Acadia National Park

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Visited: August 2018

Duration: 3 days, 4 nights

Accommodations:  Holiday Inn, Bar Harbor.  Only place I could find with Bunk beds in a separate room.

Acadia National Park!!  We were so excited to get to this park on National Park Trip Season 3. Me, for the views and hiking, kids for beach and whale watch and Chris, my husband for the lobster.

We arrived in Bar Harbor in the afternoon on a Friday, we checked into the hotel, let the kids swim awhile and went down into town for some lobster. It didn’t disappoint, none of our dining options did while here.

Day 1 Acadia

This morning we had a whale watch so we had to be in Bar Harbor at the crack of nobody is up.  This took all morning and if interested I would definitely book a trip through Bar Harbor Whale watch they are the best in the business and we could see why.  Check out our post on Maine for info on our Whale watch here.

We set out after lunch (lobster of course) and headed to the park.  We stopped off at the visitor center for our map of the park, Junior Ranger books and our cancellations.  We drove the park loop road and were able to pull off anywhere and find parking.  This really surprised us for a Saturday and we found out why later that night.  Bar Harbor rents their vacation rentals by the week. They end on Saturday and start on Sunday so people are busy packing up to leave on Saturday and just getting there on Sundays so the park is pretty empty. We lucked out.

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First stop Thunder Hole, this place was cool. We climbed on the rocks and walked around here for hours, watching the tide come in, it was awesome!  Relaxing and beautiful views of the ocean and coastline. We sat out on the rocks until we couldn’t anymore.

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We cruised past Otter Point which was gorgeous and a must stop for photos. We drove on over to Jordan Pond and Jordan Pond house for the famous popovers.  Guess what, no wait at all! How did that happen?? The popovers were amazing, even my picky 11 year old loved them and asked for more. This is a must stop as well. It’s a gorgeous view of Jordan Pond from here. We also enjoyed shopping here as well, there is a great little gift shop and if your wait is a long one. The hike around Jordan Pond is easy and beautiful.

Off to check out Cadillac Mountain, we stopped and picked up a hitchhiker that had hiked down the mountain with her husband and baby and didn’t want to hike back up. Kids had tons of questions for her and we are sure she was glad to get out at the top 🙂

The view from the top of Cadillac Mountain was another breathe taking site we encountered while here in Acadia (there are lots of these). We walked around here and took pictures until it was turned dark on us.

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We headed to Thurston’s for dinner (we hit this place more than once), it was amazing!  You could sit on the deck and watch the boats come in. Everything we ate was delicious, we highly recommend this place for good food.

Day 2

Today we got off to a late start out of the gate, we enjoyed a great breakfast at the hotel and were in no hurry. We started the day with a hike on the bee hive trail, our training for the precipice trail tomorrow. This trail was “buzzing” with exciting views and fun, but thrilling trails up the side of rocks.  I am deathly afraid of heights so of course I signed up for this with no worries.  It really wasn’t that bad, or maybe I’m just not as afraid as I think, use your own judgement. Great photo ops on this trail.  I wish I knew we could swim after that hot hike it looked fantastic.  Heads up pack your suit so you can enjoy a cool dip after this hot hike.

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Started off a little rocky, LOL

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Our first tricky spot

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The iron rungs we used to climb up.
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This is the trail
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Family pic at the top.
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The view from atop the Bee Hive Trail
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On the way down, great place for a dip.

After working up a big sweat we headed over to Sand Beach for a couple of hours before heading in to Bar Harbor for a late lunch. Kids played here in the water and sand while we sat back and enjoyed. It is gorgeous here, make sure to add this to your stop.

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We cruised the park loop road and headed to Bar Harbor for lunch and shopping the rest of the afternoon. The park was filling up quickly and getting crowded.

Day 3

This morning we had a good breakfast at 2 Cats, a must for breakfast in Bar Harbor.  We sat on the porch which was great but for what we got I thought it was a little expensive.  I really wasn’t impressed with this place as much as everyone who claims this place is a must, but don’t let me deter you.

We finished up our Junior Rangers and went to Sieur de Monts to get our Junior Ranger patches.  This is set up as a Junior Ranger station that we wandered around and looked at for most of the morning.  Lots of fun activities for the kids and adults to participate in and learn.  You could choose a patch or a badge, my kids both chose the patch, they are going to sew them onto a backpack when we have all of them.

This afternoon we rented kayaks and kayaked out in seal cove.  This was the highlight of our trip! We rented through National Park Sea Kayak Tours and they were top notch! Fun from the time we walked in the door!  Our guide was terrific and this excursion really “sealed” the deal for us!

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What a great trip to Acadia National Park! We did everything we had on our list to do except the Precipice Trail. There were cars for miles and no parking when we showed up each time to do it. Looks like we will be back to enjoy more of those wonderful popovers! ❤

Have you been to Acadia? Did you love it as much as us?? Gunnar says it is his new favorite park. That says a lot.

For our dining choices and whale watch check back for the Maine post.  The food in Bar Harbor is the best so be sure to check it out. Also while you are there do some shopping. I was in heaven here!!

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Maine

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The Maine State Line! This was the “Maine” one we were after on this trip! It made #26 of 50 for us. We are over the half way point.  This State was awesome. We did so many things here and loved everything, especially the food!

National Parks we visited:

Acadia National Park

On our visit to the great state of Maine we stayed in Bar Harbor, and boy was it fantastic.  Our first venture outside of the park was going on a whale and puffin watch.  We were able to see many whales, a puffin and lots of birds. So, I guess you could say it went pretty “whale”.

We went through a company called Bar Harbor Whale watch and they are the best in the business.  The tour guide was very knowledgeable and entertained our children and us very well on the long haul out to the whales and back. What makes this company the best is their guarantee to see whales.  If you don’t see any or enough they give you a voucher to come back that is good for one year.  Not many companies do that.

We also enjoyed some Sea Kayaking and went through National Park Sea Kayaking, you can see that on the Acadia National Park blog here.  This company was amazing as well, but what made us love Bar Harbor was the food and all the shops!!

My husband and kids ate their weight in lobster on this trip!

Our first stop was Stewman’s Lobster Pond within walking distance of the hotel. We ate out on the pier and it was great,  we had no idea how great it can be elsewhere though. Save your time for whats to come. Here we are at Stewman’s.

Next stop was after our whale watch at Paddy’s Irish Pub which was conveniently located across the street from the whale watch. This place was so great we ended up eating lunch here again another day!

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The next place was even better, we headed down to Thurston’s Lobster Pound. This is a little out of the way but totally worth it.  We came here twice it was so good! The boys enjoyed picking out their own lobsters and watching the boats come in. We absolutely loved it here. Thank you to all the folks that told us about this place!! Do NOT miss it!

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The next great stop we made was because we planned to go mini golfing at Pirate’s Cove so we needed a place close to it. We really lucked out when we found C-Ray Lobster. This place was one of the favorites as well.  Really relaxed atmosphere, so relaxed its like you are eating in a back yard with 6 picnic tables, but it was really cool. We loved it!!  Great food and we talked to the owner for quite a bit, super chill guy!  Stop here as well if you can!! You won’t regret it.

We had a few breakfasts here in town as well. Some good some just okay.  The breakfast bar at the Holiday Inn was pretty good and the view looking out on the ocean was even better.  For $14 this place was good.

We also went to Jordan’s House Restaurant.  The service was impeccable!  The food great and a good price. A quick in and out breakfast joint to fill your belly and be on your way to the park! Highly recommend this place.

The last breakfast place we ate at we saved until the last day because we had heard so many great things about it. 2 Cats in Bar Harbor was really just okay for us. I thought it was awfully expensive for what we got. For a family of 4 it was over $100 for breakfast. I just about choked on my $10 coffee! Food was just great, waiter was super nice, atmosphere on the porch was nice but I would skip and find another place unless you have your heart set on this place. I’m sorry I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to, I tried I really did.

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Wonderful food here in Bar Harbor and lots of shopping. We could have easily spent a week here.  Husband wants to come back and visit for sure. Look out poor lobsters!

I hope you enjoyed our stops and recommendations in Bar Harbor, it “shore” is a beautiful place. Have you been there??  We fell in love!

Gunnar wants to come back as an adult, open a hotel and name it The Puff Inn! ha ha get it???

Until next time!!  We are heading to Massachusetts next, can you guess “witch” town we will hit while there?

New Hampshire

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New Hampshire, state line sign #25 (we are half way there) for this voyaging family!  We “shire” had a great time in this state. We visited the only National Park Service site in this state and it was beautiful.

National Park Service Site:

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

We also enjoyed the beauty of New Hampshire on our drive down the Kancamagus Highway. Check out these beautiful roadside stops.  We even met some folks from Iowa that did a rotation of where I work one summer. What a small world.

Look at these breathtaking views.

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And a great get out and stretch your legs short hike to beautiful Glen Ellis Falls.

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We stayed overnight in North Conway at The Red Jacket Mountain View Inn, where kids  burned off some energy at the indoor water park. Great stop off in NH for this crew.

Of course no trip through New Hampshire is complete without a drive up and down Mt. Washington. New Hampshire’s highest peak.  We did this on our own and it was really easy, despite the stories we heard from the bartender at our hotel.  My husband was more than capable of not burning up our brakes and taking it easy on the way down. We had a great clear day when we reached the top!

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New Hampshire is an awesome state and one not to miss. Lots of fun and exciting things to see and do. We will be back, but for now we are on our way to Maine.  Check back for more state line signs, stops on our National Park trip season 3, Maine and all of our National Park stops.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

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Visited: August 2018

Duration: 2-3 hours (including a picnic lunch)

Accommodations:  Leaving Stowe, Vermont, staying in Conway, New Hampshire.

 

It was lunch time by the time we arrived in New Hampshire. This park has a great little picnic area in the parking lot. We had a bite to eat and then headed to the visitor center. Here we grabbed our goodies including our Junior Ranger packets.  I will say that this Junior Ranger is by far one of the best out there.  We had a blast filling this one out.

This National Historic Site is the home, gardens and studios of one of America’s greatest sculptors, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  This was the summer residence from 1885 to 1897 and his permanent home from 1900 until he died in 1907. Here you can view all types of his work.  It is an absolutely beautiful area.

We spent most of our time here walking the grounds exploring every piece of artwork.  In the Junior Ranger booklet there were tiny insets of the artwork we had to match to original work, its harder than it sounds.  The grounds were beautiful to walk through and we were the only people here during our visit. A quiet and serene place, we really enjoyed. Below are some of our favorite works of art we found on our visit.

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The house was gorgeous as well. We were able to walk around in it and the park ranger on duty was very helpful with questions. She also helped us with our Jr. Ranger booklets on some we couldn’t quite find. The best part, she gave us great hints and not the exact answers 🙂

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We headed back to the visitor center to earn our badges. This gal looks skeptical, ha ha.

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What a great little stop at New Hampshire’s only National Park Service site.


We are off to Conway, New Hampshire, but first we are going to enjoy the scenery along the Kancamagus Highway on our way and make a pit stop in at Franconia Notch State Park.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed the blog for today. Stop back for more, we are just getting warmed up here on National Park Trip Season 3.

Vermont

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Vermont. State line sign #24 out of 50 for this crazy family.  This was taken on Highway 7 coming from Saratoga and heading to Bennington for the evening. We actually pulled into someone’s driveway, parked the car and took our picture, so it was a really safe stop for us. I also don’t think anyone drove by the whole 5 minutes we were there so even more safe.

While in Vermont we visited the only National Park Service site in the state:

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

No trip through Vermont would be complete without a stop for ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory!!  Check it out. We had so much fun getting the scoop here that it was in”cone”ceivable! Gunnar even bought a “sweet” shirt. LOL

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To “top” off that stop we headed north to Stowe, Vermont and stayed at the most beautiful hotel. The Trapp Family Lodge is a gorgeous Swiss chalet in the mountains of Vermont. When the family from The Sound of Music immigrated to the U.S. this is where they settled and the hotel is still run by one of the grandchildren.  I wish we had stayed here a couple more nights there is so much to do here, glad we got to experience what we did though, it was a fabulous stay.

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Thanks for stopping by and checking out our drive through Vermont. Up next, New Hampshire, check back soon for those blogs.  Have you been to Vermont? It is another scenic state we have been blessed to check off of our list 🙂

 

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

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Visited: August 2018

Duration: 1-2 hours. Could have been longer but it was raining.

Accommodations: Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont (highly recommend)

It was a rainy day in Vermont. We traveled up the beautiful highway 100 stopping at The Vermont Country store for some lunch and shopping.  We ventured up to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park to visit Vermont’s only National Park Service Site.

We stopped in at the Visitor Center grabbing umbrellas and Junior Ranger books. The JR here is a hike with a scavenger hunt involved at each site. Truly fun and kept everyone’s attention.  We were off and on our own here to enjoy this park. Nobody for miles.

First Stop was the Mansion.

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We sat on the porch and enjoyed the outdoors awhile here. There were outstanding views all around so we couldn’t help ourselves.

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We set off on a rainy hike around the property that didn’t take too long and was gorgeous. We walked through a Tree Plantation and learned why it is important, past a compost pile and learn all the things that can be composted and what can’t. We went for a walk in the woods, past a wood barn in through the Forest center. We had to find things to do (at home) to become more environmentally friendly.  We decided we would invest in a windmill.

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Junior Ranger books done, back to the Visitor Center to earn our badge. These badges were made out of trees that came from this park.  This is a cool addition to this place.

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Great stop on our way through Vermont!  Up next is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and our fabulous stay at the Trapp Family Lodge.  Check out our Vermont blog on those exciting stops.

New York

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New York!!!  State line sign #23 of 50.  This was taken while on National Park Trip Season 3 in the summer of 2018.  Right off of Interstate 90 coming from Pennsylvania into New York. Plenty of room to pull off and get a great picture.

National Park Service sites we visited while in New York

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site

Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Fort Stanwix National Monument

Saratoga National Historical Park

No trip through New York would be complete without visiting one of the best state parks in the U.S. found in Watkins Glen, New York.  We stayed at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and went on a “gorge”gous hike through Watkins Glen State Park.  The hike was a great hike to get our heart rates going with amazing views the whole way.  I don’t think you could take a bad photo here.  The views are awesome!! Check it out!

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Great little town to stop off at on our way across New York. Great dining, hotel and outdoor activities here.

Check back for Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and more!!

Saratoga National Historical Park

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Visited: July 2018

Duration: 2 hours

Accommodations: Bennington, Vermont

One of the most decisive victories in American and world history was won here at Saratoga. The Battles of Saratoga began in September of 1777, with British Gen. John Burgoyne leading his troops down the Hudson River.  After many weeks of battle Burgoyne’s troops took refuge in a fortified camp in Saratoga.  American forces, that had grown to 17,000 men surrounded the British Army. Burgoyne surrendered in October of 1777.

Here we also learned about Benedict Arnold and his part in the war. This battle was instrumental in bringing in France as an American Ally which later led to Spain joining France in the war against Britain.

We got here later in the afternoon and had about 30 minutes to look through the museum and walk around outside. Great displays in the museum, you could even dress up as soldiers. The Visitor Center is up on the hill with beautiful overlooks of the valley.

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We hopped in the car at Visitor Center closing time and headed out for our very own auto tour of the park.  We grabbed the information packet for each stop at the VC.  You can do an audio tour at Http://sara.toursphere.com but we just drove while I read what was in the brochure.

Here is stop 1: The Freeman Farm Overlook

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Here is stop #2: The Neilson Farm. This is a restored home that looks much like it did in 1777.

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The Monument for the Unknown American Dead

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We breezed by the other 8 stops and got out and looked around. It is a beautiful well kept park, but we are getting hungry. Off to Bennington, Vermont for the night.  The nice Park Rangers knew that we wouldn’t make it back in time to earn our Junior Ranger badge so he entrusted it to me to make sure the kids completed the books. One of them did it 😉

 

Little did any of us know that we would be back in the morning to Saratoga because Gunnar left his passport book in the museum.  Luckily the cleaning lady found it and because we had written our phone # inside of it, they called us before we left Bennington and we made the trip back to retrieve it.

NOTE TO YOURSELF:  Write your phone # in the front of your national park passport book, it is a life saver!!!!

I hope you enjoyed our trip through New York and the Battles of Saratoga.  Have you been here?  It is a beautiful place.

Fort Stanwix National Monument

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Visited: July 2018

Duration: 2-3 hours

Traveling across New York took us right in to Rome, New York for this fabulous National Monument. Right in the middle of town is a step back in history to interpret the events of the siege of 1777. In 1776 the Continental Congress ordered General George Washington to have Fort Stanwix rebuilt to protect the emerging nation’s northwest border and to secure a foothold for future expansion.

In 1777, the siege of Fort Stanwix begins on August 3rd by British forces. Col. Peter Gansevoort vowed to hold the fort “to the last extremity”. After 21 days of siege British forces abandon Fort Stanwix after American reinforcements approach, under the control of Major General Benedict Arnold. This victory, coupled with the defeat of the British attack and surrender of Saratoga, led to alliances between the United States, France and the Netherlands.

Our first stop here was the the Willett Center, we stopped in for an orientation to Fort Stanwix and the American Revolution.  Great museum with fun displays. You can even build your own fort.

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We headed out to the Fort on the paved trail and headed in over the drawbridge.

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We stopped off at the West Barracks (Visitor Contact Station) to watch a short film. We then wandered the Fort (some was under construction so we couldn’t go in some of the buildings.

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Here are some pictures of the East Barracks you can see the difference in the officer’s and soldier’s barracks.

We walked around the fort and talked with volunteers that were all really informative and more than happy to answer any questions you have.

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We headed back to the Willett Center to find a few more answers we were looking for in our books. This Junior Ranger was hard, parents had to help with a few of these, but in the end we “conquered” it.

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Earned our Badges and got our cancellations! Off to Part 2 of the battle, Saratoga!

Fort Stanwix was a good time in a beautiful city. Have you been here? What did you think? History can be so much fun to learn.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park

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Visited: July 2018

Duration: 1-2 hours

Accommodations: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

We are trekking across New York after spending a few days at Niagara Falls on our way to Maine. This was a fantastic little stop!  There are several historic houses to stop at but we chose the visitor center to spend our time at.

First things first we grabbed our Junior Ranger books and headed to watch the film, “Dreams of Equality”. I would have to say of all of the National Historic Sites we have visited this film was the best we have seen.  It is a little dated but full of so much information and presented in a way that you don’t feel overloaded and shut your mind off.  Even my kids enjoyed it.  The Junior Ranger book was really fun as well, great activities for the kids to do.

The kids hung out mostly in the Junior Rangers room (which was a really cool and fun place), you could even dress up as Park Rangers, I think they are the most handsome Rangers I have ever seen. ❤ ❤

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We walked around upstairs and viewed the displays while the boys finished their books. There are lots of displays and it is all very interesting.

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Wesleyan Chapel sits just to the east of the visitor center and was the location that heard the first formal demands for women’s rights on July 19th and 20th in 1848.

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Other sites to see are the M’Clintock House and The Hunt House in Waterloo, New York. Besides the Visitor Center in Seneca Falls there is the People’s Park and Elizabeth Cady Stanton House.

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If you are in the area come check this place out and learn all about the amazing women that moved women’s rights forward in this country! This truly is an great place to savor history. Our National Park Service in this country is fascinating and a great place to learn hands on history.

Kids earned their Junior Rangers and we are off to Fort Stanwix.  Another Great Stop on National Park Trip Season 3.

Lots of cancellations here for your passport!

We loved this place, have you been here??  We would love to know how you felt about it.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site

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Visited: July 2018

Duration: 1-2 hours

Accommodations: Niagara Falls, Canada (this was a stop off on the way)

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site was a quick stop off on our way to Niagara falls.  We got off to a late start and didn’t want to deal with the crowds at Niagara so we took our time to get there and made a pit stop off here. We arrived about 10 minutes before opening, so we walked around and got some photos of the outside, it was a gorgeous house.

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The house belonged to Ansley Wilcox and is now one of the oldest homes in Buffalo, New York.  President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States in the Library of the Wilcox House after President William McKinley was shot twice and died eight days later of an infection from one of the bullets that was not able to be found.

We wandered in when it opened and stood in line for tour tickets (you can buy these in advance, so if you know when you will be there do this), we were 1 over the limit but the AWESOME ranger giving the tour let us go with the group. Thank you Thank you!  The tour was of the inside of the Ansley house and is the only way you get to see it, otherwise without tour tickets you only see the museum which is really small and not really worth the stop.

The tour and our tour guide was AMAZING!!!  There were several room visits but our absolute favorite was The Issues Theater, it is crazy to think that we are dealing with some of the same issues today.

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Our second favorite room was the recreation of Roosevelt’s office at the White House. You can sit at the presidential desk where there is a touch screen computer that you can interact with and see how similar you are to TR and how he voted on certain topics. However, the hit was when you could take your picture at the desk and it emails you a picture of you as the president on the front page of the paper with a news story. See below for ours.  How fun is that!!

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When the tour ended you had all the time you needed to wander the second floor. We took our time, played checkers and finished up our Junior Rangers. When done we headed down the stairs to be sworn in (just like TR) as Junior Rangers.  We LOVED this ranger (tour guide) she was one of the best we have ever encountered and she made this stop better than what it is by being so generous and informative. You could really tell she loves this job and is very good at it.

Junior Rangers earned, passports stamped and we are off to Niagara Falls, we have heard it is not to be “mist”.

Here they are the newly sworn in Junior Rangers of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site!! Aren’t they handsome??

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Have you been to this Historic Site? Did you enjoy it as much as us? We would love to know your favorite room.

Michigan

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Michigan!!!  State line sign #22 out of 50.  We pulled off on I-75 North in some serious traffic, my husband was not amused at this stop so only do it if you are psychotic like us and REALLY REALLY want it.  There are some other easier ones to get I noticed but we weren’t going that way.

Michigan National Park Service Sites we stopped at:

River Raisin National Battlefield Park

There are several more places in Michigan we want to go to.  It will need to be on another National Park trip so check back because that sounds like an amazing time.

Have you been to Michigan?  What is your favorite national park service site in this state?  We will definitely be back!

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