Neighborhood walking tours are a great way to explore a city’s heritage while getting a little exercise. Of course, you’ll want to know what kinds of tours your vacation destination has to offer before you arrive. Consult these Web sites for assistance with planning a successful neighborhood excursion into history:
• Atlanta Preservation Center Walking Tours <www.preserveatlanta.com/walkingtours.htm>: Discover the beauty and rich architectural history Atlanta’s neighborhoods have to offer — and be sure to wear your tennis shoes. This Web site outlines seven available walking tours and the schedules for each. The home page features a map of starting points that will keep you in the loop. You’ll find tours that explore Atlanta’s civil rights history, glamorous movie theaters, Victorian homes and much more.
• Chicago Neighborhood Tours <www.chgocitytours.com>: Choose from 10 tours that focus on the heritage of the Windy City’s historical communities, including Bronzeville, the West Side and Beverly Hills. If you’re looking for a unique Chicago experience, Literary Chicago, Ethnic Cemetery, The Great Chicago Fire and other special-interest tours listed on the site might appeal to you. The online schedule will help you plan your trip, while the Admission Information page has details on reservations, tour prices, payment methods and departure times.
• City of Montpelier, Vermont: Historic Walking Tours <montpelier-vt.org/walkingtour>: If you enjoy the do-it-yourself approach to sightseeing, the Montpelier walking tours are right up your alley. Get a historical overview of each tour’s points of interest and a map for each via the Web site. Take this information with you on your Vermont vacation and you’re off. Choose from the State Street, Main Street and College Street tours. Each offers a look at historical government buildings, old churches and important commercial areas of town.
• DC Heritage <www.dcheritage.org/homepage2549>: Whether you strike out on your own or go with a tour company to explore the historic homes, national museums and cultural flavor of Washington, DC, you’ll want to visit this site for guidance. If you decide to go it alone, click on a neighborhood link to be directed to a map of the area and an outline of the points of interest. Consult the events calendar for happenings in the neighborhood you’re visiting, and create an itinerary while you browse. The Tours & Trails section features a list of organized tours, contact information for setting up a tour and an explanation of tour highlights.
• Ghost Tours in St. Augustine, Florida <www.infoperson.com/ghosttr.htm>: Listen to ghostly tales of St. Augustine’s past on a horse-drawn carriage ride or on a walk through the town’s main attractions. The tour company, Abama, offers five packages that range in price from $8 to $20. Guides will lead you through the historic neighborhoods and entertain you with frightening stories of the past. Hop on a trolley to visit the town’s old, haunted jail, and sign up for the Haunted Lighthouse excursion for a scary experience. Details for reserving tickets, as well as links to hotel and visitor information, are on the home page.
• Historic New Orleans Walking Tours <www.tourneworleans.com>: Before you walk the streets of New Orleans, click on the links for each tour to find out what’s in store for you. You want to see the home of author Anne Rice? The Garden District excursion’s for you. How about a haunting night time journey through the French Quarter? Read up on the Haunted Tour for some frightening entertainment. If the supernatural piques your interest, check out the link to the Cemetery Voodoo Tour. Use the Web site to organize your New Orleans walking tour before you visit the city.
• Historic Walking Tours, St Simons Island, Georgia <www.stsimonsislandexperience.com/walkingtours.shtml>: Visit the historical hot spots of St. Simons Island with a storytelling tour guide. You can listen to a colorful narrative of the area’s heritage and view all the major landmarks. The site not only features a schedule of tours to Fort Frederica, Christ Church and Pier Village, but it also links to information that will help you plan your trip to the island. Access details on activities, accommodations, events, day trips and more. And if you’re still curious about what St. Simons Island has to offer, read the testimonials from people who have used the site.
• Mackinac Island Walking Tours <www.geocities.com/clio_49721/GreatTurtleTales.html>: Learn about this resort island’s fishing and fur-trade heritage. A tour guide will lead you on an exploration of the harbor area, East Bluff and Mission Point. Stops on your tour include Biddle House, Stuart House, AFC Retail Store, McGlupin House, Marquette Park, Indian Dormitory, St. Anne’s Church, Mission Church and Mission House. Another option is The Great Mackinac Island History Hunt. This activity is geared toward the young or the young-at-heart history hounds in your family. The Web site will help you choose the best itinerary for your group.
• Seven Walking Tours of Philadelphia <www.ushistory.org/districts>: Philadelphia is teeming with American history. With so many sites to see, you’ll want to get organized before you take to the streets of the City of Brotherly Love. This Web site lets you virtually tour Philly before your trip to get an idea of all there is to see. You can take seven tours: Fairmount Park, Historic District, Market Street, Parkway, Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill and Washington Square. When you click on each neighborhood link, you access a map and brief history of the area. By continuing to browse through the pages for each tour, you’re taken to every stop and given a description of the destination’s historical significance. Photos of landmarks, people and monuments add to this virtual visit.
•Walking Tours of Pittsburgh < www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/wt/html/walking_tours_ main.html>: Take a virtual stroll through the Mexican War Streets, Manchester and Allegheny West neighborhoods. This site provides you with more than just a tour map. Click on a tour link, and you’re hooked up with all kinds of information — facts about the community’s organizations, an outline of the neighborhood’s boundaries, a brief history, a summary of the architectural styles prevalent in the area and more. Check out the historic interiors walking tour of downtown Pittsburgh to get a glimpse into the new and old buildings that enhance the city’s cultural flavor.
From Family Tree Magazine‘s May 2003 Heritage Travel.