Northeast: Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts
With seagrass waving on sand dunes, cedar-shingled houses dotting the beachfront and lighthouses blinking in the distance, Cape Cod is the quintessential seaside resort destination.
Cape Cod is one of several featured destinations on TAP’s Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket tour, a popular Massachusetts itinerary that also includes visits to Provincetown and Boston.
Cape Cod National Seashore is 43,000 acres of protected land that includes sand dunes, beach shacks, swimming areas and even the site of Guglielmo Marconi’s famous Wellfleet radio station, where he sent America’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1903. The seashore offers nature walks, a visitors center and ranger-guided tours. In Provincetown, on the tip of the hook-shaped cape, Art’s Dune Tours can take up to 45 people in its fleet of SUVs to tour the sand dunes, visit Race Point Lighthouse or enjoy a sunset clambake.
Every year, about 14,000 vessels traverse the 17.5-mile Cape Cod Canal that connects Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay. At the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, guests can board a retired 40-foot patrol boat, pilot a virtual boat through the canal, scan live radar to locate ships in the waterway and learn about the canal’s history through museum exhibits and films. Or visitors can simply kick back in a rocking chair on the center’s deck and watch the passing ships.
Groups can even get on the canal during a Hy-Line Cruises canal tour. Hy-Line ferries passengers from the town of Hyannis to the islands of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Nantucket was once the whaling capital of the world, and that carefully preserved history, complete with cobblestone streets, makes it a favorite for travelers, who can learn more during a guided history tour. Martha’s Vineyard has long been a summer retreat for New Englanders, and the 2.5-hour All Island Bus Tour highlights the island’s six towns and includes a stop at the beachfront cliffs near Aquinnah.
Midwest: 12 Countries Without a Passport in Nebraska
People know Nebraska for corn and Cornhuskers. The state isn’t exactly famous for its cosmopolitan culture — but maybe it should be. Omaha is a city where visitors can find international flavors and intercontinental attractions that highlight Indian, Irish, German, Greek and Latin cultures.
The state’s global cultural influences are on full display during TAP’s 12 Countries Without a Passport tour, one of its most popular in the Midwest.
With more than 1 billion followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion in the world, and some of those followers live and practice their faith in Omaha. The city’s Hindu community first bought a building in 1993 as a place to worship and then spent several years raising money to build a traditional Hindu temple that was completed in 2004. Groups can tour the bright-white building, which is adorned inside and out with intricate hand-carved religious figures, or visitors can book one of the temple’s event spaces.
George and Sarah Joslyn were native Vermonters turned Nebraska entrepreneurs, but their massive limestone mansion, complete with a circular turret, looks like it belongs on the green velvet of the British Isles. The four-story, 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion was completed in 1903 and cost about $6 million in today’s dollars. During a guided tour, visitors will see the home’s intricate details, including stained glass, mosaic tile and wrought iron.
In midtown, St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church will host groups for authentic Greek meals. The church also organizes Omaha’s Original Greek festival, which showcases Greek culture through homemade cuisine, live music and folk dancers in full Greek dress.
At El Museo Latino, a Latino art and history museum, groups can take a folklorico dance class with the Chomari Ballet Folklórico Mexicano dance company or arrange for a performance. The German-American Society event hall is decorated to resemble a traditional German beer hall and hosts private events and parties.
Pacific Coast: Circle Oregon and the Rose Festival
Craggy shores and crashing waves, redwood forests and windswept dunes make the dramatic coastline of central Oregon both lush and stark, welcoming and wild. Groups can explore the state’s scenic sites and attend a famous annual event on TAP’s Circle Oregon and the Rose Festival tour, a West Coast bestseller.
In the coastal city of Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium gives both front-of-house and behind-the-scenes tours, and the aquarium can arrange animal encounters for groups. During a visit with a seal or a sea lion, the animal will plant a kiss on visitors’ cheeks or lips — beware the fish breath — or guests can get up close with a giant Pacific octopus at its enclosure, where they can touch its tentacles and even feed it a crab. Groups can also dine in a room where a glass wall offers views into the 1.3 million-gallon Passages of the Deep tank and floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the Yaquina Bay estuary.
If looking at it isn’t enough, Marine Discovery Tours takes passengers onto Yaquina Bay while a naturalist guide narrates about oyster farming, sea life, shorebirds and the bay habitat. Passengers can even take turns driving the boat and pulling in crab pots.
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area covers 40 miles of the Oregon coast from Florence south to Coos Bay. But the impressive expanse and height of the windswept dunes is difficult to grasp without getting into the nitty-gritty, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the sand. Both Sandland Adventures and Sand Dunes Frontier offer group tours in large 20-person dune buggies that deliver quite a thrill when they come over the top of a towering sand dune. At Sand Master Park, a 40-acre commercial sandboarding park in Florence, visitors can learn sandboarding — which is similar to snowboarding, except it’s on sand — go sand sledding and build sandcastles.