Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Walk Boston’s Freedom Trail in Winter

January 31, 2011

Millions of visitors to Boston walk the Freedom Trail – a two-and-one-half-mile red stripe on the sidewalk that takes you to 16 historical sites pertaining to the Revolutionary War – our fight to gain our freedom from Great Britain in the 18th century. 

What most visitors don’t realize is the Freedom Trail does not shut down in winter. The Freedom Trail Foundation offers daily guided tours of the first mile of the trail, weather permitting, starting at 12 noon from the Boston Common.  The tours are given by members of the Freedom Trail Players who are actors and school teachers portraying historical persons from the time of the Revolution. 

If you can’t get a tour then purchase a map or a guide book at the visitor’s center and be your own guide. 

Each of the Freedom Trail sites is open year round.  The official start of the trail is the Visitor Information Center

Freedom Trail Foundation Players

near the Boston Common.  The trail is marked on the sidewalk by either a red stripe or red bricks that winds its way up to the gold-domed State House, then down to the Park Street Church.  Next to that is the Granary Burial Ground, across the street to Kings Chapel and burying ground, then down to the Old South Meeting House, around to the Old State House in front of which is the Boston Massacre Site. Then it crosses to Faneuil Hall, past the Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operated restaurant in America, to Paul Revere’s House, then onto the Old North Church and Copps Hill burying ground.  The Freedom Trail continues across the bridge to the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument. 

Other advantages of following the trail in winter; there are no throngs of tourists waiting to get into the historic buildings, and, the cold is a good excuse to stop into a café along the way for some hot cocoa or a historic pub such as the Green Dragon for a pint of Samuel Adams beer. 

So, layer up your clothing, dig out the mittens, hats and scarves and take a walk on a winter’s day in Boston, one of America’s most historic cities. 

For More Information go to: The Freedom Trail Foundation or the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.


African-American Patriots Tour of Boston – February is Black History Month

January 23, 2011

February is Black History Month, and a good way to observe and learn about African-American patriots in Boston is by walking the Freedom Trail

Routes of history 

During the tour he leads visitors past the Boston Massacre site in front of the Old State House, to Granary Burial Grounds (where Attucks is buried), past the Park St. Church, where William Lloyd Garrison later gave his stirring anti-slavery speeches, and to Beacon Hill. The tour ends at the Museum of African-American History on Beacon Hill.   

Tales of bravery

Woven throughout the 90-minute walks are stories of bravery and defiance by black Bostonian patriots. Other African-Americans whose deeds and lives are mentioned on the tour are the first published African-American poet Phyllis Wheatley, the prominent citizen Prince Hall, founder of the African Lodge of Freemasons in America, and Peter Salem, a former slave who was a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill and several other battles of the American Revolution. 

Tour details

Tours must be reserved 24 hours in advance. Tickets ($13.65 for adults, $11.55 for seniors and students, $7 children 4 to 12 years of age) can be purchased online, at the Visitor Information Center on the Boston Common, or at the Bostix booth inside the Quincy Market building at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 

For further information; The Freedom Trail Foundation, 617-357-8300.

Independence Missouri – Leila’s Hair Museum

December 8, 2010

Mourning jewelry made from hair

If you’re ever in Independence Missouri and want to see museum pieces that are very different then head to Leila’s Hair Museum.

Leila Cohoon started collecting wreaths and jewelry made from hair, in 1956.  Twenty years ago she opened Leila’s Hair Museum in a tiny strip mall in Independence Missouri to house her growing collection.  A retired hairdresser Leila teaches hair weaving and is writing a “how to” book on the craft. 

What you see in her museum is both beautiful and eerie. These aren’t just clumps of hair that Leila shored off customers heads, it’s a carefully culled collection of 300 wreaths and 2000 pieces of jewelry containing human hair.  The fact that, for the most part, the people were dead when the hair was removed from their heads is the eerie part.   

The strands she is proudest of come from the pates of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.  Being a stickler for authenticity Leila purchases most of her memorabilia of famous people through the Manuscript Society of which she is a member.  The society is an organization dedicated to the collection and authentication of photographs and manuscripts. 

Appropriate to the historical aspect of the collection is the hair of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, their infamous duel in 1804 was the cause of Hamilton’s death.    

There is even a little bit of Hollywood with pieces of Marilyn Monroe’s golden locks and a curl that belonged to Elvis.  All of these are displayed in frames, which along with the hair; contain photographs of the person and documentation.

A hundred years ago, to pass the time on a cold winter’s night, women would gather together to make hair wreaths, much like quilting bees. They created the wreaths by weaving strands of hair around wire, twisting that into various delicate shapes and embroidering family names, dates of births, deaths, and weddings onto the mountings.  Various materials were used; seed pearls, ribbons, strips of baby clothes along with white satin from wedding dresses.  It was a way of preserving the past for the next generation. 

A technique known as sepia was used in the jewelry pieces, this is where a scene is painted with a mixture of hair that has been mashed into a powder then mixed with acrylics. One brooch, a remembrance piece, depicts a man standing by a grave under a weeping willow tree that is woven from strands of his wife’s hair; she passed away at the age of twenty-five. 

During the tour Leila will tell you that her fondest wish is that if all the people whose hair she has in her collections could come back from the dead and tell her their stories.   


Leila’s Hair Museum

1333 S. Noland Rd., Independence, Missouri 64055


Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday

Admission: $5 adults; $2.50 seniors and children under 12

Nantucket Christmas Stroll

December 2, 2010

Carolers line the streets of Nantuckettown

From December 3rd to 5th the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, will celebrate what has become an island tradition – Christmas Stroll weekend.

The stroll began in 1973 when local merchants, in an effort to boost the island’s economy, kept their shops open late on the first Friday in December inviting Nantucketers to do their holiday shopping on-island instead of traveling to the mainland. 

Along with their crafts, books, clothes and wares shopkeepers offered samplings of wine, hot chocolate, tea, mulled cider, fruitcake, and holiday cookies. 

That Stroll, billed by the merchants as a “Christmas Stroll on Main Street’ lasted three hours and was a huge success with islanders. 

Fast forward thirty-seven years and that one night of holiday shopping and schmoozing has exploded into a weekend full of events that draws thousands of people. Whether you stay for a day or the weekend many of the island’s restaurants, inns, and bed and breakfasts are open for the stroll. 

On Friday night get in the holiday spirit by joining throngs of people (with flashlights and maps in hand) for the Holiday House Tour visiting six of the island’s historic houses, some of them more than three hundred years old, beautifully decorated for the season with wreaths and evergreens. The tour ends at the Whaling Museum with the Festival of Trees, one hundred Christmas trees decorate in island themes ranging from lightship baskets to buoys to the Nantucket firefighters’ tree dripping with Fire Department badges from around the world. 

On Saturday at the stoke of noon the town crier in Colonial dress walks down Main Street ringing his bell heralding the official opening of the stroll.  At 12:30 Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive the island way – by sea – on a historic Coast Guard vessel surrounded by a bevy of Coast Guard men and women decked out in red life jackets and red and white stocking hats.  After a horse-drawn carriage ride down Main Street Santa sets up shop at the Pacific National Bank where children (and children at heart) can have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Learn about the ghoulish side of Nantucket town on an evening walk to several of the island’s haunted places with Nantucket Walking Tours.

If history is more to your interest then join the Nantucket Historical Association’s guided walking tours where you will hear about Nantucket’s years as a whaling port that supplied the world with sperm oil.  And, how over a hundred years ago Centre Street was called Petticoat

Row because all the businesses lining the street were owned and operated by women. It was Nantucket women who kept everything going at home while their men were away on sea voyages lasting three years.

There is an abundance of activities to choose from that will fill your entire day or weekend; concerts, theatrical performances, ice skating, wine and beer tastings, book signings, open houses, and, not to be forgotten, the shopping.  Nantucket has beautiful and unique shops and galleries offering art, antiques, books, leather goods, jewelry, clothes, and decorative things for your home. 

Cold sea air blending with the scent of pine from the decorated live Christmas trees lining the streets, carolers and bell ringers in period dress performing in the square make for a gorgeous setting.  The Nantucket Christmas Stroll is a lovely way to start your holiday season.


Nantucket Chamber of Commerce 1-508-228-1700,

Image courtesy of Michael Galvin for the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce