Where to Learn About the Irish in New York City

 

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ritchie S

 

Even being of full Irish heritage, as both a first- and third-generation Irish American, I’m embarrassed to say that I seem to forget to acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day. For shame! But in New York City, there are many reminders of the legacy of the Irish around me. Along with St. Patrick’s Day Parades and Irish pubs throughout its five boroughs, there are noted locations that can put you directly in touch with Irish culture and history – all the way up to the present day.

Here is my list of suggested places to learn more about the Irish in New York City. While most of these locations can be seen by the general public, it’s best to check their websites for hours of operation and ticket prices.

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Credit: NPS photo

Ellis Island
From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants came through this immigration inspection station, arriving via boats. Did you know that the first passenger to be processed through Ellis Island was said to be Irish? Annie Moore, a young woman from County Cork, was that person was initially registered through. Part of the National Parks Service, visitors can head to Ellis Island on daily cruises and walk through its great hall that once had clerks interviewing and inspecting new arrivals. Make plans to spend time in its immigration museum and sign up in advance for a guided hardhat tour, offered through Save Ellis Island, of an area that once functioned as a hospital.

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Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
This former tenement turned museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is a prime example of how immigrants such as the Irish settled in and built new lives in their new homeland. In fact, an Irish family once resided in this building, a former tenement at 97 Orchard Street that had housed nearly 7,000 working class immigrants. In 1869, the Moores came to live here. Their restored home inside this museum can be visited on guided tours. This tour, called “Irish Outsiders,” also delves into some of the hardships the Moore family faced. (Note: Ticketholders meet at the Visitors Center at 103 Orchard Street.)

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Credit: Merchant’s House Museum Facebook page

Merchant’s House Museum
As for finding work, the Irish took on various labor-intensive jobs, one of them being as household servants. Between what’s now the Bowery and Lafayette Street, the prominent Tredwell family owned this 19th well-preserved rowhouse on East 4th Street for nearly a century (the last member lived here until her death in 1933 at age 93). While the Tredwells are much discussed, their Irish servants also get attention. Most information known about these four female employees is from census records. However, it’s common knowledge that their hours were long and pay was low, but they definitely were instrumental in running a household. On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, the museum will host guided tours relating to these servants throughout the day, plus a candlelight version at night.

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ken Lund

Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
Most people know about St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, but its older cousin is set in NoLita. On the corner of Mott and Prince streets, this minor basilica once surrounded an improved Irish neighborhood but now caters to a multicultural congregation. During the mid-1800s, at a time when Irish Catholics faced much backlash and bigotry, the church got an outer brick wall for protection after an attempted ransacking and the threat of being burnt down. The church’s history also states that young Irish lads from the neighborhood also provided security as a militia that would become New York’s 69th Regiment (also known as the Fighting Irish). The cathedral has underground mortuary vaults and a cemetery, featuring a who’s who of prominent Catholic New Yorkers from the 16th through 18th centuries. You’ve also may have seen the church in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” movies.

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Creative Commons Flickr photo / Ana Paula Hirama

Columbus Park
The surroundings of this public park in Chinatown were once adjacent to the Five Points, a rough neighborhood slum known for its portrayal in the film version of the book, “Gangs of New York.” Conditions were so bad here, that photographer/social reformer Jacob Riis made an entire chapter about the Five Points in his book, “How the “Other Half Lives.” At one point in its history, the Five Points had an Irish population that was referred to being the largest outside of Dublin. Other ethnicities that came to live here throughout the mid-to-late 19th century included African Americans, German Jews, and Italians (who would go on establish another neighborhood, Little Italy). In the early 20th century, the area around the Five Points was consumed by a growing Chinatown. The area got some new life too, with plans to replace tenements with trees and flowers within a park setting. A developed green space called Mulberry Bend Park (what Columbus Park was once called) opened in the summer of 1897. Columbus Park got its present-day name in 1911; it’s for Christopher Columbus.

Irish neighborhoods within Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx
Irish culture in NYC goes beyond Manhattan, as past and present communities developed. So definitely put extra money on your subway card for trekking to these areas in the outer boroughs. For starters, The Bronx section of Woodlawn, nicknamed “Little Ireland,” has a hearty Irish population, with pubs like Behan’s Pub and the expansive Van Cortland Park. Queens has Rockaway Park, Woodside, and Sunnyside, and Brooklyn’s got Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, and Gerritsen Beach, plus Vinegar Hill has a lengthy Irish history.

Warwick Hotels and Resorts Unveils ‘Warwick Journeys’

 

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Warwick Hotels and Resorts unveiled “Warwick Journeys” at their NYC location.

 

Recently, Warwick Hotels and Resorts unveiled “Warwick Journeys,” a guest recognition program with a twist. Instead of giving points, the loyalty program will reward frequent guests with personalized benefits, starting with its hotel properties within North America and Europe.

Available for immediate enrollment, “Warwick Journeys” not only gives credit for every completed stay within the program but also features what’s called a cross-stay accelerator benefit. This benefit works by allowing Warwick Journeys members to progress through benefit tiers quicker by staying at multiple Warwick locations rather than just a single one.

 

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Outdoor patio area of a Warwick New York suite, once used by Cary Grant

 

Here’s how it happens. With enrollment, introductory members will receive complimentary Wi-Fi during their first stay and can book Warwick Journeys exclusive member offers. Purple level members will have completed two to three visits at a participating property and receive perks such as continued free Wi-Fi access.

Warwick New York was once a residential building owned by William Randolph Hearst, which he built for his associates and, in particular, his mistress Marion Davies.

Upon completing a stay at two separate Warwick hotels or between four to 15 stays at one property, gold status members get additional bonuses such as guaranteed availability with 72-hour advance notice of arrival, when booking the member-exclusive rate, and a late checkout at 4 p.m. Then, upon completing a stay at four different participating hotels or 16 plus nights at one property, black-level members will get both gold-level amenities and additional bonuses, including guaranteed availability within 24-hour advance notice.

The unveiling of the program took place at Warwick New York, a property with a special history. Publishing giant William Randolph Hearst had the building built in 1926 as a residential tower to accommodate his friends in Hollywood as well as for his long-time companion, Marion Davies. She had her own specially-designed floor in the building. Other noted occupants include actress Jane Russell and actor Cary Grant.

Experiencing Quebec City and Carnaval de Quebec

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Hilltop views of St. Lawrence River, adjacent to Quebec City

As with other travelers, a pre-Valentine’s Day snowstorm changed my plans to fly up to Quebec. Originally I was to visit both Montreal and Quebec City, but I ended up getting to Canada a day late but still with enough time to see Quebec City. I was there for Carnaval de Quebec, also known in Quebec Winter Carnival, an annual festival celebrating the season.

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Quebec City has had on and off variations of a winter carnival since 1894. Carnaval de Quebec, its contemporary version, began in 1955. Taking place from late January through early February, Carnaval de Quebec features parades, children’s activities, an ice sculpted palace, and parties. There are culinary offerings like caribou, a warm alcoholic beverage, and the opportunity to enjoy maple taffy, a syrupy treat freshly made upon a large ice block.

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Carnaval de Quebec even has an official mascot. It’s a snowman looking creature named Bonhomme Carnavale, a friendly fellow with a red hat and a red tuque and arrow sash (a winter scarf/belt). The carnival opens with Bonhomme Carnavale being presented with the key to the city, making Bonhomme king of the festivities and overall public representative.

While Carnaval de Quebec is a great time to visit Quebec City, this destination has much to offer in all seasons. Founded as a French settlement in 1608, Quebec City has sections that still hold onto an Old World feeling, while also having trending districts. I spent much of my time exploring Quebec City’s Old Quebec area.

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Certified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Quebec is said to have the only remaining city wall fortifications in North America, north of Mexico. It’s divided into two sections: Lower Town (also known as Basse-Ville, where the original Quebec City settlement once stood) and Upper Town (also known as Haute-Ville, with views of the St. Lawrence River). You’re able to pass through the ramparts of this fortified section, with 4.6 kilometers (or roughly 2.86 miles) of walls, and walk along cobblestone streets and modern shops housed inside centuries-old buildings. Here’s what I saw and recommend you head to.

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Château Frontenac
A key landmark here is Château Frontenac, a grand hotel facing the St. Lawrence River that has had quite the guest list of celebrities and world leaders (think Charles Lindbergh and Ronald Reagan). Technically called Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, this circa 19th-century luxury property can both be stayed in and/or seen on public tours. Or take a stroll along its surrounding Terrasse Dufferin.

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Citadelle of Quebec
An active military installation for Canada’s Royal 22e Régiment, this three-century-old fortress contains a ton of history. Those walking up the long and steady way to reach this hilltop area will be rewarded with photo-taking views of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec City. Take the time to go on a guided tour of the vicinity, around the outside and a bit happening indoors. Inside the visitor’s center, there are display exhibits relating to the history of the Royal 22e Régiment. During June through September, catch a daily morning changing of the guard.

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Petit Champlain & Place-Royale
These two areas have their ties to Quebec City’s beginnings. Place-Royale is referred to as where the city’s founder, Samuel de Champlain, marked its roots. Nowadays, shops are found in this plaza as well as an impressive building surface mural called Fresque des Québécois. Located on Côte de la Montagne, this mural displays Quebec City’s history with inclusions of prominent references and visual nods to its fortifications. Petit Champlain is a narrow cobblestone street district with period homes holding cafes, boutiques, and galleries where a nice treat or souvenir can be bought. You’ll also want to have your camera ready, as you’ll find the street scene to be postcard picturesque.

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Cathedral of the Holy Trinity
This small Anglican church has some lovely stained glass windows and is also known for its two members – a donkey named Aldo and his companion, Holly. Holly came on the scene in August 2015 and stays with Aldo in the garden of the Bishop, next to the Cathedral. You can spot the twosome outside at times.

Old Quebec Funicular
What visitors will notice about Old Quebec is that there are staircases for getting to certain sections between Lower Town and Upper Town. There’s another option. Since 1879, this Old Quebec Funicular provides an easier and efficient way to get between these sections without having to walk up flights of steps. This funicular railway travels up and down between Quartier Petit Champlain and Dufferin Terrace near up to Le Château Frontenac. Buy a ticket and step inside one of these box-shaped cabins to go up.

As for eats, you’ll find a good mix of options from fine dining to more casual fare. If you appreciate something sweet or filling, go to Café Boulangerie Paillard. On Rue Saint-Jean, this eatery has eye-catching and even mouth-watering pastries, breads, soups, and sandwiches. Try their Gallette de Rois, a pastry with an almond creme filling. Yum!

Sleeping Overnight in Hôtel de Glace

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My winter hotel for one night

As I wiggled myself into my thermal sleeping bag, I hunkered down for the challenge of sleeping the entire night in a pretty cool accommodation – an ice hotel.

Located in Canada’s province of Quebec, Hôtel de Glace is what its name implies. During a recent work trip to Quebec City, part of my itinerary included a booked stay at this unique accommodation and tourist attraction.

Built anew every December, this winter lodging is primarily made from snow – 30,000 tons worth – that is continuously churned by snow blowers to harden and build the hotel’s foundation. Ice is also involved in the building process. Blocks are partly used in the construction, but also get turned into furniture and become stands for the hotel’s bar area.

 

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The hotel is usually open from January through March.

 

Hôtel de Glace opens for business after the New Year in January and stays in operation until March (in 2017, it is scheduled to shut down on March 26). While it debuted in 2001, Hôtel de Glace has been on the grounds of Village Vacances Valcartier, a resort/spa about 20 minutes from Quebec City, since 2016.

My reservation for Hôtel de Glace included the booking of a same night hotel room at Village Vacances Valcartier, where guests can keep their luggage and retreat to before and after their stay.

 

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Trek up and go down this icy slide.

 

Taking a Tour

Visitors who might shiver over the thought of sleeping in an ice hotel can opt to take a scheduled tour of the property instead. Tours offer peeks into different types of rooms and suites. They include a stop at the hotel’s lounge/bar area, with the opportunity to order a specialty cocktail served in a glass made from ice. The grounds also include the chapel, with furry seat coverings on benches and where weddings take place, and a side building displaying various ice sculptures.

 

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2017’s version of this ice hotel carries a Nordic theme.

 

With the 2017 version of Hôtel de Glace, the main building holds 44 various rooms and suites, bar/lounge, and a play area with a slide. Each sleeping accommodation is graced with wall carvings depicting various winter themes or creatures. Furnishings are mostly a bed with a mattress with an icebox base and a nightstand. Plus, the bedframe has a light switch, where can be turned on and off when needed.

 

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My sleeping sack

 

A Sleeping Lesson

Overnight guests of the Hôtel de Glace attend a mandatory sleep session, in which a hotel employee advises you on how to prepare for bedtime. For PJs, you’re told not to wear any cotton-based clothing (as it soaks up moisture) but put light ones made by synthetic materials. You don’t want to be over-layered either, as you will break into a night sweat; we’re told that we’ll be your own body heater. If you’re getting hot inside your sack, take off what’s excess. (Our guide suggested that you could sleep naked, as this helps body heat circulate more, but I decided not to go that far). And, yes, she reassured us that our sleeping bags are washed daily.

As for what else you’ll be sleeping in, your main gear will be a cocoon-like sleeping sack with a hoodie that you worm your way into and close up with a side zipper and strap. We’re also given a visual demo on getting into it, which seemed to prove that some wiggling would be involved.

We were also given a number of do’s and don’ts. Don’t: putting objects like jewelry (as I asked) or eyeglasses on your ice-made nightstand. You’ll find them frozen to the stand in the morning. Another don’t: taking our sleeping sack out of its waterproof holding bag before settling down for the night. If so, it will get crispy and cold.

 

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These drinks are served in ice glasses. I had the first one on the left.

 

Of course, another important issue was addressed: what we needed to do if we had to use the bathroom. Basically, you have to get out of our sack, quickly put on your boots and any needed outdoor gear to leave your room, and head to an outdoor area with heated and lighted porta potties (so go easy on drinking beforehand.) You keep your sack zipped up, too, to retain its heat. Your room door consists of a curtain and your morning wake-up call involves staffers giving you a shout (your last one comes at 8:30 a.m., so be out at least before 9 a.m. or you might wake up to find a tour group staring at you.)

Our stay also included access to an outdoor hot tub and sauna area, where guests can properly warm up and dry off before going to bed. But then I envisioned a mad dash in my provided robe to escape the reminding cold air and decided to pass on it.

 

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My sleeping quarters

 

Going to Bed
Overnight guests at Hôtel de Glace are let into their rooms at 9 p.m. My game plan for the night was to first go for a cocktail at one of the three bar sections and then run back to my room at Village Vacances Valcartier to get dressed and use the toilet one last time. I also wanted to secure my white-colored room key inside my pocket.

Apparently, there is no curfew inside Hotel de Glace, so if need to, guests can opt to go back inside the Village Vacances Valcartier’s hotel area. Particularly if they decide that they want to sleep back there instead. I wasn’t sure if I think I would stay the entire night in my iced room, but I figured I’d see how I felt – and how cold I would feel.

 

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The door to my room

 

Room 41 was mine. It was cozy in size, reminding me of a studio apartment. I found my bed to be reasonably firm and the light switch readily accessible. I pulled out my sleep sack and put my boots inside its holding bag to keep them from freezing. While trying to fully remember my given instructions, I wormed my way into the sack.

I tugged up the zipper and crunched myself down inside, while wearing my probably well-approved long johns and knit socks, along with gloves, snow pants, hat, and ski jacket (I tend to err on the side of caution). For peace of mind, I kept one hand warmer inside one glove and another in a lined pocket. I pulled over my sleep sack hoodie and after a bit of maneuvering to get comfortable and removing a slightly sweaty hat, I slept. I woke up a bit during the night but rolled back into a steady slumber.

Startled awake by my wakeup call, I unzipped myself out, got dressed, left my sack on the bed, and headed out. Going back to my hotel room at Village Vacances Valcartier, I rewarded myself with a warm shower, put on a change of clothes, and headed down for breakfast inside the restaurant area. I don’t know if I would do a return stay, but it’s interesting to check off a stay at a place like Hôtel de Glace off my bucket list.

Sponsored Post: 5 Must-Do Drives in South Africa

One great way to see South Africa is behind the wheel of a car. Taking a scenic route at your own driving pace will give different views and perspectives of where you’re going and presently at. Here are five must-do driving routes in South Africa to take, especially in order to take in your surroundings.

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Creative Commons photo / Ajay Goel

1) The Garden Route

The Garden Route is often a recommended must-see stretch in South Africa, and for good reason. This beautiful coastal section of the N2 (a national route) runs from Heidelberg in the Southern Cape, to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border. It’s also known for its lush vegetation, mixture of topography and outdoor activity options. Stops along this way are equally noteworthy, particularly aligning seaside towns. Mossel Bay, which starts the Garden Route, is considered to be a major holiday destination. Knysna is well regarded for its Knysna Lagoon, based in the middle of two sandstone cliffs known as “the Knysna Heads.” Visit Garden Route National Park, which contains hiking routes and incorporates the Tsitsikamma and Wilderness national parks plus Knysna Forests.

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Creative Commons photo / Jeoren Looye

 2) Chapman’s Peak Drive

In being also all about scenery, this mountainside coastal route will not keep your eyes alert on the road, but also has pullout locations where it’s safe to head over on the side. Approximately nine kilometers (or 5.5 miles), the curvy Chapman’s Peak Drive starts from Hout Bay, a fishing harbor town, and does a windy trek to the village suburb of Noordhoek. As a modern engineering marvel, the drive’s construction started in 1915 and was completed in 1922. While driving along, consider keeping your windows down to hear the crash of the surfing wind beneath. And also note that it’s a toll road so keep some extra rand ready.

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Creative Commons photo / Rene C. Nielsen

3) The Panorama Route

In the province of Mpumalanga, the Panorama Route clearly lives up to its name with geological formations, green valleys, and mountain peaks, and links to historic towns. It coincides with Blyde River Canyon, said to be the third largest canyon in the world and situated in the Drakensberg escarpment region. Bourke’s Luck Potholes is a series of eroded bedrock formations at the conjunction of the Treur and Blyde rivers. The Three Rondavels, a trio of mountaintop peaks, are shaped like African grass huts. God’s Window is a spectacular panoramic viewpoint of plunging cliffs, where seeing over Kruger National Park is possible on a clear day. Towns along this route have their respective offerings. Graskop, a former mining town, is particularly noted for its eatery, Harrie’s Pancakes. Sabie is a forestry town with impressive pine plantations and cascading waterfalls. Pilgrim’s Rest relives its gold mining boom via museums.

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Creative Commons photo / Brian Snelson

4) Swartberg Pass

Heading over this east-west pass through the Swartberg mountain range is a once in a lifetime drive. Running between the plains of the Great Karoo and valleys of the Little Karoo, the Swartberg Pass is a gravel route that takes drivers through this semi-arid area, linking the towns of Oudtshoorn (in the south) and Prince Albert (in the north) together. The rock-centered ride may seem a little nerve wrecking, due to its hairpin bends and narrow sections, but take the journey carefully – and enjoy the geology. Be sure to notice vegetation such as aloe plants, dry stone retaining walls, and vertical cliff faces such as the Wall of Fire.

5) The Friendly N6 Route

This amicably named national motorway connects the Free State and Eastern Cape and reflects what you’ll find along the journey. Running between East London and Bloemfonten, the Friendly N6 Route passes by farmlands, outdoor wonders, and small inland towns. With the latter, Stutterheim has become a magnet for nature lovers, primarily due to its forestry areas. It’s the same with Lady Grey, which has good ops for hiking and fishing. Smithfield appears to carry more of a hospital feel, with a mixture of lodging ranging from B&Bs to self-catering homes, and an artsy side, with various galleries and cafes/restaurants.

Now let’s get going. To rent a car with Around about Cars and explore this incredible region of South Africa click here: Car Rental South Africa.

Delta and Palace Resorts Offer Bostonians a ‘Survive the Winter’ Giveaway

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Hey Bostonians, here’s another reason to celebrate. Delta and Palace Resorts have partnered to offer Bostonians the chance to “Survive the Winter” by entering to win a five-night stay at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica Grande and two VIP tickets to see the rock band Survivor perform at the resort on February 25, 2017.

Bostonians can enter to win on the resort’s Facebook page, which includes roundtrip airfare, free transfers and a $500 credit for two additional winners, courtesy of Delta. Enter by Friday, February 17.

This new route is part of Delta’s larger efforts to enhance Boston service including expanding its domestic and international destinations, as well as offering first class on every flight. In summer 2017, the airline will operate over 90 peak day departures from Boston, with daily service to 21 different cities and Saturday-only service to five cities.

 

A Getaway to Atlanta

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Tonight’s Super Bowl LI faceoff between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons reminded me of a post I wanted to do on my trip to Atlanta right before the New Year. Ironically, the timing of this quick vacation was during a college football bowl game, being held in Atlanta. Yet our focus was not about the game, but more so about quickly seeing as much of this Georgian city in four days.

Joining me on this trip were relatives in age from toddler and teen to young and older adult. So we saw places that seemed to cater to everyone’s liking. Here is what we saw and did.

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Margaret Mitchell House & Museum
You may or may not recognize this woman’s name, but you must know her famous novel turned blockbuster movie, “Gone with the Wind.” At first, I thought this building was her childhood home, but it’s actually the place where Mitchell and her second husband John Marsh lived after getting married. Once an apartment building, Mitchell and Marsh lived on the ground floor, and it’s where Mitchell wrote almost all of her fictional story about the Civil War. Take a guided tour, which goes into Mitchell’s life and connection to writing, particularly through her work as a reporter for a local paper.

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Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium is said to be one of the best aquariums out there and was for a while the largest in the world. A ton of fresh and salt water creatures are kept here, by what makes it super cool is that it houses a number of whale sharks in its Ocean Voyager habitat area. There are about six sections, including ones for animals who live in chilly climates (yes, find penguins here) and an impressive tropic fish tank. In one part of the Georgia Aquarium, enter a glass-encased walkway with occupants like manta rays and smaller sharks whiz by or chill out. It’s across the way from Centennial Olympic Park, a 21-acre green space in downtown Atlanta that is the legacy of the city’s hosting of the 1996 Summer Olympics.

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The World of Coca Cola
Straight across from The Georgia Aquarium, this tourist attraction is obviously all about Coca Cola. And you get your taste for this iconic beverage as soon as you get inside. Upon entry, staff hand out free cans of different types of Coca Cola to visitors. A “Vault of the Secret Formula” apparently holds the well-guarded recipe and tells about its creation. We didn’t see it but instead spent much of our time at “Taste It!” The second level floor holds soda machines containing beverages owned by the Coca-Cola Company that are sold around the world. Divided by continent, you can try soft drinks that are popular in Asia (go for India’s Thums Up), Africa (Madagascar’s got a citrusy one) and South, North, and Latin America.

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Center for Puppetry Arts
If you’re a Muppets fan, get to this museum. It’s actually a nonprofit organization that educates about puppet theater via a museum and education center. Jim Henson was here for the ribbon cutting ceremony in 1978, and many of his character creations are permanently stored in a section called “The Jim Henson Collection.” While you might geek out in this area, spend time in another section called “The Global Collection” that focuses on puppetry traditions across the world.

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Jimmy Carter Library and Museum
If you’ve never to a U.S. presidential museum, you have the chance to see one in Atlanta. There’s a lot of good archival information on our 39th President, starting from his boyhood in rural Georgia, to his naval career, to his entry into politics as a Georgia state senator and governor. And of, there is much about his presidency, including a recreation of the White House’s Oval Office during the term of his administration. Nowadays, Jimmy Carter and his Rosalynn focus on humanitarian led efforts across the world, and the museum shows videos relating the couple’s work. We found that the easiest way to get here was via Uber or Lyft, unless you have your own car.

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Zoo Atlanta
One reason to visit this zoo: it’s one of only four in the U.S. that currently houses giant pandas. There are many other strong points too. As Atlanta’s oldest attraction, this zoo contains around 1,300 animals (more than 200 species) from around the world in various naturalistic habitats. Birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals from every corner of the globe roost here, with setups including the Flamingo Plaza, Scaly Slimy Spectacular, and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.

If you have time, I suggest heading to Decatur, a next-door city with a trending scene of restaurants, coffee shops, and other eateries. We stopped at Butter and Cream for homemade ice cream flavors like Honeycomb Forest, and then we shared a specialty poutine dish at Leons Full Service. Back in Atlanta, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which includes the leader’s birth home and final resting place.

These are my final tips. Take advantage of MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) for getting around. It’s easy to follow and can take you to and from the airport. We stayed at Hyatt Regency Atlanta, based in the downtown area. It’s perfectly situated, with a lower level food court and direct access to MARTA. Also, consider getting Atlanta CityPASS, as this ticket booklet includes some of the attractions I’ve listed.