Tag: Tours & Attractions

This Old House {Connecticut Edition}

The next time you visit Connecticut swing through Guilford. This New Haven suburb, located along the Long Island Sound, boasts a rich history. Located just off the town’s Green sits Connecticut’s oldest house and New England’s oldest stone house, the Henry Whitfield State Museum.

Built by one of Guilford’s founding members, Reverend Henry Whitfield, in 1693 prior to the founding of the city. The building initially served as home to the Reverend and his family as well as a place of worship and a meeting hall. Later, the house served as a fort for the founding families to provide a place of safety and refuge from the local Native Americans.

The house was opened in 1899 as the first state museum in Connecticut. There is a self-guided tour of the house that takes you through three floors filled with 17th-19th-century furnishings and artifacts, and shares not only the history of the house and its inhabitants but also the history of Guilford. In addition, the house the museum includes a Visitor Center and Education building, as well as a canon from the War of 1812.

Be sure to visit the museum website before visiting to check on hours as they vary throughout the year.

What is your favorite National Historic Landmark?

Yates Cider Mill

If you ever find yourself in Rochester Hills, Michigan, then you need stop by Yates Cider Mill. As one of oldest, continually running businesses in the state of Michigan, the Mill provides an excellent pit stop to stock up on provisions and to enjoy some nature.

The Mill opened in 1863 as a grist mill, but by 1876 the Yates family had started using the water power from the Clinton River to produce a Michigan staple, cider. The double table press can produce up to 300 gallons of cider per hour! Tours are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during peak season (September and October), and they are about 30 minutes long.

The Mill is open year-round, but the best times to visit is during the summer and fall months when everything is open. My visit came a little early in the season, but I was able to taste some of their delicious cider and cinnamon donuts.

If your visit coincides with the proper seasons, Yates Cider Mill offers a Fudge Shop, Ice Cream Shop, Apple Tent, and more. The Mill also provides pony rides and a petting zoo during the summer months and a walking trail along the Clinton River. The trail is about 1/2 mile long, making it an easy way to escape into nature.

During your next visit to Michigan, be sure to add this landmark to your list of places to see.

What is your favorite cider mill?

Vulcan, The Keeper of Birmingham

Situated on top of Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama sits the world’s largest cast iron statue: Vulcan.

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Now you are probably thinking why does a classic southern city have a Roman god as its symbol?

Birmingham, founded in 1871, has a deeply rooted history in the steel and iron industry. With rich veins of coal, iron ore and limestone this city boomed as an industrial city. To help advertise the city and state, Birmingham officials funded the building of a cast iron statue to be revealed at the 1904 World’s Fair, and thus Vulcan was born. Designed by Giuseppe Moretti, Vulcan was revealed on June 7, 1904 and moved back to the city in 1905.

Since his move to Vulcan Park on Red Mountain, Vulcan has been the keeper of Birmingham.

If you are looking for a unique perspective of the Magic City and want a history lesson of it’s industrial history, check out the Vulcan Park & Museum. The museum offers an interactive experience of Birmingham and Vulcan’s history.

What is your favorite sight in Birmingham?

Throw Tea into the Sea

During my last visit to New England, The Tall Man and I ventured down to Boston before my flight out to do a little touristing! We opted to check out the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, which is absolutely perfect for any history lover.

The museum recommends purchasing tickets in advance, but we had no trouble getting into one of the shows.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum | Boston, MA

You start off the experience in a town hall type setting the night before the famous tea party. After taking on the identity of someone who participated in the Boston Tea Party, “Sam Adams” provides a compelling speech to teach you about the events that led up to the decision to destroy the tea and why this event had to take place the night of December 16, 1773.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum | Boston, MA Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum | Boston, MA

After shouts of “Huzzah!” and donning your secret identity, you head out to one of the two ships docked in the harbor. The museum features two replica ships of the period, the Eleanor and the Beaver.

Once on board, not only do you learn about the destruction of the 340 chests of British East India Company Tea, which weighed over 92,000 pounds, but you also get to see what living conditions were like onboard these vessels that brought trade items into the colonies. Let’s just say, you had to really love your fellow sailors as living conditions were tight!

You also get the chance to throw tea into the sea just like the Sons of Liberty.

After exiting the boat, you enter the museum for a multi-sensory experience where you get to see what exactly occurred in the days and weeks following the tea party. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed but trust me it is a very cool museum! One of our favorite parts of the museum was getting to see and learn about the Robinson Half Chest, one of only two known tea chests from the event that is known to exist.

So, if you are looking for a place to start your Boston visit we definitely recommend starting here — where the American Revolution started.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum | Boston, MA

What is your favorite museum in Boston?

World of Coca-Cola

The World of Coca-Cola is the only place where you can experience the fascinating story of the world’s best-known beverage brand, and it is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

World of Coca-Cola | Atlanta, GA

I recommend starting with the Vault of the Secret Formula exhibit. Through this multi-media exhibit, you can view not only the vault where the secret formula is stored but also 125 years of history, special moments and memories of this classic beverage. I particularly liked trying my hand at the Virtual Taste Maker to see if I could duplicate THE secret formula. I failed.

Coca-Cola has touched millions of lives. In the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, navigate your way through Coke’s history. This exhibit is composed of ten galleries and a thousand of original artifacts, some dating back to the earliest days of the beverage’s history.

In Bottle Works, you get a behind the scenes look at an operating Coca-Cola bottling process. Bottle Works showcases some of the same equipment and processes that are found in a full-size bottling plant. You even get a complimentary commemorative bottle as you are leaving the World of Coca-Cola.

Your last stop is the Taste It! room. Here you can try 100 different beverages from five different regions around the world. Beverly from Italy is a fun one to try! But we really liked Inca Cola from Peru and another from Africa.

Last not least, be sure to grab a picture with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear!

World of Coca-Cola | Atlanta, GA

Open Happiness, and visit World of Coca-Cola next time you are in Atlanta.

What is your favorite Coca-Cola product?

Georgia Aquarium

Did you know Atlanta is home of the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere?

Georgia Aquarium | Atlanta, GA

The Georgia Aquarium, located in the heart of the city, is among one of the world’s state of the art exhibits. The aquarium offers a fun and educational experience for all age groups! There is always something going on at the Georgia Aquarium, so I highly recommend checking the website to see how you can get the most out of your visit.

The Georgia Aquarium is divided into four main regions: Coldwater Quest, River Scout, Ocean Voyager and Tropical Diver. The aquarium also has a theater (Deepo’s Wondershow), a hands-on-experience for parents and children (Aquanaut Adventure) and a dolphin show (Dolphin Tales) that are also available with general admission.

Take a stroll with me through the Georgia Aquarium.

For a little extra, you can experience a Behind the Seas tour of the aquarium. SO much fun!

What is your favorite aquatic animal?

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

My hectic work travel schedule kicked off with a super quick trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I was in Nashville for less than 24 hours, but during that time I was able to see one of the sights I had missed during the summer I lived there: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

It actually worked out perfectly because my breakfast meeting was at the Hall, so I just walked down stairs after we finished to participate in the tour. They say the tour takes around two hours to complete, and I absolutely believe it. I, unfortunately, had to get back on the road to Atlanta so I was only able to be there for an hour. But what I saw whet my palate, and I’ll definitely be back!

The museum has the perfect mix of permanent and traveling exhibits. The traveling exhibits change on a regular basis, so be sure to check the list before you go!

I thoroughly enjoyed the “Sing Me Back Home” exhibit. This exhibit tells the story of country music starting with the nineteenth century through modern day. You get the full grasp of how much this genre has changed and grown over the years.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum | Nashville, TN Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum | Nashville, TN

If you are a Johnny Cash fan, I highly recommend you make a visit before the end of the year. The “Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City” Exhibit is quite an interesting exhibit that provides 16 listening booths that provide history of how these artists changed country music in the 1960s and early 70s.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum | Nashville, TN

One of my favorite sights was the Wall of Records as you descended the stairs between the second and third floor.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum | Nashville, TN

The last stop of the tour is the Hall of Fame rotunda. The rotunda is round in shape to ensure that every member is recognized as an equal. It is a very cool experience.

What is your favorite Nashville museum?

Visiting Bran Castle

When I first learned a visit to Castelul Bran, commonly known as Count Dracula’s Castle, was on our list of places to visit during our time in Romania I became very excited. After all, a trip to Romania is not complete without a visit to this national landmark. Located in Bran, (clever right?), Bran Castle is about a 3 hour drive from Alba Iulia (where we stayed), and about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Bucharest.

Upon arriving at Bran Castle, you are greeted by all sorts vendors selling all sorts of souvenir knick-knacks. They are definitely some great items and some that are not so great. Once you pass through the gate, cost of admission is 35 Lei or a little over $8, you start to make the walk up to the castle. The path is paved, but it definitely is quite the hike.

There are no tours of the castle, everything is self guided, so I highly recommend picking up an audio tour. A lot of the plaques are in English, but I learned a whole lot more about the castle and its most famous inhabitants with the audio guide.

The best views of the castle, in my opinon, are overlooking the courtyard.

I had a great day exploring Dracula’s Castle and it is a very “Transylvanian” experience to enjoy. I would certainly recommend this day trip to anyone visiting Romania!

What is your favorite Eastern European castle?

One of Anna’s Favorite Places in Montgomery

While I continue my adventures in Romania, I’m excited to introduce y’all to a college friend who is taking over Southern Exhilaration for the day! Welcome, Anna!

Anna

Hi I’m Anna, of Ann with a Plan, a lifestyle blog, focusing on food and travel.  I currently live and work in Montgomery, Alabama.  Montgomery is full of great food, family-friendly events, and history.  You can follow me on Instagram at @anna_watk or on Pinterest at @annawatk.

Today I’d like to share one of my favorite places in Montgomery with you.  The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is located on the 250 acre Blount Cultural Park along with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Garden and the Bark Park.  In additional to the beautiful works of art of MMFA’s own collections and loaned exhibits, the museum features family-friendly interactive exhibits, which complement MMFA’s permanent collections.  One of my favorite parts of the museum is the Artworks hallway which features the art of local students.  There are plenty of things to do for adults as well, with lectures, studio classes, book clubs, regular events and Arttalk, which gives local artists an opportunity to share their work.  The museum, with free admission, is a wonderful summer activity, being a relaxing break from the heat.

In addition to the lovely and well air-conditioned galleries, the museum is surrounded by several sculptures, a beautiful pond, and many geese, which will happily follow around children or adults in exchange for bread.  The geese, ducks, turtles and other wildlife are so entertaining.  I loved seeing the baby geese this spring.   While several sculptures currently surround the museum, MMFA is also in the process of adding an additional sculpture garden and walking trails which should be completed by next summer.

The Blount Cultural Park is also home to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Garden, the Bark Park and miles of walking trails.  The Shakespeare Garden is tucked away just north of the Festival.  It is wonderfully shaded this time of year and features plants referenced by Shakespeare and a small amphitheater.  While the park is always full of people, the Shakespeare Garden is a quieter area to me, used for its peaceful surroundings more than its running trails.  It’s the perfect place for a summer picnic.

Boone Hall Plantation

If you have ever been to Charleston, you’ll know there is a lot to see, do and eat. One of my favorite activities from this particular weekend was visiting Boone Hall Plantation. This plantation is rich in history and southern charm and holds the title of America’s most photographed plantation.

Boone Hall Plantation | Charleston, South Carolina

Boone Hall Plantation was established in 1681 by Major John Boone and his wife Elizabeth. One of it’s key landmarks is The Avenue of Oaks, a quarter mile stretch of drive covered in southern oaks that are older than our country, originally planted in 1743.

On the property, in addition to the beautiful Avenue of Oaks, you will see nine of the original slave cabins, a smokehouse, the Cotton Gin house, and a Colonial Revival-style house, which is not original to the property, and a butterfly garden.

Your admission provides various tours and experiences. We opted to tour the House, to learn about the Gullah culture or the culture adopted by African slaves along the southeastern coastline, and to walk around the butterfly pavilion.

Boone Hall Plantation | Charleston, South Carolina

What is your favorite Charleston attraction?