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5 ways to make the most of downtime

Travel planning

Don’t stare into the abyss; reframe your mindset. The travel industry’s evolving climate is an opportunity to map a future that will grow your tour business.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” — Gever Tulley

Become a tourism resource

Take the lead in reporting travel information where you plan tours. Update your business’ blog with posts that equip travelers with facts regarding safety guidelines from health officials. Discuss your tour destinations’ current and future plans, and reassure clients and prospective groups that this too shall pass.

Evaluate emergency protocols

The COVID-19 pandemic has most likely made you rethink how to handle a serious illness during a tour. Create a plan to retrain your team on what to do in challenging situations, like an illness, a seizure, a tornado, a hotel power outage or a motorcoach break-down. When it’s time to travel again, keep a digital or physical binder that lists the written steps for each scenario.

Update your web presence

When was the last time your company’s “about” section was updated on Facebook or your website? Draft a plan on what to post every day on each social media platform. Take time to tweak your headers and landing pages, and create a gallery on your website with photos from recent tours. Don’t forget to update your accomplishments on your personal and business LinkedIn pages.

Research new attractions

Surf the web for new tour destinations opening in 2021 and 2022. Fine-tune your itineraries with specific details, like a stop at the best local coffeeshop or a quaint giftshop. Add suggestions that are within walking-distance during free-time. Become an expert on your tour destination’s unique facts. Which celebrities live in the area? Are any of the historic buildings haunted?

Plan for an influx

When travel restrictions are lifted and cabin fever is over, people all over the world will be itching to travel. Draft a plan to help your business handle the number of bookings. Via the marketing avenue of your choice, share a regularly updated summary of facts and implications. In coming months, prospective clients will want to know when it’s safe to book travel again.

We know your business will emerge from this crisis stronger, wiser and prepared for the bright future of travel. We are here for you, and we are listening. Share your thoughts at subscriptions@grouptour.com.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum inspires courage

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus, Ohio Credit: National Veterans Memorial and Museum

Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

The National Veterans Memorial and Museum honors, connects, educates and inspires visitors through personal stories and firsthand accounts of veteran experiences.

While the structure in downtown Columbus, Ohio, is an architectural wonder, it is the veterans telling their stories in their own voices through film, photos, letters, multimedia presentations, personal artifacts and interactive exhibits that make the museum the marvel it is.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus, Ohio
Credit: Brad Feinfnopf

The Great Hall, an open, inviting space with a large-scale photographic installation featuring images of veterans in military uniform and back home after service, sets up the museum experience. It spans more than 50,000 square feet.

Visitors embark on a narrative journey, following exhibitions that focus on the people — the soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coastguardsman and their families — through 14 thematic alcoves. The alcoves range from answering the call to duty to life after military service.

Visitors have opportunities to open footlockers to hear directly from veterans about their experiences, and lift and touch gear including backpacks and helmets to better understand the physical rigors of service.

The core exhibition provides a timeline of U.S. history alongside the stories of 25 service members and historical documents.

“I am honored to stand at the helm of this institution, to continue to hear the stories not only of those displayed, but of visitors who have served,” said retired Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army, president and CEO. “The honesty, humanity and selflessness within these walls are amazing and will impactfully touch all who experience this national treasure.”

The view of Columbus from the museum is extraordinary, particularly from the rooftop, said Tamara K. Brown, marketing and communications manager.

Groups may also enjoy visiting the 2½-acre Memorial Grove, designed for contemplation and reflection. Anchored by a grove of elm trees, the space has a 325-foot stone wall, featuring three cascades of water and a reflecting pool, creating a space for remembrance, inspiration and the recognition of service.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus, Ohio
Credit: National Veterans Memorial and Museum

“Veterans enjoy seeing themselves in stories shared by the National Veterans Memorial and Museum,” Brown said. “They love to talk about their experiences: taking the oath, going through basic training, talking about their jobs and the places they served. ‘Connecting’ for them means revisiting some of the most memorable experiences from their lives in uniform. They are justifiably proud of their service and enjoy sharing their stories.”

Brown said non-veteran visitors enjoy seeing the human side of the military.

“‘Connecting’ for them also means learning,” she said. “It’s informative for those not familiar with the military to see how military members live, work, socialize and transition to and from the military.

The museum offers private, guided tours of both the core exhibition and special exhibits.

Motorcoach parking is complimentary. Veteran and active-duty military members receive free admission.

For more information, call 614-362-2800 or visit nationalvmm.org.

WonderWorks Branson announces grand opening

WonderWorks Branson

BRANSON, Missouri — WonderWorks Branson is set for its grand opening on June 5, 2020 at 10 a.m. This is the company’s sixth location and is the largest one, offering 48,000 square feet of family friendly engaging activities, as well as two cafes. Along with its many fan-favored exhibits, this location offers Branson-area experiences including paying tribute to the birthplace of Route 66, the history of Branson, and an exhibit area dedicated to the military. WonderWorks Branson also gives several nods to the Baldknobber Theater, which was previously housed at the address.

“We are so excited for our grand opening and love what we are bringing to the Branson community,” explains Brenda Dent, general manager of WonderWorks Branson. “We have something for everyone. This is the type of place that people have been hoping for, giving their family a great place to make memories together.”

WonderWorks Branson was previously scheduled to open at the beginning of April, but the pandemic put a halt to that. This location has since adopted new COVID-19 safety protocols which include reduced capacity, enhanced cleaning efforts, social distancing measures, hand sanitizer stations, employee health screenings, and employee personal protective equipment (PPE). Guests are encouraged to review all safety rules prior to their visit on the web page devoted to COVID-19: (wonderworksonline.com/branson/covid-19)

WonderWorks Branson
WonderWorks Branson, Branson, Mo.
Credit: WonderWorks

WonderWorks Branson joins a family of other locations around the nation, including Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach and Syracuse. This location is proud of the experiences offered that are unique to its location. The Branson Experience will offer an exploration of the history of the area. Guests will learn about the unique local features that draw millions to the area each year, about the many outdoor activities that people enjoy and more. 

Additional features that guests will enjoy at WonderWorks Branson include:

  • An “American Pride” section in partnership with the US Army, giving people an opportunity to see if they have what it takes to pass the PT test. Guests will also learn about STEM education in the military, American innovation, and more.
  • Guests will learn about the connection it has to Route 66, the Shepard of the Hills, Native American tribes, and current pop culture, among other local aspects.
  • Guests can go “Inside the Lab” to engage in exhibits covering meteorology, physics, light and sounds, space discovery, elements, and much more.

“Start planning your visit, because the family is going to love it,” adds Dent. “WonderWorks keeps kids engaged, learning, and exploring. Parents have fun, too! You can’t beat a combination like that.”

WonderWorks Branson also offers a variety of group activities, facility rentals, birthday parties, homeschool and sensory days and a WonderKids program. Group activities are available for such groups as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, team building, family reunions, and student groups. There is also a corporate discount program available. 

WonderWorks Branson features the attraction’s iconic exterior — a grandiose house flipped upside-down. The unique façade is part of WonderWorks’ background story. According to legend, it was once a top-secret laboratory that was lifted and flipped on its roof by an experiment gone awry. From its exterior to its interior, visitors of all ages will enjoy a family friendly, out of this world experience, which will make for some amazing memories. 

The interactive indoor amusement park offers STEM-focused activities for all ages. There are over 100 hands-on activities that are focused on the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of the exhibits will include a bubble room, Professor Wonder’s adventure, interactive sandbox, illusion art gallery, and xtreme 360 bikes. For more information on WonderWorks, visit.wonderworksonline.com/branson.

South Dakota itinerary: Brookings

Downtown Brookings
Credit: Kaylen Larson

Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

Running on locally brewed coffee and craft beer, Brookings offers a wide variety of year-round entertainment and a nationally ranked art scene.

“Brookings is an untapped destination for group tours,” said Laura Schoen Carbonneau, executive director of the Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Guests will love viewing original Harvey Dunn paintings and tasting the original Cookies n’ Cream ice cream.”

Discover the outdoors on two wheels as a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community. Savor local cuisine and lively nightlife activities throughout the city. Whether the group is in Brookings for a day or the weekend, adventure and excitement are just around the corner.

Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau


Credit: Jael Thorpe

Discover the serene setting of 25 acres of unique flowers, trees, shrubs, herbal plants and endless fields of soft grasses at McCrory Gardens, once only a 2-acre formal area. Available for docent-led or self-guided tours, the gardens provide new and robust colors among 14 formal gardens, a rock garden and a 45-acre arboretum.  


Credit: Jael Thorpe

The South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum highlights the diverse history and science of South Dakota agriculture. Located on South Dakota State University’s campus, the museum houses 3,500 agricultural and mechanical tools; 8,300 documentary items like maps, prints and agricultural business advertising; and over 70,000 photographs of farms, ranches and small towns.


Credit: Jael Thorpe

Listed as one of the 25 Best American Galleries and Museums by American Art Awards, the South Dakota Art Museum features the latest trends in contemporary art from regional, national and international artists. The museum is best known for its extensive permanent collection of Harvey Dunn illustrations and Paul Goble paintings. 


Credit: Jael Thorpe

Decorative murals, local boutiques, three antique shops and one world-famous hamburger joint make Downtown Brookings a place to find uniqueness. With buildings dating between 1894 to 1928, hints of art deco, classic revival and beaux-arts architecture mix with the modernly designed businesses and craft brew pubs — creating a timeless atmosphere with charm.

Florida Keys reopens to visitors

Key West
Credit: Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau

The Florida Keys reopened to visitors Monday, June 1, after being closed to nonresidents since March 22 to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.

Reopening measures included the removal of health checkpoints on two roads into the island chain, and the suspension of airport health screenings — except for passengers on nonstop flights from designated COVID-19 hotspot states.

Keys lodging properties, restaurants, beaches and other attractions have implemented safeguards that include enhanced sanitizing, reduced occupancy limits, required social distancing, the wearing of masks and other safety protocols. In addition, new signage is in place to remind the public of the health protocols.

“We’re excited about guests coming back to our place and we’re excited to have guests coming back to the Florida Keys,” said Mike Shipley, owner of the Island Bay Resort, a small property in Tavernier.

“We’ve been waiting for this for 10 weeks,” Shipley said. “It’s been a lot of sleepless nights; you didn’t know where the next dollar was going to come from.”

As visitors return to the island chain, officials’ messaging stresses personal health responsibility.

“Our messaging includes the idea of our visitors embracing protective measures such as hand washing, wearing of facial coverings and social distancing,” said Stacey Mitchell, director of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the destination marketing office for the Florida Keys.

Visit fla-keys.com to learn more about protective health practices for travelers and how to stay safe while enjoying the Florida Keys.

Wyoming itinerary: Cheyenne

Lane Frost Memorial
Brody Cress at Lane Frost Memorial Statue, Cheyenne, Wyo. Credit: Visit Cheyenne
Visit Cheyenne Itin#2 6-2020 LB

Cheyenne, Wyoming, is located at the crossroads of Interstates 80 and 25 and offers impressive tour options for travel groups. It sits just one hundred miles North of Denver, Colorado and is easy to partner with many locations such as Denver, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. Whether you are going for a western experience or outdoor experience, they’ve got it all.

Cheyenne’s slogan is “Live the Legend,” speaking to its rich history of western culture, but it also applies to the railroad, having one of the few remaining roundhouses. It is home to Union Pacific’s Historic Fleet.

They have a new Botanic Garden, free for visitors, with catered meals available. Home to the World’s Largest Computer and only Missile Alert Facility open to the public. Cheyenne Frontier Days is the World’s largest Outdoor Rodeo and is a kick ‘yer heals up 10 day  celebration with country music legends performing in the evenings.

Jill Pope, director of operations


Terry Bison Ranch, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Credit: Visit Cheyenne

Terry Bison Ranch is where the bison and camel play and seldom is heard a discouraging word. Take a train ride through the ranch where the bison come up to the train and eat out of your hands, you remain in the safety of the train. An amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Ranch includes the Senators Steakhouse with lots of space to dine and enjoy bison meat (optional).                                    

Contact: Rica Robinson


Delancey Ranch & Rodeo, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Credit: Visit Cheyenne

Book a private Rodeo and Cowboy Dinner at Delancey Ranch & Rodeo. Enjoy “Happy Hour” with the horses, a horse shoeing demonstration and, depending on the time of year, you might even have the baby horses join the party. Prices are determined by the menu your group selects. Groups can book just a rodeo or add a meal with Western entertainment to get the party started. The DeLancey’s welcome you to their place for fun under the beautiful Wyoming sky!

Contact: Dave or Cindy DeLancey 


Jump on board the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley for a Murder and Mayhem Tour, where the guide spins tales of the Wild West and Cheyenne’s unharnessed beginnings.  The trolleys can be chartered year round. Daily ticketed tours are offered from May through September. Each trolley seats 26 people and have air conditioning and heating. Step-on-Guides are available $50 per hour.

Contact: Jill Pope


Downtown, Cheyenne, Wyo.
Credit: Visit Cheyenne

While in Cheyenne you will want to spend some time downtown. There is great western shopping and eating. Cheyenne has various western and railroad museums and art galleries. The Wyoming State Capitol Building has just gone through a four-year restoration process and is now open for you to tour. Traversing the state is a relaxing endeavor with so few people. Come visit this cowboy playground.

Virginia itinerary: Wytheville

Wytheville's LOVEwork, Wytheville, Va.
Wytheville's LOVEwork, Wytheville, Va. Credit: Whytheville CVB

Wytheville… There’s Only One! That’s right, you can search the world over and not find another town with this name, but that is only the beginning of the uniqueness. Tucked away in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia, this charming, quintessential town offers group friendly adventures.

Within carefully curated museums, you’ll uncover Wytheville’s history, including early medicine, furniture making and artisans, lead mining, the Civil War and the Polio epidemic of 1950. Meet the only Appalachian-born First Lady, Edith Bolling Wilson, and tour her childhood home.    

From historic to hip, Wytheville’s downtown is home to a multitude of locally owned shops bursting with one-of-a-kind finds. Stroll the brick sidewalks while treasure hunting collectible books, fine jewelry, home décor, handmade furniture, trendy threads or pick your way through an abundance of antique markets.

Pop into the art gallery to view works by over 40 local artists. Time spent downtown isn’t complete without a photo op at Wytheville’s LOVE sculpture or beneath Virginia’s largest pencil.

Adventure awaits when groups set out on safari at Fort Chiswell Animal Park. Animals from six continents surround the windowless safari bus waiting for a sample of zoo chow. Zebras, water buffalo, camels, wildebeest and a friendly giraffe named Cheeto await your arrival.

Climb the 100-foot observation tower at Big Walker Lookout to take in a panoramic mountain view at an elevation of 3,405 feet. Meander through the lavender gardens, enjoy tea on the patio and immerse the group in the beauty of Southwest Virginia’s only walk-through butterfly house at Beagle Ridge Herb Farm. At West Wind Farm Vineyard & Winery, groups can sip and savor favorite vintages grown on this fourth-generation family farm while browsing the incredibly appointed gift shop.

Wohlfahrt Haus, Whythville, Va.
Credit: Whytheville CVB

As the sun sets on your Wytheville adventure, the stage lights come up at Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre. A four-course meal is served to your table prior to the curtain rising on a Broadway style musical at this German-themed entertainment destination.

From traditional to trendy, an itinerary tailor-made for you and your group will ensure an adventure unlike any other, after all, Wytheville… There’s Only One!

For more information, visit visitwytheville.com/group-tours.

Stories of survival: Cultural centers chronicle American Indian history

Acoma Dance
Credit: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center/Joel Wigelsworth

Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Navajo Plateau, no heritage runs as deeply and extensively as the Native American narrative. Hundreds of distinct tribes across what is now the United States played a key role in American history and helped shape its past and present.

Immerse in ancient cultures, listen to fascinating stories and help carry on century-old legacies at numerous destinations preserving unique traditions that sustained years of prejudice. These destinations serve as a reminder that the Native American narrative is not just a story of grief, but more importantly, one of strength and survival.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Cherokee, North Carolina

Possessing a rich oral history, the Cherokee people have thrived on American soil for thousands of years. Near the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park resides the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, an educational center promoting the history, culture and stories of the Cherokee people.

“Our museum offers visitors a Cherokee view of history,” said Dawn Anreach, interim director at the museum. “Not everything can be found in books.” 

The museum’s exhibits touch on the whole of Cherokee history — from the Paleolithic age to today. Awarded by the National Association for Interpretation, the “Story of the Cherokees” exhibit spans 13,000 years using artifacts, artwork, life-sized figures and computer-generated animation to share the Cherokee’s expansive history in the Southern Appalachians.

Cherokee Dancers
Credit: VisitNC.com

Bolster the group’s visit with a selection of Cherokee Experiences; engage in basket making, pottery, flintknapping, moccasin making, dance programs and other activities all taught by tribal members who are masters in their field.

In addition to the interactive programs, the museum archives hold an impressive collection of thousands of books, documents and photos pertaining to the Cherokee narrative.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

Clewiston, Florida

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki translates to “a place to learn, a place to remember,” a fitting name for a museum that features over 4,000 square feet of exhibit space and 180,000 unique artifacts highlighting the Seminole people. The museum is located on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation.

Big Cypress Reservation
Credit: Courtesy of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

“When you enter the rich swamplands of the Big Cypress Reservation, you will be introduced to scenic roads, lush vegetation and a thriving community of Seminole tribal citizens,” said Kate Macuen, museum director.

The museum is nestled in the Everglades and boasts a scenic elevated boardwalk. A 66-acre cypress dome shades the walk while along the way educational placards identify 67 different plant species in English and in two Seminole languages — Mikasuki and Creek.

Inside the museum, see exhibits portraying daily Seminole life, like a silversmith crafting decorative jewelry, three women preparing a meal over a fire and a Catfish Dance performance during the Green Corn Ceremony — a religious tradition still practiced by the Seminole Tribe today.

“The museum offers a unique opportunity for visitors to take with them a greater appreciation and understanding of the unique history and culture of the Seminoles,” Macuen said.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse, South Dakota

The Crazy Horse Memorial® is an extraordinary site with a 40,000-square-foot Welcome Center set at the base of the Black Hills — a location chosen for the site of the Crazy Horse mountain carving.

Currently in progress, the carving will be the largest in the world once completed and commemorates the memory of the legendary Lakota leader.

“The mountain is a tribute, but much more than that; it is a tribute to the culture, people and living history of the North American Indian,” said Amanda Allcock, director of sales and tourism at the Crazy Horse Memorial®.

In addition to the monument, the campus includes The Indian Museum of North America®, the Sculptor’s Studio and Home and an on-site restaurant.

Crazy Horse Memorial
Credit: Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation

See an exhibit on the American bison, a photo collection chronicling American Indians of the West and a collection of tribal flags.

Interactive opportunities are available from May through September — like Native American dance performances, flute playing and the Laser Light Show.

“We also offer step-on guided tours, where a motorcoach group can take their coach with our guide to the base of the mountain for a special experience,” Allcock said.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Founded by the 19 Pueblo Indian Tribes of New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center houses a world-class library and provides unique experiences for groups.

“The IPCC overall is particularly moving, as the exhibits are more about the person and the people, not simply about the art or the things created by the people,” said Evelyn Martinez, tour and sales representative at the center. “We offer a full cultural experience.”

Credit: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center/Joel Wigelsworth

The center debuts multiple rotating exhibits every year and provides immersive activities for visitors weekly.

Take a hands-on frybread-making class and enjoy a delicious traditional meal with a variety of toppings. Save room for a bite at the on-site, Pueblo-inspired restaurant, Pueblo Harvest.

On the weekends, groups can see Pueblo dance performances. This tradition celebrates the seasonal cycles and connects the Pueblo people to their ancestors through prayer, song and dance.

Now through January 2021, explore new exhibits highlighting subjects like Pueblo women’s history, relocation and urban migration.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center provides easy parking for buses. Take home the visit and stop at the Shumakolowa museum store to find art, jewelry, books and more.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens turns 120

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, N.Y. Credit: Buffalo Aerial Pictures

Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

This year Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in New York state celebrates 120 years of educating and engaging audiences. The conservatory in South Park opened in 1900. Lord & Burnham, premier U.S. designers of Victorian glass houses at the time, designed the structure. Although the conservatory was based on the famous Crystal Palace in England, the Buffalo structure is different and unique.

Twelve tropical greenhouses full of plants from all over the world are displayed to inspire creativity, incite imaginations and develop an appreciation of the natural world.

Visitors are able to escape to the tropics year-round while marveling at the history and architecture of the historic site, said Erin Grajek, vice president.

Groups have the option of learning more about the gardens by reserving a guided tour at least three weeks in advance with a minimum of 10 participants. Or they can enhance a visit by borrowing a free audio tour device.

“People really enjoy visiting on a rainy or cold day — it helps them ‘get away’ from the Buffalo weather,” Grajek said. “They love when our special exhibits are on display with so many poinsettias during the holiday season, or the smells of so many bulbs in spring and we just can’t wait to get growing again. Visitors also love learning about our celebrity plants; Morty, Fester and Morticia, the corpse flowers, which rotate on display when they are in leaf, flower or off display when in dormancy.”

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, N.Y.
Credit: Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

A visit to Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens is enhanced by a one-hour tour through the indoor space with a knowledgeable tour guide docent who will go over the highlights, share stories and anecdotes and be able to answer questions from group members. “You might get to see things on a guided tour you’d otherwise not notice,” Grajek said.

Grajek noted the gardens offer lots to do and see through all the seasons of the year.

“We hope groups gain a love and appreciation of how cool plants are, as well as a sense of pride for having such a unique gem in our own backyard,” Grajek said. “I hope people want to come back and see how different the place looks season to season.”

For more information on Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens call 716-827-1584, ext. 730, or go to buffalogardens.com.

Discover Glessner House in Chicago, Illinois

Glessner House Exterior
Glessner House, built in 1887, is a National Historic Landmark located in Chicago’s Prairie Avenue Historic District, Ill. Credit: William Zbaren

Glessner House, a National Historic Landmark, is considered the urban residential masterpiece of America’s greatest 19th century architect, Henry Hobson Richardson. Completed in 1887, the house was controversial at the time for its modern design and imposing exterior, earning it the title of “the fortress” by its neighbors. It was greatly admired by architects, however, and significantly influenced the work of those who followed, including Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The house encompasses over 17,000 square feet of space and 34 rooms, including a huge servants’ wing to accommodate the live-in staff of eight. It has been meticulously restored and today features most of its original furnishings including textiles, wallpapers, and rugs by William Morris, furniture by A. H. Davenport & Co., and decorative arts crafted by artisans in England, France, Japan, and the United States.

Visitors to the house learn three main stories – Richardson and his impact on American architecture, the significant collection of decorative arts and its place in the Arts & Crafts Movement, and the fascinating story of the Glessner family, including their daughter Frances Glessner Lee, the creator of the famous “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” who is regarded as the mother of modern forensics.

Glessner House is located in Chicago’s landmarked Prairie Avenue Historic District, which was the most elite street in the city in the late 19th century. It was home to business leaders including Marshall Field and George Pullman. In addition to 75-minute docent led tours of Glessner House, visitors have the option of including a walking tour of Prairie Avenue to see the exteriors of the other surviving homes, and visiting the spectacular Second Presbyterian Church with its incredible collection of stained glass, including nine windows by Tiffany and two by Edward Burne-Jones.

For more information, visit glessnerhouse.org

National Museum of the United States Army highlights history, culture

Sunrise Entrance View
National Museum of the U.S. Army

The National Museum of the United States Army will offer a unique opportunity for the American people to connect with their Army and the people who serve in it. Visitors to the National Army Museum will learn the tremendous impact the Army has had on our nation’s history and culture. 

Originally scheduled to open on June 4, the Museum will make its debut to the public when conditions can ensure the health and safety of all visitors and staff.

The museum’s galleries will offer a variety of experiences for school groups, veterans’ reunions, history and military enthusiasts, and family outings alike. The galleries include a state-of-the-art Experiential Learning Center with high-tech, simulated Army training that uses real-life scenarios to teach G-STEM skills. There’s also the Army Theater, which will show the Museum’s film “Of Noble Deeds”—an exploration of what it truly means to be an American Soldier.

Lobby of The National Museum of the U.S. Army, Belvoir, Va.
Credit: National Museum of the United States Army

The National Museum of the United States Army will require free, timed tickets for all visitors and will require advanced group tour reservations. You can enhance your visit with pre-ordered group boxed lunches, discounted Virtual Reality and Ride Simulator tickets, or utilizing educational resources for specialized instruction or programs.

As we navigate the operational impact of this challenging time, we are dedicated to working with you to make future plans. The Museum’s Visitor Engagement team is available to answer any questions on future itineraries and ticketing status as soon as circumstances permit.

With uncertain travel restrictions nationwide, along with evolving state tourism guidance for public spaces and gatherings, the Museum is pausing group tour reservations for now, but we promise it will be worth the wait. Visit armyhistory.org/group-ticketing-requests for the latest updates.

Pauline Bonilla, director of visitor engagement and programs