Bob Hoelscher

Thirty Americana Favorites


Bob Hoelscher
Published June 06, 2017

Since this is our Americana theme issue, it’s only appropriate that I provide our many readers with a listing of some of the classic Americana attractions and experiences that I’ve especially enjoyed during my 47 years in the travel and tourism industry. Although I could easily come up with many more, here are 30, listed alphabetically, that I’d like to invite you to add to your personal must-do list.


• The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas: Famed shrine of Texas independence, at the center of a delightful city.

• Arthur Bryant’s BBQ, Kansas City, Missouri: The American mecca for countless devotees of barbecued pork, beef and poultry.

• Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee: Home and shrine of the blues, but don’t forget to also visit A. Schwab’s amazing dry goods store.

• Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming: A world-class museum of the American West, along the road to Yellowstone.

• Central Park, New York: The country’s most magnificent city park, guaranteed to prove to you the genius of Frederick Law Olmsted.

• Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia: Unquestionably America’s finest historic restoration and re-creation.

• Cooperstown, New York: Not just the Baseball Hall of Fame but also the Fenimore Art Museum, Farmers’ Museum and more make this small upstate town a real charmer.

• Fort Worth Stockyards, Fort Worth, Texas: This colorful historic district will keep you well fed and entertained at what was formerly a huge center of livestock sales.

• Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco: Walk across the bridge for incredible views of the City by the Bay.

• Harold Warp Pioneer Village, Minden, Nebraska: Although some is just stabilized junk, here you’ll find an enormous collection of diverse items Americans used and abused.

• The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan: The automaker’s great tribute to America includes Greenfield Village, the Museum of American Innovation and the massive Rouge Plant.

• Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, California: Yes, they have an Independence Hall replica and thrill rides, but they also have Mrs. Knott’s recipe for America’s best fried chicken.

• Luckenbach, Texas: Near Fredericksburg, this tiny hamlet, celebrated in song, is rural Texas to a “T.”

• Mackinac Island, Michigan: Return to an earlier age on this charming Victorian resort isle, where motor vehicles are not allowed and fudge is king.

• Manito Park, Spokane, Washington: Some of the most beautiful public gardens in the country and is free to visit.

• Natchez, Mississippi: The South’s renowned repository of splendid antebellum mansions.

• Philly Cheesesteaks, Philadelphia: Whether you prefer Pat’s, Geno’s or another city favorite, you’ll enjoy an authentic Philly treat not duplicated elsewhere.

• Pike Place Market, Seattle: Lots to see and buy, including large salmon and halibut tossed to those keeping the seafood counters filled.

• Presidents’ Homes, Virginia: Washington’s Mount Vernon, Jefferson’s Monticello, Monroe’s Highland and Oak Hill, and Madison’s Montpelier.

• Red’s Eats, Wiscasset, Maine: Situated right on U.S. 1, there’s always a line at this modest roadside stand, known nationwide for its delicious lobster rolls.

• San Diego Zoo, San Diego: Not inexpensive to visit, but likely the best-known and arguably the best of America’s fine zoos.

• San Miguel Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico: I’ve been to many of the world’s iconic houses of worship, but none is more inspiring than this small mission church.

• Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Sarasota, Florida: Founded in 1939, this is what classic Florida vacation attractions were like before the arrival of massive theme parks.

• Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont: New England’s little Smithsonian, filled with a wide variety of Americana.

• Smithsonian Institution, Washington: Truly one of the world’s greatest museum complexes, and free of charge.

• The Strip, Las Vegas: If you don’t want to gamble a nickel, you’ll still be astounded by the massive casino resorts that line Las Vegas Boulevard.

• Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis: The place to go after a Cardinals baseball game; mobs of people show up here nightly for a frosty “concrete.”

• Ten-Mile Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island: Come see the summer “cottages” of America’s historic rich and famous.

• Tombstone, Arizona: The Old West comes alive at the home of the O.K. Corral shootout and nearby Boot Hill Cemetery.       

• Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota: It’s hokey, yes, but a Western classic, and you still get free ice water.