COMBINE BERLIN’S CHRISTMAS MARKETS WITH THE BEST SIGHTSEEING

ChristmasMarketJena

Thinking about visiting Berlin to experience the city’s famous Christmas markets?  It’s easy to combine them with some great sightseeing to make your break in the German capital extra special.

According to the experts at Berlin Pass (www.berlinpass.com) many of the city’s best attractions are within easy walking distance of the biggest Christmas markets.  By planning in advance you can ensure you don’t miss out on the sights while you’re enjoying Berlin’s special festive atmosphere.  For the perfect Christmas sightseeing trip, here are the five markets they recommend:

Gendarmenmarkt
(11am to 10pm, access via Französische Str, Stadtmitte or Hausvogteiplatz U-Bahn stations)
With its impressive setting between the city’s Deutscher Dom church, French cathedral and Konzerthaus concert hall in the central district of Mitte, this Christmas market is popular for its unique hand-made products and attracts more than 600,000 visitors each year.

It’s also the perfect choice if you also want to visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.  Just 10 minutes’ walk away, the museum tells the story of the Berlin Wall and the many Cold War escape attempts made by East Berliners.  Alternatively, combine the market with the Pergamon Museum (a 13-minute walk), the city’s most frequented museum which is home to an exquisite collection of classical treasures.

Also close by:  The KunstHalle Deutsche Bank (4 minutes), Humboldt Box (10 minutes), Jewish Museum (15 minutes), Bode Museum (15 minutes).

Weihnachtszeit at Rotes Rathaus
(12pm-10pm Mon-Fri, 11am-10pm Sat & Sun, access via Alexanderplatz or Klosterstrasse U-Bahn)
Set in front of the beloved Rotes Rathaus (‘red city hall’) in the heart of Mitte, this market is one of Berlin’s oldest, with traditional 19th-century style stalls.  But there’s also a 50-metre Ferris wheel and a 600 square metre ice rink!

Just three minutes’ walk away is the Nikolaikirche (Church of St Nicholas), Berlin’s oldest church which dates back to the founding of the city in the 13th century.  And across the street is the magnificent rococo Ephraim-Palais, housing exhibitions on Berlin’s artistic and cultural history.  Alternatively, take to the saddle with Fat Tire Bike Tours  -  on Wednesdays and Saturdays they run a four-hour city tour which starts and finishes at the Alexanderplatz just three minutes’ walk from the market.

Also close by:  the city’s Museum Island, offering the Berliner Dom (8 minutes), Egyptian Museum (11 minutes), Neues Museum (11 minutes), Altes Museum (11 minutes), Alte National Gallery (11 minutes).

Wintertraum am Alexa
(2pm-10pm Mon-Fri, 12pm-10pm Sat & Sun, access via Klosterstrasse or Alexanderplatz U-Bahn)
Berlin’s most modern Christmas market, adjacent to the Alexa shopping centre at the Alexanderplatz public square.  With its Ferris wheel and rollercoasters, this market is particularly popular with Berlin’s teenagers.

At the Markisches Museum (9 minutes’ walk away) learn about the history of Berlin from the first traces of settlement through a series of themed rooms.  Or why not join an Insider Walking Tours ‘Cold War Berlin’ guided tour and discover the world of Soviet secrets and CIA spies?  Taking place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the tour ends at around 2pm at the Alexanderplatz right on the doorstep of the Christmas market!

Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz
(10am-10pm, access via Potsdamer Platz U-Bahn)
Located in another famous public square, West Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, this is much more than a Christmas market.  With regular live music and a rodelbahn  -  tobogganing on giant tyres  -  it’s no surprise that more than 2.5 million Germans and tourists come to Winterwelt!

A short nine-minute walk away you’ll find a world of Cubism, Expressionism and Bauhaus at the striking glass Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery).  Even closer are the Berlin Film Museum (2 minutes’ walk) and the Gemäldegalerie (8 minutes), one of the world’s most important collections of 13th-18th century European paintings.  And Insider Walking Tours’ ‘Third Reich Berlin’ tour finishes less than 10 minutes away on the site of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters.

Also close by:  Musical Instrument Museum (6 minutes), Kunstbibliothek (8 minutes), Brandenburg Gate (12 minutes).

Gedächtniskirche
(11am-9pm Sun to Thurs, 10am-10pm Friday and Saturday, access via Kurfürstendamm or Zoologischer Garten U-Bahn)
Set around the remnants of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the ‘Ku’damm’, Berlin’s answer to Oxford Street, this market boasts 170 stalls with a huge range of different products, food and drink on offer.

Art-lovers will want to take the opportunity to visit the nearby Kunstforum der Berliner Volksbank (7 minutes away), which presents world-class exhibitions, tours and creative workshops; also within easy reach is the city’s Photography Museum showcasing the work of Helmut Newton, one of the most important fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th century.

And finally …
All five of the above Christmas markets are right on the route of Berlin’s ‘hop-on, hop-off’ sightseeing bus tour, running every 20-40 minutes until 3pm  -  all you need to do is pick your favourite and hop off!

Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Epic Savings Event

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

If you have ever dreamed about booking a trip to Universal Orlando to experience the thrilling rides and family friendly atmosphere, then now is the time. What about Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley? Have you been dying to visit and take your first spin on the new Escape from Gringots ride? Throw caution to the wind and take a peak at the great deal begin offered at Universal Orlando’ Cabana Bay Beach Resort for the next 72 hours!

What is the Epic Savings Event?

For the next 72 hours, when you book a 3 night stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort you can score 2 free tickets to see the Blue Man Group. We saw this last year, and the boys still rave about it, it is a must see for sure!

How much do rooms cost at Cabana Bay Beach Resort? Right now, you can score a room at this amazing family friendly resort complete with a lazy river, bowling alley and two pools for only $99 per night!

Cabana Bay Lazy River

Check out the full details of the offer below!

Includes the following benefits:

  • Book a three-night on-site hotel stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort starting at $99 per night plus tax.
  • Receive two complimentary Blue Man Group tickets
  • Complimentary upgrade to a Family Suite
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • For more information or to book a stay, visit: www.universalorlando.com/EpicSavings

*Minimum 3-night stay, Sunday – Thursday only. For select travel dates from Nov. 4, 2014 to Feb. 12, 2015.Blockout dates apply Dec. 25 – Jan. 3, 2015.

What are you waiting for? If you’ve dreamed of a family trip to Universal Orlando, it will be hard to find a deal as good as this, but hurry, it only lasts for 72 hours!

A Visit to Indiana Caverns (spoiler alert- it involves an underground boat ride!)

Indiana Caverns
I remember visiting a cavern/cave system in Texas when I was in middle school, and although I can’t remember every detail, it left a curious mark on me. I was fascinated by the underground world, beautiful cave structures, and constant climate.

Fast forward to early fall of this year. When I received an invite to Corydon, Indiana, and read that underground caverns were on the itinerary, I was on board. My first stop was to Indiana Caverns the largest cave system in Indiana. At present day, there’s over 40 miles of the Brinkley Cave system and it’s growing compliments of the continuous excavation and research.

Indiana Caverns

The 80-minute tour shows visitors the amazing features of Indiana Caverns, including stalactites, stalagmites, and water sources. We walked by a waterfall, were shown animals indigenous to the cave system, and even took an underground boat ride. Yep, you read that correctly. The pontoon-style boat took us through parts of the cave system that would not be accessible unless we were in hip waders. given that the cave system maintains a constant temperature of 57 degrees year-round, water at that temperature is a bit too cold for me.

At one point, our knowledgeable tour guide cut all of the lights that give the cavern its only source of visibility and asked us all to remain silent for a few seconds to show what animals and even humans encountered when they entered the cave hundreds of years ago.

Indiana Caverns

Speaking of animals, Indiana Caverns does a fab job of showing off their amazing collection of animal bones dating from the Ice Age including Peccary and Bison. An ongoing excavation is finding more discoveries with each session and if you’re the inquisitive cave type, you can actually join in on a Paleo dig with scientists. The Paleo dig is a separate cost from general tour admission, but the thrill would definitely outweigh the cost if you’re a cavern fan like I am.

The Details

Indiana Caverns offers guided tours year round from 9am-5pm, seven days a week. Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, you’ve got 363 other days to choose from. Prices for visitors are $19 for adults, $10 for children 4-12. There are discounts for groups as well. Indiana Caverns is not handicap accessible but anyone that can walk up and down stairs with no issues will definitely enjoy the tour. I would happily return for a visit again and consider the underground boat ride a highlight of my autumn season.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Indiana Caverns for the purpose of giving you fine folks the scoop on my family’s fabulous time. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.

Karyn Locke is Trekaroo’s  Marketing and Social Media Guroo and newly-appointed Mid-America Guroo. A former military brat who caught the travel bug at a very early age, Karyn loves road tripping with her family and writing about her travels from small town Ohio at  Sand and Snow...and everywhere in between!

2015 National Park Free Days!

TIPS FOR TENT CAMPING IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Grab your calendars, national park fans — the 2015 National Park free days have been announced! For nine days next year, the entrance fee to all national parks will be waived in commemoration of the following events:

January 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 14-16: Presidents Day weekend
April 18-19: Opening weekend of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 26: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day

It’s never too early to start planning your next national park adventure. For help brainstorming places to visit or where to stay, check out our FREE Owner’s Guide here. And don’t forget that we have one more fee-free day left in 2014! Get out and enjoy your national parks on November 11 in honor of Veterans Day!

Spine Chilling Nights In The National Parks

haunted tours
The cracking sound of a twig in the distance. The menacing hoot of a lone owl in the pitch-black night. The inexplicable creak of a floorboard in an empty historic building. It doesn’t take an overactive imagination to be spooked by the sometimes eerie nature of our national parks!This month, several sites across the country embrace fall’s ghoulish festival of Halloween as they welcome visitors for fun (and some even hair-raising) events! If you’re looking for a startling, entertaining, and educational good time, you can head to:

De Soto National Memorial (Florida) — Encounter restless spirits, zombies, and night creatures as you walk one of the largest haunted trails in Manatee County.

Minute Man National Historical Park (Massachusetts) — Join the Guild of Historic Interpreters in a very spooky, candle-lit setting for an evening of traditional New England ghost stories.

Oregon Caves National Monument (Oregon) — Hear the creepy stories of local history and the lesser-known tales of the caves as you take a haunted candlelight tour.

William Howard Taft National Historic Site (Ohio) — Learn about the unearthly origins of the “Hallows Eve” celebration from an unexpected Victorian visitor.

There are many ways for you to enjoy the peculiar, thrilling, and strange history of our national parks this Halloween. To see an expanded list of events, check out the National Park blog here if you dare!

Baltimore’s Top “Haunted Coldspots”

pub crawl(c)http://wickedhistorybaltimore.com/

This is my favorite time of year. I love all the ghost walks, haunted pub crawls and fun family events that happen in October. There is so much happening in almost every U.S. city during the fall, but Baltimore looks like they are taking it up a notch with all the activities and “Haunted Coldspots”. If you’ve never been to Baltimore now is a great time to plan a visit.

Fell’s Point & Mount Vernon
Once the sun sets, visitors can explore the “unknown” by taking a haunted ghost walk or pub walk through the streets of historic Fell’s Point or Mount Vernon. Two of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods, both are home to dozens of haunted pubs, shops and residences.

The Admiral’s Ghost Tour & Reception
Guests staying at the Admiral Fell Inn won’t need to go too far to get a dose of the spirit world.   Considered one of the Top Ten Haunted Places in Baltimore, the hotel’s “The Admiral’s Ghost Tour & Reception” begins in the lobby and tours the seven historic buildings that make up The Admiral Fell Inn.

Baltimore Wicked History Tours
Now – November: Saturdays 5:00 pm

This is a Baltimore history tour like no other. Baltimore Wicked History Tours plumbs the depths of Baltimore’s underbelly. While crawling through some of the pubs and taverns in town, visitors will hear about times past when some struggled to survive and others thumbed their noses at authority. From speakeasies to underhanded villains to celebrated personalities who passed through these Baltimore streets, come down and hear tantalizing tales of a scandalous past.

Westminster Hall (c)http://www.westminsterhall.org/

Westminster Hall Burying Ground 
519 W. Fayette St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Ongoing
Westminster Hall is a beautiful historic building in downtown Baltimore. The Burying Grounds are the final resting place of many famous people, including the “Nevermore” famous Edgar Allan Poe and General James McHenry.

Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum
203 North Amity Street, Baltimore, MD
Weekends, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. through December 28, 2014

The refurbished National Historic Landmark, where Poe lived from 1833 to 1835 is open to visitors on a seasonal schedule or by appointment. Visitors can walk on the same floors, stairs and wander within the original plaster walls and woodwork that Edgar lived with.

Fell Family Crypt
1600 Shakespeare St., Baltimore, MD 21224Visit the final resting place of Fell’s Point founders, the Fell family. Learn about the beginnings of Fell’s Point and find out which member from the Fell family can be seen walking along Shakespeare Street toward the family’s grave site.

Fort McHenry (c)https://www.facebook.com/FtMcHenryNPS

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
2400 E. Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230
Ongoing: 8:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

With more than 200 years of history, Fort McHenry has its share of legends, such as secret tunnels, ghostly apparitions and strange noises. Explore the ramparts and learn the history of the fort through these exciting stories that blend history, folklore, the humorous and the unexplainable.

Maryland Zoo(c)http://instagram.com/marylandzoo

Family Fun Attractions:

For some family fun, Baltimore’s attractions are filled with thrilling and chilling events and activities including the Maryland Zoo’s ZooBOOO! with FREE trick-or-treating, costume contests, fun carnival games, crafts, and live entertainment; AVAM’s Free Fall Halloween Celebration including a hair-raising outdoor movie screening and lantern-making workshops; and the Maryland Science Center’s Spooky Science where creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. Don’t miss out on the Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival in Patterson Park, where more than a dozen artists will create special floats and lanterns full of brilliant hues.

For a full list of happenings, visit http://baltimore.org/spirits.

Haunted Gettsyburg

Haunted Gettysburg

As the hot summer air eases into a cool fall breeze and the leaves begin to change color, everything in Gettysburg seems to intensify. October is the perfect time to visit the region … for more than just fall foliage and the apple harvest.

Visitors can feel the electricity in the air as Halloween edges closer and tales of the hauntings around town become more relevant. With over eight ghost tours, visitors have the chance to experience paranormal encounters they hadn’t bargained for.

With its tragic history as one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War, it’s no wonder many believe Gettysburg to be one of the most haunted places in the world. The historic town has been deemed everything from one of the top haunted spots in America to one of the spookiest places to spend the night. Many of the most famous sites in and around Gettysburg have been featured on television shows, such as the History Channel, A&E, the Travel Channel and Syfy.

Haunted Gettysburg

“Gettysburg is the place to be during this time of the year,” said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. “Visitors are looking for a way to get in the Halloween spirit while enjoying the change of season, and what better way than to spend a few days exploring Gettysburg.”

Every night, ghost tours walk the streets, as guides adorned in period clothing with lanterns tell stories about the people who once lived and fought here – and whose spirits are said to still linger. From the Belle of Baltimore on Culp’s Hill to the Blue Boy at Gettysburg College, there are hundreds of ghost stories to hear, and each guide has their own personal experiences to share. Every ghost tour company offers unique tours around the town –main streets, back alleys and inside some of these haunted buildings. Some companies even offer ghost hunts, where equipment is provided to visitors and they are lead to investigate some of Gettysburg’s haunted sites.

All haunted locations, such as the Sachs (Covered) Bridge, Farnsworth Inn House, Jennie Wade House, Cashtown Inn and the Dobbin House, are open to the public for both historical and haunted tours year-round. Visitors can spend the day learning the history of the sites, such as the tragic death of the only civilian casualty in the Battle of Gettysburg, Jennie Wade. But by night, be prepared to hear tales about how Jennie still haunts her sister’s home, and even spend the midnight hour in the museum’s cellar. Visitors tell stories of getting their hair yanked or the cellar doors rattling.

There is a reason visitors flock to Gettysburg and the surrounding area this time of the year; the fall foliage and crisp October air set the perfect scene for a ghost tour around the historic Civil War town during the spookiest month of the year.

Destination Gettysburg (formerly, the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau), the official destination marketing organization, markets Gettysburg – Adams County as a premier travel destination, producing a positive economic impact.

Read more of my Gettysburg experiences (including haunted experiences) here:

Visiting Gettysburg, PA

Best Place to Take A Ghost Tour

 

Haunted Alton

haunted alton(c)visitalton.com

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to take a haunted tour and/or explore the supernatural of a destination. A few years ago I discovered the most haunted small town in America. It was pure luck that I met the Alton, IL PR rep at a national travel conference. After chatting for a few minutes I realized that this was a must-visit town. A short time later I was on my way to discover just how haunted Alton really was.

My stay in Alton was fantastic and I heard lots of great stories of different hauntings in the area. There are a number of ghost tours in the area. Plus, last year began haunted river cruises on the Mississippi. The evening cruise includes a 90-minute tour that highlights points of interest along the shore and shares Alton’s goulish history. Learn more at http://www.VisitAlton.com/RiverBoat.

haunted alton(c)VisitAlton.com

Haunted Alton tours are available through the following companies:

Alton Hauntings

Based on the book Haunted Alton by Troy Taylor, Alton Hauntings Tours offers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip into the unknown, taking visitors to the most authentic haunted places in Alton. Uncover the eerie folklore, ghostly tales and documented haunted spots on a three-hour walking tour of the city’s most haunted sites. Visitors will see sites that have become nationally known, like the old Alton penitentiary, First Unitarian Church, Enos Sanitarium and many others. The tours have been proven to be popular with ghost enthusiasts and history buffs alike, and nowhere else can you learn as much about the real, haunted history of Alton. Walking tours and bus tours are offered during two touring seasons – Spring & Summer and the Haunted Fall Season. Private tours are also available for groups of 20 or more. Reservations must be made in advance for all tours. For more information or reservations, go to www.altonhauntings.com or call (888) 446-7850.

Alton Haunted Odyssey

Alton’s Haunted Odyssey began in 1992 when Marlene Lewis and Antoinette created the area’s first haunted tour. After Antoinette retired in 2011, Marlene and long-time tour guide Gary Hawkins decided to continue their haunted journey. They now off three different trolley tours that begin at the former Piasa Masonic Temple and takes you through the most haunted parts of Alton including the McPike Mansion, the Alton City Cemetery, Noll’s Bakery and Confectionary Co. and more. Ghost hunters are encouraged to bring cameras and ghost hunting equipment. Dinner tours include a meal prepared by Spirit’s Lounge. For more information or reservations, go to www.AltonHauntedTours.com or call (618) 462-3861.

Mineral Springs Haunted Tour

Interested in taking a Walk in the Dark? Mineral Springs Haunted Tours will guide the way as they take visitors on a walking tour of Downtown Alton followed by an exclusive investigation of all four floors of the Mineral Springs Hotel – a site of murder, suicide and accidental deaths. Cap the evening off beckoning the afterworld through a séance and tarot card readings. Visitors can also sign up for the Cemetery Tours, complete with a wake and procession following the Mineral Springs hearse to the Alton City Cemetery. You can also tour the Museum of Torture of Devices! Walking tours, dinner tours and haunted overnights are available. Prices vary based on tour selected. For reservations, go to www.mineralspringshauntedtours.com or call (866) 465-3205.Even if you can’t make it to Alton, you can still explore their haunted history with their new Haunted Alton app. People share photos through social media channels that are uploaded to the app giving you a look inside and outside the haunted buildings.

haunted alton(c)VisitAlton.com

In addition to seeing haunted images you can find a list of haunted tour providers and events. Download the Haunted App for free in iTunes or Android stores by searching for Haunted Alton or by clicking here:  www.VisitAlton.com/HauntedApp

Discover New Orleans Plantation Country

Oak Alley Plantation

Almost everyone has heard about the jazz, music, and revelry that make up New Orleans, but there is a hidden gem located a few miles beyond Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. Here, following the flow of the Mississippi River, sits New Orleans Plantation Country.

Today, nine plantation homes are open for tours and a few even offer overnight accommodations. One fun interesting fact about Plantation Country is that a number of movies and tv shows have been filmed here. Interview with a Vampire, True Detective, 12 Years A Slave, and Django Unchained to name a few. (See a full list here: http://www.neworleansplantationcountry.com/film/films)

I recently visited Plantation Country and loved every minute of it. It’s hard to pick a favorite plantation, each has their own unique characteristic, but there were a few standouts. This is not an inclusive list of all nine plantations, but rather a brief glimpse with my best insider tips of my favorite plantations.

Oak Alley

OAK ALLEY PLANTATION

300-year old Live Virginia Oaks line the walkway from the road to the plantation’s front door. Leaf heavy limbs reach for the sky while other limbs curve toward the ground providing a stunning shaded walkway. During your visit tour the historic home, visit the newly opened Slavery at Oak Alley exhibit, eat at the Oak Alley restaurant and stay the night at one of the lovely cabins located on the grounds.

INSIDER TIPS

• Have your camera ready because there are so many great photo opps on the plantation. When you take a tour of the home be sure to be at the front of the crowd when the guide opens the double doors to the reveal the oak alley at the front of the home. It is a true Kodak moment.

• Mint Juleps can be purchased from a cart located on the back porch of the home. It’s a perfect refreshment to enjoy while exploring the grounds.

• The restaurant has some great food. Go for breakfast when the restaurant isn’t very busy. This also gives you the opportunity to tour the grounds when there are fewer people around.

• Brad Pitt stayed the night at Oak Alley. If you are spending the night be sure to request the room where he stayed.

(c)LauraPlantation(c)Laura Plantation

LAURA PLANTATION

The first thing you’ll notice when walking up to Laura Plantation is the colorful exterior. The most intriguing stories from the plantation is how the heir to the plantation, Laura, walked away from a million-dollar inheritance. Music lovers will be thrilled to find out that this was the family home to famous musician, Fats Domino.

INSIDER TIPS

• Tours are available in French as well as English, which was a pleasant surprise.

• When you are on the second level of the home be sure the guide tells you about the grandfather clock and it’s history with Hurricane Katrina.

• Banana plants are grown on the plantation and you’ll have the opportunity to walk through these tall plants. I had no idea that bananas could be grown in Louisiana.

• If you love the stories you hear during your tour be sure to pick up a book at the gift shop. It’s a history of the plantation written by the current owners.

Evergreen

EVERGREEN PLANTATION

One of the few homes to miss being shelled during the civil war, Evergreen Plantation, sits further back from the Mississippi River than the other plantations along this road.

INSIDER TIPS

• Hollywood LOVES filming at this plantation. Skeleton Key and Django Unchained were both filmed here among many other films.

• This is still a working sugar cane plantation unlike the other plantations in the area.

• Don’t skip a visit to the slave quarters. These are original and not reproductions.

• The Live Oak trees that line the drive to the plantation are draped in Spanish moss and makes a gorgeous photo opp. Stop and take photos before parking the car.

Houma House

HOUMAS HOUSE

Garden aficionados take note that this is THE plantation to visit when you are visiting New Orleans Plantation Country. Acres of landscaping, water features, sculptures, and more will keep you visiting for hours.

INSIDER TIPS

• Find the secret garden and discover all the hidden gnomes along the trail.

• If you want to take a moment to cool off you can grab a snack, meal or just a drink at one of the two on-site restaurants.

• Wear comfy shoes, there is a lot of walking here to explore all the gardens.

• Next to the pond with the steep bridge is a large birdcage with a pretty parrot. It was a fun little discovery.

The next time you are in New Orleans be sure to visit at least one of the plantation homes and take a step back in time. Tours with or without transportation are available from New Orleans. The lovely people at New Orleans Plantation Country are also available to help you plan your visit.

disclaimer: New Orleans Plantation Country provided lodging, meals, and attraction tickets for my visit.

Join the Giant Pumpkin Boat Regatta & Festival in Damariscotta, ME

Pumpkin Regatta(c)chiotsrun–flickr
Have you ever watched giant pumpkins float down a river? How about giant pumpkins that have been carved into boats that people attach a motor too? It’s one of those events that have you to see to believe. Mark your calendar for October 13, 2014 because that is the day of the annual pumpkin boat regatta in Damariscotta, ME.

Damariscotta hosts an entire weekend of festivities including everything from the pumpkin boat regatta to parades, pumpkin derbys, pumpkin catapults, food, kids activities to as much fun as you can pack into one weekend. The regatta, started in 2007, has been gaining more and more attention over the years. It has been featured on the Discovery Channel, The Chew and CBS News–Sunday Morning to name a few.

Pumpkin Regatta(c)chiotsrun–flickr

The regatta has evolved over the years and includes two divisions a paddle race and a motorboat race. Within those division there are heats that determine the final winners, who are awarded Golden Gourd trophies.

Since I have a complete fascination with the odd and bizarre this festival is right up my alley. It’s hard to imagine a big enough pumpkin that can be carved out and have a boat motor attached to it. I don’t know what they have in the soil in Maine, but they are growing those pumpkins BIG.

Here’s a quick video that shows a clip of both the paddle pumpkins and motorboat pumpkins.

Damariscotta, ME is located 50 miles northeast of Portland and is a small town located on the Damariscotta River. If you want to attend the event and plan to spend the night you should make plans now.

While you are in the area be sure to visit the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, built in 1827. The entry fee is only $2 per person and looks like a beautiful lighthouse to visit. For a full list of additional nearby activities click here.

Prepare to have a great time at Damariscotta Pumpkin Festival & Regatta. When you go be sure to let us know what you thought and if you floated a pumpkin down the river.