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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Best Family Christmas Vacations

Best Family Christmas Vacations

Our family has a whole set of Christmas traditions, one of them is opening presents at our home on Christmas morning.  Even tho my kids are grown with families of their own those that live in town and those that came home for the holidays still open presents at my house.  Those unable to come home for Christmas open presents with those that are  here thanks to the magic of technology.

Every now and then we decide to do something different, we travel.  We usually leave Christmas evening.  This allows us to open presents together Christmas morning and also take advantage of the cheaper airfare that’s available for traveling on the holiday.  Air fares are very expensive just before and just after the holiday, but drastically drop on the holiday itself as no one wants to travel that day.  It’s always a pleasure to travel on Christmas and New Year’s day, flights are pretty empty and flight attendants more pleasant.

There are many great places to spend the holidays with kids.  Many places have fantastic Christmas displays and host many seasonal events.  Here are a few places you might want to visit during Winter Break, some may even be close enough to drive to thus eliminating costly airfare and the crowds at the airports.

1.

Hershey Park, Hershey, Pennsylvania – Billed as “The Sweetest Place on Earth”, Hershey Park is a popular theme park year round it’s even more fun during the holidays.  Lots of holiday events going on including dining with Santa, Sweet Lights a drive-thru spectacular, Christmas Candy Lane, ice skating, Gingerbread Tea, Dinner Theater Shows, and more.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

2.  Visit Santa’s Workshop, where else but in North Pole, NY.  Just minutes fro Lake Placid, New York families have visited the Workshop since 1949.  Experience the magic of an old-fashioned Christmas in this fairytale setting.  Meet Santa and his reindeer, tour the village and shops, ride Christmas themed rides, and more.

 

 

3.  Santa Claus, Indiana – “America’s Christmas Hometown” has lots of events this season including meals with Santa, Chestnut Roasting, Children’s Craft Time, and more.  Click here to see their event schedule this year.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

4.  Experience a Traditional Christmas on the Cape at Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod.  2014 marks the Inn’s 100th. Anniversary.  They are hosting many seasonal events including Elsa & Friends Enchanted Wonderland for Frozen fans, Gingerbread House Workshops, and their annual Sno BBQ on December 26.  Click here for their event schedule.  [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

 

Woodloch Resort Holiday Weekend

5.  Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Christmas at one of Pennsylvania’s all-inclusive resorts in the Pocono Mountains.  Olde-Fashioned Holiday at Woodloch Resort and Old-Fashioned Christmas at Mohonk Mountain House  offer many seasonal activities including caroling, holiday scavenger hunts, visits with Santa and more.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

 

6.  Christmas in Cambria, California.  During the holidays the stretch of California’s highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles turns into a lighted village filled with story-book charm.  Stroll the town and visit many galleries and shops to shop for unique one of a kind items.  Enjoy your Holidays in The Pines.  Click here for events in the area.

 

7.  ICE! the award-winning icy attraction and Christmas celebrations at 4 Gaylord Resorts:  National Harbor, Maryland; Kissimmee, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Grapevine, Texas.
During this season  resorts guest will enjoy lights, Christmas trees, snow tubing, character meals, and more.

 

8.  Set sail for the holidays on Disney Cruiseline’s Very MerryTime Cruises.  Disney cruises are always fun, even more so with these holiday enhancements onboard:
Other holiday enhancements include:

  • Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party, a celebration in addition to Pirate Night, with candy-cane limbo, dancing and games
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony, where kids can help light the tree and kick off the holiday festivities
  • Santa Claus meet-and-greet, an exciting opportunity to take family pictures and see Santa and his elves
  • Meet-and-Greets with some favorite Disney Characters, dressed in their holiday attire
  • Teen-only and tween-only holiday parties—private celebrations where teens and tweens can hang out with new friends
  • Holiday storytelling, with new and old tales about holidays at sea and around the world
  • Themed activities and crafts for kids—decorate stockings, make holiday cards, go on a holiday scavenger hunt and more
  • A life-sized gingerbread house made completely with edible ingredients—and the opportunity to make your own gingerbread house*

Plus, on December 24 and 25, enjoy additional holiday experiences:

  • Cookies on Christmas Eve
  • Special holiday towel animals
  • Special holiday surprise
  • Holiday caroling with the kids and crew
  • Religious Services

9.  Hop aboard the Polar Express for a fun filled evening ride to visit Santa and friends.  For more info and to find a Polar Express near you click here!

10.  Head over to the Big Apple!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year to visit New York City.  Ring in the Holidays at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Enjoy the Tree at Rockefeller Center, events, and activities New York City has to offer this holiday season.  For NYC events and activities click here!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade View Tips

 

Anthony Quintano/Flickr Creative Commons

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade heralds in the Christmas Holiday season.  It’s one of the most famous holiday events in the world. Over three million people line the parade route to get a glimpse of celebrities, marching bands, floats,  and the huge floating balloons—Snoopy, Spiderman, Big Bird, Hello Kitty,  and friends.  50 million people are expected to watch it on TV as part of their annual Thanksgiving tradition.

This parade has been a part of my life forever.  I watched is as a child perched high atop my father’s
shoulders.  When we relocated to Hawaii we woke up early Thanksgiving morning to watch it on TV, when I had my own kids we did the same, and now the grand kids watch it every year.  When my youngest child was in her high school’s marching band they marched in this parade.  At that time Pearl City High School had a standing invitation to march in the parade every couple of years, they still may.  This parade is definitely part of our family’s Thanksgiving tradition.  It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if we miss the parade, live or on TV.

For those of you who will be lucky enough to watch it live this year here are a few tips to help you out.

1.  The fun doesn’t have to begin on Thanksgiving morning.  A pre-Thanksgiving tradition on the Upper west side in watching the balloons get inflated.  For many kids watching the balloons “come to life” is more fun than watching the parade itself.

This Thanksgiving eve event is on November 26, 2014 beginning at 3:00 p.m.  It takes place
along the perimeter of the Museum of Natural History, on 77th and 81st streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

2.   The 88th. Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on November 27, 2014.  It begins at 9:00 a.m.

The parade route starts by  heading south down Central Park West from 77th Street, east along Central Park South to Sixth Avenue and then south along Sixth Avenue to West 34th Street.  It ends in front of Macy’s in Herald Square.

3.  Arrive early and bring folding chairs, they will make the wait more comfy.   Crowds start gathering along the route as early as 6am. You’ll want to stake out your spot before 7am if you want the kids to be close enough to be able to see.

4.  Check the weather and dress accordingly.  From the time you stake out your spot until the last float passes by you could be standing out in cold weather for more than 5 hours.  Make sure the kids are dressed warmly and have hats and mittens.  Layering would be a good idea, you can peel them off if it gets warmer as the day wears on.  Bring umbrellas if there is a chance of rain or snow.

5.  Bring essentials such as snacks, camera, extra sweater, a lap blanket may come in handy.  I’d take it easy on drinks, hot or cold, bathrooms may be difficult to get to.

6.  Choose your spot wisely, a spot as far north as possible would be good.  Once the parade starts it takes 90 minutes for the last float to pass by.  If you’re near the beginning of the route you could be done before 11:00 a.m.  If you choose a spot near the end near Macy’s Herald Square you will be waiting much longer and be fighting larger crowds.

There are public viewing spots along Central Park West, on the both sides of the street from 70th Street to Columbus Circle to 65th Street and continuing on the west side of the street down to Columbus Circle. You can try further south along Sixth Avenue between 58th Street and 34th Street

It would be a good idea to stake your spot near a coffee shop or department store, this is a definite must with young kids, you can nip into the shop for a bathroom break when needed.

7.  Know your kids limits.  There’s no harm in bailing out early if it gets too cold or the kids get cranky.  Watching part of the parade is better than nothing, and better than bringing home sick or upset kids.

8.  Treat yourselves to a Thanksgiving Feast, after standing out in the cold for hours you’ve definitely earned it.  For NYC restaurants offering special Thanksgiving meals click here!

9.  Enjoy the other sights and events this city has to offer.  The Christmas Season is one of the most wonderful time of the year to visit the Big Apple.  For a list of NYC Christmas events click here!

 

Thanksgiving Travel – Where Will You Go?

Thanksgiving Travel – Where Will You Go?


Is it me or does it seem that once we hit Halloween the rest of the year seems to become a blur of rapidly changing seasons and holidays?  It seems that once the spooky fun and games of Halloween is over, it’s time to think about the next Fall holiday, Thanksgiving.  Then it just rolls into Black Friday, Christmas, and continues on until the New Year.  It’s one of the busiest times of year for me, I love it!

Every year on November 1 I toy with the idea of chucking tradition out the window and engage in some Thanksgiving Travel.  No cooking, no baking, and no family dinner.

I actually go on line and research family friendly Thanksgiving travel destinations where I can enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal that I didn’t have to prepare. We actually packed the kids up a few years ago and took ourselves off to the Big Island of Hawaii to spend a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend at the Hilton Waikaloa Resort.  It was great, we went horseback riding, snorkeling, and relaxed at the pool.  Thanksgiving dinner was at the bountiful buffet in one of the hotel restaurants.

It was a memorable holiday, but it just wasn’t the same!  I actually missed my yearly ritual of planning, cooking, baking, and serving this wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  My family complained as well, they wanted their home cooked turkey that they look forward to every year. We’ve never left home for Thanksgiving again.

I guess we all hold this holiday tradition close to our hearts.  But never the less, it’s November again and I find myself looking for that get away.  I probably won’t go, but it’s fun to look just the same. Here are some Thanksgiving Travel ideas I found this year.  You might just want to start a new Thanksgiving tradition!

Once great tip on Thanksgiving travel, or any holiday travel for that matter, is to head to our great cities!  Most folks overlook this idea thinking that big cities means big bucks for hotel rooms.  But the holidays is a great time to visit one of our cities to take advantage of bargain priced hotel rooms.  Most city folks leave the city during the holidays.  You’ll be surprised to find that many high end hotels in the city center drop prices on holiday weekends just to fill hotel rooms.

So head to the Big Apple for the annual Macy’s Parade.  Entertaining kids and adults since 1924 it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without watching this parade.

After the parade you can shop til you drop, or just wander the city to admire department store windows, they put on a great show for the holiday season.  Of course there are museums and parks to explore, lots of Broadway shows to choose from, and great restaurants for your dining pleasure.

Find great Thanksgiving travel deals here!

Our nation’s Capital Washington, D.C. is truly the place to soak up American history on this real American holiday.

Wander the Mall, explore the museums, and just enjoy the season in this great city.

Find hotel bargain on DC hotels here!

Big cities not your thing?  No worries, here are some other Thanksgiving Travel ideas.

Spend the day with Pilgrims at the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass.

Located just 45 minutes south of Boston you will learn how the pilgrims lived in the 17th. Century, see the Mayflower II a replica of the original Mayflower.  You can also have Thanksgiving dinner there!  Check their website for seasonal events.

Enjoy the beautiful foliage of New England then stop by Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont for a wagon ride or to learn how Thanksgiving is observed in this 1890 Farmhouse.

There’s lots of seasonal events happening in Vermont.  Click here for more events.

Board the Polar Express in Woonsocket, Rhode Island for a magical 90 minute train excursion inspired by the Christmas classic by Chris Van Allsburg.

It’s a great way to kick off your holiday season.

Disney World kicks off their Christmas parties in November.

The kids will love the holiday themed parades in all the parks.  Thanksgiving dinner is served at many of the resort’s restaurants.



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13 Ghost Tours in America

13 Ghost Tours in America

Ghost Tour
Image by Carmina Ahmed

Halloween is around the corner and just about everyone is thinking ghost, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Admit it or not most of us have thought about supernatural and paranormal things.  Many of us jump at the sound of creaking floors when we’re alone late at night, I know I do!

Whether you’re a true believer or a skeptic we all want to be just a bit “spooked” during the Halloween season.  We visit haunted houses, watch scary movies, dress up as our favorite ghoul, and in the back of our minds wonder if there really are haunted places.  So why not go on a ghost tour this year?

My family and I did the Birdcage Theater Ghost Tour in Tombstone, Arizona the other year.  I can’t tell you that we actually saw any ghosts nor can I say that the experience made me a true believer; but I can say we had a great time and learned some of the local history as well.

It seems that there are ghost tours in just about all the states.  Here are some that have been touted as the “Best Ghost Tours in American” by Haunted America Tours and America’s Best Online.  Maybe there’s a tour by you, if not I’m sure you’ll find a tour in your area by doing a internet search.

Ghost TourGhost Tours of St. Augustine in Florida offers several types of ghost tours.

Their award winning “Ghostly Experience” with a guide is a nightly 75 minute tour.  To book your tickets on line click here!

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Ghost TourChicago Hauntings’ guides have been featured on many TV shows including those on the History and Discovery Channels.

They offer several different tours including private ones.
To reserve your tour click here! [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

“On this haunted ghost hunt, you will be given ghost hunting equipment…..you’ll get to participate in an interactive paranormal investigation.”  Haunted Vegas Ghost Tour and Hunt

Enough said, for tickets click here!

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Ghost TourHaunted Heartland Tours operates in 4 states:  Ohio, W. Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

They were voted one of the top 10 ghost tours in the US.

Click here for more info![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

Ghost TourAppalachian Ghost Walks offer walking ghost tours in Tennessee.

They also offer Bigfoot Tours.

To book a tour click here![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Ghost tourGo on this walking tour and learn about San Francisco’s macabre history and the ghosts and hauntings in Haight-Ashbury.

For reservations click here![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

Ghost tourVoted #1 in the Top Ten Ghost Tours of America, Haunted America Tours is a “haunted ghost tour like no other”.

They offer several tours on Galveston Island, some of which are led by Dash Beardsly the company founder dubbed as “the ghost man of Galveston”.. He’s the local expert and has been featured in various magazines and TV shows.  For more info and booking click here![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

French Quarter Phantoms in New Orleans offers several tours of one of the most haunted cities in the US.  Buy tickets here!

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Ghost Tour of Philadelphia offers several tours including a Haunted Trolley tour.

For info and tickets click here!

Ghost tour

A nightly walking tour in Key West that ends in the only “haunted Hard Rock Cafe in the world!

 Click here for info and tickets![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

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Featured on the History Channel the Charleston Ghost Tour is a Walking Tour in South Carolina.

Licensed tour guides recount tales of area hauntings.

Click here to book![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

This ghost tour in Alton, Illinois has public and private walking and bus tours.

Most tours are 3 hours long and lets you experience the real haunted side of Alton.

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Ghost tour

A list of ghost tours in the US wouldn’t be complete without a tour in Salem.  Nothing screams Halloween more than the town of Salem, Massachusetts, home of the infamous witch trials in 1692 – 1693.

Halloween doesn’t come once a year to this town, it’s year round!  There are many museums and tours dedicated to Salem’s “spooky” history.  Our family visited this town many years ago, it’s a lot of fun!
Featured on the History Channel Salem Night Tour leaves on a nightly tour of Salem’s famous places.
To book click here!