In Your Own “Grand” Backyard
The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. ~ G.K. Chesterton
When The Grand Tour organized a trip to the three great National Parks — Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone — for WGBH Boston, the primary TV producer of the Ken Burns series “America’s Best Idea,” we consulted Mr. Burns. “Why not do a more circumscribed tour to Zion and Bryce Canyon along with the Grand Canyon?” he told us. But we knew that many people have never visited the “Crown Jewels” as the three biggies are called. And it was true; the tour sold out in less than two weeks.
America’s National Parks, created under the impetus of Teddy Roosevelt’s landmark Antiquities Act in 1906, are truly America’s cathedrals. We cannot match the European cities with their astounding architecture and art treasures built over centuries of history, but in the wide open spaces of the West the US reigns supreme. The geology of the immense canyons carved out of centuries of erosion; the majestic mountains, lofty redwoods and sequoias; animals in the wild. Nature in America takes your breath away!
Our National Park system is not the only magnificent destination in the US. Think of beautiful San Francisco. Nestled amidst seven hills on a picturesque bay, it is rich in historical sites, panoramic views, great food and outstanding hotels. Not to mention the unrivalled wine in nearby Napa and Sonoma. Think New York, the center of the world, unlike any city in its sheer verticality, a surprise around every corner. Think Chicago, a city rebuilt from the ground up after the Fire of 1871, a city which encourages great architects, making an unparalleled showcase of 20th and 21st century building. The gorgeous Berkshires in western Massachusetts boast an array of cultural activities in the summer: Tanglewood, MassMOCA, Jacob’s Pillow Dance, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Clark Art Institute are just a few.
Our American history evokes broad interest. Boston has many original sites where the story of the American Revolution can be explored. The graceful cities of Savannah and Charleston make a perfect base to explore antebellum South and the Civil War. Santa Fe, the oldest city in America, boasts ancient and modern Indian pueblos and an amazing Hispanic culture, Georgia O’Keeffe and outstanding art galleries, world class opera and fine dining. Have you been yet?
WHERE WE STAY
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
El Tovar: Grand Canyon National Park
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Old Faithful Inn
1075 California Street (Nob Hill)
Hotel Plaza Athénée
37 East 64th St. (bet. Madison & Park)
Tel: 212.734.9100 / 800.447.8800
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa
330 East Palace Avenue
Tel: 505.986.0000 / 866.331.7625
Inn and Spa at Loretto (left)
211 Old Santa Fe Trail
Tel: 505.988.5531 / 800.727.5531