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Monday, December 21, 2015

West Cape May Guided Tour

It's one of the most pleasant experience to join this tour with multiple itineraries. I love to see a lot of things and places in one tour without having to worry about GPS directions and getting lost :). A big bonus if it's a guided tour as well.

Our motorcoach guided tour through West Cape May brought us to the tip of Cape May's peninsula, which is one of the most celebrated migratory locations in North America.
We visited Cape May Point State Park where a fully restored lighthouse built in 1859 is located.




The park is considered to be a popular tourist attraction for viewing the fall bird migration. There are observation platforms for wildlife viewing where visitors can witness the park's constantly changing coastal marsh and ponds, and dunes.

The Cape May lighthouse which is accessible within the park is another attraction frequently visited by tourists. It has 199 steps in order to reach the top and get a panoramic view of the scenic Cape May peninsula. Unfortunately, the lighthouse was closed for the season when we visited :(.

Near the beach is a WWII bunker that served as a gun emplacement and hiding place of 6-inch guns. It was built as one of the coastal defenses for the Delaware Bay in WWII and after the war, it was deemed obsolete and ultimately disarmed. The bunker and the two barracks buildings (which are now converted as the museum and office at the park) are the only ruins that was left after it was abandoned.



Sunset Beach is also a must-see when you're in Cape May. You can still see the sunken ship "Atlantus" halfway visible on the beach, just off the shore. The S.S. Atlantus was once one of the concrete ships that were built which hauled cargo and troops back and forth the Atlantic several times! In 1926, it was repaired and towed to Cape May, but was unfortunately hit by a storm in the summer of the same year and broke off some of its parts which caused it to run 150 ft. off the coast of Sunset Beach, N.J.
As of today, the ruins are deteriorating fast, since the ship began to split apart at the mid section in the late 50's. It is expected that sooner, the last of its visible remains will then be buried underneath the waves.

Me and the visible remains of  S.S."Atlantus"


Sunset Beach didn't only become famous because of S.S. Atlantus, but it is also considered as one of the East Coast's most unique beaches situated at the end of Sunset Blvd. way at the tip of South Jersey. It is here where you can view spectacular sunsets over the waters of Delaware Bay without any obstructions.
One interesting fact you would want to discover is about how to find beautiful gems known as "Cape May Diamonds". These are pure quartz crystals carried by the tides and appear as pebbles on the beach, just off-shore close to the Atlantus. Quartz comes in a variety of colors and is one of the common forms of minerals. They say that the source of these diamonds can be seen at the upper point of Delaware River, and some about 200 miles upstream that can take thousand of years to form, and then being swifted by strong flow of the sea sending these quartz pebbles ashore.


During early spring until late fall, tons of visitors gather at Sunset Beach to collect Cape May Diamonds, including Indian artifacts and other fossils. During winter months, most of the larger stones come ashore when the tide is considered to be stronger, especially during storms.
At the Sunset Beach are also 3 gift shops you can visit for shopping, a grill restaurant where you can grab a quick bite, and a mini-golf course with a magnificent view overlooking Delaware Bay!

Along Sunset Blvd. going toward Sunset Beach is the WWII lookout tower called Tower 23. It was built in 1942 and was used to spot enemy ships during WWII. It was one of the coastal defenses that is still standing today and restored in 2008-2009 by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). Inside the tower is now a museum with built-in stair cases for the public to climb up to the top.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Giving Your Music "Power" With Fishman!

I have to be honest...I am not super techy when it comes to guitar accessories since I don't play guitars. But the good thing is that I love listening to music and I sing a little bit! ;)

 But sure thing, I appreciate guitar music basing on the type of music I love as well. For many guitar lovers, here's one power chip  worth recommending for musicians who want to enhance the quality of their music.

Fishman products such as the powerchip preamp are the commonly recommended control set up for your  powerbridge  pick up system.
It's always a fulfillment for a musician to know that when his music is at its best, he knows he's got the best chosen power chip for his instrument.

Holiday Lights Trolley Tour

Photo courtesy of homesteadcapemayrentals.com

Holiday lights at night in Cape May bring a lot of cheer to people in Cape May, New Jersey, both visitors and residents alike.

A trolley ride at night will be the best way to enjoy a front row view of the town's holiday decorations and lights along with stories of Christmas past shared by your trolley tour guide.

You can see the historic district mainly residential homes and inns glitter and sparkle with festive decorations, hear and see sing-alongs on the streets as well as Christmas music.

An important tip during this tour; - if you want to take photos, be sure your camera can get clear shots in a moving vehicle, and can take the glittering lights with a night focus feature.

Tour lasts about 30 minutes.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Physick Family Christmas House Tour (Physick Estate)


They say that visiting the Physick Estate in Cape May, NJ in December is always a big highlight because it is full of glittering holiday decorations, - Victorian style!

The Emlen Physick Estate is an 1879 Victorian house museum that sparkles for the holidays with authentic Victorian decorations that invite you to step back into the Christmas past with a unique living history experience. During the tour, there are people who act as members of the family household and they will be welcoming you as their visitors in their home :).
The tour guide will tell more about the Physick family and their lifestyles, careers, etc. during their time, including the life of Emlen Physick Jr.

Take note that during the tour, taking photos are strictly prohibited while inside the mansion. 
The mansion has 15 rooms that will be visited giving you a glimpse about the Victorian lifestyle era of the Physick family.

The Physick house has a stick-style architecture, designed by Frank Furness, making it quite unique and different from other houses in Cape May which were built in gothic, Italianate and Mansard styles in a more conservative design.

This guided tour lasts about 45 minutes, and you will end the tour at the Carriage House (also a gift shop). Be sure to take a glimpse at their holiday decorations in the gallery area of the shop...photos are allowed! ;)



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wheaton Arts & Cultural Center Tour (formerly Wheaton Village)

Wheaton Arts is located in Millville, New Jersey, - one unique location to watch how world class glass arts are created in the Glass Studio.

There are several buildings inside Wheaton Arts & Cultural Center that are constantly visited by tourists including students and art aficionados. These include studios like flameworking and ceramics studios, the glass studio, the Museum of American Glass, boutiques and crafts studios, the stained glass studio and unique museum stores and gift shops.

The Museum of American Glass is worth visiting. It has more than 6,000 glass display objects placed in sunlit galleries ranging from old bottle collections from the old American era, various shapes and colors of flasks, Mason jars, and paperweights, to the present contemporary artistic glass arts.



Displays are changed at certain times with some special exhibits being organized throughout the year, thereby making visitors particularly art collectors to keep going back for a visit.

The Glass Studio is the most highly visited where visitors can watch a master glass artist while at work shaping molten glass into beautiful creative designs. You will surely enjoy watching their glass blowing and artist demonstrations as well.



All studios that are open depending on the season are all worth visiting. So, never skip any of it. In the winter, some studios are closed, but all studios are usually opened during warmer months such as summer.
Boutiques and stores are ideal places to go when you want to buy gift items or just for personal keepsakes.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Enjoy Nature & Wildlife at Sylvan Heights Bird Park

(Scotland Neck, NC)


Do you want to witness the beauty of more than 2,000 exotic birds from all around the world in just one place?




The Sylvan Heights Bird Park is an 18-acre wildlife sanctuary for birds with different species that you would surely enjoy seeing and can even interact with them. The park doesn't only showcase these birds and other wildlife but also educates the public about the importance of conserving our wetlands and letting them know how important it is to care for these wildlife as well.

There is an admission fee for the park. ($10-adults; $6-child as of this writing).

Guided walking tour is also available by appointment with a tour fee for at least 10 people or more. This tour is ideal for students and those who love to learn more about birds, exhibits and their history.
There is also a guided golf cart tour with a maximum of 5 guests and a tour guide, but advance reservations are highly recommended.

One good thing about this park is that they offer education programs to help the students learn further more by giving them the chance to explore through wetland adventures, scavenger hunts and animal presentations.

The park is easy to navigate, thus you can easily find your way easily back to the visitor center in any case you want to.
The park has also a landing zone, - one enjoyable place the kids would love!

The Landing Zone is where you can actively interact with colorful birds by feeding them through a seed stick that is available for purchase right at the entrance area as well as at the gift shop.
The birds are tamed and they come to you for a perch, while eating their food from the seed stick. These colorful parakeets have their own colors that make them so unique, - like  colored moving objects when they are in groups. :)


There are also American (pink) flamingos inside the zone that you can feed.

Other bird species are also available in other park areas such as doves, pigeons and pheasants.
For sure, an experience in the landing zone would be your kid's highlight on your visit! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Visiting The Roanoke Canal Museum & Trail


If you like hiking or biking on trails and at the same time learning the historical past about it, - the Roanoke Canal Museum & Trail is the most ideal place to visit while in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.

You can visit the museum exhibits for a minimal fee per person. The various exhibits can be viewed in a historical photo timelines, and through short videos on TV screens. The museum entirely shows the historical development and construction of the Roanoke navigation canals, including its engineering platforms and designs, the historical past of the Roanoke River Valley, and the canal's ultimate conversion as source of electrical power generation.


There are more exhibits downstairs consisting of some artifacts that were used during the past on displays. It's in here where you can see and touch interactive exhibits. This part of the museum used to be a power station built in 1900.






They say that Roanoke Canal Museum & Trail is the "world's longest museum". I'm not sure why, but probably because of the size of the canal that extends its history along the 7.5 mile trail.

The Roanoke Canal Trail can be enjoyed either by walking or biking where you can get the chance to view some ruins of the old structures, see the wildlife and witness the scenic view of the Roanoke River. The ruins can be seen at least a mile away from the museum as you follow the trail.
(I didn't make it to the ruins, so I couldn't share photos...sorry! ) :(


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Hagerstown Premium Outlets - MARYLAND


There are always ideal places to find impressive deals when it comes to shopping items without compromising the quality, like the Premium Outlets in Hagerstown, MD. ;)

I usually go to this outlet when I need some items from my favorite signature brands ;).
There are at least more than 100 stores in this outlet mall which is situated along interstate 70, which is 3 miles east of the highway's junction with interstate 81 in Hagerstown, MD.

It's one of the major shopping malls in Washington County, opened in 1998 and was formerly called Prime Outlets - Hagerstown.
It was then in 2010 that its name was changed to Hagerstown Premium Outlets after the mall has been acquired by Simon Property Group.

The mall is open-air which means, there will be a lot of walking outside. It has a village-style lay out, without upper floors, but has cemented path walks all throughout.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Celebrating Labor Day at Longwood Gardens


Trip Date: Aug. 30 - Sept. 01, 2014

Longwood Gardens is one of the most visited garden in the U.S. It is more than an ordinary botanical garden you will ever see; - it is a place for learning, entertainment, peaceful retreat and a place to commune with nature while enjoying thousand of species of plants and flowers in every season.

As you keep coming back to visit the garden, there are new attractions it offers to the garden and nature lovers. Visitors never get bored of coming to visit because there are always new ones to discover every visit.

I and my husband prefer coming back here from mid-spring to early or late summer to spend more outdoors! It was at this visit that we discovered the newly opened garden - The Meadow Garden.


This is an ideal place to do a walk and hikes, while at the same time admiring the beauty of nature and living things. A new experience for those who haven't seen the garden yet ;).

The Meadow Garden was designed for walking and hiking trails with a spanning area of 86 acres. Trail maps are always available for those who prefer to self-explore, although there are also expert guides that can lead visitors for shorter walks/hikes in some selected days.
The garden has more than 3 miles of walk and trail hikes as you continue to enjoy at your own leisure and at the same time discovering lush wetlands, open refreshing fields as well as seeing amazing diverse habitats for flora and fauna.

Saw a toad!

...and a turtle!
Take note however, that guided walks and hikes are weather dependent. It's always a good idea to visit and inquire at the Visitor Center at the entrance to the garden or by visiting them online. (longwoodgardens dot org.)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Guided Driving Tour of Fairmount Park Experience





Being considered as one of the largest urban parks in the country, Fairmount Park is just one of Philadelphia's famous attractions every visitor shouldn't miss.
The park has 10,000 acre park system made up of 63 different parks and is comprised with at least 200 historical buildings, making it a park that shows more about public art than any other city.
Experience the stunning trails running along the Boathouse Row and Schuuylkill River and at the same time witness various colorful gardens that you could surely enjoy.

Experience wise, I did the bus tour, but surprisingly, there are parks that are only limited for buses which means you wouldn't be able to see all the park has to offer when doing a bus guided tour.
I would suggest to do a tour on your own by either walking or doing a smaller car driving tour.
Walking tour isn't enough to do in a day, so don't overdo it. Take your time at your own pace...it's the best choice to see all the entire park.

Monday, September 28, 2015

On-The-Go Personalized Backpacks!

If there are things that you would want to give your smaller tots for them to enjoy, I found a personalized backpack that is ideal for a kid who is always on the go! Kids can be active whether in school, in a field trip, or just in anywhere they enjoy their plays.

These Stephen Joseph backpacks can be personalized based on your kid's personality and liking that he/she can truly enjoy. Plus, you can have great choices for colors and styles too! The most important thing to consider is their durability. They are perfect for school, lunch boxes as well, so, it's worth your money when you get one for your kid.

Check them out...your kids will love them! :)

The Eastern State Penitentiary - America's Most Historic Prison



Experience an interesting guided tour of the world's first true "penitentiary" when you are around Philly area. The Eastern State Penitentiary is located on the corner of 22nd and Fairmount Ave., just 5 blocks away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) has a soaring castle-like Gothic architecture, with a Quaker-inspired design system of isolation that was finally opened in 1829.



It extends up to 11 acres in size equipped with central heat, running water, and flushing toilets, making it once the most famous and expensive prison in the world.
The founders of the penitentiary believed that solitary confinement could reform convicts through strict isolation, inspiring penitence and true regret.
ESP was built in a way resembling a church with each cell containing a Bible and a skylight representing as the "eye of God". It purposely was designed to rehabilitate rather than punish, pushing the convicts toward spiritual reflection and change. ESP was the first one to use solitary confinement, because reformists believed that isolation will lead to reflection and ultimately penitence, thus it came up with the word "penitentiary".
But the effect of solitary made many convicts become insane instead. The existence of tortuos punishments of the inmates carried by the prison's staff also contributed to this.

After 142 years of use as a penitentiary, ESP finally shut its doors in 1971.

Today, as you start walking through its corridors, you will witness the deteriorating effects of the decaying corridors as it nears 2 decades of abandonment. Nowadays, it stands in ruins with crumbling cell blocks and empty guard towers.



ESP also once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including famous gangster, Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton ("Slick Willie"). 
Al Capone's cell is still on display for viewing, which was restored as a 19th century cell. While he spent his sentence in the penitentiary, he was allowed to furnish his cell with rugs, antique furnishings and oil paintings, making him spent most of his sentence in a relative comfort at the Eastern state.

Al Capone's Cell

Tours include a glimpse of how was life like inside the prison's historic cell blocks. You can also choose to do the guided tour by one of the staff, an audio tour if you prefer to  do it at your own pace, or choose the "Terror Behind The Walls."

Friday, September 25, 2015

London Grill Restaurant in Philly!


Located at Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia is an award-winning restaurant; - The London Grill! It has also been named the "Best Neighborhood Restaurant" by the Philadelphia magazine.
Food is great! :)

Best part is, - if you're a tourist, you're eating in a restaurant at the heart of the art museum area. It is also a few meters away to the Eastern State Penitentiary, a tourist attraction! 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour


If you are planning to visit the statue and Ellis Island, please take note and be aware that there are two ferry routes coming to and from the islands. One is a ferry coming from/to Liberty State Park (New Jersey side) and the other one is coming from/to Battery Park (New York side).
The same thing is true when you are going back. Be sure you are taking the right ferry back to where you came from, unless you plan to change your route in going back to either on the New York side or New Jersey side.


Before boarding the ferry, all visitors will have to undergo primary security screening, similar to airport security procedures. Sharp pointed objects, big bagpacks, luggages and bikes are NOT allowed.
There is a second security screening at the statue's monument entrance before visiting any area on or in the Statue.


The Statue of Liberty in the U.S. is one of the most visited park in the country, and where security is everybody's top priority. The areas worth visiting are the statue's pedestal, the crown and the Liberty Island Museum. But these areas require ticket reservations. You must either have ticket reservations to either crown or pedestal areas in order to visit the Liberty Island Museum as well.
Before you get access to the statue, you have to undergo a second security screening. Once you get past the screening, you will be entering the lobby at the pedestal area. At the center of it is the statue's original torch constructed in 1876, and was replaced by a torch made of copper in 24K gold leaf in 1984. There used to be an access to the statue's torch, but it has been closed since 1916.



Just a few steps up above the lobby is the Liberty Island Museum. At the entrance, is a huge face of Statue of Liberty made of copper.

There are lots of facts and information inside the museum comprising historical timelines and chronicles about the statue before it was built as a symbol of freedom. You will also learn about the various interpretation of the changes of the statue's design since it was erected in 1886. Tons of interesting facts that you will discover!

There are 2-3 plight of stairs going up the pedestal viewing area, but there is also an option to use the elevator if you have difficulty going up the stairs.
Once you are at the viewing deck, you'll get to see the panoramic views of the New York Harbor, Ellis Island, New York and New Jersey. Take note though that the viewing area can become so crowded. It can sometimes hinder you from taking good photos as the space around the viewing area is narrow.

Visiting the statue's crown is another separate ticket reservation. Did you know that reaching the Statue of Liberty's crown is like walking up to a 22-storey building? Yup!...it's a fact! :)
If you plan to visit the crown, be sure you are able to walk at least 154 steps shaped in a spiral staircase. Another thing to take note is that there is only a limited view of the Brooklyn area from the crown level.

There are various choices you can do as well, such as self-guided audio tours (free) on the grounds of the island, as well as park ranger tours are also available daily at the park. Park Ranger tours start at the Liberty Island Flagpole that last 30-40 minutes.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum:
Just a few minutes from the Statue of Liberty is Ellis Island & the Immigration Museum. The building where 12 million immigrants used to pass through in the years 1892-1954 is now called the Immigration Museum, located in Ellis Island.


All the stories of many of these immigrants are displayed in the museum. Mostly are documented in photos, statues and memorabilias, while some are video and audio interviews.
Some display areas used to have artifacts that are no longer available due to the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.
At the upper floor of the museum is the Registry Room, ("The Great Hall").

This area was where the immigrants were inspected and processed before they could enter America. The architectural designs are still amazing including the Guastavino tiled ceilings with the Tiffany chandelier still hanging below it!