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Unforgettable Boston

This article was originally published in the Simpsonville Sentinel and at Yahoo.

 

With all eyes on Boston over the past several weeks, many have connected and have come to admire the resilient people that live in this city steeped with our nation’s history. With strong ties to South Carolina, including the Greenville Drive’s Boston Red Sox affiliation and Fluor Field modeled after Boston’s Fenway Park, to the stones that built Fort Sumter direct from Boston area quarries, the Upstate has a close relationship with this amazing, unforgettable city.

BostonBoston is a great, walkable city; in fact it’s been nicknamed America’s Walking City, so no need for a rental car once you arrive. The T subway system is also pretty extensive so when you don’t feel like walking just hop on the subway to get to wherever you’re going. Unlimited 7-day passes are available for just $18.00 per person and you can either pick up a map or download one to your smart phone to figure out which routes you need.

Once you arrive, check in at the Nine Zero Hotel. Part of the Kimpton hotel chain, this sleek, modern hotel has been ranked as one of Boston’s top luxury boutique hotels. It’s conveniently located on Treemont Street, right across from Boston Common, America’s oldest public park. It’s also right on the Freedom Trail, close to the Theater District and Chinatown- in the heart of downtown Boston.

Boston 007Once you’re settled in, walking the Freedom Trail is a great way to get to know the city. Park Ranger’s lead free tours daily from the National Park Visitor’s Center at Faneuil Hall and other companies offer costumed guided tours or, you can pick up a brochure and take a self-guided tour.  The walking trail covers 16 sites that are significant landmarks in American Revolutionary history. Landmarks include Paul Revere’s House, Bunker Hill Monument, The Old State House and the Old Corner Book Store.

Boston Duck Tours are another fun way to sightsee around the city. These tours leave from the Prudential Center and are especially popular with families. Tour guides have nicknames like MackinQuack and make history fun as you ride in an amphibious vehicle. You’ll learn about the history of Boston’s Back Bay, see the gas lamps and brick sidewalks that define Beacon Street and plop down into the Charlestown River before checking out where the USS Constitution, aka Old Ironside, is docked.

The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is another good way to immerse yourself in American Revolutionary history. This floating museum features live actors, high-tech exhibits and authentically restored tea ships. Upon entering the museum you will be given a feather and a card issuing you a new identity.  You will then be ushered into a room where you will meet new colonists like Paul Revere and Sam Adams. After proclaiming your independence from England, you’ll explore the ships and throw tea overboard just like the Sons of Liberty did on December 16, 1773.

Before checking out other attractions like the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and the Skywalk at the Prudential Center, get a CityPass. Many larger cities offer these handy booklets, with Boston being one of those, and are available at any visitor’s center and at several kiosks throughout the city. They contain prepaid admission tickets to Boston’s most popular attractions and offer almost a 50% discount. Some attractions also let you skip long lines with these passes so they are definitely worthwhile.

Bostons Little ItalyIn a city with a Dunkin Donuts on every corner, Boston has plenty of options when it comes to dining, but the North End, aka Little Italy, transports you into another country. When you cross over onto Hanover Street and enter the North End Historic District you feel like you are in Italy. Little, Old Italian women are busy sweeping the stoops in front of their restaurants and the smell of fresh baked bread is heavenly sweet. From cannolis at Modern Pastry (forget famous Mike’s where the lines are longer with tourists) to pizza at Regina’s, a no frill’s pizzeria that has been here since 1926, the dining possibilities are endless. With over 100 restaurants in this small (.36 miles) area, crowds line the streets on many nights so if you don’t have reservations there may be a long wait.

There are so many things to do and see in Boston. Be sure to stop into the Boston Public Library to see the amazing architecture, marble statues and painted murals. Take in the amazing city view from the Prudential Skywalk Observatory. Go shopping along Newbury Street, the shops at Prudential Center and Faneuil Hall. Sample food from the largest food court I’ve ever seen at Quincy Market and visit the seals and penguins at the newly refurbished aquarium that’s been under repairs by Raleigh Aquarium Maintenance for a few months.

Whew…and that’s only a fraction of what Boston has to offer. There are also world-class museums and many other historically significant sites. Each of Boston’s 21 distinctive neighborhoods has its own charm and vibe, making each one and the whole city truly unforgettable.

Say Osiyo to Oklahoma

Osiyo, which means “Hello” in Cherokee, is spoken often in Oklahoma. After all, this is home to Tahlequah, Capital of the Cherokee Nation. As I traversed the state in my week-long visit, I got a glimpse into the varied landscape and people that make up Oklahoma.

Oklahoma City

I have never seen as many wranglers, boots, and cowboy hats as when I stepped off the plane in Oklahoma City. That’s saying a lot, since I lived in Dallas and the Southwest for many years. But this cosmopolitan-meets-cowboy capital of Oklahoma captured my attention. Once the center of industrial activity, Bricktown is now Oklahoma City’s most vibrant and exciting neighborhood with a mile-long canal traversed by water taxis and lined with restaurants, and night clubs.

The masterful way the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is put together is amazing and truly transports you into the bombing and events that took place on April 19, 1995. Housed in the former Journal Record Building that withstood the bombing, it takes you on a chronological journey of the day of the bombing and the weeks and years afterwards. Tissues are located throughout the museum and even after almost twenty years, there weren’t many dry eyes. The beauty on this is that you can fly to Oklahoma from other sites of the country and leave your car near where you catch your fly with Gateway Airport Parking.

The collection at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art includes European and American art spanning five centuries. It also boasts the most comprehensive collection of Chihuly glass in the world, including a 55-foot-tall glass tower at the entrance.

Just outside Oklahoma City is Stockyards City, the world’s largest cattle market. Here is where authentic, working cowboys come to buy and sell cattle. It’s a bustle of activity on Monday and Thursday mornings and a bit of a ghost town the rest of the week. Homeland Security even has security cameras monitoring the marketplace because it’s such a major food source for the U.S. Once the cowboys are done with the cattle, they frequent nearby Langston’s Western Wear, the oldest western store in the U.S. and get a bite to eat at Cattleman’s Restaurant which has been around for over 100 years.

Oklahoma City A trip to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is a 220,000 square foot adventure of everything cowboy. “Barbed wire and windmills are what settled the west” and the museum has everything from featured western artists such as Charlie Russell and Remington to a full-scale replica of a frontier town.

Tulsa

At The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino , if one of the 2100 gaming machine or 65 game tables aren’t enough to capture your attention, you can take advantage of the indoor/outdoor pool or play a round of golf on the 18-hole Perry Maxwell designed course that is ranked as one of the top public golf courses in Oklahoma.

The Gilcrease Museum is known for its 23 acres of magnificent gardens but it also has an extensive collection of rare books, maps and other documents, including a handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence along with letters from Thomas Jefferson. It also has one of the nation’s largest collections of art and artifacts from the American West and Native American cultures.

Claremore/Oologah

The state of Oklahoma seemingly worships Will Rogers and no visit to the Sooner State would be complete without a visit to the Dog Iron Ranch, where Will was born. The house was originally built in 1875 and has great views of Lake Oologah. Next stop is the Will Rogers Memorial Museum where you can learn about the life, the wisdom and the humor of Will Rogers and his Cherokee connections.

Tahlequah

Located on the grounds of the first Cherokee National Female Seminary, The Cherokee Heritage Center and National Museum was established in 1967 to preserve and promote the Cherokee legacy. It has an ancient village where you can learn what life was like for the Cherokee’s in the 1800’s. Watch children playing stickball and even participate in a game yourself. You’ll also learn how bows, arrows and blow guns were made from green river cane that shot darts and were used to hunt food. The Cherokee had large commune gardens along with their own and mostly grew beans, corn and squash. There are many other exhibits depicting Cherokee life including a six gallery Trail of Tears exhibit.

Built in 1875, the Cherokee National Prison focused on reform, learning a trade and working in community and was the only penitentiary building in the entire Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. Close by is the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, which is the oldest government building still standing in the state of Oklahoma. Exhibits depict the Cherokee judicial system and written language.

Oklahoma

I was pleasantly surprised after my visit. I learned Oklahoma is diverse. Not just in the landscape but in the people, the culture and the heritage. It’s a place where you can tap into your inner cowboy and appreciate fine art—in the same town. So I will put away my cowboy hat, until I can visit again and say Osiyo to Oklahoma.

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Fun Fall Festivals in the South

Fall is a great time of the year. The air begins to cool down and turn crisp.  The leaves begin to change to vibrant shades of rust, orange and red. But the very best things about this time of year are the fabulous fall festivals going on in our area. From the quirky Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, NC to the prestigious Euphoria event taking place right here in the Upstate, there’s an event for everyone.  So get out and enjoying the fresh air and celebrate all of the fun fall festivals that the South has to offer!

This article was published September 2011. To read the complete article, click on one of these links; See the South or Simpsonville Sentinel.

 

Exploring the Sights and Smells of Chicago

IllinoisLocated on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is a city of magnificent lakefront parks, world-class museums and stunning architecture. And, with Southwest flying non-stop from Greenville to Chicago, it’s now much easier to hop on a plane and explore this vibrant city. Whether it’s for a quick weekend trip or a week-long vacation, in less than two hours you can be taking in the sights and sounds of the windy city.

This article was published in the August 2011 edition of the Simpsonville Sentinel and online Suite101.

To read the print version of the article, please use the links below.

Chicago Page One

Chicago_Page Two

 

 

Balboa Bay Club Review

Magnificent views of multimillion dollar yachts docking in Newport Harbor as the sun sets over the water make the Balboa Bay Club & Resort a memorable escape. Even with 160 rooms, this retreat manages to retain an intimate vibe, in part because of the exclusivity of its yacht club next door. But even as you soak it in from your private deck seemingly miles away from it all, you’re still sitting pretty in the hub of Orange County’s coastal cities, close to excellent shopping, great SoCal beaches and entertainment options aplenty.

This article was published on Jettsetter.com in August 2011.  Read the full article at: Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach, California

 

Eight Great Southern US Beach Towns

This Article was published on Bootsnall.com in June 2011.  Read here for the full article:

http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/11-06/eight-great-southern-u-s-beach-towns.html

A look at train travel in the U.S.

http://www.gadling.com/2010/05/27/train-travel-in-the-usa/#continued

Seven Great Places in the U.S. to Make a Splash This Summer

http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/10-05/seven-great-places-to-get-wet-in-the-u-s-this-summer.html

Article on the Ghostliest Places in the U.S.

I had fun doing the research for this article!

http://mysterious-places.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_ghostliest_places_to_go_on_halloween