The Perfect Historic Trip for Memorial Day Weekend

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

Memorial Day is coming up! If you’re like us, you are so ready for that week-long vacation you have been planning all year, but still have a couple weeks to wait. Luckily you have a 3 or 4-day weekend coming up. Let’s figure out how to get you somewhere for a short VAY-CAY to hold you over.

Here’s our recommendation for a perfect getaway for a family, group of friends, or a lover of history. Learn history, have some adventure and be able to relax all in one! When you use a trusted Travel Specialist, we can help you plan an even more robust trip with guided tours, hotels, select meals, and multiple destinations included. We work directly with companies like Globus and Premier World Discovery to bring you highly rated guided tour vacation packages.

 

Williamsburg, Virginia

Day 1

Governor’s Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

This place is so much fun! About a 5+ hour drive from south eastern PA, it’s a perfect long weekend getaway. Head down Thursday night from work to make the most of your weekend.

Colonial Williamsburg is such a cute little area with hidden gems… this area is the state’s largest historical attraction at almost 200 acres! Sightsee in the historic town where there is lots to do – this area is very walkable and will make you feel that you’ve stepped back in Colonial times. It takes an entire day to explore the town (without rushing).

Top recommended attractions:

  • Enjoy self-guided walking tours in historic houses.
  • See the beautiful Governor’s Palace, a historic home where Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson both resided until the capital was moved to Richmond in the late 18th
  • Ax throwing at the Ax Range where you’ll learn the proper technique and get a chance to throw one yourself!
  • End your Friday night with a ghost tour right through the historic downtown (so much fun)!

 

Day 2

Historic Yorktown

Next up… Jamestown. Spend your Saturday going to the Jamestown settlement! Again another throwback as you walk through the first permanent English colony from the 17th Century. A look at living history, this morning is filled with a self-guided walking tour, gallery exhibits and film.

In the afternoon, take a 30 minute drive to Yorktown, part of Colonial National Historic Park in Virginia! End your night on the beautiful Yorktown Riverwalk Landing with a bevy of restaurants and boutiques along the water. Stroll along the shore and enjoy a cone from the quaint but delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop. With beautiful views as the sun sets in this sweet little town, this day really ends picture perfect! I promise you this is worth it.

 

 

Day 3

On the final day, your kids and the kid-in-you will enjoy an entertaining day at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. I recommend going on Sunday as it seems to be the least busy day at Busch Gardens, at least when my family has visited! Busch Gardens is located just 10-minutes from Williamsburg making it an ideal stop.

This park is so much fun and reminds me of a mini Walt Disney World with their version of “around the world.” Kids will love the waterpark complete with lazy river, slides, wave pool, and kid friendly play areas.  It’s a great way to end a weekend getaway trip!

And just like that, it is Monday and you are on your drive home to get home to enjoy a Memorial Day burger on the grille or chill before the work week begins.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

The Passion Play at Oberammergau: An Event a Decade in the Making

Once every decade, the world has the opportunity to experience the Passion Play as it’s been performed for almost four centuries. The origins of the tradition stem from the early 17th Century when the plague was brought to the small town of Oberammergau in Germany. A promise was made by the residents of the town to perform the story of Christ’s final days if God spared them from the deadly disease. Within a season, the disease vanished from the town. Believing in a miraculous intervention, the town kept its promise and more than 2,000 residents take part in the production every 10 years.

The Passion Play is performed every decade ending in a zero, at an outdoor theater. Guests are treated to a 7-8 hour experience including the five hour play, intermissions and a three-course dinner. The play takes place from May through October, which is considered to be the most picturesque time of year in Germany. Although there are more than 100 performances, the play typically sells out well before the year of the play.

For those who want to experience the 2020 Passion Play, reservations are available now to reserve your seat. We recommend our preferred vendors Globus tours and Avalon Waterways river cruises for guided sightseeing of Europe and a guaranteed ticket to the performance.

To learn more about the once-in-a-decade Passion Play or to get a free quote on an upcoming trip, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

 

Adventures in Ireland; 8-Nights in the Land of Saints and Scholars

The following post is written by Irene from the Boscov’s Travel Group Travel Department.  Irene toured Ireland with a group guided by CIE Tours in October 2016. 

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cead Mile Failte!   “One hundred thousand welcomes!”

Day 1: After a 6-hour flight from Philadelphia to Dublin, we welcomed the crisp and refreshing air of Ireland. The temperature reached a high in the mid-50’s during the day, and we were fortunate to not have any rain!

Our group boarded a luxury bus and journeyed to breakfast at the Coachman’s Inn Pub, then took in the scenic countryside through the Mullinger lakes. Our final destination was the Kilronan Castle. Built in the early 19th century, the castle boasts a rich history of owners including Lords and Colonels, and proved to be a great start to the trip.

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Day 2: After a filling breakfast, we made our way to Galway. During the journey, we stopped at the town of Westport. Complete with the typical European square, this delightful little village boasted colorful shops, cafes and delicious restaurants. It’s no wonder this town was voted the best place to live in Ireland!

After lunch on our own, we boarded the bus to our final destination in Galway. Charming and complete with idyllic cobblestone streets, this college town offers a stark juxtaposition of its energetic young residents against the medieval architecture. We enjoyed a view of Galway Bay at the Radisson Blu hotel.

Day 3: Aboard the “Connemara Lady” we took a cruise through Killary Fjord to see the beautiful scenery of the Irish countryside. Look out for the dolphins accompanying the boat during the tour!

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Day 4: Today we visited another castle on the countryside. Built over 150 years ago by Mitchell Henry for his new bride, Kylemore Abbey eventually transitioned to an Abbey run by Benedictine nuns. For the past 100 years, the sisters have run the estate and adjoining Victorian walled garden where they grow all the food served within their restaurant. The cafe, shop and tour of the gardens and Abbey proved why this is one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions.

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Next, we ventured to the Connemara Celtic crystal Factory and the Connemara Marble Factory. Still being mined from marble created over 500 million years ago, the marble is used around the world in architectural design including the state capital in Harrisburg, PA!

Day 5: Today we finally took in one of Ireland’s most iconic natural wonders, the Cliffs of Moher. Rising 702 feet above sea level and formed 320 million years ago, this is the ultimate photo op.

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Since there is not a bridge across the River Shannon, we drove onto the ferry and made our way across the river.

We enjoyed a jaunting carriage ride through the national park and past the 15th century Ross Castle on the countryside. This night, we stayed at the modern and elegant Killarney Plaza Hotel in the town of Killarney.

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Day 6: Today we visited the Dingle Peninsula, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! On the Atlantic coast, the shores feature surfers throughout the year on the sandy beaches and visitors atop the cliffs. We visited the beehive huts, stone igloos built more than a thousand years ago to give its inhabitants a place for shelter, warmth and prayer.

We visited the Blasket Centre where we learned about the inhabitants of the Blasket Islands, inhabited by 300 residents until the 1950’s. With no modern conveniences, electricity or connection to the modern world, this mini isolated civilization relied on farming and fishing for their existence.

Day 7: On day 7, we visited two more castles. Now just a standing facade, the photo below shows the previous family castle of  William Penn, the founding father of Pennsylvania.

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We enjoyed the stories told by our driver as we headed to Blarney Castle. Up the steep 132-steps, we took the obligatory photo kissing the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that there was a king who suffered from a terrible stutter. He came upon a stone in a field and was told by a woman that it would give him the gift of speech. After much protest, the king kissed the stone and became a great orator. The stone was taken from the field and placed within the castle to bring the gift of elegance to anyone who kissed it.

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We made our way to The Davenport Hotel in Dublin and enjoyed dinner and a show of song and dance at the famous Merry Ploughboy Pub.

Day 8: Today we visited Trinity College. The library is home to over 12,000 books that cannot be checked out or touched due to their age and historical significance. The space is also home to the Book of Kells, a manuscript of the Gospel written around 800 AD. We ventured to the cafeteria, better known to non-muggles as the Great Hall in the Harry Potter film franchise.

17Our afternoon included a tour of the Guinness factory and cheers with a pint at the Guinness Gravity Bar where we enjoyed a 360 degree view of Dublin.

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Day 9: Our guide provided us with hop on/hop off passes for the bus. My husband and I went to the prison (similar to Alcatraz) and the National History Museum. Here we saw the peat preserved bog people dating back 2,200 to almost 4,000 years. Following a tour of the museums, we enjoyed the rest of the day sightseeing the town.

Our final stop was the Parliament building where we took a picture with one of the Guardians of the Police. These unarmed police officers offered a smile for a photo op, and perfectly exemplified the friendly and welcoming nature of the country.

We flew back to Philadelphia the next day with a wealth of knowledge and new found love of Ireland.

If you’re ready to learn more about Ireland, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, DM Boscov’s Travel on Facebook, or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

America’s Last Great Frontier; Exploring Everything Alaska Has to Offer

The following post is written by Boscov’s Travel Specialist Jennifer from our Camp Hill branch. Jennifer recently traveled to Alaska along with Colonial Park Travel Specialist Amy, on an educational trip to experience tours and options that our clients can enjoy while experiencing America’s Last Great Frontier. 

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We experienced a whirlwind 6 nights in Alaska that felt like twice that. It never gets really dark even when the sun sets around 11pm and is back up at 4am. Nineteen hours of daylight feels like 2 days, especially when you are trying to see all that your clients may want to see in a fraction of the time. As travel specialists we tried to take in everything that the tours and hotels had to offer. Next time we will return as vacationers.

It’s hard for me to describe but Alaska is young in many ways. Not to discount the native cultures which are a big part of the history, peoples and culture but it’s statehood is less than 60 years old. Even the Russian influences are ‘new’ compared to the ancient cultures. The buildings are new, the corporations and governments are new, the ‘Alaskans’ are new. In a world of travel we often sell the ‘old’….go see ruins in Mexico, the cathedrals in Europe, historical colonial places from our US history, but how often do we seek out the new? We seek the modern in some places but Alaska is different…

According to the locals, to be ‘Alaskan’ is to live in Alaska for a winter. If you live through the season and stay, then you are an Alaskan and these transplants account for a significant part of the (750,000) population. When you realize that Alaska is more than twice the size of Texas that number seems, well, tiny. But I have digressed into my ‘factoid-ness’.

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The natural landscape of Alaska is clearly very very old. Sculpted by glaciers and home of the highest point in North America, its vistas are breathtaking. When we arrived at 11:30 pm in Anchorage my heart was delighted to see majestic mountains in the twilight. We stayed our first night at the Lakefront Anchorage, which is close to the airport and very convenient. We also woke to see planes taking off and landing right from the lake – a primary method of transportation for the locals in the deepest regions Alaska.

We stayed a second night at the Marriott in downtown Anchorage and proceeded to explore the city. We checked out the “Saturday Market”… on Sunday. It was full of delicious locally made foods, crafts and even entertainment. I had a lemongrass halibut taco that just had me fearing the trip had peaked at that point. Yes, it was that good. We walked some more and found ourselves eating at Snow City Café for a delicious second lunch (or first lunch for my colleague).

We walked a bit of Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and came back through residential areas and Delaney Park. We met up with some of the folks we would be with on the tour and our dedicated tour guide, Jared, that we would be traveling with for the next 6 days. With Royal Caribbean Cruise Tours you will always have a dedicated tour guide for the land tour. We headed for dinner at Sacks. This was a tasty, fancy little establishment. This was just a fraction of the delicious food that Anchorage has to offer. If you happen to find yourself with some free time in Anchorage I highly recommend doing a food tour.

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We were off to Seward! A quick stop at the Chugach State Park Bird Point Trailhead for a short break and a photo opportunity and then another at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. These are great ways to break up the drive and briefly see what Royal Caribbean can offer to our clients. On to the Kenai Fjords Cruise we saw orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, otters, puffins, eagles, porpoises, cormorants, and even at a great distance a goat. We had lunch at Fox Island (delicious) and again just breathtaking views. I feel like we had a day like no other. Alaska is a raw place and sometimes the weather isn’t the sunny clear day we had, but it is a place where the unexpected can surprise and amaze you. We ended the day at the Alaska Sea Life center… I could have spent much longer here learning and observing and even interacting with the animals and caretakers.

Lots of options for food are available in Seward as well. We had a delicious dinner at Ray’s. Let me tell you how important food and beverage is to me – VERY! We watched otters out the window into the marina while we dined. The Alaskan brews are so good too. I love to eat and drink local and Alaska is just sumptuous!

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The next day we were back to Anchorage and the Native Heritage Center with a brief stop in Alyeska, an adorable place just above the quaint town of Girdwood. Alyeska is only seen on the tours that focus on the mountains and the longer tours but from this vantage point you can see some spectacular mountain views. Again, we just didn’t have enough time because we were getting the abbreviated version.

It’s hard to believe that very shortly we would be in Talkeetna. This was the town I was most excited to see… if you are old enough to remember the show “Northern Exposure” about a doctor from NYC that finds himself practicing medicine in a quirky small Alaskan town, well, this is where the idea was born. It’s been about 20 years since this show first aired so I assumed it would be large and commercial now. It’s NOT and I loved this place. It’s a gathering place for climbers before and after their treks to ascend Denali (Mt. McKinley) and while we were there, there were many an unhappy climber because ascent hadn’t been possible in the last few weeks due to weather. Locals singing karaoke, climbers drowning their lament and a dog walking around town (in and out of places of business) made this town charming.

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Talkeetna was also special because we signed up to do a glacier landing on a small plane. Are there any people out there who aren’t afraid of small aircraft? This was no exception. But we had been told, by numerous accounts, that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was not to be missed, so we signed up, butterflies and all. I know I’m not a gifted enough writer to describe this but I will use a few words to try – powerful, spiritual, humbling. When that plane set down on the glacier we were so close to something so large and grand, something that from the distance was awesome and powerful and up close was even more so. We were so small and it was so grand. It brought tears for many of us. It was spiritual.

We would eventually re-board taking off from the glacier to see a little more and have an up close view of Denali. It was amazing to see a huge avalanche (even the pilot was impressed and circled back around), and the base camp for climbers. That base camp was the first perspective I had at the size of everything. Tents on the snow at the base of mountain were like ants….I just couldn’t fathom the massiveness of this. No regrets on this excursion. I will do this again and hopefully share it with my children and husband.

Our time in Talkeetna was all too short. The next day we were to board the Wilderness Express glass domed train for Denali National Park. This was quite a luxurious experience and really enables you to see so much including a view of those living off the grid. I know there are a lot of TV shows out there to teach us about Alaska but they don’t do the ‘real’ Alaska justice, they just scrape the surface.

Denali was our smallest snapshot of what’s included on these tours. Every land tour with Royal Caribbean includes Denali and we only saw a hint in the hour that we had. This just means every last one of us who was on this trip will come back.

That evening it was back to options and my colleague Amy and I did different things. She took to the river and did Whitewater rafting in the Nenana. Quite a few did this tour and everyone loved it. It was cold and a little wet but they supplied equipment to keep you dry! I went to the Husky Homestead to hear four time Iditarod champion Jeff King talk about his life and adventures, and I got to snuggle puppies and see some gleefully mush, even without snow. Aside from enjoying each of our very different adventures, we also once again were captivated by the Alaskan people that we would meet.

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Again our time was too short and morning came too soon as we ventured off to Fairbanks. I had the least expectation of this city, which is probably why it surprised me so much. It has a quirky untouched feel but is still modern and artsy. We headed up to Gold Dredge #8 where we panned for gold (and all got some), learned about the mining industry and how it established Fairbanks, about the pipeline and some musical entertainment with a train ride because – why not! We did the Alaska Salmon Bake (they make food taste so good served in large quantities!) and Palace Theater Show (a fun way to learn the modern history of this place).

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Our last day we enjoyed the Riverboat Discovery before heading to the airport. This was on the Chena river and we had the chance to see the Chena Indian Village, Susan Butcher’s huskies (another 4 time winner), a float plane land and take off right beside the river boat, and plenty of stories too! I think when I go back I’d like to start in Fairbanks.

This trip was an educational opportunity but it lit a passion for Alaska in me. Knowledge is a key to explaining but feeling unlocks something else and I know anyone I send to Alaska won’t be able to come home without having these feelings. There is so much of the history and narration that we were given by our dedicated tour guide that made everything not only informative, but interesting and fun.

If you’re ready to book your Alaskan adventure, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

 

River Cruising on Avalon Waterways

From bus trips, to guided tours, city excursions or DIY travel, there are many options for touring Europe. One of the most scenic options for European touring is the river cruise. For a few days to more than three weeks, river cruises give cruisers a unique experience along the European countryside while sailing from town to town along the most famous rivers in Europe.

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One of the most awarded river cruise lines is Avalon Waterways, part of the Globus family of brands. Founded in 2003, Avalon Waterways prides themselves on giving their guests a unique point of view. Avalon rooms feature beds that face the window and their Panoramic Suites offer the Open-Air Balcony, a first of its kind wall-to-wall 11 foot panoramic window that’s 50% wider than the industry standard. This gives cruisers a more spacious, open-feeling cabin with wider views of Europe. 80% of staterooms on Avalon suite ships feature this panoramic view. View the video below to experience the difference this makes.

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In addition to the differences in room suites, Avalon Waterways attention to detail set them apart. When clients receive their cruise documents, they receive the cruise director’s (senior management on board the ship) personal cell phone number for any issues that may arise before departure or during the journey allowing for peace of mind throughout travel.

Avalon Waterways’s fleet consists of 16 ships with the oldest being only 7 years in age. Built on a tradition of the Swiss mentality, precision and functionality is forefront when it comes to building the ships. Avalon Waterways does not refurbish ships, and builds each ship 37 feet in width to navigate through the 37.5 foot locks throughout Europe. Each ship is built to accommodate up to 166 guests.

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The fare on the ship accommodates to almost any type of dietary need imaginable (with the exception of kosher) with new vegetarian menus coming soon. There is no assigned seating at meals, and beer and 4 varieties of European wine are served with dinner, and will be served with lunch in 2017. Meals change daily as chefs shop at the local markets to get the freshest regional fare available to guests.

During the day, the ship docks at destinations along the river and local guides give inside access to the historical significance and everyday modern life within the town. Stops range from well-known tourist cities to small villages to give cruisers a one-of-a-kind experience. Bikes are available for guests to journey throughout the towns.

European tour options include a varying lengths of time along the great rivers of Europe, and Avalon Waterways offers special interest cruises catering to a variety of passions and interests. Select cruises focus on wine appreciation, beer tasting, culinary adventures, jazz, art, WWII History, and Jewish Heritage to name a few.

Going on now through June 21, 2016, receive free or reduced air from select cities when sailing on 2017 Europe River Cruises. Or save up to $3,000 per couple on select 2016 Europe River Cruises for a limited time. With the strong US dollar, there’s no better time to book your European adventure. If you’re ready to book your Avalon Waterways experience, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.