I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.
19 Cities ... Here I come!

The publisher I work for has given me a new assignment. I am to travel to 19 US cities (over the next year or so), visit historical sites, take photographs, and then blog about my experiences. The blog will be directed at 6th and 7th graders. The cities are ones that middle school students who take the required class, United States History 1865 to the Present, study over the course of the yearlong class. For someone whose bliss truly is to travel and experience new things, this is an incredibly exciting prospect. My head is spinning as I think of all the places I will go and everything that I will experience. Just last night I was watching Food Network and one program highlighted three different food sellers in NYC. One was a restaurant that sells only homemade pies. What could be better than that? Who doesn't swoon over homemade pie? Heck, I'd even like to work in that kind of place. So, yes, food is a consideration along with historic sites. After all, I have to eat while I am away, and I only want to eat the best of the best food available. Today I briefly watched a program on National Geographic about New York Harbor. Holy cow! Do I ever want to set off on this adventure.

I need help figuring out what to see in each location. I've already come up with two criteria. First, I must visit at least one place that is well known. As an example, when I go to Philadelphia, I surely must visit Constitution Hall. Second, I want to visit little known places that are historically significant, ones that can easily be overlooked. I have been told that art museums can be included. I think it would be fun to visit places that the students will enjoy reading about, perhaps a toy museum or something of that ilk. So, below are my cities. If you have any suggestions about historic places I should visit OR restaurants with to-die-for food, please post a comment.


1. New York City
2. Boston
3. Philadelphia
4. Pittsburgh
5. Atlanta
6. New Orleans
7. Miami
8. Chicago
9. St. Louis
10. Detroit
11. San Antonio
12. Santa Fe
13. Denver
14. Salt Lake City
15. Los Angeles
16. San Francisco
17. Seattle
18. Juneau
19. Honolulu



Laura Pearman Bowman said...

This sounds like a wonderful adventure!!!!! I have not been many places but when we went to pick up my brother from basic training we went to the arch in St was wonderful!! My father and I watched the film they had on the construction on it. If you go there the film is a must see!!! I wish you luck and great adventures with this!!!!

Rebekah :) said...

This is an amazing opportunity! I am thrilled for you! I am originally from Granite City, IL- right across the Mighty Mississippi from St. Louis. I haven't been there in years, but the Old Spaghetti Factory was delicious when I was last there!

Of course you HAVE to go to the Arch! The museum is great and it has an educational film that shows the construction and history of the Arch. St. Louis has lots of other wonderful places: the art museum, a free zoo, Missouri Botanical Garden, Grant's Farm, and the Science Center is AWESOME!!!!

If you're interested in Native American history, on the Illinois side is Cahokia Mounds which is a great stop too!

I'm so excited for you. Now you've got me thinking of "home." Wave hello to the Midwest for me when you go. :)

Deb said...

St. Louis: of course you will visit the Arch but check out City Museum and Grant's Farm.

Denver: The U.S. Mint is very interesting and the cliff divers at Casa Bonita (a Mexican restaurant) are wonderful.

New Orleans: The French Quarter is a must. Ride the trolleys and check out one of the Ghost Tours.

Chicago: The Aquarium/Oceanarium is amazing. One of the best museums in the country is the Museum of Science and Industry. The Fields Museum has thousands of stuffed animals, including quite a few extinct species. I'm not so fond of them but the Egyptian part and the dinosaur bones are terrific.

San Antonio: You have to visit the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and the Mexican Marketplace. Seaworld is also great if the weather is warm.

Lee said...

San Antonio: the Alamo (of course) and maybe the missions as well.

Santa Fe: Ghost Ranch (about an hour away) was Georgia O'keefe's home and home to many of the dinosaurs fossils discovered in the U.S. I'd say Pasquale's to eat, the Santa Fe culinary school, and visit on a day that the Farmer's Mkt is operation.

Kelly said...


I am drooling over your opportunity. NYC is close to my heart since my relatives are still in Jersey and some work in the city. You can't go wrong if you eat anywhere in Little Italy. We love Luna's and Puglia's. FAO Shwartz is a bit a of a wonderland, and it's right next to the Apple Store, which could be a perk for you! I'd love to learn more about the little red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. There is a children's book about it that was written in the 1940s.

Pittsburgh: Ride the incline, eat perogies, and explore anything related to Heinz.

Seattle: You'll certainly go to Pike's Market. I also highly recommend riding the Duck for a good land/water tour of the city. Other US Cities have Ducks too, but I think the ones in Seattle are a must for an educational good time!

Juneau: I loved exploring the Russian Orthodox Church in town. If you can get out on a boat to check out glaciers, go for it.

New Orleans: Don't miss Preservation Hall, even if you have to stand in a long line to make one of the two evening shows. You want to be inside smelling the wood and enjoying that jazz; not outside with your nose pressed against the glass with a crowd of others. Eat Po Boys and jambalaya 'til your heart's content.


Stephanie said...

Wow, what an incredibly fun opportunity! I am so envious. I'm a friend (virtual friend, that is) of Jessica's and I live in Seattle. I'd love to help you with Seattle, much too much to post here so please feel free to email me. One angle I think would be interesting for Seattle would be to explore the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. There are two books that would be great for you to read, if you haven't already, both are fiction but give a flavor for some of the sites that might be relevant to visit. The books are Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford which is relatively new and delightful, and Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

I'm a total foodie so I have LOTS of restaurant recommendations. So excited for you!

Dani said...

What an amazing job! How exciting! I was going to mention Casa Bonita in Denver-the food isn't great, but it's a fun place to explore. There was also a gold mine you can tour just outside the city. Rach and I went there when she visited me. There is also Dinosaur Ridge and the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden.
Pittsburgh has a great science museum-The Carnegie Science Center.
In Chicago, I ate at the original Uno's for deep dish pizza.

Have a great adventure!

karenreads said...

This sounds like a great trip! I lived in NY for many years, and I would recommend The Museum of the City of New York. It's way up on 103rd street, but it is worth the trip. They have a great toy museum, and many other great collections, focusing on daily life in the city. It's one of my favorite museums in NY.

Sarah said...

San Francisco - Muir Woods across the golden gate bridge and Alcatraz. Eat at Tommaso's in North Beach. Amazing. Sunset cocktails at the Cliff House is nice too!

NYC - Eat at Becco. All you can eat homemade pasta for $23. Brooklyn ice cream factory at the base of the Brooklyn bridge.

janalee said...

We used to live in Iowa, and visited Chicago a few times. My favorite place to walk was the shoreline of Lake Michigan- not historic, really, but definitely a beautiful part of the city. Loved the Museum of Science and Industry, as well.

Right now I live east of Salt Lake City, in Midway (where they did the 2002 cross-country skiing events). In SLC, there is a lot of history- I'd start at Temple Square (headquarters of the Mormon Church), and visit the Lion/Beehive houses on that same block. The State Capital is up the hill, and was renovated last year. If you get a chance, and the weather's good, hike the 1.5 miles up to Ensign Peak. You can see the entire Salt Lake valley from there, and it is a wonderful view! (I will volunteer to give you a tour if you're interested)

Good luck with this!

Ruhiyyih Rose said...

what a travel itinerary!!! It will be an amazing trip!

Seattle is sure to be a favorite - native American history, logging history, etc - and great food!

Anonymous said...

In Chicago you absolutely must eat at Pizzeria Uno, the original one, not the chain. It's on Ohio Street and the crust will rock your world. :) Link to the picture of the outside:

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous opportunity! I can't wait to see the blog!

When in Chicago, in addition to the other museums listed previously, check out
1) the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the only free zoos left in the U.S. and/or Brookfield Zoo, which has the most amazing Children's zoo.
2) the Art museum(just opened a new wing recently)and the Museum of Contemporary Art
3) Peggy Notebaert museum which has a fabulous butterfly haven
4) Museum of Science and Industry - the fairy tale house, coal mine, and U-505 submarine are not to be missed
5) Oak Park - take the Frank Lloyd Wright tour - there is one specifically for children where the docents are actually children.
6) Follow the sites from the Children's books Chasing Vermeer, the Wright 3, and the Calder Game (written by local author Blue Balliett.
7) Chinatown

As for food -
1)Chicago is known for it's stuffed pizza - Lou Malnati's or Edwardos.
2) Ed Debevics - hamburger joint where you go for the experience
3) Carsons - ribs
4) Dim Sum - Three Happiness or Phoenix
5) Smoque - hole in the wall but the argueably the best BBQ in town
6) Hot Dougs - hot dogs, another Chicago specialty

For more fine dining -
1) Catch 35 - fish/steak
2) Maggianos or Rosebud - Italian

Sarah said...

Atlanta - the world of coke museum and the aquarium. underground atlanta is neat, but go during the day. centennial park where the olympics were held and the cnn headquarters. Kids love those places. the botanical gardens is also nice. there are tons of things to do in atlanta! there is this fondue place called dante's down the hatch that is a jazz and fondue place. very neat. a little pricey, but it is like a boat inside. neat experience

lisa h said...


When you get to Boston-walk the trail, go to Boston Commons, check out the statues of Mack, Quack, Oack, etc...There is so much history there, it will keep you busy for quite a while.
On your way to Boston, I know RI is not on your list BUT you need to go to RI and get to Aunt Carries (narragansett) and get some homemade chowder, clam cakes, and bread (seasonal-May-Sept).
Brown University, URI, RISD are a few of the higher learning institutions available.
RI is also rich in Native American history-Wampanoag tibe is still prevalent. Also rich in both Italian and Jewish history.
New Orleans-it may not be "historic" but get to the Tabasco Plant. It is seasonal-make sure it open for tours.

Sara K said...

What an opportunity! I am envious of the list of cities you will get to explore.

As a Masschusetts resident, hopefully I can offer some insight for Beantown!

First I would suggest coming in the fall to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage that New England has to offer and then you can also witness the Halloween fun in nearby Salem MA.

And a great place to eat and stay is the Longellow's Wayside Inn. It is noted as the oldest inn in the country. It is located in Sudbury, MA.

Boston: Things to Do:
1) Freedom Trail – marked by a red line or bricks embedded in the ground and includes visits to:
a) Boston Common (including Boston Public Garden)
b) Bunker Hill Monument
c) Faneuil Hall (Quincy Market is adjacent)
d) Granary Burying Ground
e) Massachusetts State House
f) Old North Church
g) Old State House
h) Paul Revere House
i) USS Constitution

2) Boston Duck Tour
3) Boston Children's Museum
4) Museum of Fine Arts
5) Museum of Science
6) New England Aquarium
7) Bull & Finch Pub – whose building is known from the television show Cheers
8) Fenway Park - Boston Redsox
9) TD Banknorth Garden (Boston Garden)- Boston Celtics & Bruins
10) Sam Adams Brewery

Nearby in Concord MA:
1)Concord Museum
2)Old North Bridge
3)The Old Manse, home of Emerson and Hawthorne
4)Ralph Waldo Emerson House
5)The Wayside, home of Louisa May Alcott, Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney
6)Orchard House
7)Minute Man National Historical Park
8)Walden Pond
9)Wright's Tavern
10)Reuben Brown House, home of notable revolutionist
11)Thoreau Farm, birthplace of Henry David Thoreau

Nearby in Salem MA
1) 40 Whacks Museum - The Lizzie Borden Story
2) Old Town Hall
3) House of the Seven Gables
4) New England Pirate Museum
5) Peabody Essex Museum
6) Salem Wax Museum
7) Salem Witch Museum & Witch Village
8) Witch Dungeon Museum
9) Witch History Museum

Nearby in Plymouth MA
1) Plimoth Plantation
2) Alden House Museum
3) Burial Hill
4) 1749 Court House and Museum
5) 1677 Harlow Old Fort House
6) Hedge House Museum
7) Jabez Howland House
8) Jenney Grist Mill
9) Mayflower II
10) Mayflower Society House
11) National Monument to the Forefathers
12) Pilgrim Hall Museum
13) Plymouth Rock
14) 1640 Richard Sparrow House
15) The Spooner House Museum
16) The Trask Museum

And of course there is Cape Cod and the Islands (Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard), which are accessible by boat from Boston.

Hopefully you find this information helpful...there is A LOT to do and see here in Massachusetts.

Can't wait to hear about your adventures.

liz smith said...

I'm from Salt Lake. There is the obvious with the Mormon Pioneers

This is the Place Monumnet
Utah Daughters of Pioneers Museum
Salt Lake LDS Temple

But our heritage is not just LDS and in fact those of us who aren't members will want to make sure catch the rest of the city

Salt Lake Catholic Cathedral- the stone came from the original LDS Temple when they decided to go with granite instead

International Peace Gardens

Salt Lake City Library

Wheeler Historic Farm

One of the best museums is at Lagoon which is an amusement park. It has a great Pioneer Museum and Gun Museum

Fort Douglas Museum

The Great Lake Lake

I'm not thinking of any restaurants at the moment but will think it over

Kathy said...

Visiting from Rach's.... What a wonderful assignment! From San Francisco head towards Sacramento, visit Sutter's Fort. A short drive east and you reach Coloma, the start of the California Gold Rush, this area abounds in gold rush history and I would love to be your unofficial tour partner and host if you make it to the Coloma area!

Lyndsey said...

Came here from Rachael's blog...I agree with the previous commenter about the World of Coke, Centennial Park, and GA Aquarium in Atlanta. The aquarium may not exactly be a "historical" site, but is still a must-see.

There's the Martin Luther King Jr. Center - lots of great civil rights historical value there.

I would also visit the Margaret Mitchell House (where Gone With the Wind was written)--maybe the Wren's Nest too (home of Joel Chandler Harris, of Brer Rabbit fame.)

Stone Mountain, which has several Confederate leaders carved into it (R.E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis.) Stone Mountain also has a not-so-glamorous history of links to the KKK.

About an hour and a half outside of Atlanta in Warm Springs, GA is the Little White House, FDR's personal retreat and where he died. Even though it's not EXACTLY in Atlanta, it might be worth a trip :)

Deborah said...

I'm in Springfield, IL, right between Chicago and St. Louis. I spend a lot of time in both cities. I want to put in a plug for a "lesser appreciated" St. Louis attraction: The Scott Joplin House. You'll love it!

tournesol said...

Wow, I want a great job like that! I live near Los Angeles, and kids usually love the La Brea Tarpits where dinosaurs bones have been found in the tar. Very cool. And of course Hollywood, the walk of fame with all the stars. A great place to eat, Bottega Louie's! Great food, great atmosphere, and usually a celebrity or two having lunch or dinner. I had lunch and a the next table was Selma Blair of HellBoy fame and Trish from Clean House. Really fun and they have a great bakery.

Anonymous said...

Born and raised in Atlanta, some must sees:
- World of Coke
- Margaret Mitchell House
- Centennial Olympic Park
- Georgia Aquarium
- Atlanta Cyclorama
- Oakland Cemetary
- MLK Center
- Savannah
- Atlanta History Center
- Fox Theatre
- Agrirama
Places to Eat:
- Although not fine Dining, The Varsity is an Atlanta tradition
- Silver Skillet (featured on Food Network)
- We love the Old Spaghetti Factory
- The SunDial

What an amazing opportunity - enjoy!!

Twinkletoes said...

Here from Rachael's blog...

Philadelphia: The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are musts when in Philadelphia.
I am thinking a cheesesteak and/or a soft pretzel might be a good idea too!!!

Taneal said...

Things to see in Miami:
Coral Castle
Bonnet House
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Miami Zoo
Holocaust Memorial
Everglades – Airboat ride & Gator Park
Little Havana
Butterfly World
South Beach & the Art Deco buildings

Food (yummy):
Sublime (100% vegan & organic restaurant)
News Café (great breakfast)
Joe’s Stone Crabs
Tobacco Road
Capital grille (great steak)
Shorty’s BBQ

I don’t know if you can veer away from Miami, but St. Augustine is a treasure trove of history and cool place for kids. Kennedy Space Center and Daytona 500 Experience are both really popular places (especially with boys).

Have a great time! I can't wait to read about everything!

Lee said...

Another thought about the Boston area- I would definitely visit some authors' houses in Concord. The Louisa May Alcott house is my favorite. Bronson Alcott's experimental estate, Fruitlands, is in Harvard Mass.
If you're looking for a budget place to stay, there's a monastery in Harvard, MA that will house people dormitory style for a very reasonable price. The scenery is beautiful and the monks very kind.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late, but thought I could offer some insight. As a native Texan I have spent many weekend trips in San Antonio. Definitely see the riverwalk - take a riverboat trip. You will learn a ton of history about the buildings around the riverwalk. Visit La Villita (litte village - its an artists village), El Mercado, and the Tower of the Americas. The Alamo is a given, as well as some of the other missions in the area. For something a little different visit Natural Bridge Caverns. If I remember right it was discovered by students in the 1960's.

Have fun, it sounds like a great time and I look forward to the blog!

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