Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Thirty-three million copies of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize novel, Gone With The Wind has been read since it was first hit book stores in 1936.  This historical romance is the 8th most read book in the world.

Gone With The Wind is the eighth most read book in the world!

I am one of those thirty-three million.  I truly love the book and the movie which was released in 1939 and won 10 Academy Awards in 1940.  Scarlet O’Hara was one of my favorite characters growing up.  My Granny gave me a Scarlet O’Hara Madame Alexander doll for my ninth birthday and on that very same year I also had a Scarlet O’Hara birthday cake.  Of course when I was nine, I had not read the book yet, but had seen the movie, which was enough for me to reenact the romantic drama in my pretend world with my Scarlet Doll and Ken Barbie.

My Madame Alexander Scarlett O’Hara doll from 1977.

My Scarlet O’Hara birthday cake with my aunt, cousin, sister and granny in the background.

With such fond memories, the first place I decided to visit on a scheduled business trip to Atlanta was the Margaret Mitchell House. So a week ago today, I arrived a half a day early for my meeting, braved the rain and navigated the Marta from my downtown hotel to the Birthplace of Gone With The Wind.

Apartment # 1

Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh’s apartment.

Margaret Mitchell and her second husband John Marsh lived in the Crescent Avenue apartment in the 1920’s. In 1926, Mitchell left her job as a journalist for the Atlanta Journal to recover from ankle surgery.  While homebound in Apartment # 1 (which she referred to as “the dump”) and bored with reading, her husband suggested that she write her own book.  As we know today, that is exactly what she did over a three-year period.

A week has past since my visit and I am still excited that I spent time in the very apartment which she lived and penned one of my favorite stories.  The apartment was pretty small and crowded with furniture with a desk near the front window where she wrote her now famous novel.  When I say small, I mean like Manhattan apartment small.  There was no eat in kitchen and the breakfast table was actually in the only bedroom. Apparently she didn’t mind, because she didn’t like to cook for guest.

The living room with Margaret’s desk in the corner where she wrote Gone With The Wind.

The bedroom that also served as a small dining room for Margaret and John.

The small kitchen off the bedroom. The icebox was just outside the back door.

Margaret Mitchell:  A Passion for Character Exhibition

This exhibit focused on Mitchell’s life as a writer and ranged  from her early childhood to her time as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal.  The exhibit also looked at how the book affected her life.  She never had any children and referred to her novel as her child.   I really enjoyed this exhibit and found myself fascinated by the interesting facts about her family that came out in her writing.  For instance Mitchell returned home from college one day after her mother died from influenza, just like Scarlet returned home to Tara one day after her mother died.  I also wondered like many others if Rhett was based on Red, her first husband and if Ashley was based on her second husband John.  She claimed that no character was based on any one person, but on characteristics and the lives of many people she knew.  I also got a kick out of learning that after dancing to ragtime at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in the 1920s, Margaret Mitchell was denied membership to the Atlanta Junior League. In 1939, the league asked her to be the guest of honor at a costume ball for the premiere of “Gone With the Wind,” but she declined their invitation.

Margaret’s desk from the Atlanta Journal. The legs had to be cut down since she was 4’9”.  I love the picture above the desk of Margaret surrounded by men just like the opening scene of Gone With the Wind when Scarlett was surrounded by men on the steps of Tara.

A picture of a picture – Margaret’s risque dancing.

Gone With The Wind has been translated in 35 different languages.

The Making of a Film Legend:  Gone with the Wind Exhibition

The first thing I saw when I opened the doors to this exhibit was the original doors from Tara.  They were beautifully restored after being stowed away in a Georgia barn after being removed from the set.  When I turned left the next thing that I saw was the original portrait of Scarlet that hung in Rhett and Scarlet’s Atlanta Mansion.  The portrait was restored because it was damaged by the whiskey glass that Clark Gable threw at it while filming the movie.  It would have been cool if they had left it in its original state.  There was also a short film in the exhibit that detailed the transformation of the novel  to the classic film.

The original doors from Tara.

The original portrait of Scarlet O’Hara that hung in the Atlanta Mansion in the movie.

It’s hard to believe that after reading 1037 pages and watching a four-hour movie numerous times that I only spent about an hour in the home where Gone With The Wind began. Although it was only an hour it was a very happy hour which was actually around noon and not five o’clock.  Learning about Margaret Mitchell has given me an even greater appreciation of Gone With The Wind. This is something that I never would have imagined as a nine year old girl playing with my Scarlet O’Hara doll and quoting lines like “Fiddle-dee-dee” and “After all…tomorrow is another day”  in my most southern voice or giggling as I cursed for the first time whenI made my Ken Barbie say “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

When is the last time you have seen

Gone With The Wind?  

If it has been a while, and you don’t have four hours

check out this 2 minute clip from SUPERCUT on YouTube!

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Coe Hall

Camellia Greenhouse

Last week while roaming Barnes and Nobel, I stumbled upon what many people consider to be the “Great American Novel” on the summer reading table, The Great Gatsby.  I ended up purchasing The Great Gatsby wanting to re-read it from my high school days before the new movie comes out on Christmas Day.  Reading through F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel made me want to go visit the Long Island Gold Coast and step back into the time of the “Roaring Twenties”.  So after a little research this morning, I came up with a list of seven mansions that were retreats of the rich and famous during the turn of the century to the 1930’s. From the Gugggenheims and Vanderbilts to the Pratts and Coes, the Gold Coast was the place to be for high society and notable Americans.  Despite the heat and oppressive humidity, I decided today the place to be for me was at William Robertson Coe’s mansion which was built in 1921 and is more commonly known as the Planting Fields Arboretum.

Here is a recap of my visit to a great 1920’s Gold Coast Estate and what to expect for those who want to revisit a decade where everyone wore a hat and many carried a flask during a time of prohibition and prosperity.

M.O. & M.E. Hoffman Visitor Center

The former Hay Barn of this 409-acre estate now houses the visitor center.  With so much property to explore this was a great place to get my bearings.  I found a model display of the property, so I could easily locate everything I wanted to see.  In addition, there was a nice display and short videos narrated  by Mr. Coe’s grandson Michael, that provided me with the history of the Coe Family and their estate.  One fun tidbit that I picked up from the video was that the gates at the main drive entrance was originally created in 1712 for the Carshalton Park Estate in England and Mr. Coe had them transplanted to his estate.  You can see these gates on the silver screen in the movie, Love Story and Sabrina.  The visitor center was also a great place to cool off since there was air conditioning, so I browsed the gift shop and decided to get a drink from the Garden Cafe’ before heading back out in the 86 degree humid weather.

The Visitor Center, formerly the Hay Barn.

A great place to start your tour of the estate.

History of the Coe Family

William Robertson Coe moved to the United States with his family at the age of 14 from England. At age 15 he worked as an office boy for an insurance broker in Philadelphia and in 1910 he became president of Johnson and Higgins Insurance Company and was involved in insuring the RMS Titanic.  Mr. Coe was married three times.  He lost his first wife who died on a cruise to England.  His second wife was Mai Rogers, who was the daughter to the Vice President of Standard Oil and builder of the Virgininan Railway.  It was Mai’s fortune that went into the estate.  William and Mai had three sons and a daughter.  Their passion for horticulture, specifically interest in rare species of plants and trees led to botanical bliss. Mai passed away in 1924 and Mr. Coe quietly married a divorcee from Texas, Caroline Graham Slaughter.  Mr. Coe passed away at the age of 85 from an asthma attack in 1955. Caroline stayed in the home until her passing in 1960.

Coe Hall Mansion

The style of this beautiful mansion is of an English 16th century Elizabethan country house and was decorated by an interior designer from Charles of London.  I toured the mansion for $3.50 and the sweetest widow was my personal tour guide.  The entrance was grand with Romanesque arches.  I particularly enjoyed exploring the den which was Mr. Coe’s study that had a safe hidden beyond the wood paneling and a hidden bar off to the side. The Reception room  which was decorated in a 18th century French style  was used by both the second and third Mrs. Coe to entertain their lady guest.  Taking in the grand fireplaces, chandeliers and artistically carved doors was wonderful, but seeing family pictures in the Great Hall where the Coe’s only daughter was married made me feel like I knew the family.

The Reception Room

The Dining Room

The Den

The Mud Room where the family would mount their horses.


Cocktail Culture – The Glamorous Gold Coast Years from Prohibition to 1960 – This exhibit can be viewed until September 30, 2012.  Coe Hall was built in the same year that the Prohibition Amendment became law which was appealed in 1933.  Long Island was one of the most notorious routes that liquor was smuggled in by boat in then by road to New York City.  Mr. Coe stockpiled liquor in 1918 and 1919 and spent $35,349.72 which today would be slightly under a half a million dollars.  I really enjoyed this exhibit and didn’t realize Long Island’s history in the prohibition era.   The exhibit also had several dresses from the 1920s reflecting the flappers independence and the birth of the “cocktail dress” around 1935.  The “little black dress” made its debut when speakeasies became legal restaurants such as the 21 Club which still exist today in NYC.  There was a picture of the Coe’s daughter in front of the bar  of the 21 Club in the early 1930s.

Cocktail Culture Exhibit

Radio Bar

Planting Fields Arboretum 




The Italian Blue Pool Garden  is surrounded by spring-blooming perennials and a darling Tea House sits at the end of the pool.

Italian Blue Pool Garden

Tea House

The Rose Arbor and Rose Garden contain over 600 Tea, shrub, and miniature roses.  The Children’s Playhouse is not to far from the Rose Garden.  The Green Garden features a circular pool and the Azalea Walks and  the Vista Path are nearby.

Rose Garden

The Playhouse

The Synoptic Garden displays over 500 types of tree and shrub with little signs arranged in alphabetical order by botanical name.  I saw a few chipmunks in the Synoptic garden.


Main Greenhouse  The Main Green house orchids, cacti hibiscus, begonias and more.  Kids can be a plant detective and collect stamps at plant stations.

The Main Greenhouse

Plant Detective Children’s Activity Map

Hibiscus House

Cactus House

Camellia Greenhouse – This is the largest collection of camellias under glass in the Northeast.

Camellia Greenhouse


There are over 200 acres of woodland at Planting Fields, with miles of walking trails through the woods.

Information needed to plan your visit

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park is located at 1395 Planting Fields Road in Oyster Bay, New York.

  • Grounds are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except December 25.
  • A $8 per car from April 1st to Labor day, 7 days a week and weekends only from September 10th thru October 31st. Admission free during winter season.
  • Mansion Tours are an hour-long and are offered twice daily at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m from April 1 – September 30.
 $3.50 Tour Fee for Non-Members / Members and all children under 12 are FREE .  THe guided tour focuses on the work of the servants during the 1920s.  The tour will lead visitors through the servants living quarters, kitchen areas, the flower room, and wine vaults.
  • The Main Greenhouse and Camellia Greenhouse are open year round from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • The Visitor Center is open April 1st thru October 31st 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m daily.
 November 1st thru March 31st, Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.
11:00 a.m. – 4: 30 p.m.

While in Oyster Bay, you might also like to check out Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the “Summer White House” to the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. Another site to explore is The Raynham Hall Museum which was once used as British headquarters during the American Revolution and was home to the Townsend family.  Robert Townsend was the first link in a chain of agents in the Culper Spy Ring.

If you are hungry check out Canterbury Ales Oyster Bar & Grill and then afterwards walk down to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park to take in views of the Long Island Sound.

Are you ready for a day trip to explore the Gold Coast?

Stay tune for future post on other mansions like the Eagle’s Nest, Oheka Castle, Old Westbury Gardens, Mill Neck Manor, Condrie Hall and Falaise.

If you enjoyed this post, you also might like 12 Long Island Family Day Trips to Experience in 2012 and Touring the Top Five Presidential Homes.

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Just east of New York City is the eleventh largest island in the United States.  It is beautiful Long Island and it has been my home for the last ten years.  Known for its gold coast and gorgeous beaches, Long Island also offers many cultural, historic and science-based attractions for families.  Close proximity to Manhattan makes Long Island a great day-trip for both visitors and New York natives!  Here are my family favorite destinations:

1.  CRADLE OF AVIATION MUSEUM – When you visit Long Island’s Air and Space Museum your family will be able to explore eight exhibit galleries that are home to over seventy-five air and space crafts.  Kids and adults will enjoy learning about the major role Long Island has played in aviation and historic flights like Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis”.   Many interactive exhibits and short films make the experience a lot of fun.  The Junior Jet Club is a great place for children under six to explore.   Older children will enjoy the Giant Screen Dome which offers a great selection of movies like “Legends of Flight”.

Cradle of Aviation Museum

2.  FIRE ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE – For many travelers that crossed the Atlantic Ocean back in the 19th Century, the Fire Island Lighthouse was the first evidence of land.  Your family can enjoy learning about the whaling industry, shipwrecks and Long Island’s fishing industry by visiting the interactive exhibits. Families will also enjoy the guided lighthouse tower tour where you can climb 156 steps to the top of New York’s tallest lighthouse..  The lighthouse and tours are offered year-round.  For tour information visit the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.

The Fire Island Lighthouse

3.  SAGAMORE HILLSagamore Hill was the home of President Theodore Roosevelt.  This is one of my favorite places on Long Island.  I have to mention that the home which is the main attraction is under renovation, but there is still plenty to see and enjoy.   The Roosevelt Museum at the Old Orchard house  has great exhibits and several short movies which highlight many aspects of President Roosevelt’s political and family life.  Families can also enjoy the outdoors on the Sagamore Hill Nature Trail.  If  your family enjoys the nature scene, make sure to visit the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center which is down the road from the President’s home.   Visit the sanctuary’s website for great family events like “Dancing Under the Stars” and the popular “Owl Prowls”.  Adjacent to the Sanctuary, you can also visit Theodore Roosevelt’s Gravesite.

Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, NY

The Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center

4.  SHINNECOCK NATIONAL CULTURAL CENTER AND MUSEUM – The Shinnecock National Cultural Center and Museum is the only Native American operated museum on Long Island.  Since I am not a native New Yorker, I really didn’t know too much about the Algonquin heritage until my son studied the history of the state of New York in the 4th grade.  Visiting this museum is a great way to enhance your families knowledge about the history and culture of Native Americans.  There are two permanent exhibits that span over 10,000 years of Shinnecock history, educational programs and workshops.  The museum is located in Southampton, New York and is open from Wednesday through Sunday.

Shinnecock National Cultural Center & Museum

5.  OLD BETHPAGE RESTORATION – Old Bethpage Village Restoration is a living museum that recreates a Long Island Village in the pre-Civil War era.  Families will be able to roam 200 acres and visit historic buildings like a church, school, farmhouse and general store.  Costumed guides give demonstrations and kids can learn what life was like in the mid-1800s.  There are many seasonal events like the Civil War Battle in July and the Fall Harvest Fair in September.  Old Bethpage Village Restoration is open from March 31st through mid December.

Old Bethpage Village Restoration

6.  SUFFOLK COUNTY FARM AND EDUCATION CENTER – The Suffolk County Farm is a real working farm where families can get close to the farm animals and participate in special events that are offered for all seasons.  Events like “Yesterday’s Family” will have your kids learning how to churn butter and make candle holders out of metal.  Other fun events are the St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt in the spring, the Ice Cream Social in the summer and the Sunset Wagon Tour in the fall.  In the summer, kids can also participate in garden sessions on Wednesdays for eight consecutive weeks where they can grow their own food in the Children’s Garden.  The farm is open seven days a week from 9 am to 3 pm.

Up close with the animals.

7.  COLD SPRING HARBOR FISH HATCHERY AND COLD SPRING HARBOR WHALING MUSEUM – Cold Spring Harbor is a quaint seaside village that dates back to the 1600s.  For a small village, there is actually a lot going on! The Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium is a great place to visit with kids.  Families can learn about the freshwater ecosystem of  New York and check out the largest living collection of  freshwater reptiles in New York State, amphibians and fish.  There is two aquarium buildings and eight outdoor ponds where visitors can feed the trout and experience “Catch & Keep” fishing.  Make sure you check out the website for feeding demo and tour schedules.  Admission for adults is $6.00 and children between the ages of three and twelve is $4.00.

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium

Two minutes down the road on Main Street you can also visit the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum.  My son and I really enjoyed learning about Long Island’s whaling history.  The museum offers changing exhibits, films like “Flubber” that will show during President’s week  and special programs that often revolve around holidays.  Admission for adults is $6.00 and kids between the ages of five and eighteen is $5.00.

Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum

8.  WALT WHITMAN BIRTHPLACE & INTERPRETIVE CENTER– In the 1800s, Walt Whitman was born and raised in West Hills, Long Island.  This Long Island native is regarded as one of America’s greatest poets.  I love visiting the homes of literature greats so I can learn about their experiences that lead to their words living on for centuries.  Step back in time by taking a guided tour of the home.   Families will also be able to enjoy changing exhibits that consist of memorabilia books, photographs and excerpts of Whitman’s writing at the Interpretive Center.   In addition to the exhibits, the center also has a bookstore, museum shop and a multimedia area where you can hear Whitman’s own voice on a video tape.    Make sure to check the website for special events like poetry readings, the Victorian Tea Party and events for children.  When the weather is nice, families can also enjoy picnics and hiking tours of the beautiful grounds.

Exhibit in the Interpretive Center

9.  LONG ISLAND CHILDREN’S MUSEUM– The Long Island Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum that will inspire children’s creativity.  This award-winning children’s museum has twelve galleries, art exhibits and a theater. Some galleries that were a hit with my family was” Bubbles” where the kids could step inside a giant bubble, and “Communication Station” where my son did a news broadcast.  Theatre presentations consist of music, dance, puppetry and theatre that is interactive and explores both cultural and educational experiences.  Admission is $11.  Please see the Long Island Children’s Museums website for museum hours and special events.


Communication Station

10. ATLANTIS  LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM & EXHIBITION CENTER –  This is one of the best family attractions on Long Island!  Kids will be able see a 120,000 gallon shark tank, an all-living coral reef display, sea-lion shows and over 100 exhibits that offer interactive experiences and touch tanks. In addition there are several aquatic adventures that families can participate in like the Penguin Encounter, Scientist for a Day and Sleepover with the Sharks.  The new Exhibition Center  is now open and the Butterflies & Birds Flying is the current exhibit and is a limited engagement.  Atlantis Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center is located in Riverhead, NY.  The new Hyatt Place East End Hotel has recently opened next door if you would like to extend your day-trip into a weekend getaway. Admission is $22.50 for adults and $19.50 for children.  A little pricy for a family, but so worth it!

Atlantis Long Island Aquarium

11.NASSAU COUNTY MUSEUM OF ARTThis museum offers great programs for families and children.  Every Sunday at 1 pm, the museum host art activities, family gallery talks and family friendly gallery guides.  Check out the website for more family events like Show us Your LEGOS®.  The Outdoor Sculpture Gallery is also a fun place to check out with the kids.  The museum is located in Roslyn, New York which is only 25 miles east of New York City.

Outdoor Sculpture Gallery

12. CUSTER INSTITUTE AND OBSERVATORY – Amongst private homes in Southold, you will find one of Long Island’s most amazing experiences.  It is not a “day-trip”, but I have to mention the Custer Institute which is opened on Saturday evenings for stargazing.  Far from the city lights, star-gazers are allowed to use the powerful telescope to check out the night sky from 7 pm until midnight (weather permitting) and tour Long Island’s oldest observatory.  Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 14.  For more information, call (631) 765-2626.

The powerful telescope at the Custer Institute and Observatory.

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Earlier this week I attended parent-teacher conference at my son’s Junior High School.  I experienced a “proud parenting” moment,  when the social studies teacher, Ms. Quinn referred to my son and said “sometimes he raises his hand and shares facts that I learned in college!”  I smiled and told her that we traveled frequently and that he most probably was just sharing things that he learned in the various exhibits we have enjoyed.

On my drive home, Ms. Quinn’s comment made me reflected on the many places that I had visited with my son over the last couple of years.  Often times our journey to discover history or explore nature typically led us to one of the National Park Service sites.

History can’t occur without people and some of our favorite NPS visits have been to the homes of authors,  presidents, and scientist.  Some memorable highlights have been …

  • Viewing Washington Irving’s Sketch Book at his Sunnyside home in Tarrytown, New York. My son was surprised at the original sketches of Icabod Crane and the headless horseman  since it didn’t look like the drawings in the scholastic version of the Headless Horseman that he read in school.
  • Touring President Eisenhower’s farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.   President Eisenhower had a surprisingly  small office and the wood floors were worn with scratches made from his golf shoes. Apparently he did a lot of pacing while running the country by telephone!
  • Exploring Thomas Edison’s Laboratories in West Orange, New Jersey.  Thomas Edison wanted all five buildings on the campus built close together, so he wouldn’t waste time in transit that could be spent on his work.  He even had a cot at the lab!  We learned that his efficiency and hard work paid off because he still holds the record by earning 1,093 patents!

Sunnyside, home of Washington Irving

Thomas Edison's Laboratory Complex

Visiting President Eisenhower's Farm

Of course, many NPS sites include places like monuments, battlefields, parks, natural landmarks and seashores.  Regardless if we were following the Freedom Trail in Boston, exploring the battlefields of Valley Forge or seeing the Washington Monument, the National Park Service really made learning fun!   Many places have interactive museums, short films, tours, demonstrations and a Junior Ranger Program.

Always wanting to make the most of our experience, I typically pre-plan by checking the calendar and the news and events section on the website of the NPS site we plan to visit.  This allows me to plan our day so we don’t miss any special programs or activities that are often free like the shell-fish demonstration that we went to this past summer while visiting Cape Cod National Seashore.

Learning about shell-fish at a NPS demonstration.

Checking out the websites also will alert you to any special anniversary celebrations.  For instance in 2009 it was the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, so there were many special exhibits that made our trip to Springfield, Illinois exciting.  This year is the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s Inauguration.

Most sites have visitor centers and I recommend making it your first stop because you can pick up maps and official NPS brochures that have a wealth of information and history.  Sometimes short films play in an auditorium of the visitor center.  The films are great to give a little background before you set out to explore.  Information about tours will also be at the visitors center.  Tours are led by Park Rangers who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the parks.  The kids can pick up a Junior Ranger guide which will make their visit more like a scavenger hunt.

The National Park Service includes 400 places to discover!  Many of the sites are free or have minimal entrance fees.  Spending a day at a national park is most probably one of the most affordable places to go with the family to experience our nations beautiful landscape and heritage.  The National Park Service is one of the greatest resources that preserves our country’s treasures.  Who knows, maybe your kids will impress a teacher with a history or science tidbit that they learned on a  NPS family trip.  For travel ideas, itineraries or information to plan a trip to a National Park Service Site go to www.nps.gov .

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Anyone who has read The House of  Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne would enjoy touring the house that inspired his gothic novel.  The house, one time owned by Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna Ingersol is in Salem, Massachusetts.  It is said that childhood stories from his cousin inspired him to write the famous novel, but he was adamant about the novel being a work of fiction.

We toured the house  which was led by a professional guide.  The best part was the secret staircase.  Another place to visit on this national historic site was the house that Hawthorne was born.  The house was originally on Union street, a few blocks away but was moved in 1958. The seaside garden is another spectacular feature.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's home

If you visit during October make sure you see  the live performances are the Spirits of the Gables which brings Hawthorne’s novel alive.  Make sure you make reservations because this is a busy time which coincides with Salem’s Haunted Happenings.

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At the Orchard House

Concord, Massachusetts, is a quaint town entrenched in the history of the American Revolution just outside of Boston. The town is known to captivate literary enthusiasts, since it was home to some of the greatest minds in America; Louisa May Alcottt, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorn.

To embrace the area, I recommend starting at the Concord Museum. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. As far as tour, you can tour the Orchard house which is the home of Little Women. The Ralph Waldo Emerson House and the Wayside which was home to three families of authors (the Alcotts, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney) also offer tours.  Walden Pond is the site of H.D. Thoreau’s cabin where he wrote his book Walden and is now a state park.

Emerson's Home

Although, my son most probably won’t read Little Women, I did purchase a copy of Walden for him for the future and a book of favorite quotes.  We wrapped up our day at Walden Grill, where we enjoyed a great meal and re-capped our exciting day.

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Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

Every year  in Sleepy Hollow, New York,  Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow comes alive.  The event takes place the last four weekends of October.  This is a popular event, so it is helpful to purchase tickets ahead of time online at  www.hudsonvalley.org.

There are several events in Sleepy Hollow that makes celebrating Halloween spooky and fun.  In the daytime there is a festival called the Legend Celebration.  The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, with its illuminated  4,000 hand-carved pumpkins is also very popular, and we were unable to purchase tickets weeks in advance.  Irving’s Legend is where you can experience  the Headless Horseman terrorizing Ichabod Crane.

The daytime event, Legend Celebration is perfect for younger children and they can be entertained by live music, magicians and games.  For literature enthusiast, a tour of  Washington Irving’s home is available.

When darkness settled in we headed over to Irving’s Legend where we actually saw the Headless Horseman!  Legend Nights is held at Phillipsburg Manor.  This 18th

Hanging with Katrina

century farm and gristmill is turned into haunted area with the cast of characters from Irving’s tale roaming the area.  The grounds are lit by candle lanterns and bonfires to give it a ghostly feel.  The boys who wore their skeleton shirts fit in with many of the other visitors in costume. We watched  Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman take his fabled ride on a black steed and ran into witches, pirates, and spooky ghost.  Listening to the  rendition of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” allowed the boys to experience a classic tale in a way that couldn’t be done in the pages of a book.

The Headless Horseman
Posing with the Troll

This was such a fun and different way to spend Halloween!  The characters and re-enactments were great and it was an exciting way to introduce one of the “classics” to my son and his friend.  If you are looking for another option to celebrate Halloween, this is a great alternative than the local haunted house. Just make sure you plan this day trip well in advance!  Happy Haunting!

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