2019 Year in Review: 65 Highlights

2019 was a year for the record books. We travelled over 25,000 miles from TopSail, North Carolina to Gloucester, Massachusetts and a ton of places in between those spots. We had a few common themes (you’ll notice them below) and no matter where we travelled, we found friendly locals, rich history, and tons of fun. We’re keeping it short and sweet here with the highlights, but feel free to click on the links for the full scoop and tons of travel tips!

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Federal Hall National Memorial in New York City

Regular readers will recall my passionate enthusiasm for the National Park Service. A quick search on my blog and you will find dozens of sites we have visited- check them out here. Whenever we travel or visit  a new area, I always check for any nearby site- the Park Service has an app and website for searching sites. On a recent trip to lower Manhattan to explore the Fraunces Tavern Museum and National Museum of the American Indian, we realized we were less than a half mile from Federal Hall National Memorial and decided to visit. 

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Mount Vernon in Virginia

Mount Vernon, home to George and Martha Washington and their family, is the most popular home in America- over one million people visit each year. The home, located twenty minutes outside downtown Washington DC in Mount Vernon, Virginia, was originally a 8,000 complex with five farms: Dogue Run, Muddy Hole, River, Union, and Mansion House Farms. Washington also built a gristmill and distillery on the property, which is on the banks of the Potomac River, with Maryland on the other side of the river.  Washington took possession of the home in 1739 and completed a major renovation by 1787.  After George and Martha died in 1779 and 1802 respectively, the home was passed on to family until 1860, when the home was open to the public.  The now 50 acre site includes over two dozen areas to explore. We’ve included ten spots children will most enjoy.

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Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City

Built as the Delancey Mansion in 1719, Samuel Fraunces purchased the building in 1762 and turned it into a tavern, later offering it as a place for political and social gatherings and distribution of news. The tavern became known as the Fraunces Tavern and is most famously recognized as the spot where George Washington said goodbye to his Continental Army officers on December 4, 1783. The tavern is also the spot where the first Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York (who own and oversee the museum) formed and the first offices of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, War, and Treasury. 

The Fraunces Tavern Museum opened as a museum in 1907 and will celebrate its 300th birthday in 2019, with several special celebrations planned (check here for updates). The museum has over 8500 items in the permanent collection and rotates items on display.

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Playing ‘I Spy” in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a town of less than 10,000 people, is the site of the largest Civil War battle ever fought, lasting three days in early July 1863. Over 51,000 soldiers were captured, wounded, or killed. The Battle is considered the turning point of the American Civil War, as the Union won the battle over Robert E. Lee and the Confederate army.

Each year, over three million people visit Gettysburg to learn about American history; to explore the museums, shops, and restaurants; and to enjoy the outdoors- there are over 31 miles of hiking trails. Many locations around town honor the people who fought in the battle and the civilians who supported them during and after the battle. The town also has strong ties to former Presidents Lincoln and Eisenhower.

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Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage was the exclusive property of Andrew and his wife Rachel. He lived there from 1804 until his death in 1845. It was bought by a nonprofit organization in 1889 and opened later that year as a museum in his honor. Almost every artifact in the mansion is authentic. The property averages about 600-700 visitors each day, but when we were there, a docent said it had been one of the busiest days of the summer, with over 1,000 visitors by mid afternoon.

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