• Eastern Shore, Virginia

    Eastern Shore,


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    The Eastern Shore of Virginia consists of two counties (Accomack and Northampton) on the Atlantic coast detached from the mainland of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The 70-mile-long (110 km) region is part of the Delmarva Peninsula and is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. Its population was 45,553 as of 2010.The terrain is overall very flat, ranging from sea level to just 50 feet (15 m) above sea level. It is characterized by sandy and deep soil. The weather in the area has temperate summers and winters, significantly affected by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The rural area has long been devoted to cotton, soybean, vegetable and truck farming, and large-scale chicken farms. Since the late 20th century, vineyards have been developed in both counties, and the Eastern Shore has received recognition as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). The region has more than 78,000 acres of preserved parks, refuges, preserves and a national seashore and is a popular outdoor recreation destination for fishing, boating, hiking and kayaking. It is also an important birding hotspot along the Atlantic Flyway at the southernmost tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. There are public beaches at Cape Charles, Kiptopeke State Park, Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve, Tangier Island and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge abutting the Assateague Island National Seashore. The area includes 70 miles of barrier islands, the longest chain of undeveloped barrier islands in the global temperate zone and a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve. At the northern end of the Atlantic side is the beach community of Chincoteague, famous for its annual wild pony roundup, gathered from Assateague Island. Wallops Flight Facility, a NASA space launch base, is located near Chincoteague. At the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay coast, the beach community of Cape Charles, a historic railroad town, is home to the Cape Charles Yacht Center, a super yacht service center. The town of Wachapreague on the Atlantic coast is a popular destination for fishing and guided trips out to the wild barrier islands. Onancock, a harbor town on the Chesapeake Bay, has a ferry service to Tangier Island, off the western shore in the Chesapeake Bay, during spring, summer and fall. The Eastern Shore, geographically removed from the rest of Virginia, has had a unique history of settlement and development influenced by agriculture, fishing, tourism, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. William G. Thomas describes the Eastern Shore during the late 19th and early 20th century as "a highly complex and interdependent landscape". He continues: It was a liminal place, a zone of interpenetration, where the settlement patterns, speech, demography, and political outcomes defined its place in the South but its engagement with technology and rapid transformation of the landscape betrayed other allegiances, motives, forces, and effects. The 17.6-mile-long (28.3 km) Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel, which is part of U.S. Route 13, spans the mouth of the Bay and connects the Eastern Shore to South Hampton Roads and the rest of Virginia. Before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel was built in 1964, the Little Creek-Cape Charles Ferry provided the continuation of U.S. 13 across this stretch of water.
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    Tarrytown, New York - Coolest Small Towns 2022

    On the shores of New York’s Hudson River, just 16 miles from the Bronx border, Tarrytown combines history, natural beauty, and a range of small businesses that make for a truly unique small-town experience. Margo Timmins, lead singer of the alt-country band Cowboy Junkies, recently announced from the stage of the Tarrytown Music Hall that the venue, on the town’s scenic Main Street, is one of her favorite places to perform because there is a great coffeehouse on one side and the yarn shop on the other. That would be Coffee Labs, purveyors of exquisite artisanal java (there will be a line, possibly out the door, but it’s worth the wait), and Flying Fingers, a favorite of Martha Stewart’s, boasting a giant sheep sculpture adorned with brightly colored yarn right outside the front door. You could spend your entire day combing Main Street for world cuisine — Lefteris’s Greek fare and Tarry Tavern’s upscale comfort food are just two wildly popular examples — or galleries, thrift shops, and musical instruments. But set aside some time to explore beautiful historic sites such as Sunnyside (once home to Washington Irving, the first man of American letters and the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) and Lyndhurst (a 19th century mansion whose riverside grounds now play host to craft fairs, kennel shows, and jazz concerts). No visit to this region is complete without traversing RiverWalk, a scenic trail through the woods along the eastern shore of the Hudson, and the many winding trails in Rockefeller State Park and Preserve. More about Tarrytown Tarrytown, NY A trip to Tarrytown offers visitors the perfect complement of history, dining, shopping and nature -- not to mention entertainment and first class lodging. Keep Reading... Meet Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns for 2022: Content presented by Have Fun Do Good Have Fun Do Good (HFDG) is on a mission to provide adventure seekers with a unique experience that allows them to travel while giving back to the community through volunteering. Learn more at

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    Celebrate 100 years of women's suffrage with these monuments

    August 18, 2020 marks a century since the ratification of the 19th constitutional amendment granting the right to vote regardless of gender. Since far before and after 1920, women of all backgrounds across the U.S. have been championing civil rights and other issues of the day. While landmarks, monuments and memorials to suffragettes and female civil rights advocates might have limited hours or be inaccessible due to COVID-19 mandates, you could walk or drive past some of them. Here is where to begin: Alabama Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue is along the route of the bus that Rosa Parks would board and refuse to give up her seat to a white man in 1955; a life-size statue of Parks stands there. Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum and Library on Montgomery Street is dedicated to Parks’ action and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott. California In San Diego’s Arts District Liberty Station, the Women’s Museum of California preserves her-story by teaching about various women’s experiences and contributions. Colorado In Denver’s Capitol Hill, the Molly Brown House Museum showcases the famous Titanic survivor who helped to organize the Conference of Great Women in 1914 in Newport, while the Center for Colorado Women’s History tells about this topic through exhibits and lectures. In Colorado Springs, a statue of entertainer and philanthropist Fannie Mae Duncan, who owned and integrated the city’s first jazz club, stands outside the Pikes Peak Center. Connecticut In Canterbury, the Prudence Crandall Museum honors Connecticut’s Official State Heroine who ran a higher education academy for African American women until mob violence forced her school to close. In Hartford, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is where the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” author and activist once lived. It now serves as a museum and a forum for social justice and change. Delaware The Old State House in Dover’s First State Heritage Park was where suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mary Ann Sorden Stuart addressed Delaware legislators in support of a state constitutional amendment in favor of women’s suffrage. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway crosses into Kent and New Castle counties in Delaware but comes from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and concludes in Philadelphia. It encompasses 45 sites linked to Tubman, who also supported women’s suffrage, plus others who sought freedom from enslavement. District of Columbia In Capitol Hill, the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument was the headquarters for the National Women’s Party; it’s named for Alice Paul, the party’s founder, and Alva Belmont, a major benefactor. In Lincoln Park, the Mary McLeod Bethune Statue is the first to honor an African American woman in a D.C. public park; her home, now the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, was the first location for the National Council of Negro Women. In Northwest D.C., the Mary Church Terrell House is for the founder and president of the National Association of Colored Women who successfully fought to integrate dining spots in D.C. Florida The Eleanor Collier McWilliams Monument on Tampa’s Riverwalk Historical Monument Trail highlights women's rights pioneer who has been credited with starting the women's suffrage movement in Florida. Illinois Now a private residence, in Chicago’s Douglas neighborhood, the Ida B. Wells-Barnett House was where civil rights advocate and journalist Ida B. Wells, and her husband, Ferdinand Lee Barnett, resided for almost 20 years. Wells led an anti-lynching crusade across the U.S. and fought for woman’s suffrage. Kentucky The SEEK Museum in Russellville has put on display a life-size bronze statue of civil rights pioneer Alice Allison Dunnigan – the first female African American admitted to the White House, Congressional and Supreme Court press corps – at a park adjacent to its Payne-Dunnigan house on East 6th Street. In Lexington, at Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay, a marker honors Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, Clay’s great-granddaughter, social reformer and suffragist. Maryland Along the Harriet Tubman Byway, the Bucktown Village Store in Cambridge is where a young Tubman would defy an overseer’s order and was impacted by a resulting head injury. At Historic St. Mary’s City in Southern Maryland, learn about Margaret Brent, an 17th century woman asking the colony’s leaders for voting rights. In Baltimore, the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum was home to this predominant Civil Rights leader and president of the city’s NAACP branch. Massachusetts The Boston Women’s Heritage Trail encompass various neighborhoods and the women who lived in or are connected to them; their Women’s Suffrage Trail goes by stops such as the Boston Women’s Memorial. In Adams, the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum highlights what would influence this suffragist’s early life. Michigan In Battle Creek, where she lived out her final years, the Sojourner Truth Monument in Monument Park honors this abolitionist, suffragist and orator. Minnesota The Minnesota Woman Suffrage Memorial Garden at the Capitol Mall in St. Paul has a 94-foot steel trellis with the names of 25 key Minnesota suffragists. A series of steel tablets shares the story of the fight for women’s suffrage in this state. New Jersey The New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail includes sites such as the Paulsdale, the childhood home of suffragette Alice Stokes Paul that’s now part of the Alice Paul Institute. New Mexico Now the staff offices for the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, the Alfred M. Bergere House was where Adelina (Nina) Otero Warren, a noted suffragist, author and business woman lived. She headed the New Mexico chapter of the Congressional Union (a precursor to the National Woman’s Party). New York In Seneca Falls, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park contains the Wesleyan Chapel, where the First Women’s Rights Convention met, and the home of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Harriet Tubman lived out the rest of her life in Auburn at Harriet Tubman National Historical Park. In Rochester, see the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House and take a selfie with “Let’s Have Tea,” the statue of Anthony with her friend Frederick Douglass in Anthony Square. The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park is the only one of its kind to a U.S. First Lady. Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn is named for first African American Congresswoman and the first woman and African American to run for president. Ohio An “Ohio Women in History” road itinerary lists eight stops including Oberlin College, which first granted undergrad degrees to women in a co-ed setting, and the Upton House and Women's Suffrage Museum in Warren, which recognizes Ohio suffragists. In Akron, a historical marker for Sojourner's Truth "Ain't I A Woman" speech commemorates where the church she spoke at once stood. Tennessee In Nashville, the Hermitage Hotel was used as a headquarters by suffragists to secure Tennessee’s ratification. Centennial Park is where the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument depicts five suffragists -- Carrie Chapman Catt, Sue Shelton White, J. Frankie Pierce, Anne Dallas Dudley and Abby Crawford Milton. Knoxville’s Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial depicts suffragists Lizzie Crozier French of Knoxville, Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville, and Elizabeth Avery Meriwether of Memphis. Texas In downtown Dallas, Fair Park has a women’s history lesson where the 1893 State Fair featured a woman’s congress of over 300 women. During its 1913-1917 years, the fair’s Suffrage Day had local suffragists coming to promote women’s voting rights. Houston’s Barbara Jordan Park is named for this Civil Rights activist who was both the first African elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first Southern African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Christia Adair Park features a mural depicting Adair’s devotion to gaining equal rights for blacks and women. Virginia In downtown Richmond, at Broad and Adams streets, a statue of Maggie L. Walker honors this civil rights activist and entrepreneur. Nearby, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site represents more about accomplishments, including being the first woman to serve as president of a bank in the U.S. At the Virginia State Capital, the Virginia Women’s Monument features Walker and artist and suffragist Adele Clark among its 12 statues of women from across the Commonwealth. In Richmond’s Capitol Square, Virginia Civil Rights Memorial honors Barbara Johns, a Civil Rights activist led the first non-violent student demonstration in 1951. Wyoming In Laramie, the Wyoming House For Historic Women has an outdoor sculpture of Louisa Swain, who was the first woman to cast a ballot; it’s a block away from where she did that. Then, the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Pathway includes part of South Pass City; it’s home to Esther Morris, the first woman to serve in the office as Justice of the Peace.


    How rum is making at comeback at these 6 distilleries

    Quick: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions rum? Chances are you think about sticky-sweet, umbrella-garnished beach drinks, fraternity parties, or Coke. But in 2020, this historic spirit is more diverse, sophisticated and, most importantly, funner than ever before, as American small distilleries produce a variety of styles – both classic and creative. Their spirits can hold their own against time-tested legacy brands. Like any craft spirit, rum is arguably best enjoyed at the source, where you can talk to distillers and see how it’s made. Here are a few to check out around the US and Caribbean when you’re passing by. 1. Lassiter Distilling Company: Knightdale, North Carolina Yes, the Caribbean is the heartbeat of the rum industry and rum was a cornerstone of Colonial New England’s economy, but here’s a little lesser known fact: before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, rum was drunk all along North Carolina’s coast. The region was a hub for the sugar trade, after all. That’s one of the nuggets of info you’ll learn when you visit Lassiter Distilling Company, a rum-focused distillery in Knightdale, a charming town just off Route 64, which connects Raleigh to the beach. Among the many independent businesses that have sprung up here in the past few years is Lassiter, which is located in a gorgeous old railroad depot. Drop in on a Saturday for a distillery tour or schedule a visit for another day in advance. The husband and wife distiller/owners turn out a silver (unaged) rum, one that’s aged in classic American white oak and a clever Rum au Café that's infused with Raleigh Coffee Company coffee beans, each of which you can sample as part of the free tour. Got time? Stick around for a rum drink at their small yet elaborately designed tiki bar, which is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Potted plants dot the tasting room of Lyon Distilling Co. © courtesy Lyon Distilling Co.2. Lyon Distilling Co.: Saint Michaels, Maryland When Lyon Distilling launched in 2013, it completed a drinking trifecta. Now travelers can visit a brewery, a winery and a distillery, all within Saint Michaels, a one-square-mile town on the Chesapeake Bay’s picturesque eastern shore. Located 45 minutes from Annapolis and 90 minutes from Washington and Baltimore, the town attracts makers of all sorts, like boat-builders and brewers. That, along with the fact that the bywaters of the Chesapeake were a rum-running hub during Prohibition, convinced co-founder Jaime Windon that this was an ideal spot to open a distillery and make maritime spirits. “The proper shore is 90 minutes from us. With all the sailors coming through there, making rum feels right on Bay,” Windon says. Situated in a former flour mill, Lyon turns out dark and unaged rums, over-proof expressions, and several special products, like limited-edition holiday releases and coffee rum, a rich, enchanting spirit flavored with fresh ground coffee from a local roaster and cocoa shells from a DC chocolatier. Free tours with tastings are offered every day at 2PM. 3. Hye Rum: Stonewall, Texas Tourists have long traveled to Texas Hill Country, birthplace of Lyndon B. Johnson, to visit his ranch. This region, which extends to parts of Central and Southeast Texas, is covered with rocky soil, the kind that lends itself to fine vintages in Europe. Accordingly, it’s long been a draw for winemakers, and there are presently more than 65 wineries along the 25-mile strip of Interstate 290 that connects Fredericksburg to Johnson City. But that’s not why we’re here. Hye – population: 100-plus – sits along that stretch and in addition the nearly dozen wineries you can visit there, you’ll find Garrison Brothers, a whiskey distillery, and Hye Rum, a distillery that opened in 2017. It’s set in a quaint house that co-owner Stephanie Houston describes as “slightly larger than a tiny house.” They produce five different French-island-inspired rums with molasses from Louisiana. Visit for a tour with the distiller then settle in at the low-key bar with a flight of rums, each of which delivers bold flavors befitting of the Lone Star State. A souvenir tasting glass is part of the package. Cocktail classes are also on offer. 4. Havana Club: Havana, Cuba Since the Obama administration relaxed restrictions on travel to Cuba, Americans have headed posthaste to this tropical island to ogle at its colorful architecture, abundant vintage cars, and so much else. The food, of course, is a big draw for many, but for some, the most compelling lure is the preferred spirit of one of Cuba’s most legendary residents, Ernest Hemingway, who penned seven books just outside Havana. The historic and massive Havana Club distillery, which sits in the nation state’s capital, is not open to the public, but you can learn about the rum-making process – from sugar farming to barrel aging – and its history in great detail at the Havana Club Museum of Rum. Located in a colonial townhouse built in the 18th-century, the museum’s exhibits provide a closeup view of the many crafts involved in rum production, from building stills and constructing barrels to distillation. And, of course, you can experience the consumption part for yourself in the 1930s-era tasting room. A bottle of Montanya on the taproom bar © courtesy Montanya / Nathan Bilow 5. Montanya Distillers: Crested Butte, Colorado Situated in the West Elks, a little mountain range in the Rockies, Crested Butte is an incredible Colorado ski town and the wildflower capital of the United States. It’s also a mountain biking mecca and home of Montanya Distillers, a destination not only for its lively bar and restaurant, complete with live music, but for the in-depth lesson you can get on a tour about the quirks and beauty of making rum at 8800ft. Montanya’s staff, from founder and owner Karen Hoskin to the distillers to the bottling line, is 64% women, which is unique among the many producers in the world. Their special release, Valentina, highlights this, as every step in the process involved women. Whether or not you tour the distillery, a flight of Montanya rums, which are made with molasses from Louisiana-grown sugar cane, is complimentary. Come for the samples, stay for dinner and a cocktail. Come for the samples, stay for dinner and a cocktail and live music. The cozy wood- and brick-heavy tasting room/eatery is a lively local hangout. 6. MISCellaneous Distillery: Mount Airy, Maryland Meg McNeill, co-owner of MISCellaneous Distillery in rural Maryland, an hour north of Washington DC, describes her Popi’s Finest Rum as “rum that thinks it’s whiskey.” Like bourbon, it’s aged in new American oak barrels, which imbues Popi’s with its oaky flavors. See for yourself on one of the tours they offer every weekend. Tours are free, but a $5 recommended donation is passed on to a local charity. Go to learn about the distillation and aging process, stay to create your own cocktail with a variety of made-in-DC mixers like Element Shrubb’s inventive vinegar-based drinks (honeydew-jalapeno, anyone?) and natural syrups from Pratt Standard Cocktail Company. In addition to aged and silver rums, the distillery produces whiskey from grains harvested from the surrounding rural property, as well as vodka, gin, and bourbon. They all meet the approval, by the way, of husband-and-wife owners’ pup Jaimee, a friendly Bernese mountain dog. Got one of your own? Feel free to bring him along for a play session.


    Just Back From: Alaska

    There are things that immediately come to mind at the mention of Alaska: Northern Lights, fishing, glaciers, cruise ships. But to go to the state and only see or do those things would be to miss out on a whole lot. In early August, I spent a week and a half traveling from Fairbanks to Anchorage to Juneau, barely covering a fraction of the tremendous state, and learning about some of the many, many things that make it so special. From its rich and entertaining history (see: the fortune-hunters and scoundrels that streamed in during the Gold Rush) to countless incredible stories about how the Native people survived and thrived in the harsh weather to arctic astronomy, here are just a few of the things that might inspire you to take a trip. 1. ALL THE BEAUTIFUL TWILIGHTS Though not something that we in the Lower 48 would typically be aware of unless we work in aviation or astronomy, being in Alaska sort of forces you to learn about times of sunrise, sunset and, most interestingly, twilight, that transitional time of partial light between sunrise and sunset. This is particularly true in Fairbanks, which is a popular destination for viewing the Northern Lights around April. But since I was there in early August when the sun set around 2.30 a.m., I started trying to understand the physics of it all. In the process, I learned there are three different kinds of twilight, each having to do with the tilt of the planet and the position of the sun above or below the horizon. During Civil Twilight, which happens in the morning and evening when the center of the sun is six degrees below the horizon, you can spot the brightest stars and planets but also see objects here on Earth without the help of artificial light. Nautical Twilight gets its name from the fact that sailors could see well-known stars clearly enough to use them for navigation. With the sun 12 degrees below the horizon, artificial light may be needed to see activity on the ground. And during Astronomical Twilight, the sun sits 18 degrees below the horizon, which isn’t visible. The sky appears totally dark, but full darkness only actually occurs once the great ball of fire sinks below 18 degrees. Illuminating, right? 2. SUB-ZERO COUTURE High fashion can be mesmerizingly creative or ridiculous, depending on your perspective. A collection from John-Paul Gaultier in the early 1990s was influenced by the clothing of Hasidic Jews, and one of John Galliano’s collections for Christian Dior took its cues from the tattered garb of the homeless people of Paris, a concept that resulted in controversy, needless to say. But, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and considering the extreme weather Alaska’s Native people faced and the natural resources and materials they had to work with, their inventiveness when it comes to making clothing and accessories is nothing short of mind-bending. In Fairbanks, at the Museum of the North (, which is part of the University of Alaska, I spent a few minutes just staring at a coat made of nearly translucent yet heavy duty fish skin. At the Anchorange Museum (, in a sprawling exhibit developed with the Smithsonian  ( that covers all different aspects of Native culture, I marveled at a “gut parka” made from seal and walrus intestine, a material that's light, strong, and waterproof, and hefty coats made with fur assembled in such unlikely and eye-catching patterns that even a jaded fashionista would stop and stare. But one of the most resourceful items was a pair of snow goggles fashioned from mountain-sheep hooves, strung together with glass trade beads. Talk about visionary. 3. COFFEE CONNECTIONS  While Finland may boast the highest consumption of coffee per person, Anchorage has more places to get coffee than anywhere else in the United States, a statistic that makes a lot of sense considering that temps can reach 70-below here—it's easy to imagine that your organs would freeze if you didn't have a constant intake of warm liquids. A large number of those places are coffee huts, funky little drive-throughs that sell all the specialty drinks you’d find at a familiar coffee shop. In summer, it’s a convenience or, if you’re a tourist, a novelty. In the winter, however, they’re a necessity. 4. A BEACH LIKE NO OTHER A beach is just a beach...unless you’re in Juneau, where the coastline has a highly unusual origin story. Douglas is a city neighborhood located on an island of its own and accessible from downtown via a single 620-foot pedestrian-friendly bridge. The island’s eastern shore is directly across a channel from downtown and the cruise port. It’s a quiet bedroom community, but it wasn’t always. During the Gold Rush that lasted from about 1881 to 1922, the island’s Treadwell Mine was the source of three million ounces of gold. Hundreds of stamp machines, giant and exceptionally noisy pieces of industrial equipment used to smash boulders, were operating 363 days a year—every day except Fourth of July and Christmas Day, when it was so eerily quiet that, as legend has it, nobody slept. Those stamps pulverized stone for decades, long enough to produce massive amounts of sand-like material that makes for a seemingly natural looking shoreline. All this took shape on top of land that was shaped by glacier movement several thousand years ago. 5. DOG DAYS  Iditarod is the Wimbledon of dog racing. And like any world class competition, this one has its celebrities and legends. Susan Butcher is the Serena Williams of dog racing, or mushing, as it’s known in the state. Butcher won three years in a row, from 1986 to 1988, then again in 1990. But those victories are hardly her only accomplishment. In 1979, she was also the first to reach the top of Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak, with a dog team. She passed away of leukemia in 2006, but her legacy is alive and well on the Chena River in Fairbanks. On a riverboat cruise (, not only did I learn the details of the punishing race (1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome, extreme temperatures, etcetera), but I came to understand that Butcher’s impact on the sport, one of the few in the world where men and women compete against each other as equals, goes beyond her racing skills. She was revolutionary in the way she trained and treated her animals, and her husband carries out her legacy, training dogs at a sprawling outdoor kennel and giving lively demos of what goes into making a pup a champion.


    Top Family Travel Spots on Maryland's Eastern Shore

    I recently wrangled some of the closest people in my life for a travel adventure along Maryland's Eastern Shore. Bringing together multiple generations in today's busy world is a challenge in itself, but add in a group of tech connected, urban worker bees and it gets more complicated. The fact that we were filming the adventure for Budget Travel and the upcoming PBS TV series, Travels with Darley, meant we were bringing along a full film crew, which made for even more challenging scheduling. We pulled it off and loved our time along the Eastern Shore! Our group consisted of my two best friends Ellen Schmidt of Baby Meets City fame (and her daughters, Vivian and Millie ages 3 and 5) and Chad Davis. We all hail from the Washington, DC, and New York City areas, meaning the Eastern Shore was just a train ride and car ride away. To make matters easier, we secured a campsite by the beach for our RV in Assateague State Park, a useful jumping off point to explore nearby Ocean City, Berlin, and, of course, Assateague Island. If you've always wanted to take a road trip adventure and are wondering where to go, keep reading for ten top spots along Maryland's Eastern Shore that are accessible and fun for your family or travel group. Cow to Cone Ice Cream Farm A great family destination, Chesapeake Bay Farms (4111 Whitesburg Road, Pocomoke City) was one of our favorite stops. This pretty, diverse dairy farm produces a multitude of yummy ice cream flavors right on the farm. It takes a little less than 40 minutes to drive from Assateague Island National Seashore to the farm. If took me a bit longer, as I was driving an over 26-foot RV and on vacation... why rush! The farm's donkeys, horses, cows and adorable puppy, keep kids entertained, engaged and enjoying rural life both before and after ice cream. Best of all, the ice cream is delicious, and even better in a homemade waffle cone while rocking on a peaceful front porch. Creative flavors include espresso ice cream with chocolate covered coffee beans, fresh blueberry, strawberry shortcake, princess pink and beyond. Berlin For a small town, Berlin offers a lot to do, especially for families. After walking Main Street, our group enjoyed a lesson in glass blowing at Jeffrey Auxer Designs. Millie made three ornaments, a truly memorable vacation memento. Jeffrey himself gave us glass blowing instruction and tips. He has a lot of experience teaching kids, something you definitely want when you have a child nearing an over 1,000° F furnace! His work is beautiful, so even if you don't take a lesson in glass blowing, his shop is worth a visit. While Ellen and her girls went to the Berlin playground, we adults headed over to Burley Oak Brewery (10016 Old Ocean City Blvd.) for a special tour and tasting with owner and brewer Bryan Brushmiller. Being an entrepreneur and someone who enjoys supporting small businesses, I liked hearing Bryan's story of losing his job and following his passion from brewing in his garage to his beautiful, sustainable brewery. We taste tested the Happy Pale Ale and finished just in time to see how popular Burley Oak is with locals and travelers alike. The place was hopping on Saturday at around noon when we departed for lunch and to taste some of Berlin's sweet side. If you want to sit outside or just enjoy some local farm to table food, try lunch or dinner at Blacksmith Bar & Restaurant (, 104 Pitts Street). Our group sat outside in the shade enjoying rock fish tacos topped with fresh pico de gallo, homemade hummus and Caesar salad sprinkled with zesty parmesan. Another top lunch pick is Drummer Café at the historic Atlantic Hotel (2 N. Main St., Berlin). The Islander sandwich will definitely keep you full until dinner with its fresh roasted turkey. Seafood lovers may gravitate toward the grilled wild salmon BLT. A must-have dessert when visiting this cool, small town is the peach dumpling, the official dessert of Berlin. The Berlin area was once the home of major peach orchards, and the peach dumpling celebrates this sweet legacy. Stop by Baked Dessert Café (4c Bay Street) to get your fix. After you've done all of that, relax. Berlin may have a lot to do, but one of the best things to do while you're here is kick back and take in the ambience of this cool small town. (Berlin was voted Budget Travel's 2014 Coolest Small Town in America.) The OC (that's Ocean City) Being from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I have a soft spot from boardwalks and know that they can be great excursion for kids. With haunted houses, arcades, amusement park rides, candy galore, and more, what's not for a kid to love! On the Ocean City Boardwalk, stop by Dolle's Candyland (, 500 South Atlantic Avenue), a family-owned candy shop that has been making candy for over 100 years. You have to try the saltwater taffy (chew carefully), which comes in surprising flavors including root beer, peanut butter, cinnamon, lime and molasses mint. Kids will love some of the rides along the boardwalk, including a giant Ferris wheel and the carousel at Trimper's Amusement (S. First Street and The Boardwalk), a family-owned boardwalk fixture that has been welcoming riders since 1912. While riding the carousel is mainly an activity for kids, we adults hopped on to "supervise", marveling at the craftsmanship and detail on each of this mounts on this historic merry-go-round. I rode by Millie, who chose a horse. We went around a few times before walking down to stroll along the beach, another must-do when in Ocean City. Assateague Island One of the highlights of my trip to Maryland's Eastern Shore was exploring Assateague Island. This barrier island close to Berlin and Ocean City has stunning beaches, extensive bird watching and awesome wild horse viewing. This is a place where you need to unplug, play in the waves and take a deep breath, something that can be hard to do in our modern, busy world. As Millie and Vivian screamed in delight, running back and forth in the crashing waves under blue skies and beautiful sun, it made me want to take a step back to my own childhood. I remembered how much fun I had growing up at the beach and why these types of memories are so important for all of us to cherish, even in adulthood. We had spent the morning taking a nature hike with National Park ranger Nick Clemons. There are a variety of walking and hiking trails in Assateague Island's National Park. We chose a trail through the marshland, where Nick took us to a "secret" beach and then in search of horses. Some of the better spots to find horses are near the campsites and parking lots where humans make their mark. There are graphic signs in the bathrooms on the island, showcasing the bruises and welts past visitors have garnered after getting too close to the Assateague horses. Rumored to have landed on the island after a shipwreck, these horses are pony-sized, but radiate a toughness often in found horses living on their own in sometimes harsh environments. Having spent many years riding and observing horses, part of my own passion and my job as the host of the Emmy-winning Equitrekking TV show, I would compare the Assateague horses to some of the horses I've observed on Ireland's wild West Coast in Connemara or in the mountains of Wales: hardy, independent, and beautiful. If you visit Assateague Island, consider camping out to get the full experience. You can bring a tent or park an RV at campsites in the State Park, which offers warm showers and some electric hookups, or enjoy more primitive camping on the National Park side, but book early, as these coveted spaces fill up quickly. We built a campfire beside our RV right by the beach on the State Park side, roasted s'mores and watched the sun set and the moon rise on our special family adventure. St Michaels I had heard about St Michaels famous charm long before my visit. This beautiful seaside town makes for a great romantic getaway with or without the kids. Shop for unique, nautical themed gifts for you or your pet in the heart of St Michaels before cracking crabs at The Crab Claw (, 304 Burns Street). This restaurant offers the quintessential Maryland Blue Crab feast right by the water. You can walk right from The Crab Claw into the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (, 213 N Talbot St.), where dedicated master shipwrights, apprentices and volunteers are restoring wooden boats and keeping the history of the Chesapeake Bay and its watermen alive. Admission is free for children under the age of six. Adults pay $15 for a two-day pass. Kids and adults may like climbing to the top of the Hooper Straight Lighthouse for views of the museum campus and St Michaels. Tilghman Island We hadn't originally planned to visit Tilghman Island, but are so glad that we did. After a scheduling change, which frequently happens on film shoots, we drove the short twenty minutes from St Michaels, crossing the Drawbridge over Knapps Narrows that takes you away from cell phone reception and the modern world and onto Tilghman Island. I went into the Tilghman Island Country Store to use their landline to call Captain Wade Murphy Jr. (, 21308 Phillips Road, Tilghman), who has the Rebecca T. Ruark, a stunning skipjack that dates back to 1886 and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. A third-generation waterman, a skipjack ride with Captain Wade is worth the trip to this island. If you don't have time to take a boat ride, just talking with Captain Wade and hearing his stories is worth a trip. We also recommend taking a walk around Dogwood Harbor, where multi-generation waterman still bring in their daily catch and where Captain Wade keeps his skipjack.   Kent Island Kent Island is a place that many people pass over on their way to the Eastern Shore. Located right beside the iconic Bay Bridge, this island is worth a stop, whether you want a break from the drive at one of the island's many waterside restaurants or to take in nature. I decided to do both, riding bikes along the Cross Island Trail and eating lunch at Bridges Restaurant (, 321 Wells Cove Rd, Grasonville) by the water. The Cross Island Trail is part of the American Discovery Trail, a coast to coast recreational trial that spans the District of Columbia and 15 states. Passing through marshland, forests and along the former rail bed of the Queen Anne's Railroad, this six mile trail is an interesting and easy ride. If you want to take in views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from a beach, make sure to include the Terrapin Nature Area at the start of the Cross Island bike trial. If you're traveling to Kent Island, go fishing. I went out with Captain Andrew Aus of Maverick Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing (, Tel. 443-988-8020) from the Queen Anne Marina. I've done a fair share of fishing around the world and this was the best, probably because I caught a really big fish. I usually think of fishing as serene, but it was truly exciting and challenging, as I tried to reel in a 40.5 inch, almost-30-lb Rockfish. A professional outfit, Captain Aus and his crew are not messing around on their fishing adventures. They know the Bay well, having grown up there fishing, and will give you the ins and outs of the Bay health, where to find the best fish and an all-around great day on the water. Distances on the Eastern Shore aren't great, but the diversity of scenery and experiences is, making it a great pick for a road trip, especially if you're bringing along the kids. About the author: Darley is the host and producer of Equitrekking, the Emmy-winning PBS TV series, and currently in production on Travels with Darley, coming to PBS and viewable online now in short form on Budget Travel and AOL . Follow her adventures on the road on Twitter @DarleyNewman and Instagram @DarleyNewman.


    A Train Lovers' Guide To Thailand

    I was one of a dozen westerners waiting for the Chiang Mai midnight sleeper, along with 500 uniformed school kids noisily waiting for their train. Their frantic teachers invented amusements like group charades and spelling contests, but still most of the kids wandered around looking for trouble. A dozen 13-year-olds blocked my path. Their bold leader, a chubby pony-tailed girl, demanded to know where I come from. They all giggled and elbowed each other chattering hysterically in Thai after I told them I was from Canada. A fellow passenger, a British woman said (loudly over the din), "These kids were already here when I arrived at 7:30." She looked peevishly at her wristwatch. It was 10 p.m. I had been told Thai rail is usually reliable, so this was not a good sign. I went in search of the station master who spoke just enough English to tell me the entire system was backed-up due to a landslide in the highlands up north, but, "Not to worry all trains still arriving, just a little slow." Two hours later the kids' train to Pai came and went, leaving the platform strangely silent. The midnight train arrived at 1:45 a.m. with my bunk bed ready for me. The car's air conditioning was working—too well. After an attendant gave me a second blanket, I slept soundly, lulled by the swaying of the car and the clacking rhythm of the tracks. I awoke an hour before we reached Chiang Mai. At the end of the corridor several sinks were ready for the passengers' morning ablutions. When I returned to my bunk the rail company's slogan "Service Mind" was demonstrated as an attendant worked with remarkable speed, efficiently converting my bunk bed into a comfortable seat and table. For about $20 (600 baht), I had a Second Class sleeper ticket, but the service was First Class. My berth was aboard a reasonably modern car, pulled by a clean diesel/electric engine. My rail journey had begun at Ubon in Thailand's northeast. At Ayutthuya near Bangkok I had transferred to the night train to the last stop on the Northern Line. Thailand's rail system was launched in 1890, named the Royal State Railways of Siam. The first line was the 71-kilometer span from Bangkok to Ayutthuya. Today it's called State Railways of Thailand, has over 4,000-kilometers of track, and carries 50 million people annually. Here's what you need to know. TICKETSFirst Class tickets are available on most long distance routes. These compartments are air conditioned and include private two-passenger sleeper rooms complete with wash basins (but shared bathrooms). Second Class sleepers have convertible bunks in a dorm arrangement. Privacy is maintained with curtains for each bed. Third Class tickets sometimes have upholstered seats, though on most lines, only wooden benches. There are no sleeping accommodations in Third Class, and no air conditioning, though many trains have fans. POPULAR LINESThere are four principle lines of track in Thailand. The Eastern Line connects Bangkok to Vientiane, Laos, and a second train ends at Nai Mueang near the borders of Laos and Cambodia. The Northern Line starts in Bangkok and terminates in Chiang Mai, near the border of Burma. The North-Eastern Railway ends on the Laotian border at Nong Khai. The Southern Line links Bangkok to Malaysia. This route connects many towns near some of Thailand's most popular beach resorts and terminates at the Sungai Kolok Station on the border. In the past, this train went all to the way into Kuala Lumpur. The line now runs down the Malay Peninsula's eastern shore along the Gulf of Thailand. INTERESTING ROUTESTrue train aficionados shouldn't miss The Death Railway (Thailand-Burma Railway), built by Asian and Allied prisoners of war of the occupying Japanese forces during WWII. Thousands of prisoners died from the brutal forced labor. Along the route is the famous Bridge on the River Kwai, immortalized by the eponymous 1957 film starring Alec Guinness. The Death Railway originates at Thorburi Station in Bangkok and terminates at Lang Suan, no longer reaching Burma. For luxury rail fans, the Eastern and Oriental Express runs through Thailand into Malaysia ending in Singapore. This article was written on behalf of Tucan Travel. Born in The Hague, Andrew Kolasinski arrived in Canada as a small child riding in the luggage rack of a DC-7. Since then he has felt at home anywhere. As the publisher and editor of Island Angler, Andrew spends half the year fishing for salmon and trout, and in the off-season, traveling the world looking for a story.


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