Spring break is the first real getaway of each year and families across the country take advantage of the time off school and work to enjoy a fun family vacation. While many head for sun, sand and ocean, I want to share a few of my favorite family travel spots.
The first time I visited New Orleans it was to attend a conference and hang out with friends. It’s no surprise, then, that I spent a few nights on Bourbon Street and got very familiar with the Crescent City’s reputation for a good party. I had a blast, but I was a little nervous about how my routine visit – one I planned to make with two small children in tow – would compare.
Visiting New Orleans with kids definitely involves fewer hurricanes and mechanical bulls, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. In fact, most of New Orleans is very family friendly. Read More »
February 2 is the day those of us in the northern climes of North America anticipate in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Will the groundhog see his shadow? Will winter end early or will we endure another 6 weeks of freezing temperatures, snow and ice?
What Does the Groundhog Have to Do with Spring?
The history of Groundhog Day in the US is traced back to Pennsylvania Germans during the 18th and 19th centuries. The groundhog, which the German immigrants thought to be quite similar to the European hedgehog, who would fortell the weather on Candlemas Day. The Germans would recite:
For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.
The groundhog, being a sensible animal, would venture forth if he saw no shadow, which foretold an early spring. Seeing a shadow would cause the wise groundhog to return to his warm burrow for 6 more weeks of hibernation.
Where to Celebrate Groundhog Day in North America Read More »
You may not realize it, but one of the most recognized houses in the world stands in tiny Eldon, Iowa.
This humble house, built in the early 1880′s, caught the eye of Iowa artist Grant Wood because of its beautiful Gothic window which he called, “pretentious for such a small house.” After asking permission to use the house as a background for a painting, Grant Wood went on to create an icon recognized the world over. In fact, Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2012″ lists the American Gothic House as one of the “Top 10 Places to Put Yourself in the Picture”.
Visiting The American Gothic House
Next to the American Gothic House is the Visitors Center. This free museum shares the history of Grant Wood, including letters donated by his sister Nan Wood Graham, who was his female model for the American Gothic painting (the male model was his dentist Dr. B.H. McKeeby).
My favorite part of the exhibit was the many parodies of American Gothic, including Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Muppets, Barbie and Looney Toones.
Put Yourself in the Picture
The friendly staff at the American Gothic House Center are happy to help you get the right photo. Just ask and they will advise you on the best place to stand and even take the photo for you. You can even get the true American Gothic feel by dressing up in provided costumes and holding a pitchfork.
Of course you’ll want to take a “traditional” American Gothic photo- but then ham it up a bit! Poke your partner with a pitchfork or add a bit of modern times to your image.
Don’t leave without a stop in the gift shop; the American Gothic House is free to visit so any purchases made help support the site (donations are also accepted).
Tips for Visiting American Gothic House:
Open daily year round:
May-September: Sunday & Monday 1-4pm; Tuesday thru Saturday 10am-5pm
October-April: Saturday thru Monday 1-4pm; Tuesday thru Friday 10am-4pm
Closed for observed holidays: New Years Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, Friday After Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day
If the weather is bad a cut-out version of the house is available for indoor photos.All photos are the author’s own. Jody Halsted loves sharing the
“hidden jewels” of the Midwest.
You can follow her family’s travels
at Family Rambling.