Why You Need To Visit The African Burial Ground New York City (+ Learn About Slavery and the Economy of Colonial New York)

Why You Need To Visit The African Burial Ground New York City (+ Learn About Slavery and the Economy of Colonial New York)

The African Burial Ground in New York City is a national monument operated by the National Park Service in Lower Manhattan. One of the most important black historical sites in New York, the African Burial Ground Museum is also one of the coolest little museums in downtown NYC.   The exhibits at the African Burial Ground Monument show not only the African burial ground history itself but also how the Dutch imperialism of the Dutch West India Company contributed to slavery in New Amsterdam. Ultimately when New Amsterdam becomes New York, slavery in New York colony became crucial to the economy in colonial New York.

African Burial Ground History

The African Burial Ground was an accidental discovery in 1991 when the federal government started excavating at 290 Broadway for a new Federal office builidng. When human remains were found many feet below the surface, the long-forgotten African Burial Ground history came to light.

A street sign showing the way to the African Burial Ground NY

A street sign showing the way to the African Burial Ground NY

This African Burial Ground in New York City was a burial site for both free and enslaved slaves because slaves were not permitted to be buried in churchyards. .This plot of land in a ravine  became a de facto burial ground.  It was owned by a Dutchwoman who herself owned slaves.

Her family sold the land in 1795 to developers to build houses. The ravine got filled with as much as 25 feet of landfill to level it off and make it suitable for housing. As a bonus, the bodies underneath the landfill were preserved. A new cemetery for blacks was opened further uptown in Manhattan.

The strata of more recent history layered upon the NYC African Burial Ground from the 17th century

The strata of more recent history layered upon the NYC African Burial Ground from the 17th century

The existence of this unofficial African burial ground in New York was lost in the mists of time until the 20th century.  It is an important archeological discovery and sheds light on the importance of both free and enslaved Africans in the early development and prosperity of New York City.

Dutch Imperialism in New York

The first known person of African descent in New York was Juan Rodrigues. Rodrigues was a Portuguese/African sailor from Santo Domingo who set up a trading post in New Amsterdam in 1613 for the valuable trade of beaver pelts. (New Amsterdam later became New York after the Dutch lost their colony to the British in 1664).

In fact, Juan Rodrigues set up his trading post before the early Dutch settlers in New York arrived.

The first known African slaves arrived as labor for the Dutch West India Company in 1625 shortly after a boatload of 30 Dutch families sponsored by the Dutch West India Company arrived to colonise the land in 1624.

A diorama of the outdoor part of the African Burial Ground National Monument under the shadow of the sankofa symbol.

A diorama of the outdoor part of the African Burial Ground National Monument under the shadow of the sankofa symbol.

Early Dutch settlers in New York needed enslaved Africans for the growth of their colony because there was a severe shortage of labor.

For example enslaved Africans cleared a local Native American trail to create Broadway to allow passage of horse drawn wagons in 1658. This road connected New Amsterdam with Manhattan’s second Dutch village, New Haarlem.

The African enslaved also built the wall at Wall St  in 1653 under the orders of Governor Peter Stuyvesant to protect the colony of New Amsterdam. The wall stretched from the Hudson to East River. Under the British, this wall was also torn down by the African enslaved in 1699 to accommodate the growing colony.

In 1711 there was a market on Wall Street to hire out enslaved men as day labourers. For example, in the early 1800’s enslaved labor worked for a $1 a day to build the city’s pipe system. The money went to the enslaved men’s owners.

How’s this for a new slogan? Wall Street: Oppressing since 1653 & Profiting of the labor of others since 1711.

 

You can see the location of Broadway and Wall Street to the lower left of this map and the New York African Burial Ground on the upper right hand corner

You can see the location of Broadway and Wall Street to the lower left of this map and the New York African Burial Ground on the upper right hand corner

Slavery in New Amsterdam

The West India Company and Stuyvesant worked to promote the production of sugar cane which was a slave-intensive process. New York City became a major center for the North American slave trade.

For example, from 1711-1762 the city’s official slave market was located on a pier at Wall Street and the East River. The official slave market known as the Meal Market had several unofficial competitors as well. Slaves were sold or rented on a daily or weekly basis at these markets.

By the time New Amsterdam becomes New York, 15% of the population n NYC 1664 were Africans.

Slavery in New Amsterdam was regulated by the Dutch West India Company. They could own property, be baptised and marry.

Under the Dutch, enslaved Africans even had hope of getting freedom eventually. For example, slaves often oversaw the work of Dutch absentee farmers which gave them a certain amount of freedom.

The Dutch settlers of  New York in 1644 even gave conditional freedom to 11 slaves and gave them 100 acres of  farmland in the part of Manhattan now between Canal Street and 34th street. These freed Africans still had to pay the West India Company in crops and livestock. Moreover, although the former slaves and their wives were freed, their children were kept as slaves. The freed slave parents were able to buy back their kids eventually.

And, bonus! The farms of the former enslaved provided a buffer against any Native American attacks on New Amsterdam itself.

Slavery in New York Colony

In NYC 1664 was the year that these limited rights were stripped away when England took over the colony and New Amsterdam becomes New York.

Slavery in NYC (1664 Through the American Revolution)

The English rescinded the tight of free blacks to own land in Manhattan. Africans made up about 20% of the colonial population by the mid 18th century.

Did you know?  Manhattan was second only to Charleston, South Carolina for its number of slaves. 

There was a supposed slave insurrection in 1741. Historians aren’t entirely sure what happened. The story is that poor whites and slaves joined forces to revolt and to kill all the white men. There were rewards offered for testimony which lead to mass hysteria. So many enslaved men were jailed there was no room in the jails to hold more. Eventually, 31 blacks and four whites were executed (conveniently near the African Burial Ground so you know where the blacks bodies went).

A reward offered for runaway slaves on display at the African Burial Ground New York

A reward offered for runaway slaves on display at the African Burial Ground New York

During the American Revolution, the British occupied New York as George Washington and his forces fled south. The British were in charge of Manhattan from 1775-1783 and recruited African (and African Americans) to their side by promising them freedom. When the British left in 1783, they took their African soldiers with them.

The Economy in Colonial New York

So slavery was integral to the economy in colonial New York. The enslaved not only worked in the farms, but also built the infrastructure of the city as the first municipal work force. Skilled enslaved labor worked as everything from butchers, bakers and candle stick makers (as the old nursery rhyme goes).

And, it wasn’t just the men. Enslaved women worked in their owners’ homes doing domestic chores and taking care of their owner’s children.

Enslaved children were made to work from the age of 5 or 6. Many enslaved children died in early childhood. Nearly half the people buried at the African Burial Ground New York City were under the age of 16, with the majority of those under the age of 2.

Unlike in the Southern states, slave owners in New York were not interested in breeding Africans. Infants, therefore, were a just a burden on their mothers times. Enslaved mothers were expected to carry out all their duties irrespective of whether they had just had a baby. When you consider how overworked and nutritionally deprived the mothers were, it is not surprising that so many babies died!

Slavery in Post-Colonial New York

The first New York Constitution created in 1777 ignores the issue of slavery and thereby allows it to continue.

In 1785 the New York Manumission Society organises with the aim of having slavery abolished in New York,

Eventually, New York passes a gradual emancipation act stating that children born after July 4, 1799 to enslaved women were no longer born into slavery. Slavery was abolished in New York in 1827 in its totality. After slavery was abolished, Africans in New York still faced discrimination and injustice.

African Burial Ground Facts

The African Burial Ground eventually got so crowded the coffins  were piled 4 deep in the site!

It covered approximately 6 acres and held the remains of an estimated of 15-20,000 people dating from 1630s to 1795.

Despite the huge number of people buried at the African Burial Ground, these burials were not a mass grave. Most of the deceased had coffins and some were in clusters indicating families buried together.

Only about 10 percent of the burials happened without coffins and it’s surmised these burials happened during and after the American Revolution.

There were strict rules on what was allowed at African burials. For example, no more than 12 mourners were permitted at a procession or at the graveside.  A 1722 rule bans  burials at night.

Over 40% of the people buried at the African Burial Ground were children under the age of two.

Research on the human remains found at the New York African Burial Ground showed how short and brutal the lives of the enslaved were. The bodies showed the effects of a limited diet and back breaking manual labor.

African Burial Ground National Monument

There is an outdoor memorial at the African Burial Ground Monument  which is in three parts – The Circle of the Diaspora, the Ancestral Libation Chamber, and the Ancestral Reinterment Ground.

The Circle of the Diaspora

The Circle of the Diaspora is an homage to the many areas and cultures in Africa from where the enslaved originated before they were dispersed to captivity in the New World. The slave trade occurred in many parts of Africa including what is now Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique and Madagascar. In fact, slave owners preferred women and children straight from Africa because they were thought to be more easily controlled.

African Burial Ground symbols are engraved on the on the perimeter wall of the circle such as the sankofa (a heart shaped symbol which appears throughout the African Burial Ground Monument.

Fun Fact!  The sankofa is a West African symbol used to mean that you should learn from the past to prepare for the future.

African Burial Ground symbols carved on the perimeter wall from the areas in Africa where the enslaved originated.

African Burial Ground symbols carved on the perimeter wall from the areas in Africa where the enslaved originated.

Ancestral Libation Chamber

The Ancestral Libation Chamber is made from green African granite and shaped like a ship’s hold reminiscent of the slave ships that brought the enslaved to the New World. The most popular of the African Burial Ground symbols, the sankofa, is engraved the outside. The chamber is 24 feet high and represents the soaring African spirit of the deceased.

The ancestral chamber at the African Burial Ground NYC

The ancestral chamber at the African Burial Ground NYC

The Ancestral Reinterment Ground

There were 419 bodies removed from the African Burial Ground NYC before the excavation of the site was stopped in 1992 by mass protests at the disturbance of sacred ground.  .

In 2003, the human remains found at the NY African Burial Ground were reburied in hand-carved Mahogany coffins made in Ghana and lined in Kente cloth. In the intervening years, the archoeological trove was studied by researchers at Howard University in Washington D.C..

The coffins were placed in 7 crypts under 7 burial mounds and guarded by 7 trees.

African Burial Ground Museum

The African Burial Ground Museum is small but informative (perfect for an introduction to this period in history for children!).

For example, there is a copy of the certificate granting conditional freedom in 1644 by the Dutch West India Company to Pieter San Tome, one of the earliest slaves brought to New Amsterdam.  Pieter San Tome was one of the 11 formerly enslaved who were given buffer farms for themselves north of New Amsterdam.

Here you can see the lands given to the 11 freed slaves in relation to the African Burial Ground Manhattan which was itself a far outpost of New Amsterdam

Here you can see the lands given to the 11 freed slaves in relation to the African Burial Ground Manhattan which was itself a far outpost of New Amsterdam

The short, clear exhibits outlines the progression of slavery in New Amsterdam and slavery in the New York Colony. It also discusses the African American experience after slavery abolished in New York, including its place in the Underground Railroad which helped the enslaved in the Southern USA flee for freedom.

The Visitor center has a terrific bookstore on the experience of slavery in the United States as well as the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights for all Americans.

Visiting The African Burial Ground National Monument

There are free tours of the African Burial Ground Monument but it’s just as easy to visit independently. Admission is free to the NYC African Burial Ground.

There are two parts to the African Burial Ground National Monument – the outdoor memorial to African Burial Ground Manhattan and an indoor African Burial Ground Museum.

Remember!  The inside tour of the African Burial Ground Monument is in a federal building and so you will need to pass through security checks to enter.
A map showing how the NY African Burial Ground relates to the area where it is now located

A map showing how the NY African Burial Ground relates to the area where it is now located

The African Burial Ground museum and visitor center is around the corner from the New York African Burial Ground. The visitor center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-4. The African Burial Ground museum is  closed for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

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Why You Need To Visit The African Burial Ground New York City (+ Learn About Slavery’s Importance to the Economy of Colonial New York)

The African Burial Ground National Monument is one of the most important black history sites in New York City, and one you should really visit (also with the kids) to learn the history behind this place. Discovered only in 1991, it was a burial site for both free and enslaved slaves, and visiting will move you. Check out why you need to visit the African Burial Ground, NYC. #blackhistory #history #nyc #newyork

The African Burial Ground National Monument is one of the most important black
history sites in New York City, and one you should really visit (also with the kids) to
learn the history behind this place. Discovered only in 1991, it was a burial site for
both free and enslaved slaves, and visiting will move you. Check out why you need to visit the African Burial Ground, NYC.

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Your Guide To The Best East Coast Ski Resorts in the USA

Your Guide To The Best East Coast Ski Resorts in the USA

The best skiing on the East Coast of the USA tends to be overshadowed by the premier ski facilities you find in the resorts of the West Coast. There is plenty of variety and great skiing to be had at East Coast ski resorts. The best ski resorts in Vermont, ski resorts in Maine or ski areas in New Hampshire are snow sure and offer great skiing. Moreover, many of the best places to ski on the East Coast are within a few hours drive of major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. After all the best ski resorts in Eastern US are the ones that you can actually access quickly and easily even for a weekend on the slopes.   

Best Resorts in Maine

So close to the Canadian border, you would expect ski resorts in Maine to have excellent facilities and to be snow-sure. And, your expectations will be met. So, what are the best resorts in Maine?

The resort of Sunday River in Southern Maine is known for its reliable skiing. With nearly 750 skiable acres, this ski resort in Maine has 8 peaks, 131 trails and 18 lifts geared for all abilities of skier and snowboarder. Sugarloaf ski resort in Maine is further north and has even more skiable terrain – a whopping 1150+ acres.

You get some of the best American ski resorts in the Northeast.

You get some of the best American ski resorts in the Northeast.

For beginner skiers and snowboarders, Saddleback is one of the best places to ski on the East Coast with extensive terrain away from more advanced skiers.  In addition, the ski and snowboard school is well-known for its low teacher-student ratio.

For weekend skiers, New Hermon Mountain is located outside of Bangor Maine. New Hermon has plenty of easy and intermediate runs set over 60 acres. More advanced skiers may not be challenged though. Also near Bangor is Shawnee Peak, the oldest ski resort in Maine, which is likewise one of the small but fun East Coast ski resorts.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in Maine for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here to give you her personal experience of Sugarloaf, one of the best resorts in Maine, is fellow travel blogger, Patti Neves  at Tripping Unicorn.

Sugarloaf, Maine

Sugarloaf is a ski resort located on Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Providing some of the best skiing on the East Coast, It is the second biggest resort of Maine.

We stayed in a very friendly AirBnB, Mountain Village Farm B&B, where the owner raised ducks and prepared her own granola at home. We had also organic coffee and eggs from the farm’s own hens, blueberries pancakes and maybe the best oatmeal we ever had. There are plenty of nice cottages where you can stay in Kingfield – this area is just 18 Miles away from the Sugar Loaf resort. I highly recommend that place for a romantic get away and families.

The resort itself is really cool, there were amazing amounts of snow, and the quality of the snow was good. The resort has 34 green trails, 44 blue, 39 black diamond and 21 double diamond.
Is it good enough for beginners but also perfect to high level skiers. I would certainly bring kids there. The Sugarloaf season runs from mid-November through early May.

The night life was nearly no-existent in mid-March, so I do not recommend the place for party animals. It is, however, one of the best ski resorts on the East Coast for families with kids.

 – Patti Neves at Tripping Unicorn 

Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the ski resorts in Maine

Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the ski resorts in Maine (image credit: Patti Neves)

Best Ski Resorts in New York

Some of the best places to ski on the East Coast are in New York thanks to the state having both the Adirondack as well as the Catskill Mountains.

Fun fact!  New York state has 43 ski areas of which 10 are ski resorts.
The location for the downhill skiing events for the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, Whiteface Mountain is one of the best ski resorts on the East Coast. Whiteface has 86 trails and 280+ acres of terrain and as snow sure as East Coast ski resorts get. Gore Mountain is also located in the Adirondacks and one of the best ski resorts for families on the east coast.
Greek Peak is also in central New York and is well known for being one of the best family ski resorts on the East Coast. With 38 trails over 220 skiable acres, 6 lifts and 3 terrain parks, Greek Peak has a good spread of choices for skiers of every level. 

The best ski resorts near NYC are located in the Catskills. Spread across three mountains, Hunter Mountain is a resort a couple of hours north of New York City. Families will love the snowtubing park at Hunter Mountain which is the largest on the East Coast. Windham Mountain is another one of the best ski resorts near NYC with 54 trails set over 285 acres.

An hour from Buffalo and Niagara Falls and about three hours from Cleveland, Ellicotville has two of the best ski resorts in NY: Holiday Valley and North America’s largest private ski area HoliMont. During the week, non-members can ski at Holimont.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in New York for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here to give you her personal experience of Ellicottville, one of the best resorts in New York with some of the best snowboarding on the East Coast, is fellow travel blogger, Corinne McDermott  at Have Baby Will Travel.

Holiday Valley, Ellicottville, NY

We are very busy most winters with a minor hockey schedule, but when your husband’s from out west you find a way to sneak in a little ski or snowboard time. Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, New York, really surprised us. Seeing as three out of four of us are absolute beginners, Holiday Valley was the perfect place to learn how to snowboard as a family and they even have a practice chair lift to try out before going on the real deal.
Holiday Valley offers group lessons for kids as young as four, but even three-year-olds can learn how to snowboard via private lessons in the Burton Riglet Park. The resort is very manageable size-wise for adult beginners who still need to parent, and there are a number of ski in/ski out chalets available for rent.
We stayed in town at the Wingate, about a five-minute drive from Holiday Valley. It was a great place to warm up and crash at the end of the day, with lots of family-friendly dining options within easy walking distance, even after snowboarding all day!
-Corinne McDermott at Have Baby Will Travel
Skiing at Holiday Village, one of the best ski resorts in NY

Snowboarding at Holiday Village, one of the best ski resorts in NY
(Image credit: Have Baby Will Travel)

Ski Resorts in New Hampshire

With 34 extensive ski areas, ski resorts in New Hampshire are geared towards both downhill skiing and/or cross country skiing. The White Mountains of New Hampshire provide some of the best ski resorts in New England. There are 20+ ski areas in New Hampshire. If you have a mixed ability group as well as those wholike both types of ski areas, New Hampshire is a good option for you.

Ski resorts in New Hampshire cater for cross country skiers as well as alpine skiers.

Ski resorts in New Hampshire cater for cross country skiers as well as downhill skiers.

With one of the largest ski areas in New Hampshire, Bretton Woods has 97 trails over 360+ acre area, 10 lifts and 3 terrain parks. With 100km of trails, Bretton Woods is one of the best ski resorts on East Coast for cross country skiing.

Located just two hours away, with two mountains over 370 acres, 61 trails and and six terrain parks, Loon Mountain is one of the best ski resorts near Boston. Loon Mountain also has miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing. 

Mount Sunapee, another one of the best ski resorts near Boston, is located just 100 miles from the city and is the most southern of the ski resorts in New Hampshire. It is considered one of the best ski resorts in New England for both adults and children learning to ski.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in New Hampshire for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here are two fellow travel bloggers give you their thoughts of what to expect when you ski New Hampshire – at two of the best ski resorts in New Hampshire, Bretton Woods and Loon Mountain.

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Bretton Woods Ski Resort is located in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and is New Hampshire’s largest ski area with over 464 acres of skiing for all experience levels.  Bretton Woods is our favorite ski area in New Hampshire, with its award-winning grooming and beautiful trails.  The epic view of Mount Washington while skiing is amazing.

This very family friendly resort has something for the whole family with excellent day programs for the kids as well as activities for the non-skiers in the family.  Bretton Woods offers gorgeous Nordic skiing, indoor rock climbing, and many more activities.  If you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, Bretton Woods has an great bar and restaurant.  Skiers also get to enjoy food on trail, with an excellent mountain top restaurant on candy store on trail for those with a sweet tooth.

For the perfect ski getaway experience, stay at the Omni Mount Washington Resort.  This historic resort is breath taking to see and is icon of New Hampshire.  The food, services and extras at the Omni are the best in New Hampshire.

– Cathy Merrifield at Roar Loud

Lincoln Woods Supsension Bridge at Loon Mountain ski New Hampshire

Lincoln Woods Supsension Bridge at Loon Mountain ski New Hampshire (image credit: Jame Italiane Decubellis)

Best Ski Resorts in Pennsylvania

The Pocono mountains provide the backdrop for the best ski resorts in Pennsylvania. Among the ski resorts in the Pocono mountains is Tanglewood ski area, Big Boulder ski area and Camelback Resort.

Blue Mountain ski resort is one of the best ski resorts for families on the east coast located a mere 90 miles from Philadelphia to approximately 110 miles from New York City. It’s got good facilities for beginners and intermediates but more advanced skiers may not find Blue Mountain challenging enough.

A more advanced ski resort for families is Whitetail Resort. We have skiied ourselves from Whitetail Resort when we were visiting the Washington D.C. area. My children absolutely loved the ski school. Set over 120 acres, Whitetail has 23 runs ranging from beginners to advanced and great for a weekend of skiing.

Camelback Mountain is often regarded as one of the best ski resorts in Pennsylvania, not only for itself but also because it is one of the best ski resorts near NYC. In addition to skiing, Camelback has some of the best snowboarding on the east coast as well as the largest snowtube park in the USA.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in Pennsylvania for skiing and snowboarding. 

I am partial to Camelback Mountain as one of the best ski resorts in PA because my brother has a weekend house nearby. Here to give a unbiased view of Camelback Mountain is fellow travel blogger, Marianne Rogerson.

Camelback Mountain, Pennsylvania

Camelback Mountain Resort in the Pocono Mountains is just a 2-hour drive from New York City. Although small, Camelback has a good choice of ski slopes with 37 trails ranging from green to double diamong and 10 chair lifts. There is a fun ski school for the kids, with magic carpet lifts on the nursery slopes. Thanks to more than 1200 snowmaking guns, you are guaranteed snow at Camelback.

For more fun in the snow, Camelback also boasts the biggest snow tubing park in the United States! It has 42 snowtubing lanes and is a lot of fun!

As it is so close to the city, Camelback can be visited as a day trip from New York City.  We chose to spend three nights at the Camelback Resort, which is super family friendly, with large suites available as 1, 2 and 3-bedroom options.

There’s loads of fun to be had here away from the ski slopes, with an onsite indoor water park with a wave pool and selection of water slides, a games arcade and an indoor ropes course. It has a choice of restaurants, including the ski-in, ski out Trails End, which is perfect for a hot chocolate (or something stronger) at the end of a hard day skiing.

 – Marianne Rogerson at Mum on the Move

Tubing at Camelback Mountain, one of the best ski resorts in PA

Tubing at Camelback Mountain, one of the best ski resorts in PA (image credit: Marianne Rogerson)

Best Ski Resorts Vermont

The best ski resorts in Vermont are among the best ski resorts East Coast thanks to its 20 alpine and 30 cross country ski resorts set on the state’s Green Mountains.

Among Vermont’s best ski resorts are such well-known names as Mount Snow, Stratton, Killington, Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe and Sugarbush.

Mount Snow is one of the best ski resorts near Boston. With approximately 590 acres, 20 lifts  and 86 runs suitable for all abilities. Stratton is one of the best ski resorts for families on the east coast. Set on almost 670 acres with 99 runs, 11 lifts and 4 terrain parks, unlike many other family resorts, there is a good spread for all abilities.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in Vermont for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here are five fellow travel bloggers to give you their their opinion of the best Vermont ski resorts.

Killington Vermont

As someone who was born and raised in New Jersey by a family who loved to ski, I’ve been lucky to experience my fair share of the east coast mountains in its best and worst conditions. There is one that will always be my favorite for various reasons and that is Killington, Vermont. A ski town that is perfect for the advancing skier/snowboarder. The summit lies at 4,241’ with a 3050’ vertical drop and on a heavy winter season can provide up to 212 trails. You can easily spend the entire day on the mountain and not explore all its trails, opposed to some of the smaller resorts surrounding it.

There is a culture in Killington that is easy to fall in love with. The trek is well worth it, expect to see familiar faces each weekend from the surrounding states. Apres is not to be missed in the main lodge and is often carried out into town.

Surprisingly, music is well respected with live bands filling up the resort and local bars almost every night. When you drive down the main strip you have an abundance of mom an pop restaurants, lodging, and bars to take advantage of. They managed to make a popular resort town feel local and homie.

Our favorite place to stay is the Highline Lodge for homie cabin vibes and outstanding food.

– Cydny Voicechovski at Goal Traveler

Killington, one of the best ski resorts in Vermont

Killington, one of the best ski resorts in Vermont (image credit: Cydny Voicechovski)

Stratton Mountain, Vermont

Stratton ski resort in Vermont is known as the birthplace of snowboarding and is a well-designed, family friendly ski resort about 3.5 hours’ drive north of New York City.

There are some high-end lodgings available on the mountain, although rooms book up well in advance during the holiday season. An alternative is to stay in a nearby town such as Bennington which is under an hour’s drive to the resort with more friendly prices for accommodation and meal options.

The quality of snow at Stratton is excellent. Great consistent coverage and while there is no deep powder to speak of there are rarely any icy patches. The runs can all be accessed from the summit of Mount Stratton. Run range from double black diamond to green so it has terrain suitable to all levels including long wide runs allowing you to test your speed.

Families are well catered for with a fully licensed child care facility for toddlers and well-credentialed and long-established ski and snowboard school for older kids and adults.

For non-skiers, there is yoga, an indoor fitness centre with heated pool, or get a tour of the mountain aboard a snow mobile.

– Warren Dobe at Sling Adventures

One of Vermont best ski resorts Stratton Mountain in Vermont

One of Vermont best ski resorts Stratton Mountain (Image credit: Warren Dobe)

Stratton Mount Resort is located in Stratton, Vermont.  It is the largest mountain in Southern Vermont at 3875 feet.  Stratton Resort has a very European ski village look and feel with cute shops, cafes, and restaurants. 

We stayed at the Black Bear Lodge which is walking distance from the slopes with a free shuttle that arrives every few minutes.  We are very budget conscious and found it to be an excellent value for the money.

Our trip to Stratton came very late in the season and the weather was warm and rainy, yet the snow conditions were still good.  With an average snow fall of over 160 inches of snow, good conditions extend into to late Spring.

Stratton has a good balance of skiing over their 670 acres of skiable terrain, with trails for every level of experience and type of skier.  There are cruising trails as long as 3 miles, and over 160 acres of glades.  The mix of trails is 41% novice, 31% intermediate, 17% advanced, and 11% expert.

For the non-skiers in the group, there is tons to enjoy.  Stratton is very family friendly and offers lots of shopping and non-ski activities.  We recommend trying fat tire biking!

– Frank Parrot at Roar Loud

Stratton Ski Resort, one of the best ski resorts in the east

Stratton Ski Resort, one of the best ski resorts in the east (Image credit: Frank Parrott)

Stowe Vermont

Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vermont is the most impressive ski area we have ever visited.  I couldn’t help but say wow when we entered the resort.  The village has the largest amount of activities for the whole family, with shopping, dining, an outdoor ice skating center, indoor rock climbing, and an amazing day-care program for kids.  For the more adventurous, try zip lining or the tree top adventure tours.

We stayed at near-by at the picturesque Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa that has a free shuttle bus to the resort.  The whole area is cute and fun.  You can’t go wrong with any place in Stowe.

Stowe sits on Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield (4395 feet). With amazing enclosed gondolas, it is the best ride up a mountain in New England.  Getting down is even more fun.  Stowe gets over 300 inches of snow every year that contribute to deep snow depths, along with their extensive snow making.  Stowe has consistent reliable conditions on 40 miles of skiing for all levels of experience (Beginner 16%, Intermediate 55%, Expert 29%).

– Frank Parrott of Nothing But New England

One of the best Vermont ski resorts, Stowe Ski Resort in Vermont

One of the best Vermont ski resorts, Stowe Ski Resort in Vermont (image credit: Frank Parrott)

Jay Peak Vermont

With the largest natural snowfall in northeastern United States, Jay Peak in northern Vermont offers excellent conditions for beginners to expert skiers and snow boarders. With 79 trails, 9 lifts and the only Tram in Vermont, the skill hill uses advanced snowmaking techniques to supplement their already incredible amount of natural snow to offer amazing runs, including some amazing glades.

Over the past decade the ski hill has invested millions to turn the remote ski haven paradise into a world class resort. Open year-round, the resort offers something for everyone, including non-skiers, including cross country (Nordic) skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking and skating at their NHL-sized ice rink ‘Ice Haus’.

At Clips & Reels you can catch a movie the kids will enjoy while having an après ski drink or check out the virtual reality games in the arcade. There is also a climbing wall for those looking for adventure in a safe environment. Note: It’s best to book climbing in advance because it books up fast.

The 85-degree Pump House water park includes a 50,000 square-foot glass-enclosed water park with water slides and a retractable roof. This tropical paradise is also great for après ski with the kids. If your feeling adventurous try ‘La Chute’. Standing upright you wait for a countdown before the floor falls from beneath your feet and you fall 45 miles an hour through a chute… hence the name. Or if you are a little less adventurous enjoy a float along the lazy river or enjoy a drink at the bar overlooking the water playground.

There is a wide variety of options for accommodations including ski-in ski-out condos and a full-service hotel with 173-rooms, conference center and three restaurants. Having stayed at both a slope side condo and the hotel which is close to the lifts, we found the resort shuttle a great way to get around. If you do stay at the hotel, take advantage of the free valet parking. With numerous restaurants, bars, grocery store and more, you will find everything you need onsite. An added bonus for Canadiens is that they accept Canadian currency

– Peige McEachran at A Piece of Pie

Jay Peak and the stunning White Mountains of Vermont, one of the best resorts in the Northeast

Jay Peak and the stunning White Mountains of Vermont, one of the best resorts in the Northeast

Best Ski Resorts in West Virginia

You wouldn’t think that one of the best ski resorts in the east would be as far south as West Ve=t Virginia. Among the best ski resorts in West Virginia are Canaan Valley Resort, Snowshoe Mountain, Timberline Four and Winterplace Ski Resort.

Canaan Valley Resort is located on the highest peak east of the Rocky mountains. Set over 75 acres, Canaan Valley is compact but has 47 trails accommodating all abilities and 1 terrain park. Snowshoe Mountain is a larger resort yet equally suited for all abilities. Snowshoe is set over 250+ acres with 60 runs, 14 lifts (including 4 high speed ones) and 5 terrain parks.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in West Virginia for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here to give her opinion of Snowshoe Mountain Ski resort is fellow travel blogger, Tanya Prater.

Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort

Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort provides outdoor recreation year-round, but this property located on Cheat Mountain in the Alleghenies of West Virginia is best known for their winter offerings. Less than five hours from Washington D.C., this ski resort provides fun for the entire family, on and off the slopes.

Outdoors, you’ll find 250 acres that encompass 15 lifts and 60 trails with four terrain parks and a Coca Cola tubing park, guided snowmobile tours and Polaris RZR Tours for an off-road adventure.

When you need to warm up, you’ll find restaurants, shopping, a spa, teen center, 15,000 square foot playground for children that offers bounce houses, slides and an arcade, a heated Snowcat tours offered at Snowshoe Village which is located at the summit of the mountain rather than the base.

-Tanya Prater at Travel Inspired Living

Snowshoe mountain, one of the best ski resorts in West Virginia

Snowshoe mountain, one of the best ski resorts in West Virginia (image credit: Travel Loving Family)

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A guide to the best ski resorts on the East Coast of the USA

A guide to the best ski resorts on the East Coast of the USA

The best skiing on the East Coast of the USA tends to be overshadowed by the premier ski facilities you find in the resorts of the West Coast. However, there is plenty of variety and great skiing to be had at East Coast ski resorts. Check out the best East Coast ski towns and start planning your East Coast ski trip. #skiing #skiingmode #skiresorts #eastcoast #usa

The best skiing on the East Coast of the USA tends to be overshadowed by the
premier ski facilities you find in the resorts of the West Coast. However, there is
plenty of variety and great skiing to be had at East Coast ski resorts. Check out the
best East Coast ski towns and start planning your East Coast ski trip. #skiing
#skiingmode #skiresorts #eastcoast #usa

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The 5 Best Places to Stay in Charlottesville (+ another 5 Great Places To Stay Near Charlottesville, VA)

The 5 Best Places to Stay in Charlottesville (+ another 5 Great Places To Stay Near Charlottesville, VA)

Our kids’ sleep away camp does a week where you can have a family sleepover option with them. Being eating alive by mosquitoes in cabins with communal bathrooms and no WiFi?  That’s not our kind of family bonding. We’ll be nearby in Charlottesville Virginia!  Although a small town, Charlottesville, Virginia seems to draw us regularly to its environs. Visiting this cool university town where both my brother and his wife went to business school was no hardship.The university is, of course, Thomas Jefferson’s pet project, the University of Virginia (UVA).  We are always delighted to explore Charlottesville which shines as  a beacon of excellent hotels and great food options near where our kids go to camp in the back of beyond West Virginia.

Lodging in Charlottesville, VA

When you are looking for places to staying Charlottesville, you will have a choice of accommodation because this university town is very popular with visitors. We’ve chosen two bed and breakfasts in Charlottesville downtown and one luxury hotel/inn in the same area. We’ve also picked a couple of boutique hotels in Charlottesville near UVA.

200 South Street Inn

In our opinion, 200 South Street Inn is the best bed and breakfast in Charlottesville VA when you consider value and location.Set in two historic buildings, with the oldest building being the only building on the street when it was built for a son of Thomas Jefferson’s friends.

200 South Street Inn, a Charlottesville bed and breakfast downtown

200 South Street Inn, a Charlottesville bed and breakfast downtown

This Charlottesville bed and breakfast in downtown is a few minutes walk from the pedestrian mall area with its many shops, the Jefferson theatre and eating options. Every Saturday, the celebrated Charlottesville farmer’s market takes place pretty much across the street from this Inn.

Heading to Charlottesville, Virginia? Check out our curated selection of where to stay in charlottesville (as well as where to stay near Charlottesville) #Charlottesville #cville #Virginia #hotel #bedandbreakfast #boutiquehotel #luxuryhotel

Heading to Charlottesville, Virginia? Check out our curated selection of where to stay in charlottesville (as well as where to stay near Charlottesville)

The 200 South Street Inn is spread across two buildings with a parking lot in the back (very handy!)l, The rooms are furnished with antiques and the staff are friendly and helpful.  I’ve done a full review of the 200 South Street Inn as well.

Check out the reviews for 200 South Street Inn on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for 200 South Street Inn, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia  Hotels.com

 

The Inn at Court Square

There are lots of chain hotels in Charlottesville (Hyatt Place, Omni Charlottesville etc) but assuming you are looking for unique and charming, the boutique-style of the Inn at Court Square makes it one of the best hotels in Charlottesville, VA. Among the hotels in downtown Charlottesville, VA, the location is super-central.

The Stonewall Jackson statute in Jackson Square Charlottesville VA

The Stonewall Jackson statute in Jackson Square Charlottesville VA

The Inn at Court Square is spread out across two restored historic houses which face Stonewall Jackson square. The potential removal of the Stonewall Jackson statue in this square is one of the causes that lead to the violent white national protests in Charlottesville in the summer 2017 .

The Inn at Court Square is beautifully styled as you would expect from the innkeeper and her family being interior designers. Between the two buildings, there are 6 guest rooms, 4 suites. and the family’s antique stores.

Check out the reviews for the Inn at Court Square on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for the Inn at Court Square, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia Hotels.com

The Inn at 400 West High

Continuing with the boutique luxury theme, the Inn at 400 West High is another bed and breakfast in Charlottesville, VA.  It is a mix and match of the previously mentioned places to stay in Charlottesville, VA. You get the elegance of The Inn at Court Square with the small bed and breakfast aspect of 200 South Street Inn.

 

This little gem can accommodate 2-4 people depending on which of the 5 rooms are available. Unlike other inns at Charlottesville, the style at this Inn is less antiques and more contemporaries. Some of the rooms have their own outside private sitting areas.

Check out the reviews for the Inn at 400 West High on TripAdvisor.

For the latest rates for at the Inn at 400 West High, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia Hotels.com

Where to eat in downtown Charlottesville

Our casual choice for dining in downtown Charlottesville is South Street Brewery located conveniently next door to 200 South Street Inn.  With craft beer and locally-sourced food, this brewery is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. The South Street Brewery menu is heavy on salads, pizzas and sandwiches.

The South Street Brewery is located very near 200 South Street Inn

The South Street Brewery is located very near 200 South Street Inn

Our fine dining option is C&O Restaurant which as been a fixture in downtown Charlottesville since the 1970’s. The restaurant is large but spread out over several dining spaces so you still get the intimacy of a smaller space.

Hotels in Charlottesville near UVA

Oakhurst Inn

The Oakhurst Inn is a boutique hotel located close to UVA perfect for book-lovers. Among the inns in Charlottesville, the Oakhurst Inn is unusual for having no hotel lobby. Instead there are 4 communal libraries filled with books, newspapers and other items. You can relax as if you were in the comfort of your own home, and catch up on your reading with a cup of coffee.

 

The guest rooms are as luxurious as you would expect for luxury hotels in Charlottesville VA – free valet parking, flat screen televisions, free fast WiFI and bathroom toiletries by Malin + Goetz. The suites have pull-out beds which would work for families with children.

The 27 rooms are individually furnished so you don’t get a cookie-cutter look. Although set in historic buildings, the style is clean and contemporary perfect for those people who like their Charlottesville lodging without the fuss of traditional decor.

Check out the reviews for Oakhurst Inn on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for Oakhurst Inn, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia Hotels.com

 

Dinsmore House Bed & Breakfast

Another one of the hotels near Charlottesville UVA, Dinsmore House was bult in 1822 by Thomas Jefferson’s master builder, James Dinsmore. A recent remodel of this Charlottesville bed and breakfast has left if feeling fresh and contemporary with a twist of traditional elegance. Thing four poster beds and clawfoot rugs – making it one of the best places to stay in Charlottesville VA.

Dinsmore House, a bed and breakfast in Charlottesville VA (image credit: Dinsmore House)

Dinsmore House, a bed and breakfast in Charlottesville VA (image credit: Dinsmore House)

There are 9 guest rooms at this inn in Charlottesville VA. If you are travelling with children, this Charlottesville lodging may not be your best bet because some of the rooms are able to accommodate only one other person on a fold-out sofa or futon.

This hotel in Charlottesville near UVA also is home to the Farm Bell Kitchen, a cafe that serves locally sourced food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Check out the reviews for Dinsmore House on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for Dinsmore House, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia Hotels.com

Where to Eat in Charlottesville near UVA

Carrying along with the theme of good eats, Bodos Bagels is a UVA tradition and serves up a good breakfast. It has 3 locations in Charlottesville and is open all day serving bagels, sandwiches and salads.

The Ivy Inn offers fine dining in Charlottesville near UVA.

The Ivy Inn offers fine dining in Charlottesville near UVA.

For a fancy dinner, we recommend the Ivy Inn where the drinks and food were superb which has (you guessed it) a locally sourced menu. We found the dinner crowd to be a mixed group – there was a large party who were there for a wedding weekend, people on date nights, etc. We were a little amused by the table of UVA students (clearly undergraduates) out for a nice meal – clearly they could afford much better grub for a Saturday night out than we could when we were college students!

Places To Stay near Charlottesville, VA

It’s great to realise that when you are looking for where to stay in Charlottesville, there are some great options just outside of the city. Not only are these places bigger, they offer a range of facilities varying from walking trails to full resort-style facilities.

The Clifton Inn

The Clifton Inn is a boutique hotel near Monticello VA with yet another Thomas Jefferson connection. The Clifton was originally built for Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Martha and her husband, who Jefferson wanted living near him. If you are looking for places to stay in Charlottesville VA without being in the city itself, the Clifton Inn is a good choice because it took us only 15 minutes to get into town.

The elegant entrance to the Clifton Inn, a bed and breakfast near Charlottesville VA

The elegant entrance to the Clifton Inn, a bed and breakfast near Charlottesville VA

The Clifton Inn is truly one of the best luxury hotels near Charlottesville, VA.  Set on 100 acres with beautifully landscaped grounds for you to explore including an infinity pool set in the woods, there are 20 guest rooms and suites some of whom accommodate children. You can read a full review of this Charlottesville resort here.

Check out the reviews for the Clifton on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for the Clifton, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia Hotels.com

Keswick Hall

Other hotels in Charlottesville VA near Monticello include Keswick Hall. A pre-eminent Charlottesville resort type, Keswick Hall  is a grand Southern resort along the lines of The Greenbrier in West Virginia or the Omni Homestead in Virginia.

 

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It’s currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment and will be open in 2019. It was recommended previously on this website for being one of the best hotels in North America with kids. When it re-opens, Keswick Hall will be even better than ever!

Check out the reviews for Keswick Hall on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for Keswick Hall, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com  Expedia hotels.com

The Boar’s Head Inn

The Boar’s Head Inn is another Charlottesville VA resort located. Presumably as soon as you leave the confines of the city, it’s easier to set up resort-style accommodation without space constraints. The Boar’s Head Inn and Resort is owned by the UVA Foundation.

 

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It’s a great day for a walk around the resort.

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This grand Charlottesville resort set on 573 acres and has 175 guest rooms. Of course, it has a Thomas Jefferson connection. It was originally the estate of Eliza Trist, a friend of Thomas Jefferon’s and whose grandchildren would eventually marry. The Boar’s Head Resort is another one of the Charlottesville resorts that is currently being renovated – but parts are still open during the renovation.

The Boar’s Head Inn has a sports club, a nationally-famed 18 hole golf course and spa facilities. Children under 12 are allowed to have mani-pedis only and under 16’s massages and facials are also allowed if they are accompanied by an adult.

Check out the reviews for The Boar’s Head Resort on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for the Boars Head Inn and resort, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia   hotels.com

The Iris Inn

The Iris Inn is a bed and breakfast near Charlottesville VA.. Unlike the other luxury hotels in/near Charlottesville, VA, the Iris Inn is a purpose-built facility overlooking the Shenandoah Valley in Waynseboro Virginia. In addition to being a bed and breakfast facility, the Iris Inn also has cabin rentals if you are looking for a self-catering experience.

Sunset over an Iris Inn Cabin (image credit: Iris Inn Jumping Rocks)

Sunset over an Iris Inn Cabin (image credit: Iris Inn Jumping Rocks)

Two of the cottages are pet-friendly. Children over the age of 10 can stay in either the main Inn or a cottage.

Check out the reviews for the Iris Inn on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for the Iris Inn and cabins, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia  hotels.com  

 

The Inn at Willow Grove

The Inn at Willow Grove is a boutique-style luxury hotel near Charlottesville, VA set up to look like a little self-contained village. Originally built in 1778 as a historic plantation, the Inn at Willow Grove has been given a total refurbishment to  create one of the best places to stay near Charlottesville.

The Inn at Willow Grove is located in Orange Virginia and conveniently close to Montpelier, James Madison’s home, and located about 31 miles (about 45 minutes) from Charlottesville itself. This inn is the furthest of our choices from Charlottesville but many people stay in Charlottesville and come to Montpelier.

The Inn at Willow Grove (Image credit: Inn at Willow Grove)

The Inn at Willow Grove (Image credit: Inn at Willow Grove)

The 25 rooms spread between cottages and suites of which 3  can accommodate family groups of up to 4 people.  Among the amenities is complimentary butler service. There’s a well-regarded restaurant/pub on site. The 3000 s.f. Mill House spa is located in a barn and oozes farmhouse chic.

Check out the reviews for the Inn at Willow Grove on TripAdvisor

For the latest rates for the Inn at Willow Grove, here are a selection of travel booking sites: booking.com Expedia hotels.com

 

Where To Eat Near Charlottesville

How good does your pizza have to be that it gets praised by both National Geographic and The Food Network? The family-owned business at Crozet Pizza has been run-in since the 1970’s with home made dough, a secret sauce recipe and other locally-sourced ingredients. It’s open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. The original location is in Crozet Pizza but there’s also Crozet Pizza being served at the Buddhist Biker Bar near UVA in Chartlottesville.

1771 restaurant is located at The Clifton, one of the best luxury hotels near Monticello, VA

1771 restaurant is located at The Clifton, one of the best luxury hotels near Monticello, VA

After a 2018 revamp, the Clifton Inn has emerged with a renewed focus on food. The chef at the 1799, the Clifton’s Restaurant is a one-Michelin starred chef from California. He oversees the preparation of a locally sourced menu of reinterpreted American classics. Meals are served either on a beautiful verandah or an elegant library room. The 1799 refers to the date the property was constructed for Thomas Jefferson’s daughter.

***

When you are searching for where to stay in Charlottesville VA it’s definitely good to remember the city has lots of great options both for places to stay in Charlottesville itself as well as an assortment of fabulous places to stay nearby, both Bed and Breakfasts as well as resorts.

Where to stay in Charlottesville, VA and where to stay near Charlottesville VA #Charlottesville #cville #Virginia #hotel #bedandbreakfast #boutiquehotel #luxuryhotel

Where to stay in Charlottesville, VA and where to stay near Charlottesville VA

Charlottesville Virginia has plenty of offer because it is beautiful countryside with lots of history and natural attractions. Just a 2 hour drive from Washington, D.C. means it is also a great weekend escape from  the city. There is a reason that we have returned to this area time and time again (and not just for the UVA connection)).

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City Tavern Philadelphia:  Great Food With a Side of Colonial American History

City Tavern Philadelphia: Great Food With a Side of Colonial American History

Among the old city Philadelphia restaurants, City Tavern Philadelphia stands out not only for being the oldest tavern in Philly but for Chef Walter Staib’s recipes which pay homage to colonial-era cooking. Established in 1773, when Philadelphia was the pre-eminent city in colonial America, the City Tavern was the haunt of everyone that mattered in that day and age. When you are visiting  the historical aspects of old city Philadelphia, such as the Museum of the American Revolution or the Liberty Bell, visiting the City Tavern is a perfect way to round out your introduction to 18th century Philadelphia. Although the food at the City Tavern Philadelphia is inspired by 18th century colonial fare, the City Tavern’s menu is diverse and suited for people with dietary restrictions as well as children.

A City Tavern Philadelphia PA sign is proud to announce that it was around before the American Revolution.

A City Tavern Philadelphia PA sign is proud to announce that it was around before the American Revolution.

About City Tavern Philadelphia

The city Tavern Philadelphia is the oldest tavern in Philadelphia. Lots of famous names you know from history class ate, drank and stayed here, such as George Washington, John Adams and Paul Revere.

City Tavern History

The City Tavern was built as an elegant establishment by the great and (possibly) good of Philadelphia’s citizens. Meant to convey that Philadelphia was the top city in Colonial America, the City Tavern Philly had a bar, a coffee room, 2 kitchens, two dining rooms, meeting rooms, a ballroom and lodging..

During the years before the American Revolution, the City Tavern became a hub for the most eminent of the colonists where they could discuss the ongoing issues with Britain. For example, during the First Continental Congress, George Washington stayed in lodging at the City Tavern.

City Tavern Philadelphia: Great Food With a Side of Colonial American History

City Tavern Philadelphia: Great Food With a Side of Colonial American History

When Philadelphia was occupied by the British during the American Revolution, prisoners of war were housed at the City Tavern.

Fun Fact! The country’s first Fourth of July celebration was held at the City Tavern in 1777 by the Continental Congress.

After the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers congregated at the City Tavern when they met for the Constitutional Convention.

The tankards remind you that you are in one of old city Philadelphia’s restaurants.

The tankards remind you that you are in one of old city Philadelphia’s restaurants.

After this heyday in the 18th century, the City Tavern lost its allure to newly formed hotels in Philadelphia. It was demolished in 1854.

City Tavern Philadelphia History – A New Beginning

Saved by the National Park Service!

In 1975 the National Park Service rebuilt the City Tavern faithfully copying the original. It was open in time for America’s bicentennial celebrations in 1976.

As one of the historic taverns in Philadelphia, the City Tavern restaurant and bar were on the ground floor with traveller’s accommodation on the floors above.

As one of the historic taverns in Philadelphia, the City Tavern restaurant and bar were on the ground floor with traveller’s accommodation on the floors above.

Walter Staib

Enter Chef Walter Staib. Chef Walter wins congressional approval to be the operator of the City Tavern Philadelphia in 1994. An Emmy Award winning TV presenter (for A Taste of History), chef and culinary historian, who better to oversee the oldest tavern in Philadelphia?

Chef Staib has also written 6 cookbooks, including The City Tavern cookbook and A Taste of History cookbook.

A selfie with Chef Walter Staib who was at the restaurant talking to reporters from CNN.

A selfie with Chef Walter Staib who was at the restaurant talking to reporters from CNN.

As if he is not busy enough, Chef Staib is at the restaurant often overseeing the kitchen which is how I got to meet him!

The City Tavern Menu

When we went for lunch my kids didn’t know why the City Tavern menu said “Mid-Day Fare”. Although the words on the City Tavern lunch menu, may have been old world English, the food on offer was surprisingly diverse.

There was something for everyone, including vegetarians and gluten-free options. When I first mentioned trying a colonial restaurant in Philadelphia, I was met with skepticism by my family.  My husband had nearly convinced the kids to go to JJ Bootlegger’s, another one of the old city Philadelphia restaurants nearby, primarily because he wanted to try moonshine and the kids wanted tacos. I got to enjoy the feeling of smugness when we all decided we like the City Tavern in the end!

Walter Staib Recipes

Chef Staib has created a menu inspired by 18th century colonial cuisine. Yes, it’s farm to table but that would have totally been an authentic colonial experience. The wait staff are also in full colonial gear adding to the time warp feeling of the place.

The old City Tavern Philadelphia serves you free bed at the table that is true to colonial recipes.

The old City Tavern Philadelphia serves you free bed at the table that is true to colonial recipes.

His original source material is the writings from Colonial America. For example, the sweet potato and pecan biscuits above were supposedly Thomas Jefferson’s favourite.

Interestingly the Sally Lunn bread (middle) was based on the Sally Lunn bread first found in the spa town of Bath, England in 1780. They were nowhere as decadently sugary as the Sally Lunn biscuits we tried in Bath. Apparently this type of Sally Lunn bread was served with clotted cream sort of like scones are served today for afternoon tea.

The third of the bread trio was called Anadama Bread – cornmeal sweetened with molasses. I have to say I preferred cornbread like we have it now. Overall, colonial bread was not as sweet as today’s bread.

The folklore of Anadama bread seems to indicate an irate husband who said of his wife “Anna damn ‘er”. In one version, it was on a gravestone expressing a husband’s frustration that Anna was no longer around to make his favourite bread. In another version, a fisherman had a wife (Anna obvs) who would make him nothing but cornmeal and molasses.

City Tavern Lunch Menu

I was totally tempted by the West Indies Pepper Pot Soup on the City Tavern lunch menu but it was such a brutally hot day that I decided I couldn’t cope with habanero pepper! The corn chowder I chose instead  was excellent – creamy with chunks of potato.

The City Tavern Menu has the most delicious corn chowder I have ever tasted.

The City Tavern Menu has the most delicious corn chowder I have ever tasted.

Before you think the pepper pot soup couldn’t possibly be Colonial fare, Chef Walter’s The City Tavern Cookbook explains that it is!  Sadly it is related to the story of slavery and the triangular trade with the West Indies. Ships from the Caribbean would bring spices and slaves to Philadelphia so colonists were familiar with these flavours.

In fact, during the long brutal winter at Valley Forge, George Washington had his cook make this soup to feed the starving troops. Presumably the numbness of their tongues from the habanero would take their minds of their frozen numb shoeless feet.

You can find the pepper pot soup recipe in the City Tavern cookbook. Can you believe that the pepper pot recipe that is more than 300 years old?!

the City Tavern Cookbook with the Walter Staib recipes he uses at the restaurant.

Chef Staib has released the City Tavern Cookbook with the Walter Staib recipes he uses at the restaurant.

I also scoffed at the fried tofu entree because it couldn’t possibly be colonial era food. According to the City Tavern lunch menu, however, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter in 1770 on how to make tofu!

My husband was thrilled with the choice of beers (a compensation for not getting his moonshine).. We tried a sampler of the four different choices named after the Founding Father whose recipe was used – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. He preferred the dark chocolatey taste of George Washington’s Porter while I preferred the lighter taste of Alexander Hamilton’s Ale.

Fun Fact! The recipe for George Washington’s porter is on file with the New York Public Library.
The City Tavern Philadelphia menu offered up a flight of beers that were created to the recipes of four of the Founding Fathers.

The City Tavern Philadelphia menu offered up a flight of beers that were created to the recipes of four of the Founding Fathers.

You can buy Founding Father beer to take away too. Relive your City Tavern Philly experience in the comfort of your own home!

The City Tavern Philly sells founding father beer!

The City Tavern Philly sells founding father beer!

Kids Menu at City Tavern Philly

There’s a kid’s version of the City Tavern Philadelphia menu, too. The closest you get to colonial food is probably the Turkey Pot Pie. We were told the cheese and meat dish is a lot like lasagna. My unadventurous kids went for chicken strips and fish and chips.

Chef Staib has created a new version of ‘shrub’ a colonial drink made with berries.

Chef Staib has created a new version of ‘shrub’ a colonial drink made with berries.

My kids  were more daring on their drinks choices though and both ordered a raspberry ‘shrub’. Colonial-era shrub was a fruit juice vinegar sweetened with sugar (and occasionally spiked with alcohol like rum). The shrub my kids had was made with club soda and they liked it!

Visiting City Tavern Philadelphia PA

The City Tavern Philadelphia is a popular restaurant and reservations are encouraged especially on the weekends and evenings. You can get City Tavern coupons at the nearby Visitors’ Center in Philadelphia.

Want a second opinion? Read the excellent TripAdvisor Reviews of the City Tavern Philadelphia!

The City Tavern is located at 138 S. 2nd Street in Philadelphia. It is open most days for lunch starting at 11:30 and dinner from 3 pm (harkening back to an older time when people ate earlier so that they could get home during daylight).

City Tavern Philadelphia: Great Food With a Side of Colonial American History

City Tavern Philadelphia: Great Food With a Side of Colonial American History

It’s right across the street from Welcome Park (which used to be the site of the city home of the Penn family, founders of Pennsylvania). It is also conveniently near other historic attractions in Philadelphia, such as the Museum of the American Revolution and the Liberty Bell.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

Wondering where to eat in Philadelphia? Among the old city Philadelphia restaurants, City Tavern Philadelphia stands out not only for being the oldest tavern in Philly but for Chef Walter Staib’s recipes which pay homage to colonial-era cooking. What does this mean? Well, read this post and discover why you should eat at this special restaurant in Philadelphia. #philadelphia #restaurant #food #foodie

Wondering where to eat in Philadelphia? Among the old city Philadelphia
restaurants, City Tavern Philadelphia stands out not only for being the oldest tavern
in Philly but for Chef Walter Staib’s recipes which pay homage to colonial-era
cooking. What does this mean? Well, read this post and discover why you should eat
at this special restaurant in Philadelphia. #philadelphia #restaurant #food #foodie

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

How Street Art in Houston is Jazzing Up Its Downtown (And 7 Top Houston Wall Murals Perfect for the ‘Gram)

How Street Art in Houston is Jazzing Up Its Downtown (And 7 Top Houston Wall Murals Perfect for the ‘Gram)

In addition to being known as the home of US space exploration and humidity that can add curl to an Afghan Hound’s fur, did you know there is a burgeoning street art scene in Houston? Downtown Houston has embraced graffiti and murals with a Texas-sized enthusiasm which provide unexpected pops of colour, big and small. It’s not just the street art lovers who flock to these Houston murals, Houston wall art has proved popular for the Instagram-loving crowd too. We love to check out the street art scene wherever we are in the world, and Houston’s wall murals are a delight.

How Street Art in Houston is Jazzing Up Its Downtown (And 7 Top Houston Wall Murals Perfect for the ‘Gram)

How Street Art in Houston is Jazzing Up Its Downtown (And 7 Top Houston Wall Murals Perfect for the ‘Gram)

Houston Wall Art For The ‘Gram

All this street art makes perfect Instagram feed material. Not only do you get instant backdrops for your selfie but you also let to drop in casually how cool and cultured you are at the same time. win/win.

The “Houston is Inspired” mural is one of the most Instagrammed spots in Houston. This first of the Houston wall murals was painted by Mario Figueroa Jr as part of the city’s business initiative to promote the local arts scene.

Mario Figueroa AKA Gonzo247 leads an artist collective, Aerosol Warfare which works to promote street art in the city such as, for example, liaising with businesses hiring street artists to add murals to their buildings. Houston graffiti is straddling the fine line between avant-garde and mainstream commercial success.

Businesses commission street art in Houston

Businesses are discovering the widespread attention they get with colorful wall murals

In fact, Gonzo 247 lead the team of 5 artists (including Mr. D mentioned below) that did the Guerrilla Gorilla artwork of giant gorillas around the city for the Houston Zoo in 2015.  Check out this cool photo gallery of artist Anat Ronen creating her gorilla wall from start to finish.

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Another graffiti wall in Houston is the “Greetings from Houston” wall mural which looks like a cool 1970’s style postcard with its bright colours and iconic Texas images (cactus, oil rig, etc). Created by local talent, Daniel Anguilu, this Houston mural is a perfect e-postcard to announce your stay in the Bayou City.

For a big city in a bigger state “Let’s Preservation The Creation Houston” mural is Houston-sized. About 60 feet tall and 180 feet wide covering 10,000 s.f. of wall, this mural by Mr. D is a riff on Michaelangelo’s famous ceiling at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.  Only this creator god is holding a spray paint can (and briefly a football in 2017 when Houston hosted Super Bowl 51).

In 2017, L.A. artist Russell Etchen created a faux rock facade called “About_Rocks” where the rocks had cartoon eyes.

If you want a whole host of backgrounds for your selfie, you should check out the Houston Graffiti Building. Here’s my son hamming it up in front of some angel wings which appeared on the Just Go Places Instagram.

Areas For Houston Graffiti and Murals

Houston is a sprawling city with heavy traffic congestion. You do need to plan where you want to go and what you want to see. Walking around the city like we did checking out the street art in Valencia Spain is not an option and the street art is not as concentrated in the urban sprawl as, for example, in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Market Square Park

The so-called graffiti park in Houston is Market Square Park, located in the Historic District of Downtown Houston.  Houston is so sprawling it actually has 10 different districts in its downtown area.

Houston Graffiti Building

When we went to the Houston Graffiti Building on a Saturday, there were a handful of photoshoots happening of Quinceanara girls and their entourages.

A photo shoot with a quinceanera in a blue dress at the Houston Graffiti building with a view of the skyscrapers of Downtown Houston

A quinceanara photo shoot at the Houston Graffiti building.

Quinceanara parties are birthday parties for girls turning 15 and are huge affairs in the Latin American communities of the USA. The fact that these dresses are gorgeous, the girls travel with entourages and have photo shoots should tell you something about what a big deal they are!

A colourful Houston wall mural in Downtown Houston

A colourful Houston wall mural in Downtown Houston

Lawndale Art Center

The Lawndale Art Center is a venue for local and regional art. It’s got a rotating mural on its facade. The current mural is an approximately 3000 s.f. trompe l’oeil by Francesca Fuchs of cathedral pillars.

Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas

When we visited, the opening of the Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas has been delayed thanks to the ravages of Hurricane Harvey. They do, however, suggest you check out their calendar for local events.

On the GSAM website you can also book  guided Houston murals tours led by a street artist. It’s a 90 minute tour available on Sundays which we would have taken if we had been in Houston on a Sunday. We learned so much from our guided street art tour of Shoreditch that I definitely would recommend a guided street art tour if you have the opportunity.

Stay Sorta Positive street mural in Downtown Houston

Stay Sorta Positive street mural in Houston

Houston Street Art Locations

Street art is ephemeral by its very nature and what you see today may not be there tomorrow. You’re best bet to find Houston street art locations is to visit the neighbourhoods famous for Houston graffiti, namely the Washington Avenue Arts District and Downtown Houston’s assorted districts.

Check out the Mini Murals Houston website for small-scale murals that pop up randomly on electrical boxes in Houston adding an unexpected pop of color and vibrancy to the city. We saw something similar on the electric boxes in Cork Ireland.  There’s a map on the site showing you location of these smaller pieces of Houston graffiti.

Flower-headed ballerinas, street art mural on a building in downtown Houston

The flower-headed ballerinas were one of my favourite works.

Wall murals tend to have more longevity. These Houston murals locations, moreover, have hit a degree of fame that they should stick around for the foreseeable future or alternatively, something else equally cool will have replaced the street art.

Houston Dreamers by Pink Lo Mein, Downtown Houston wall art

Houston Dreamers by Pink Lo Mein, Downtown Houston wall art

Here are some of the more famous Houston murals locations. I’ve tried to organise these Houston street art locations by zip code so that’s easier on your sat nav/GPS. Of course, you are driving there…it’s Houston.

  • Houston is Inspired – 907 Preston St, Houston TX 77002
  • Market Square Park – 301 Milam, Houston TX 77002
  • Lawndale Art Center 4912 Main Street, Houston TX 77002
  • Houston Graffiti Building – 1503 Chartres St,  Houston TX 77003
  • Let’s Preserve the Creation Mural – 2800 San Jacinto, Houston TX 77004
  • Greetings From Houston Mural – 3601 White Oak Drive, Houston TX 77007
  • Houston Zoo Mural – 2201 Washington Avenue, Houston 77007
Where to Find The Top Houston Wall Murals

Where to Find The Top Houston Wall Murals

Practicalities for Visiting Houston Wall Art

We stayed at the St. Regis Houston which is a great hotel but not that near downtown Houston. It was about a 40 minute drive to downtown.

We have friends who stayed at Hotel ZaZa which is in the Museum District and highly recommend it. I bet my kids thought if we stayed too close to all those museums, we’’d make them do nothing else. Anyway, the Hotel ZaZa is a pink giant block on the outside and theatrical glamour on the inside. Hotel Zaza Houston Museum District has gotten very good reviews on TripAdvisor as well.

We went to the original Ninfa’s (on 2704 Navigation Boulevard) which is famous for creating fajitas back in the 1970’s. My kids love their Mexican food and fajitas remain one of their favourite dishes of all time/cuisines. Of course, we had to do a pilgrimage to Ninfa’s and it was totally worth it! Check out the excellent reviews for Ninfa’s on Navigation on TripAdvisor.

For more photos of Houston wall art, check out my gallery on Smug Mug for more of my photos.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

Have you ever heard of the upcoming street art scene in Houston? Downtown Houston has embraced graffiti and murals and unexpected pops of colors are all around. Check out the 7 best murals in Houston Texas! These are also the best Houston instagram spots. Discover our favorite graffiti in Houston Texas. #houstontexas #streetart #houston #texas #graffiti #mural

Have you ever heard of the upcoming street art scene in Houston? Downtown Houston has
embraced graffiti and murals and unexpected pops of colors are all around. Check out the 7
best murals in Houston Texas! These are also the best Houston instagram spots. Discover
our favorite graffiti in Houston Texas. #houstontexas #streetart #houston #texas #graffiti
#mural

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

 

The Three Best Plantation Homes in Louisiana To Visit With Kids

The Three Best Plantation Homes in Louisiana To Visit With Kids

With so many restored Louisiana plantation homes to visit, how do you narrow down your choice of Louisiana plantation homes when you are travelling with children in tow?  My husband and I would have loved to have seen as many plantation homes in Louisiana as we could have but we knew our children had a much more limited attention span. In the end, we chose three of the New Orleans plantation houses to visit based on their proximity to each other and the different perspectives on Southern plantation life they provided.

Oak Alley Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Oak Alley Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #OakAlleyPlantation

The top 3 Louisiana plantation homes to visit from New Orleans.

New Orleans Plantation Country

New Orleans plantation country has 10 major plantations to explore.

  • Destrehan Plantation and Ormond Plantation are the closest to New Orleans and the international airport.
  • Houmas Plantation and San Francisco Plantation focus on the grandeur of New Orleans plantation houses and the Antebellum lifestyle enjoyed by its owners.
  • Poche Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation offers a history of the families who lived there.
  • Laura Plantation focuses on the connection of the French Creoles with the region.
  • St Joseph’s Plantation is still a working sugarcane plantation.
  • Evergreen Plantation offers a bit of everything – a French Creole history, grand architecture, the stories of slave labour and a working sugarcane plantation.
  • Whitney Plantation tells the story of the slaves working on these sugarcane plantations.

Our Three Picks for Family-Friendly Plantation Homes in Louisiana

Our decision came down to convenience as well as having good historical learning exhibits. New Orleans plantation country extends all the way to Baton Rouge on the River Road but we stayed at the end closest to New Orleans.

The main house at Laura Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Laura Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #LauraPlantation

A map of the sugar plantations that lined the Missisippi River in their heyday.

Staying on site in a cottage at Oak Alley Plantation, we were also able to visit the nearby Whitney Plantation and the Laura Plantation. All three of these plantations lie in a convenient cluster near each other less than an hour away from Downton New Orleans.

Of these three New Orleans plantation houses, Oak Alley provides the  most amenities. For example, there are rental cottages located on the 25 acre property.  In addition, there is a large restaurant, separate cafe and a banqueting facility as well as the requisite gift shop.

New Orleans Plantations Tours I Missed

St. Joseph’s Plantation is located next door to the Oak Alley Plantation and I was gutted to have to drive by it without entering. I, however, know my children’s limits on museums and three museums in 2 days was plenty. I would have also liked to see Houmas Plantation to compare the Anglo-American sugar plantation lifestyle with that of the French Creoles.

The Grand Dame of the New Orleans Plantation Houses

We chose Oak Alley Plantation because it not only has family-friendly accommodation on site but is also beautiful. Small wonder it is the most photographed plantation home in Louisiana.

The Live Oaks at Oak Alley Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Oak Alley Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplanatations #OakAlleyPlantation

Oak Alley Plantation History

Oak Alley Plantations’s history is fairly abbreviated. The 28 Virginia live oaks that give the plantation its name are about 300 years old.  They had already been planted by a previous owner when Jacques Roman, the scion of a local rich family, bought the plantation. He had the grand plantation home built as a way to tempt his New Orleans socialite bride, Celina Roman, out to the countryside.

Fun Fact! The Roman family owned a whole host of  Louisiana plantations homes including one known as Le Petit Versailles (modelled after Versailles in France).

Built entirely by slaves with handmade bricks over the course of a mere 2.5 years in the 1840’s, the craftsmanship is extraordinary. The plantation house is built in a Greek revival style with 28 Tuscan columns meant to echo the 28 live oaks lining the driveway. The exterior walls are stucco made to look like marble.

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A cutaway of the plaster wall at Oak Alley plantation shows the handmade bricks made by the enslaved workers.

The Romans lived for less than 10 years at Oak Plantation when Jacques Roman died. Celina did not have the skills to run a sugar plantation. By the time their son was old enough to take over the running of Oak Alley, the estate was heavily in debt and the estate was sold in 1866.

With the end of slavery, the economic model of sugar plantation was not viable and so the whole plantation eventually fell into ruins.

The current owner’s family, wealthy Texans, bought the house for $50,000 in 1925. They had to spend $60,000 though to renovate the plantation house and make it liveable.

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The beauty of the columned terrace.

With its obvious beauty, Oak Alley is a popular film venue. For example, it has appeared in Interview With A Vampire (1994) as the home of Louis (played by Brad Pitt). My kids were more impressed though that it was in the video for Beyonce’s song Deja Vu.

Oak Alley Plantation Tour

As of January 2018, the tours are no longer conducted by guides in period dress. The tours of the plantation house are run frequently throughout the day and last about 45 minutes.

TripAdvisor reviews seem to agree with me  that the house is amazing and the tours are OK.  You do get the feeling that you are being pushed through on the tour like you are on a factory processing line.

You get a brief history of the family, a look at the formal sitting room, the dining room and some bedrooms. You have great views over the plantation grounds from  the second floor terrace, including down that famous alley of live oaks.

terrace view at Oak Alley Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Oak Alley Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplanatations #OakAlleyPlantation

The view from the terrace down that famous alley of live oaks at Oak Alley Plantation.

Outside on the grounds, there are self-guided tours you can do. There is also an exhibit on slavery at Oak Alley for which you can listen to a separate tour guide discuss the life and duties of slaves on the plantation.

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Old Sugar Kettles now are part of the landscaping at Oak Alley Plantation.

When we listened to the talk on slavery at Oak Alley, we realised about 2/3 of the people in the group walked away from lack of interest. Many people are at Oak Alley because it is pretty and a brief glimpse into the lifestyle of rich planters in the Antebellum South.

The Whitney Plantation Tour

Whitney Plantation is the only plantation to focus on the plight of the Southern slaves. Unlike the other two New Orleans plantation tours we took, the plantation owners’ life and home was very much ancillary to the tour.

Whitney Plantation History

The Whitney Plantation was started in 1752 by a German family, the Haydels, who had come to Louisiana as indentured servants. They changed their name to sound more French to fit in with the locals. From indentured servants to rich plantation owners, they epitomised the American Dream long before that idea had even been conceptualised.

The Three Best Plantation Homes in Louisiana To Visit With Kids

The estate office for Whitney Plantation is a relatively subdued affair.

The house architecture is considered French Creole cottage. Although the house looks grand from the outside, the interior is remarkably humble in keeping with many French Creole Louisiana plantation homes. French Creoles did not entertain as lavishly as the Anglo-American plantation owners and saved their partying for Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

In 2014, the Whitney Plantation was opened as a museum to the history of plantation slavery.

Whitney Plantation Museum

The Whitney Plantation tour is long – about an hour and a half and is mostly outside. Our guide, Ali, was a dynamic personality and tried to engage with the kids. TripAdvisor reviews agree that the Whitney Plantation tour is excellent.

My 11 year old kids found the Whitney Plantation tour fascinating but also disturbing because it made a vague concept they had studied about in a textbook more real.

Travel Tip – On a hot sunny day like we had, we were grateful we had bottles of water with us because most of the tour is outside.

The lives of sugar plantation slaves was very harsh. Sugar was 3x more profitable to grow than cotton but also much more difficult to extract. There were plenty of opportunities for accidents from the cutting of the tall sugar canes to the boiling of the sugar cane in the sugar kettles. For example, if some of the hot sugar cane syrup fell on your skin while it was being ladled, it would stick like tar to the skin.

Sad Fact: The average life expectancy of a slave working on a sugar plantation was only 10 years.

In fact, it was cheaper to let the slaves die as they grew older and more infirm than to take care of them. The plantation owners referred to young enslaved women as breeders because they were required to provide more human stock to replenish and to enlarge the workforce.

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Slave women were also kept breeding in order to provide additional workers.

The Whitney Plantation has an indoor exhibit explaining slave trade throughout history around the world. Slavery, after all, has been around for millennia.

There is also Antioch Baptist Church which was built after the Civil War. This Baptist Church moved to the Whitney Plantation when the original congregation decided to build a new church after Hurricane Katrina.

Antioch Baptist Church at Whitney Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Whitney Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #WhitneyPlantation

The Antioch Baptist Church relocated to the Whitney Plantation.

The Antioch Church was built by skilled slave labour. Inside are some of the sculptures by Woodrow Nash of slave children taken from actual photographs of slave children. Their eyes are missing to symbolise their hopeless situation. The sculptures are very moving.

The Three Best Plantation Homes in Louisiana To Visit With Kids

Woodrow Nash sculptures of slave children in Antioch Baptist Church at Whitney Plantation.

The Whitney Plantation Tour takes you to see 3 memorials to slavery:

The Wall of Honor recording the name of slaves who were owned by the Haydel family.

A slave memorial at Whitney Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Whitney Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #WhitneyPlantation

A mother is listed with her children under the age of 10.

The 18 Walls Monument which records the name of every enslaved  person in a plantation home in Louisiana from 1719-1820.

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A memorial with the name of every slave in a plantation home in Louisiana during the 99 years ending in 1820.

The Field of Angels lists the names of slave children who died at Whitney Plantation and its parish from 1823-1863. The average age of a child was three years old. Many of the youngest did not even have names.

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Mediums have reported spirits of children playing near this statue to dead slave children.

The Whitney Plantation Tour also encompasses several of the outbuildings, including the separate building which was the kitchen, and the slave jail.

Laura Plantation in Lousiana

We visited Laura Plantation because we wanted to learn more about French creole culture which existed until after the Civil War very much separate from the Anglo-American culture in Louisiana. Not surprising considering their origins, the French Creole looked down on Anglo-American culture.

Fun Fact! – Laura Locoul Gore (born in 1861) was the fourth generation to live at Laura Plantation but the first generation to speak English!

Laura Plantation History

The Laura Plantation was built in 1805 by slaves in the Creole style for Guillaume Duparc. The Big House is a riot of colors similar to the houses you see in the Caribbean.

The main house at Laura Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Laura Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #LauraPlantation

The Big House at Laura Plantation

The Laura Plantation’s history is remarkable because it thrived under the management of French women with backbones of steel. In its heyday, the Laura Plantation encompassed 12,000 acres, a sugar mill, 69 slave cabins housing 186 slaves, a slave hospital and communal kitchens.

This line of  matriarchy was started by a wayward son exiled to the New World. Guillaume Duparc was forced to flee his native Normandy when he got into a duel with his father’s best friend’s son. He joined the French forces who were helping the American side during the American Revolution.

Duparc knew George Washington and had friends in high places. To keep on his good side, Thomas Jefferson gave the Laura Plantation to Duparc when the USA acquired the area as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Guillaume Duparc died within a few years and the plantation was run by his wife, Nanette. They had two sons and a daughter. The sons didn’t amount to much and the daughter, Elizabeth, was forced to take over the plantation.

Shocking fact – When Nanette retired to another house on the estate she took 5 slaves with her. Three of these slaves were her grandchildren by her youngest son and a slave woman. She didn’t even set her enslaved grandchildren free.
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A genealogy of Nanette’s grandchildren who remained slaves.

Elizabeth split the estate in half to give to her two children. She was a tough old lady and thought her son was useless. She gave the better half (which included the sugar mill) to her equally-steely daughter. The son incurred debts trying to build his own sugar mill which eventually crippled his half of the plantation.

The son named his part of the inheritance the Laura Planation after his daughter, Laura Locoul Gore. Laura sold the plantation for $18,000 in 1891. Her only living descendent was a grandson who has since died of a drug overdose.

It’s not quite shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations but close. If it weren’t for the fortitude of the women in this family, the men would have run the plantation into the ground much faster.

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Slave cabins at Laura Plantation.

Before Laura died in 1936, she wrote her memoirs, Memories of the Old Plantation Home which makes fascinating reading. Some of her attitudes seem patronising until I realised that would have been how they thought in that era. For their time period, she and her “weak” father were quite liberal which did not a good Southern plantation owner make.

Laura Plantation Tour

The Laura Plantation Tour starts in the Big House and also visits the slave quarters. It attempts to tell the story of both the slaveowning family as well as some of the enslaved family. Obviously, the family history is better known and documented whereas the enslaved peoples’ stories are pieced together from ancillary sources.

The Laura Plantation Tour itself is relatively short (about an hour) and most of it is indoors. TripAdvisor reviewers agree that the family story intertwined with the vagaries of American history is fascinating.

New Orleans Plantation Hotel

We wanted to stay in a New Orleans plantation hotel and the Oak Alley Plantation is one of two choices available in New Orleans plantation country. The other option in New Orleans plantation country would have been Houmas House Plantation which would have been another half-hour further on from Oak Alley Plantation.

Check out the very positive reviews on TripAdvisor for Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant & Inn!

If you are driving as far as Baton Rouge, you will also have the option of staying at Nottoway Plantation Resort and The Myrtles Plantation. Unless you have particularly brave children, I’d choose Nottoway Plantation Resort because The Myrtles Plantation is supposed to be one of the most haunted hotels in the USA.

The best part of staying at Oak Alley Plantation is having the house and gardens to yourself after the visitors have gone for the night and before they arrive in the morning. I was a little shocked that Oak Alley had lots of visitors from the very first tour which starts at 9 AM.

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A view of the Big House at Oak Alley Plantation from the formal gardens.

Staying at the New Orleans Plantation Hotel

They have different sized cottages which can accommodate up to six people. Our two bedroom cottage was charming. It had a traditional charm that was endearing and enough shiplap on the walls to make Joanna Gaines happy.

Cottage bedroom at Oak Alley Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Oak Alley Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #OakAlleyPlantation

One of the bedrooms at a traditional cottage at Oak Alley plantation.

Our cottage had a kitchen for which we were thankful after our fussy child threw a fit at the nearest restaurant at lunchtime. We bought frozen pizza and ice cream for the kids at the nearest supermarket, Piggly Wiggly, in Vacherie.

The beds were comfortable, the Wifi excellent and parking easy. What more could we want??

Meals at the New Orleans Plantation Hotel

If you stay at Oak Alley Planation, breakfast at the restaurant is included. We had a hearty breakfast that included a choice of omelettes, french toast or that old Southern favourite, grits.

Breakfast at Oak Alley Plantation | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Oak Alley Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #OakAlleyPlantation

French toast with Oak Alley cane syrup for breakfast at Oak Alley plantation.

My fussy daughter had pitched a fit at the lunch on offer at the nearest restaurant we were recommended. B&C Seafood Market & Cajun Restaurant is conveniently located between Laura Planation and Oak Alley Plantation.  We thought the food at B&C was good. There is a children’s menu with things like grilled cheese and lemonade. She, however, saw the alligator nuggets on offer and that was a bridge too far for her culinary sensibilities.

Travel Tip – There are fast food establishments, like McDonalds, Subway and Pizza Hut on Highway 3125 about 6 miles from Oak Alley Plantation.

We had stayed at this New Orleans plantation hotel on Valentine’s Night so there was a special dinner available in the banqueting hall. It was a price fixe with a fixed menu and needed to be scheduled ahead of time. There were no substitutions allowed so we wound up skipping a course which included mussels to which we are allergic.

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A romantic dinner for two at the banqueting hall at Oak Alley Plantation.

Overall the meal was good and the wine pairings excellent. We did, however, feel like we were at a wedding just the way the tables were arranged with 16 couples facing the front of the banqueting hall. The head chef even came out to give a little speech. I think fine dining options in this part of the world are limited and the Oak Alley Valentine’s Dinner was the best local option for the night.

New Orleans Plantation Tours

We drove from New Orleans to see these three plantation homes in Louisiana.  The drive is really easy and straightforward.

Travel Tip – If you want to visit all three of these plantations, you should stay overnight in the area.

If you don’t have a car though, you have a choice of New Orleans plantation tours leaving from the city with different combinations depending on your interests.

Visiting Lousiana Plantation Homes With Kids

We are glad we visited all three of these New Orleans plantation houses. They offered very different aspects of the Louisiana plantation homes lifestyle.

We believe our kids enjoyed the visits to these plantation homes, too. Other than the Whitney Plantation tour, all the tours were short. None of the houses had major artwork or furniture that required detailed explanation which they would find tedious. We were whisked through the houses fairly quickly.

New Orleans Plantation Country with kids | New Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana plantation homes | Oak Alley Plantation tour | #roadtripUSA #visitLouisiana #DeepSouth #NOLAplantations #OakAlleyPlantation

Visiting the New Orleans plantation countryside with kids

They were fascinated with some of the stories they heard. For example, one of the teenage daughters at the Laura Plantation went to a French doctor to be treated for pimples. The medicine he gave her contained arsenic which lead to her death. Yes, modern medicine is a wonderful thing and they take it for granted.

My kids were likewise shocked that enslaved children from the age of 10 were separated from their mothers and treated the same as adults who were made to work 16 hours a day. They are 11 years old and nowhere ready to be treated as adults, never mind leave the comforts of childhood behind them.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

– Edmund Burke

Kids may learn history in school but visiting a historical place really hammers home the point.

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