Being a military family we traveled a lot. During our travels across the U.S. we discovered little known museums, attractions and interesting spots to visit. In this article I will share ten of the best hidden travel spots that we enjoyed in our travels.
1. Submarine Force Museum, Home of Historic Ship Nautilus is on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut. This is the only submarine museum operated by the United States Navy. The museum traces the development and use of submarines from the Revolutionary War to the Ohio and Virginia class submarines. When you approach the museum you will immediately be attracted to the hanging circles which show you the comparative sizes of several submarines. Located on the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut, at One Crystal Lake Road, Groton, CT 06340 you can drive to the museum from I-95 by taking Exit 86 and then following the signs to the museum. Admission and parking are free. The museum is closed on Tuesday. Summer Hours: May 1 – Oct 31, 9am – 5pm daily, Winter Hours: Nov 1 – April 30, 9am – 4pm daily.
2. Calvert Marine Museum offers exhibits which include paleontology, estuary, history, lighthouses, boats and oyster houses. You can see the Drum Point Lighthouse, boast building exhibits, small craft collection and our family favorite of 15 million year old Miocene fossils. After spending a day on the beach collecting shark’s teeth you can compare them to the exhibits in the museum. You may be inspired to return to the beach to search for more. The museum is open daily 10am – 5pm but is closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission : Adults $7.00, Senior Citizens $6.00, children 5 – 12 yrs $2.00, Military $6.00 and Children under 5 are free. The museum is located at 14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons Island, MD 20688.
3. Loudonville Canoe Livery is fun for the whole family. You may arrange a canoe trip from 45 minutes, 1.5 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours or overnight. Trips are also available for 2 to 7 days. They even offer special trips such as a moonlight canoe trip! We love the canoe trips but if you are interested the livery also offers kayaking, rafting, tubing, camping, lodging and hiking. Reservation are recommended and the livery is open April 1st – November 1st, 7 days a week from 9:30am to 6:00pm. The livery is located next to the bridge in downtown Loudonville at 424 West Main Street, Loudonville, Ohio 44842.
4. Camp River Dubois, Lewis & Clark Illinois State Historic Site is Site #1 on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail. You can visit the Interpretive Center, a replica of the 1803 -04 winter encampment, and the Lewis and Clark Monument. A film “At Journey’s Edge” is shown every twenty minutes. It takes a while to visit the interpretive center, view the film, read and view the exhibits, and to explore the reconstruction of Camp River Dubois. There is no admission charge; donations are appreciated. Visiting Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day, daily 9am – 5pm, Labor Day – Memorial Day : Wed – Sunday 9am – 5pm. Closed on Major Holidays. Located at the intersection of IL – 3 and Poag Road about 3 miles north of the I-270/IL – 3 interchange.
5. Warrens Cranberry Festival in Wisconsin’s Cranberry Country, Tomah, Wisconsin. You may four a cranberry marsh, catch a parade, and visit one of the many arts & crafts booth, flea market booths or farm vendors. Food vendors offer great treats. Check for festival dates, for 2010 they are September 24 – 26. Booths open at 7am daily. We found this delightful part of the country when we stayed at a lodge as we were traveling through WI. All year long you may stay at one of the local lodges, resorts or visit the convention center. You can rent bicycles to ride along the roads around the cranberry bogs and learn about the cranberry industry in Wisconsin.
6. Lake Superior Marine Museum will explain the lore of the Gales of November including the most accurate details of the fate of the Edmond Fitzgerald. We discovered this museum and were mystified by the details of the fateful trip of the Edmond Fitzgerald. We had heard the song but were not aware of the dangers involved on these Great Lakes. The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is operated as a free service by the U.S. Army Cops of Engineers, Detroit District. The museum is located at 600 South Lake Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota 55802 and the hours are: Winter Hours: Dec 21 – March 19, 2010 10am – 4:30pm Fri -Sun closed Mon – Thurs, Spring Hours: Mar 20 – May 27 10am – 4:30pm Sun – Thurs and 10am – 6pm Fri-Sat, Summer Hours: May 28 – Oct 10 10am – 9pm.
7. Arbor Day Farm was discovered when our daughters marched in the Arbor Day Parade with their Girl Scout Troop. This year the Arbor Day Family Celebration 2010 is Saturday & Sunday, May 1 & 2, 9am – 5pm. At the Tree Adventure there is tree climbing and cross-cut sawing, kite making, face painting, music and exhibits. There is a 50 foot high Canopy Tree House to explore, trails to explore, mysteries to solve in the Nature Explore Club Cabin and Nature Explore Classrooms. Special treats are available at the Apple House and also at the Pie Garden Café. Admission: Adults $6.50, Children 3 – 12 yrs $4.50, children age 2 and under are free. The Arbor Day Farm is located at 2611 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, Nebraska.
8. Black Elk – Neihardt Park has changed and developed since we first discovered it. The Black Elk – Neihardt Park is a city park named for Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota, and John G. Neihardt. John G. Neihardt is Nebraska’s Poet Laureate and author of Black Elk Speaks. Neihardt wrote Black Elk Speaks after a series of interviews with Black Elk in 1931 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota where Black Elk lived. The park features the Tower of the Four Winds, pedestal mosaics, and an Interpretive Garden. The mosaics illustrate the visions of Black Elk as interpreted by the artist, F. W. Thomsen. The park is in northwest Blair, Nebraska at the intersection of N. 19th (US Hwy 75) and Wright Streets – turn west at the stoplight onto Wright, which leads into College Drive; then, follow College Drive to the top of the hill to the T-intersection and turn left.
9. Bandelier National Monument is huge. You can walk, and walk, and walk and climb, and climb and climb. Ok, it is only a 1.2 mi round trip to complete the Main Loop Trail which has small ladders, petroglyphs, and many Ancestral Pueblo dwellings. However, you may decide (as we did) to climb to the Alcove House with its 140 foot ascent on 4 wooden ladders and many stone stairs. (Just don’t look down while you are climbing!)
The view is amazing once you have climbed to the top of the dwellings. The Kiva and caves you can explore make the climb well worth it. The park is located at Los Alamos, New Mexico. You may want to check the website for directions and hours or call the Visitor Center at (505) 672-3861 ext. 517 Recorded Information is at (505) 672-0343.
10. During our stay in California we discovered Casa de Fruta. This was a delightful break when we traveled from the Central Valley to the coast. Going over the mountains was a long trip and Casa de Fruta offered distractions for every member of our family…and lots of special treats. You may visit: Casa de Sweets, Casa de Choo Choo and Carousel, Casa de Restaurant, Casa de Wine or the Fruit Stand. You have to visit to truly understand. As their website states: ” There is a place where fruit trees set the pace. Where generations have brought forth the harvest bounty of apricots, cherries, pears, walnuts, prunes and much more. Waterwheels and other mementos of yesteryear can be found throughout the grounds here antique farm machinery and fruit trees evoke a slower, gentler time. The simplicity of an era of ole-fashioned goodness and no-nonsense value is found throughout, whether you’re visiting Casa de Sweets or our original Fruit Stand. “
On Pacheco Pass Highway, two miles east of the junction of Highway 152 and Highway 156, you’ll discover Casa de Fruta near Hollister, California. Times are subject to change, so check the website for details.