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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

10 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate America on the 4th of July

We all have our traditional ways of celebrating the 4th of July — parades along Main Street, backyard barbecues, patriotic festivals and, to cap off the day, all-important fireworks. These are all wonderful ways to celebrate our nation’s independence and all that is great about America. But there are many other ways to celebrate what is truly great and meaningful about living in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Why not break from the old traditions this Independence Day and start some new ones?

Here are 10 heritage-rich and meaningful alternatives to consider:

Drive along a historic trail — There are many historic trails in the United States, each telling a tale of a different period in American history. Whether you spend just one day or the entire 4th of July weekend driving along one of these trails, it will be an immersive, historically rich experience you won’t soon forget. Read more about some of the nation’s best historic trails...

Visit a battlefield — Visiting a battlefield is a poignant way to remember those who fought for our country on American soil. There are many battlefields from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Texas Revolution, and other American wars peppered throughout the country. See a list of American battlefields across the nation...

Visit an historic cemetery — Learn more about our country’s history and honor those who fell in battle by visiting an historic cemetery. There are a vast number of historic cemeteries in the United States that offer tours. You can check with your local or state government to find cemeteries near you.

Go on a walking tour of a city’s history — Walking tours are an excellent and interactive way to experience the history of a particular city, town, or neighborhood. Check with the local convention and visitors’ bureau or tourism organization to find out about historic walking tours for a particular location.

Go on a picnic at a national heritage area — Move the 4th of July picnic from your backyard or city park to a more scenic and heritage-rich locale. Check out a list and map from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas.

Learn more about great Americans — Visit local historic sites and museums dedicated to the lives and works of the people who made America what it is today. Many of these places have special 4th of July programs and events.

Become a “voluntourist” — Voluntourism combines travel with volunteer service and has been gaining popularity recently. What better way to celebrate America than by giving back to the country through volunteerism. Try looking for volunteer opportunities with festivals, events held by nonprofit organizations, or other area programs. The VolunTourism.org Web site is a great place to start finding voluntourism opportunities.

Spend the day at the shore — While many people will be heading to the nearest public beach, you could enjoy the serene beauty of one of America’s national seashores or lakeshores. Bring a picnic lunch, visit nearby lighthouses, stroll through nearby towns. Make a weekend of it! Find a national seashore or lakeshore near you!

Enjoy the scenery ... from a hot-air balloon
Many towns and cities hold hot-air balloon festivals on Independence Day. If you enjoy spectacular views (and aren’t afraid of heights or flying), a hot-air balloon ride is an ideal way to experience America’s majestic beauty. You can browse the state-by-state directory at HotAirBallooning.com.

Go out to a ball game — Whether it’s Major League, Minor League, or even Little League, there is nothing more American than America’s Pastime. Baseball has a rich and storied history that can bring out the best (and worst) in its fans. There’s no denying that the sport holds a special, beloved place in the hearts of Americans. Take yourself out to a ball game and "root, root, root for the home team!"

What is your favorite way to celebrate the 4th of July? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Enjoy your holiday!


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

photo credits:
Flickr, "St. Louis 4th of July Fireworks," by Creativity+ Timothy Hamilton
Flickr, "Old Route 66, " by Swiv
Flickr, "Canon at Parkers Crossroads Battlefield," by J. Stephen Conn
Flickr, "St. Andrew's Church and Cemetery, Gallion, Alabama," by jimmywayne
Monticello, by Cole Stryker
Flickr, "Rosedale Walking Tour," by victoriabernal
Flickr, "
Picnic area at Mashamoquet Brook, State Park, Connecticut
," by J. Stephen Conn
Flickr, "Construction Site Voluntourism Project," by thomaswanhoff
National Park Service, "Assateague Island"
Flickr, "Hot Air Balloons Idaho," by Gerry Slabaugh
Flickr, "Baseball at Wrigley Field," by kberberi

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heritage Q&A with Travelogged Founder Liz Borod Wright

Today’s post is next in a series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel.

Liz Borod Wright launched her travel blog, Travelogged, in which she not only writes about her own trips but about other people’s adventures, allowing her to cover a wider variety of destinations. She has held editorial staff positions at Zagat, ABCNews.com, Good Housekeeping and Fortune.com. She also is working on a novel.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?
I have always loved going to museums. Sometimes just spending a few hours looking at art and artifacts can feel like a vacation in and of itself. Whenever I am traveling, I try to schedule in at least one museum visit. It’s great when I get lucky and they are having an interesting exhibit, but I also like seeing the permanent collection, especially if it includes local artists and/or depicts local scenery and history.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
My most recent trip was to Northern California. I went to Half Moon Bay, Carmel, Big Sur, Napa and San Francisco. It was my first time to this part of our country, and I was struck by the incredible natural beauty. As we drove from Half Moon Bay to Carmel, we stopped in the tiny historic town of Pescadero and had lunch at Duarte’s Tavern, which has been around since 1894. A few miles further down Highway 1, we stopped and admired Pigeon Point Lighthouse. I was thoroughly charmed by Carmel-by-Sea, which has enormous amount of art galleries for a small place. San Francisco was the obvious heavyweight of the group when it comes to culture, and I loved seeing the Victorian architecture (particularly around Alamo Square), the Embarcadero and Haight-Ashbury. I also made sure to visit the de Young Museum, which is in a stunning modern building.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
This is a tough question, because I’ve been lucky enough to take some fantastic trips. But I think I will choose the first sightseeing family trip that I can remember from my childhood, which was to Washington, D.C. I loved taking the hop-on hop-off tour bus and seeing all of the famous sights I had learned about in school. I also remember how much I loved the Air & Space Museum and the American History Museum — especially the First Ladies’ dresses. It wasn’t until I was older that I could appreciate the city’s beauty and how, as a planned city, it resembles Paris.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
As a lifelong New Yorker, I always tell people they have to visit New York City at least once in their lifetimes so they can experience its remarkable energy for themselves. I truly believe that the quality and diversity of cultural options available here are unparalleled. Visitors can’t expect to see and do it all but they have to at least attend a Broadway show, spend time at the Metropolitan Museum and have a delicious meal. You can get a feel for old New York by strolling down Park Avenue, ambling around Central Park, walking through the West Village or exploring the Financial District.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
I always hope to pick up some knowledge of the local culture during my travels. I find that it’s hard to predict what you’re going to learn but that no matter what you walk away with it helps you understand the world at large.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
To me, heritage travel means learning as much as you can about a place before you visit it. Knowing the history helps you to appreciate the present, as well as what remains of the past.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
Since I live in the city, I like to visit heritage-rich destinations that allow me the chance to enjoy nature, too. I love how Newport, Rhode Island, not only offers incredible mansions to tour but also has some nice beaches. Key West may be celebrated for its nightlife and water sports, but I found its Old Town quite impressive and full of interesting history.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And the Winner of the Heritage Travel “Reviews” Contest is…

Heritage Travel Inc. is proud to announce the winner of the Heritage Travel “Reviews” contest! Congratulations to Heather Bailey, whose review of Winchester, Tennessee, was selected from hundreds of reviews and 25 finalists. Read Heather’s review below, titled “An Authentic Southern Town.”

As the winner of the contest, Heather and her mother, Melody Bailey, will travel to New York City this fall for a theater tour that will include some of the city’s finest theatrical gems. Together, they will see a private performance by current Broadway entertainers, experience a behind-the-scenes tour of the legendary Apollo Theater, enjoy two Broadway shows of their choosing, and receive hotel accommodations and more.

Heather has visited Winchester at least once during each of the past four years. Most notable are the weeklong summer visits she wrote about in her review, when she joined old friends for a reunion. For Heather, Winchester’s appeal spans diverse architecture and Tims Ford State Park to delectable snacks at the San Miguel Coffee Company and shopping at Hammers.

Heather is particularly interested in the role people play in history and preservation. A Ph.D. candidate, Heather says her experiences doing research and field work throughout Franklin County add even more appeal to her Winchester visits.

“My mom says I got my love of history from my dad. He was always taking us on vacation to landmarks, historic sites and battlefields,” Heather said. “I am already doing some blogging about my heritage travel experiences, so it made sense for me to submit shorter reviews on GoWithaPurpose. But I confess that I am a little light-headed over this. It is very exciting!”

Now, without further delay, here is Heather’s winning review of Winchester, Tennessee.:

An Authentic Southern Town

I spend a week in Winchester every summer and take friends on a roadtrip there at different times of the year. It is close enough to the interstate that it is easy to get to, but far enough away that the historic downtown has managed to keep a lot of its character without being overrun by sprawl.

The historic courthouse square is memorable. The buildings on the square are mostly Gilded Age and Progressive Era, but the courthouse is a striking Art Deco. In addition to just being a beautiful setting, Winchester's historic downtown features unique shopping. No trip to Winchester is complete without a trip to Hammers. There's no way to miss it, the store takes up an entire side of the square and the historic buildings that the store is in are painted in true Victorian fashion: LOUD. The strip of purple-ish blue buildings, with yellow accents is Hammers and as you roam through each building, you find more shopping opportunities in basements, second floors, and tucked around corners. Part of the fun of shopping there is discovering just where everything is. The other part is finding the amazing bargains.

I can never leave Winchester without at least one trip to the San Miguel Coffee Company (catacorner to Hammers). It is in an adapted 1890s bank building but the interiors have been remodeled to reflect a trendy coffee house while also weaving in historic Italian features. They have stunning coffee, treats, and soups. The brie and mushroom soup in a bread bowl is my idea of heaven.

After shopping in the historic downtown, I always like to meander through the historic residential neighborhoods. Lately the town has seen a revival and many of the older houses are in better shape than they have been in for years, so the drive is gorgeous and heart warming (I love that people invest in the townscapes that typify their unique town brand). Finally, if you set aside enough time to make a vacation of it, you must visit Tim's Ford State Park and take advantage of the swimming and boating that is available right there in Winchester. It is a beautiful lake, TVA keeps it well maintained, and you can feel like you're out in the middle of nature only a short way out of town.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Links to Places That Matter: Road Trips Edition

As the end of June arrives, many of us can’t wait to indulge in that time-honored tradition we’ve spent months feverishly working toward: the summer vacation. If you’re looking for a fun, economical and meaningful adventure without having to board an airplane, please allow me to extol the benefits of the road trip.

Road trips are a great way to travel because they give you the opportunity to really experience the journey and see things that you would miss if you were traveling by airplane. The other big advantage of road trips is the utter freedom — from crowds, claustrophobic airplane cabins, and that overall feeling of anxiety many experience when traveling high in the sky. It’s just you, your car and the road — with nothing but new places and experiences waiting right beyond the next mile marker. Now is the time to cue up — and crank up — Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road” in your mind’s soundtrack.

Here are a few links to resources that can help you plan your road trip this summer as well as ideas for some of the best road trips America has to offer:

  • Sold on the idea of a summer road trip but not sure where to begin? Read “Road Trip Planning 101” from SmarterTravel.com for some great tips to get you started on the road (trip) to happiness.
  • Gas prices may be decreasing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch how much gas you’ll be guzzling during your next trip. Cost to Drive has a nifty tool that calculates your approximate gas costs based on your mileage and the kind of car you’re driving.
  • Road-tripping by RV might just be the best way to travel, allowing you to take all the comforts of home on the road with you. The “Road Tripper Blog” offers some excellent advice for planning an RV trip as well as ideas for great RV drives.
  • Speaking of historic road trips, America's many national historic trails offer rich opportunities to take long drives through the country's heritage. Here are just a few of the best historic trails that are best experienced by car.
  • Texas has many road trip opportunities for heritage and cultural travelers — where else can you find rugged mountains, sweeping plains, majestic green hills and pristine coasts all in one state? Read “The Road Trip Destination Guide” to get a little inspiration for your next Texas road trip.
Enjoy your summer vacation!


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

Photo Credit: More Scenes from an Unintended Road Trip, Flickr, jayRaz

Monday, June 15, 2009

Heritage Q&A with Travel Writer Charyn Pfeuffer

Today’s post is next in a series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel. Charyn Pfeuffer has written about food and travel for more than a decade. She has contributed to more than 80 publications, including National Geographic Traveler, TravelChannel.com, The Seattle Times, Fodor's, DailyCandy.com, Portfolio.com, AmericanProfile.com and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Charyn would consider taming her wanderlust ways if she could settle down in the desert of San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, but first needs to perfect her Spanish. Thankfully, Rosetta Stone is helping brilliantly with those efforts. Check her out on the Web at www.charynpfeuffer.com.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?
I find inspiration in all of my travels. There is no better forum for learning than through travel, curiosity and human interaction.

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
I spent two weeks exploring Chile in March. The first half of the trip was spent on the M/V Mare Australis [passenger ship], starting in Punta Arenas, cruising through the Beagle Channel, and landing at Cape Horn, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I then flew to Calama and spent a week in San Pedro de Atacama, exploring the Atacama Desert. I visited Zapar, an archaeological site significant in pre-Columbian times; Pukará de Quitor, a fortress dating back to 1,000 A.D.; and the town of Tulor, one of the first and most important Atacama settlements that dates back to 800 B.C. The extreme contrasts in landscapes, climate and natural beauty were incredibly intense.

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the Americas and a historic UNESCO World Heritage site in Curaçao, unexpectedly moved me. Curaçao’s Jewish community was established nearly 400 years ago as the Jews fled Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions. Similar to its Dutch sibling, Amsterdam, Curaçao provided a safe haven for political, religious and social freedoms. My guide, Eveline van Arkel, did a fantastic job conveying the spirit and history of the island during an incredible walking tour of Willemstad.

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
Right now, I’m on a South America kick — completely obsessed with its culture and people. Machu Picchu blew me away. Also in Peru, Lake Titicaca and the Amazon are fascinating examples of ancestry and culture.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
It’s most important for me to interact with the locals when I travel. Unless you’re spending a considerable amount of time in a destination, it’s very difficult to immerse yourself in a new culture. I find by befriending the locals, even if it’s simply sharing a short conversation on a bus, you get a greater sense of a place, its culture and its people.

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
It’s all about traveling to the places and visiting sites that best — meaning authentically and accurately — represent a culture and its people. Ideally, these people should proudly embrace their past.

7. What are your favorite heritage-and culture-rich destinations?
Anywhere in Peru, but specifically, Machu Picchu; Barcelona, Spain; the Colorado Rockies; and Copán, Honduras.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Did You Hear the News?

We have some very exciting news — did you hear about it?

If you are a registered member at Go With a Purpose, you may have already seen the special announcement that was emailed today exclusively to registered members. If you are not a member yet, you can still find out about what has been causing all the excitement!

Hint: The name of the new Web site and its logo have been revealed!

The new online community for heritage and cultural travelers is ready to launch in the coming weeks, and you can be among the first to receive exclusive updates (including today’s big announcement, which you can see once you have signed up and logged in).

Don’t miss out on the latest news — become a part of something exciting and sign up today at Go With a Purpose!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Special Announcement is Coming Soon…

The excitement has been building for weeks, and the launch of the new online heritage-travel community is growing ever closer! We will be making a special announcement tomorrow, June 9; however, the announcement will be made via email exclusively to registered community members.

Don’t miss this announcement — it will offer a sneak peek of the new Web site and what it will offer! By signing up for free, you become a founding member of a dynamic community for people passionate about heritage- and culture-rich travel experiences. Become a part of something exciting and sign up today!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Celebrate National Trails Day: America’s Best Historic Trails

American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® is this Saturday, June 6 and celebrated with events across America. These events not only increase awareness of our nation’s treasured trails and their pristine beauty, but they also get Americans up and active through hiking and other outdoor activities. There are tens of thousands of trails in the United States, many richly historic, that provide hikers with a glimpse into our nation’s past. One can only imagine the events that once took place and the people that once traversed along those same paths.

Here is a list of some of America’s top historic trails. They are best experienced by car (many cover hundreds or even thousands of miles) and have historic sites and walking trails in various locations along the way.

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail: Running through nine states from Georgia to southern Illinois, the Trail of Tears commemorates the difficult journey of the Cherokee people after a forced removal from their homeland in the southeastern United States in 1838. There are a variety of historic sites in several towns and cities along the Trail of Tears, including heritage centers, museums and walking paths.

Beale Wagon Road Historic Trail: This 19.5-mile trail in Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona is part of what was the first interstate road in the Southwest, built during the 1860s and 1870s and stretching from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to California. Parts of this trail are suitable for hiking and horseback riding, and visitors can even discover old sections where rows of rocks mark the wagon-width road.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail: This trail traces the journey of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the goal of which was to discover a water route (via the Missouri and Columbia rivers) from the Midwest to the Pacific Coast. Starting in Illinois and passing through 11 states, it extends over 3,700 miles. There are more than 100 historic sites along the trail that commemorate this brave expedition and important period of American history.

California National Historic Trail: During the great Gold Rush of the 1840s and 1850s, this trail carried nearly a quarter of a million people westward to California to seek their fortunes. It passes through 10 states from Missouri to California and has several trail sites to enrich your experience along the way.

Oregon National Historic Trail: To follow the Oregon Trail is to follow the journeys of American settlers who trekked across the open expanses of the West in search of better lives. With the major eastern starting points in Missouri and Iowa, the Oregon Trail was never actually one singularly defined trail, but rather several routes that were established over the years by a number of explorers.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail: More than 330 miles long and meandering through Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Overmountain Victory Trail commemorates the 1780 campaign that led to the Battle of Kings Mountain. This battle was a crucial turning point for American patriots battling Loyalist forces during the Revolutionary War. The motor route begins in Abingdon, Virginia, and is set amongst the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains. Each year a reenactment procession travels along the route by foot and car, where participants can join in along the way.

Pony Express National Historic Trail: You have undoubtedly heard of the famous Pony Express — America’s first postal service that carried communications from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. The Pony Express National Historic Trail has many interesting historic sites (such as original stations and pony stables) along its 1,800-mile route.

Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail: This trail was not used by explorers, settlers or soldiers of the traditional sense — instead it chronicles a more recent and very important turning point in American history. In March 1965, peaceful marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, were organized to bring attention to the struggle by African-Americans for voting rights. After two previous attempts, marchers successfully made the 54-mile trek to the state capital in Montgomery. As a result of this monumental event, Congress enacted legislation that guaranteed voting rights for all Americans. Begin by visiting the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, and then follow the Alabama State Scenic Highway to the state capitol building in Montgomery.

Happy trails!

What historic trails, whether made for walking or best suited for driving, have you traveled? Share your favorite trails 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 credits: Flickr, Trail of Tears State Park, by steve9567; National Park Service, "Three Forks from Lewis Lookout," Dillon, Montana; Flickr, "Oregon Trail" by glennwilliamspdx; National Park Service, "Hollenburg Pony Express Station," Marysville, Kansas

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Heritage Q&A with Family Travel Expert Eileen Ogintz

Today’s post is next in the series of Q&As with people with a passion for heritage- and culture-related travel. Eileen Ogintz is the founder of “Taking the Kids,” a popular and long-running online family travel column and blog. The column appears on online news outlets such as msnbc.com, CNN.com, SmarterTravel.com and Frommers.com. “Taking the Kids” is also in many newspapers around the country, including the New York Daily News, Newsday, Miami Herald, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Dallas Morning News, among others.

Ogintz is considered a leading national expert on family travel and is often quoted in major publications such as USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and parenting and women’s magazines on family travel. She has appeared on such television programs as “48 Hours,” the “Today” show,” “Good Morning America” and “Oprah,” as well as dozens of local radio and TV news programs. Ogintz also is often asked to speak to corporate groups.

1. Where have you found inspiration and/or life enrichment during your travels?
I’ve had wonderful, memorable family times exploring new places together with my husband and three kids. As the kids have gotten older, they often lead the way — on sailing trips and hiking trails, for example, and even in museums. The most fun are the unexpected adventures — dining at a tiny restaurant where we were the only ones not speaking Italian in a Tuscan town, meeting the farmers at a San Francisco farmers market, waiting out a storm in a cabin in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, or watching cartoons in a ski condo because it was too cold to be outside!

2. Tell us about your most recent trip. What heritage or cultural sites did you visit?
I was traveling with some cousins and their two young kids to the Grand Canyon. We took the historic Grand Canyon Railway, and it was great to see the kids’ excitement about everything — the train, the canyon, the hiking trails, becoming Junior Rangers. They made me more excited by looking at everything through their eyes!

3. What is your most memorable heritage or cultural travel experience?
There are so many! I remember after my kids’ first “big” hike in Yosemite — they were 6 and 8, and we hiked to the top of a waterfall — we ate dinner at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel dining room. It was a very grand room, especially for young children, and they were on their best behavior. But what was so wonderful was everyone made such a fuss over them because they had completed a tough hike. They were so proud of themselves!

4. Where is one heritage or cultural destination you think everyone with your interests should visit?
I think national parks are great for any family — a real outdoor natural theme park. I also love Colonial Williamsburg because it’s fun for all ages to time-travel and “meet” people who lived centuries ago — from slaves and shopkeepers to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I think Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower re-creation are good bets for the same reason.

5. What sorts of things do you like to learn during your travels?
I like to learn about the people who are native to that area — what do they like to do with their families, what do they like to eat, where do they shop? I have as much fun trolling neighborhoods as major sites!

6. What does heritage travel mean to you?
It can mean tracing your own family roots or your country’s history, and learning about a foreign culture or simply another way of life. It is wonderful to get out of your comfort zone — and take your kids — and experience what other families believe is important.

7. What are your favorite heritage- and culture-rich destinations?
I love New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. I also love major European cities but also small foreign towns where tradition and buildings date back centuries. I met one woman in Innsbruck [Austria] whose family had been in the same business for hundreds and hundreds of years! It was amazing. We stayed in a hotel where Mozart had stayed! It was mind-boggling! The thing is you need to be open to these experiences and be ready to venture off the tourist track.

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