10 Reasons Why I Love the National Parks Service System
Seven years ago I planned my first major road trip. My children were toddlers and we were planning on traveling almost cross country to visit good friends who were temporarily relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sharing my itinerary with my Uncle Bob, he asked if I planned on visiting any National Parks. I knew of the National Park Service system, but didn’t know much information about the various locations. Uncle Bob pulled out a worn, tattered, small blue spiral book and about an hour went by before I spoke again. (Full disclosure: Uncle Bob is a good storyteller and he does have a TON of travel experience.) His National Parks Passport book was filled with stamps dating back to the early 1970s. It was the perfect memento of his travels and I knew I had to start my own passport book.
Since 2012, I have collected dozens of passport stamps from various stops in the National Park Service system. There are over 400 locations in the United States and American owned islands. These locations include parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and even the White House. With every stop, I became a bigger and bigger fan of the National Parks system. Here are my top 10 reasons why:
Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Spring, NY
It’s the oldest sporting venue in the country, dating back to 1863: Saratoga Race Course. Held between late July and Labor Day weekend each year, they race registered thoroughbred horses six days a week (it goes dark on Tuesdays) and have 9-13 races each day.
Nat’l Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs, NY
Day 3 in my week long series about Saratoga Springs New York:
Along with tens of thousands of racing fans, my family recently made the short pilgrimage to Saratoga Springs, New York for the first week of the Saratoga races. We attended the races on a Wednesday (they race six days a week- Tuesdays are “dark”) and you can read all about our adventures at the Saratoga National Historic Site here and the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame here.
There was a break in the action between our morning tours and when our table at Turf Terrace was available, so we took a walk across the street to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. It’s a small museum, but it was the perfect way to spend about an hour and a half learning about the history of racing. Score: children will definitely be entertained.
Nat’l Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame, Saratoga Springs NY
Day 2 in my weeklong posts on Saratoga Springs, New York.
As a child, I spent fourteen years in ballet and tap classes. I even considered going to Skidmore College because I was so passionate about wanting to dance, but ultimately decided to follow a different career path to teaching. However, my love for dance has never ceased. So when I was planning a family trip to Saratoga Raceway and saw that the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame was five minutes away from the track, I knew we needed to make a stop. After spending the morning at Saratoga National Historic Site (read about my tips here) it was a quick 15 minute drive into town to the museum.
The museum and Hall of Fame are located inside the Saratoga Spa State Park, which is home to performing arts centers, museums, pools, a golf course, and a resort and spa. From the outside, I must admit I thought the museum looked a little dated. However, once inside, I noticed that is beautifully maintained and full of really fun, unique exhibits. It’s definitely worth a stop for a couple of hours before you head to the race track. Bonus: Admission is free on Tuesday, when we visited. The museum is closed Sunday and Monday.
Saratoga National Historic Site, Stillwater NY
This post begins a week long series about my family’s trip to Saratoga Springs, New York.
Most people probably recognize Saratoga Springs as the center of the horse racing world. Indeed, the horses take to the track every July, August, and September. Checking out the races was the catalyst for planning a recent trip to the area, but while researching, I quickly discovered there is a lot more to do than just go to the race track; so much to do that we couldn’t cover it all in one trip. Each day, I’ll share some personal highlights from our adventures.
Whenever I plan a trip, one of my first points of research is to check my National Parks map to see if any spots are located on our route. Sure enough, driving to Saratoga Racetrack we passed Saratoga National Historic Park, with five different stops. It was a rainy, dreary morning so we could not take full advantage of the park, but we still learned a lot about the Revolutionary War: