Category Archives: Historic Places

Juneteenth Celebrations in Williamsburg, VA

Wednesday, June 19 is Juneteenth, the national holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. This year, Visit Williamsburg is again partnering with the Juneteenth Community Consortium to promote the significance the destination played in this Black experience in American history. (Photo from Colonial Williamsburg)

Wednesday, June 19 is Juneteenth, the national holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. This year, Visit Williamsburg is again partnering with the Juneteenth Community Consortium to promote the significance the destination played in this Black experience in American history.

From June 15-22, 2024, visitors can experience, celebrate, and reflect on this holiday’s importance at events throughout Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown such as Prelude to Juneteenth: The Emancipation Proclamation on the Virginia Peninsula at Jamestown Settlement, YJCW NAACP Juneteenth Community Festival at Freedom Park,and numerous special events like the sunrise service and communal quilt project at Colonial Williamsburg.

Among the events marking Juneteenth: talks and demonstrations at the Public Armoury by Master Blacksmith Darryl Reeves, a third-generation metal worker and owner of Andrew’s Welding & Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward. In addition to his contemporary furniture and decorative art creations, Reeves is the most celebrated architectural blacksmith in the Gulf South. He is especially renowned for his meticulous, historically accurate wrought iron restorations of antique fences, gates, balcony railings, and window grilles in the French Quarter and beyond. Reeves is reviving the traditions of New Orleans’ 18th- and 19th-century African American ironworkers by transmitting his vast institutional knowledge and trade skills to a new generation of apprentices through the New Orleans Master Crafts Guild. 

Art Exhibit, “I made this…”: The Work of Black American Artists and Artisans, on view in the Miodrag and Elizabeth Ridgely Blagojevich Gallery, celebrates the lives of eighteenth through twentieth-century Black American artisans and artists through the material culture they created. The title comes from a quote by 19th-century enslaved potter David Drake who inscribed these words on one of his pots despite laws prohibiting literacy for enslaved people. Drake is just one of the many artists represented in this exhibition. Objects from both Decorative Arts and Folk Art collections will be displayed in the same gallery contrasting the aesthetics and designs of men and women from different times, places, and backgrounds. These pieces represent the inspirations, resilience, and legacies of these talented makers.

Free Juneteenth Single-Day Ticket: In observance of Juneteenth, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is offering free admission to the Historic Area and the Art Museums on June 19 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Find more events and detailed information at https://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/events/juneteenth/.

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Passport to 12 Brandywine Valley Museums and Gardens on Sale

The Sunken Garden at the Nemours Estate, Wilmington, DE © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WILMINGTON, Delaware – Explore the history, culture and gardens of the Brandywine Valley for one low price with the Brandywine Valley Treasure Trail Passport. On sale now, the passport provides admission to 12 of the region’s top attractions and can be used any time between May 25 and October 31, 2024, enabling passport holders to explore the attractions at their own pace. 

The passport, provided by the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, can be purchased  at www.visitwilmingtonde.com/passport/ and at participating attractions. It is also available for sale at Bureau’s visitor center at 920 Justison Street on the Wilmington Riverfront. An individual passport is $49. A family passport, covering two adults and up to three children ages 17 and under, is $99. The passport is available in digital and print formats.  

Admission to the following 12 attractions is included with the passport: 

Mt. Cuba Center 

Recognized as the “Best Botanical Garden” in 2020 by USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards, Mt. Cuba Center is celebrated for its rare native plant collection.  

Nemours Estate 

This former du Pont mansion, modeled after Versailles, has the largest formal French gardens in North America.  

Brandywine Museum of Art 

This museum displays an impressive collection of American art including works by three generations of the Wyeth family, known as “America’s First Family of Art.”   

Delaware Art Museum 

It is known for having the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of Britain, in addition to an extensive collection of American art and illustration.  

The Delaware Contemporary 

This cultural space showcases cutting-edge exhibitions, innovative installations, and thought-provoking multimedia art.  

Delaware History Museum 

This attraction showcases an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and interactive exhibits that bring the state’s history to life. It includes the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. 

Delaware Museum of Nature and Science 

Visitors can explore dinosaurs, fossils, astronomy, environmental conservation, world ecosystems, and more.  

Hagley Museum and Library 

The story of the famed du Pont family begins here at the original DuPont gunpowder mills. “Nation of Inventors features one of the largest collections of patent models in the world. 

Longwood Gardens 

This impressive 1,100+-acre garden has topped many botanical “best of” lists over the years. The centerpiece is the magnificent four-acre Conservatory, showcasing an astonishing array of exotic plants. (Note: The passport is valid at Longwood Gardens through September 30, 2024). 

Read House and Gardens 

This National Historic Landmark is offering a brand-new interior tour that reveals aspects of the history hidden in the architecture and furnishings of this 14,000-square-foot mansion. 

Rockwood Park and Museum 

The Gothic Revival architecture of this historic mansion and its enchanting landscape were designed to reflect the beauty of an English country estate.  

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library 

This former du Pont family home boasts an unparalleled collection of American decorative arts and 1,000 acres of explorable grounds and gardens.  

Passports are valid for one use at each attraction. Blackout dates may apply. For more information on the Passport and to start planning a visit, go to www.VisitWilmingtonDE.com.  

The Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley region of Delaware is in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic and less than a two-hour drive from both New York City and Washington. Steeped in American history and the legacy of the famed du Pont family, it is a destination marked by sharp contrasts – town and garden, past and present, historic and hip. Featuring renowned gardens, world-class museums, colonial towns, outdoor adventure, festivals, and an ever-growing restaurant scene, the region offers a vacation experience that is vibrant, unique and authentic.

Learn more at VisitWilmingtonDE.com. To see the beauty of the Brandywine Valley, watch: https://youtu.be/KyPWLnciO0E

See also: WILMINGTON/BRANDYWINE MANSIONS & GARDENS WELCOME MOBILITY-CHALLENGED VISITORS

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6 Historic Places Where You Can Vacation Like a President This President’s Day

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. Among the illustrious guests: U.S. Presidents like Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge; First Lady Laura Bush stayed in 2002. Two earlier presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had camped at the site back long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

In the spirit of honoring past leaders and indulging in a touch of luxury, what better way to celebrate President’s Day than by immersing oneself in the historic footsteps of former U.S. presidents? From the majestic views of the Grand Canyon to the quaint charm of the Sheridan Inn in Wyoming, and from the opulent Broadmoor in Colorado to the iconic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, there’s a wealth of presidential vacation spots waiting to be explored. Imagine basking in the same ambiance that once hosted the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Bill Clinton. 

Uncover fascinating tales of presidential visits, cultural significance, and the timeless allure of these remarkable retreats. Join us on a journey through history and luxury, as you vacation like a president this President’s Day.

El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

Widely considered the crown jewel of the Historic National Park Lodges, El Tovar is located directly on the Grand Canyon’s Rim and first opened its doors in 1905. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.  The Chicago architect envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa. This was done to appeal to the tastes of the elite from that era, who at the time considered European culture the epitome of refinement. The hotel was built from local limestone and Oregon pine. It cost $250,000 to build, and many considered it the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. 

In 1987 the Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark. In the past, the hotel has hosted such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, and countless others. 

U.S. Presidents who have stayed at El Tovar include Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bill Clinton.

The Sheridan Inn, Sheridan, Wyoming

Constructed in 1892 as part of a railway extension program, the Sheridan Inn was designed by Omaha architect Thomas R. Kimball. Drawing inspiration from Scottish hotels, the architect included the iconic wraparound porch and a bountiful number of dormered windows in his design. In a short six months, the Inn was constructed and upon completion was the first building in the area furnished with electrical power and bathtubs, giving adventurous travelers a taste of Eastern luxury in the West and was considered the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco.

Buffalo Bill Cody frequented the Sheridan Inn as part owner and soon turned the Sheridan Inn into the headquarters for his Wild West Show, from which he auditioned new members from the iconic front porch of the Inn. Local Sheridan cowboys and cowgirls were recruited, including George Gardner and Tode Bard, to join the show and travel to Europe with Buffalo Bill.

With a massive ballroom and a dining room table large enough to seat 165 people, the Sheridan Inn was the social hub for the area, hosting grand dances and dinners. The 64 hotel rooms hosted new residents of Sheridan who stayed at the Inn while their houses were being built and ranchers would spend their weekends at the Inn. Early prices at the Sheridan Inn were one dollar per night and fifty cents for lunch or dinner. Over the years, The Sheridan Inn drew notable guests from far and wide, such as Ernest Hemingway, President Hoover, Will Rogers, and Bob Hope.

Today guests can choose from one of the Inn’s 22 rooms, which have been uniquely designed and named after important figures in Buffalo Bill’s life. Reserving a room involves looking over a Room Menu and selecting from such options as the “Sitting Bull Room” or “Annie Oakley Room”. Each suite presents the times and individual histories of the person in the room’s overall finish and furnishings, artifacts, and exhibits.

THE BROADMOOR, Colorado Springs, CO

The Broadmoor has hosted many (actually, most) U.S. presidents in its 106-year history, including Dwight Eisenhower, who would visit the resort regularly to play golf and learn from pro-Ed Dudley. Fun fact: George W. Bush gave up drinking after a big 40th birthday celebration at the resort’s The Golden Bee gastropub. From the Obamas to the Roosevelts, The Broadmoor has had its share of presidential stays in this uniquely Western resort, which spans 5,000 acres and is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains.

One can roam the hallway between Broadmoor West and the West Tower to see The Broadmoor’s photo gallery. The gallery includes framed portraits of distinguished guests (including presidents) who have stayed at the resort over the decades, from Prince Harry to Bob Hope. 

The Oasis at Death Valley, Death Valley, California 

The Oasis at Death Valley was originally called Furnace Creek and is a true American oasis where 80,000 gallons of ancient water rise to the surface every day.  The Native Americans, prospectors, settlers, and 49ers all knew about the water there and the oasis. Eventually, the land was purchased by the Pacific Borax Company which mined and hauled borax out of the valley with the famed Borax 20 Mule Teams of the 1880s.  The mules and miners were based at Furnace Creek.

The resort was originally built by the Pacific Borax Company in the late 1920s and would become the getaway winter spot for Hollywood celebrities such as Clark Gable, and Ronald Reagan, and where George Lucas filmed scenes from the original Star Wars movies because of the stunning natural beauty in daylight. 

Over the years in addition to the Inn, the Ranch was expanded, and amenities and facilities were added for the enjoyment of travelers and vacationers including casual lodging, restaurants, a general store, a golf course, tennis courts, a gas station, official U.S Post Office (Zip Code 92328), RV parking and of course, a saloon.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, WY

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. The hotel itself was originally constructed upon the grounds of the former Upper Geyser Basin Hotel, which had collapsed during the 1890s. Its initial owner had been Jay Cooke, a prominent railroad tycoon who had long entertained the idea of preserving the area that now constitutes Yellowstone National Park. Cooke’s team at the Northern Pacific Railroad subsequently debuted the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel in 1883 and was thus obligated to construct a replacement when the former was destroyed a decade later. 

Opening in 1904, the newly created “Old Faithful Inn” immediately became one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions. The hotel was soon hosting many influential people over the following decades, including U.S. Presidents like Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Two earlier presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had camped at the site back long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. Lastly, First Lady Laura Bush stayed at this iconic inn in 2002. 

Cody and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 

Many presidents have been spotted in the state’s northwestern region known as Cody Yellowstone, which includes the town of Cody, as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park. To start, Chester A. Arthur visited Yellowstone National Park in 1883 with a large entourage and was intent on having an authentic Western experience. Arthur kept in touch with the outside world and engaged in presidential business with one daily mail courier on horseback who delivered and received Arthur’s messages.

President Calvin Coolidge visited Cody on July 4, 1927, for the opening of the Buffalo Bill Museum, the first of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Theodore Roosevelt was a big fan of the state, and he made several trips during his presidential tenure and returned to Wyoming to vacation after he left Washington. In 1903, during his final visit to the park for a two-week vacation, he visited the Norris Geyser Basin where he spent two nights at the Norris Hotel. During that trip, he laid the cornerstone for the park’s Roosevelt Arch. Although the arch is in the state of Montana at the northern entrance to Yellowstone, Wyoming celebrates the grand structure too, as most of the park is in Wyoming.

Years later, Theodore’s fifth cousin Franklin took office, and he also left his mark on Yellowstone Country. When he visited the park, he avoided the park hotels, many with multiple floors and no elevators, and instead was a guest of the lodge manager in his single-floor park home, which could better accommodate his wheelchair while at the same time keeping it from public view.

Some other notable names include President George H.W. Bush, President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and his family, First Lady Melania Trump, and President Jimmy Carter dined at the employee pub at the park’s Lake Lodge where he signed the wall of the pub, still visible to guests today. Lastly, President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923, shortly before he died, and the staff in the park named a geyser after him.

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Auburn, NY, Home to Harriet Tubman, Markets International Underground Railroad Month With  App, Guided Tours

Auburn, NY, invites you to celebrate International Underground Railroad Month this September by introducing an innovative app that offers two self-guided driving tours—a 24-stop exploration in Auburn and a 27-site adventure across Cayuga County. The app seamlessly blends technology and history, bringing the Underground Railroad to life.

Auburn, NY, invites you to celebrate International Underground Railroad Month this September by introducing an innovative app that offers two self-guided driving tours—a 24-stop exploration in Auburn and a 27-site adventure across Cayuga County. The app seamlessly blends technology and history, bringing the Underground Railroad to life.

Auburn, renowned as the chosen home of Harriet Tubman, an iconic figure in the Underground Railroad, has a rich history of freedom-seeking efforts that predates her arrival.

The Underground Railroad in Cayuga County thrived as early as the 1830s, thanks to a diverse group of individuals dedicated to helping those seeking freedom. By the 1850s,  Cayuga County was home to around 400 Black residents, with 200 in Auburn alone, many of whom were descendants of the region’s earliest settlers.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy an in-person guided experience led by Ted Freeman, a descendant of Harry and Kate Freeman, with deep ties to the Underground Railroad and the New Guinea Negro Settlement. Harry and Kate Freeman were the co-founders of the city of Auburn, New York. They were taken and made slaves from Guinea, Africa, later freed by the Mansfield Decree in England and came to the colonies as indentured servants who fought in the Revolutionary War, and created one of the most important stations and terminals during the Underground Railroad Movement.

“We believe this innovative technology and guided experience offer a fresh perspective on our past, empowering us to shape the future,” says Claire Dunlap, Director of Sales at Tour Cayuga.

This project, supported by extensive research, identifies historic sites that remain on Cayuga County’s landscape, serving as reminders of the people who committed their lives to freedom.

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EF Go AheadTours Opens Bookings for 80th Anniversary of D-Day in 2024

EF Go Ahead Tours’ D-Day tour commemorating the 80th anniversary includes walking tours of Paris and famous landmarks like Le Louvre © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

EF Go Ahead tours is opening up bookings for a new education-based travel experience to Europe commemorating the 80th Anniversary of D-Day next June 2024 this D-Day, June 6th.

The new tour assembled by EF Go Ahead Tours, a premiere provider of immersive group travel, builds on the incredible response to EF Go Ahead’s signature tour marking D-Day’s 75th Anniversary in 2019. Bookings for that tour were incredibly popular and demand for 2024 is expected to be similar!

Steeped in history, the 12-day tour will traverse destinations in England and France through the lens of the events of D-Day and is sure to draw interest from the remaining ranks of those who served there, their descendants, other veterans as well as history buffs.

For more details, see https://www.goaheadtours.com/guided-tours/d-day-80th-anniversary-american-wwii-history

Special highlights are included below with more details forthcoming as the itinerary is finalized:

  • Starting in London, the group will visit museums and engage in walking tours to experience what war-torn London was really like. Highlights include the Imperial War Museum, Westminster and the Wellington Barracks.
  • On to France, the group will spend D-Day in Normandy with a special Anniversary event arranged by EF Go Ahead, a walk on the beach, and guided tour of the Colville American Cemetery. Then continue by bus to stop at Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument which overlooks Omaha Beach to visit a network of bunkers and fortifications.
  • The tour will conclude in Paris with walking tours at Le Meurice hotel, site of Nazi headquarters during Occupation, Le Palais Royal and past the Louvre Museum to Ile de La Cite. Travelers will see Notre Dame Cathedral, Police Prefecture, and Deportation Martyrs Memorial. Local guides and the Tour Director will share details from the Occupation, Resistance, and history of French heroes before a walking tour in Le Marais/Jewish Quarter.

Information at 800-590-1161, https://www.goaheadtours.com/

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Two-and-a-Half of America’s Top 10 Best Historic Train Experiences (One is Narrow Gauge)

America’s “Highest Railroad” (14,115 FEET)

The “Grandest Railway” to Grand Canyon and the “French Fry Express” (an environmentally sensitive 100-year-old steam engine still chugging) 

        A 150-Year-Old Narrow Gauge Railroad (small tracks and trains) that many some say is the “Holy Grail” of RR preservation

There are places in America where you can travel on a historic steam train, its engine running at speed (go fast), where you can climb America’s only accessible 14,115-foot mountain (higher than Machu Picchu), ride on a 150-year-old railroad lost in time and coming back to life in the beautiful valleys of central Pennsylvania. This is where open windows, swaying cars, sounds, smells and movement are as fun as the rides found at Coney Island.  Here’s a ticket to ride this summer on four of the most interesting, unique, and even if one has small trains and tracks (but offers a mighty experience) called a narrow gauge.

A Pikes Peak Cog Railway train approaching the summit at 14,115 feet in Colorado
 
THE BROADMOOR MANITOU & PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY
(Manitou, CO to the summit at Pikes Peak – 14,115 feet) 

Climb every mountain.  Well, there is only one 14-thousand-foot mountain in the US that you don’t have to climb. You can take the train. A unique train – a cog.  At The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, America’s highest railway reaches a height of 14,115 feet. This is where the words to the song “American The Beautiful” were composed. Completely rebuilt, it’s back and better than ever climbing’ up America’s Mountain. This iconic railway is one of only two cog railways in the U.S. 
 
Originally built in 1891 and owned and operated by The Broadmoor since 1925, this historic railway is the highest railroad in America, the highest cog railway in the world, one of Colorado’s top attractions, and one of the nation’s most unique experiences.
 
The Railway runs every day.  For information and reservations, hop onboard at www.cograilway.com 

4960 pulls a train on Grand Canyon Railway

THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY
(Williams, AZ on Rt. 66 to steps from South Rim, Grand Canyon)

Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1901 when it was built by the legendary Atkinson, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF).  Grand Canyon Railway runs daily from Williams, AZ on historic Rt. 66 to within steps of the Grand Canyon South Rim and El Tovar.  The pristine train, comprised of railcars from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including luxury dome cars and an open platform observation car, as well as vintage coaches with opening windows, departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:45 p.m. with a 2.5-hour layover at South Rim of Grand Canyon.  The train rolls directly into Grand Canyon National Park daily, taking an estimated 70,000 cars off the road each year.
 
During most of the summer and into early fall, the Railway pulls the train once a month with a massive 100-year-old steam engine built in 1923 that runs on waste vegetable oil. There is no extra charge. It is believed that Grand Canyon Railway is the last standard gauge passenger railroad in the US where steam engines are still scheduled to pull revenue trains.
 
Save 30% on train tickets when you book in conjunction with any 1 or 2-night stay at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. 

Visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) for updated and current information on both the hotel and the train. It is now also possible to charter an entire luxury private railroad car or even an entire private train complete with chefs, bartenders, entertainers, and staff.  These are ideal for “milestone” moments such as graduations, family reunions, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays. For charters call 928-635-5700 or visit www.thetrain.com/charters.

Newly restored locomotive, No. 16, pulls into the historic Orbisonia Station
 
The East Broad Top Railroad (Orbisonia, Central Pennsylvania)
A 150-year old, and the only narrow-gauge railway East of the Mississippi, is an American treasure.
This is one of the true treasures of American railroading. And while you can simply enjoy a scenic train ride, it is far more of an experience…allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a National Historic Landmark that is almost completely frozen in time.

The railroad is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the best-preserved examples of 19th century American narrow gauge railroads (the rails less than 4 feet apart so the trains, and everything is smaller than “standard” railroads) and industrial complexes in the country. 

The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) located in Orbisonia, PA is nestled in the rolling hills and farmlands in the central part of the state. The EBT will start running again in May, with a recently restored steam engine that sat dormant for nearly 70 years, pulling one-hour train rides with space available in comfortable enclosed passenger cars, open air cars, or even a vintage caboose. Trains run on a nine-mile round-trip ride from the historic station in Orbisonia to a picturesque picnic grove and back through a classically beautiful Pennsylvania valley, nearly untouched by the rushing, modern and worried world. 

Prices begin at $20 for adults and $18 for children. Guided tours of the railroad’s remarkably intact late 19th/early 20th century machine shop complex are also available every day that trains operate. Reservations are strongly suggested as the renaissance of this railroad is drawing national and international attention. For information and reservations visit www.eastbroadtop.com or call 814-447-3285.

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New York State Launches I Love NY Black Travel Initiative

I LOVE NY Will Promote Black Travel Destinations, Events and Cultural Attractions to Encourage Black Travelers to Explore New York State

Builds on I LOVE NY LGBTQ and Accessible NY Programs to Boost New York Tourism Among Diverse Populations

I LOVE NY’s Black travel initiative will be a comprehensive program that promotes New York State as a great vacation destination for Black travelers. New York is home to dozens of Underground Railroad sites and one of the largest Juneteenth festivals in the nation. The state has deep ties to leaders like Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and is where hip hop was born. Museums and venues celebrating Black culture, art and heritage can be found throughout the state, including the new Museum of Broadway Theater, which highlights the contribution and role of Blacks. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans for an I LOVE NY Black travel initiative, designed to grow New York State tourism and encourage Black traveler visitation. The Governor made the announcement at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as part of the state’s commemoration of Black History Month. The program will build on the success of the state’s tourism programs like I LOVE NY LGBTQ and Accessible NY which highlight destinations of interest to and supportive of specific travel communities.

“The new I LOVE NY Black travel initiative will be a celebration of New York’s unparalleled Black history, culture, food, and arts,” Governor Hochul said. “From sites and museums that bring Black history to life to world-class arts and cultural institutions like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, New York has so much to offer. I look forward to working with our partners to welcome even more visitors to experience Black culture in our state.”

I LOVE NY’s Black travel initiative will be a comprehensive program that promotes New York State as a great vacation destination for Black travelers. It will have a dedicated presence on the I LOVE NY website, and a promotional campaign based on market research and stakeholder outreach that highlights existing assets and supports new programming to provide a direct invitation welcoming Black visitors and their families to experience New York’s unparalleled Black history, culture, food, arts and events.

New York is home to dozens of Underground Railroad sites and one of the largest Juneteenth festivals in the nation. The state has deep ties to leaders like Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and is where hip hop was born. Museums and venues celebrating Black culture, art and heritage can be found throughout the state – from the Jackie Robinson Museum in Lower Manhattan, to the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, to the Colored Musicians Club in Buffalo.

In a survey of Black travelers, 64 percent reported that the availability of Black culture and heritage attractions is important when making a destination choice. Another survey of Black travelers reported that diversity in marketing is a top factor when choosing a travel destination, with 54 percent of U.S. Black travelers more likely to visit a destination with Black representation in advertising. I LOVE NY already includes diverse imagery in its marketing and promotes themes, attractions and events of interest to a wide variety of communities. This new travel program is the next phase of the Division of Tourism’s segment promotion work, joining specific invitations and overtures to LGBTQ travelers and guests with accessibility needs.

The Division of Tourism will utilize existing relationships with international travel trade operators to encourage the creation of Black travel itineraries and engage travel journalists and content creators to share all that awaits Black travelers and their friends and families across New York State. I LOVE NY will also collaborate with other State agency partners and local tourism promotion agencies to amplify their Black travel messaging.

The annual economic impact of tourism and travel in New York State as of 2021 is $85.5 billion, and it generates enough in state and local taxes to save every household in the state more than $1,000 annually. The tourism and hospitality sector is the state’s third largest industry, supporting one in 10 private sector jobs. Black travelers represent more than 13 percent of the domestic leisure travel market, spending over $109 billion annually.

“New York embraces its diversity, and we want to ensure that visitors from around the world recognize the opportunities to celebrate Black history and heritage throughout the state,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “Given the unparalleled depth and variety of attractions here that appeal to Black travelers, this program is a perfect fit to spotlight and showcase these places, stories and people.”

“I LOVE NY is excited to work with stakeholders throughout the state to build and launch this new program, which will complement other tourism programs like Path Through History, I LOVE NY LGBTQ and Accessible NY,” Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said. “This new initiative will help amplify and extend the efforts of our travel industry partners that are already highlighting Black travel attractions, and extend an invitation to Black travelers from around the world to come find what they love in New York State.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle said,”As an institution born out of the Black experience in New York more than 65 years ago, we are proud that Governor Hochul chose to announce this valuable program at Ailey’s home – The Joan Weill Center for Dance – the largest building dedicated to dance here in the capital of dance.  We look forward to welcoming the world to New York with others, thanks to the I LOVE NY Black travel initiative, and seeing more visitors inspired by Ailey’s performances and classes.”

New York State is a premier vacation destination with world-class attractions, picturesque natural beauty, locally sourced cuisine and a booming craft beverage scene, an array of accommodations, and iconic, year-round festivals and events. Its 11 diverse vacation regions feature some of the world’s top ranked beaches; two out of America’s top three favorite state parks; breathtaking Niagara Falls; more ski areas than any other state; one of the nation’s longest foliage seasons; multiple Halls of Fame; North America’s longest, fastest and highest zipline; the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States; and the country’s longest multi-use trail. Add in the state’s unique museums, historic landmarks, cultural sites, charming small towns and urban playgrounds, and it’s no wonder New York has been consistently chosen as a top getaway by travel publications and experts. To help plan your next New York State vacation, visit www.iloveny.com.

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Travel to the Ends – and Beginnings — of the Earth with GeoCultura

Washington Crossing.A GeoCultura tour that runs from Philadelphia, PA to western Massachusetts looks at American Revolutionary War locales where geology played a role in the outcome of events. Places such as Independence Hall, Valley Forge, the two Washington Crossings, the Dey Mansion, the Great Falls at Paterson, the Hamilton/Burr dueling grounds and the route of Cornwallis’s pursuit of Washington up the Palisades are in focus with stories and context offered by respected authors and experts in Revolutionary War history. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfaranadnear.com

If 2022 was the year of returning to travel, 2023 is the year of making those travel plans count.

To that end, London-based GeoCultura LTD is launching 19 tour departures in 2023 that will take curious and inquiring travelers to key destinations with spectacular cultural and geologic histories in small groups led by scientists and scholars  in the fields of geology and history. Travel that counts is travel that adds wisdom and experience to those who venture, and brings that much more understanding about the world we inhabit.

Itineraries take travelers through the deserts, prairies and forests of North America, to the rocky crags of Scotland, and to the hidden highlights of Southern England. Consider a tour that moves beyond the bounds of Outlander to revisit the amazing history and conflicts that shaped the DNA of the North West Scottish Highlands. The Highlands scenery provides a dramatic background for groups of 12 to 14 people to visit seminal sights in Scottish history and learn how geology influenced battles, castles and wars.

Or it may be travel that is focused on the influences at play in the shaping of what is now the United States. For instance, a GeoCultura tour that runs from Philadelphia, PA to western Massachusetts looks at American Revolutionary War locales where geology played a role in the outcome of events. Places such as Independence Hall, Valley Forge, the two Washington Crossings, the Dey Mansion, the Great Falls at Paterson, the Hamilton/Burr dueling grounds and the route of Cornwallis’s pursuit of Washington up the Palisades are in focus with stories and context offered by respected authors and experts in Revolutionary War history.

But the tides of history are also the stuff of art and culture. The geological and historical elements that played upon the land also influenced artists, especially the Hudson River School’s Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, and later Edward Hopper – all covered with visits to homes and museums on this tour.

A particularly poignant and timely journey for 2023 happens in May as the world witnesses the first coronation of a British sovereign in more than 70 years. “London, Stonehenge, Bath, and the Jurassic Coast: A geo-culture tour of Southern England begins just after King Charles III is crowned, travels to amazing English locations and returns to London. The tour links Victorian and Georgian history with the pre-history and landscapes of Southern England: Stonehenge, the Georgian splendor of Bath and the delights of such Jurassic Coast sites as Lulworth Cove and Chesil Beach. Guests immerse themselves in the rolling landscapes of Thomas Hardy’s novels while going on fossil hunts, visiting cathedrals and castles, and taking in the magical waters of Bath.

Then, there is the rich geology, culture and gastronomy of the Catalan Pyrenees that is explored through the presence of salt throughout and under the rolling terrain. Salt became a commodity of trade and prosperity and influenced culture throughout this eastern Spanish enclave – all expressed in the arts, architecture, cuisines, migrations and conflicts that shaped these ancient lands. It’s all wrapped into stunning stories told by connoisseurs of the culture in tours that run from Barcelona to Girona in Spain.

GeoCultura tours range from three nights and four days to eight nights and nine days, and every tour is steeped in eye-opening tales that show how the earth, the land, the people and the pervading influences of various eras connected to bring us to where we are today.

“The first germ of an idea for GeoCultura started when a group of friends got together to plan a trip. We wanted something that allowed us to visit spectacular landscapes and rocks while also enjoying the best the region had to offer. And GeoCultura was born,” said Rob Knipe, Chairperson at GeoCultura.

Tour managers work hand in hand with regional focus experts to assure that while groups and individuals are being looked after with care, no topic goes unexplained, no question goes unanswered. Thus, illuminating and often sea-changing experiences offer guests wisdom and understanding that lingers well beyond the bounds of the tour. GeoCultura tours bring a robust roster of science experts to the planning and execution of each tour, maintaining an “earth-first” focus for every itinerary to reveal how landscapes and “deep time” geology continue to shape the history and culture of our planet.

Tours start at around $2,000 per person (double), including meals, fees and transportation. A modicum of fitness is required, although walking distances are reasonable and terrains are clear and well maintained. A reading list for each tour is available for those whose interests extend beyond a surface glint. Accommodations are chosen for their historic significance or qualities that complement tour themes.

GeoCultura is an international tour company founded in 2020 to bring in a focused history of the earth and its geology as a starting point for travelers to fully understand the breadth and evolution of a destination’s past and present. The company was founded by and tours are guided by esteemed scientists in their field — fellows, academicians and board members of prestigious universities in the U.K, U.S. and Canada. GeoCultura offers four- to nine-night tours in Canada, the U.S., Greece, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Caribbean. 

The founders include:

Rob Knipe, an Emeritus Professor of Structural Geology at the University of Leeds, and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, Knipe has won prestigious awards from the Geological Society. His work has included four decades of research in the geology of the Scottish Highlands. Currently, he is focused on global Energy Transition, and works with local and national groups promoting changes towards a carbon neutral society.

Neil Harbury,  a former senior lecturer at University of London and founder of Nautilus, a premier geological training organization working with over 80 companies world-wide, Harbury’s ongoing area of passion remains creating and leading geoscience tours.

Mark Hammond a visiting professor at Canterbury Christchurch University and a visiting Fellow at the University of Bath, Hammond was Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission for 5 years. He has an MA in history from Cambridge University and an honorary doctorate from Canterbury, and served as a diplomat in the British Embassy in Washington D.C., helping to negotiate the Climate Change policy.

More information can be found at www.geoculturaworld.com, +44 2081 451011.

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Registration Opens for Parks & Trails NY’s Inaugural Cycle the Hudson Valley Bike Tour

The Freedom Tower on the Hudson River Greenway, near the endpoint of Parks & Trails NY’s inaugural 200-mile Hudson Valley Bike Tour on the Hudson River Greenway, part of the Empire State Trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Parks & Trails NY is hosting its inaugural Cycle The Hudson Valley bike tour, taking advantage of the new Empire State Trail that traverses the entire north-south length of the state, from Canada down to the tip of Manhattan. This trip starts midway, in Troy, on July 29 and follows the Empire State Trail 200 miles south, ending in the Big Apple a week later. This seven-day fully-supported tour is limited to the first 300 cyclists who sign up.

Daily routes average 30-50 miles/day with additional mileage options for riders wanting more. The route is 63% paved and 13% crushed stone dust trail, with 24% on road, and will take bicyclists through the cities, villages, countryside and parklands of the picturesque Hudson River Valley.

On the second night of Cycle the Hudson Valley, the tour rolls into the village of Hudson, which has become quite a mecca for art galleries and boutique shops. The group spends the next two nights in Kingston, the first capital of New York State, where George Clinton was sworn in as the first Governor almost 246 years ago to the day that the group will be in townOn the lay-over day cyclists can explore by biking an optional loop or strolling through the Kingston Stockade District (on the National Register of Historic Places) or visiting the Hudson River Maritime Museum.

On Day Four, cyclists ride over the incredibly popular Walkway Over the Hudson, an elevated multi-use park that spans 1.28 miles, and soars 212 feet above the Hudson River into Poughkeepsie on the eastern shore. Shuttles will be available to take cyclists to visit the FDR Home and Library and the renowned Culinary Institute of America. The next day’s countryside ride ends in the charming hamlet of Carmel.

The last overnight brings the tour close to NYC. Riding along the Hudson River Greenway offers river views most of the way. The tour ends at Battery Park with a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty. Cyclists can visit the 9/11 Memorial Pools, or book a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There’s also a superb National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian, located in the historic Alexander Hamilton US Custom House at One Bowling Green, across from Battery Park.

Registration opens January 18. Visit Cycle The Hudson Valley for more information, or email [email protected].

If you’d like to explore further, combine this trip with Parks & Trails’ fully supported Cycle the Erie Canal trip, taking place July 9-16, which features the east-west leg of the Empire State Trail and travels 400 miles from Buffalo to Albany. Cycle the Erie Canal registration is open. (See: https://moralcompasstravel.info/2023/01/parks-trails-ny-opens-registration-for-25th-anniversary-cycle-the-erie-canal-adventure/)

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Parks & Trails NY Opens Registration for 25th Anniversary Cycle the Erie Canal Adventure

Parks & Trails NY’s eight-day, 400-mile Cycle the Erie bike adventure from Buffalo to Albany is back to full strength, 650 riders, for its 25th anniversary year. Registration has just opened © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Parks & Trails NY has opened registration for the 25th Anniversary Cycle the Erie Canal 2023. The eight-day, 400-mile adventure from Buffalo to Albany takes place July 9-16.

This year, the ride – a supported camping trip – returns to its full complement of 650 riders.

There are two options: an 8-day tour from Buffalo to Albany and a 4-day option from Buffalo to Syracuse (4-day capped at 100 riders).

The route follows the legendary Erie Canal passing locks and aqueducts and winding through historic villages and rural farmlands.

The 400-mile journey along the legendary Erie Canal ends in Albany eight days later. Along the way, cyclists enjoy some of the finest scenery, most interesting history, and unparalleled cycling in the United States. Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day, cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now the east-west axis of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

Designed as a camping trip, accommodations are provided with showers, toilet facilities, some with pools or lakes for swimming; eight breakfasts and six dinners; two daily refreshment stops along the route; evening entertainment including music and historical presentations; guided tours of the Canal, historic sites, museums and other attractions including the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, Erie Canal Museum and Village, Fort Stanwix National Monument and a boat tour through the Lockport locks; kick-off reception and end-of-tour celebration; Cycle the Erie Canal t-shirt; baggage transport; SAG wagon and mobile mechanical support; daily maps and cue sheets; painted and arrowed routes; pre-departure info packet including training trips.

Other amenities available (at additional fee) include fresh daily towels, gourmet morning coffee, tent and air mattress rental and set up (for those who don’t want to pitch their own tent or prefer to rent).

Shuttle transportation from Albany to the start in Buffalo (you arrive the night before the bike trip starts and have an extra night camping), or from Albany back to Buffalo is available. Arrangements are made for parking.

Safety protocols are place (see 2023 COVID Policy).

Find the answers to questions at the Cycle the Erie Canal FAQ page.

The registration fee for the full tour is $1,075 for adults and $580 for youths ages 6-17, and $750 for non-cycling participants.

To register, visit https://www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal/annual-bike-tour/register

See:

Cycle the Erie: 400 Miles & 400 Years of History Flow By on Canalway Bike Tour Across New York State

Cycle the Erie, Day 1: In Lockport, See Erie Canal Engineering Marvel, ‘Flight of Five’, Cruise Thru Double Locks, and Go Underground to Fathom Rise of Industrial Revolution

Cycle the Erie, Day 2-3: A Sequence of Charming Canaltowns, Pastoral Landscapes, Punctuated by City Birthed by ‘Mother of Cities’

Cycle the Erie, Day 4: Seneca Falls to Syracuse, Crossing Halfway Mark of 400-Mile Biketour

Cycle the Erie, Day 5: Deep Dive into The Erie Canal: ‘Mother of Cities’, Empire Builder, Wonder of the World

Cycle the Erie: At Fort Stanwix, Rome, Time Travel Back to America’s Colonial, Native American Past

Cycle the Erie, Days 6-7: Erie Canal Spurs Rise of America as Global Industrial Power

Cycle the Erie, Days 7-8: Schoharie Crossing, Mabee Farm, Cohoes Falls to Finish Line in Albany of 400-Mile Biketour

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