Revolutionary Putnam County, New York

New York-Tri-state area residents are always on the hunt for a “hop, skip and a jump” getaway. Putnam County, NY, is not only a short hour+ drive from Manhattan, it’s also steeped in revolutionary war history and unusual attractions that one might not anticipate.  We asked Frank Smith, director of Tourism for Putnam County, NY, to join us in a One-on-One interview to talk about some of the fun and historical attractions, including super spots for enjoying the fall foliage season.

WATCH our interview with Putnam County Tourism director, Frank Smith

Q: Putnam has caught the attention of “The Fireball Run,” a nationally streamed, internationally televised, adventure travel series. I understand they are making a pitstop in the county.  Tell us about that?

The Fireball Run is in its 10th season of production, and Putnam County could not be happier that we are a pit stop along the journey. Live filming is set to take place on Route 6N in Mahopac on the afternoon of Friday, September 30th and the morning of Saturday, October 1st, in conjunction with the Italian American Club of Mahopac’s Columbus Day Parade, as well as the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce’ annual Mahopac Street Fair.

Q: What are some of the unique and historical attractions that make Putnam County stand out as a draw for day-trippers?

Although small in geographic area, Putnam is filled with history and culture. There are a few “must-see” destinations in this category.

The Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison is a great example of Federal Style architecture, and home to the famed Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

There’s Manitoga, the home and studio of Mid-century designer Russel Wright.

The Chuang Yen Buddhist Monastery, home to the Western Hemisphere’s largest Buddha Statute.

The grave and route of Revolutionary War heroine Sybil Ludington.

The Putnam History Museum is home to a West Point Foundry Built Parrot Gun in their newest exhibit, which is walking distance from the Metro North railroad stop in Cold Spring. Continue reading →

A random sampling of NYC hotels showed 1/3 didn’t change sheets between guests

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

In an investigation airing on Tuesday, September 13th, “Inside Edition” puts hotels to the test – the program came up with a unique way to find out whether you may be sleeping on dirty sheets – and the results might make you think twice before getting under the covers.

 

The program booked rooms at nine different hotels and each time sprayed a harmless and washable fluorescent paint onto the bed sheet, using a stencil that reads, “I Slept Here.” The paint is invisible to the naked eye – you can only see what’s on the sheets by turning on an ultra-violet light.

At The Candlewood Inn & Suites in Manhattan, “Inside Edition” checked out leaving the dirty sheets with the invisible message. But were the sheets changed? The next day, “Inside Edition” booked the exact same room – but under a different name. When they examined the sheets under the UV light, shockingly, the same message – ‘I Slept Here’ – appeared. The sheets hadn’t been changed between guests.

Read the full story here to learn how management reacted and check your local listings to tune in on Tuesday, September 13th to watch the report.

San Diego — The birthplace of California

As part of our series on historical getaways, we’ve gone West to San Diego!  Most people think La Jolla Cove, the San Diego Zoo or  Balboa Park when they hear San Diego, but the city has a long interesting history and attractions that define it as the Plymouth Rock of the west coast.  We interviewed Robert Arends of the San Diego Tourism Authority, who shares some unique stories and places to visit, particularly if you’re a history buff.

WATCH our interview with Robert Arends, San Diego Tourism Authority

Why is San Diego considered the birthplace of California?

On September 28, 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, anchored his flagship San Salvador on Point Loma near the entrance to San Diego Bay. On this historic day, Cabrillo became the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. And the San Salvador became the first recorded European vessel to sail along California and survey its coastline; sailing north in search of new trade routes. The San Salvador is the ship that discovered San Diego and of the (future) State of California.

San Diego made history again this past Labor Day weekend.  Tell us about the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s maiden voyage celebration of the first full-scale working replica of the San Salvador. Can tourists board the vessel throughout the year?

Designing the San Salvador

Designing the San Salvador

Yes, the Maritime Museum of San Diego hosted a big annual Festival of Sail – the largest Tall Ship festival on the West Coast – over Labor Day weekend and a full-scale working replica of the San Salvador, the “Mayflower of the West” made her public debut as the star attraction. For the first time ever, visitors got to walk her decks, marvel at her rigging and step back into time to the Age of Discovery [15th-18th century] with exhibits on the ship’s historic significance – akin to the Mayflower as the origin symbol ship of New England.

On September 10, the San Salvador will make her inaugural voyage up the California coast for the Pacific Heritage Tour, where visitors can sail aboard one of 3 passenger legs. She will also make ports of call stops in Oxnard, Monterey, and Morro Bay.

Upon its return to San Diego, visitors will be able to board the San Salvador year-round as part of the Maritime Museum’s permanent collection.

What are some other attractions that history buffs will enjoy?

  • Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma, San Diego’s only national park. Features the film “In Search of Cabrillo,” an exhibit hall presenting Cabrillo’s life and times, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, tidepools to explore, a whale watching overlook, an original WWII gun battery and old military radio station exhibit.
  • Juniper Serra Museum on Presidio Hill, marking the spot where a group of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan friars established Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769, over 225 years AFTER Cabrillo’s discovery of San Diego. This was the first mission in California’s string of 21 famous missions and the state’s first church.
  • Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego’s first downtown which sprang up around Presidio Hill. Features a historic plaza, several adobe buildings and Old West architecture that brings to life San Diego’s Hispanic heritage from the early to late 1800s.
  • Mission San Diego de Alcala, established in 1774. It was relocated from Presidio Hill to nearby Mission Valley so it could be closer to the San Diego River, the region’s primary water source. Features a museum of original artifacts, a chapel, beautiful gardens and an excavation site believed to be part of the monastery.
  • Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. covering 6,800 acres. Features the Old Mission Dam, hiking up Cowles Mountain (the highest peak in City of San Diego at over 1,500 feet), boating and camping, a state-of-the-art visitor center and popular rock climbing at Mission Gorge.

So, when the history lessons are over, where do you recommend tourists visit to relax, unwind and take in some pretty vistas?

San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches, including scenic La Jolla which is pretty as a postcard! And Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, where visitors can enjoy 360-degree views of San Diego. There’s also the iconic 200-foot tall California Tower in Balboa Park, part of the Museum of Man. Interesting bit of trivia: the tower is topped by a San Salvador ship weathervane. I also recommend taking a fun harbor excursion with Flagship or Hornblower to see San Diego Bay and the coastline just as Cabrillo did!

Any upcoming special events, festivals or other attractions coming up this fall?

Cabrillo Festival on Sept, 30-Oct. 1, featuring a re-enactment of Cabrillo’s historic landing on Point Loma at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma. The event is FREE, family friendly and features cultural demonstrations, folk dances, art vendors and food booths bringing to life traditions of local Native Americans (Kumeyaay tribe), Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cultures.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Myers Valley Inkopah Gorge  20100320

San Salvador Petroglyphs | Photo: (c)Ted Walton

There was a discovery in San Diego’s East County of a petroglyph rock depicting Spanish ships that is believed to be the only remaining first-person documentation of Cabrillo’s arrival in San Diego in 1542 (see attached photos); recorded by the indigenous Kumeyaay tribes of San Diego County who have lived here for more than 12,000 years. The petroglyphs are believed to be the oldest graphic representation of a recorded event in U.S. history.

The Maritime Museum has a replica of this amazing find.

To plan a trip to San Diego and learn more about our fascinating history and attractions, visit SanDiego.org

Exploring Historical West Virginia

ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

West Virgina — Mountain momma, take me home, country road…and so goes the famous song by John Denver.  Kathleen Panek, historian for the Shinnston, WV Tourism Center at the Gillum House, says there’s so much to W. Virginia that people don’t know.  For instance, did you know that the state has a massive underground bunker that was built as an emergency shelter during the Cold War to keep congress safe?  It’s located in White Sulphur Springs and can be accessed via the historic Greenbrier hotel — it’s big enough to house more than 1,000 people!

Watch our interview with Kathleen — It you’re a history buff you will be fascinated with the off-the-beaten-path attractions of West Virginia. Our next historical destination is San Diego, the birthplace of California.

Americans waste 1.8 million years worth of vacation time

When it comes to frequent travel, ExpertFlyer subscribers are among the top tier, whether it’s for business or leisure travel.  In fact, a recent survey of more than 1,500 of our Seat Alerts subscribers indicated that 87% of those polled take a minimum of two vacations each year and 28% said they took four or more vacations per year.  Since vacations are worth their weight in stress relief, increased productivity, exposure to beauty, culture and new people – and more, we thought we’d talk to time-off expert, Katie Denis, senior director of Project: Time Off, to see how the rest of the world is using — or not using — their vacation time.

WATCH: ExpertFlyer’s One-on-One Interview with Katie Denis of Project: Time Off

Katie Denis: Generally, most Americans are not taking all their vacation time. 55% of them left time on the table last year to the tune of 658 million unused days. That’s 1.8 million years if you want to break it down. Continue reading →

2nd Annual Summer Travel Survey Reveals Thoughts About Travel Safety, Rewards Programs, and How Airlines Can Keep Customers

Travel experts weigh in on results adding commentary about purchasing habits, security / privacy issues and Facebook’s edge as the preferred way for travelers to share their travel experiences

With families in the thick of planning their summer vacations, ExpertFlyer.com is releasing results from its second annual travel survey. The data reveals, not surprisingly, that the majority (81%) of travelers believe taking a vacation is very important, citing exposure to beauty, culture and new people as the biggest benefit, followed by increased energy, excitement and stress relief.  The survey also discovered that despite vast technological leaps and the convenience of online search and booking, planning a vacation is still a time-consuming proposition with 51% of those polled saying they spend a minimum of 2-3 hours over multiple days hunting down airfare deals and nearly a one-third spending in excess of 4 hours over multiple days. The overwhelming majority (79%) also said they would relinquish some privacy issues to expedite security checkpoints and voiced what they want airlines to do to maintain their loyalty.

WATCH: ExpertFlyer Co-founder and President Chris Lopinto comments on trends emerging from latest survey

ExpertFlyer conducted the survey with more than 1,200* consumer-based travelers subscribing to its free Seat Alerts app to determine their favorite destinations, airlines and award programs, how they pay for travel, and how they communicate with the world while on vacation and more.  The illuminating results are illustrated in the survey’s infographic. Continue reading →