Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse
More than 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial every year, making it South Dakota’s top tourist attraction. But when groups visit, they often don’t plan enough time because “there’s really two parts to Mount Rushmore,” said Shebby Lee, owner of Shebby Lee Tours.
During the day, visitors enjoy the viewing veranda and the ranger programs and take a flurry of pictures. But for the evening lighting ceremony, rangers lead a program about the meaning of the memorial, show the film “Freedom,” and ask active military and veterans to help with the lowering and folding of the flag before lighting the memorial.
At Fort Abraham Lincoln, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s final command post, the group tours the rebuilt Custer home. Guides wear period costumes and lead the tour as though they’re servants in the home while Custer and his wife are away.
“It’s more than a tour; you go back to 1874,” Lee said. “It’s absolutely wonderful.”
At Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, groups learn about the infamous battle where Crazy Horse brought together tribes to defeat Custer and his army. Rangers often lead talks, but Little Big Horn battlefield sits completely within the Crow Indian Reservation, and the Crow Agency also provides guided tours.
The tour also includes a stop at the Crazy Horse Memorial, an ongoing mountain-carving project that depicts the famous Oglala Lakota war leader and is designed to honor all Native American tribes.
Rockwell to Rockefeller
For Nick Calderazzo, president of Twin Travel Concepts, the three R’s have a different meaning: Rockwell, Rockefeller and Roosevelt.
The company’s From Rockwell to Rockefeller itinerary takes groups through the Hudson Valley and the 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 “is fascinating because you really get stories of all the leaders of the day that came there,” Calderazzo said.
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,” Calderazzo said. “It’s a great tour because she was an amazing woman.”
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 Berkshire 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.
Sons of Liberty
Boston was where the United States of America began, and All American Tours’ Bean Town, Boston and the North Shore itinerary walks travelers through the footsteps of the people who shaped the nation.
Groups will see some of the city’s and the country’s most important landmarks on Boston’s Freedom Trail either from the coach or during a walking tour. The Freedom Trail Foundation’s standard 90-minute Walk Into History tour features 11 of the trail’s 16 sites, and the three-hour group tour covers all 16 sites, although visitors don’t go inside all of them. Either way, a costumed Freedom Trail Player guides the tour and talks about the significance of each stop.
During a walk through the historic North End, visitors can stop at the Old North Church where the lanterns were hung to signal Paul Revere for his famous midnight ride before walking by the Paul Revere House.
Many of the Sons of Liberty would gather at pubs along the Blackstone Block to plan the Revolution. There, travelers can eat at a culinary landmark: the Union Oyster House, America’s oldest restaurant.
Guests will also learn about another pivotal but more contemporary figure in American history while touring the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. In the Oval Office exhibit, groups will see a rocking chair Kennedy used in his Oval Office and two photographs of his daughter, Caroline, that he kept on his desk.