After more than 25 years as a Starr Tour Director, I have noticed that the most frequently-asked question by passengers is “What is your favorite destination?” With the wide variety of options offered by Starr, it is not an easy question to answer. However, in an effort to share my experiences with you, I have narrowed down the long list of choices to my personal top three picks (not in any specific order):
Niagara Falls – My husband was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, and we still have relatives residing in the area. That means I have visited Niagara Falls often and have been able to experience its beauty in all four seasons. While they have “real winter” in that part of the country, the ice forming on the falls is absolutely spectacular and worth donning my long-johns to see! On the Canadian side (which I believe has the best view of the falls), the gardens in springtime are ablaze with color. Parks Canada does a magnificent job in keeping the planting beds filled with a dazzling array of plants and flowers. While summer in Niagara Falls can be hot and humid (honest!), it is also the busiest and most crowded season and a frequent family vacation destination. There are so many attractions, restaurants, and natural wonders to explore! The leaves in autumn start to turn earlier in the Niagara Region than in New Jersey, so even a bus trip in September can reveal fall foliage at its best. In short, I think Niagara Falls is a destination that can be enjoyed year round – based on your personal preferences. No matter how often I visit, the view from Table Rock (very close to the fall’s precipice) still takes my breath away! And for folks who do not have a passport, Starr now offers bus trips that stay on the New York side of the border!
Nova Scotia, Canada – This is quintessential Maritime Canada at its best! Starr offers the option of a motorcoach tour or visiting the area by cruise ship. Peggy’s Cove, a small fishing village located about an hour from the provincial capital of Halifax, provides magnificent views of the rocky coast. It is said that the best scallops in the world come from Digby, Nova Scotia – and if you like seafood, the options are endless! While the adventuresome can try the local favorites (poutine and beaver tails), there are familiar American restaurants as well – something for everyone. The scenery alone would rank a #1 reason for this bus tour, but the people of Nova Scotia are also responsible for my many visits. I have found the folks in this area to be kind, welcoming, and helpful to travelers. Several years ago on one of the bus trips I escorted, we had free time for lunch in one of the local towns and two of my passengers became confused and could not find the bus. A local woman (on her lunch hour from work) saw their distress, offered to help, and took the time to walk them back to the bus parking area. She could have ignored them or just given verbal directions, but she took the time to be of true assistance to these travelers. Last, but not least, is the Titanic connection to Halifax; there is an excellent exhibit on the ship as well as the Halifax Explosion. Don’t let different currency or the metric system scare you! Your Starr Tour Director will have you well-versed in all the details you need to know before your bus arrives in Nova Scotia.
Civil War Trails (or almost any history tour!) – On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (2010), Starr began offering bus tours with an historical theme and we called the series “Civil War Trails.” Over the years, these itineraries have included Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Washington, DC and much more. I have had the pleasure to serve as Tour Director on these bus trips and it has been an exciting, enjoyable and educational experience for my passengers and me. These tours have much more than battlefields and always include a component relative to the people who were not fighting, but trying to survive a tumultuous time in our country’s history. In addition, I highlight something about the women of the period—often overlooked in folks’ zeal to learn about the politicians and Generals. Join me this year as we explore the Civil War History of Fredericksburg, VA!
If the Civil War is not your favorite period in our history, you still have lots of options! Starr regularly offers tours to Salem, Massachusetts, Williamsburg, Virginia and other historical areas. There are even itineraries regarding specific historical figures (Franklin Roosevelt, Harriett Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc.).
Personally, I did not enjoy learning history while in school. However, actually walking in the footsteps of the people who helped to shape our country has always been an exciting and illuminating experience for me – and I try to share that enthusiasm and curiosity with my passengers.
I hope that this information will be helpful as you look through the myriad of choices Starr is offering this year and select the destination of your next journey. My favorite quote from Saint Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
So… Keep traveling! And I hope to see you on a bus trip soon!
Jane Peters Estes, Tour Director