Quincy Market, A Boston Landmark

We discovered Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall in Boston on our first family trip to the city decades ago. The Market captured all of our senses, it was a wonderful medley of sights, sounds and smells, and since we chose to get lunch there, of course taste. Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 by Peter Faneuil as a gift to the city and from the start housed merchants and served as a place to gather. In 1862, Quincy Market was added to create an even larger marketplace. In the early 1970s, street performers appeared on the scene to entertain construction workers and reported have been a common sight even since.

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The USS Constitution

Of course Boston has much more to offer. One of my favorite cities, it has good food, plenty of activities for all ages and of course a wealth of history. Walking the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail, you can see 16 historic locations that led to the Revolution. Tours are available, or you can walk  the trail on your own.

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Ducks at Boston Common

Boston Common, the first park in America is not unlike many city parks. There are statues, fountains and benches, as well as a playground and bandstand. The Frog Pond is a favorite wading place for children in the summer and serves as an ice skating rink in the winter. The park also offers relaxing Swan Boat rides which are propelled through the lagoon by foot pedals. During the ride, fans of E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings will likely be looking for their favorite feathered friends.

 

 

Portland, Maine Has Much to Offer

IMG_5277 crop Portland, Maine was for us a stop to break up the ride to Bar Harbour which was to be our home base as we explored Acadia National Park. Though we had only a short time in the city, we discovered that it is worthy of being a destination itself.

Spring Point Ledge Light, South Portland

Home to not one, but SIX lighthouses, Portland’s history (surprise, given the city’s name) is in shipping. Established in 1632 as a British fishing and trading community, Portland has suffered setbacks, such as fire and loss of industry, but remains a thriving metropolitan center with the current focus on art, shopping and food. Named by the National Historic Trust one of its Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2003, the city demonstrates the resilience of its natives.

The city’s cobblestone streets contribute to its historical vibe as do its forts and the historically significant architecture found throughout the city. The Portland Museum of Art, in the center of downtown, is home to over 17,000 pieces of art. The childhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is also in Portland, next to the Maine Historical Society. Paddling enthusiasts can rent kayaks or paddle boards or choose a guided tour and bicycle rentals and tours are also offered.

Spring Point Ledge Light

Since my son was prepping for a hike, we Spent a half a day completing a 10k “year-round” hike organized by the Southern Maine Volkssport Association which took us past the Spring Point Ledge Light.  Built to warn ships of a dangerous ledge in Portland Harbor, the lighthouse took almost ten years from approval to completion and was first lit in May of 1897. Originally it stood out in the harbor at the end of the ledge; a

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The breakwater is composed of large granite boulders,and touring the lighthouse involves climbing a ladder, so good shoes are recommended

950 -foot granite breakwater connecting it to the shore at Fort Preble was completed in 1951. The breakwater is open to the public (solid shoes are recommended as the footing can be slippery) and admittance to the lighthouse is by ticket at select times. Since we were hungry after our walk, we stopped at Joe’s Boathouse for lunch and enjoyed both the food and atmosphere.

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Portland Head Light from a distance

Before heading up to Acadia, my family knew it was inevitable that we visit the lighthouse we were able to see in the distance from the Spring Point Ledge Light. The Portland Head Light, the nation’s first lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington and built in 1791

Portland Head Light

and was even more impressive up close. It is adjacent to Fort Williams Park and is owned by the Town of Cape Elizabeth. The 90-acre park offers hiking, picnicking and other outdoor recreation as well as the option to explore the historic fort structures.

We stopped again in Portland on our way home later that week. It was an even shorter stop this time, just for dinner and an overnight, but we did have another wonderful meal at a place we found nearby. Now, I readily admit to being a pizza snob. When asked my favorite food, yep, it’s pizza, and although I like many varieties (regarding crust and toppings), I have to admit I am a bit judgemental when it comes to quality. I am happy to say that the Portland Pie Company met all expectations. We each ordered a personal size, which was a rare treat for me as I could have thin crust (the rest of the family prefers the thicker stuff). Of course being in Maine, I went with the option of putting lobster on mine. It sounds a bit strange, but was delicious! (Unlike everyone else, I had no leftovers for lunch the next day.) If pizza is not your thing (gasp!) they do have other items on the menu as well.

This was our first trip to Maine and we saw several things that make us want to return. Portland (and the Pie Company) are definitely on the list!

Outer Banks Offer Relaxation, History

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Bodie Island Lighthouse

The Outer Banks of North Carolina, the barrier islands that run along Rt 12 on the coast of North Carolina, are home to a number of beach towns and  a popular vacation destination. Although the beaches are beautiful, IMG_5348there are many other things to do and explore while you are there. There are of course, many restaurants and shops, as well as activities, such as mini golf and climbing structures, but there are also a number of historic sites to explore.

The Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is the location of the first English settlement in America, which tragically ended in mystery. All 117 people in the colony vanished without a trace. At a ranger-led talk at our visit, we explored the possibilities and most popular theories. A live performance, The Lost Colony is held during the summer months by the non-profit Roanoke Island Historical Association. The nearby Roanoke Island Festival Park, a North Carolina Historic Site offers a peek into history as costumed interpreters demonstrate life in the 1585 settlement or onboard the Elizabeth II, which represents one of the seven ships bringing colonists to America in 1585.

IMG_5356The Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills celebrates the birthplace of aviation. While there, one can visit the Flight Line where history took place, peek into 1903 camp buildings and explore the Visitor’s Center.

As is common with coastal land, nature has shifted the coast and created and moved dunes and inlets. Numerous hurricanes have changed the structure of the Outer Banks, which have effectively served as a protector to mainland North Carolina.

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Bodie Island Lighthouse

Between Corolla and Cape Hatteras. there are 5 lighthouses. Just south of Nags Head, the Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced “body”) stands 150 feet tall and is open to climb subject to weather conditions. On the day of our visit, thunderstorms threatened so admission was limited to the ground floor. The other lighthouses are the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla, the Okracoke Lighthouse (which is the nation’s oldest operating), the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (the tallest brick lighthouse in the country), and the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras delves into maritime history. The coast of North Carolina is known for its density of shipwrecks, which is one of the highest in the world. The waters are known for their tales of pirates and Civil War battles, as well as engaging with submarines during the World Wars.

We only had a week on the Outer Banks, so we still have much to see. I look forward to future visits and to further exploring the historic sites.

Revisit History at the National Mall

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The Washington Monument as seen from the World War II Memorial

The National Mall is a 2-mile long public space between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial that includes a number of memorials and the collection of Smithsonian museums dedicated to various aspects of US history.  All of these are free to the public. The monuments are accessible 24 hours a day and are worth a visit day or night. There are also many other attractions in the surrounding area worth visiting, so one could easily plan to spend a few days in Washington.

100_8471The Washington Monument, the centerpiece of the National Mall, is an easily recognizable landmark. The 555-foot obelisk was the tallest building in the world when it was build in 1884. An elevator takes visitors to the top to an observation deck for a view of the city. (Timed tickets are required and can be obtained the day of visit, starting at 8:30 am. Advance tickets are $1.50.)

100_4273The Lincoln Memorial is a larger-than-life sculpture of the 16th president sitting in a structure modeled after the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  The steps of the monument begin at the edge of the Reflecting Pool and have been the site of historical events such as Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Lincoln’s second inaugural address and his Gettysburg address are both inscribed on the interior walls of the monument.

100_8345The WWII Memorial is perhaps the prettiest of the memorials. It consists of 56 columns forming two half circles, framing the Rainbow Pool and fountain. 100_4280Two 43-foot tall pavilions stand at either side. As with all memorials, each of these design elements has special significance.  It is a powerful place of reflection and remembrance.

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The Korean War Veterans Memorial
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The Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial is a moving collection of life-sized statues depicting a military unit on the move. From a distance, one might think a re-enactment is taking place and even up close it is easy to imagine these figures in motion. The result is a haunting and emotional reminder of what it really means to be at war.

The Vietnam Memorial, is a black granite wall contains a chronological list of 58,000 Americans who lost their lives, as well as the Three Servicemen Statue and the Vietnam Women’s Museum. A catalog at each end of the wall contains the location of the names listed. Among all the sites in DC, this is among the most somber.  Hundreds of thousands of 100_4278personal items, letters and flowers have been left here. These are collected each day by the National Park Service with plans to construct an Education Center for their display. Some of these can currently be seen online.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which stands in a straight line with the White House, was designed specifically with his architectural taste in mind, and echoes design elements found in his two most famous buildings, Monticello and the Rotunda at University of Virginia. A stature of Jefferson stands in the center of the rotunda.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is a 30-foot sculpture that sits across the Tidal Basin from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. It is composed of a likeness of Dr. King as well as a wall of quotes representing his message.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the only memorial to include a statue of a First Lady,

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Eleanor Roosevelt

actually goes against the wishes of the 32nd president who once said that if a memorial was dedicated 100_8462100_8466to him it should be no larger than his desk. (A desk-sized 100_8479monument was placed in front of the National Archives, but Congress decided this was not enough; the current memorial opened in 1997.)

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A soup kitchen line at the FDR Memorial.

Taking up more than 7 acres, a path meanders through four outdoor “rooms” and features 21 FDR quotes inscribed on stone walls, as well as related statues and murals depicting historical events. The memorial also includes fountains and numerous benches to sit and ponder.

The D.C. War Memorial remembers the residents of D.C. who died in WWI. It was created as an open air bandstand large enough to hold the US Marine Band with the intent that every concert held here would be a tribute to those who served.

Margate NJ, Home to Lucy the Elephant

  SCAN0190Lucy the Elephant is a hidden treasure of the Jersey Shore. We made a side trip years ago to see her and were captivated by the structure and its interesting history. More recently, I was going through old photos my mom had given me and found several of her and her parents also atop the pachyderm! She had not mentioned her visit, so I doubt she remembered it, but I have photos to prove we all were there.

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Atop Lucy late 1950s
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Atop Lucy late 1950s
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Atop Lucy late 1990s

Lucy is the only one of three such structures that remains. Built in 1881, the 65-foot high wooden elephant reportedly cost more than $25,000 to build and the idea of an animal-shaped building was patented in 1882. James V. Lafferty conceived of the idea to attract buyers for his property in what was then South Atlantic City. He also built two others, in 1884, the 40-foot Light of Asia in what is now South Cape May (torn down in 1900 due to severe deterioration) and the 122-foot Elephantine Colossus, an amusement attraction at Coney Island NY, at a cost of $65,000. (This elephant had 7 floors and 31 rooms. A financial loss from the very start, it was sold and later burnt down in 1896.)

From 1902 to 1969, Lucy served as a four-bedroom home, a tavern and a tourist camp. She survived fire and hurricanes that destroyed many nearby structures. Since 1916, she has been a popular attraction. Notable visitors include President and Mrs. Wilson and Henry Ford who have paid admission to visit the elephant and climb her 130 steps in her hind legs to the viewing platform on her back.

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Lucy late 1990s

In 1969, a developer bought the land Lucy sat on and agreed to donate the building to the town with the stipulation that it be moved in 30 days. The cost to make this move to a public park was $24,000 which was raised by donation. The estimate for restoration was $124,000. Work began in 1973 and tours resumed in 1974. Costs to upkeep the structure have been considerable and numerous fundraising campaigns have been launched to care for it. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Lucy is currently maintained by the non-profit Save Lucy Committee Inc.

Lucy the Elephant can be found at Josephine Harron Park in Margate, NJ. Tours are given every half hour. It is also available for private events, such as weddings and parties.

Charming and Historic Lexington Va.

IMG_0019Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the charming and historic Lexington, Va. is a friendly town that is proud of its heritage.  Named one of the “Best Small Towns to Visit” in 2013 by Smithsonian Magazine, the town offers shopping, eating, history, education and the outdoors, all within a short distance. The town is home to both Virginia Military Institute (est 1839) and Washington and Lee University (est 1749), each of which hosts museums open to the public. The VMI Museum, the first public museum in Virginia, has 15,000 artifacts, including a Revolutionary War musket, that help trace its heritage; W&L’s Lee Chapel & Museum is dedicated to the university’s history and how it is intertwined with both George Washington and its 11th president, Robert E. Lee.

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Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University

Lee Chapel is a focal point on the campus and is where you will find what is possibly the first Peale portrait of George Washington. The lower level museum includes Lee’s office, and a changing exhibit as well as the main exhibit, Building and Rebuilding a Nation, which shows the contributions both George Washington and Lee made to education and reveals an interesting family connection between the men. The museum offers a glimpse of this Confederate general, and makes it apparent that he was faced with a very difficult choice: either fight for the North, against his family and neighbors, or fight for the South, against the nation he loved. It is also apparent that he was a true gentleman, taking defeat with grace and continuing to serve. The university owes their honor code and more to him.

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The Colonnade at Washington and Lee University sits across the green from Lee Chapel

In addition to the history found at these schools, the town is also home to the Lee House (now the residence of W&L president and their families), IMG_0172the Stonewall Jackson House and the George C. Marshal Museum. Many of the town’s

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Jackson’s grave

buildings date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. A few blocks away, the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery is the final resting place of the general, as well as many other Confederate veterans.

Named after Lexington, MA, the site of the first shot of the Revolutionary War, the town also has found an interesting way to share the history of her famous people, from George Washington (who endowed the university that now bears his name) to Meriwether Lewis to Patsy Cline. Pavers throughout town commemorate deceased people deemed to be “The Righteous and Rascals of Rockbridge County.” The related website offers biographical information and locations of related sites throughout the county.  Several movies have been filmed in and around Lexington, including Sommersby, Gods and Generals, War of the Worlds and Field of Lost Shoes.

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Natural Bridge from a distance

Not far outside of town is Natural Bridge Park, which was once owned by Thomas Jefferson (and is rumored to have been surveyed by George Washington) and is on both the National and Virginia Historic Landmark lists as well as the National Register of Historic Places. This natural formation is where the county, Rockbridge, got its name. The main feature is a 215 foot natural limestone arch. Today a visit to the park includes not only the view of the bridge, but also admission to a number of trails and the Monacan Indian Living History exhibit which shows visitors what life was like here over 300 years ago. At night, the bridge is illuminated and the Drama of Creation presentation is scheduled each night at dusk (only by reservation during winter months).

Outdoor activities in the Lexington area are plentiful. The Maury River, a tributary of the James River, is a popular destination for small watercraft and tubing. There are many trails for hiking, from the relatively flat Chessie Nature Trail, to the rocky Devil’s Marbleyard Trail near Natural Bridge or even the Appalachian Trail in nearby Shenandoah National Park. The area boasts beautiful skies at all times of year.

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The surrounding area is home to several wineries and breweries and many antique shops and malls. There are a number of hotels as well as several bed and breakfast and historic inn options to choose from. Camping is also available nearby, at one of several state or national forest areas, as well as privately owned campgrounds.

Kauai’s Garden Paradise

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Evidence of Kauai’s volcanic heritage can be seen around the island. This is near Hanalei.

Kauai’s Garden Paradise in Hawaii is the only place I have visited that I could honestly say I could permanently relocate to. With a year round temperature of about 78 and terrain ranging from powdery sand beaches to mountains and cliffs, it the perfect environment for me. (If only it weren’t so far away from everywhere else!)

100_9764Known as the garden island, Kauai is also the rainiest place on earth, with an annual average of  350 to 400 inches measured at Mt. Wai’ale’ale. We happened to visit during the rainy season, in mid November, but this didn’t dampen my appreciation of all the natural wonder the island has to offer. Even though it rained every day we were there, it was not raining everywhere, and since the main road encircling the island can be traversed in under an hour,

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Chickens, as well as wild boar can be found on the island. They have no natural predators and can be seen all over. (The chickens that is, the boar are more elusive.)

it is easy to just go for a ride to find someplace sunny. We stayed in Lihue, which is fairly central, and over the course of a week traveled pretty much the entire island. (There is plenty more to see, hiking or boating farther inland, plus some areas accessible only via 4-wheel drive. We hope to do more exploring on a future trip.)

It would be impossible to detail everything to do (or even everything we did) in one post, so I will focus here on just a few places: Kilauea Point Lighthouse, Hanalei , Opaekaa Falls, and Hanapepe.

100_9500Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is well worth the admission fee and the 0.2 mile walk from the parking lot. The views are amazing, especially on the south side of the lighthouse, where a U shaped crater is all that remains of the 100_9511volcanic vent that formed this area

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This small island is home to many albatross which if you look closely can be seen nesting here.

15,000 years ago. (The banner photo on the main website page features this spot.) The area is home to a number of birds, including the Laysan Albatross, which nest on the refuge, and the Red Footed Booby as well as a number of native plant species (signs help

This Wedge-tailed Shearwater crept out to say hello

identify these). A number of young Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were roaming about, peeking from under the fence protecting them from visitors (there are many notices warning that the birds are protected, and that touching or harassing them is an offense). 100_9517The 1913 Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Lighthouse is the northernmost point of Kauai and is on the National Register of Historic Places; tours are offered on select days, pending staff availability.

 

We spent one afternoon wandering the shops in Kapaa Town and headed north, up the coast to Hanalei Town. We stopped to100_9774 take a look in one of the caves (didn’t see Puff the dragon) and continued on to where the road ends at the shoreline.

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inside the cave

Though we didn’t go explore it, there is a trail from here that goes along the Napali Coast. There is a bridge on the main road that frequently floods, cutting off access to the rest of the island. It was raining that day,

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The end of the road

so we didn’t want to take our chances and stay too long. We chose a restaurant for dinner and had one of many wonderful seafood dinners.

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They are serious about safety

Though people say that Hawaii is very expensive, it seems to me that if you eat food grown and harvested on the island, it is no more so than back home.

 

100_9695Also on the east side of the island is Opaekaa Falls, which can be viewed from the road, but can be accessed via a reasonable hike. Although we questioned whether we were still on the trail a couple times, as it went around several large boulders, we enjoyed the walk. 100_9707Nearby, overlooking the Wailua River, is Poli’ahu, where we explored the sacred temple ruins of100_9720 Hawaii’s past. I found the informational placards interesting and the environment as a whole was peaceful.

100_9557Another day we traveled southwest and found ourselves at the home of Lilo and Stitch, Hanapepe Town. The town is small but considered Kauai’s art

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The Hanapepe Swinging Bridge

capital, with more art galleries than any other place on the island. It was once a busy town and has been the “location” for films such as “The Thornbirds,” and “Flight of the Intruder” as well as the aforementioned Disney film. We picked up some gifts for family back home and made a trip across the famous Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.

There are many beaches with varying coarseness of sand. We tested out the water at Poipu Beach Park, and I sat watching the birds run into the surf, then back as it chased them up the beach. Not far from here, on Route 50 (which is the only main road on Kauai) we stopped at The Shrimp Station, a roadside stand, for what they advertised as “The Best Coconut Shrimp on the Planet.” After trying it, I would have to say I agree.100_9211

There is much more to see on Kauai and I will share more at a later date. I also hope to return and explore the Napali Coast, more of the beaches and maybe even try ziplining or go on a helicopter tour.

The Jersey Shore Is Part of Summer

The Jersey shore is one of my favorite summer destinations. Though I no longer live in the Garden State, I am and always will be a Jersey girl. Growing up, we lived a car ride away from several New Jersey beaches and spent many weekend hours on the boardwalks or playing in the ocean and sand. As a result, I can say firsthand that they all have their own unique attractions. As a child, I spent the most time on the beach at Seaside Heights, or on the boardwalks of Keansburg or Asbury Park.

SCAN0182I can say that I have several favorites to recommend, depending on what how you want to spend your day. For pure beach time, my hands down favorite is Island Beach State Park. Admission is charged by the carload, and there are fewer rules about what is and isn’t allowed on the beach. Many times I have visited here for the day, and then headed north for some boardwalk time at another favorite, Seaside Heights. Since this is what I consider “my” beach town, I was especially upset when most of it was on fire a couple years ago, and am very happy that it has been rebuilt.

SCAN0236 When I have young children along, my favorite beach is Point Pleasant Beach which is just a little further

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On the boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach

north. The boardwalk is family friendly and has rides geared toward small children and even an aquarium.

Another great place to enjoy the beach is Sandy Hook State Park, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. It is home to the oldest continually operating lighthouse in the country. Besides swimming, hiking, biking and camping are also offered. The historic Fort Hancock, as well as the lighthouse and other buildings are open to explore. The beach does fill up sometimes, especially on summer weekends. It is unique in that you can easily see both the ocean and bay at certain points.

 

By no means is this an exhaustive list of Jersey beaches. There are many more both north and south of these mentioned. To the south are the popular Ocean City, Wildwood, Atlantic City and Cape May beaches, and like those I mention, all have their own niche and special appeal. In between all of these are a number of small beach towns where residents mostly enjoy tourist free spots in the sand. New Jersey beaches require a fee to get on the beach (requiring a tag or some other indication that you have paid) and most towns enforce this.

Investigating Independence National Historic Park

Independence HallIndependence National Historic Park is a must-see for visitors new to Philadelphia. The area is rich in history and architecture and during the summer months, costumer interpreters bring history to life. One could easily spend a days exploring all that the area has to offer in depth, but a good starting point is the Independence Mall Visitor’s Center, a newer addition to the park which is free to the public (and the only place to get your free timed tickets to Independence Hall). While here, you can also watch or two short films and get more information about the historic district of the city.

Independence Hall was the location of the Second Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, and the place both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed, so it is a popular stop for visitors to the city. Park rangers provide information about the rooms and the artifacts contained within. Know your basic history, as some will test your knowledge while on the tour. During peak times, tickets “sell out,” so you will want to go early in the day to reserve your spot. The grounds behind Independence Hall are quite pretty and a good place to stroll or sit and people watch.

Between these two buildings is the Liberty Bell Center. Be aware that this is a popular location and the lines may be long. While waiting to see the actual bell, there is a short video and numerous displays about the bell and its history, as well as the history of our nation. I think it is worth going to see this, at least once, and have discovered with repeat visits (as the exhibits, as well as the bell’s location have changed over the years) that there always seems to be something new to learn.

There are several other buildings in the Independence Mall area that are open to the public, including two that I missed seeing over the course of many visits. The Free Quaker Meeting House is a quiet place to stop and sit for a bit and if you time it right, learn more history. The site has varying hours, depending on the season. The “Free Quakers” who supported the Revolution separated from their pacifist Quaker brethren and founded this church in 1783. This is one of the sites around the park where you might find a costumed interpreter who will share information about the late 1700s with you. Carpenter’s Hall, which hosted the First Continental Congress and later Franklin’s Library, the American Philosophical Society and the First and Second Banks of America, is a little gem with many stories to tell. The history is detailed in a charming story written for young readers here.

Franklin Court is where the home of Benjamin Franklin once stood. The surrounding buildings include the Franklin Court Printing Office, where you can learn about printing methods of the time, and hear about Franklin’s history as a printer. Recent years have revealed more about Franklin and a steel structure now outlines where his house once stood. The Franklin Museum explores Franklin’s life through hands-on exhibits and recovered artifacts.

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The mini golf course at Franklin Square features icons of Philadelphia in miniature. Here is Boathouse Row.

There is much more to explore in the surrounding area. Other nearby buildings, such as the Betsy Ross House, the Declaration House (where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence) and Edgar Allen Poe house are also park of the National Park System. Franklin Square with its carousel and mini golf is just a few blocks away. Also nearby are the National Constitution Center and Christ Church Burial Ground (both charge fees, but are worth visiting). The Historic Philadelphia Gazette is a free paper that details each day’s happenings and there are multiple tour options of the city, by foot, trolley, horse drawn carriage, duckboat or Segway; many cater to specific interests.

Hershey Pa Has More to Offer More Than Just Chocolate

IMG_4423Hershey Pa is famous for its chocolate, but today, Hersheypark and Zoo America are among the best known attractions in the city. DSCF1122Over the years, the amusement park has grown to include The Boardwalk, a separate section offering bathing suit-only water attractions, and an adjoining zoo. Although the amusement park is only open during the DSCF1099summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), it also offers special events at other times of year, such as Spring Preview Weekends, Halloween and Christmas Candyland (during which there are limited rides, visits with Santa and skating on Rudolph’s pond), as well as holiday entertainment and shopping.

Hershey Chocolate World, adjacent to Hersheypark, is a massive candy store and more. The free chocolate tour is a gentle ride and chocolate education all in one. Other activities, such as Create Your Own Candy Bar, The 4D Mystery, and Chocolate Tasting Experience are available for an additional charge. Trolley tours of town also depart from here.

The Hershey Story, a history museum detailing the life of Milton S. Hershey and the history of the town is well worth the time to visit. Even if you are not a fan of the chocolate, his story is inspiring. The museum also has interactive displays and a collection of memorabilia throughout the decades which brought back childhood memories. Besides detailing the history of chocolate, the museum looks at how manufacturing and advertising have changed over time. There is also a lengthy exhibit detailing Hershey’s philanthropic pursuits and the growth and successes of the area.

IMG_4376Nearby Hershey Gardens opened in 1937 as a “nice garden of roses” and has grown into an amazing display of flowers, trees and bushes spread over 23 acres with flowing paths. We had received free tickets with our stay at Hershey Lodge, so we decided to IMG_4405check it out. I am generally not a big fan of public gardens but enjoyed this one very much. I was most impressed by some of the unusual trees (which I was happy to see were labeled, so I could tell what I was looking it). There is also a rock garden and off by themselves, at the far end of the garden, the Four Seasons Statues. The exhibits areIMG_4383 gathered in their own individual themed gardens, with a path meandering throughout. The Great Garden Adventure and a children’s garden are especially designed for the little ones and the Butterfly House (open during the summer months) welcomes everyone to learn more about these pretty pollinators.

Besides chocolate, Hershey is home to the Hershey Bears hockey team. Other area attractions include concerts, golf, shopping and another amusement park, Dutch Wonderland (designed for families with kids 12 and under).

There are many hotels in the area as well as the collection known as the Hershey Resorts: The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and IMG_4370Hersheypark Camping Resort. The Hotel and Lodge are popular locations for conferences and events; all Hershey Resorts offer discounts to some of the Hershey attractions.