Things To Do In Huntsville, AL – Rockets And Military

Huntsville is the city located in the northernmost portion of the US state of Alabama, near the state border with Tennessee. If you know anything about the city, you will know that it is dubbed the Rocket City. That is given the fact that Huntsville has a reputation as a major hub for NASA’s rockets and space missions.

The rocket-loving city is also known to be a center of the US Army’s missile development, being home to the US Army Aviation and Missile Command. As a result, those who are fascinated with rockets and the US military will be pleased to know that there are things to do in Huntsville, AL that will appeal to them.

US Space & Rocket Center

(Photo courtesy of David Ellis via Flickr)

The US Space & Rocket Center is located just to the southwest of the interchange of Madison Pike and Interstate 565 in Huntsville. It is the largest space flight museum in the world and one of the most comprehensive US manned space flight hardware museums. So, there is a lot for you to take in during your time there. The museum houses more than 1,5000 items in the rocket and space hardware collection.

When they are put together, they are worth tens of millions of dollars. When you arrive at the museum, you will notice an imposing rocket standing tall outdoors. This rocket is the Saturn V moon rocket. This was the rocket that was used by the US to put man on the moon for the first time ever in 1969. This rocket is about 36 stories tall, making it easy to spot from a certain distance.

You can explore aspects of the Saturn V moon rocket, including the Skylab engineering area, the Apollo 12 mobile quarantine facility, and the Apollo-era Gantry. You can learn about the planning that NASA undertook for America’s historic mission of landing man on the moon. There are also artifacts on display from the moon trip.

These include the Gemini and Project Mercury Astronaut trainer items, an Apollo 12 moon rock, the Saturn V Instrument Unit Ring, and the Apollo 16 command module. Another item that you will see at the museum is Explorer I. This was the first satellite that the United States launched into space. The satellite was launched in February of 1958 which is just over a decade earlier than the historic mission to the moon.

Pathfinder, which is the world’s only full-stack space shuttle to be on display, is also found at this museum. The prices for general admission to the US Space & Rocket Center varies just a little bit depending on the date you choose to visit. The prices for the July 1st to July 9th, 2020 slot are $20 for adults and $15 for children aged 5 to 12. Those who are aged under 5 will get free admission.

You can head here to buy your tickets for the museum. In addition to the museum, there is also a bus tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which is located about 12 minutes to the south from the museum. During the bus tour, you will get a glimpse into NASA’s operations in Huntsville. The bus tour is offered by the museum for $20 for those aged 5 and up. It will last for around two to two and a half hours.

US Veterans Memorial Museum

(Photo courtesy of Hichary via Wikimedia)

The US Veterans Memorial Museum is located on Airport Road Southwest near the interchange with US Route 231 in southern Huntsville. This is the museum where you can go and check out all kinds of cool things related to the US military. The items displayed at the museum date all the way back to the American Revolutionary War in the 18th century.

The museum houses more than thirty military vehicles. These include jeeps, tanks, watercraft, aircraft, and motorcycles. The crown jewel of these military vehicles is the Ford Pygmy. This is the oldest surviving jeep. It was produced in November of 1940 during the midst of World War II. You will be able to look inside at least some of these military vehicles at the museum.

A few examples include the UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, the Vietnam-era PBR river patrol boat, and the M-48 Patton tank. In addition to the military vehicles, there are military weapons and uniforms from a variety of periods on display at the museum. The museum is divided into nine exhibits.

They are Pre-Civil War (The Revolutionary War and The Mexican War), Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Present Day, 8th Airforce Briefing Room, and Outdoor Exhibit. During your time at the museum, you will get to hear unique first-hand accounts of some of the most significant conflicts that the US military had been involved in.

The admission to the US Veterans Memorial Museum is free to everybody. However, donations are encouraged. The suggested rates are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for students.

These are the things to do in Huntsville, AL. NASA and US military buffs will feel at home at these two attractions. So, you will want to make sure to visit them when you are in the rocket-friendly Alabama city.

Huntsville Hotels

Should you need a place to lay your head overnight during your time in Huntsville, I am here to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels that I would suggest for you.

Drury Inn & Suites Huntsville at the Space & Rocket Center

This hotel is located on Wynn Drive Northwest in Huntsville, right across Interstate 565 from the US Space & Rocket Center. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you feel hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Connors Steak & Seafood, Ol Heidelberg Cafe, and Grille 29. There is a hybrid indoor/outdoor 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 come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $117 to $181. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Huntsville-South

This hotel is located on US Route 231, just a five minutes drive south of the US Veterans Memorial Museum. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Bistro 6K. So, you can head there if you get hungry. There is an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center available at the hotel for you to use.

All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $118 to $217. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these two attractions in Huntsville in the past? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Bowling Green, KY Attractions – Corvette Cars And Amusement Park

Bowling Green is located in the south central part of the US state of Kentucky. It is located approximately halfway between the vibrant cities of Louisville and Nashville on Interstate 65. So, if you have driven between these two cities, chances are that you stopped in Bowling Green to get gas and/or grab something to eat.

But the small Kentucky city is itself also thriving with fun attractions that fans of sporty Corvette cars and those seeking amusement park goodness will want to pay attention to. Here are the Bowling Green, KY attractions that I am talking about.

(Photo courtesy of OPMaster via Wikimedia)

National Corvette Museum

(Photo courtesy of David Ellis via Flickr)

The National Corvette Museum is located on Corvette Drive near Interstate 65 in the northeastern part of Bowling Green. It is located across Kentucky Route 446 from the General Motors Assemble Plant which is the only place in the world where the Corvette sports cars are produced. The National Corvette Museum is the largest automotive museum that is focused exclusively on one model car.

The Corvette sports cars are under the Chevrolet brand. The museum houses more than eighty Corvettes. You can find antique, collector, concept, and one-of-a-kind Corvettes within the museum. You can learn about the history of Corvettes and what inspired them to exist in the first place. There is an exhibit called Generations that houses one Corvette from each generation sitting right next to each other.

That way, you can get a better sense of how the Corvettes have evolved throughout the history of Corvette. Over six years ago in February of 2014, a strange event at the museum grabbed worldwide headlines. A sizable sinkhole popped open and dragged eight Corvettes down with it. As a result, there is an exhibit dedicated to explore the why, when, what, and how of the sinkhole incident.

(Photo courtesy of Don Sniegowski via Flickr)

This exhibit also covers the recovery process including how the eight Corvettes were recovered from the sinkhole and how the sinkhole was fixed. The eight Corvettes that fell into the sinkhole are on display within this exhibit. You will also want to check out the Corvette Racing Simulator. This is where you can get behind the wheel of a C6 Corvette and drive it around a virtual racetrack.

The sessions for the racing simulator are $10 each and there can also be passengers to go along for the ride. The admission prices for the National Corvette Museum are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $7 for youth aged from 5 to 12. Those who are under the age of 5 get free admission. You can get your admission tickets here. As for the Corvette Racing Simulator tickets, they can be found here.

For the hungry, a restaurant called Corvette Cafe is available onsite. Those of you looking for souvenirs will want to head to the Corvette Store.

NCM Motorsports Park

So, you have had a chance to check out all these pretty Corvette sports cars, now what? Are you itching to actually drive a Corvette without actually having to buy one? The good news is that, yes, you can actually do that. In order to do so, you need to head to the NCM Motorsports Park which is a road track located just a short drive southeast of the National Corvette Museum, across Interstate 65.

There are a few different experiences available there, but the one you are looking for is called the Corvette Touring Laps. It is a little bit like go-karting. You will be driving in a C8 Corvette. The road track is about 3.2 miles and you will get to go for four laps. This experience is done in a lead/follow format.

The fee for the Corvette Touring Laps experience is $300. You can go here to book this experience. You will need to be 18 years old with a valid driver license in order to drive a C8 Corvette in this experience. Passengers will need to be 14 years old in order to go along for the ride.

Beech Bend

(Photo courtesy of Acdixon via Wikimedia)

Now that you have also had a chance to drive a Corvette, are you still hungry for even more fun? Good, there is an amusement park located on Beech Bend Park Road about 6.2 miles northwest, across Kentucky Route 446/US 68 from the National Corvette Museum. This amusement park is called Beech Bend and it is filled with numerous fun rides/activities.

In one of these, you will get a chance to drive an antique car glued to a track through scenic Hubcap Alley. A swing ride called Bluegrass Breeze Swing will have you riding around at a thrilling height of three stories. For $6, you can go racing with the go-karts. Are you into miniature golf (also known as putt putt)? You can do that at Gold Rush Golf where you can work your way through a beautiful 18-hole course for a fee of just $2.

These are just a few fun rides/activities found at the amusement park, but that should give you a taste of what you can look forward to doing there. Beech Bend also houses a drag strip known as Beech Bend Raceway. There, you can enjoy some awesome classic car or Harley Davidson motorcycle races. You can head here for the schedule of races happening there.

If you are looking to get yourself wet, then you can head to Splash Lagoon which is a water park located within Beech Bend. A wave pool, a lazy river, and some water slides are all available for you to soak in some water fun at the water park. The general admission prices for Beech Bend are $37.99 for adults and $31.99 for seniors and children. Military members, veterans, and those aged under 2 will all get free admission. You can buy your tickets by going here.

These are the Bowling Green, KY attractions that you should check out. Also, if you are a boxing fan, you will want to consider heading up Interstate 65 to Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville to check out a few places related to the legendary boxer. You can learn more in this post from just a few weeks ago.

If you are a country music enthusiast, then it would make sense to head in the opposite direction and go to Nashville. This post from late December last year, will have you covered.

Bowling Green Hotels

If you are looking for a hotel to stay at in Bowling Green, I have you covered here. Here are the two hotels I would suggest for you.

Drury Inn & Suites Bowling Green, KY

This hotel is located on Scottsville Road just north of Interstate 65. It is about 6.8 miles south of the National Corvette Museum via Interstate 65. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Blaze Fast Fired Pizza, Chuys, and Cracker Barrel. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

There is also a fitness center available at the hotel. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $95 to $148. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Hampton Inn Bowling Green

This hotel is located on Three Springs Road which is across Scottsville Road from the other hotel I mentioned. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you are looking for a few nearby restaurants, you can head out to Blaze Fast Fired Pizza, Cracker Barrel, and Chuys. There is an outdoor swimming pool at the hotel. Those of you looking for a workout can head to the hotel’s fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $106 to $158. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these fun attractions in Bowling Green before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

What To Do In Kansas – Old West Museums

The US state of Kansas is treasured with history related to the Old West. Kansas was a place where a mixture of outlaws and pioneers thrived in the 19th century. Those of you who are fascinated with the American frontier will be wondering about what to do in Kansas.

The good news is that there are two museums in the state where you can go to get your Old West fix. One of the two museums is located in Wichita, Kansas’ largest city. The other one is located in Dodge City which is located in the southwestern part of Kansas, about 2 hours and 35 minutes drive west of Wichita.

Old Cowtown Museum

(Photo courtesy of Kansas Tourism via Flickr)

The Old Cowtown Museum is located on Museum Boulevard just north of the winding Arkansas River in Wichita. This is a living history museum. You are being transported back through time to a Wichita that existed between 1865 to 1880. This museum examines Wichita’s transformation from a frontier settlement to a cattle town and then into an agricultural and manufacturing hub.

The museum’s staff dress themselves in costumes from that time period in order to heighten your immersion into 19th century Wichita. This museum covers 54 historic and re-created buildings with all of them available for you to explore. The museum is divided into unique districts. They are Residential Street, Business and Industrial Areas, Wichita’s Beginnings, 1880 DeVore Farm, and Blood Family Homestead.

The Business and Industrial Areas district is where you will find the kinds of businesses that were common to most Old West towns as well as these that were unique to Wichita. Some of them include Arkansas Valley Grain Elevator & Scale House, Wichita & Southwestern Depot, Drugstore, General Store, First Arkansas Valley Bank, and Fritz Snitzler’s Saloon.

The Residential Street district is where you can find the houses from 19th century Wichita. There were basically two types of houses depending on which group of people built them. The local businessmen built what was called in Old West Wichita, comfortable homes. The newly arrived settlers built houses using quick and easy construction techniques that were common during that time period.

Wichita was an Old West boomtown. The 1875 census had the town’s population at 62. By 1880, the population had grown to 246 residents. For the sake of comparison, the Wichita of today has a population of 382,368 as of the 2010 census.

The Wichita’s Beginnings district focuses on the economic activity that built the town in the first place. It all began when men came to the Great Plains to hunt for animal meat. The skins of animals, especially the buffalo, turned into a very profitable business for the hunters. They took the opportunity to trade with American Indian tribes, recently arriving settlers, and other hunters.

That helped to fuel the economic activity to start up Wichita. Darius S. Munger was the town’s founder. Even though there were already residents living in the area, Darius was the first person to formally attempt to build the town. His house, Munger House, can be found within this district. The 1880 DeVore Farm district is where the DeVore Farm is located.

When you are there, you can check out the animals and farm machinery that were common to farms in the 1880’s. The Blood Family Homestead district is where you can find the fruit orchard that belonged to multiple generations of the Blood family. The orchard was used to grow the fruits to be sold in the area. At first, the Blood family grew apples in their orchard. They then eventually switched to growing peaches.

The admission prices for the Old Cowtown Museum are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $7 for ages 12 to 17, and $6 for ages 5 to 11. Those who are aged under 5 will get free admission. There is also a gift shop located at the entrance to the museum. It is called S.G. Bastian and Sons Mercantile.

Hotel Suggestion: Best Western Plus Wichita West Airport Inn

This hotel is located on West Kellogg Street in Wichita. It is about 3.8 miles southwest of the Old Cowtown Museum near the interchange with US Route 54. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Bella Vita, Town & Country Restaurant, and Hog-Wild Bar-B-Q. The hotel contains an outdoor swimming pool.

There is also a fitness center available at the hotel for your workout needs. All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $70 to $109. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Boot Hill Museum

(Photo courtesy of Chris Murphy via Flickr)

The Boot Hill Museum is located on West Wyatt Earp Boulevard in Dodge City. This museum is similar to the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. That is because this museum takes the form of the Old West-style main street of a Dodge City that existed in the 1870’s and 1880’s during its notorious lawless days in which there were frequent gunfights between the outlaws and the lawmen.

Members of the museum staff are dressed in costumes from that time period in order to draw you into Dodge City during its American frontier days. You can check out the Old West-style stop fronts to soak in the interiors and view more than 60,000 objects from the infamous era. These include firearms, photographs, clothing, personal items, and Native American artifacts.

The most exciting thing about the museum is its shows. The first one is the gunfighting show. It takes place in front of the buildings and reenacts the infamous gunfighting between the outlaws and the lawmen. The second show is the Long Branch Saloon Variety Show. This is where a group of ladies in dress costumes perform the dances from Dodge City’s Old West days.

This dance show takes place in the iconic Long Branch Saloon. Even though you can visit the Boot Hill Museum any time of the year, it would be better if you do so during the summer. That is because this is when the two exciting shows happen. That way, you will have more fun during your time at the museum. The shows take place from Memorial Day through mid August.

The admission prices to the museum are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $11 for those aged from 5 to 12. Those who are aged under 5 will receive free admission. For those of you who would like fudges can get some inside the General Store building. Ice cream is also available onsite at the Beatty and Kelley Ice Cream Parlor. A gift shop is also available at the museum if you would like souvenirs.

Hotel Suggestion: Hampton Inn and Suites Dodge City

This hotel is located on West Comanche Street in the western portion of Dodge City, about 3.6 miles from the Boot Hill Museum. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. A few nearby restaurants for the hungry are Central Station Bar & Grill, Prime on the Nine, and Bella Italia. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub.

Those of you who are looking for a place to workout can do so at the hotel’s 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 $103 to $160. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Old West buffs looking for what to do in Kansas should look no further than these two museums. These two museums are like time machines that will transport you back in time to that era.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to immerse yourself in the Old West in Kansas? Feel free to leave a comment here.

Atlanta, Georgia Attractions – The Top Three

Atlanta is both the largest city and the state capital for the US state of Georgia. It is a bustling metropolis brimming with plenty of things to do. So, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start, especially if you have never visited the city in the past. If you are feeling lost as to what to do first in Atlanta, then this is for you. Here are the top three Atlanta, Georgia attractions to visit.

(Photo courtesy of Thomas Cizauskas via Flickr)

Georgia Aquarium

(Photo courtesy of Kristopha Hohn via Flickr)

Georgia Aquarium is located on Baker Street Northwest in Atlanta’s downtown. This is the place in Atlanta where you go to check out the water-based animals. This is the largest aquarium in the United States and the third largest in the world. So, there is plenty to see at the Georgia Aquarium alone. The aquarium is home to tens of thousands of water-based animals from five hundred species.

They are placed in more than sixty water-based habitats. The aquarium is divided into seven exhibits. I will run you through all seven of them. The first exhibit is called Aquanaut Adventure. If you have any children with you, you will want to check this out as they have something cool for them to do in there. This is the exhibit where children will feel like they are aquanauts.

They will go on an expedition through a variety of environments. They will study them and get an understanding of how animals thrive in them. There are seven different routes for them to go through and if they complete five of them, they will receive the George Aquarium Aquanaut certification for doing so. Cold Water Quest is the second exhibit. It focuses on the animals that thrive in cold ocean waters.

African penguins, Southern sea otters, beluga whales, and harbor seals are among the animals you will encounter in this frigid exhibit. Are you feeling charmed by dolphins? If so, you will want to make sure to head to the Dolphin Coast exhibit. This is where you can have an encounter with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

There is also a 1,800-seat theater within this exhibit where you can watch some cool shows involving these dolphins. Ocean Voyager is one of the largest single aquatic exhibits in the world. It is home to four whale sharks and four manta rays. Trevally jacks, small and large stingrays, enormous goliath grouper and several other sharks are also among the thousands of marine creatures found within this exhibit.

(Photo courtesy of Dsdugan via Wikimedia)

There is also a 100-foot long underwater tunnel where you can view the marine creatures swimming around you on all sides. Southern Company River Scout is the exhibit that focuses on the rivers of Africa, South America, Asia, and even within the US state of Georgia. This exhibit is brimming with waterfalls, logjams, and a simulated North American river that flows above your head.

Alligator snapping turtles, archerfish, and Asian small clawed otters are a few of the animals you can encounter within this exhibit. The Pier 225 exhibit is where you can go and see the California sea lions in an environment resembling the California coast. There is also a 500-seat theater within this exhibit where you can watch some awesome shows with the California sea lions.

Tropical Diver is the seventh and last exhibit at the aquarium. This exhibit focuses on the tropical coral reef found in the Indio-Pacific region. Some of the animals found in this exhibit include seahorses, fairy bassets, and yellow-head jawfish. There are also thousands of colorful reef fish roaming the tropical coral reef within this exhibit.

The ticket price for Georgia Aquarium is $32.95. You can go here to buy your tickets for the aquarium.

World of Coca-Cola

(Photo courtesy of PCN02WPS via Wikimedia)

The World of Coca-Cola is located right next to Georgia Aquarium on Baker Street Northwest. This is a museum dedicated to the iconic soft drink brand. Coca-Cola was invented in Atlanta in 1886. You will learn about the long, storied history of Coca-Cola at the museum. The museum houses nearby 200 historical and international artifacts from throughout the soft drink brand’s history.

A few of the artifacts you can check out include a Coca-Cola syrup urn from 1896, Coco-Cola beach pants from 1970, and some of the most well-known international and historic Coca-Cola advisements. More than thirty countries, from France to Korea to Zimbabwe, are represented within the collection of artifacts.

You will also go on an exciting journey towards uncovering the famous secret formula that had been used to make Coca-Cola soft drinks. You can even take a picture of yourself in a funny bubbly form as you proceed towards the secret formula. Once you get past the secret formula, you will be led into ten galleries filled with additional memorabilia from through the history of Coca-Cola.

(Photo courtesy of Elisa.rolle via Wikimedia)

These include, but are not limited to, a 1880’s soda fountain, a 1939 delivery truck from Argentina, and the Coca-Cola contour bottle. During your time at the museum, you will be immersed into the bottling process for Coca-Cola soft drinks. Oh and also, you will get a chance to taste over 100 different Coca-Cola soft drinks from all over the world.

The admission prices to the World of Coca-Cola are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $13 for youth aged 3 to 12. Those who are aged under 3 get free admission. You can go here to buy your passes. If you are looking to shop for souvenirs, you can head to the Coco-Cola Store which is located onsite.

CNN Center

The CNN Center is located on Marietta Street Northwest across Centennial Olympic Park from Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. It serves as the global headquarters of the iconic news broadcaster. CNN began broadcasting news in June of 1980. It was founded by Ted Turner. CNN offers a fun guided tour that lasts for about fifty minutes.

During the guided tour, you will get a behind-the-scenes look into the CNN studios and newsrooms to see how it collects and reports the news to its audience. You will also get to visit a control room theater to see first-hand how news broadcasts are put together. A visit to a special effects studio is also part of the guided tour. You can get a glimpse of CNN journalists at work in the main newsroom.

You might even get to see newscasters broadcasting live at the time of your guided tour. You will also have a chance to have a picture taken of yourself behind an anchor desk. Your tour guide will also explain the history of CNN and how it has evolved over the years. The prices for the guided CNN tour are $16.50 for adults and $14 for children aged 4 to 18.

Admission is free for those aged under 4. You can head here to buy your tickets for the guided tour. Also, the CNN Center also contains numerous restaurants and shops if you want to dine and/or do some shopping before or after the guided tour.

These are the three top Atlanta, Georgia attractions. So, if you are not sure where to start during your visit to Atlanta, I would suggest these three attractions as a starting point for spending your time in the city.

Atlanta Hotel

If you are looking for a hotel to stay at in Atlanta, I have got your back. Here is a hotel that I would suggest you to book your stay with.

Hyatt Regency Atlanta

This hotel is located on downtown Atlanta’s famed Peachtree Street just a couple streets directly east of all the three attractions. The hotel is noted for its beautiful atrium. Sway Restaurant Atlanta is the onsite restaurant at the hotel. There is also a rotating bar on the 22nd floor of the hotel. The bar is called Polaris and offers sweeping views of the Atlanta skyline. There is also a 24-hour market onsite.

There is a seasonal outdoor swimming pool at the hotel. A fitness center is also available at the hotel for you to use. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites offer nice views of either the skyline or the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool. They all also come with WiFi, coffee makers, and the hotel’s signature Hyatt Grand Beds. Certain suites will also come with balconies.

The average rate for a standard room range from $132 to $296. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to visit these three attractions when you visit Atlanta? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Charlottesville, VA – Home Of The Presidents

Charlottesville is a charming college town located in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains in the US state of Virginia. It has a special place in the history of the US as it was the home of not just one or two, but three of the country’s earliest presidents. They are Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.

All of the three presidents were also the founding fathers of the US, having played major roles in achieving American independence from Britain in 1776. Thanks to Charlottesville being the home to these three presidents, there are three beautiful homes for you to check out. So, these are the things to do in Charlottesville, VA that you will want to take on when you are in the area.

Monticello

(Photo courtesy of unknown via Wikimedia)

Monticello is located on Thomas Jefferson Parkway just southeast of Charlottesville. This is the picturesque residence where Thomas Jefferson lived. He was the third president of the US, having served from March 1801 until March 1809. His residence has a neoclassical architectural design. Thomas designed the residence himself after he inherited the land from his father, Peter Jefferson, when he was 26 years old.

The residence was built in 1772, about four years before the US became an independent country. Thomas owned several farms on his property. They grew a variety of crops to be sold at the market. These included such crops as wheat, corn, and tobacco. In addition to the farms, Thomas owned fruit and vegetable gardens in which fruits and vegetables can be grown for personal consumption.

There were about 140 black slaves at Monticello at any given time. This included Sally Hemings with whom Thomas fathered six enslaved children. The enslaved children were in addition to the six regular children that he had with his wife, Martha Wayles. The slaves lived in neatly lined log cabins known as Mulberry Row, named for the mulberry trees that lined up alongside the log cabins.

The fact that Thomas owned black slaves is ironic considering the fact that he was the one who wrote “all men are created equal” into the US Declaration of Independence. The main residence has about 33 rooms spread out on three floors and in a cellar. The rooms have unique architectural features that Thomas designed himself and reflect the complexities of family life at the residence.

The residence is built of red brick with limestone mortar. It is noted for its columned portico and dome. The serene landscape surrounding the residence also feature beautiful flower gardens and a reflection pond. There are at least a couple of options for touring the estate. In order to get the most out of Monticello, I would suggest that you go with the Behind the Scenes Day Pass.

You can get this for $67 for all ages. You can go here to buy your tickets for Monticello. There is a restaurant onsite called Monticello Farm Table Cafe. If you are looking for souvenirs, you can check out The Shops at Monticello, also located onsite.

Montpelier

(Photo courtesy of Pthomaskmadigan via Wikimedia)

Montpelier is located on Constitution Highway about 25 miles northeast of Charlottesville. This was the home of James Madison who was the fourth president of the US from March 1809 to March 1817, immediately succeeding Thomas Jefferson. This stately brick Georgian home was built in the early 1760’s by the Madison family. James lived there from that period until his death in 1836.

James was the principal author of the US Constitution that is the foundation of the country today. It was at Montpelier that he formed his ideas for what the United States should be upon achieving independence from Britain. You can learn about how he formed his ideas for the country and translated them into the constitution during your visit to the residence.

In addition to the Madison family, Montpelier was also home to over 300 black slaves who performed a variety of chores in and around the residence for the family. You can also learn about the slaves and how they lived and worked during your visit there. In addition to touring the residence, you can also tour the onsite cemeteries of the Madison family and the slaves who lived and worked there.

There is also a 3.55 mile trail that loops around the residence. You can experience the scenic beauty including the formal garden, horse pastures, 150-year-old white oak and tulip trees, and gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The admission for the Montpelier Walking Tour are $25 for adults and $12 for children aged 6 to 12.

Those who are under the age of 6 will get free admission. You can go here to buy your passes for the tour. If you get hungry during your time at Montpelier, you can dine at the onsite restaurant, Exchange Cafe. A museum shop is also located onsite.

Highland

(Photo courtesy of RebelAt via Wikimedia)

The third and final presidential residence is Highland. It is located on James Monroe Parkway just a brief drive south from Monticello. This is the serene residence of James Monroe who succeeded James Madison as the fifth president of the US from March 1817 until March 1825. James lived at the residence for about 25 years from 1799 until 1825.

However, unlike the other two presidents, James didn’t die at his own residence. That is because he was forced to sell off his residence in order to pay off his debt. The history of this residence is a bit tricky to explain. The residence that is there today is a quaint two-room cottage. This was believed to be James’ residence.

However, it was recently discovered by historian and archaeologists that only the guest house portion of James’ residence still exists today. It is believed that James had a much larger house, similar in size and stature to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello residence, but it was burned down in a fire in the mid 19th century. Later on in the 19th century, a two-story yellow wing was added to the cottage. That too still exists.

You can learn about the mysteries surrounding James’ residence during your time there. You can also view a rich collection of objects from James’ days, including imported French furnishings and finely crafted American furniture. Just like the other two presidents, James owned his own black slaves who worked on the farms growing the same type of crops as that at Monticello.

In fact, James and Thomas Jefferson were partners when it came to farming. Enslaved workers were also kept busy by spinning and weaving wool and flax. You can learn about the lives and labors of the slaves at the residence. The surrounding grounds is breathtaking. There are formal gardens, a vegetable garden, a lawn, and white ash trees within the estate.

In order to get the most out of this residence, you will want the Full Experience: Guided Tour and Augmented Reality option. You can get this for $19 for adults and $13 for children aged 6 to 11 along with locals. Admission is free for those aged under 6.

So, for things to do in Charlottesville, VA, I encourage you to visit all the three beautiful presidential residence. Also, if you are willing to drive about two and a half hours from Charlottesville, you can make it to Mount Vernon. This is the beautiful residence of George Washington, the first ever president of the US. You can go to this post from a week ago to learn more.

Charlottesville Hotel

If you are looking for a hotel to stay at in Charlottesville, I am happy to help you with this. Here is a hotel I would suggest for you.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Charlottesville-UVA

This hotel is located on Emmet Street North near the campus of University of Virginia in Charlottesville. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few dining options nearby include Brother’s Bar & Grill, Fabio’s NY Pizza, and Burtons Grill & Bar. There is a fire pit outdoors at the hotel. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $100 to $236. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited any of these residences before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Louisville, Kentucky – Muhammad Ali

Louisville is a vibrant city located in the north central part of the US state of Kentucky on the south bank of the scenic Ohio River. One thing that Louisville is known for is being the hometown of boxing great Muhammad Ali. He was a professional boxer from October of 1960 until December of 1981. He is widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time.

If you are a fan of professional boxing, you will most likely have heard of the legendary boxer. Given that Louisville is where Muhammad was born and raised, there are a few places in town that have something to do with him. So, if you are a professional boxing fan looking for things to do in Louisville, Kentucky, you will want to make sure to visit these places.

(Photo courtesy of Ira Rosenberg via Wikimedia)

Muhammad Ali Center

(Photo courtesy of TimHaag via Flickr)

The first attraction you will want to go to is the Muhammad Ali Center. It is located on North Sixth Street in Louisville’s historic downtown. It is right next to Interstate 64 and should be easy to spot if you drive by on the highway. The center houses an award-winning museum that is dedicated to the legendary life of Muhammad Ali, both inside and outside of the boxing ring.

The museum takes up around two and a half floors within the building. The museum has a few parts to it. The first part is about Muhammad’s boxing career. There is a mock boxing ring inside the museum. Memorabilia from Muhammad’s boxing career are housed inside the museum for you to check out. There is a large projector showing the Muhammad Ali biopic film called The Greatest.

The film is projected onto a life-sized boxing ring. There are also clips showing off Muhammad’s greatest fights on terminals. They all also come with pre- and post-fight interviews. The second part of the museum’s focus is Muhammad’s life outside of the boxing ring. Muhammad wasn’t just the greatest boxer of all time, he also strived to become the best person that he can be.

You can learn about how Muhammad used his platform to help people and communities around the country and the world during and after his boxing career. Muhammad was guided through life by six core values. They are confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. All of his core values shine throughout the museum.

The third focus at the museum is on artwork depicting Muhammad. They are housed in two galleries within the museum. The artwork were done by two artists LeRoy Neiman and Howard L. Bingham.

The admission prices to the museum are $14 for adults, $13 for seniors, $10 for military members and students, and $9 for children aged 6 to 12. Free admission is granted to those aged under 6. You can go here to buy your tickets to the museum.

Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum

(Photo courtesy of David Swinney via Flickr)

The Muhammad Ali Childhood Home Museum is located on Grand Avenue in the Parkland neighborhood about a few miles southwest of downtown Louisville near Interstate 264. Look for the pink house on Grand Avenue with a brown sign in front of it. This is the house where Muhammad Ali grew up. He lived there from 1947 until 1961.

When Muhammad was growing up, he was known as Cassius Clay Jr. before he changed his name to Muhammad Ali during his adulthood. His father, Cassius Clay Sr., was a sign painter and a local artisan. During Muhammad’s childhood, he and his younger brother, Rudolph, would help their father out with painting and drawing.

Muhammad’s mother, Odessa Clay, was a devout Baptist who took him and his brother to church every Sunday while they were growing up. At first, Muhammad’s childhood home wasn’t colored pink, but that changed during his childhood when his father decided to paint the house to be pink. That was because pink was Muhammad’s mother’s favorite color.

The childhood home had two bedrooms, one full bathroom, a kitchen, and an ante-room. During Muhammad’s childhood, his father added a recreation room to the back of the house. The Clay family bought the house in March of 1947 when Muhammad was five years old. At that point, the house was only five years old, having been built in 1942.

Today, the childhood house looks just like it did when Muhammad lived there. It is now a museum housing unique items that once belonged to the Clay family. There are also many documentaries and recorded interviews inside. The admission to the museum is free for everyone. There is also a gift shop located inside one of the neighboring houses.

Columbia Gym and Cave Hill Cemetery

The Columbia Gym is located on South Fourth Street at the southern end of downtown Louisville inside a historic building that now belongs to Spalding University. This is where Muhammad Ali first began his boxing training that ultimately set him on the path to becoming the greatest boxer of all time. It all started in 1954 when Muhammad was twelve years old.

One day in 1954, Muhammad rode his red bicycle to a event that took place inside that historic building. He left his red bicycle just outside the entrance to the building. But when he came back out from the event that he participated in, he discovered that his bicycle had been stolen. Deeply upset, he went to search for help in retrieving his bicycle.

In the process, he chanced upon Joe Martin who was training boxers in the gym in the lower level of the building. He complained to Joe, who also worked as a police officer, that his bicycle had been stolen. He then told Joe that he was going to whup whomever stole his bicycle. Joe warned Muhammad that in order to do that, he would need to learn how to fight.

Joe then took him in and trained him in boxing inside the gym. From there, Muhammad was set on track to becoming the greatest boxer of all time. It changed his future forever. Joe also became Muhammad’s first ever boxing coach. He was the boxing coach for the first six years of Muhammad’s boxing career.

Today, you can see a replica of Muhammad’s red bicycle hanging above the entrance to the building. Also, that gym where Muhammad first trained, is still in use today by athletes of Spalding University. As for Cave Hill Cemetery, it is a scenic 296-acre Victorian-era national cemetery and arboretum. It is located on Baxter Avenue in the eastern part of Louisville.

This cemetery is notable because this is where Muhammad Ali was buried when he died in 2016 at the age of 74. His grave is located somewhere in the southern corner of the cemetery. There is a painted green line that will guide you from the cemetery entrance to his grave.

These are the things to do in Louisville, Kentucky for learning about and/or honoring the legendary boxer. Muhammad Ali also has two things named after him in Louisville. A downtown street is called Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Louisville’s international airport is also named after Muhammad.

Louisville Hotels

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

Best Western Green Tree Inn

This hotel is located on Broadway Street in the Louisville suburb of Clarksville, Indiana which is just a few miles north across the Ohio River from downtown Louisville. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Texas Roadhouse, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Chuy’s. There is an outdoors heated swimming pool at the hotel.

The hotel also houses a fitness center for you to use. All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $75 to $132. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Candlewood Suites Louisville North

This hotel is located on Bales Lane, also in Clarksville, Indiana. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Bubba’s 33, Boombozz, and LongHorn Steakhouse. This hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool. There is also a fitness center available for you to use at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi and kitchenettes. The average rate for a standard room range from $89 to $149. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these Muhammad Ali-related attractions in Louisville? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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.