Bucket list updates; gems from eastern US and Canada include the Old South and Canadian Maritimes!

Updating your travel bucket list; gems from eastern US and Canada include the Old South and Canadian Maritimes…

St. George Island Lighthouse, FL, headed eventually to Georgia and South Carolina.

Over the last two weeks, my wife and I have shared our favorite travel destinations in the western United States. This week, our top suggestions for the eastern US and Canada.

In February and March, 2015, we took a 30 day trip across the southwestern US to Florida, then north into Georgia and South Carolina. Despite memorable stops in San Antonio (The Alamo and nearby Riverwalk), New Orleans (Bourbon Street, gumbo, nearby historic plantations), Florida (the Everglades, Key West and historic Saint Augustine), it was the antebellum old south of Georgia and South Carolina that struck us the most deeply.

In advance of the trip, I had read up on General Sherman’s March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah, which cut the Confederacy in half and helped hasten the end of the Civil War. Hence, we camped with our teardrop trailer at Fort McAllister State Park, the last Confederate fortified stronghold protecting Savannah from Union ships and the blockade on the Ogeechee River.

Lovely Forsythe Fountain and Plaza in Savannah, GA.

From the park, we drove in for two days of exploring Savannah. The old city has a lovely historic district more than a mile square, bordered on the north by the Savannah River. With 22 parks spread liberally throughout the city, graced by stately oaks draped in Spanish moss, we toured to the lively City Market, past the old Cotton Exchange and had lunch at Fiddlers Crab House on the waterfront, as we watched tugboats, paddlewheelers and large container ships sail past while dining on oysters from Apalachicola, local crawfish and crab chowder.

Our leisurely walking tour of the city continued, past the historic Mercer Williams House (family of composer Johnny Mercer), the stately Forsyth Fountain in Forsyth Park and scores of elegant homes and grand mansions lining the city’s shady streets.

We continued north into South Carolina’s “Low Country”, crossing rivers, bayous and low tidal marshes, then headed towards Charleston. It was once the very hub of the early Confederacy, with historic Fort Sumter guarding the harbor off the city. The town features the HS Hunley submarine (a Confederate sub, first to sink another ship) and a huge historic district, tied both to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

The Williams Mercer House, home to composer Johnny Mercer, Savannah.

Take time to tour the Charleston museum, the Confederate Museum, the Dock Street Theater, the old Cotton Exchange, Provost Dungeon, South Carolina Historical Society and the quarters of the Washington Light Infantry. Sobering is the old Slave Market Museum, representing the ugly side of the Confederacy.

Don’t miss the boat tour out to Fort Sumter nor a stop at iconic Hyman’s Seafood where delicious specials include Low Country Boil (spicy bowl of shrimp, fish, crab legs, potatoes and veggies), Cajun fish and shrimp and southern fried pork chops.

The Ashley River historic plantation district 20 miles southwest of Charleston offers gems like the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, a 17th-century estate acquired 1676 by the Drayton family, featuring America’s oldest gardens, circa 1680, which bloom year-round. The tour features a pre-Revolutionary War plantation house, huge gardens, antebellum slave-quarter cabins and more.

At the opposite corner of the country, flanked by Maine, lie the Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Spouse Susan in front of Dalvay by the Sea in Prince Edward Island Provincial Park.

On a recent trip we crossed from Quebec province into New Brunswick, with quiet fishing villages and historic lighthouses dotting the rugged coastline. We crossed the 13 km Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island (PEI). A lovely isle, with rolling hills and rocky coast, we stopped first in Victoria Harbour, featuring an historic coastal town on a small harbor with a half-dozen lobster boats, had lunch and headed for Charlottetown, the old port city that was the site in 1864 of the Canadian gathering that would lead to the formation of Canada three years later.

Once back on the mainland we toured much of the coast of Nova Scotia, impressed by the low tides of the Bay of Fundy, where tides drop as much as 25 feet, leaving 80 miles of the bay high and dry and fishing boats marooned until the tide returns. I don’t have the space to adequately describe the marvelous vistas and lovely towns that line the Atlantic shores, with Maine’s Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park just a bit further south. You can find my full travel features on-line.

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia on bright sunny day.

Other “most favorite tours” of the eastern US include Boston and its moving Freedom Trail history, upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains featuring Lake Placid and Cooperstown (home of Baseball Hall of Fame) and the unexpected beauty of the beaches of the Delaware and Maryland shore, centered on Ocean City, MD (eastern terminus of US Hwy. 50, it’s just 3,000 miles from Sacramento).

Finally, old US Rte. 66 offers wonderful touring opportunities, starting anywhere on the old “mother road” from Santa Monica to Chicago.  Of all the states, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri seem to recreate and preserve the old highway the best, with marvelous brochures listing all the historic and unique attractions (like the world’s tallest rocking chair in Missouri)!

Giant rocking chair graces olf Rte. 66 in Cuba, Missouri.

Update that travel bucket list! For more information: Georgia, exploregeorgia.org; South Carolina, discoversouthcarolina.com, Canadian Maritime provinces, cig.gc.ca, or see my features on these tours archived on the Record web site.

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook or Twitter; or, email him at tviall@msn.com. Happy travels in the west!

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