Turn of the Century through the 1950s
War reshapes the world, as do new innovations in global travel
By Vacations Staff
Henry Ford's name has become synonymous with the American car industry. The Henry Ford complex in Dearborn, MI, comprises four main attractions, including the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. The "Driving America" exhibit houses an impressive collection of historic vehicles, like Ford's first gasoline-powered auto, the Quadricycle Runabout, built in 1896.
Neighboring Greenfield Village is full of interactive experiences. Several revolve around the Wright brothers, whose childhood home and cycle shop was bought by Ford. A short play performed during the summer months recounts the duo's first successful flight in 1903.
A visit to the Henry Ford complex is a highlight of the eight-day "Mackinac Island" itinerary. Prices start at $2,799, with departures available from June to October.
Collette gives travelers another chance to engage with a living history museum during the five-day " Spotlight on New York City." Day 3 is dedicated to the story of New York's immigration boom, which began in the late 1800s and lasted until the middle of the following century. The morning includes a ferry ride to Ellis Island, where a museum recounts the difficult journey immigrants undertook in search of new opportunities.
Those wishing to learn even more about this period can use free time to scope out the Tenement Museum, where actors portray real-life immigrants who inhabited the building in decades past. Departures for this New York itinerary are available from May 2018 through April 2019, with prices from $1,799.
A fascinating way to track history in Europe is through its architecture. Striking examples from this period can be found in Barcelona, where architect Antoni Gaudi worked almost exclusively for several decades. Undoubtedly his most famous work, the Sagrada Familia cathedral is unfinished. Current plans envision completion in 2026, the centennial of Gaudi's death. Elaborate facades, soaring spires and stained-glass windows make this one of Barcelona's most popular tourist spots.
Examine the cathedral and other Gaudi masterpieces like Casa Batllo --
its roof dazzling with iridescent scales -- during a pre-cruise stay in Barcelona. Many ships begin seven-night Mediterranean voyages in the Catalan capital.
Perhaps more than any other event, the First World War left a deep scar at the beginning of the 20th century. Radio revolutionized the way troops communicated with each other, but advances in weapons technology combined with trench warfare led to millions of casualties. Memorials and preserved battlefields pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives and create poignant, unforgettable experiences for visitors.
SITA World Tours' five-day tour of France, "Glimpses of WWI Battlefield" ventures to the infamous site of the 1916 Battle of the Somme. And, while a focus on British troops is common in WWI discussions, this trip branches out to observe memorials devoted to members of the Commonwealth, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. Prices start at $1,200, with more than 20 departures from April through November. -- L.S.
Prohibition was implemented in the U.S. in 1920, and underground speak-easies, bootleggers and gangsters flourished. Meanwhile, the emblematic flapper danced the Charleston and the growing popularity of jazz provided the soundtrack for a liberated age.
Discover this era while visiting the cities that shaped it. The eight-day "Big Apple to Chicago" from Intrepid Travel features free time in major metropolises between nights of camping. The first three days cover New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, where nostalgic bars and Prohibition-themed tours abound. While in Louisville, KY, spots like the Frazier History Museum explore the historic anti-liquor law's effect on the region's bourbon industry. And, in Chicago, consider a tour of downtown's art deco skyscrapers with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Departures are available from June 2018 to September 2019 and priced from $1,170.
Fans of the Jazz Age won't want to pass up a stay in New Orleans, especially during an exclusive Cosmos tour departing April 27. This 11-day sojourn ends with nearly three full days in the Big Easy, including time devoted to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. What better city to celebrate the genre than the birthplace of jazz itself? Prices for "Dixieland & Rhythms With New Orleans Jazz Fest," which also visits musical haunts like Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville, begin at $2,359.
While some vacation accommodations attempt to channel another era, few go to the same lengths as Cottar's 1920s Safari Camp. Charles Cottar and his family created Cottar's Safari Service in 1919, and Cottar still is one of the biggest names in safaris today. Located in Kenya near the majestic Maasai Mara National Reserve, these luxury tents are peppered with decorative details that recall the golden age of safari and allow guests to step back in time almost 100 years. Alexander Roberts spends three nights at this elegant camp during its 10-day "Kenya in Style" safari. Prices start at $11,649, with departures through March. -- L.S.
When the Queen Mary began its maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, the New York Times heralded "a new peak in luxury at sea."
Though its fiercest competitor, France's stately Normandie, was considered an icon of art deco design, this Cunard Line vessel held its own among tastemakers and trans-Atlantic passengers. Its interiors were crafted, in part, from more than 50 types of exotic wood harvested from around the British Empire; at that time, royal territory stretched as far as India, Nigeria and Belize. Perks included indoor swimming pools, a high-end shopping promenade and a children's playroom conveniently placed outside the first-class cocktail bar. The ship also offered a one-of-a-kind, sign-of-the-times amenity: an onboard prayer room for Jewish guests, such as those fleeing religious persecution in Europe.
Another mainstay of the classic cruising period was Holland America Line.
In 1937, the christening of the Nieuw Amsterdam marked another leap in trans-Atlantic style -- only the second ship to include an onboard theater, the vessel set new standards for fashionable vacationers. Gold leaf detailing, Murano glass lighting fixtures and the distinctive blue-and-white palette of Delft pottery tiles accented first-class spaces, but even the third-class dining room was kept comfortable through air conditioning, a technological oddity for ships of the time.
Celebrity guests were common in the early days of trans-Atlantic leisure travel, and entertainers like Bob Hope and Fred Astaire sailed with the Queen Mary in 1939. Hope, in fact, was aboard the vessel's last passenger voyage before the outbreak of World War II. Vacation cruising ceased for nearly eight years, and both the Queen Mary and Nieuw Amsterdam were conscripted for Allied troop transport. Adolf Hitler offered $250,000 to any German U-boat captain who could sink Cunard's queen, but the ship's reliability had Winston Churchill declaring it his seagoing headquarters.
Today, Cunard offers the classic cruising lifestyle with modern amenities aboard three ships (to be joined by a fourth in 2022). The Queen Mary 2 continues the tradition of trans-Atlantic crossings, with weeklong trips between New York and Southampton, England, starting at $999. Meanwhile, Holland America will celebrate its next launch in December with the Nieuw Statendam, boasting cozy cabins for solo travelers as well as family staterooms built for five. Prices for its inaugural voyage start at $1,099. -- J.D.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes conducted a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. More than 2,400 Americans died in the raid, sailors as well as civilians, and hundreds of
airplanes and ships were destroyed or damaged by falling bombs.
The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Congress' approval, declared war on Japan. The United States had officially entered World War II.
Pearl Harbor still is home to an active military base, but a few retired battleships offer tours to the public. The most well-known site is the USS Arizona, which suffered 1,177 casualties during the attack; a memorial now sits atop the vessel's sunken remains. The massive USS Missouri also is stationed here. On Sept. 2, 1945, Japanese leaders surrendered on the "Mighty Mo," bringing an end to the war in the Pacific.
Explore Oahu's balmy shores, the capital city of Honolulu and World War II monuments during a stay at a beachfront property.
The invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, was the beginning of the end of World War II. Commanded by future U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower, Allied forces landed on the beaches of northern France and, over the course of three months, pushed back against German troops as they worked their way inland. The Allies reclaimed Paris a little more than two months later, ending a four-year Nazi occupation. By September 1944, the majority of France was liberated, along with Belgium and parts of the Netherlands.
Avalon Waterways' eight-day "Paris to Normandy for WWII Historians" river cruise spends a day at the famed shore, calling on action-heavy Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. During free time in the French capital, you can visit sites connected to the war, including the Museum of the Order of the Liberation, dedicated to the 1940s resistance fighters of the Free French forces. Prices begin at $3,249 for a July 7 departure. -- K.E.W.
Big-wave surfing surged in popularity in the 1950s, especially in the Hawaiian Islands. It was a colossal change of pace from the longboarding practiced by kanaka maoli (native Hawaiians) for centuries. Pioneers of the sport were drawn to Oahu's swells at Makaha Beach and on the famed North Shore, where they reach upward of 25 feet.
Sail the Aloha State for a chance to see these righteous rollers yourself, or hang 10 in calmer waters, during a 10-night vacation with Norwegian Cruise Line. These adventures kick off with a three-night stay in a Honolulu hotel with guided sightseeing excursions around Oahu. Then, guests board the Pride of America to visit Maui, the Big Island and Kauai on a weeklong cruise. Departures are available through December, with prices from $2,559.
The first of Walt Disney's beloved amusement parks, Disneyland opened in 1955. Though the grand opening was a flop (insufficient refreshments, unprepared rides and melting asphalt), the kinks soon were ironed out, and today the famed park in Anaheim, CA, attracts more than 15 million guests each year.
Book your stay at the Happiest Place on Earth with the 745-room Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. The property boasts its own entry gate to the park as well as family-friendly activities like scavenger hunts, trivia challenges and movie nights.
Las Vegas got its start as a ranching and railroad town, but it turned into a haven for West Coast crime lords. Making gambling an authentic business in the '50s, mobsters built up the Strip with glitzy hotels and casinos. The iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign was erected in 1959 as tourists arrived in droves to place bets and enjoy entertainment by the likes of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, opened in 1946, is steeped in Vegas history; it's just down Fremont Street from "Vegas Vic," the popular neon cowboy that has beckoned visitors to Sin City since 1951. More than 2,000 rooms are kept fresh through regular renovations, and an unusual swimming pool features a waterslide through a three-story shark tank. -- R.M.O.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in Winter 2018. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.