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Explore American Icons with TAP

Lewis and Clark set off on an expedition to explore America’s newly acquired and completely uncharted western territory. New York’s Hudson Valley drew Gilded Age tycoons of American business. Whether they were giants of American industry, stars of America’s pastime or heroes of American wars, these Travel Alliance Partners itineraries showcase some of the most influential icons in American history.

Lewis and Clark Trail

Shebby Lee Tours

Lewis and Clark. Those two names conjure an expansive tale of exploration and adventure, of trailblazing, groundbreaking and place-making. Meriwether Lewis and his close friend, William Clark, have become legend, though their exploits were real. President Thomas Jefferson chose the pair in 1803 to lead the Corp of Discovery expedition to cross the nation’s newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territory.

American schoolchildren are weaned on the story, but international travelers who take Shebby Lee Tours’ Lewis and Clark Trail trip often say the same thing: “It’s a great story.”

The itinerary appeals to history buffs, and tour operators can sell into an already scheduled departure by ones and twos.

Though the itinerary includes museums and other attractions, the tour retraces the expedition’s actual route, starting in St. Louis and continuing to Oregon.

“One of the things we stress is that we go where history happened,” Lee said.

That includes a stop at Pompeys Pillar National Historic Landmark, where Clark carved his name in the rock on the return trip in 1806.

One of the best “they stood here” places is at the beginning of the trip, the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers where the expedition started. Lee then takes the group to the Missouri Historical Society annex, where a historian takes out special items, including the actual Lewis and Clark journals and some original maps, “things that they touched.”

The group will also climb the path to the top of Spirit Mound in South Dakota, though today’s travelers will likely have a much easier time of it than the expedition did.

The itinerary is also dotted with re-created forts and trading posts, many of which were built in those locations because of the expedition’s work to find sites to further the fur trade. Lee also hires many re-enactors “to make it come alive even more all along the trail,” she said.

American Valor Memorial Day Weekend

Mid Atlantic Receptive Services

They may not be famous, but the names of veterans who have given their lives in service to this country are carved in the hearts of their families and descendants, and America pays tribute to them every Memorial Day.

Mid Atlantic Receptive Services (MARS) operates the American Valor Memorial Day Weekend itinerary in Washington D.C., to “honor those in every branch of the military and obviously those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms,” said MARS president Kate Scopetti.

The itinerary takes groups to Arlington National Cemetery, where they witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The trip is packed with memorials and monuments: the Marine Corps War Memorial (the Iwo Jima Memorial), the United States Navy Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Park, the Air Force Memorial and the Eisenhower Memorial. 

The memorials are personal to each traveler — perhaps it has to do with their experiences growing up or with family members who served — but the Vietnam and WWII memorials seem to resonate the most. Depending on the group’s interests, Scopetti has also arranged a wreath-laying ceremony, a flag ceremony or a bagpipe ceremony at a memorial.

The Air Force Memorial overlooks the Pentagon and sits on a knoll, “so it has a fantastic view of the city,” Scopetti said. MARS added the newly opened Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial to the itinerary, and the Navy memorial has a small museum where visitors can watch a film.

The National Memorial Day Parade is the highlight of the trip, and MARS partners with the American Veterans organization to be the only tour group with seating at the event. MARS groups sit by the troops, so they have an unobstructed view of the parade and performers.

The trip also includes reserved seating at the National Memorial Day Choral Festival Concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Sports Travel and Tours

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducts new members annually, but every year is different — and every year is a once-in-a-lifetime dream for die-hard baseball fans.

“We tap into a traveler’s passion; we’re hitting a nerve,” said Jay Smith, president and owner of Sports Travel and Tours. “It could be from childhood or from playing or from life, but there’s a passion and a love of seeing someone you grew up with doing something special.”

The 2020 Hall of Fame induction event was postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic, but with Derek Jeter being in the class of 2020 and his induction happening in 2021, “this will be the event of a lifetime,” Smith said.

Sports Travel and Tours starts with a core package and offers several itinerary options that build from there with nicer hotels, more time and greater access.

Cooperstown, New York, fills up for the annual inauguration, so Albany serves as a hub, and travelers stay in surrounding towns. Visitors spend Saturday in Cooperstown, touring the Hall of Fame and exploring the quaint downtown, where they may run into Hall of Famers walking around. On Saturday night, the Parade of Legends includes a chronological promenade of Hall of Fame members by inductee year, starting with the oldest and ending with that year’s inductees.

The induction ceremony takes place Sunday on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center. As the Hall of Fame’s official licensed travel company, Sports Travel and Tours has reserved seating for its VIP travelers, giving them access to the sectioned “infield” area alongside players and media.

On Monday, travelers can attend the Legends of the Round Table, an intimate Q&A with the just-inducted players. During one of its receptions, Sports Travel and Tours offers the Ump’s Eye View program with stories from a retired MLB umpire.

Rockefeller to Rockwell

Twin Travel Concepts

The “three Rs” has a different meaning for Twin Travel Concepts: Rockefeller, Rockwell and Roosevelt. The company’s Rockefeller to Rockwell itinerary takes groups through the Hudson Valley and Berkshire Mountains to the Gilded Age-mansions and country retreats of some of the nation’s most notable names.

The FDR Presidential Library and Museum is a national park where the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt is better known simply as Springwood. Groups can explore the library and museum during self-guided tours, but a guided tour of FDR’s home includes stories about many of the leaders of the day who visited.

Another Roosevelt stop is Val-Kill Cottage, Eleanor Roosevelt’s personal home about two miles from Springwood. Though she lived at Springwood, so did FDR’s mother, and Eleanor decided she wanted her own place.

Kykuit is the Rockefeller Estate along the Hudson River that was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, starting with John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. A tour leads groups through the main rooms of the six-story stone house and into the gardens that are dotted with Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s sculpture collection.

At the Norman Rockwell Home and Museum in the Berkshires village of Stockbridge, groups spend most of their time exploring the museum and Rockwell’s studio.

Rockwell was famous for his Saturday Evening Post illustrations, and groups can see all the covers at the museum along with many of his larger pieces. But visitors will also learn that Rockwell was an intense man and a meticulous artist who used models and mockups, and elaborate sets and photographs, rather than draw from his imagination alone.