Niagra Falls. A destination on just about everyone’s bucket list and a natural wonder of the world. Niagra Falls is the collective name of the falls that lie on the border of the United States and Canada, but it actually consists of three different waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. Almost 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second, which produces the highest flow rate of any waterfall on earth.
Journey Behind the Falls
There are multiple ways to see Niagara up close and personal; I opted for the Journey Behind the Falls, which is on the Canadian side of Horseshoe Falls. This tour takes you 150 feet down and provides you the opportunity to walk through a maze of passages behind the tour, with the pièce de résistance being the observation platform at the bottom of the 13-story falls.
My hood didn’t do me much good, but getting soaked was totally worth seeing this natural wonder.
Niagara Falls Canada is part of Niagara Parks, an almost 35-mile long park, bordering the Niagara River. This park is made up of a Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Conservatory, Niagra Glen and more. It is worth exploring this park as you spend your time in Ontario.
Night Life in Niagara
Conclude your time in Niagara with dinner on the veranda of Queen Victoria Place Restaurant for stunning views of the falls at sunset, and be sure you stay for the falls to turn on the lights.
Climb aboard another era with the largest maritime museum in the country, Mystic Seaport. Located along the Mystic River, this museum boasts a recreated New England coastal village as well as America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence, the Charles W. Morgan.
One of the first things you’ll notice as you enter the gates is the 19th-century seaport village. Stroll the streets and learn about what life would have been like for those left at home during the age of sea. Learn about the maritime trades, eat lunch at the local pub, and discover how our maritime past shaped life today.
One of the largest exhibits on the property is the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whale ship in the world. Built and launched in 1841, the ship took its maiden voyage on July 21 from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and sailed on 37 voyages, with most lasting three years or more, over an 80-year career. Be sure to watch the clock for hands-on programs.
Also, don’t miss the other historic vessels on the property.
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.
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.
Situated on top of Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama sits the world’s largest cast iron statue: Vulcan.
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.
The North Carolina Zoo is located just south of Asheboro in the Uwharrie Mountains and has been open since August 13, 1976. (We were there for the 40th anniversary.) With over 2,000 acres of land, this zoo is the most extensive “natural habitat” zoo in the United States and the largest walk-through zoo in the world. The NC Zoo has over 1,600 animals primarily representing Africa and North America.
Advice: Bring Binoculars!
We opted to start with Africa. The Africa section is divided into two distinct parts: Forest Edge and Watani Grasslands. The Forest Edge is where you’ll find zebras, giraffes, and ostriches wandering together. The Watani Grasslands mimics the African savannah, and it is where you’ll find rhinos, African elephants, gazelle, and other African species. Chimpanzees, lions, gorillas and one of the largest baboon troops in the country each have individual exhibits in the African half of the zoo.
The R. J. Reynolds Forest Aviary recreates the hot, humid conditions of a tropical forest. It displays more than three thousand tropical plants and allows visitors to walk among 35 species of free-flying tropical bird.
The North American section is divided into five different sections: Cypress Swamp, Rocky Coast, Streams of North Carolina, Prairie, and Sonoran Desert. We particularly liked the Rocky Coast (polar bears!) and the Streams of North Carolina. It is always good to know what is happening in your local area.
The museum recommends purchasing tickets in advance, but we had no trouble getting into one of the shows.
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.
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 on board 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 I definitely recommend starting here — where the American Revolution started.
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.
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!
Open Happiness, and visit World of Coca-Cola next time you are in Atlanta.
Did you know Atlanta is home of the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere?
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!
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.
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.
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.
One of my favorite sights was the Wall of Records as you descended the stairs between the second and third floor.
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.