Go With a Purpose.
A blog about connecting through places that matter.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pursue Your Passion for Learning: Experience a “Real” Night at the Museum

Ben Stiller’s blockbuster film, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," is all the rage. And museums across the country are further capturing the nation’s attention with their own impressive versions of “night at the museum events.”

From spending the night in a castle to sleeping with the dinosaurs to science-based sleepovers that will have you and your family armed with flashlights in search of adventure, the unique variety of experiences will help fulfill your passion for learning and create lasting memories for kids of all ages.

The following are just some of the “night at the museum” events nationwide. To find “night at the museum” events in your area, check with your local museums or search Google for “night at the museum events” in your city.

Explore hidden treasures! The American Museum of Natural History in New York City continues its popular "A Night at the Museum” adventure experience, offering new and exciting updates for the current season. Armed with flashlights in search of adventure, visitors can travel like a paleontologist on an expedition while watching the “Dinosaurs Alive!” in the IMAX theater, explore live-animal exhibitions with museum guides, and participate in challenging Museum Quests. You will then drift into dream in the darkened halls of one of the world's most famous museums. Visit the museum online for more information.

Spend the night in a castle! The Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a great choice for school, church, Scout and other youth groups or clubs who are looking for a unique experience at the Northeast’s only museum that’s entirely devoted to the study and display of arms and armor. Travel back in time to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as your group enjoys an educational immersion that focuses on chivalry, heraldry and the history of knights in shining armor. Highlights include: trying on pieces of armor and equipment, a scavenger-hunt quest for the “Elements of the Chivalric Code,” and a knighting ceremony. Learn more about the program on the museum’s Web site.

When one night at the museum isn’t enough, head to the Science Museum of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, where monthly public Bright Nights events will appeal to kids of all ages and interests. Families and school, club, church and other youth groups can participate in these scientific hands-on and fun-filled overnight adventures. Explore the many mysteries and magic of science during the Bright Night of Science. Climb aboard the Hogwarts Express train during the museum’s Bright Night of Harry Potter. Embark on a spine-tingling adventure and explore all things gooey, spooky and hair-raising during the Bright Night of Not-So-Frightening Fun. If you enjoy tracking down evidence and uncovering the science behind crime scene investigations, join the fun of Bright Night CSI: Museum Style. Visit the museum online for more information.

Experience firsthand the submarine lifestyle in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to sleep on a submarine, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum’s Family Overnight program is for you! Spend the night aboard the USS Cobia, the nation’s most fully restored World War II sub. This unique family experience offers not only an educational alternative to the traditional campout, but facilitates an appreciation of history and insight into a unique time in America's past. Not sure you want to sleep on a submarine? Sign up for the Nautical Night at the Museum program instead. This brand new program includes gallery activities, crafts, a submarine tour, flashlight gallery tour, and a movie. Visit the museum’s Web site for details.

If you are planning a trip to Washington, D.C., this summer, check out the dates for the Smithsonian Sleepovers, where you can experience the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History at night. After viewing a special screening of the feature length film “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” at the Johnson IMAX Theater, you will search the museum for the highlights from the film and end your night in the darkened halls of one of the world's most famous museums — sleeping among the dinosaurs, mammals and the giant squid. Visit the Smithsonian’s Web site for details.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in California also has several overnight adventures for groups of 10 or more. Enjoy action-packed adventure as a junior paleontologist and learn all about dinosaurs at Camp Dino; experience what it is like to be an archeologist and participate in a mock dig at Camp Archeology; or jump into a time machine in search of the earth’s treasures at Camp Earth Quest. These are just a few of the overnight programs. For more information please visit the museum Web site.

Who can resist a night Dozin’ With the Dinos at Chicago’s Field Museum? Join Susie T. Rex for a night of family workshops, tours and performances, and then spread your sleeping bag next to some of the most popular exhibitions. New for 2009, you can sign up for one of two new packages. One lets you sleep under the stars in the Evolving Planet exhibition. Another lets you sleep under the stars and get a behind-the-scenes tour with a Field Museum scientist! Visit the museum online for more information.

Have you and your family experienced a “night at the museum?” Share your adventures in the comments section below.

photo credit: American Museum of Natural History Kids Sleepovers Photo © AMNH/D. Finnin

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heritage Q&A with Social Media Guru and Adventurist Peter Shankman

Today’s post is next in a series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel. Peter Shankman is recognized around the globe for his radically new ways of thinking about social media, creativity and customer service. An entrepreneur, author, speaker and worldwide connector, Shankman is perhaps best known for founding Help a Reporter Out (HARO), which in less than a year has become the de facto standard for thousands of journalists looking for sources on deadline. The free service offers more than 100,000 subject-matter experts from all over the world who are looking to be quoted in the media. Shankman travels the world as a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter at international conferences and trade shows.

Shankman is also an avid Twitter user and has mastered the art of getting his point across in 140 characters or less.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?
Anywhere that's somewhere I wasn't before — anything new is inspirational.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
I was in Zion National Park the other week and driving back from Utah. Was gorgeous — made me realize how small we really are as people. Was quite humbling.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
Seeing a bit of the Berlin Wall the last time I was in Germany was quite cool.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interest(s) should visit?
Any museum. Specifically a space museum or similar [type of museum].

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
About the people. People are the most interesting aspects of any trip.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
I'm a born-and-raised New Yorker. We've got tons of history. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Links to Places That Matter: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

While Memorial Day is often a time for family gatherings, a long weekend away or a break from the office, it is also a time to honor the deeper meaning behind the holiday: paying tribute to the brave men and women who have given their lives in service to our nation.

The tradition of Memorial Day goes back to May 5, 1868, when it was officially proclaimed by Gen. John A. Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the service of Union and Confederate soldiers who died in battle, according to USMemorialDay.org.

Over the years, Memorial Day traditions have taken root nationwide — from small-town parades and organized trips to historical landmarks like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to more intimate gatherings in places that matter to the people who have lost loved ones. Memorial Day is not only a public tribute, but a personal experience.

If you are undecided or need inspiration for your Memorial Day weekend, check your local paper and online city or events guide, or search Google for Memorial Day events near you.

Here are just a few of the many special Memorial Day weekend events across the United States:
  • Rolling Thunder is a nonprofit organization of both veterans and nonveterans who are united by one cause: “To bring full accountability for POWs and MIAs of all wars.” While not a prerequisite, many members ride motorcycles. Every May, several hundred riders make an annual cross-country trek from California to Washington, D.C. In our nation’s capital on Memorial Day weekend, they are joined by bikers from all over the United States for the Ride for Freedom, where enthusiastic crowds line the parade route from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The sights and sounds of 350,000 motorcycles and riders in continuous procession make for a moving and unforgettable experience — and a heartfelt tribute to our soldiers.
  • The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York, is holding its annual Flagging of the Graves ceremony, in which U.S. flags are placed at the burial sites of 3,500 men and women who have served our country. Afterward, there is a picnic for the volunteers. Interested in participating? Find more information at The Woodlawn Cemetery’s Web site.
  • Looking for a bit of art and culture to enjoy over your Memorial Day weekend? Visit Charleston, South Carolina for the annual Spoleto Festival, a cornucopia of music, dance, theater and visual-arts performances that spans 17 days. See the schedule of events for Memorial Day weekend at the Spoleto Festival Web site.
  • Head west to Virginia City, Montana, for a Living History Weekend, where visitors can immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of life in a gold-mining town circa 1863. Feeling lucky? Then try your hand at panning for gold! Find out more at Virginia City’s Web site.
  • Galveston Island, Texas, has endured many tragedies over the years; but this ever-resilient city on the Gulf of Mexico is rebuilding and emerging stronger than ever. The Galveston Historical Foundation is holding a series of three concerts to support these efforts and to commemorate Galveston’s rich and distinguished history. The first concert takes place on the evening of Friday, May 22. Visit Galveston.com for more things to do in this beautiful city.
  • Kick off your Memorial Day weekend with a Friday night concert in Columbus, Indiana. The city’s Salute! concert is a free outdoor concert to honor area veterans. Find out more information at the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic Web site.
  • For hiking and history along one of the nation’s most beautiful lakeshores, head to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Traverse City, Michigan. On Memorial Day, there will be a relighting ceremony at the historic South Manitou Island Lighthouse, a favorite destination for hikers and outdoors enthusiasts. Read more about the event at MyNorth.com.

How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day and spend your long weekend? Share your Memorial Day plans in the comments section below.



Kari Rippetoe is the Marketing Manager at Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

photo credit: Flickr, "The Wall," by SkipSteuart

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Heritage Q&A with Travel Writer Susan Farewell

Today’s post is the next in our series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel. Susan Farewell, a former travel editor and staff writer at Condé Nast Publications, spent her entire career traveling with a purpose — as evidenced by her impressive portfolio and perspective on heritage travel.

Susan's work has appeared in numerous publications (and sibling Web sites), including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Cooking Light. She is the author of several books, including “How to Make a Living as a Travel Writer,” “Hidden New England” and “Quick Escapes From New York City,” and has co-authored many other travel books. Susan also is a regular contributor to Who’s Who in America. Other examples of her work can be found on her Web site.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?

Just about any landscape, historic site, modern attraction, encounter with someone or simple observation can inspire me to write. Usually, however, I am most profoundly moved by places that have layers and layers of history — whether it’s cultural or physical.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?

I was just in the Burgundy countryside of France on a barge cruise with Orient-Express. I found that to be a very enriching — as well as relaxing — travel experience as we meandered lazily along the canals, passing through many locks. Along the way, we stopped to explore medieval villages and chateaus plus tour vineyards that have been in families for as many as five generations. One of the most outstanding buildings we toured was the Hospice in Beaune, a fortified town. The hospice was built in Flemish style in the 1440s. I could have spent the entire day there dwelling on all the details. This is definitely one of those cases of wishing the walls could talk.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?

I’ve had countless meaningful travel experiences that have had a major impact on me. It was my first trip to Southern Europe as a student, however, that made me become passionate about history. In fact, I then became a classics major in college, studying Greek and Latin history. Today, much of my writing draws from what I learned studying the classics.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?

There’s not just one — that’s probably why I chose the profession I did … to travel to all of the places I have read about. Certainly, there are countries that I think everyone should try to see in their lifetime, including Israel, Egypt and Greece. But for me, visiting the Scandinavian countries has also meant a lot, as I have some family history there, and it’s personally very intriguing.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?

I like to zoom in close and see how other people live. What do they do for work? How do they spend their free time? What do they eat and why? What do their homes look like? This helps me get a new perspective on my own life, which I find very refreshing. I am also extremely interested in languages and how they can tell us so much about the world. Just ask yourself why they speak French in western Switzerland, in Quebec, in Guadeloupe, in Senegal … seeking the answers to that question takes you through centuries of history. Finally, I love seeing and learning about the different landscapes in the world — the geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, the lava fields and waterfalls in Iceland, the jungly tributaries of the Amazon River, the Serengeti in Africa with all of its amazing animals. I can never get enough of it.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?

Unlike vacation travel, where one might go somewhere with the sole purpose of unwinding, heritage travel is seeking knowledge, wanting to understand other people and places. It’s for the curious traveler. While the tendency is to see heritage as meaning historical or something in the past, it’s important to recognize that history in the making is also interesting.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?

I fell in love with Europe as a teenager and have never been able to shed it. What I especially love about this part of the world is that you have so many different cultures so close to one another. You can pretty much throw a dart at the map of Europe and wherever it sticks, you’ll find something historically significant.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Links to Places That Matter: Museum Edition

Heritage Travel, Inc. recently visited Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” for the annual American Association of Museums (AAM) conference. It was a great experience, and we met many people from a broad range of interesting museums located all over the world.

Our biggest takeaway from AAM was the understanding of how many different museums cover a wide plethora of interests, taking visitors on multifaceted journeys through history and heritage. This is the inspiration for this week’s edition of Links to Places That Matter.

Here are a few places that may peak your interest:
  • Did you know that the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. reopened in November 2008 following a two-year-long renovation? Mary Billingsley, Director of Media Relations for Heritage Travel, shared her experiences during a recent visit there with a gaggle of third-graders. In her blog post, Mary highlighted some of the museum’s new interactive exhibits that her group of kids really enjoyed.
  • RoadsideAmerica.com features sites and museums that are more offbeat. For instance, two museums that were featured recently are the Titanic Museum in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, which is the first Titanic museum in the U.S. and home to a collection of artifacts and memorabilia (many donated by actual survivors), all packed into a couple of rooms at the back of a jewelry store. The other is the Toy Robot Museum in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, featuring one man’s collection of thousands of toy robots – old and new, big and small. Visitors can even play with some of these robots!
  • If you have never used Twitter before (or have been avoiding it), you may want to try it out as you plan your next museum visit. More and more museums are using Twitter to get the word out about new exhibits, upcoming events, and even special discounts and offers. Read more about tweeting museums on Worldhum.


Kari Rippetoe is the Marketing Manager at Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Photo Credit: Philadelphia, Flickr, vic15

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Heritage Q&A With Kaleel Sakakeeny

Today’s post is next in our series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel. Kaleel Sakakeeny, former family travel editor at Travel Weekly and a contributor to the award-winning Boston Parents Paper, e-Turbo News and Family Travel Forum.com, offers a unique perspective on the meaning of “heritage travel.” With an enviable travel pedigree, Kaleel’s insight is strengthened by his stints as the travel editor at Metro/Boston, as an on-air travel correspondent for Business Radio 1060, and as a travel expert for family viewers of “American Baby” at WCVB, Boston; WBZ-TV, Boston and WFX-TV, New England.

When Kaleel filed stories for National Public Radio, Christian Science Monitor or the Associated Press, he would often walk the streets of the Middle East, North Africa or Europe with an open microphone. He recorded the sounds of street life in those vibrant countries, and turned them into sound-rich Audio Postcards ® . They were broadcast internationally. Currently, he focuses his work on writing, and as the Director of Content: New Media Travel for Travel Video Postcard.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life-enrichment during your travels?
I would say it has less to do with the place, and more to do with interaction of people. Whether it was chatting with locals at a café or sipping wine beneath the trees in the former Yugoslavia or playing Backgammon in the Middle East, I have found that it is really more about the people than the destination.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
Recently I traveled to the northern neck of Virginia, and a week or so before that, to San Antonio. In San Antonio, we were able to take in the Alamo and the missions, and you can still see what is left from the days of the conquistadors. In Virginia, too, it is hard to avoid historic places; I’m not just talking about Colonial Williamsburg or Fredericksburg, but also the state’s role in the Civil War was just so powerful.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
I think I was most moved by Red Rock Canyon near Sedona, Arizona – the canyon there is a handful of so-called vortexes. When you are standing in the canyon, you can look up and see where Native Americans made their homes in the caves of the red rock…that look into true American heritage was just incredible. Other places would be Palmyra in Syria, or maybe Petra where you can feel the ancient civilizations. Being there makes you feel saturated with culture, tradition and times.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interest(s) should visit?
I don’t know for sure, but I think intuitively it should be Gettysburg…I remember the place only vaguely as I was just maybe 10, 12, maybe 13 years old. While I have vague images in my mind, every American should go there and stand on the hallowed ground. They should reflect on the greatness and complexity of the country. I know I should return as Gettysburg is the center of American history; it is an icon for all this country went through to become what it is today.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?

I like to learn how people live their lives, what their aspirations are, what their dreams are, and how they deal with disappointments; what are the visions people in a particular place or culture have for themselves and their families. I always want to meet locals as this is what makes the traveling worthwhile.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
I guess I think heritage travel is unfortunately a cumbersome term. It carries with it a connotation of history and it does not feel to me like an active term…a little too heavy with history I think in some respects. I wish heritage travel could be described as roots travel, or interactive history travel, or what about American roots travel? A term with something more to hold on to; just a thought.

7. What are your favorite heritage-and culture-rich destinations?
I am reluctant to pick just one – each speaks to us differently and at different times of lives in different ways. Anything that is authentic. I don’t like costume things, and I want something that speaks to me more naturally. It is like asking which child you favor the most – each is valuable and gives something. But, if I were pressed, maybe Turkey or Morocco – genetically I am cultured towards those experiences so I’d likely lean towards them.

If you would like to be featured in an upcoming Heritage Q&A, or know someone who travels with a purpose and finds meaning in heritage- and culture-related travel experiences, please contact us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Local Traveling: Discover Your Hometown

This week – May 9-17 – is National Travel and Tourism Week. But you don’t have to travel far to experience a new place. Just look beyond the familiar and seek out the hidden jewels your local area has to offer.

Since I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia in March, I have been taking a “discovery tour” of my new town every weekend. Living in the middle of downtown makes it that much easier, because all I have to do is walk out of my front door and let my curiosity guide me.

We asked our Twitter followers to recommend one “must-do” where they live. Here are just a few of the great responses:

AlaskaArtist (Dianne Hendrix, Palmer, Alaska):
Must walk over a glacier. Matanuska Glacier in Mat-Su Valley is easiest to get to by car from Glenn Highway.

“There are many glaciers to see in Alaska, but Matanuska Glacier is my choice for taking visiting friends. This glacier is easy to drive to going up the Glenn Highway until you see the signs. There are nice places along the way to take photos and the drive is beautiful. You will have a unique experience walking over glacier ice for hours. From the blue hues sparkling from the ice to the surrounding mountains your eyes and camera will be awed. Don't forget to look down or you will miss a treasure of things frozen in time in the ice.”

Agallihar (Amber Gallihar, Columbus, Ohio):
Gallery Hop in Columbus, Ohio. First Saturday of every month. Art, food, music and unique shops.

“One of the greatest things about Gallery Hop here in the Short North ‘arts’ district of Columbus, Ohio is that it is a different experience each time; partially because we get all four seasons here, which always changes the mood/themes. Work from local artists is displayed throughout a variety of businesses (everything from salons, retail, restaurants, bars, etc.) There are musicians and vendors parked into nooks along High Street which contribute to the whole "vibe" of the monthly event. With so much local art present, it sort of lures you into shops you might not necessarily walk in if they weren't displaying. It's just a fun, unique Columbus tradition that people from all ages enjoy.”

TravelingAnna (Annemarie Dooling, Staten Island, New York):
I would recommend they visit the outer boroughs. Much less crowded, still fun.

Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx have a really good range of activities that make for great day trips. In Brooklyn, you can grab an authentic Caribbean beef patty on Flatbush Ave, shop DUMBO's high-end boutiques, and try fresh Italian pasta in Bensonhurst. Staten Island has the cleanest beaches in the city with amazing views and the ferry from Manhattan is free.”

Kathy_moore (Staunton, Virginia):
In historic downtown Staunton, look at vast array of architectural styles and ponder influence of one man: TJ Collins

“Founded in 1747, Staunton was mostly unscathed after the Civil War and it now offers one of Virginia's finest collections of 19th-century architecture. The unusual array of architectural building styles in the city’s compact downtown is generally attributed to the vision of a single man – architect T. J. Collins. His prolific work during a time of economic vitality greatly affected the town’s appearance.

Collins’ architectural drawings are preserved today at the Historic Staunton Foundation (appropriately located inside a TJ Collins building.) Often called the ’Queen City‘ of the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton features six separate historic districts – the city is pedestrian friendly, with live theater and numerous restaurants that celebrate fresh, farm-to-table regional cuisine.”

Kathy also had some excellent advice that pretty much sums up what local traveling is all about: “Park the car and walk. Be curious. Immerse yourself in the experience.”

Your turn to share: What would you recommend visitors do in your city or town? Post a comment below. You can also submit a review of a heritage site or destination in your community!


Kari Rippetoe is the Marketing Manager at Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Photo credit: Charlottesville's Downtown Mall: Flickr, bobtravis

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Features on Go With a Purpose

We’re really excited about the new Go Connect features that just launched on Go With a Purpose, as they are just a sneak peek into what will soon be offered on the upcoming Heritage Travel Web site coming later this Spring.

Read Reviews, View Pictures and More
With the new Go Connect section, you can read the reviews you submitted in the past, and you can read reviews from other community members. Plus, you can now upload photographs along with your reviews to a photo gallery for the community to enjoy.

The Heritage Travel "Reviews" Contest submission deadline may have passed; but you can still share your reviews and your photos! You’ve been able to submit reviews of heritage- and culture-related destinations and sites, but now that list has grown exponentially. There are now over 10,000 heritage destinations and sites available for you to review! There’s even a handy new search feature to find the exact place you want to review.

We’re also very excited about ecards (electronic cards) becoming available soon. When the ecard feature is launched, you’ll be able to send beautiful, high-resolution photographs of heritage locations from around the United States to family and friends.

There’s more to come: new features, new destinations and, very soon, the new Web site from Heritage Travel.

Don’t forget that you can follow all the latest news and join the conversation at the Go With a Purpose blog, on Twitter, and through the Heritage and Cultural Travelers Group on Facebook.


Drew Schneider is the Director, Customer Experience for Heritage Travel, Inc., a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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