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“Patricia Schultz unearths the hidden gems in our North American backyard. Don’t even think about packing your bag and sightseeing without it.” —New York Daily News
One thousand thank-yous is not enough.
It's impossible to overstate my gratitude to Workman Publishing for the opportunity to create a companion travel book that I hoped would match the spirit and breadth of the first 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and then to let me update it when confronted with the countless changes that occur on a daily basis.
At the helm of the veritable village it took to create this 1,200-plus-page tome was the late Peter Workman, wise and ever infallible: How did he know that a book whose title touched upon dying would galvanize so many people to get off the couch and live? I am honored that Peter believed I was up to the challenge and coaxed another list of a thousand favorites out of me. I am happy that he recognized that our own great country and its northern neighbor and their countless beauties deserve the same attention previously showered upon the globe.
Only a writer will understand that he or she is but the smallest of pieces in a far larger and more complex jigsaw puzzle. The well-oiled and creatively organized Workman Publishing family always saw the big picture. While I was off roaming the continent, hunting down 1,000 destinations, they were back home making sense of my scribblings, whipping them into the handsome book you now hold in your hands.
This cast of disparate characters and talents shared the Herculean task of making this book happen on time—with a tweak, nudge, polish, hone, query, and edit along the way. Front and center I must thank my editor Margot Herrera, who gives new meaning to the expression "sunny disposition" and whose unflappable nature worked as the glue that kept this project together. Cut from the same cloth is her assistant extraordinaire, Evan Griffith, who managed to convince me that he lived to make my life easier.
Paul Hanson's design sensibility, first applied to the original edition, was kept fresh and exciting in this sibling book, expertly assisted by his colleague Orlando Adiao. Other indispensable team members include Barbara Peragine and Genevieve Crane, who so ably typeset the book; Claire McKean, keeper of the schedule; production editor Kim Daly, who dotted all i's and crossed all t's; photo researcher Michael Dimascio, who pored over oceans of images in order to make the right match; and production supervisor Doug Wolff, who oversaw the book's printing.
Workman's editor-in-chief, Suzie Bolotin, has been unwavering in her support, most appreciated during those bumpy patches and moments of short-lived despair. Pat Upton and Jenny Mandel, in licensing and special sales, and the publicity and marketing team of Selina Meere, Jessica Weiner, and Lauren Southard are determined that this new edition will enjoy much of the recognition of its predecessor.
I am profoundly grateful to two fellow travelers who were indispensable in the book's completion: Anitra Brown, placed next to me by fate on the inaugural sailing of the Queen Mary 2 many years ago, who became a fast and famous friend of indefatigable assistance in making many of these chapters happen, and Bill McCrae, the quintessential travel authority of a dying breed, whose love for exploration and learning and inherent sense of perfection and pride is something I aspire to.
Profound thanks to my sister, Rosalyn Vross, for putting up with me for all these years; to her husband, Ed, my go-to guy for military history, Alaska info, and all things field-and-stream—related; and to their children, Star, Corey and Brittany, who are my children too and who, I hope, have vicariously enjoyed coming along for the ride. And to my Aunt Dorothy and my late Aunt Kitty, whom I aspire to be like when I grow up.
And at the end of the day, it is the quiet support of my friends that allows me to tolerate the eight-day weeks and deadline-fueled weekends, who patiently listen when I bemoan how much I miss my life, and are unsurprisingly packed and ready to go when I come up for air and mention the need for a travel fix. Teddy Sitter is confirmation that there is nothing in life so precious as an old friend, and shares with me every vicissitude brought on by my life and work, its successes and wealth of blessings. I'd like to give a special shout-out to Elizabeth Ragagli, who encourages me to do un-Patricia-like things such as snowshoeing in Jackson Hole when I am more inclined to check out the great indoors ("Does this hotel have a spa?"), and to Anita Flannery, who plays Thelma to my Louise (or perhaps it's the other way around) during jaunts through the breathtaking canyons of Utah and downtown Manhattan.
Maya Angelou once said you can judge people by how they handle tangled Christmas tree lights and lost luggage. Nick Stringas laughs at lost luggage, wrong turns, and canceled flights—always with a smile the size of Montana—reminding me that there's no such thing as a bad trip.
Rediscovering My Own Backyard
Did the world really need another "short list" of a thousand places to add to the excitement and anxiety of "so much to see, so little time"? Wasn't it enough that my previous book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, was already keeping folks awake at night, ticking off must-see destinations as if for some grand travel sweepstakes or in a race against time? (Taj Mahal? Did that. Masai Mara? Check. Transylvania? Next year.) After having focused on the planet's abundance of riches, I found myself returning time and again to the notion of a similar book about travel in the U.S.A. and Canada: But would these two countries alone supply me with enough diversity and possibilities? Could the 150-plus U.S.A. and Canada entries I included in my first book be expanded to one thousand, all promising the same kind of specialness that had previously stopped me in my tracks while wandering around the globe? Would I echo Dorothy and declare there's no place like home?
These are the questions that stayed with me in the nascent days of this book's conception. Having tried my best to capture the magic of the world and its untold offerings in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, I was heartened by the number of travelers—both rookies and veterans, here and abroad—who embraced the book and poured their carpe-diem energies and pent-up cravings into putting it to good use. My own energies and curiosity were telling me there was an encore waiting in the wings: It was time to turn my international attentions home.
My philosophy of travel has always been based on removing myself from what is comfortable and safe, on seeking out experiences that broaden my horizons and enrich me in ways superficial and profound. That simple concept had always seemed most intoxicating when experienced far from home, but why not apply it to my own backyard? Especially when my backyard is the U.S.A. and Canada—with a great and diversified landmass and rich mosaic of heritages, the pickings don't get any better than these.
North America was by no means terra incognita to me: I had been crisscrossing it ever since I can remember, long ago lured by the possibilities it promised. I prided myself on not being one of the masses Calvin Trillin described when he wrote, "Americans drive across this country like someone is chasing them." I break for photo ops, for kids pouring out of school, to smell the camellias, listen to the church carillon, and for any handmade sign that says "Pick it yourself" or "Homemade here." I've even risen above it in hot-air balloons to sail at a bird's pace and see it from God's perspective.
My meanderings began way back when my sister, Roz, and I were relegated to the back seat of the family station wagon for long summer trips to the Jersey Shore (except for that one year when the gas tank fell off and we never made it past the end of the driveway). One wouldn't consider our modest "are we there yet?" road trips extravagant cross-country journeys, but explain that to a 6-year-old. The anticipation alone was enough to keep me awake the night before, and to this day any passing vignette of countryside framed by the car window awakens in me that same childlike flutter of discovery. We would strike off, leaving behind the predictability of our everyday lives in the small riverside city of Beacon, New York, where we walked to school, left our doors unlocked, and helped shovel out our neighbors after a snowstorm. Our mother's extended Italian family supplied an exuberant and enlightening insight into the inimitable notion of America as melting pot. My Teutonic father was a private man who was 90 years old before he mentioned that one of his parents was part Native American. When I asked why he had never told us before, he answered "You never asked." Together they introduced me to this country where everything that smelled of America was appreciated and good, and we never had to look much beyond North Walnut Street for affirmation.
Beacon didn't have many claims to fame apart from its location on a particularly beautiful bend in the Hudson River and our most illustrious resident, Pete Seeger. Of his incredible repertoire of American folk songs, the one I loved best was one he borrowed from Woody Guthrie and made his own:
This land is your land,
This land is my land.
From California, to the New York island.
From the redwood forests
To the Gulf Stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.
Glimpsed from this idyllic spot on the Hudson, the potential of America the Beautiful beckoned: How could I not take the opportunity to explore this land Pete Seeger promised was mine, heeding the call of the open road? I decided to dive into this great country of ours—and dip into the wealth that is Canada, our remarkable neighbor to the North—and a new book was on its way.
In the course of my research, I roamed landscapes old and new, some first seen during teenage road trips, revisited now with fresh eyes. Having skied the Alps of Europe, I found our Rockies every bit as majestic. After time spent absorbing the joys of small villages and cities from France to Scotland, I experienced the historic quarter of Montreal and the old fishing towns of Nova Scotia with a newfound appreciation. I discovered the kinship between chaotic and vibrant Hong Kong and Manhattan, both fueled by ambition and divided into neighborhoods where anything can happen, and almost always does.
States and cities that had never figured on my short list of places I simply had to see, surprised me with their beauty, traditional ways, and proud history. Here are just a few of the eye-openers: the inspiring talent that rolls in from the range for the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Lewistown, Montana; the beauty of the Oregon Coast (why is it that California gets all the attention?); the unabashed fun of the Dallas State Fair (where I discovered the decadent pleasure of deep-fried everything); the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, whose display of hardwood trees turning crimson and gold might possibly trump autumn in New England; the safari-like excitement of viewing the polar bears of Churchill in Manitoba; and standing in awe beneath the swirling nocturnal show of the aurora borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska. The romance and grandeur and excitement that I had found elsewhere on the globe were here in spades at every turn, and all for the price of a tank (or two or three) of gas.
For a dose of patriotism, there is nothing more moving than a contemplative walk through the fields of Gettysburg, or Vicksburg, or Antietam, or the quintessentially American thrill of a hike up to Lady Liberty's torch. Dig in at Maine's annual Lobster Festival or browse the small Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for a concentration of all-Americana, the same feeling that stirs me when driving through any crossroads caught in time, dissected by a 1950s Main Street with a shiny chrome diner at its center—a quiet blink-and-you'll-miss-it slice of small-town U.S.A. in the middle of nowhere.
Adventure is where you find it. It needn't be on the other side of the globe or in an ancient medina, but it sure isn't on your couch. There is no limit to the world of possibilities if you nurture your curiosity and keep your eyes open. And look closely, for the most special moments may not be at the Mount Rushmores or the Grand Canyons, although these monumental icons figure high on most travelers' life lists. But so should a visit to Kentucky's serene Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, or a sighting of the wild horses that still roam the pristine shores of Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia. What's more, remember that rather than a carefully planned itinerary, it's often serendipity that leads you to our greatest national treasure—the people who make up this great continent, from the gracious couple who run that B&B you stumbled upon in Hannibal (ask for the room where Mark Twain slept) to the rowdy family who spontaneously included you in Grandpa's 80th birthday celebration in that smoky barbeque dive in Plano, Texas.
Back in the days of our massive expansion, Horace Greeley urged America to "Go west, young man." But also go north and south and east while you're at it. Make sure you stop everywhere in between, too, eschewing the interstates for the two-lane highways—and never pass up the homemade pie. Hit the road before you hit the remote, indulge your wanderlust, and you'll wind up agreeing with T. S. Eliot, who wrote:
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Creating this book—and scouring it from cover to cover for this new update—has been challenging, enlightening, and humbling as I discovered time and again the country that is my home. My goal was to shed light on its most wonderful places—both world-famous and unsung—and to get you on your way to discovering them. I join my fellow Beaconite Pete Seeger in singing the high praises of this land that was made for you and me.
A Few Nuts and Bolts
Whether you're using this book to plan your travel or are just doing a little armchair adventuring, it'll help to know some of the general philosophy behind the entries—how they're organized, what level of detail I've included, what some of the terminology refers to. At the end, I've also included some information on traveling between the U.S.A. and Canada.
Many entries describe a single particular experience—visiting the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, perhaps the premier collection of Native American art and culture in the country; catching a game at Boston's venerable Fenway Park, the oldest major league ballpark in America; walking in the footsteps of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his Hudson Valley home and the country's first presidential library in Hyde Park, New York.
Sometimes, though, it just made more sense geographically—or in the simple attempt to create the best experience possible—to combine two, sometimes more, destinations within a single entry. Enjoying Maryland's Talbot County on the Chesapeake's Eastern Shore means visiting small maritime museums and historical lighthouses, then feasting at the dive-y Crab Claw in St. Michaels and overnighting at the 1710 Robert Morris Inn in stuck-in-time Oxford. And exploring New Hampshire's Lake Region can mean a cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, and an afternoon at the Antique & Classic Boat Show in Meredith, later falling asleep to the sound of loons at the Manor on Golden Pond on the banks of quiet Squam Lake. The California entry about the Pacific Coast Highway literally brims with all the must-stops and photo ops along America's Dream Drive.
The Sections of the Book
For the purposes of this book, I've divided the United States into nine regions, which are then further subdivided geographically into states grouped from the East Coast to West Coast and beyond:
• New England
• The Southeast
• Mississippi Valley
• The Midwest
• Great Plains
• Four Corners and the Southwest
• West Coast
• Alaska and Hawaii
Canada is loosely divided in half:
• Eastern Canada
• Western Canada
Within these divisions, entries are further divided alphabetically by state or province (see the table of contents for a quick reference), with each one's entries further organized alphabetically by town or city or by the destination itself (Yellowstone National Park, for example, falls at the end of the Wyoming section).
At the back of the book, you'll find a general index and ten special indexes that allow you to find information by type of entry: golf, beaches, scenic drives, museums, and so on, with a specific Take the Kids index for suggested family holidays.
Organizing the Listings
Following the text that describes each of the 1,000 places, I've included practical information that will help you in planning your trip—but remember, since travel information is eternally subject to change, you should always confirm by phone or a quick Google search before you leave home. Here's a run-through of what you'll see within the entries.
Most of the practical information sections open with the entry's distance from a major city, and list the phone number and web address. For space reasons we have included only the street address of those places listed in the entry name; for all others described in text, call or check the website. Contact information for the local tourist office for general information about the area is usually included as well.
Although rarely mentioned in the text, I sometimes recommend outfitters or operators that offer tours, treks, white-water rafting, and other package or customized travel to the particular destination. Occasionally these are listed by what they offer, for example, Kayaking or Surfing.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotels, inns, and B&Bs listed under this head may have not been discussed in the entry text but merit a mention here, as they are reliable choices located near the topic of the entry, and are of at least good to very good quality.
As prices are in continual flux, these are meant to provide you with a working indication of expense, rather than a precise to-the-dollar quote. I have listed prices for all hotels, restaurants, theater and event tickets, and package trips discussed in the book, based on the following parameters. I have not included the usual costs for museums, parks, or fares for ferries and the like; they are generally moderate and not surprising. Nor, for the most part, have I included children's prices.
Hotels. Listed hotel costs are per double room, unless noted. Certain kinds of hotels (such as dude ranches or destination spas) commonly quote their rates on a per person, per day, and generally double-occupancy basis and are listed as such. Where applicable, hotel info includes peak and off-peak prices.
Trips/Packages/Excursions. Organized trip costs are usually given in total, per person, based on double occupancy, with notes on what is included in the rate (how many nights of accommodations, meals, transportation, amenities, etc.). Note that "Cost" does not include airfare unless otherwise stated.
Restaurants. Meal prices listed are per person and represent the average cost of a meal without wine. When the restaurant offers a special tasting menu (multiple courses) or a fixed-price menu for which it is known, I've usually listed these as well.
I've noted which days and/or seasons each entry is open. For hotels and sites, When does not appear if the establishment is open daily or year-round. Single-day holiday closings (such as for Christmas) have not been noted, nor have short seasonal closings that may change from year to year—such as when some small restaurants or B&Bs close for a week or two off-season, or a wilderness resort closes during late-spring "mud season." Because so many restaurants have varied schedules, I haven't included When for these. Please call ahead or check their website.
Be especially sure to contact hotels, restaurants, and target attractions in advance if traveling during holiday months or off-season months in areas that may receive little or no traffic.
For almost every entry, I've listed the best time or times to visit, taking into account weather, festivals, sports and leisure opportunities, and other significant events. When no Best times are listed—as is often the case with hotels, restaurants, and museums—the implication is "year-round."
All U.S. and Canadian citizens are required to show a passport for all travel between the countries. If you don't already have one, leave ample time for the process of procuring a passport: To get a start, U.S. citizens should go to the website. Canadians can go to passportcanada.gc.ca.
THE UNITED STATES
Four Corners and the Southwest
Alaska and Hawaii
The Victorian Charm of Two Classic River Towns
Chester & East Haddam
Few Connecticut areas better retain the look of yesteryear than the lower Connecticut River valley, particularly the neighboring Victorian villages of East Haddam and Chester. East Haddam (population 9,000) developed during the 19th-century shipbuilding era, and it still contains countless imposing Victorian structures, including the painstakingly restored Goodspeed Opera House, a magnificent four-story Second Empire building on the banks of the Connecticut River. The opera house boomed for its first few decades but fell on hard times by the middle of the 20th century and nearly faced the wrecking ball. Preservationists stepped in, and now the 398-seat Goodspeed shows three top-quality musicals annually.
Just downriver the curious Gillette Castle anchors the 184-acre state park created by eccentric 19th-century thespian and Connecticut son William Gillette, famous for his Sherlock Holmes portrayal. The elaborate—some say bombastic—20-room fieldstone castle was built between 1914 and 1919 for a then-astounding $1 million. The actor died in 1937, and in 1943 Connecticut purchased it from the executors. You can tour the ambitiously restored bluff-top structure, or stroll along Gillette's 3-mile-long narrow-gauge railroad. Trains no longer operate, but you can hike along the rail bed and admire the handsome stone rail station. It's a wonderful place for a picnic and an afternoon spent exploring the area's myriad nature trails.
Nearby Chester is a delightful spot for its shopping and dining. A smattering of art galleries fill the quaint, walkable downtown of this village perched along a section of the Connecticut River that the Nature Conservancy has called one of "the last great places on earth." Foodies laud the excellent Restaurant L&E, a classic French bistro, which occupies an unpretentious and intimate dining room. It's satisfying and refreshingly unfussy food, and the service is faultless, too.
Where: 30 miles southeast of Hartford. Visitor info: Tel 860-787-9640; . Goodspeed Opera House: East Haddam. Tel 860-873-8668; . Cost: tickets from $36. When: season runs late Apr–Nov; tours June–Oct on Sat. Gillette Castle: East Haddam. Tel 860-526-2336; . When: late May–mid-Oct, grounds open year-round. Restaurant L&E: Chester. Tel 860-526-5301; . Cost: dinner $50. Best times: early Feb for Chester Winter Carnivale, with an outdoor ice-carving competition and gallery receptions ( ); late Aug for the Chester Fair ( ); early Sept for Chester Lobster Festival.
The Apex of American Impressionism
Connecticut's Art Trail
- On Sale
- Nov 29, 2016
- Page Count
- 1200 pages
- Workman Publishing Company