Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

Book of the Week – The Civil War, A Visual History

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Civil War Visual History BookOur book partner, Longitude books is always searching for new books to inspire and inform your travels.

This week’s recommendation is The Civil War, A Visual History, edited by Jemi Dunne.

Published to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, this enticing illustrated survey draws on the unparalleled collections of the Smithsonian Institution, giving insight into 1860s America, battles and troops on both side of the divide. This book is a definitive visual history and includes detailed timelines, revealing first-person accounts, and discussion of other topics, including medical treatment, transportation, and the economy.

To honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Smithsonian Journeys has created  several tours that enable you to experience this defining moment in American history in a unique, immersive way.

Please don’t forget to click here to see all the Smithsonian is doing to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Smithsonian Journeys on the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
Burnside Bridge runs over Antietam Creek, site of the battle of Antietam.

Burnside Bridge runs over Antietam Creek, site of the battle of Antietam.

This summer and fall, we have two unique Civil War tours to commemorate the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Civil War. Both tours are led by renowned historian and author A. Wilson Greene, who will explore the personalities, controversies and tensions that led to the Civil War. Click here for more details or read on…

From August 20-27 at Chautauqua, N.Y., Smithsonian participants can attend a sweeping survey of the Civil War—one of the most pivotal events in American history. Study Leader Greene will explore many of the core issues of the war: the events leading up to the conflicts, the resulting political and social upheavals, the plight of individual soldiers and the role of the great commanders and their strategies. Plus, he will examine whether the Civil War was an avoidable tragedy or an irrepressible conflict. Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and historians Gordon Wood and Daniel Walker Howe will also be presenting at Chautauqua while we’re there.

Civil War lovers can also join Greene on our fall Journey through Hallowed Ground from September 13 – 18. This tour traces themes of American history along the “Old Carolina Road” from Charlottesville, Va., to Gettysburg, Pa. We’ll visit two presidential homes, including President Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent Monticello and James Madison’s newly restored mansion, Montpelier. Other highlights include Brandy Station Battlefield, site of the Civil War’s largest cavalry campaign,  Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield,  and finally Gettysburg.

Full details on both tours and an interview with the A. Wilson Greene can be found here.  

Bonus Link:

From Smithsonian Magazine – Who had the best Civil War facial hair? Click here to see photos and cast your vote today. 

Family Dinosaur Discovery

Monday, January 24th, 2011


Assisting at a fossil site

Your chance to assist at a fossil site comes July 30 - Aug 5, 2011, on our Family Dinosaur Discovery.

This July, our newest summer family vacation, Familly Dinosaur Discovery, includes a slew of western adventures from dinosaur excavations and rafting on Colorado River, to hiking in the Colorado National Monument and horseback riding. You’ll even get to prepare fossils in a professional lab.

But July’s still a few months away. Until then, you can check out the dinosaurs right from your computer, on Smithsonian magazine’s Dinosaur Tracking blog.

Teaching Moments with Our Kids

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

A child works on a photography project at the Smithsonian Institution.

Every family vacation is an opportunity for parents to show off how much we really know about the world to our kids, right? We all remember dozing off in the back of the station wagon to our own parents’ teaching moments. This year, we’re introducing  our own teaching moments – including a new Smithsonian Photo Safari, where families with kids aged 9-12 have the opportunity to experience the Smithsonian in a unique way. Families will explore Washington, cameras at the ready, while also learning about photography and darkroom techniques, photo composition and ethics, and getting behind the scenes at the Smithsonian with our photography experts. Among other things, our tour includes a photo excursion to the National Zoo, where we’ll be capturing the texture, color, and movement of the animals.Which makes a parent wonder, “What kernels of knowledge will I have to share with my kid?”

To make sure you are prepared to impress, here are some crazy facts you can whip out while exploring the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

1. Bats can eat up to 3,000 insects in one night! They are also the only mammal that can truly fly.

2. A large python can grow up to 20 feet long and can eat a goat whole. Plus, the females are usually bigger than the males.

3. There are some species of frogs that can glide up to 50 feet through the air. Other frogs, like the Poison Dart Frog, have toxins in their skins that can kill it’s predators, including small mammals and even humans.

4. It is difficult to distinguish a tiger from a lion without its fur, but the tiger is the only cat with striped fur.

5. Some hummingbirds are so tiny, they weigh less than a penny.

If you’d like to share your photography addiction with your kids (or your kids are addicted already), check out this summer’s Smithsonian Photo Safari in Washington, D.C.

What’s your favorite quirky animal fact? Please share.

6 Things: Our National Parks

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

There’s hardly an American tradition more venerable than a long, hot road trip to one of our national parks. Families have been experiencing the wonders of the natural world this way since Yosemite was designated as the world’s first national park in 1906. Since the weather’s getting a bit cool for hiking in the mountains, today we’ll take an armchair tour of our nation’s natural treasures.

Yosemite Falls over Merced River. Photo: Anton Foltin

Yosemite Falls over Merced River. Photo: Anton Foltin

Read: How people are working to preserve the natural soundscapes in our national parks, from Smithsonian Magazine.

Hear: American Favorite Ballads, including Shenandoah, Home on the Range, and This Land is Your Land,performed by Pete Seeger, from Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: Excerpts from the new Ken Burns documentary – The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. From PBS.

Eat and Drink: Did you know that you can bring your own picnic to the National Zoological Park? BTW, no feeding the animals!

Check out: Excavations by geologists in our national parks (and elsewhere) have unearthed much about prehistoric climate change. Our interactive online program teaches you how to use 55 million-year-old leaves to gauge temperature change, from Smithsonian Education.

Go: Now is a great time to book a journey to our National Parks, including our new America’s National Parks tour, a journey through 5 breathtaking National Parks in one phenomenal vacation.

What’s your favorite National Park? Please share.