 3-4 ripe White Peach

Cut in quarters, remove pit

Puree in a blender

Strain in to a pitcher

Add Prosecco

Divide between chilled champagne flutes.

Aperol Spritz

Ingredients:

2 Parts Aperol or Campari will do in a pinch

3 Parts Prosecco

A splash of sparkling water

Orange slice

Ice

Directions:

Put ice in a glass

Add Prosecco, Aperol, and sparkling water

Stir

Garnish with Orange slice

Serve

 

 

Roadside Attractions & Side Trips

Roadside Attractions & Side Trips

Many of us have pretty much cancelled our annual Summer Vacation this year.  Travel has become difficult and somewhat risky with quarantines and health guidelines.  I know in our family travel is off the table for the foreseeable future.

Even though travel is off the table for now that doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about it.  Discussions of where we should go and what we should do have become regular topics during family dinners.  We’re not really sure of the when and where, but I think we’re pretty sure about the how.

In our situation, we live in Hawaii, a plan ride is very much part of our itinerary, but we’re going to be limiting the length our our plane time; in short a 24 hour travel time to Europe in beyond is out of the questions; actually the 10-11 hour plane ride to the East Coast is sidelined as well.  So that pretty much limits us to a 5 hour ride to somewhere on the West Coast.  But once we get there, where should be go and what should we do?

I think many families like ours will opt for a road trip when they finally feel confident enough to travel.  Road trips make travel less risky, specially if you don’t have to ride a plane before you begin.  I mean presumably you’d be safe and healthy in your car with people who are more than likely are related or close friends.  You can limit exposure to crowds and remain out doors for the most part, of course you may have to stay in hotels, but you can opt to rent a vacation rental or even camp outdoors if you prefer.  So yes a road trip sounds like a great idea during these uncertain times.

As I mentioned we’ve pretty much decided on the how, in this case a road trip, just not the when or the where.  But here are some road trip ideas and some side trips as well.  I’m a big fan of side trips, I call them the “scenic route”, some pass by roadside attractions and others are worth a few hours or a day of your time.  Some of these places are old family favorites while others are on the maybe list. Whatever it is they’re great places to stop for a bit and stretch your legs, snap some photos, and maybe have a snack.   Hopefully you’ll find something that might capture your interest!

Arizona

Many folks will head to National and State Parks and Arizona is home to many including The Grand Canyon.  But there are many side trips you can take on your way to or from one of the parks.

If you’re in the Williams area, that’s one of the gateways to the Grand Canyon, then Bearzona Wild Life Park is a good side trip.  It’s an hour drive South of  the Grand Canyon.  You can drive thru the park in your own car then take a stroll through the walkways to get up close and personal with some of the park’s critters.  There’s also a petting area called the barnyard where friendly goats and more are around to pet.

In the Tucson area where you’ll find Saguaro National Park, a park definitely worth visiting, you can spend a few hours in Old Tucson. It’s a movie studio/theme park where you can be entertained with a wild west show, pan for gold, or check out an old mine.

And don’t forget to grab some grub.  Old Tucson has several restaurants to choose from!

Further south beyond Tucson you’ll find many interesting small towns.  There’s Artsy Bisbee where you’ll find a copper mine and more.  They also have one of the best Mexican restaurants in the area!

If you haven’t had your fill of the Wild West then head over to Tombstone.  This historic little town in Cochise County is filled with buildings that are replicas of the original building built when the mines were operational, the only original building there is the supposedly haunted Bird Cage Theater.  In Tombstone you can watch re-enactments of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and a daring bank robbery.  You can stroll down the street and visit the old courthouse, the Epitaph Newspaper building where original newsprint is on display, or you can drop by the Crystal Palace for drinks and a snack.  You can also take in a ghost show at the Bird Cage, believe me it will raise the hairs on the back of your neck!

Not far from Tombstone is Kartchner Caverns State Park.  It’s located just a few miles from the town of Benson.  If you’ve never taken a cave tour this one’s pretty impressive!

I’ve taken this tour several times and each time was amazing!

California

Another state with lots of National and State Parks is California; Death Valley NP, Yosemite NP, and Sequoia NP just to name a few.

You’ll find many road side attractions and side trips in this great state.  One of our favorites that’s sure to thrill the kids are the Cabazon Dinosaurs.  

Located right of I10 by Palm Springs this roadside attraction can’t be missed, literally!  It’s all about dinosaurs!  You can choose to visit the museum for the price of the admission fee, shop in the gift shop located inside the huge dino, or just hang out by the parking lot and snap some pictures.

In the San Jose area a trip to the Winchester Mystery House is a great way to spend a few hours.

The house belonged to Sarah Winchester the widow of William Winchester and heiress to the Winchester Arms fortune.  She moved from Connecticut to San Jose after the death of her husband.  She bought this farm house and began construction of rooms, fireplaces, stairways, and more until she ended up building the world’s most unusual and sprawling mansion!

Halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along scenic Highway 1 is the Heart Castle in San Simeon.

Built by publishing tycoon William Randolph Heart between 1919 and 1947 the Hearst Castle is now a state park and national landmark.  You can tour its gardens, rooms, and artwork.

Colorado

Located in Colorado Springs The Garden of the Gods is one of my favorite parks.

Here you can stroll thru the paved walkway and wonder at the awesome rock formations and check out the wildlife.  More adventurous folks can get rock climbing permits or take a hike on the wilder tails.  It’s an awesome place to spend an afternoon.

Take a scenic trail ride in Canon City.  The Royal Gorge Route Railroad will take you on thru the Colorado Rockies.

It passes under the Royal Gorge Bridge and passes thru amazing scenery.  We had lunch in the Vista Dome car.  It was definitely memorable and definitely worth the side trip.

 

Here’s another cave tour this one in Colorado.  The Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is definitely worth the side trip!

Along with the cave tour, which is pretty incredible, there are several attractions including a zipline, rock wall, and the hair raising Terror-Dactyl the ride that launches riders off the cliff edge and into the canyon at 100 miles an hour!

Georgia

If you find yourself in Georgia head on down to Atlanta, there’s lots to see and do in this wonderful city.

One of the kids’ favorites is The World of Coke. Here you’ll learn the history of this world famous beverage.  There’s a museum, shows, activities, and best of all you get to try beverages from around the world.

The World of Coke is right by the Georgia Aquarium and close to the Centennial Olympic Park and the CNN building.  All in the heart of Downtown Atlanta.

Located in Duluth Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta is the Southeastern Railway Museum.

Train lovers big and small will love this museum.  You can even take a ride on one of their trains.  You’ll find all kinds of trains in the outdoor and indoor museums.

Definitely worth the side trip if you’re into trains!

 

Massachusetts

There’s a lot of interesting things to do in Massachusetts.  Most folks will visit the Boston & Cambridge areas.

But if you find yourself in the area during the fall there are a couple of places that are worth a visit.  Salem, Massachusetts is one of them, specially in October.

Salem is infamous for it’s 17th. Century Witch Trials.  There’s a whole village that’s pretty much dedicated to everything “witchy”.  You can visit the Witch House which is the only remaining house dating back to that time.  There’s also the Salem Witch Museum and the House of Seven Gables the mansion made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name.  We visited one summer and found the whole village delightful!

Another area you can visit is Plymouth, yes its harbor is the location of Plymouth Rock where the first settlers of the New World reportedly disembarked their ship called the Mayflower.

Plymouth is also  home to several Cranberry Bogs.  Some companies offer bog tours and harvest tours in the fall when the fruit is harvested.

New Mexico

If you’re heading to or passing thru New Mexico you may want to take a side trip to Roswell.

The town is all about aliens of course ever since the 1947 Roswell incident where an alien craft was said to  have crashed in some farmland.  I guess ever since then it’s been a Mecca for UFO believers and skeptics alike.  So a visit to Roswell wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the UFO Museum and possible a UFO tour.

But there’s more to Roswell than its ties to UFOs.  The historic downtown features a variety of architectural styles, there’s a local winery, a contemporary museum, and more.  The town is surely worth a day or two of your time. Perhaps a short break from your trip to the famous Carlsbad Caverns NP?

New York

New York is a wonderful state with lots of beautiful places.  Sure the city is spectacular and has something for everyone, but it’s not all about the 5 boroughs.

If you find yourself in New York take some time to head out of the city and explore upstate, trust me you won’t regret it!  One of my favorite towns is Tarrytown in the Hudson Valley.  Actually any town along the Hudson River is gorgeous, but I’m just a bit biased having gone to school in Tarrytown and Dobbs Ferry.

There are several historic mansions one can visit along the Husdon River.  One of my favorites is Sunnyside, the home of the American writer Washington Irving who penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. (Think the headless horseman!).  I can’t count how many times I’ve visited this mansion, I’ve been doing it since I was in grade school!

Another awesome site in New York is Ausable Chasm.  It’s located in the Adirondacks on the way to Lake Champlain.  You can admire the historic steel bridge that spans the chasm along Route 9.

If you have time you can spend a day or so to enjoy some fun activities including hiking and tubing down the river.   There are quite a few adventures to be  had at Ausable Chasm!

 

South Dakota

A road trip to or thru South Dakota would not be complete without a stop at Wall Drug.  The billboards along the highway leading you to this roadside attraction makes a stop imperative.  I mean who wouldn’t want free Ice Water!

The place has a dinosaur, a jackalope (you’ll have to visit to find out what that is), buffalo burgers, and fudge.  The candy shop has the best Praline Fudge in the world.  I make my husband stop at Wall Drug just for the fudge!

Of course South Dakota has lots of beautiful parks and monuments.  Our favorites are Custer State Park, The Badlands NP, and of course Mt. Rushmore NM.  But if you have the time you might consider a side trip to the Corn Palace in Mitchell.

The building is decorated yearly with corn and grains.  It hosts concerts and other events.

Texas

Texas is a huge state. Driving across the state from east to west takes at least 24 hours.  But don’t speed thru the state, there’s lots to see and do in the Lone Star State.

If you’re in the Houston area you can take a trip to the Johnson Space Center.  Lots of fun and educational things to do there!

Not too far from the Johnson Space Center is the Kemah Boardwalk it’s on the way to Galveston.  The boardwalk is filled with lots of family fun.  From rides and restaurants and shops you’ll find it all there.  It’s a great place to spend and afternoon and evening!

In North East Houston along FM 1960 just of I59 you’ll find the old town of Humble.  (pronounced “Umble” no “H”).  There’s an old downtown, Lake Houston, and the San Jacinto River in the area.  You’ll also find Old Mac Donald’s Farm!

This little roadside attraction has been around for years.  We used to take our kids there when they were young, specially in the fall when they hosted a pumpkin patch.  These days we take the grandkids and they love it.  There’ a train ride, a petting zoo, and pony rides, in short a kids’ wonderland!

One of my favorite Texas city’s is San Antonio.  Of course most folks visit the Alamo a fort that played an important role in Texas History and where many heroic men including Davy Crockett died during the infamous battle.  But on the way to San Antonio where you’ll also find the Riverwalk you can stop by the Natural Bridge Caverns.

This was the very first caverns I visited and it was definitely worth the trip!

Another side trip you can make, specially if you’re a shopaholic, is to the San Marco Premium Outlet in San Marco, Texas.  It’s one of my favorite outlet malls!

Wyoming

Most people go to Wyoming to visit Yellowstone NP.  If you can only visit one US National Park then in my opinion Yellowstone is the one to visit.  There are some many natural wonders and wildlife in this park it’s hard to list them all.  But most of the world’s geysers are located within this park as well as other geothermal features.  There are buffalo, elk, deer, wolves, and bears roaming the roads in and around the park.  You can fish, hike, swim, and even go boating in this park.  The adventures are endless.  I’ve been to Yellowstone several times and can’t ever get enough!

But on the way to Yellowstone there are other places to stop and see.  If you’re coming from South Dakota then a stop a Devil’s Tower NM is worth a stop.  It’s the natural butte that rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River in Northeaster Wyoming.  It was made popular by the sci-fi movie Close Encounters by Steven Spielberg.

A stop in Cody is always fun.  Considered one of the gateways to Yellowstone Cody is home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.  Here you’ll learn about the famous showman’s life as well as the culture, traditions, and history of the Plains Indians.

There are many other interesting things to do in and see around Cody including daily gunfights and an Old Trail Town that has a collection of frontier era buildings and historical graves and memorials.

These are just a few roadside attractions and side trips you may enjoy during a summer road trip.  But remember every state has it’s special places, too many to name.  Best way to explore is to get off the beaten path and see where some of those local roads lead to, you might find something that will delight you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Virtual Museum Tours for Kids

6 Virtual Museum Tours for Kids

Travel is usual part of our family summers.  Every year since our children were young we’ve spent at least 2 – 4 weeks of their summer vacations traveling the world.  These days we do it with our grandkids as well.  Our travel generally includes something fun like a theme park, something about nature like a National Park, and something educational like a museum or two.

This year our summer travel is cancelled due to COVID19, the virus which has pretty much changed daily life worldwide.  Travel restrictions as well as social distance and personal hygiene guidelines have made travel that much more complicated.  These days added to the stress of dealing with airports, hotels, and car rentals are the need to wear masks or facial coverings, hand washing, social distancing, and sanitizing surfaces on planes, hotels, restaurants, and all forms of public transportation.  So we like I’m sure many other families have chosen to spend summer at home.

But staying home this summer doesn’t mean we can’t go to museums or other places we normally visit during our vacations.  We just have to do it virtually from the safety and comfort of our home.  Of course virtual tours aren’t the same as actually being there, but it’s a good way to discover new places that we may want to visit as soon as we feel comfortable traveling again.

Here are some virtual museum tours that kids will enjoy.  My grandkids and I have done quite a few of them and have found them enjoyable.  They’ve opened the way to further explorations and discussions!

This post contains affiliate links.

DuPage Children’s Museum

Located in Naperville, Illinois the Dupage Children’s Museum offers an interactive journey thru their exhibits.

Click here for the virtual tour.

 

Houston Children’s Museum

The Houston Children’s Museum has been rated the  #1 Children’s Museum in the US by Parents magazine.  I can definitely say it’s an incredible place for kids to explore and learn about many interesting things.  My grandson’s loved it when we visited 5 years ago when they were 1, 7, and 12 years old. Read about our visit here!

While they don’t have a virtual tour they do have a schedule of virtual events such as workshops, story time, and at home activities.  Check their event schedule and find something you can plan to attend.  Click here for their event schedule!

NASA – Johnson Space Center Houston

The Johnson Space Center in Houston isn’t exactly a museum although they do have several areas that showcase rockets, spacesuits, and other interesting items from their long history of space exploration.

An actual visit to the Space Center includes a tour of the facilities including Mission Control, the area where many space launches from the Saturn rockets, Apollo Missions, and Shuttle missions were monitored.

The Johnson Space Center offers several virtual tours and activities.  This should keep you and the kids busy for days!  My kids and grandkids have visited the Space Center several times and have had a great time.  We’ve also done the virtual tours recently and found them very educational.   Click here for the NASA –  Space Center’s virtual tours!

Boeing and Discovery Education have teamed up to present this exclusive virtual field trip of the Johnson Space Center.  It’s a great way to spend the day! Click here for this virtual field trip!

Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Natural History Museums have always been a favorite with my kids and grandkids; I assume it is for most kids.  What kid can resist the draw of dinosaur bones, animals, and rocks?

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum was the first museum we hit when were were in Washington DC one summer.

You can explore the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s fossil and gem stone exhibits and more on this virtual tour.

American Museum Of Natural History

Fans of the Ben Stiller movie “Night at the Museum” will recognize the American Museum of Natural History located in New York City.  The movie takes place inside this wonderful museum although movie only used exterior shots of this museum and wasn’t actually filmed there.

It’s also a family favorite.  It’s a museum we visit whenever we’re in the Big Apple.

This museum offers online ways to explore the museum with virtual field trips, videos, and games.  Click here to see what online activities are offered at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located on Fifth Avenue in New York City The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite museums.  How can it not be?  I went to school across the street, my friends and I spent many afternoons exploring the exhibits.  We were huge fans of E. L. Konigsburg’s novel “From the Mixed Up Fils of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” which tells the tale of two siblings who runaway to NYC and “live” at this museum.

The MET as it’s lovingly called has many online offerings for both kids and adults to explore it’s many exhibits and spaces.   My grandkids love #MetKids an online plaltform made for, with, and by kids.  It takes kids on a fun filled journey thru time to explore over 5000 years of art from around the world.  Click here to start your journey!


 

5 National Parks Virtual Tours

5 National Parks Virtual Tours

Summer is around the corner and usually we head out somewhere for our vacation.  Well this year that’s probably not going to happen.  While it’s true that many places have started to re-open after weeks or months of quarantine many of us aren’t really ready to venture far from home.

At my house this means no cruises (one of our favorite vacations), no international travel, and if possible no flying specially on long haul flight.  Considering we live in Hawaii where the shortest out of state flight is a 5 hour transpacific flight to the West Coast, this pretty much means no summer vacation for us.  Trust me it’s going to be a long summer at our house where the “natives” are getting restless; and by this I mean my husband who is lamenting that our yearly travels have been halted for the foreseeable future.

I must admit I’ve toyed around with the idea of travel, not so much when I’d feel confident enough to travel, more like where I’d be confident going.  If I can get over the idea of flying across the Pacific and staying at hotels, where do I think we should go?

I think like most folks from around the world my first trip will more than likely be a road trip.  But unlike folks who live on a continent the first leg of my road trip still entails flying.  That’s why we’re really not ready to venture far from home, and seriously a road trip on this island takes about 3 hours assuming we don’t get out of the car and stop at the beach or the park.

But as I said to my husband the other day, I think that when we are ready to travel our first destination should be a road trip to one of the National Parks.  I mean it makes sense as it can be something we have some form of control over, once we get to the mainland.  We would rent a mini van which we’d  have lots of control over, everyone in it would be household members.  We’d be in the great outdoors so that risks of infection could be minimized as long as we stayed out of dense crowds.  The only thing I can’t quite get around is the need to stay in hotels, camping would be a possibility, but I’m so not a camper!

With all my concerns about the virus I really not ready to travel yet.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t take virtual tours.  Many of the National Parks have virtual tours so you can explore their sites and be awed by their grandeur from the comfort of home where you need not wear a mask!  A virtual tour gives you a taste of what there is out there and may help you plan your time when you are ready to visit in person.

So here’s a 5 of my favorite National Parks to explore.  It may just inspire you to visit in the near future.

Yellowstone NP

Located in 3 states, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho Yellowstone is an amazing park!

Home to bears, bison, deer, moose, wolves, and much more Yellowstone is the first National Park in the country, established by a law signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.  It is also home to about 500 of the World’s 1000 geysers and other geothermal wonders.

The most famous geyser is Old Faithful which is named such because its eruptions are fairly predictable erupting about every 90 minutes or so.

Yellowstone is our most favorite National Park.  We’ve been there twice and each time was amazing!

I’m not sure what makes it my favorite, but the wildlife viewing has to top that list!

Click here for virtual tours of  Yellowstone National Park!

Yosemite NP

Located in central California Yosemite National Park is one of the crown jewels of US National Parks.

It is known for its waterfalls, granite cliffs, lakes, streams, valleys, and Giant Sequoia groves.

It is also one of our favorite parks.  I can’t even count how many times we’ve visited and each time we see something new!

Click here for virtual tours of Yosemite National Park!

Zion NP

Awe inspiring is what comes to mind whenever I think of Zion National Park.  Just one of Utah’s 5 National Parks Zion is a day trip from the Las Vegas Strip.

I’ve been here countless times and it never fails to bring joy to my heart.  Standing at the bottom of the valley looking up at the high canyon walls is a spiritual experience.  Hiking the trails or even just taking the bus to some of the easily accessible sites is a humbling experience.

Click here for virtual tours of Zion National Park!

Acadia NP

Located on the coast of Maine primarily on Mount Desert Island Acadia National Park is marked by granite peaks, woodlland, and rocky beaches.  It’s home to moose, seabirds, seals, bears, and whales.

The gateway town of Bar Harbor is a delightful town filled with restaurants specializing in Maine lobsters, and quaint shops.

Click here for a virtual tour of Acadia National Park!

Grand Canyon NP

Located in Arizona the Grand Canyon National Park is another crown jewel of the US National Parks.

The Colorado River which carved out this amazing canyon winds thru the park.  Views of the river at sunrise and sunset is a favorite activity for all visitors.

I can’t count how many times we’ve visited this park, it’s one of our favorites.

Click here for a virtual tour of the Grand Canyon National Park!

Real Life Fairy Tale Castles To Explore Virtually

Real Life Fairy Tale Castles To Explore Virtually

No fairy tale is complete without a grand palace or castle.  But did you ever wonder if those fairy tale castles really do exist?  The answer is of course they do! And you can visit them from anytime you want without every having to leave home!

These days travel is something many of us are hesitant to undertake.  Not only do we have to worry about social distancing at the airports and on planes, we have to follow new airline rules designed to keep us safe.  Temperature checks and virus testing before being allowed in the boarding area; face masks and gloves for the duration of the flight; no hand luggage; higher ticket prices; and arriving 4 hours before a flight are just some things we can expect when we do decide to travel.  Pretty daunting isn’t it?

We love to travel and explore the world, but right now we’re not quite ready to take that first step and venture out into the new world we’ve come to live in.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t virtually explore new places or revisit some of our favorite destinations.

So here are 6 fairy tale castles you can virtually explore.  Perhaps you’ll find one or two to put on your travel bucket list to explore when you’re ready to brave this new world of ours.

This article may contain affiliate links.
Neuschwanstein Castle

Arguably the most famous fairy tale castle of all is Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at the center of all Disney Parks.  It was modeled after the real life Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.

Explore the real life Sleeping Beauty Castle on this virtual tour!

Lohr Castle

Complete with a “Talking Mirror” this castle in the German town of Lohr a. Main is said to be the inspiration for the Snow White fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.  Today is houses the Spessart Museum where they actually have the infamous Talking Mirror on display.

The town really plays up to the Snow White tale who in real life was modeled after the daughter of the Bavarian Castle’s owner.

Here’s a short video that takes your thru some of the exhibits.

Here’s a 360 tour of the outside of the castle and the surrounding area.

 

Palace of Versailles

This French Palace is just as famous for its residents as for its history and beauty.  Situated in the outskirts of Paris the Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France for over 100 years; from the reign of Louis XIV in the 17th. Century until the end of the French Monarchy under the reign of Louis XVI in 1789.

Marie Antoinette is arguably it’s most famous resident.  Born an archduchess of Austria, her parents were Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis of Austria, she became the Queen of France when she married Louis XVI.  Tragically she was the last Queen of France when Louis XVI was deposed during the French of Revolution; she was tried by tribunal and executed at the Place de la Concorde in 1793.

Today it’s used for state events and it’s a museum where visitors can visit the complex that houses the main palace, small chateaux, gardens, and fountains.  It was also the setting for 5 recent films including the Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette.

The Palace of Versailles is one of my favorite palaces.  We love to explore the beautiful gardens.  Explore Versailles on these virtual tours.  

Peterhof Palace

Commissioned by the Romanov Czar Peter the Great in the early 18th. Century Peterhof is located in St. Petersburg, Russia.  It was built to rival Louis XIV’s Versailles in France.

This palace complex is composed of several palaces, gardens, and fountains.  It served as the imperial palace for Russian Czars for over 200 years.

It’s most famous residents were probably Nicolas and Alexandria, the Russian Empire’s final Czar and Czarina.  Like their counterparts in Versailles the Russian Revolution brought the demise of the once great House of Romanov with the arrest, imprisonment, and ultimately the executions of Nicolas, Alexandria, and their children in Yekaterinburg in 1918.

Virtually explore the palace complex here!

Catherine’s Palace

Built in the early 18th. Century by Russia’s Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great. Located in a town not far from St. Petersburg, Catherine’s Palace was the summer house of the Romanov Czars and Czarinas.

This Palace is best known for The Amber Room decorated with gold backed amber panels.  The Amber Room was gifted to Peter the Great to celebrate peace between Russia and Prussia 1716.  It adorned the room in Catherine’s Palace for over 200 years until it was dismantled and looted by the Nazis during World War II; it has not been seen since.

Explore the wonders of this palace here!

Buckingham Palace

A list of fairy tale palaces and castles would not be complete with out Buckingham Palace.  It is the official London residence of British monarchs since 1837 when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne.  Today it is the London residence of HRM Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip.

In recent times it was at this Palace’s balcony where the world first “officially” met Princess Diana after her marriage to the Prince Charles, and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, after her marriage to Prince Harry.   Explore this historic palace here!

 

Virtual Tours of 8 Historic Places

Virtual Tours of 8 Historic Places

The world is a beautiful place filled with historic places.  Exploring our world is what motivates many of us to travel.  Unfortunately for many of us travel may be on hold for the foreseeable future.

With the pandemic sweeping the globe travel has become very complicated and pretty risky.  I know that our family is not ready to venture out into the world again due to travel restrictions and health guidelines.  For now we’ve opted to stay home.

But staying home doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the beautiful historic places around the world.  These days it’s possible to virtually explore the world from the comfort of your living room on whatever wifi device you own.  It’s a great time to visit new places which may inspire you to actually visit when you feel comfortable to travel again.

At our house we’ve been going on many virtual tours of some of our favorite places and many places we’d like to visit.  We’re also taking this at home time to do research on the places we’ve put on our travel bucket list.  Here are a few of our favorites.  I hope they’ll inspire you to plan a visit real soon!

Tower of London

Located on the banks of London’s Thames River the Tower of London has served as a royal palace, a prison, a place of execution, an arsenal, and a vault where the British Crown Jewels were kept.

It housed many historic figures, many before their execution on the palace ground.  Among them are Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Gray, Princess Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh, and King Edward V and his brother.  During the WWI several spies were executed these as well.  It’s no wonder the Tower of London is said to be one of the most haunted places on earth!

Click here to take the virtual tour!

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the capital city of the Kingdom of Siam.  The city existed from 1350 to 1767.  It was a prosperous international trading port until it was razed by the Burmese in 1767.

The city of Ayutthaya is considered to be the precursor of modern day Thailand.  It is filled with temples, palaces, monasteries, and statues.

Click here to take the virtual tour!

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower has become an iconic symbol of Paris.  It can be seen towering above the city’s skyline from many Parisian districts.

Explore the tower from the garden to the top on this virtual reality tour.  Enjoy the views of the City of Lights from the viewing platforms without having to climb the stairs!

 

Click here to take this virtual tour!

 

The Colosseum

Commissioned by Emperor Vespasian in AD 70 this massive stone amphitheater sits in the center of Rome within a stone’s throw from the Roman Forum.

It was opened in AD 80 by Vespasian’s son Titus and could seat over 50,000 spectators.  It was in active use for for 4 centuries as a venue for gladiatoral combats, wild animal fights and hunts, and even a re-enactment of a naval battle when the ground floors of the structure were flooded.   Click here to take this virtual tour!

The Acropolis

The Athens Acropolis is probably the most famous of Greece’s many Acropoleis.  As it’s name suggests it a city that sits atop a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens.

It was built during the 5th. Century BC and houses many building of religious and historic significance including the famous Parthenon, Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.  The temples are dedicated to the goddess Athena the patron of the city of Athens.

Click here to take this virtual tour!

Ephesus

This ancient city located in Turkey’s Izmir Province was an important city during Greek and Roman times and thru the spread of Christianity.  St. Paul and St. John spent years in Ephesus during their Apostle years.

During the reign of Greece and Rome it was the main Mediterranean commercial center.  The ancient site features temples, colonnaded streets, baths, shops, and homes.  Click here to take this virtual tour!

Ellis Island

Located on Ellis Island not far from Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty stands is this building complex where immigrants were processed as they entered the United States.  Over 12 million immigrants who arrived at the ports of New York and New Jersey were processed on this island between 1892 to 1954.

Click here to take this virtual tour!

Iolani Palace

Located in Honolulu’s downtown Iolani Palace was the royal residence for the monarchs who ruled the Kingdom of Hawaii starting with King Kamehameha III thru Queen Lili’uokalani.

The existing palace was completed in 1882 under the reign of King Kalaukaua.  It remained a royal residence until Queen Lili’uokalani was deposed in 1893.  Click here to take this virtual tour!