Huntington, West Virginia
Huntington’s railroad history dates back to the town’s founder, Collis P. Huntington. He was builder, owner and operator of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. In 1884, Huntington became the nation’s first man to ride his own railroad car from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean over tracks that he either owned or controlled.
Heritage Station, downtown’s former Baltimore and Ohio railroad station, contains an authentic locomotive whose train whistle still works and a renovated Pullman car. An attractive plaza with unique shops, craft beers, an artisan center and a wine bar offers plenty of free-time options for groups. The station also houses the city’s first bank, once robbed by the Jesse James gang.
The recent television miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys” was filmed at Huntington’s Heritage Farm Museum and Village. Visitors can stroll through 16 different buildings at the site that depict early Appalachian life. The museum details major inventions that changed the face of the nation. Way Back Weekends offer demonstrations on cast iron cooking, sheep shearing and glassblowing. Groups can enjoy country cooking accompanied by toe-tapping entertainment and a wagon ride through the village.
Corning and the
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region of New York enjoys a rich history of aviation, railroads, glassmaking and wine. Groups can learn about various aspects of the area’s past at the Patterson Inn Museum, the Curtiss Museum and the Erie Depot.
The Patterson Inn Museum is a living-history museum complete with the original tavern and inn built in 1796. There’s a one-room schoolhouse, a working blacksmith shop, a log cabin and an agricultural exhibit of farm technology from 1790 to 1890. Groups can arrange hands-on demonstrations in hearth cooking, spinning, weaving, looming and blacksmithing.
The Curtiss Museum honors the father of naval aviation, Glenn Curtiss, who designed, built, tested and sold the first seaplane to the U.S. Navy in 1910. The collection also has classic motorcycles, seaplanes, wooden boats and Victorian-era household items.
“Another wonderful spot, the Erie Depot Museum, was created to tell the story of the extensive railroading history of Hornell, New York,” said Danielle Roman, director of sales and marketing at the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau. “Groups can arrange to hear from former railroad employees, who tell actual stories of their experiences.”
The Rockwell Museum of Western Art houses stunning American, Western and Native American art and history. The Corning Museum of Glass, the world’s largest collection of art glass, highlights 3,500 years of glassmaking history. Galleries, interactive exhibits and demonstrations make it a must-see.
Groups that enjoy wine should plan to visit some of the area’s historic wineries, such as Pleasant Valley Wine Company.
“Pleasant Valley Wine Company, the Finger Lakes’ oldest winery, was started in 1860 and was the nation’s first bonded winery,” said Roman. “Groups can take a guided walking tour of the original buildings, followed by a wine tasting.”
Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs has long served as a playground for Hollywood’s A-listers, and it also has a Native American heritage worth exploring.
Downtown Palm Springs’ Walk of Stars honors luminaries such as Sophia Loren, Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope and many others. Groups can take celebrity tours that highlight where the stars lived and played, including the famous Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway.
The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum tells the story of the Cahuilla Indians, the area’s earliest inhabitants. Classes for adults offer outdoor nature explorations and hands-on workshops of native skills and crafts. Cultural events include a daylong festival of traditional bird singing and dancing.
“There are numerous tours highlighting the area’s culture, history and Hollywood connection, in addition to tours showcasing midcentury modern architecture and the stunning natural surroundings of California’s desert and mountains,” said Mary Jo Ginther, director of tourism at the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.
Visitors who feel adventurous can take cultural tours into the desert around Palm Springs. The tours takes groups to a historically accurate replica Cahuilla Village situated on an ancient village site. A ceremonial house and other traditional structures filled with Indian artifacts showcase foods, weaponry and tools.
“Groups can opt for lunch at a replicated mining camp with spectacular views of the Coachella Valley or tour the hills that hold more than 3,000 wind turbines at Palm Springs’ entrance,” Ginther said.