History, Music, and Wine Come Alive
The American countryside literally explodes with great music festivals in every possible genre every summer. In this short piece we’ll trace a fantastic vacation from Princeton to Washington D.C. for the first and second week of June. Although the casinos you’ll meet on your way don’t sponsor festivals as such, they all do have music so you can supplement your trip by staying at a casino and enjoying the show. You don’t even have to gamble; in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you can play online casino south africa for free.
Let’s start in Princeton at the wonderful University Chapel. The stained glass windows are simply gorgeous and will set your mood for the high culture you’ll experience on this trip. Wherever you begin your trip, plan to get to Princeton by mid-morning. We spent a full hour in the chapel and then drove to Valley Forge.
As an Ivy League college, Princeton is a great place to just walk around as well.
If this is your first time here, give yourself three hours. You need to let your imagination go. The history that took place here is already almost 250 years old. We have been spoiled all our lives by central heating, daily showers, sufficient winter clothing, and plenty of food. The soldiers who braved the winter at Valley Forge had none of those amenities. It’s interesting to try to imagine yourself back in those times.
If you’re in Valley Forge on a Wednesday, we suggest spending the night in Amish country in or near Lancaster, exploring the area on Thursday, and going to the farmer’s market at 6:00 am on Friday. During your day in Amish country we recommend eating at a genuine Amish restaurant where they seat everyone and serve family style so you’ll be sharing a table with people you’ve never met before. We’re all about racking up the interesting experiences!
From Lancaster, drive to Gettysburg and go on your pre-arranged tour of the Military Park before checking into your weekend accommodation. Tours of the park are conducted by members of the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides. These guides go through a rigorous course to become licensed guides. Most people who start the course don’t even finish it. The guides know hundreds of little details about the battles and the general history that you’ll miss if you take the self-guided tour.
The tours are for two or three hours. We suggest taking the three hour tour. It’s well worth the extra few dollars.
After you finish the battlefield tour, catch the bus to the Eisenhower Farm just outside of town. It won’t be the highlight of your trip but it’s interesting in its own right. The tour is short and well worth the time.
After you get back to the city, check in and get settled a bit. We suggest spending the rest of Friday walking up and down Steinwehr Avenue and visiting the many quaint shops. The community theatre often has a show on Friday evening. It’s not professional but it’s also very good and a great way to get a feel for the non-touristy Gettysburg.
Every June there is a brass band festival in Gettysburg. This year it’s on Saturday June 8 at Seminary Ridge. Bring folding chairs or a blanket and plenty of water; the festival runs 8 hours!
The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival begins in Harrisonburg, Virginia at 3:00 pm on Sunday. Plan to get an early start so you can take a cavern tour on your way to Harrisonburg. Also on the way are a Civil War museum and an early 19th century farm.
The Bach Festival is accompanied by noon church concerts. Go to the noon concert on Monday, then catch a quick bite to eat a local restaurant. Be sure to order the fried pickles!
After you’ve discovered fried pickles head toward Washington D.C. On the way, there are many local wineries. We have found that family-owned wineries are run by some of the nicest people around.
Washington D. C.
There is so much information out there about Washington D.C. that we feel we should add only two things that in our opinion are musts.
Visit the Lincoln Memorial long after dark. If you’re there in June, go after midnight if you can. It is simply amazing, the reverence people feel for President Lincoln. In all seasons and in all weather, and at all times of day and night, people come to the Lincoln Memorial. As dominating as the Washington Monument is, the Lincoln Memorial is far more popular. Many first-time visitors express how emotional it was for them not only to climb the stairs to commune with “Honest Abe” but to see hundreds or simply two people at 2:00 in the morning on a bitterly cold winter day going down as they went up and another couple going up a few minutes later as they went down.
The second “must see” that you won’t read about in any guidebook is the Vietnam Memorial. The guidebooks tell you to go see it but they don’t tell you about the profound emotions that many visitors feel. The names of the soldiers who gave their lives are etched in the marble. People go there to find the name of a loved one or a friend and simply touch the soldier’s name.
Many visitors have said that they waited for several minutes out of respect for another visitor who was clearly emotional as he or she stood in front of the friend’s or family member’s name.
The Vietnam Memorial is in a v shape. When you stand at the v itself, you can see the reflection of the Washington Monument. The last time we were there, the trees had blocked the reflection of the Lincoln Memorial. We hope the city has trimmed the trees so the two reflections can once again be visible at the v of the memorial. It’s breath-taking!
Any week-long trip that covers hundreds of miles requires far more research than we could deliver in this short piece. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the route and attractions we’ve set forth.