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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.

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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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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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Fort Wayne Indiana

 architecture manufacturing the arts culture and the river greenway

Located at the center of northeastern Indiana, Fort Wayne is located 18 miles (29 km) west of the Ohio border, 50 miles (80 km) south of the Michigan border and within a 300-mile (482 km) radius of Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, and Milwaukee.

canoeing on st. marys riverOrigins built in 1794 by General Anthony Wayne as the last in a series of forts built near the Miami village of Kekionga, this European-American settlement developed at the confluence of the St. Joseph, St. Mary and Maumee rivers and later underwent growth with the Wabash and Erie Canal and the railroad. The term Summit City refers to the city’s position at the highest elevation along the canal’s route.

The Three Rivers Area was the Capital of the Miami Nation

fort wayne in 1812Geography the most important feature of the area is the short distance overland between the Three Rivers system, which flows to the Atlantic, and the Wabash system, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico; hence, the portage over which passengers and cargoes moved from one system to the next. This natural crossroads attracted the Native Americans for thousands of years. Chief Little Turtle of the Miami Nation called it “that glorious gate through which all the words of our chiefs had to pass through from north to south and from east to west.” It later attracted explorers, traders and pioneer settlers who continued to develop the area as a transportation and communications center.

Recent History at the turn of the 20th century, there was a large influx of Germans and Irish who formed Fort Wayne’s urban working class in an economy based on manufacturing and many innovations such as the gasoline pump, the refrigerator, and even the first video games. Following a long period of economic decline, efforts by local leaders during the 1990s focused on crime reduction, economic diversification, and downtown redevelopment which continued in the 21st century.

allen county war memorial coliseumArchitecture during the 19th century, Fort Wayne was dominated by Greek and Gothic Revival as well as Italianate architecture. Popular early-20thcentury architectural styles found in the city include Queen Anne, Romanesque, Neoclassical, Dutch Colonial Revival, Prairie, Tudor Revival and Art Deco.

Manufacturing is deeply rooted in Fort Wayne’s economic history, dating to the earliest days of the city’s growth as an important trade stop. From 1900 to 1930, Fort Wayne’s industrial output expanded by 747 percent. Despite economic diversification, the city was significantly impacted by the early 21st century financial crisis, losing nearly a quarter of its manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2014.

embassy theatre and indiana hotelArts and Culture since its establishment in 2010, the Cultural District has been home to several of the city’s cultural institutions, including the Auer Center for Arts and Culture, the Arts United Center, and Hall Community Arts Center. The Embassy Theatre hosts over 200,000 patrons annually and Foellinger Theatre hosts seasonal acts and outdoor concerts during warmer months. Located west of downtown, Arena Dinner Theatre is a nonprofit community arts corporation with a focus on live theater production, annually hosting seven full-length theatrical productions. Established in 1921, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art specializes in the collection and exhibition of American art.

The History Center Manages a Collection of 23,000 Artifacts Recalling Local History

three rivers fort wayneRiver Greenway is a system of recreational trails along the riverbanks designed to beautify the riverfronts and promote an active lifestyle for Fort Wayne residents. It comprises 180 miles (290 km) in the city and county and has about 550,000 annual users. With the expansion of trails, cycling has also become an emerging mode of transportation for residents.

Transport Fort Wayne is connected by air with five airlines offering direct service to 13 domestic connections. Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited are the closest passenger rail services to Fort Wayne, with a stop located 25 miles (40 km) north in Waterloo. Mass Transit consists of 12 bus routes through the cities of Fort Wayne and New Haven via downtown’s Central Station.

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Lake Charles Louisiana

Creole and Cajun Traditions Mardi Gras and a Pirate Festival

Lake Charles, also known as Port of Jean Lafitte, River Lafitte and Charleston, was founded by merchants and tradesmen as an outpost. Located on a level plain about 30 miles (48 km) from the Gulf of Mexico with an elevation of 13 feet (4.0 m) on the banks of the Calcasieu River in Southwestern Louisiana, it borders Lake Charles, Prien Lake, Henderson, English and Contraband Bayou.

ryan street lake charles 1903Creole and Cajun Traditions the local culture includes the Lake Charles Symphony, founded in 1938, that hosts concerts at the Rosa Hart Theatre and the Lake Charles Little Theatre. The Imperial Calcasieu Museum features a permanent historical exhibit with artifacts, an art gallery and is home to the 400 years old Sallier oak tree. Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center hosts the Charlestown Farmers’ Market and the USS Orleck Naval Museum, located in North Lake Charles is a Veterans memorial and museum.

Historical Charpentier District is named for the carpenter-architects who built the mixed-style homes in the district. It features the Black Heritage Art Gallery, which is on the Louisiana African American Trail and the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu with the largest collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia in the South.

arts and culture centerThe Louisiana Pirate Festival is a twelve-day annual festival held during the first two weeks of May. The celebrations are filled with savory Cajun food, family fun, and live entertainment. Following the legend of piracy on the lake and Contraband Bayou, the festival begins with pirate Jean Lafitte and his crew capturing the city and forcing the mayor to walk the plank.

Ocean-going Ships Sail from the Gulf of Mexico via the Calcasieu Ship Channel

The Port of Lake Charles is the thirteenth-busiest in the United States, the fourth-largest liner service seaport in the U.S. Gulf, and a major West Gulf container load center. The Calcasieu Ship Channel provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico 34 miles (55 km) downstream. The ship channel intersects the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway just north of Calcasieu Lake.

henderson bayouPublic Transportation Lake Charles Transit provides five bus routes throughout the city which is also served by an intercity bus station and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train route.

Industry petrochemical plants, an oil refinery and facilities for LNG receipt, storage, and regasification are located along the Calcasieu Ship Channel. Local industry also includes companies which services airplanes and a facility which manufactures and exports parts for nuclear power plants.

Commerce Lake Charles serves as the shopping and retail hub for a five-parish area. The Cottage Shop District is home to a dozen small businesses and the L’Auberge du Lac Casino offers upscale boutiques.

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Wichita Kansas

a trading post and industrial hub a regional center of culture media and trade

downtown wichitaWichita lies on the Arkansas River in south-central Kansas, 157 mi (253 km) north of Oklahoma City, 181 mi (291 km) southwest of Kansas City, and 439 mi (707 km) east-southeast of Denver. The Arkansas follows a winding course, south-southeast through Wichita, roughly bisecting the city.

A Trading Post on the Chisholm Trail in the 1860s, it became a destination for cattle drives traveling north from Texas to Kansas railroads, earning it the nickname Cowtown.

the exploration place wichitaBusiness opportunities attracted area hunters and traders, and a new settlement was organized as the Wichita Town Company, naming the settlement after the Wichita tribe. In the early 20th century, oil and natural gas deposits were discovered nearby triggering an economic boom in Wichita as producers established refineries, fueling stations, and headquarters in the city. Resources generated by the oil boom enabled local entrepreneurs to invest in airplane manufacturing. Except for a slow period in the 1970s, Wichita has continued to grow steadily into the 21st century as the city government and local organizations began collaborating to re-develop downtown Wichita and older neighborhoods in the city.

wichita former train stationNeighborhoods include Old Town, a 50-acre area home to nightclubs, bars, restaurants, a movie theater, shops, apartments and condominiums, many of which make use of historical warehouse-type spaces. The two most notable residential areas of Wichita are Riverside and College Hill, along with Delano on the west side of the Arkansas River and Midtown in the north-central part of the city.

wichita orpheum theaterThe Arts Wichita is a cultural center for Kansas and home to several art museums and performing arts groups. The Wichita Art Museum is the largest art museum in the state of Kansas with 7,000 works in permanent collections and the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University is a modern and contemporary art museum with over 6,300 works. Small art galleries are scattered around the city with some clustered in the districts of Old Town, Delano and south Commerce street. The music hub of central Kansas draws major acts from around the world, performing at concert halls, arenas and stadiums around the area.

Wichita Transit operates 53 buses on 18 fixed bus routes within the city providing over 2 million trips per year as well as a demand response paratransit service with 320,800 passenger trips annually. Intercity bus services connect Wichita with other Kansas towns, Oklahoma and Colorado. Wichita’s Bikeways cover 115 miles of which one third were added between 201 and 2018

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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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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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