Things To Do In Alexandria, VA

The city of Alexandria is located in the US state of Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC – the nation’s capital. Alexandria is a lovely city that is rich with history. The city was founded in 1749. So, the city already existed before the United States declared its independence from Britain in 1776 and before the construction of Washington, DC was completed in 1800.

Former US president George Washington used to live in the city. Even though Alexandria lies in the shadows of the nation’s capital, it is still a destination that is worth visiting on its own. Here are the things to do in Alexandria, VA.

Mount Vernon

(Photo courtesy of Otherspice via Wikimedia)

Mount Vernon is located on Mount Vernon Highway at the southern end of Alexandria, overlooking the scenic Potomac River. That is the beautiful estate that George Washington owned and lived in. He lived there from 1732 until his death in 1799. He served as the US president from 1789 to 1797.

Mount Vernon was a generational estate that traced as far back as his great-grandfather, John Washington, when he bought the land in 1674. The residence was built by George’s father, Augustine Washington in 1726 after he bought the estate from his sister and George’s aunt, Mildred. George himself gained sole ownership of the estate in 1761.

During his sole ownership of the estate, George grew many kinds of crops on the estate’s sweeping farmland. These include, but are not limited to, tobacco, flax, hemp, cotton, silk, wheat, and corn. In addition to growing the many kinds of crops, George was a whiskey-maker who operated a whiskey distillery at his estate. He developed his own recipe for making the whiskey.

George was also known to operate other things at his estate such as a blacksmith shop, a stable, a smokehouse, and a spinning house. George owned his own African-American slaves who performed a wide variety of tasks at the estate from growing the crops to cooking meals to cleaning the rooms. The stately residence is constructed of yellow pine sliding designed to look like stone.

It is designed in the Palladian architectural style. The residence is shaped in a three sided manner. It is two and a half stories high with a total of 21 rooms. All of them can be toured and will give you a sense of what daily life was like during George’s time there. The scenery of the estate grounds is brimming with beautiful lawns, gardens, woodlands, and a few walking paths including a circle in front of the three sided residence.

When you arrive at the estate, you will notice that there are costumed guides there. That is meant to make you feel like you were there during George’s period back in the 18th century. They will help you explore all aspects of the estate’s history during your time there. The admission prices for Mount Vernon are $20 for adults and $12 for children aged from 6 to 11.

Those who are aged under 6 will get free admission. You can go here to buy your passes for the estate. Should you get hungry while you are there, you can dine at the estate’s onsite restaurant called the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. Those of you wanting to shop for souvenirs will want to check out the Shops at Mount Vernon which is also located onsite.

Old Town Alexandria

(Photo courtesy of Ken Lund via Flickr)

In addition to Mount Vernon, you will want to make sure to visit Alexandria’s Old Town area. This is the historic heart of Alexandria. Its cobblestone streets are brimming with vivid colonial-era architecture. These are the same streets that George Washington used to walk around back in the 18th century when he lived in Alexandria.

There are hundreds of unique shops and restaurants in Old Town competing for your attention and dollars. Many of them are located on King Street which runs from west to east through Old Town. If you prefer to get somewhere in Old Town faster, then you can take a free trolley that drives on King Street. Old Town also boasts a waterfront.

So, I would suggest you to head there and soak in the views of the scenic Potomac River and the boats that come and go from the harbor. There are plenty of dining options on or near the waterfront. One such option is the Chart House.

This restaurant offers a menu of seafood fare and has a nice outdoors dining space where you can dine while at the same time taking in the beautiful views of the river and the many boats docked just south of the restaurant. If you are looking for a peaceful place to relax, there are a few parks available on the Old Town waterfront. These include Waterfront Park, Founders Park, and Windmill Hill Park.

Art lovers should certainly check out the Torpedo Factory Art Center which is also located on the waterfront of Old Town. It was once a naval munitions factory, but now it houses 82 studios and six galleries where 160 professional artists showcase and sell their work.

These are the things to do in Alexandria, VA. Also, if you are planning to cross the Potomac River into Washington, DC and visit a few world-class Smithsonian museums, I would suggest you to check out this post from last month for my suggestions.

Alexandria Hotels

If you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight at during your time in Alexandria, I am happy to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Alexandria-Old Town

This hotel is located on Diagonal Road just west of Alexandria’s Old Town. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry and/or want an alcoholic drink, you can head to the hotel’s onsite restaurant and bar called The Atrium Lounge. The hotel contains an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available at the hotel.

All of the suites at the hotel come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $142 to $321. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Alexandria – Old Town

This hotel is located at the northern end of Alexandria’s Old Town area on First Street. There is an onsite restaurant at the hotel called Bistro on First Restaurant for you to dine at. The hotel is home to a hybrid indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool. There is also a fitness center at the hotel for your workout needs. Many of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with balconies which will allow for nice views of the bustling streets.

All of them come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $79 to $238. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited the city that George Washington called home back in the 18th century? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Wilmington, Delaware – The du Pont Family Estates

Wilmington is the largest city in the tiny US state of Delaware. The vibrant city, which is located in the northern portion of Delaware near the state border with Pennsylvania, is renowned for being home to a few gorgeous family estates. These belonged to the du Pont family. The du Pont family was a prominent Wilmington family responsible for starting up the chemical company, DuPont, in the early 19th century.

With the establishment and growth of DuPont, the wealthy du Pont family played a major role in shaping the growth of Wilmington. The family once lived in a few estates that aren’t just gorgeous, but are also now open to the public to enjoy. So, for things to do in Wilmington, Delaware, you will want to make sure to pay a visit to the family’s former estates.

Hagley Museum and Library

(Photo courtesy of TravelingOtter via Flickr)

The Hagley Museum and Library is located on Hagley Creek Road in the northwestern corner of Wilmington. It is in a scenic forested hill area fronting the Brandywine River. This is where the original du Pont family home is located. The first known du Pont family member to arrive was Eleuthere Irenee du Pont who immigrated to the US from France in 1800 with his family.

Around two years later, Eleuthere founded DuPont in 1802 by setting up mills on the estate property for producing gunpowder. Not only that, but he also built a village on property in order to house his employees so that they can work in the gunpowder mills. Today, you can tour the ivy-covered Georgian-style du Pont home and explore the history of the du Pont family.

You can also check out the beautiful Renaissance-era garden with terraces and statuary. You can then head to the gunpowder mills to get a better feel for how gunpowder was produced. There is also the employee village where you can learn about how the employees lived and worked.

The admission prices to visit the Hagley Museum and Library are $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $6 for children aged 6 to 14. Military members and those aged under 6 will get free admission. Should you get hungry, you have the option to dine at the onsite restaurant, the Belin House Organic Cafe. You can buy souvenirs at the Hagley Museum Store, also located onsite.

Nemours Mansion and Gardens

(Photo courtesy of Simon via Flickr)

The Nemours Mansion and Gardens is located on Alapocas Drive in northwestern Wilmington. The mansion was owned by Alfred Irenee du Pont who was the great-grandson of Eleuthere, the founder of DuPont. The mansion is designed to look like a French chateau. The mansion has approximately 77 rooms. The estate grounds contain neatly designed French formal gardens for you to check out.

The French formal gardens found at this estate are the largest of its kind in North America. There is a reflecting pool with a breathtaking fountain that reaches 12 feet in the air. The reflecting pool is connected to the mansion via a nicely landscaped area known as the Long Walk. It is lined on both sides by Japanese cryptomeria, pink flowering horse chestnuts, and pin oaks.

Whenever the fountain is turned off, the entire section of the Long Walk is reflected in the pool. You will also want to make sure to check out the chauffeur’s garage as it houses a nice collection of vintage cars that were once owned by Alfred and his family. Inside the mansion, you can find a collection of fine period antiques, rare oriental rugs, tapestries, and paintings from as far back as the 15th century.

One of the rooms you can check out is the Reception Hall. This is where the du Pont family used to gather to celebrate Christmas every year. It is one of the largest spaces inside the mansion. Another room at the mansion is the Drawing Room. On special occasions, the ladies of the du Pont family would gather in this room after dinner.

While in this room, the ladies gossiped, played cards and/or worked on their needlepoint while the men talked politics and finances over cigars in the dining rooms. These are just a few of the rooms you can tour inside the mansion. The estate was Alfred’s gift to his second wife, Alicia, who had a love for French chateaus.

The admission prices for this estate are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, active military members, and students, and $10 for children aged 6 to 16. Those who are aged under 6 will get free admission.

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library

(Photo courtesy of Robert Lyle Bolton via Flickr)

The Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library is located on Kenneth Pike in Winterthur, just northwest of Wilmington. It was built in the early 20th century by Henry Algernon du Pont and his son Henry Francis. They were the grandson and great-grandson of DuPont founder, Eleuthere, respectively. This du Pont family home was designed to resemble 18th and 19th century European country houses.

The mansion is also accompanied by a gorgeous 60-acre naturalistic garden which is among the best in the United States. The estate is surrounded by a preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands, making for a scenic setting. The mansion has an eye-popping 175 rooms. It houses a large collections of objects of American decorative arts – nearly 90,000 to be exact.

All of these objects were either made or used in the US between 1640 and 1860. They are all displayed in much the same way as they were when the du Pont family lived there. The admission prices for this estate are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $6 for children aged from 2 to 11. Free admission is given to those aged under 2. You can go here to buy your tickets for this estate.

With the establishment and growth of DuPont in Wilmington came the growing wealth and prominence of the du Pont family. At least one legacy of the family is that their estates are open for you to explore. So, one of the best things to do in Wilmington, Delaware is to visit these gorgeous du Pont estates.

Wilmington Hotels

If you are looking for a hotel to stay at in Wilmington, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest for you.

Courtyard by Marriott Wilmington Brandywine

This hotel is located on Rocky Run Parkway in northwestern Wilmington which should put you in close proximity to all of the estates. There is an onsite restaurant at the hotel called The Bistro. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available at the hotel for you to use.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi and coffee makers while the suites will also have kitchenettes in them. The average rate for a standard room range from $118 to $254. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Holiday Inn Express Wilmington North – Brandywine

This hotel is also located on Rocky Run Parkway in northwestern Wilmington. So, this is another hotel option for being close to the estates. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few nearby options include Bonefish Grill, Corner Bistro, and Grub Burger Bar. The hotel houses a fitness center for your workout needs.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $110 to $211. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to visit these beautiful du Pont estates in Wilmington? Feel free to leave a comment here.

Things To Do In Pittsburgh, PA – Carnegie Museums

Pittsburgh is a remarkably beautiful city to marvel at. Not just one or two, but three, rivers flow through the city with downtown being surrounded on three sides by them. Many bridges cross the rivers within Pittsburgh. The city also contain sections with steep slopes. All of this help to make for a pretty Pittsburgh scenery.

The Pennsylvania city is packed with plenty to do. One of the things to do in Pittsburgh, PA is the world-class Carnegie group of museums.

(Photo courtesy of Jiuguang Wang via Flickr)

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

(Photo courtesy of Dllu via Wikimedia)

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is located on Forbes Avenue in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It is located in a landmark building known as the Carnegie Institute and Library which is designed in the Beaux Arts architectural style. The museum is dedicated to explore the natural history of our planet. This museum is among the top five natural history museums in the US.

The museum is noted for its large collection of Jurassic dinosaurs. In fact, the museum is home to the largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs in the world. It is worth noting that most of the dinosaur skeletons showcased at the museum are actual ones, not replicas. A few of them include Apatosaurus louisae, Diplodocus carnegii, and T-Rex.

All of the dinosaur skeletons are found in the exhibit called Dinosaurs in Their Time. In addition to this exhibit, there are currently 17 other exhibits for you to check out at the museum. These cover other aspects of the Earth’s natural history from African wildlife to polar environments and from gems and jewelry to dinosaur-era sea creatures.

The admission prices for this museum are $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, and $11.95 for students and those aged from 3 to 18. Free admission is given to those aged under 3. It is also worth noting that the passes will also grant you admission to the Carnegie Museum of Art which I will get into in a moment. You can go here to buy your passes.

Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art is located in the same landmark building as the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. So, there is no need for you to leave the building just yet. The museum is primarily focused on contemporary art. This museum was established in 1895 and as such, it is believed to be the first museum for contemporary art in the United States.

Even though this museum is primarily concerned with contemporary art, this doesn’t mean there aren’t other kinds of art on display at the museum. You can find works of 19th century American art. There are also displays of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings at the museum as are works of European and American decorative arts from the 17th century to the present.

The Heinz Architectural Center, which is part of this museum, houses architectural drawings and models. It is home to the largest collection of plaster casts of architectural masterpieces in the country. The architectural center contains the marble Hall of Sculpture which resembles the interior of the Parthenon.

Carnegie Science Center

(Photo courtesy of Leslie Veen via Flickr)

The Carnegie Science Center is located across Allegheny Avenue from Heinz Field which is the home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. This museum is home to four floors of interactive exhibits. One place of note at the museum is the Buhl Planetarium. This is the place for you to explore the galaxy. One exciting way to do that is to take in the planetarium shows.

They are designed to make you feel like you are going on an outer space adventure. You will get to travel to at least a few places including the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Pluto. Another place at the museum you will want to check out is called roboworld. This is the largest permanent exhibit in the world dedicated to robotics. You will be able to get up and personal with robots.

You will be able to get a sense for what the robots look like, how they think, and what they do. There are dozens of interactive exhibit stations within this exhibit. Oh and yes, you can even play against a robot in a game of air hockey. The general admission prices for the Carnegie Science Center are $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, and $11.95 for children aged 3 to 12.

Those who are aged under 3 will get free admission to the museum. You can go here to buy your tickets. If you get hungry, there is an onsite restaurant called RiverView Cafe. There is also an onsite gift store called XPLOR Store.

Andy Warhol Museum

(Photo courtesy of Cbaile19 via Wikimedia)

The fourth and last Carnegie museum is the Andy Warhol Museum. It is located on Sandusky Street just north of downtown in Pittsburgh’s North Shore neighborhood. This is another one of the art museums under the Carnegie umbrella. This art museum is dedicated to a single artist, Andy Warhol. He was a famous artist who had a deep connection to Pittsburgh as he was born and raised there.

The art museum has seven floors housing 17 galleries in total. It contains 900 paintings, nearly 2,000 works on paper, over 1,000 published unique prints, 77 sculptures, 4,000 photos, and over 4,350 films and videotaped works. All of these artwork were done by Andy Warhol himself. In fact, this is the largest art museum in North American that is dedicated to a single artist.

The admission prices for this art museum are $20 for adults and $10 for students, seniors, and children aged from 3 to 18. There is free admission for those who are aged under 2. You can buy your tickets by going here. There is also an onsite restaurant called The Warhol Cafe, should you get hungry during your time there. Those of you looking for souvenirs can head to the onsite gift shop, The Warhol Store.

So, one of the things to do in Pittsburgh, PA is to visit these Carnegie museums. They are all worthy of your time.

Pittsburgh Hotels

If you are in search for a hotel to stay overnight at during your time in Pittsburgh, I am happy to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book your stay with.

Drury Plaza Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown

This hotel is located on Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh. The hotel is housed in a historic building that once housed a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, there is the onsite restaurant called 5:30 Kickback. Oh and haven’t I told you that you can also get a free popcorn and soda everyday in the hotel’s lobby?

The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available for you to use. Many of the hotel’s rooms offer a nice view of downtown Pittsburgh’s bustling streets. They all have WiFi, microwaves, coffee makers, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $136 to $259. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Hampton Inn Pittsburgh/Monroeville

This hotel is located on Mosside Boulevard in the eastern Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville which is about 14 miles east of Pittsburgh near the junction of Interstate 376 and Interstate 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike). There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, the hotel is connected to Outback Steakhouse.

There is an indoor heated swimming pool at the hotel. You can get your workouts at the hotel’s fitness center. All of the hotel’s rooms have WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $103 to $170. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these Carnegie museums before? Feel free to drop a comment below.

Things To Do In Gettysburg, PA – A Charming Small Town Rich In History

Gettysburg is a town located in the scenic south central section of the US state of Pennsylvania near the state border with Maryland. It is a lovely town that is bustling with history, especially that related to the American Civil War and former US president Abraham Lincoln. If you are a history buff looking for a small town filled with charm, this is certainly for you. Here are the things to do in Gettysburg, PA.

(Photo courtesy of Bubba73 via Wikimedia)

Gettysburg National Military Park

(Photo courtesy of Sallicio via Wikimedia)

The Gettysburg National Military Park is an expansive piece of land occupying the southern reaches of Gettysburg. The park is famous for being the site of the Battle of Gettysburg which took place during the first three days of July in 1863 in the midst of the four year long civil war. It was the largest and most important battle of the civil war.

It was the Confederate Army’s most ambitious effort to invade the country’s north. The effort was led by its general, Robert E. Lee. Even though the battle didn’t end the civil war, it was a major turning point in the war. That is because not only was the Confederate Army badly defeated there, but it also defeated any hopes of them ever winning the civil war.

In total, there were more than 165,000 soldiers battling it out in a town that, at the time, had a population of 2,400. It was also the civil war’s bloodiest battle, resulting in the death, injury, capture, or disappearance of over 51,000 soldiers. Within the park where the battle took place, you will want to stop at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.

This museum houses many of the 43,000 artifacts from the civil war. You will want to make sure to check out the big, beautiful oil painting within the museum called the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama. The oil painting is larger than a football field and as tall as a four-story structure.

It is presented through an overhead canopy and a three-dimensional diorama foreground featuring stone walls, broken fences, shattered trees, and a cannon. It is meant to heighten your sense of being in the midst of the Gettysburg battle. Entrance into the building is technically free, but there is a fee for entering the museum and the oil painting area.

The entrance fees are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and veterans, and $10 for youth aged 6 to 12. Those who are active military members or aged under 6 will get free admission. There are also guided tours of the battlefield’s most notable sites, including Little Roundtop, Devils Den, Cemetery Hill, The Angle, and Copse of Trees. You can choose to do the guided tours via car, bus, or bicycle.

You can buy your passes for the guided tours for $35 for adults and $21 for those aged 6 to 12. The guided tours will start at the building housing the museum and visitor center. You will also want to head to the Gettysburg National Cemetery which is also located within the battlefield park.

This is where more than 3,500 Union soldiers from the civil war are buried. This is also the site where Abraham Lincoln delivered his iconic Gettysburg Address in which he looked ahead to unifying the war-torn nation.

(Photo courtesy of Leslie Johnston via Flickr)

There are numerous monuments, memorials, and markers dedicated to the Gettysburg battle throughout the cemetery. That includes the cemetery’s centerpiece, the Soldiers’ National Monument, which is a 60-foot tall granite monument. You can enter the cemetery free of charge. You can go here to buy your tickets for all the paid attractions within the battlefield park.

Eisenhower National Historic Site

(Photo courtesy of Carl Grant via Flickr)

Eisenhower National Historic Site is the beautiful farmhouse that was the home of Dwight D. Eisenhower who was the president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. Before he became president, he had a long career serving in the US Army. This included a stint as a five-star general during World War II.

Because he moved around a lot during his time in the US Army, he was never able to own a home until just three years before he became the US president. It was in 1950 when Dwight and his wife, Mamie, bought the 189-acre farmhouse for $40,000. During Dwight’s presidency, the house was used as a weekend retreat from the pressures of Washington, DC.

The farmhouse was known to host numerous high profile guests during Dwight’s presidency. That included former Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, whose country was the arch-rival of the US during the Cold War. With its scenic surroundings, including breathtaking views of the South Mountains, the farmhouse served as a backdrop for negotiations between the two leaders to cool down tensions between their countries.

After leaving the presidency, Dwight and his wife moved to live in the farmhouse on a full time basis. Today, you can enter the farmhouse and see it the way it was during the time that Dwight and his wife lived there. It contains gifts that were given to the couple by leaders of other countries who visited them there.

In addition to the farmhouse itself, you can check out the presidential putting green, acres of cropland, barns, and Angus-grazed pasture. The entrance fees are $9 for adults and $5 for those aged from 6 to 12. Free admission to the farmhouse is given to those aged under 6. You can head here to buy your tickets. The farmhouse is located on Eisenhower Farm Road southwest of Gettysburg.

Downtown Gettysburg

(Photo courtesy of denisbin via Flickr)

Gettysburg has a charming downtown filled with Federal-style architecture. It is brimming with plenty of compelling restaurants and shops to check out. Also located downtown are three attractions that has something to do with Abraham Lincoln. The first one is the Lincoln Train Museum which is located on Steinwehr Avenue.

Abraham Lincoln played a key role in shaping the nation’s railroad system. As a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, he dealt with cases that concerned the railroad. As president of the US, he believed that the railroad was the best way to connect a broken nation. He had travelled on the railroad himself at least a couple times, including his historic trip to Gettysburg.

So, the Lincoln Train Museum is inspired in part by Abraham’s relationship with the railroad. One key feature of this museum is a life-sized model of a train car. You can enter the train car and making use of digital technology, you will be taken on a Lincoln-era train journey. You will even get to sit next to a version of Abraham being played by a local actor who will narrate his love of the country as you go along.

Another thing to check out at the museum is a gorgeous model of railroad tracks with trains on them. You can watch as the trains move around the model area inside the museum. The admission prices for the museum are $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for seniors, active military members, and children aged from 5 to 12. Those aged under 5 will get free admission.

The second downtown attraction is the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station, located on Carliste Street. It was a train station in the 19th century. It is notable because this was the train station that Abraham Lincoln arrived at on his Gettysburg trip. It is now a museum containing exhibits related to Abraham and the role that the railroad played in Gettysburg’s history. The admission to this museum is free to everyone.

The third attraction downtown is the David Wills House. This is where former US president Abraham Lincoln stayed the night and put in the finishing touches of his iconic Gettysburg Address. He stayed there in November of 1863, some months after the battle was over.

The home that Abraham stayed at, was owned by David Wills who was a local attorney and school superintendent at that time. You can tour the home, including the bedroom that Abraham stayed in. The exhibits focus on the events surrounding Abraham’s historic visit to Gettysburg. The tours are priced at $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and military personnel, and $4 for those aged from 6 to 12.

These are the things to do in Gettysburg, PA. Also, if you are looking for somewhere sweeter to go to, may I suggest the chocolate-loving town of Hershey? It is only an hour drive northeast of Gettysburg and I talked about it in my previous post.

Gettysburg Hotels

If you are looking for a hotel to stay at in Gettysburg, I am happy to help you out with that. Here are the two hotels I would suggest for you.

Wyndham Gettysburg

This Federal-style hotel is located on Presidential Circle just east of US Route 15 in Gettysburg. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called 1863 Restaurant. Those of you who are carving for an alcoholic drink can head to Lobby Bar which is the hotel’s onsite bar. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. The hotel also houses a fitness center for you to use.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites have WiFi and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $81 to $246. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Best Western Gettysburg

This is Gettysburg’s newest hotel, having opened in May of 2017. This hotel is located right next to the Lincoln Train Museum on Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg’s downtown. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Dobbin House Tavern, Tommy’s Pizza, and Gettysburg Eddie’s.

The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool. A fitness center is also available at the hotel for your workout needs. All of the hotel rooms and suites have WiFi, microwaves, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $98 to $204. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning to visit Gettysburg? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Hershey, Pennsylvania Attractions – America’s Chocolate Town

When you think of Hershey, you will most likely think of those tasty chocolate candy bars. But, there is also a town in the US state of Pennsylvania called Hershey. A suburb of the state capital of Harrisburg, Hershey is the birthplace of the iconic Hershey’s chocolates.

As a result, this tasty town has developed itself into a world class destination that revolves around chocolates. Here are the Hershey, Pennsylvania attractions to sweeten your time in this town of chocolates.

The Hershey Story

(Photo courtesy of The Hershey Story via Wikimedia)

The Hershey Story is located on West Chocolate Avenue in Hershey. This is a museum that is dedicated to telling the story of Milton S. Hershey. Milton was a famed chocolatier who invented Hershey’s chocolates in 1900. This museum explores all aspects of Milton’s life, including how he transformed Hershey’s chocolates into the iconic brand that it is today.

In addition to the exhibits that explore the life of Milton, this museum contains a couple areas of note. The first area is called the Chocolate Lab. This is the place where you can create your own treats made from chocolate. Whatever chocolate-based treats you create there is yours to eat and/or take home.

This process lasts for about 45 minutes and was inspired by Milton’s candy-making apprenticeship program and his love for experimentation. The Chocolate Lab requires a paid ticket to enter which you can get for $13.50 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $9.50 for youth aged 5 to 12. The second area of note at the museum is known as Chocolate Tastings.

This is the place where you can go and sample a wide variety of chocolate-based drinks from different parts of the world. The drinks range from fruity African chocolate flavors to Indonesian chocolate with caramel overtones. As is the case with the Chocolate Lab, this area will require a paid tickets to get into.

Tickets can be bought for $10 for adults and seniors, $7.50 for active duty military members, and $6 for children aged 5 to 12. The prices apply to the full flight of six. As for the museum prices, they are $13.50 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $9.50 for children aged 3 to 12. Active duty military members and children under the age of 3 get free admission to the museum.

Just for clarity, the museum tickets doesn’t include admission to either the Chocolate Lab or Chocolate Tastings areas. You can go here to buy your tickets. There is also an onsite restaurant called The Pantry Cafe. For those of you looking for souvenirs, the museum also houses a gift shop.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

(Photo courtesy of Hmich176 via Wikimedia)

Another sweet attraction you will want to go to is Hershey’s Chocolate World. It is located on Chocolate World Way in Hershey. It is located right next to Hersheypark which I will be talking about soon in this post. Hershey’s Chocolate World is basically a chocolate themed entertainment complex that is home to multiple attractions within.

The first attraction is called Hershey’s Chocolate Tour. It is basically a theme park-style ride through a chocolate-making factory. You can observe the chocolate-making transformation from cocoa beans into the iconic Hershey’s chocolates during your ride. The journey lasts for about thirty minutes. You will also get a free sample of a Hershey’s chocolate product upon completion of your ride.

The second attraction is called Create Your Own CANDY BAR. It is what it sounds like. You will be immersed into a factory setting where you will get to create your own candy bar working with a variety of ingredients. You will also get to design your own wrapper. This process will last for about 45 minutes. This is a ticketed attraction costing $26.95 per person.

The third attraction is the 4D Chocolate Movie. It is an immersive digital show in which you not only watch, but also help the Hershey’s candy-based characters to solve a mystery. There are over one hundred possible variations of the digital show. So, it will probably look different every time you experience it. This is another ticketed experience costing $7.95 for adults and $6.95 for children aged 3 to 12.

The fourth attraction is Hershey’s UNWRAPPED. This is the place where you can challenge your taste buds by tasting different kinds of Hershey’s chocolates. This is done in a theatrical manner. This is another one of the ticketed attractions which you can buy for $15.95 for adults and $12.95 for children aged 3 to 12. The tasting experience will run for thirty minutes.

The fifth and last attraction is Hershey Trolley Works. This is where you can go on a trolley tour of Hershey. There are a few variants of the trolley tour, but I would suggest the Original Trolley Show as this is the best trolley tour that they offer. Basically, they use a show of two actors to tell the story of Milton Hershey and the town that he helped establish as part of his historic journey in inventing Hershey’s chocolates.

The show is sprinkled with jokes and old songs to help make the show more entertaining. You can buy the tickets for $17.95 for adults and $14.95 for children aged 3 to 12. The Original Trolley Show will last for 45 minutes. Entering Hershey’s Chocolate World is itself free for everyone. However, as I noted, all attractions with the exception of Hershey’s Chocolate Tour will require a paid ticket to enter.

You can buy your attraction tickets by going here. There are also a few shops onsite offering a variety of Hershey’s treats from candies to milkshakes to s’mores. For those of you who are hungry for more than a treat or two will want to head to the Food Hall section of Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Hersheypark

(Photo courtesy of Paulo Ordoveza via Wikimedia)

If you are more into theme parks, then Hersheypark is for you. It is located on Hersheypark Drive in Hershey. There are at least a few things that makes Hersheypark stand out among all other theme parks in the United States. The first is the mascots. All of the mascots that you will encounter at the theme park are based on Hershey’s chocolate products.

These include Hershey’s Bar, Hershey’s Kisses, Ice Breakers, Jolly Rancher, Kit Kat, Milk Dud, Reese, Rolo, Twizzler, and York Peppermint Patties. You can have your photos taken with any or all of these mascots. They are commonly found in the Founders Way and Kissing Tower Hill areas of the theme park.

Another unique thing about the theme park is its height measurement boards which measures the height of guests before a ride to ensure that they are tall enough for that ride. Each height category is named for a Hershey’s chocolate product. In the order from shortest to tallest, the height category names are Miniatures, Kisses, Reese’s, Hershey’s, Twizzler, and Jolly Ranchers.

The must exciting thing that makes this theme park unique is the new themed area called Hershey’s Chocolatetown which is set to open this summer. As you can imagine, this area will be architecturally designed around the theme of chocolate.

This area will be home to attractions uniquely themed around Hershey’s chocolate such as the Candymonium roller coaster, the Chocolatier restaurant, and a Hershey’s Kisses fountain. All of these things combine to help give Hersheypark a chocolate feel to it. The one day ticket price for Hersheypark is $49.95 per person.

Also of note is that this ticket will grant you access to The Boardwalk and ZooAmerica which are the theme park’s onsite water park and zoo respectively. You can head here to buy your theme park tickets.

These are the Hershey, Pennsylvania attractions to sweeten your time in this chocolate-loving town. It is no wonder that Hershey is the sweetest place on Earth as its motto would indicate.

Hershey Hotels

If you are looking for a hotel to lay your head during your time in Hershey, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest for you.

Days Inn by Wyndham Hershey

This hotel is located on West Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, close to all of the attractions I mentioned. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby options for dining include Phillip Arthur’s Cafe, The Chocolate Avenue Grill, and Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

There is also a fitness center available for you to use. All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $67 to $289. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Hampton Inn & Suites Hershey

This hotel is located on East Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, also close to all the attractions I mentioned. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Also onsite are BBQ facilities for cookouts. If you get hungry, a few places to eat nearby include Lisa’s Cafe, Babes Grill House, and Piazza Sorrento. The hotel has an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

You can get your workouts at the hotel’s fitness center. The hotel’s rooms include microwaves and mini refrigerators while the suites include a full kitchen and separate dining and living rooms. WiFi is available in all the rooms and suites. The average rate for a standard room range from $125 to $282. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been sweetened by Hershey before? Feel free to drop a comment here.

What To Do In South Dakota – Sioux Falls

The US state of South Dakota is renowned for being the home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial as well as not just one, but two, national parks – Badlands and Wind Cave. All of these serene beauties are located in the western portion of the state. Across the sweeping plains of South Dakota lie Sioux Falls.

The bustling city surrounds the scenic Big Sioux River in the far eastern part of South Dakota near the state border with Minnesota. Sioux Falls is the state’s largest city. As such, the city comes with compelling attractions of its own. So, if you aren’t sure where to start for what to do in South Dakota, may I suggest the state’s biggest city?

(Photo courtesy of Maxpower2727 via Wikimedia)

Falls Park

(Photo courtesy of unknown via Wikimedia)

Falls Park is Sioux Falls most famous attraction. So, this should be the first place that you visit in the city. The park is located just north of downtown Sioux Falls. It is home to beautiful waterfalls. In fact, the waterfalls is a big part of how the city got the name Sioux Falls. The waterfalls average about 7,400 gallons of water per second as it drops 100 feet down the Big Sioux River.

The waterfalls had been known to exist since the last ice age around 14,000 years ago. Sioux Falls was founded around the waterfalls in 1856, hence the city’s name. There is a 50-foot viewing tower located at the Falls Park Visitor Information Center where you can get a nice overhead view of the waterfalls. There is also a gift shop inside the visitor center.

Should you get hungry, you can head to the Falls Overlook Cafe which gives you a chance to dine while soaking in the views of the waterfalls. If you are looking to go on at least a short hike, there is a trail that starts within Falls Park and then travels along the Big Sioux River as it navigates its way through Sioux Falls.

Also, there are 12 permanent sculptures throughout Falls Park for you to discover. Monarch of the Plains, American Farmer, For Which it Stands, and Coming Home are among the permanent sculptures within the park.

Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science

(Photo courtesy of Jon Platek via Wikimedia)

You will then want to head into Sioux Falls’ vibrant downtown to the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science. It is a multi-story building of Neoclassical style that houses multiple attractions within it. There are two attractions in particular that I would like to discuss.

Kirby Science Discover Center

The first attraction is the Kirby Science Discover Center. It is a massive science museum that takes up three floors. It contains over 100 hands-on exhibits for you to check out. The science museum covers a wide range of topics from outer space to tornadoes to rock climbing to music and movies. One hands-on exhibit is called Jack’s Imagination Lab.

This is where children of all ages can learn about science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics by participating in an activity in which they try to think of something and then try to build it using a set of kid-friendly tools. A scavenger hunt activity is also featured within this hands-on exhibit in which children search for answers to images and facts shown on a large display.

Dinosaur Discovery is a hands-on exhibit in which you can learn about dinosaurs that once roamed the land that is now South Dakota, including the Dakotaraptors, Pterosaurs, and Triceratops. There is a life-sized model of a T-Rex. You can also dig for dinosaur bones and learn about the tools used to uncover fossils.

There is an interesting experience within this hands-on exhibit in which you can ride a Jurassic Jeep and meet a couple of dinosaur scientists to learn about how they study dinosaurs. There is also an activity to color dinosaurs on interactive screens. The Learn South Dakota hands-on exhibit is basically what it sounds like – a place for you to learn about the state of South Dakota.

Here are a few of the hands-on activities in which you can learn about the state. The first one involves you in selecting a type of South Dakotan as your player, ranging from a farmer to an inventor, and take an interactive quiz regarding the state. The second one will have you become the fifth US president to be on Mount Rushmore via an interactive postcard.

The third hands-on activity will give you a better feel for a tornado by actually touching one. These are among the hands-on exhibits available at the science museum. The admission prices for the Kirby Science Discover Museum are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and military members, and $7 for ages 3 to 17.

Those aged under 3 will get free admission. It is worth noting that the admission into the Visual Arts Center, which I will be talking about in a moment, is also included when buying the passes to the science museum.

Visual Art Center

The second attraction within the Washington Pavilion is the Visual Arts Center. This art museum is home to seven galleries that showcase a variety of artwork from local, national, and international artists. Each of these seven galleries has an area of focus as far as the type of artwork and artists are concerned. The Jerstad Gallery is focused on artwork from well known contemporary artists in a variety of styles and media.

The Contemporary Gallery is where you can find installations, video art, and new media. Artwork created by artists with ties with the southeastern region of South Dakota can be viewed in the Shultz Gallery. The Egger Gallery is dedicated to Northern Plains Tribal Art. Those of you wanting to see South Dakota-inspired artwork will want to check out the Bates Trimble Gallery.

The Everist Gallery is concerned with large-scale artwork. Lastly, the Young Artists Gallery is, as you can guess, is focused on displaying artwork created by young local artists.

Great Plains Zoo

(Photo courtesy of Jake DeGroot via Wikimedia)

Animal lovers hungering for a place to go in Sioux Falls will want to head to the Great Plains Zoo. The mid-sized zoo is located on South Kiwanis Avenue in Sioux Falls between downtown and Interstate 29. The zoo is home to more than one thousand animals from 137 species, including 43 endangered species. The zoo’s signature animals are the snow monkeys.

Also among the animals you can check out at the zoo are tigers, giraffe, rhinos, zebras, and anteaters. The zoo is divided into eight categories, each focusing on a particular group of animals. They are North America, African Savannah, Primates, Flamingos, Asian Cats, Birds, Bugs & Amphibians, Hy-Vee Face to Face Farm, and Endangered Animals.

The zoo also contains the Delbridge Museum of Natural History which is home to a unique collection of 150 mounted animals, including 38 vanishing species. The admission prices to the Great Plains Zoo are $12.75 for adults, $11.75 for seniors, and $9.75 for children aged 2 to 12. Those aged under 2 will get free admission to the zoo.

These are some places for you to check out in Sioux Falls. Regardless of whether the city is your stopover on the way to other destinations within South Dakota or your standalone destination, there is something to do there. So, I would suggest you to give the city a look for what to do in South Dakota.

Sioux Falls Hotels

If you are in need of a hotel to stay at in Sioux Falls, I am happy to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book your stay at.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Sioux Falls, SD

This hotel is located on East Eighth Street in downtown Sioux Falls. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, the hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Falls Landing. There is an indoor, heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. If you are looking for a place to workout, the hotel contains a fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $92 to $199. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Sioux Falls

This hotel is located on West 41st Street west of Interstate 29 in Sioux Falls. Free breakfast is available at the hotel. For nearby dining options, a few of them include Texas Roadhouse, Shahi Palace, and PizzaRev. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available for your workouts.

All of the rooms at the hotel offer WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $100 to $149. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to check out South Dakota’s biggest city? Feel free to leave a comment here.

Washington, DC For Museums – Museums To Check Out This Year

The gorgeous city of Washington, DC is first and foremost recognized as being the capital of the United States of America. In fact, the city is home to the US Capitol, the White House, and the US Supreme Court – the iconic buildings that house the three branches of the US federal government. So, even though the city is most known for being the capital of the US, it is also renowned for being home to many museums.

Many of the museums in the city are administered by the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution currently oversees a collection of fifteen museums within the city. Nine of them are located on the iconic National Mall. Not only are these museums nice, but they can also be visited for free. So, I would suggest you to go to Washington, DC for museums. Here are a few museums to visit this year in the city.

(Photo courtesy of Sebastian Bassi via Flickr)

National Air and Space Museum

(Photo courtesy of David Bjorgen via Wikimedia)

The National Air and Space Museum is located on Jefferson Drive SW on the eastern section of the National Mall. If you are fascinated with both aviation and outer space, this is the perfect museum for you in town. An exhibit at the museum called 50 Years from Tranquility Base tells the story about Apollo 11 in which Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first humans ever to walk on the Moon.

That took place on July 20th, 1969. This exhibit houses artifacts from the historic journey to the Moon. These include, but are not limited to, the US flag that was planted on the Moon, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph that Neil used during his Apollo 11 mission, and an inflight exerciser for stretching and exercising the muscles during the mission.

Those of you who are looking for airplanes, rockets, and spacecraft on display should check out the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibit. One of the airplanes on display is the Spirit of St. Louis which was piloted by Charles Lindbergh who became the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo in May of 1927. One of the spacecraft on display is the Explorer-1.

The Explorer-1 was the first successful orbiting satellite to be launched by the US. It was launched into orbit in January of 1958. Another exhibit at the museum is Explore the Universe. This exhibit explores the progress that we as humanity have developed our understanding of the universe in which Earth is just a small part of.

Our understanding of the universe has improved with the help of astronomical tools including telescope, photography, spectroscopy, and digital technology. These are on display within the exhibit. These are just a few of the exhibits you can look forward to upon visiting the National Air and Space Museum.

There are currently around nine exhibits to check out at the museum. There is also a cafe and a store onsite at the museum.

National Museum of American History

(Photo courtesy of Carol M. Highsmith via Wikimedia)

History buffs who are interested into American history will feel at home at the National Museum of American History. This museum is located on Constitution Avenue NW on the central section of the National Mall. This museum is home to over three million artifacts from throughout American history from the war for independence in the 18th century to the present day.

There are three categories of exhibits at the museum. The first category of exhibits focuses on transportation, technology, science, and innovation. This category covers the first floor of the museum. A few of the exhibits you can explore on this floor include Inventing in America, America on the Move, and Lighting a Revolution. The signature artifacts on this floor are the John Bull locomotive and the Vassar telescope.

The second category of exhibits at the museum is concerned with the American ideals. This category covers the museum’s second floor. American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage, and Many Voices, One Nation are some of the exhibits that are available to explore on this floor.

A few artifacts from the second floor to note are the original Star Spangled Banner Flag, the George Washington statue, and the Greensboro lunch counter. The third category of exhibits at the museum shines a spotlight on the military, the public and private lives of presidents, entertainment, sports, and music. This category covers the third floor of the museum.

On this floor, you can explore exhibits such as The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, and Thanks for the Memories: Music, Sports, and Entertainment History. A few notable artifacts on the third floor include The Gunboat Philadelphia, the dresses of first ladies, and a car from the Disneyland ride called Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Should you get hungry, there are two onsite restaurants at the museum. They are Eat at America’s Table Cafe and LeRoy Neiman Jazz Cafe. Shoppers may want to check out Main Museum Store, Mall Museum Store, and The Price of Freedom Store – all of which are located onsite at the National Museum of American History.

National Museum of Natural History

(Photo courtesy of Melizabethi123 via Wikimedia)

If you are curious about how our planet, Earth, came to be, the National Museum of Natural History is the museum in Washington, DC to be. The museum neighbors the National Museum of American History to the east on the National Mall. The museum is home to the largest natural history collection in the world.

It contains a collection of over 145 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts. The museum is home to a total of twelve permanent exhibits for you to check out. I will go over a few of them. The first one is the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals is home to a massive collection of gems, minerals, and rocks.

That include the Star of Asia Sapphire which is one of the largest sapphires in the world. Another notable gem to look out for in this exhibit is the Hope Diamond. Another exhibit to mention is the Hall of Fossils – Deep Time. This exhibit is notable for housing over 700 fossil specimens that showcase life as far back as 4.6 billion years ago.

These include fossils that once belonged to an Alaskan palm tree, early insects, reptiles, and mammals. Also of note are the fossils for a T-Rex dinosaur called Diplodocus and a giant woolly mammoth. The museum is notable for being home to an exhibit called Mega-toothed Shark. This is where you can see a giant shark that is suspended above you.

This model of the extinct shark measures at 52 feet long. The name of the shark is Carcharocles megalodon, but is referred to as just megalodon because of its giant teeth. There are two restaurants onsite at the museum – Ocean Terrace Cafe and Atrium Cafe. The museum’s onsite stores include Gem and Mineral Store, Gallery Store, Family Store, Dinos and More Store, and Natural History Kiosk.

So, these are a few museums that you should visit this year. The nation’s capital is a heaven for museum enthusiasts, especially those looking to visit the Smithsonian museums. So, I would suggest you to visit Washington, DC for museums.

Oh and before I move on to my hotel suggestion for you, I have something bonus to mention. There is that one beautiful building I would like for you to feast your eyes on and it is called the Smithsonian Institution Building. It is like a headquarter for the Smithsonian Institution itself. It is renowned for its red castle-like building design. That is how it received the nickname of The Castle.

It is built of red sandstone in the faux Norman architectural style. It is not exactly a museum in of itself, but it does contain a visitor’s center where you can sample the collections from the Smithsonian collection of museums as well as learn about the iconic building itself.

So, you will want to be sure to visit the building, even if just to appreciate its beauty. It is located on Jefferson Drive SW on the eastern section of the National Mall.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Peschard via Wikimedia)

Washington, DC Hotel

Now on to my hotel suggestion for you. If you are in need of a hotel to stay at in the nation’s capital, I am here to help you out. Here goes my hotel suggestion.

Washington Marriott – Metro Center

This stylish hotel is located on 12th Street NW in downtown Washington, DC just a short walk north of the National Mall. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Fire and Sage. There is also an onsite Starbucks Coffee available. The hotel offer two breakfast types. The first one is Continental breakfast for a fee of $16. The second type is Full American with a fee of $25.

The hotel contains an indoor heated swimming pool for you to enjoy. The hotel’s fitness center is available 24 hours per day. Many hotel rooms and suites offer a nice view of downtown Washington, DC’s bustling streets. They all come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $171 to $516. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these Smithsonian museums in the nation’s capital? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Augusta, Maine – The Small Town State Capital

The US state of Maine is notable for its scenic beauty, especially along the state’s famed coast. But, if you look a little bit inland from the coast, you will discover Maine’s state capital of Augusta. Located on the scenic Kennebec River about 55 miles north of Maine’s bustling seaside city of Portland, Augusta is the state’s capital and a quaint small town at the same time. Here are a few things to do in Augusta, Maine.

Maine State House

(Photo courtesy of MonsieurNapoleon via Wikimedia)

The Maine State House is located on State and Capitol Streets in Augusta. It was built in 1832 which is about one year after the state capital was relocated to Augusta from nearby Portland. It was designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch of Boston who was responsible for designing the Massachusetts State House.

With the passage of time, the Maine State House went through successive projects of enlargement and renovation. The most recent renovation took place in 2014. The state house has a Greek Revival architectural design. It is built using locally sourced granite. The state house’s dome is made of copper and has a brownish appearance. It stands at around 185 feet high.

Located on the top of the dome is a glided gold-clad copper statue of Lady Wisdom which stands at around 13 feet high. The state house has three wings to the north, south, and west. It house the office of Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, along with two chambers of the state legislature. Inside the state house, there are art exhibits for you to explore along with collections of Maine battle flags.

There are also portraits throughout the state house of governors and other men and women who have served Maine throughout its history as both a province and a state. If you head to the state house’s visitor’s center, you can check out the state’s collection of butterflies. The state is connected to the Kennebec River via the scenic Capitol Park. Entrance to the Maine State House is free of charge to everyone.

Maine State Museum

(Photo courtesy of Stilfehler via Wikimedia)

The Maine State Museum is located on State Street just south of the Maine State House in Augusta. This museum is dedicated to exploring the history of Maine. One of the exhibits you can check out at the museum will have you exploring the struggles that Mainers endured in their battle to establish Maine as an independent state from the state of Massachusetts in the early 19th century.

You will learn about the difficult decision that needed to be made in establishing Maine as an independent state because doing so meant that slavery would also expand westward to new states in the US west of the Mississippi River in what is called the Missouri Compromise. The exhibit I just talked about is known as Maine’s Path to Statehood.

Another one of the exhibits at the museum is Back to Nature. In this exhibit, you will explore aspects of Maine’s nature, including its seasons, environments, animals, birds, and plants. This exhibit also houses a collection of gemstones that are found in Maine. They are displayed in both their original and faceted forms. Made in Maine is another exhibit that is available at the museum.

In this exhibit, you will hear stories about Mainers at work and the variety of products that they created. You can explore a variety of historical settings within this exhibit such as a sewing room, blacksmith shop, wood carding mill, and shops for making furniture, shoes, and fishing rods. The exhibit is also home to a working water-powered woodworking that has three floors.

These are just some of the exhibits that are available for you to check out, but that should give you a better idea of what you can expect at the museum. The admission fees for the Maine State Museum are $3 for adults and $2 for children and seniors. Those who are aged under six get free admission.

Downtown Augusta

(Photo courtesy of Dave Dostie via Wikimedia)

One place you will want to check out, especially if you are looking for a place to eat, is downtown Augusta. The historic riverside downtown is brimming with Victorian architecture. Water Street is the main drag in downtown Augusta, running just west of the Kennebec River. It is home to some of the delicious restaurants that the state capital of Maine has to offer, including a few new ones that opened in recent years.

One such restaurant is called Cushnoc Brewing Co. This restaurant is known for serving wood-fired pizzas. These are called pies at this restaurant. So, take care not to confuse these for dessert-oriented pies. Also, if you are looking for something alcoholic to drink, this restaurant also offer a variety of locally crafted beer.

If you are looking for a restaurant that offer gorgeous views of the Kennebec River, you will want to check out Otto’s on the River. This restaurant specializes in seafood, pasta, and vegan cuisines. There is an outdoor patio overlooking the river at this restaurant.

Once you are done with a restaurant, I would suggest that you take a short walk on Front Street from Water Street toward the river just behind the downtown buildings. That way, you can get up and personal with the river. There is a brief riverside sidewalk that travels along Front Street.

These are the things to do in Augusta, Maine that I would suggest you to take on. With a population of 19,136 as of the 2010 census, Augusta is the third smallest state capital in the country behind Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota.

Augusta Hotels

If you are in search of a hotel to stay at in Augusta, I have got your back. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Augusta

This hotel is located on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you are looking for a nearby restaurant, a few options include Cloud 9 Restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, and Domino’s Pizza. There is an indoor heated swimming pool at the hotel. The hotel also houses a fitness center for your workout needs.

All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi, full equipped kitchens, and dining and living areas. The average rate for a standard room range from $126 to $304. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Senator Inn & Spa

This is arguably the nicest hotel that Augusta has to offer. The hotel is located on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, Cloud 9 Restaurant is the hotel’s onsite restaurant. There is also an onsite lounge with oysters in the half shell. The outdoor and indoor areas of the hotel each have their own heated swimming pools and hot tubs.

The hotel also houses a sauna, a full service spa, and a gift shop. If you are looking for a place to exercise, you can do so at the hotel’s fitness center. There are four categories of rooms and suites, most of the categories have government themed names. They are Spa Luxury Rooms, Presidential Wing, Congressional Wing, and Legislative Rooms.

The first category is the most luxurious offering, coming with amenities including spa privileges, gas fireplaces, and jacuzzi jet tubs. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $82 to $142. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to Maine’s small state capital before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Springfield, IL – The City Of Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything that you know about Springfield in the US state of Illinois, it is the state’s capital. But, did you know that Springfield was also the home to former US president Abraham Lincoln. Anyone who is familiar with American history will recognize him as the president who united the United States following its civil war in the 1860’s.

Before he went on to become the US president, he spent much of his life and career in Springfield. So, as a result of that, there are a few things to do in Springfield, IL that has to do with Abraham Lincoln.

(Photo courtesy of Moses Parker Rice via Wikimedia)

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

(Photo courtesy of Meagan Davsi via Wikimedia)

The Lincoln Home National Historic Site is located on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield. That was the home that Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln lived during their time in Springfield. This was the only home that they ever owned in their lives. Three out of four of Abraham and Mary’s children were born within this home.

These three children were Edward Baker Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln, and Thomas Lincoln. One of them died inside the home at the age of three from tuberculosis. Before the Lincolns bought this home in May of 1844, it once belonged to the Reverend Charles Dresser who officiated the wedding of Abraham and Mary two years earlier.

When the Lincolns bought the home for around $1,500 in 1844, it started out as a small one and a half floor home with five rooms in total. As the Lincoln family expanded over time, the home went through four renovations in order to accommodate the expanding family. The renovations were completed in 1860 when the house expanded to two full stories with twelve rooms.

Today, the Lincoln home appears just as it did in 1860 after all the four renovations were completed. It is designed in the Greek Revival architectural style with Italianate influences. The entrance to the historic, stately Lincoln Home is free for everybody.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site

(Photo courtesy of Zol87 via Wikimedia)

During much of Abraham Lincoln’s time in Springfield, he was a lawyer. He maintained a law office on the third floor of a historic three story brick building that is now known as the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site. The building is located on the corner of Sixth and Adam Streets in an area of Springfield known as the Central Springfield Historic District.

Abraham practiced law within this building from 1843 until 1852. During his time practicing law within the building, he had two partners – Stephen T. Logan and William H. Herndon. The second floor of the building was occupied by a federal courtroom which Abraham was known to appear before District Judge Nathaniel Pope regarding 40 regular cases and 72 bankruptcy proceedings as a lawyer.

During nearly 25 years of his career as a lawyer, Abraham held law offices in more than one building in Springfield. However, this is the only building that has been preserved in order to resemble what it was like during his time there. The first floor contains a visitor’s center with exhibits and a video exploring Abraham’s legal career. The second floor is a recreation of the courtroom that Abraham used to show up.

When you reach the third floor, you can view the actual offices that Abraham and his partners used to occupy. Tours of the building is free for everybody although donations of $2 for adults and $1 for children are encouraged. There is also a gift shop on the first floor of the building.

Old State Capitol State Historic Site

(Photo courtesy of Jasperdo via Flickr)

The Old State Capitol State Historic Site is located on East Adams Street in downtown Springfield, just north of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices building. Even though the old state capitol is generally known to be the former seat of Illinois government, it has a few notable connections to Abraham Lincoln.

First, it was in the old state capitol that Abraham served his final term as a state house representative in the early 1840’s. Second, the old state capitol was where Abraham argued several hundred cases as a lawyer before the state Supreme Court which was housed inside the old state capitol during that period.

Thirdly and most importantly, it was in the old state capitol where Abraham launched his successful 1860 presidential bid in June of 1858 with his iconic House Divided speech. The old state capitol is built in the Greek Revival architectural style with locally sourced yellow Sugar Creek limestone.

It is surrounded by a large neatly landscaped yard with historic 1850’s-era ornamental iron fencing. Admission to the old state capitol is free to all. Even so, donations are still encouraged at $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

(Photo courtesy of John Kannenberg via Flickr)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located on North Sixth Street to the northeast of the old state capitol in Springfield. This museum is dedicated to the entire life of Abraham Lincoln from his childhood to his time in Springfield to his presidency. The permanent exhibits at the museum are divided into three categories.

The first category is called Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years. The second one is called Journey Two: The Presidential Years. The third one is known as The Treasure Gallery.

In the first category, you will experience various aspects of Abraham’s life before he became president. These include a teenaged Abraham studying law books within his childhood log cabin, his home life during his Springfield years, his legal and political careers, and his 1860 presidential campaign. The second category focuses on different parts of Abraham’s presidential years.

These include his famous Gettysburg address, the way he dealt with the death of one of his children, the time that Mary Lincoln was fitted for a gown by her dressmaker in the White House’s Blue Room, and his assassination at the Ford Theater. In The Treasure Gallery, you will check out various items from throughout Abraham’s life.

The admission prices for the museum are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $10 for military members, and $6 for children aged 5 through 15. Those aged under 5 will get free admission. You can head here to buy your tickets for the museum.

These are the things to do in Springfield, IL that revolve around the iconic 16th president of the United States. This central Illinois city played a major role in Abraham Lincoln’s journey towards unifying a civil war-fractured nation.

Springfield Hotels

Should you be in search of a hotel to stay overnight at during your time in Springfield, I am here to lend you a hand. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book your stay at.

Baymont by Wyndham Springfield

This hotel is located on Sixth Street Frontage Road East in Springfield. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Lake Point Grill, Cracker Barrel, and Head West. The hotel houses a hybrid indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is a fitness center available for your workout needs.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $66 to $112. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Springfield, IL

This hotel is located on Adlai Stevenson Drive in Springfield. This hotel offers free breakfast to guests. For the hungry, a few dining options nearby include Bob Evans, Red Lobster, and Taste of Thai Restaurant. You can find an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. A fitness center is also available for you to use.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $75 to $122. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to immerse yourself into Abraham Lincoln’s life in Springfield? Feel free to leave a comment below.

What To Do In South Dakota – Pierre

If you have been to the US state of South Dakota, chances are that you have visited Mount Rushmore National Memorial or Badlands National Park. Maybe you went to the state because of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which takes place annually in early August. So, maybe you haven’t been to a place in central South Dakota called Pierre. Pierre is a city that serves as the capital of the state.

The city which is located on the banks of the scenic Missouri River, has a population of approximately 14,000 residents. That makes Pierre the second smallest state capital in the US behind Montpelier, Vermont. Pierre is one of only four state capitals that aren’t directly served directly by an interstate highway. For what to do in South Dakota, you will want to consider making a detour into Pierre.

South Dakota State Capitol

(Photo courtesy of J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Given the fact that Pierre is the state capital of South Dakota, the first place you will want to check out is the South Dakota State Capitol. It is located on East Capitol Avenue in Pierre. It houses the office of the governor, currently Kristi Noem, along with the state House of Representatives and the state Senate chambers. The state capital is renowned for its Neoclassical architectural style.

The state capitol features a copper dome, Corinthian columns, and rusticated walls of granite and Bedford limestone. The interior of the state capitol is just as gorgeous. The floors are decorated with terrazzo tiles which were placed by Italian workers. The state capitol is also known to feature murals and paintings. That include four large round paintings under the dome that feature four Greek goddesses.

They symbolize the four South Dakota themes of agriculture, livestock, mining, and family. The state capitol’s dome is about 96 feet high. There is a marble staircase inside the state capitol. Located outside on the state capitol’s scenic grounds which include a small lake, are four memorials. The first one is the Fighting Stallions Memorial.

This memorial honors the eight South Dakota residents, including former governor George S. Mickelson, who were killed in an airplane crash in April of 1993. The second memorial is the Flaming Fountain Memorial. It contains a fountain of continually burning flame sourced from natural gas. It was created to honor South Dakota veterans.

The Law Enforcement Officer Memorial honors the police officers who were killed in the line of duty. The World War II Memorial contains of six bronze figures that represent one branch of service that South Dakota residents took part in during World War II. The entrance admission to the state capitol is free for all.

South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center

The South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center is located on Governors Drive in Pierre. This is a unique attraction because of the way it is built. It is largely built underground and is covered by gentle rolling prairies. This attraction is home to a museum that is dedicated to the history and heritage of South Dakota. There are currently five permanent exhibits available to explore at the museum.

The first one is called The Ways of the People. This is the place to learn about the history, values, and beliefs of a group of American Indian tribes known as the Sioux. The Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota tribes make up the Sioux grouping.

The Proving Up exhibit concerns the history of South Dakota from the placing of the Verendrye Plate in 1743 through to the final competition in 1904 of localities seeking to become the state capital of South Dakota. This exhibit explores the adventures of explorers, trappers, settlers, miners, and statesmen that established South Dakota. The third exhibit is known as Changing Times – South Dakota in the 20th Century.

This exhibit examines the changes and challenges that South Dakota faced throughout the 20th century ranging from the Great Depression to the arrival of rail limes and automobiles. Silent Silos: South Dakota’s Missile Field is the fourth exhibit at the museum. This exhibit traces the development of the missile field in South Dakota that was used during the Cold War.

The fifth and final exhibit to mention is The Right is Ours: Women Win the Vote. This exhibit dives into the movement in South Dakota and across the US that resulted in women gaining the right to vote in state and national elections. In addition to check out these exhibits, you can head to the museum’s Observation Gallery in order to get a breathtaking view of the state capitol and the Missouri River bluffs.

The admission to this museum are $4 for adults and $3 for seniors. Those aged under 18 will receive free admission to the museum.

Trail of Governors

(Photo courtesy of Otis1000 via Wikipedia)

Another attraction worth checking out during your time in Pierre is the Trail of Governors. This is basically an outdoors attraction where you can view life-size bronze statues of all of South Dakota’s previous governors. The statues are spread out generally starting from the state capitol and continuing onto the Missouri River in downtown Pierre.

The first statues to be erected for the Trail of Governor was in 2012 starting with former governors Arthur C. Mellette, Harlan J. Bushfield, and Walter Dale Miller. The most recent additions took place in 2019 and include former governors Samuel H. Elrod, Archie M. Gubbrud, and Dennis Daugaard. So, as of right now, there are a total of 25 life-size bronze statues of former governors with six more still to come.

Also, current governor Kristi Noem will have her own statue erected once she leaves office. If you are interested in checking out these statues during your time in Pierre, you can go here to find a map for the Trail of Governors.

These are a few things you can do during you are in Pierre. So, when you’re in search for what to do in South Dakota, I would suggest you to exit Interstate 90 and drive 34 miles north on US Route 83 to Pierre so you can check out these attractions.

Pierre Hotels

If you are looking for a place to stay at in Pierre, I am here to help you out. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Governor’s Inn – Pierre

This hotel is located on West Sioux Avenue in Pierre. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Located outdoors onsite are BBQ facilities for cookouts. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include RedRossa Italian Grille, La Minestra, and Mad Mary’s Steakhouse & Saloon. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available for your usage.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $72 to $91. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

ClubHouse Hotel & Suites

This hotel is located on West Sioux Avenue in Pierre. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, there is a restaurant attached to the hotel called RedRossa Italian Grille. The hotel’s outdoor courtyard houses the firepits for soaking yourself in warmth. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available for your workouts.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites have WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $132 to $168. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning to head to Pierre to check out these attractions? Feel free to leave a comment below.