Sight Seeing In America- The Albuquerque Experience

Sometimes a wonderful sightseeing destination gets eclipsed by it’s neighbors. That is certainly true of the beautiful state of New Mexico. With big and bold Texas to the east and the well traveled Colorado to the north, many people overlook New Mexico as not only having the best of both of those locations but a very unique culture all its own.

New Mexico is a state of many geographies. You can find mountains that you can drive to the top of and enjoy snow in the middle of summer. But there are desert locations virtually adjacent to those locations that give you the tremendous diversity of setting that a desert state is capable of. So a driving tour of New Mexico can be a delightful and fulfilling trip full of surprises and new experiences.

The pueblos of the Indian tribes that make their homes in New Mexico tell a story of an ancient people who lived in a manner unlike anything you have ever seen. You can actually visit active pueblos where Indian families continue to live their native lives in the purity of their ancestors even though they are surrounded by the modern world. This is both fascinating and an outstanding educational experience for the children because where else can you experience first hand a culture completely unlike our own but thriving right here inside the borders of the United States?

The big cities of New Mexico are full of interesting sites that reflect the unique culture and history of this state. You will find it tempting to spend your tourist dollars at the many shops that sell unique crafts that use the local gems and the Indian art styles of New Mexico. You will be able to appreciate how so many have been charmed by that “Sante Fe Style” of art and cuisine. Perhaps as you get a good exposure to how this architecture and artistic style came into being you will recognize the decorating style in restaurants or other public places in your own town. It is truly addictive and you will come away a convert as so many have in their trips to New Mexico.

The food of New Mexico is as unique as the people and the art. The first time you enjoy Wavos Chorizo for breakfast you will find your eyes watering as the hot Mexican style cooking wakes up your mouth with spices that take your taste buds by surprise. But don’t be surprised when the next day you want a fresh batch along with recipes on how to prepare these taste treats for yourself.

To the north of Sante fe and Albuquerque are the majestic mountains of New Mexico. It is a closely guarded secret that these mountains offer just as many opportunities for camping, hiking and even skiing as their cousins to the north but the crowds are not nearly as numerous and the prices not as out of control. A driving tour of those mountains perhaps even with a stop to enjoy some lodging in those hills will be as refreshing as any mountain top vacation you have had anywhere in the country.

New Mexico is a beautiful land full of history and culture. Yes, you can head south to Los Alamos and see the location where the early tests of the Atomic Bomb were conducted. This may be both an educational and sobering visit in light of the effects of that research on mankind. But it is an important part of both American and world history that you will enjoy exposing yourself and your family to while in the area. But be careful not to ask them about Area 51, that mythological holding area for alien space craft that is supposedly kept somewhere in southern New Mexico. That inquiry might not be popular in Los Alamos.

In all, your trip to New Mexico can give you a chance to climb mountains, meet a unique and fascinating Native American people, enjoy, and buy, some terrific art works and enjoy one of the most beautiful states in the nation. Be sure to step out on your patio of your hotel at sunset, as New Mexico is well known for having some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country. As you watch that breath taking sight you will be able to reflect on the amazing diversity and beauty of America as it is reflected in this, one of its most beautiful states.

Sight Seeing In America- Hot Dogs And Pizza

Any attempt to really come to appreciate the amazing sightseeing that is possible in America would have to include stops in some of the country’s truly great cities. For some reason when we think of outstanding cities of America, we tend to drift to the coasts. And to be sure from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle to the west to New York, Boston and Washington to the east, there are some amazing American cities on those two coasts.

But to neglect the Midwest entirely and not include some of the great cities in the center of the country would leave out some of the most amazing experiences you might have on your sightseeing tour. In fact, of all the Midwest cities, Chicago Illinois can give any city on the coasts a run for their money.

But Chicago is very much its own kind of place, unlike even the urban cities of the east coast. Chicago has its own lore, perpetuated by movies and television just as much as LA or New York. But the thing to remember about that kind of lore is that the movies didn’t invent that kind of excitement. It was already very much a part of Chicago and film makers just like making that part of their movies.

When we think about Chicago, it is easy to think of the great food there. The famous “Chicago Style Hot Dog” or “Chicago Pizza” has become such a renowned taste treat that it is imitated often, but never repeated. That is because a big part of the great tastes of Chicago comes from actually BEING in Chicago when you eat these delicious meals. So if you include Chicago in your sightseeing plans, you may want to put the diet on hold for a few days so you don’t miss some tastes that can only be had there.

But there is so much more to see and enjoy in a big international city like Chicago. Of course if you are a baseball fan, to catch a Cubs game in season is an experience of a lifetime. In addition to that experience, Chicago has many world class things to see and do not the least of which is an art museum that can stand its own next to the great museums of New York or Washington.

But if you put in a full day of sightseeing all around Chicago, you might need to rest up because the Chicago night life is not to be missed. The music of this great city is world renowned. The famous movie “The Blues Brothers” is based on the wonderful diversity of Jazz music that grew up in the Chicago music scene. In fact, in the world of Jazz aficionados, Chicago is put right up there with New Orleans as one of the great spawning grounds of the uniquely American music of Jazz.

And while we are on the subject of entertainment, there is a little improvisational comedy group called “Second City” that has made its home in Chicago for some fifty years. Second City can boast some of the biggest stars in comedy that got their comedic training in Chicago. In fact, to a large extent the Saturday Night Live troupe drew and continues to draw extensively from the talent developed in Second City. Some of the alumni include John Belushi, Billy Chrystal, Dan Ackroyd, John Candy, Eugene Levy and many, many more.

Chicago is very much a melting pot of great American culture. From the architecture to the food to the museums to the jazz and comedy, there are few cities in the country, even in the world that can give you as great a sightseeing experience as the great city of Chicago, Illinois.

A World Without California

There was a fun song that came out in the nineteen sixties that had the refrain “I don’t care what you say I won’t stay in a world without love.” Is it even possible to imagine what a world would be like if we didn’t have such a place as wonderful as California? I know imagining America without a California alone is almost impossible to do.

California is so rich with sights and great places to visit that one has to plan not one but many trips there to truly take in all it has to offer. Why a visit to Los Angeles alone can fill a week and you would still leave behind so much to do and see. Here in the home of our great movie industry, the idea of hanging out near the major studios to catch a glimpse of a movie star is pretty hard to resist. And you can pass your time waiting by going to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to put your own feet in the famous imprints on the walk of fame. There you can see if your shoe size lines up with such greats as Marilyn Monroe, Marlin Brando, Dustin Hoffman or even Lassie.

While in LA don’t forget that this is the area of the country where you can check in at the original Disneyland. Yes while the Florida and other locations that have been built since then are wonderful, don’t miss the chance to sing “It’s a Small World After All” with the anamatronic figures that will delight you and your children in those historic rides in Disneyland.

Anywhere you go up and down the California coast, one thing will continue to draw your eye is the amazing California coast. The sight of those waves making huge breakers on the rocks and beaches has been the object of art for many painters over the years. If you live in a land-locked state or even if you have enjoyed the coast lines in the gulf states and the eastern seaboard, the California surf will be yet another viewpoint of the majesty of God’s creation in the oceans that grace our fair country.

It might take another whole trip to enjoy the exotic locations all around the city of San Francisco. But give it that time because this is a town you want to take in on foot or by traveling on their famous and historic street cars. For a small city, San Francisco will charm you so thoroughly that you would swear you were in one of the quant and charming villages of Europe, Spain or Greece. The sight of those breath taking hills that the residents have to drive each day will probably bring back some great movie you saw that was filmed there. And it’s easy to get goose bumps standing on the corner of Haight and Ashbury and reflect on the birth of the Hippy Movement in the early sixties right on that spot.

There is just so much to do up and down this big and diverse state that you will want to have a car at your disposal just to tour the paradise like conditions that residents enjoy there every day. A tour of the wine country in northern California is another experience that has become famous for charming visitors of all ages. You can even retrace the voyage of the characters in the movie Sideways which won an Academy Award and further added to the lore and fame of this wonderful part of California.

California may not steal your heart away from your home town and state. But one this is for sure. Your trip to California will leave you with dozens of exciting memories and it will leave you with something even more lasting. You will come home with a determination that you have to get back to California and continue to enjoy the many treats this great American state has to offer.

Sight Seeing in America- Jurassic Park, For Real

When we all saw the movie, Jurassic Park, we were glad it was make believe the idea of there being a place where you could reach out and touch gigantic lizards who were as dangerous as they are large. But if there was a place where you can get that close to wild and ferocious beasts that are as ancient as those frightening dinosaurs, you might just want to jump on a plane and go there as fast as you can.

There is such a place not that far from Miami in the Everglades National Park. This historic preserve has been carefully protected to save for all of us a real American swampland full of exotic creatures that are not in zoos but that you can visit virtually face to face.

A visit to the Everglades seems like you are being teleported to another world entirely. The exotic swamp setting has creatures that are wild and strange to most of us as well as plant life itself seems to be from an alien land. The trees hang down runners all over the swamp that themselves lay down roots and become new trees. There are flowers with huge blossoms that open wide for you to reach in and sniff. But be careful that you don’t get to close in case it is a meat-eating flower that snaps down on unfortunate insects to fly to close and devours them.

You can get to the Everglades Park by car from Miami. But once you are there, the best way to really experience the exotic animals is to get a guide to take you deep into the swamps. As you glide along in his boat, your guide will point out the slow moving nutria moving along, taking their time as though time had stopped entirely. And you will feel as though it did as the rest of civilization disappears and you are surrounded by that primitive swamp with no one but the guide to help you find your way out. You will be glad he is a friendly sort and not the kind to abandon you in these dangerous swamps.

Perhaps he will guide you to the pools where huge swarms of flesh eating fish lie just under the surface. As he scatters tiny bits of meat, you will see a feeding frenzy that makes it look like the water itself was boiling as the tiny fish with their sharp teeth swarm over the morsels to get their meal for the day.

Finally, the time you have been waiting for has come as he tells you to prepare yourself to meet the mighty alligator who haunts these swamps. These are not tame animals trained to do tricks for strangers. As the guide whistles to draw them out, you see nothing more than their snouts and eyes at first. They swim toward you, it seems like dozens of them, to the boat because they recognize his call. He throws bread or donuts to them and you see those mighty jaws open and clamp down to snap up their share of the treats.

Your skilled guide will make sure you get a chance to come up along side of one of these amazing lizards to examine their long scaly bodies as they swim. Their appearance is frightening, repulsive and strangely beautiful. He may even carefully coach you in how to reach out and touch the back of the huge alligator, his body and tail perhaps as much as ten to twelve feet long so you can know the feel of that strange prehistoric body in its natural setting. This will be a sensation you will not forget for years and perhaps never.

You may feel a sense of relief as your skilled guide maneuvers his craft back to civilization and you see your trusty car again. But you will come away from your trip to The Everglades with a new appreciation for the wonders of nature and the amazing diversity of life God has put on this planet. This is unlike any tour you ever took because you were right out there with those strange, exotic and dangerous beasts. But the rush of excitement of that danger is what makes the everglades one of the most fun and thrilling sights you will see on any of your travels around America.

Sight Seeing in America- The World in One Country

Some have said that if you want to enjoy all of the pleasures and excitement of visiting every foreign port all around the world, just vacation in America because we have it all. And to be sure, you can literally experience almost any part of the world right here in the heart of the United States of America.

It makes sense that the cultures of dozens if not hundreds of countries have been recreated beautifully in the borders of The United States. After all, this country was comprised almost entirely of immigrants from every country across the globe. And as each new immigrant group made their home here in America, they found their countrymen so they could live near each other, if for no other reason than to hear their nature tongues spoken. And within those communities, the cultures of “the old country” were beautifully reproduced to make those immigrants get over a little of their homesickness for the familiar and for home.

The beautiful thing about life in America is that the different ethnic groups are not stingy about keeping others from other cultures from learning of their customs, tasting their foods, enjoying their music and really getting a good exposure to a culture that they would otherwise have to travel around the world to see. So in one country, often in one city and often within city blocks of one another, you can experience cultures as diverse and different from each other as night is from day.

In places that would seem unlikely, you can discover entire populations of Germans, the Polish, Bavarians and other ethnic groups from central Europe. And without much coaxing, they love to share their delightful foods, music and dance with you as well. So even if you are as English as tea or hail from far away Spain, Africa or the Middle East, you can take an evening, eat a bratwurst, enjoy a stout beer and for a little while, you too are just as German as anyone at that party.

The American melting pot surfaced a trait that seems to be common in most if not all of the ethnic populations around that world. And that is a very basic hospitality, openness to outsiders and excitement to share their cultural richness with anyone who wishes to join in. And the natural American trait of friendliness and hospitality to strangers assures that if you want to experience the world in one country, you can easily do that in this great country.

In many cities in our country, you can take an evening and seemingly leave this world behind and lounge in the exotic atmospheres of ancient china, Thailand, Persia or Tibet. The foods of these countries will delight your mouth and give your taste buds some exciting new adventures as well. And the ambiance and music that the natives who create these worlds for us transport us to their home lands just as magically as one of those special effects movies from Hollywood. So be sure to take the time to listen to the music, enjoy the dancing and really soak up the culture and atmosphere of the country of origin as you savor the delicacies of their foods as well.

When you go to traveling across America, be sure you take notice of areas of the country that have particularly strong communities from around the world. These local outposts of far away lands are usually excited to share with you their native customs. You may even walk out of that Pakistani area of Pittsburgh decked out in robes and a native headwear that you will enjoy lounging around in at home, remembering the many great experiences you had when you set out to enjoy the world in one country.

Sight Seeing in America- Overwhelmed by History

A trip to Boston is like a trip back into the very early founding stages of this great nation. This city, so rich in culture, is one sightseeing stop that you will want to schedule plenty of time to take in. The city is respectful of it’s own historical significance and they proudly offer every opportunity for you to jump into history and the fascinating culture of this diverse east coast community.

The very layout of Boston is a study in history. It is a city that is seemingly impossible to find your way around in. The roads twist and turn, change names and take on new routes as though they have minds of their own. The reason that Boston’s streets are such a maze is that they reflect the days when the city was built around trails to accommodate farmers and merchants. So the roads were not laid out to be logical, they were made to be efficient for a people who lived there two hundred years ago. Today, travel around Boston can be as much fun as it is confusing as you see it as a challenge to try to learn the layout of this complex town.

Unlike many cities that exploit their natural attractions, you can absorb Boston’s rich historical past for free or for the low cost of a shuttle bus ride that will take you around to the sights at your own pace. For starters, you can step out onto the street at many corners in downtown Boston and look down and find what they call “The Freedom Trail”. This is a two and a half mile walk marked clearly in red on the streets below that takes you by some of the great historical locations in the city.

To make your experience with The Freedom Trail more meaningful, pick up one of the many guides and commentaries that you can use to follow along the trail and “re-learn” your history of what happened at each location. It is almost impossible not to get goose bumps as you stand near or inside such historic locations as The Paul Revere House, the location of the Boston Massacre, The Old North Church and many more.

No trip to Boston would be complete without taking some time out of the car to enjoy the out of doors in the huge park in the middle of everything known as the Boston Common. Just as with almost everything in Boston, there is a rich history to this park. It is the oldest public park in the USA. It’s designation as a public park dates back to 1640. Boston Common was originally used by the British as a place where their troops could camp during the Revolutionary War. Today it is the jewel of this great city with the city hall on one side and the Freedom Trail running along the other taking you gracefully to your next location for sightseeing.

There are numerous tour operations that give you from a lot to a little, with the price difference to match, to enhance your ability to appreciate the history of this great town. One of the best is the local shuttle of historic locations. For one low price you can get on and get off of the shuttle all day long, taking your time at the sights you really want to savor and moving along at your own pace. This is the perfect solution to renting a car and it gives you a wider range of things you can see than if you go by foot alone.

Of recent historic note, you may wish to give in to have a brew at that bar where everybody knows your name. The very popular TV show Cheers was based on a historic pub right off of the Boston Common itself. Now you will have to look for it. The name of the pub is not Cheers but The Bull and Finch. But when you see it from the street, you will immediately recognize the outer façade of the pub. It was used for the opening of the show.

Your trip to Boston will leave you with rich memories of this historic city. But more than that, it will fill you with pride and a renewed reverence for the amazing beginnings of this the greatest nation on earth, much of which here occurred right here in Boston, Massachusetts.