Nine Holiday Activities for Kids in New York City
New York City is a magical place any time of year but the holiday season is an especially wonderful time to visit with children. There are the famous window displays and decorations on every street corner and building, and countless pop up shops and restaurants, but most children will tire of just “looking” pretty quickly. This week, we’re sharing (early because tickets for many events just went on sale and will sell out quickly!) nine holiday activities for kids in New York City and we promise adults will want to do them, too!
15 Ways to Explore the Crane Estate on Castle Hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts
On a recent visit to the North Shore of Massachusetts, we explored one of the most beautiful Gilded Age estates, the Crane Estate, set high on a hill above one of the most beautiful beaches, Crane Beach, in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The estate has been carefully restored and preserved by the Trustees, who oversee more than 100 properties throughout Massachusetts. The Crane Company, founded by Richard Teller Crane, in 1855 was well known for their brass fixtures and bells, most famously used to help build the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Later, his son, Mr. Richard T. Crane, who focused the company on manufacturing various bathroom fixtures, purchased Castle Hill and began renovating and expanding the property. The Cranes, who were based in Chicago, had summer homes in London, England and Jekyll Island, Georgia. The first home on the Ipswich property was built in 1912 but later torn down as it was properly outfitted to withstand the elements of the nearby ocean. The current estate, with 59 rooms, was built in a timeless English style similar to the Cranes’ London estate and finished in 1929. Over the years, the Cranes restored over 3,500 acres in Essex Bay, Choate Island, and Ipswich. The estate also includes the 700 acre Crane Wildlife Refuge, made up of Castle Neck (which borders Crane Beach), five islands, and salt marshes.
Playing “I Spy” at Victoria Mansion in Portland, Maine
Ruggles Sylvester Morse and his wife Olive Ring Merrill Morse were prominent New Orleans hotel proprietors in the 1850s when they decided to leave the summer heat of the South and build a house in Portland, Maine. The house, built in the Italian Villa style, was finished in 1860 and the couple lived there until Morse passed away in 1893. Olive sold the mansion, and all its contents, to J.R. Libby, who lived there with his wife and five children until the parents died in the early 1920s. After the Great Depression of the 1930s, the children could not afford the upkeep and taxes on the mansion and abandoned it. William Holme, a local teacher and historian who loved the Queen Victorian era, bought it to be preserved as a museum, named after Queen Victoria. The Victoria Mansion Museum opened in 1941 to the public, who are welcome to tour two of the four floors of the mansion. Each room has been restored to its original, mid 1860s glory, with authentic furnishings purchased by the Morse family.
Playing “I Spy” at the Flagler Museum on Palm Beach Island, Florida
We recently spent time exploring St. Augustine Florida, a city that Henry Flagler basically built after the start of his 1912 Florida East Coast Railway and subsequent hotels, hospitals, schools, churches, and farms. (Read more about our adventures in St. Augustine in these posts. So, it was fitting when we also traveled to the West Palm Beach area of Florida in the same trip, we spent the morning at Flagler’s “winter cottage” Henry Flagler was successful in the grain and salt mining industries before he helped to found the Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller and Samuel Andrews in 1867. When he married his third wife, Mary Lily Flager, in August 1901, he promised her a “waterfront winter cottage” and had “Whitehall”, as it was named, built in a record 18 months. The Flaglers spent approximately two months there each year until Flagler’s death in 1913.
10 Things to Do in Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria was established as a town along the northernmost part of the Potomac River in 1749, named after the Alexander family whose land formed the majority of the area. It was considered the first major seaport of British America. Known for its 18th and 19th century architecture (we could have spent days just walking the neighborhoods and checking out window boxes and front doors), it is a nationally designated historic district.
10 Ways to Have Fun in the Berkshires in Massachusetts
The Berkshires, compromised of over 30 towns and villages, is located in the most western part of Massachusetts. It includes towns ranging from Sheffield and Great Barrington in the southern part of the state, bordering Connecticut, to the towns of Wiliamstown and North Adams in the northern part of the state, bordering Vermont. The region is popular year round for outdoor activities, performing arts venues, galleries, museums, and historic homes and landmarks. The Berkshires have been home well known figures such as authors Edith Wharton, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and activist W.E.B. DuBois. Dubbed the “Inland Newport” during the Gilded Age of the 20th century, the area became well known for its over 75 estates, in addition to its thriving farming industry. Today, there are many spots to learn about the important history of the area and many preserved outdoor spaces to enjoy nature all year long.