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Texas Hill Country Small Towns

Fredericksburg, Gruene, Lockhart, Luckenbach, Poteet, Round Top and Wimberley

Fredericksburg is known for its German heritage, antiquing, wineries, Oktoberfest celebration and the Enchanted Rock, a massive bald dome of Texas granite that is a hiking, bouldering, and spelunking destination.

The Starting Point to Visit Texas Hill Country Wineries

Founded in 1846, the town is also notable as the home of Texas German, a dialect spoken by the first generations of German settlers who initially refused to learn English. The birthplace of Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Fredericksburg Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Gruene is a historic community between San Antonio and Austin, home to country’s oldest dance hall, the Gruene general store, numerous bars and antique shops, tubing and rafting outfitters. Built in 1878 by Henry D. Gruene, Gruene Hall by design has not physically changed since it was first built.

Lockhart was originally called Plum Creek. The town’s economic growth began with the arrival of the railroad in the late 19thcentury and its role as a regional shipping center for local cotton. Lockhart has several claims to fame: Barbecue Capital of Texas, the Dr. Eugene Clark Library is the oldest operating public library in the state, a Victorian post-frontier American town and host to many film sets.

Luckenbach is a laid-back music and entertainment destination. Its oldest building is a combination of general store and saloon. First named Grape Creek, the name comes from the German words lucken (gap) and bach (stream), it was first established as a trading post, one of a few that never broke a peace treaty with the Comanche with whom they traded. Today Luckenbach maintains a ghost-town feel with its small population and strong western aesthetic.

Poteet is south of San Antonio and is home to the Strawberry Festival with country music, live auctions, a rodeo, a carnival, and strawberry-themed foods.

Round Top is a town with artists, antique shops, and bed & breakfast inns nestled between Austin and Houston on U.S. 290. Originally named for early settler Nathaniel Townsend, the town was renamed since the postmaster lived in a house with a round tower. Renowned for its antique show, Royers Café pies and its arts scene. Every summer, the town hosts students at the Festive Hill music institute and the Shakespeare program, which provide symphonic and theatrical performances for locals and visitors; the Winedale Historical Center is just down the road from Round Top.

The James Dick Foundation for the Performing Arts and its Round Top Festival Institute were founded in 1971 by world-renowned concert pianist James Dick. Begun with a handful of gifted young pianists in rented space on the town square, the project is now an internationally acclaimed music institute for aspiring young musicians and distinguished faculty.

Festival Hill contains major performance facilities, historic houses, extensive gardens, parks and nature preserves. Through its singular collection of rare books, manuscripts, archival material, music and historic recordings, photographs and objects, Round Top Festival Institute is also known as an important center for research and scholarly study.

Wimberley started as a trading post settlement near Cypress Creek in 1848, Over the years, the local mill was expanded to process lumber, shingles, flour, molasses, and cotton. Today, it hosts arts, crafts and other events.

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Muscatine Iowa

Pearl of the Mississippi Watermelon Capital Commerce and Industry

Muscatine is situated on a series of bluffs and hills at a west-south bend in the Mississippi River. The river-bend gives the city roughly 260 degrees of riverfront with two creeks flowing into the Mississippi in downtown Muscatine. From the bluffs there is a beautiful view of the town below and of the Mississippi for miles up and down.  Located 25 miles (40 km) from the Quad Cities, 38 miles (61 km) from Iowa City and 68 miles (109 km) from Cedar Rapids, Muscatine is part of a larger community whose residents commute for work.

Muscatine Island is home to working-class neighborhoods and industry

Transport Muscatine is located along two designated routes of Iowa’s Commercial-Industrial Network; Highway 61 serves as a major agricultural-industry route to the south from Burlington to Muscatine, where it becomes a heavy-industrial and major commuter route to the northeast between Muscatine and Davenport; highway 61 serves as a shortcut for traffic from northeastern Missouri and southeastern Iowa to the Quad Cities, Chicago, and points beyond. Iowa 92 provides access to the Avenue of the Saints to the west and western Illinois via the Norbert Beckey Bridge to the east.

History Muscatine began as a trading post.The name may have been derived from the Mascoutin Native American tribe who lived along the Mississippi in the 1700s. From the 1840s to the Civil War, Muscatine had Iowa’s largest black community; fugitive slaves who traveled the Mississippi from the South and free blacks who had migrated from the eastern states.

Mark Twain lived here during the summer of 1855 while working at the Muscatine Journal

Town Slogans include Pearl of the Mississippi and Pearl Button Capital of the World, referring to when pearl button manufacturing by the McKee Button Company was a significant economic contributor and Weber & Sons Button Co was the world’s largest producer of fancy freshwater pearl buttons harvested from the Mississippi River. Muscatine is also known as the Watermelon Capital of the World, reflecting the agricultural and rural nature of the area.

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Jasper Indiana

German Festivals Wood Capital and Historic Commercial Buildings

Jasper is strategically located one-hour northeast of Evansville, 2 1/2 hours southwest of Indianapolis,1 1/2 hours west of Louisville and 3 hours east of St. Louis, this community is consistently ranked among the best small towns to live in Indiana and the United States, start a business as well as one of the safest.  

The Wood Capital of the World is home to many furniture companies and the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame, which honors players and others associated with the national pastime who were born or lived in Indiana.

The Jasper post office has been in operation since 1832

The Jasper Strassenfest is a celebration between Jasper and its German sister-city Pfaffenweiler, a small village in southwest Germany; the four-day event is held annually during the first weekend in August. Visitors from Germany travel to Jasper around this time of year. The street festival encompasses the entire city square, complete with food stands, rides, a Biergarten and over 1,300 pounds of bratwurst. The Strassenfest culminates in a Sunday parade and evening fireworks. The festival also features a golf tournament, beauty pageant, box parade, fishing tournament, and a network of German Polka Masses at the three Roman Catholic parishes: St. Joseph’s, Holy Family, and Precious Blood.

Louis H. Sturm Hardware Store is a historic commercial building built about 1850; the three-story, three bay, Italianate style brick building houses the oldest continuously operated commercial retail business in Jasper.

Environment the 75-acre central park features two miles of trails, 25 acres of woods and wetlands utilized for nature studies as well as an indoor public event space, musical playground and four exercise pods.

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Hershey Harrisburg and the Susquehanna River Valley

On Day 3 of your travel program, you transfer to the Hershey Harrisburg Region – 2 nights 3 Days.

The Susquehanna River is 464 miles (747 km) long and is the longest river on the US East Coast. With its watershed, it is the 16th-largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United States without commercial boat traffic today. In the Canal Era, navigation improvements were made to enhance the river for barge shipping of bulk goods by water on the Pennsylvania Canal.

DCIM999GOPROHarrisburg, the Capital of Pennsylvania, was inhabited by Native Americans as early as 3000 BC. Known as Peixtin, the area was an important trading post for Native American traders, as trails leading from the Delaware to the Ohio Rivers, and from the Potomac to the Upper Susquehanna intersected there.

Hershey is a year-round, world class travel destination with an amusement park, exclusive resorts and family attractions. In 1906, Milton Hershey opened Hershey Park as a place where his chocolate factory’s workers and their families could relax and be entertained. Surrounded by some of America’s most productive dairy farms, the world’s first modern chocolate factory and model town is a real community.

City Island is a 63-acre tourism and recreational destination containing archeological treasures of the Susquehannocks and Iroquois tribes which established seasonal settlements here. The island was a stopping off-point for Union soldiers during the Civil War; they crossed over it by way of the Camelback Bridge to defend Harrisburg from the threat of invasion by the Confederate Army. Today, City Island is a tourist destination which is home to numerous businesses including the Harrisburg Senators Baseball Stadium, the City Islanders Soccer Stadium, the Pride of the Susquehanna, Island Breezes Gift Shop, Susquehanna Outfitters, H20 Miniature Golf, City Island Arcade/Batting Cages, City Island Railroad, and the City Island Stables.

Millersburg Borough nestled along the Susquehanna River, is quaint community radiating out from a Victorian Market Square Park featuring a Gazebo dating back to 1891. Millersburg evolved along with the introduction new forms of transportation; travel back to the 17th century and visit the Wiconisco Canal in MYO Park and a restored 1898 passenger rail station on West Center Street. The National Historic Register’s Millersburg Ferry System traces its roots to 1817.

DCIM107GOPROPreserving America’s Antique Automobiles

The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania opened its doors in June 2003, with over 100 cars, motorcycles plus memorabilia, collectibles, and special exhibits. Vehicles of all types 25 years or older are welcome in the AACA.  In 1993, the AACA started a nonprofit organization to further preserve these antique automobiles and educate the public.

Susquehanna Art Museum is the cultural anchor for the Central Pennsylvania community, providing innovative, relevant and engaging exhibitions and experiences for members and visitors of all ages that excite, inspire, and stimulate life-long learning.

Union Canal Tunnel Park was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1970 and received its recognition as a National Landmark in 1994. Open dawn to dusk for hiking, bird watching, picnics, and recreation.

The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC) is the premier facility for historical research on U.S. Army history and is dedicated to “Telling the Army story…one Soldier at a time.” The expansive campus includes the Visitor and Education Center, the U.S. Army War College Library, the U.S. Army Military History Institute, and the Army Heritage Trail. Open to the public, key features of the USAHEC include interpretive and interactive exhibits, the research library and archive.

Army Heritage Trail the mile-long outdoor Army Heritage Trail allows visitors to experience history in a new way, through interactive and full-scale military exhibits. Exhibits include a Cobra helicopter, Civil War encampment cabins, WWI trench system and more highlighting the different eras of American military history. The trail is open from dawn to dusk.

The National Civil War Museum seeks to tell the whole story of this most troubled chapter in American history, focusing on the issues, the people and the lives that were affected. The causes and ramifications of this conflict that divided a Nation are investigated; both Northern and Southern viewpoints are presented; and military as well as civilian perspectives are highlighted.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania presents the State’s heritage from the Earth’s beginnings to the present. Archaeological artifacts, decorative arts, fine art galleries and industrial and technological innovations are on exhibit. The Civil War exhibit includes the 1870 painting “The Battle of Gettysburg: Pickett’s Charge”. Curiosity Connection is a hands-on learning environment for children. Other features: a Planetarium, Mammal Hall, Dino Lab and a restored Marshall’s Creek Mastodon Skeleton.

Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War has twelve exhibit galleries featuring artifacts, interactive displays and several films that will further immerse you in the Battle of Gettysburg and the larger context of American history and understanding its relevance in our lives today.

The Amish Village provides an authentic experience, beginning with a guided tour of an Amish farmhouse. Explore a 12-acre village, complete with a one-room schoolhouse, local crafts and treats, blacksmith barn, animals and more.

The Pennsylvania Capitol is a National Historic Landmark and Palace of Art. The dome is a 1/3 replica of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the grand staircase inside the main rotunda was inspired by the opera house in Paris.

Pride of the Susquehanna River Boat is one of the last remaining authentic paddle-wheel riverboats in America. Since her construction and launch in 1988, “The Pride” has carried almost a million passengers who have enjoyed themed cruises and River School Educational Trips.

San Francisco BridgeFood Wine and Craft Beer

Turkey Hill, located in nearby Lancaster County, features interactive exhibits allowing you to learn about dairy culture, how the company’s ice cream and iced tea flavors are selected and created, as well as a chance to create your own virtual ice cream flavor; free tastings!

The Millworks is a local and sustainable restaurant, bar with an outdoor biergarten, art galleries with 23 artist studios, & a live music venue located in the heart of Harrisburg’s Midtown District including the Broad Street Market; Susquehanna Museum of Art; and Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

The Wineries and Breweries of the Hershey Harrisburg Region invite guests to go beyond just tasting the wines. Learn more about the process and walk away with a deeper appreciation of winemaking and Pennsylvania’s agricultural heritage. Experience the rich tastes of each winery’s blends, ciders and specialty collections. The region is also home to many small batch brewers who are following their dreams and creating trendy, welcoming spaces for beer-lovers to appreciate their favorite brews.

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Philadelphia History Traditions and Sustainability

Your visit to the US Mid-Atlantic Region begins where America began, with a two-night three day stay.

Where History is Still Being Made among the many sights to take in when visiting the first capital of the United States: The Liberty Bell Center which houses the American Revolution’s defining symbol, the site of the meetings of Congress and the Constitutional Convention at the City Tavern in the Old City as well as Carpenters Hall. In Declaration House, visitors can see where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and Independence Hall where it was eventually signed.

laurel hill mansionPlaces to Visit a culturally rich and diverse city, Philadelphia is home to museums covering everything from natural sciences to African American history, science, archaeology and anthropology. Children will enjoy a day at the “Please Touch” Museum and the “Once upon a Nation” tour. Explore Christ Church Burial Ground; dating from 1695, the cemetery is the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin. For a sightseeing tour with a difference, take a cruise on the Delaware River. The city is also home to several wonderful gardens and arboretums. Also, the Battleship New Jersey and Valley Forge National Historic Park, site of the battle of 1777/78.

The Arts in 1805 an art collector, believing Philadelphia the best place for the encouragement of artistic taste, offered the city numerous paintings, sculptures, engravings and other art work. To accept the gift the city formed the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the oldest art school and museum in the United States. The Philadelphia Museum of Art was founded in 1876 to maintain the art exhibits from the Centennial Exposition. It holds over 225,000 pieces of artwork including work by van Gogh, Picasso, and Marcel Duchamp. Nearby is the Rodin Museum, founded in 1929, with the largest collection of Rodin works outside of France.

phila warterfrontPhiladelphia has more Public Art than any other American City

The inclusion of decorative art in city structures goes back to the 19th century. In 1872, the Fairmount Park Art Association became the first private association in the United States dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning. With more murals than any other U.S. city, the Mural Arts Program has funded over 2,300 murals created by professional, staff and volunteer artists.

Culture Philadelphia’s history goes back to 1682 and the city’s founding by William Penn. Originally inhabited by the Lenape, Philadelphia was envisioned as a place where people could live without fear of persecution because of their religion; hence, many came to find refuge here. As Philadelphia grew into a major political and economic center, many religious and ethnic groups have contributed to the arts, music, television, architecture and food.
Fairs & Events the Mummers Parade’s first modern version was held in 1901 on New Year’s Day. Since 1993 every summer around the 4th of July, the multi-day Welcome America event celebrates Philadelphia as the nation’s birthplace. Three major annual shows in Philadelphia are the Flower Show, the Philadelphia International Auto Show and the Philadelphia Antiques Show. Festivals include the Folk Festival and Unity Day an event celebrating unity between people and families. Pride Fest events promote gay and lesbian rights. In September, the 16-day Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe feature experimental art, performances and exhibits.

old original levis hot dogsFood the city’s culinary tradition was shaped by several ethnic groups. Cheese stake and soft pretzels are well known icons of the city. The 1970s saw a restaurant renaissance that is continuing into the 21st century. Other Philadelphia food traditions include:

The hoagie a sandwich made of meat and cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions

Pepper Pot, a soup of tripe, meat and vegetables dating from the Revolutionary War era

Snapper Soup a thick brown turtle soup served with sherry.

Markets towards the end of the 19th century the large number of Italian immigrants in South Philadelphia led to the creation of the Italian Market on 9th Street with numerous types of food vendors along with other shops. The Reading Terminal Market is popular with visitors.

Music the city is home to a vibrant and well-documented musical heritage, stretching back to colonial times. Innovations in classical, opera, R&B, jazz and soul have earned Philadelphia national and international renown. A diverse population has also given it a reputation for styles ranging from dancehall to Irish traditional music, as well as classical and folk music. The city has played an equally prominent role in developing popular music. In the early years of rock and roll, several South Philadelphia-born popular vocalists made Philadelphia and popular music virtually synonymous. This led to the airing of the popular rock and roll dance show American Bandstand, from Philadelphia in front of a national audience.

Performing-Arts the city’s most senior venue is the famed Academy of Music. Established in 1857, it is the longest continuously operating opera house in the United States and is home to many internationally recognized performance ensembles. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, home of the internationally renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, opened in 2001. In addition, the Tower Theatre just outside of Philadelphia serves as a destination for many top touring acts.

Philadelphia SkylineSustainability In the city of Philadelphia, the waterfront is now a 6-mile walking and biking destination. Trail features include streetscape improvements along the entire waterfront trail, a bi-directional bikeway, pedestrian walkway and rain gardens that collect the first inch of storm water, relieving the city sewer system during major weather events, as well as benches, bike racks, decorative street pavers and innovative solar trail lighting. Center City offers a thriving culture and entertainment scene as well as contemporary arts museum with training programs and study tours for students, aspiring artists and family traveling.

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Georgetown Texas

victorian architecture economic development energy and the environment

georgetown downtownGeorgetown is located 30 miles from Austin on the northeastern edge of Texas Hill Country. Portions of the town are located on either side of the Balcones Escarpment, a fault line characterized by black, fertile soils of the Black land Prairie, with the west side consisting of hilly, limestone karst formations.

The North and Middle Forks of the San Gabriel River run through the city, providing over 30 miles of hike and bike trails, parks and recreation for residents and visitors.

Blue Hole park in Georgetown Texas (view 4)History the earliest known historical occupants of the county, the Tonkawas, were a flint-working, hunting people who followed buffalo on foot and periodically set fire to the prairie to aid them in their hunts. During the 18th century, they made the transition to a horse culture and used firearms. The town was named for George Washington Glasscock who donated the land for the new community; the early American and Swedish pioneers were attracted to the area’s abundance of timber and clear water.

Victorian Architecture in 1976, a local ordinance was passed t protect the historic central business district. Georgetown has three National Register Historic Districts: Williamson County Courthouse District, Belford National District and the University Avenue/Elm Street District.

m.b. lockett building, georgetown, txSouthwestern University the Oldest University in Texas is one-half Mile from the Historic Square

Economic Development Georgetown was an agrarian community for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Shawnee Trail, a cattle trail that led from Texas to the rail centers in Kansas and Missouri, crossed through Georgetown. The establishment of Southwestern University and construction of a railroad contributed to the town’s growth and importance. Cotton was the dominant crop in the area between the 1880s and the 1920s.

san gabrial villagePopulation growth and industrial expansion continued modestly in the 20th century until about 1960, when residential, commercial, and industrial development, due to major growth and urban expansion of nearby Austin, greatly accelerated. Currently, Georgetown is served by the appropriately named Georgetown Railroad, a short line railroad that connects with the Union Pacific Railroad at Round Rock and at Granger.

Energy and the Environment in March 2015, Georgetown announced that their municipal-owned utility, Georgetown Utility Systems, would buy 100% of its power for its customers from wind and solar farms, effectively making the city 100% green-powered.

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North Platte Nebraska

railroad town river trails historical museum and buffalo bill ranch park

canteen platformNorth Platte is in southwestern Nebraska at the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers. It was established in 1868 when the Union Pacific Railroad was extended to that point; it was named from the North Platte River.

The Platte River originates in the state of Nebraska and is about 310 miles – 500 km – long. The Platte is a tributary of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers which flows to the Gulf of Mexico.

platte river watershedRiver Valley Trails played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States, providing the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon, California, Mormon and Bozeman Trails. The French were the first Europeans to reach the Platte. The North Platte River is navigable over most of its length at high water by canoes, kayaks and rafts.

Bailey Yard is the world’s largest. The Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center is an eight-story building which overlooks the expansive classification yard and engine facilities.

golden spike tower, north platteThe Lincoln County Historical Museum contains a display detailing the history of the North Platte Canteen, which greeted 6.5 million service personnel from Christmas Day 1941 through April 1, 1946. It also contains a Prairie Village with local landmark homes and a Pony Express station and pioneer church.

Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park is located near here, a Nebraska living history park about Buffalo Bill Cody. The park includes his actual house known as Scout’s Rest Ranch.

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