A little while ago, I was hosted on a media trip to New York State for a piece I was writing for Trekaroo: a tour of historic women’s rights sites in Upstate New York that people can visit with their children. I learned a ton of interesting history that I didn’t know about before (and should have known about) and I have ultimately decided to make a point of incorporating women’s history sites into my future trips with my family- it is inexcusable that so little of our women’s stories are told and I would like to help increase the voice of our history wherever I can.
On the trip we stayed one night in downtown Syracuse at a spectacularly restored hotel- the Marriott Downtown Syracuse that was first opened in 1924. The lobby had ornate details, gorgeous Stickley furniture and a beautiful fragrance that subtly perfumed the lobby while we checked in; this was the first time I’ve ever happily noticed the way a lobby smelled before. Have you ever thought about the way a lobby is scented? Our group peeked in the ballroom and it could have been a scene right out of Beauty and the Beast and because there was an event setting up we even got to see it bathed in a gorgeous pink hue. We popped upstairs to check out the gym and it was brightly lit and modern and I regret that I didn’t take the opportunity to work out. I loved the contrast between modern and historic and the attention to these details were impeccable everywhere I looked. In the morning, breakfast at Eleven Waters had many tasty options and I really appreciated how artfully the delicious blintzes were displayed at the buffet. I loved that this hotel was such an enjoyable sensory experience on so many levels and it was a treat to stay here.
There were many walkable sites from the hotel too. I had read about the nearby Landmark theatre, a theatre that also dates back to the glitz of 1928 and if I’m ever in the area again, I really want to come here to see a musical. There is also a rumor that this theatre is haunted and it’s on a list of the most haunted places in America. The most famous spirit living here is Clarissa, an actress who reportedly fell of the balcony but during our visit, we did not meet any unusual new friends. Armory Square was also nearby and if I wasn’t on a tour, I probably would have wanted to spend a little time at nearby Empire Brewery or Pastabilities; both looked like lovely lunch spots.
We did however, stop in at the Erie Canal Museum. I have lived near the Fremont Canal in Seattle and we love visiting the Ballard Locks but I have never really given too much thought to how much a Canal system can impact a city. The Erie Canal Museum gives a lot of history to how much our country depended on this canal in its earlier years and the exhibits are really informative and interactive. I will forever credit this museum to where I first learned about Victorian era women’s hair art.
I don’t expect to see anything like this on modern Pinterest accounts anytime soon, but it both fascinated and revolted me at the same time and it’s amazing to think that this is something I might have done as a woman even just a hundred and fifty years ago. With the kids, I’d love to take them back to the Erie Canal Museum to learn more about the history of the area and show them where the water once flowed and where it flows now-a lot of the city where we walked was once part of the canal and it was interesting to imagine that water flowed where cars now drive. I’d also love to take them cycling along this canal route in the summer-I’ve dreamed about cycling in Europe but I never thought to look for routes closer to home and this one is miles and miles of scenic, flat, beautiful biking trail along water which is perfect for cycling with kids.
This trip made me think about how often we North Americans seek adventures in faraway locales. I too often take for granted the ease at which I can book a plane ticket and get to anywhere in the world, and yet I know so little about the country where I live. Our North American backyard is huge and full of stories and interesting places to see. Through traveling to Upstate New York, I felt like I found a little piece of myself in the stories of the women I learned about as we visited incredible historic places that I never knew about before. Since my kids are starting to learn about American history in school, I think we’ll be doing more trips like this to foster family communication and learning through our future travels.
When you book travels with your family do you search close to home or do you look for faraway locales? Have you traveled in Upstate New York with your family and found stops they really enjoyed? I’d love to hear!
(PS. As mentioned before, I was hosted on a press trip to New York State for Trekaroo, and the opinions in this piece are my own.)