Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Snow a Bonus at Winter Lights!



There are few things as magical as the first snowfall of the year, especially when that happens in December, and the enthusiasm for winter and snowflakes is running at its highest. The sparkle of the snow just accentuates the excitement of the holiday season: the anticipation, the plans to get together with good friends and see family, the wonder of it all...



Holiday lights just make the first snow fall even better!



We were planning on seeing the Winter Lights holiday lights display at Seneca Creek State Park, in Gaithersburg, MD, anyway, and as the snow fell late Saturday afternoon, even debated on the intelligence of heading out on potentially slick roads as the temperature fell below freezing.



With the blog in mind, we went anyway, and now we're glad we did! The snow reflected the lights, coating the ground with a smooth coating of white.



Winter Lights winds some 3.5 miles through Seneca Creek State Park. The magic of Winter Lights is how the road curves and changing landscape (wooded areas, hills) reveal its 380 illuminated displays and 65 animated vignettes.



At one point, as the road traveled by the park's lake, lights displays reflected in the still lake water. Lovely indeed!



Many of the illuminated displays echo common holiday lights displays -- toyland, stuffed bears, Santa and the reindeer, and snowflakes, but look for the more unusual sailboat on the lake, the beaver cutting down trees, and the sly fox! With or without snow, this holiday lights display is one of our favorites!



Getting there: Seneca Creek State Park, 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878

Hours: open nightly November 24 through December 31. Please note that the festival will be closed on December 25. Sunday - Thursday: 6 - 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday: 6 - 10 p.m.

Website: http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/leisure/winter-lights-festival




Do you love to day trip? Share this blog with your family and friends on FB -- here's the link: www.MidAtlanticDayTripsBlog.com

For other day trip destinations, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Animals, Animals Everywhere at ZooLights!



There are few holiday light displays with elephants, cuddlefish, naked molerats, and orangutans, but ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC is one of them! And unlike many (most?) other holiday lights displays, this one is completely free.



I love holiday lights displays -- that's how I get into the holiday spirit, and having the chance to stroll leisurely through the lights, enjoying the bedazzling spectacle, with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand (or wine -- you can purchase wine there as well, hint...) is really a treat!



The National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The best-known residents are the giant pandas, but the zoo is also home to birds, great apes, big cats, Asian elephants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, aquatic animals, small mammals and many more.



 Expanding knowledge about the needs of zoo animals and commitment to their well being has changed the look of the National Zoo. Today, animals live in natural groupings rather than individually. Rare and endangered species, such as golden lion tamarins, Sumatran tigers, and sarus cranes, breed and raise their young – showing the success of the zoo's conservation and research programs.



But it's worth noting that on this trip to the zoo, you're not really seeing the REAL animals, other than nocturnal critters in the Small Mammal House and Reptile Discover Center, where you can go to warm up after you start feeling too cold. You're there for the lights.



In addition to simply walking and enjoying the lights, you can take part in some activities as well:
  • Make your own s'mores: warm up as you roast marshmellows over a roaring fire and enjoy your handiwork!
  • Take a merry tour on the Zoo Choo-Choo, a trackless train that whisks guests around the Great Cats exhibit and features gorgeous views of the holiday light displays. 
  • Take the plunge down one of the 150-foot-long snow-less tubing tracks. 
  • Hop on to your choice of 50 animal figures on the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel.


Next weekend: GRUMP Holiday Market Dec. 15 to 17, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.: A European-style outdoor market featuring local artisans, will be located at the Zoo’s Connecticut Avenue entrance Dec. 15, 16 and 17. This alternative art and crafts holiday show features gifts for all ages, from handmade clothing, jewelry and books to home accessories, including prints, upcycled decorative pillows, glass art and more.

Getting there: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008. Take Metro! Woodley Park - Zoo Metro Stop is a scant .4 mile away. You could park, but it's a popular event and parking could be dicey.

Hours: Friday, November 24, 2017 to Monday, January 1, 2018, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.



Do you love to day trip? Share this blog with your family and friends on FB -- here's the link: www.MidAtlanticDayTripsBlog.com

If you enjoyed this post, go to this page to keep exploring all the other interesting places the Blog has visited! And share the Blog with others!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts

n late November, I started a series of posts about Lehigh Valley, PA. This is the second installment of this series. To see others in this series, click on the label "Lehigh Valley" below this post.




In Bethlehem, PA, there's a unique museum, inspired by a unique woman who was born just as the Civil War was ending. Annie S. Kemerer, born in 1865 just south of the town, lived and loved beautiful things. She married and had a son, but she outlived both her son and her husband. Throughout her life, she dedicated herself to collecting beautiful objects, and from her collections came the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts.



Housed in three connected 19th-century homes in historic Bethlehem, the museum, true to its name, offers a variety of interesting exhibits on the decorative arts -- i.e., functional items that are, simply, beautiful, such as the collection of antique mirrors.



At the time we visited, an exhibit of "trees around the world" was on display, making it fun to explore interpretations of other cultures through each tree. Almost every room was decorated for the upcoming holidays and most had their own trees -- some whimsical, such as the Antarctica Penguin tree in an area that catered to kids; some breathtakingly beautiful, such as the France Tree in Annie's former parlor.



Annie married into a prominent Bethlehem family; she and her husband had one son. Annie and her family enjoyed surrounding themselves with beautiful furniture, paintings, and decorative objects. After the untimely deaths of her son and then her husband, she became a recluse but continued to be an avid collector of antiques. Through her generous bequest, the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts was established in Bethlehem after her death in 1951.



Her extensive personal collection includes lovely examples of Pennsylvania German textiles, exquisite furniture, priceless Bohemian glass, and her breathtaking 200-piece wedding china.

Through March 2018, there's a fun exhibit, entitled "Gilded," which looks at luxury items such as Bohemian gold-enameled glassware, Sterling silver tableware, mercury glass, handcrafted jewelry and spoons by Bethlehem-based silversmiths, metallic mirrors, and artwork mounted in gilded frames.



The second floor of the vault houses the distinguished Elizabeth Johnston Prime Dollhouse and Toy Collection, 44 structures and 6,000 pieces, making it one of the largest antique dollhouse collections in the United States. Notably, the dollhouses were also decorated for the holidays! This collection, spanning the period from 1830-1930, recounts 100 years of architectural and decorative arts history.





Getting there: 427 N New St, Bethlehem, PA 18018

Hours: Friday - Sunday from 11 am - 4 pm

Website: https://historicbethlehem.org/?historic-site=kemerer-museum-of-decorative-arts



For other day trip destinations in Lehigh Valley, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Lehigh Valley label below.

If you enjoy this blog, please tell your friends about it!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!


Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Where to See Holiday Lights in and near Maryland

Going to holiday lights displays has become an annual tradition for me and my family. Check out the places to go to enjoy the magic of the holiday season!

Brookside Gardens "Garden of Lights"

But the fascination with the lights made me wonder -- how did the extravagant lights displays come about?

As our holidays celebrations evolved, so did our fascination with lights displays. They became bigger and brighter....

The custom of lights at Christmas goes back to the use of candles that decorated the Christmas tree in Christian homes in early modern Germany, in the mid-1800s. Christmas trees displayed publicly and illuminated with electric lights became popular in the early 20th century. By the mid-20th century, it became customary to display strings of electric lights as along streets and on buildings. In the 1960s, it became popular to outline private homes with such Christmas lights in tract housing.

Eventually the research led me down the rabbit hole of wondering what happens to all those discarded lights? Is there a way to possibly recycle them? Christmas lighting does lead to some extensive recycling issues -- and most, unfortunately, find their way into local landfills.

Symphony of Lights


The good news is that there's a place that actually wants our old, broken Christmas lights! Every year, more than 20 million pounds of discarded holiday lights are shipped to Shijiao, China (near Guangzhou), which has the distinction of being "the world capital for recycling Christmas lights." I suspect there's little competition for that title!

The combination of cheap labor and low, or no, environmental standards made it profitable for local companies and factories to recycle the lights. As late as 2009, many factories would simply burn the lights to melt the plastic and retrieve the copper wire, releasing toxic fumes into the local environment. However, now a safer technique is used, which involves chopping the lights into a fine sand-like consistency, mixing it with water and vibrating the slurry on a table causing the different elements to separate out, similar to the process of panning for gold. Everything is recycled: copper, brass, plastic and glass.

More and more cities in the United States are setting up sensible alternatives and schemes to recycle Christmas lights, with towns organizing drop-off points for handing in old or discarded lights. As you take down your lights displays, please look for these places and turn in your old lights, so that they can be responsibly recycled, rather than lasting an eternity in a landfill somewhere.

Happy Holidays! 

Lights on the Bay


Howard County's Symphony of Lights

Symphony of Lights is a dazzling display of more than 100 larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations, made up of more than 250,000 bulbs that you enjoy as you drive through the grounds of Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD.

Getting there: Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, Columbia, MD (use Merriweather Post Pavilion entrance off South Entrance Road); take Interstate 95 to route 32 West. Route 32 west to Route 29 North. Route 29 North to Exit 18B (Broken Land Parkway). Continue through 2 lights and make a right onto Little Patuxent Parkway.

Dates and times: November 23, 2017 - January 1, 2018, Wednesdays through Sundays only; 5:30-10 p.m., including holidays.

Winter Festival of Lights

Winter Festival of Lights is Prince George’s County, Maryland’s spectacular drive-through Christmas light display featuring more than a million twinkling lights in Watkins Regional Park.

Getting there: Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Dates and times: November 24, 2017 - January 1, 2018. Hours: 5-9:30 p.m.

Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens

Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens

This year, the Garden of Lights, Brookside Gardens’ holiday outdoor light exhibit, celebrates its 20th season as a Baltimore/Washington, DC area family holiday tradition.

During just one month a year, Brookside Gardens is illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, fountains, sparkling snowflakes overhead and more.

Getting there: 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, MD 20902

Dates and times: The grounds of Brookside Gardens are open every day of the year. The Garden of Lights is open November 25, 2017 - January 1, 2018, Sunday - Thursday: 5:30 - 9 p.m., Friday - Saturday: 5:30 - 10 p.m., open every night except December 24 & 25.



Annmarie Garden of Lights

The walking tour takes visitors on a spectacular stroll beside handmade one-of-a-kind Christmas light sculptures featuring mythical beasts, wild animals, pirates, illuminated works of art, and more. The event includes nightly entertainment.

Getting there: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, 13480 Dowell Road, Dowell (Solomons), MD.

Dates and times: December 1, 2017 - January 1, 2018, 6-9 p.m. (closed Dec. 7-9, 14-15, 24-25)


Winter Lights at Seneca Creek

See more than 350 illuminated displays at Winter Lights at Seneca Creek along a 3.5-mile drive through the park. Driving through the enchanted forest setting, you will experience an array of displays that light up the night. Making its debut this year is a new frog prince display, nestled among traditional festival favorites that include a Fantasy Castle and magical unicorn fountain, Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, and the North Pole.

Getting there: Seneca Creek State Park, 11950 Clopper Road Gaithersburg, Maryland. From I-270, take Exit 10, Clopper Road (Route 117). Turn right at the light, proceed for approximately 2 miles. The park is on the left.

Dates and times: November 24 - December 31, 2017 (closed December 25). Sunday - Thursday (closed Monday) 6 - 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 6 - 10 p.m.

Lights on the Bay


Lights on the Bay

The Lights on the Bay display is a 2-mile scenic drive along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Sandy Point State Park with approximately 70 animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway.

Getting there: Sandy Point State Park, 100 E College Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21409

Dates and times: November 19 2017 - January 1 2018, 5 - 10 p.m.


ZooLights, National Zoo


ZooLights

ZooLights at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. features sculptures of many of the Zoo’s most popular animals, including giant pandas, Asian elephants, gibbons, a sea lion, an octopus, and a Komodo dragon. Visitors at ZooLights will enjoy winter-themed activities, a laser light show, musical performances, train rides, tubing and animal exhibits. Visitors can warm up inside the animal houses and enjoy nocturnal animals. The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discover Center, Think Tank, and Kid’s Farm will be open every night.

Getting there: 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.; the main entrance to the Zoo is along Connecticut Avenue. There are also two entrances at the east side of the Zoo, near Rock Creek Park. One is off Rock Creek Parkway, the other is at the intersection of Harvard Street and Adams Mill Road.

Dates and times: November 24 2017 -January 1, 2018, 5-9 p.m.; closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31.

Brookside Gardens "Garden of Lights"

Do you love to day trip? Share this blog with your family and friends on FB -- here's the link: www.MidAtlanticDayTripsBlog.com

For other day trip destinations, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Christkindlemarkt in Bethlehem PA

Beginning with this post, I'm starting a series about Lehigh Valley, PA. This is the first installment of this series. To see others in this series (once they're published), click on the label "Lehigh Valley" below this post.

Celebrating 25 years this year, Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem is a great way to spend a fun afternoon as you get a head-start on your holiday season shopping. And in doing so, you're carrying on a centuries' long tradition!



Christkindlemarkts are street markets associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now being held in many other countries.



The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. In Austria, Vienna's "December market" can be considered a forerunner of Christmas markets and dates back to 1298.



You can enjoy demonstrations of glass blowing, and purchase tree ornaments there that you watched being made! There is also ice-sculpture demonstrations, as well as other demonstrations.



While you're there, head to the food tent for a bite to eat from a variety of vendors, from pizza to pretzels to chicken paprikash! While you enjoy a break, there's live music and entertainment.



Getting there: PNC Plaza at the Steelstacks at 645 E. First Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015; free parking is available.



Hours: Runs through 23 December. Thursday & Sunday 11 am – 6 pm; Friday & Saturday 11 am – 8 pm; Saturday, Dec. 23 11 am – 6 pm.

Website and coupons: http://www.christmascity.org/christkindlmarkt/



For other day trip destinations in Lehigh Valley, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Lehigh Valley label below.

If you enjoy this blog, please tell your friends about it!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fabulous Phipps Conservatory

Pittsburgh -- the butt of all the jokes we Penn Staters used to tell when I attended that university -- constantly surprises me. It's a lovely city, and possibly one of the prettiest places in Pittsburgh is Phipps Conservatory. Phipps offers a visual romp of color and surprises, between lovely blooms and foliage to the glass art of Chihuly to other artwork and creative displays of plants.

Although I visited in the summer, Phipps is a great place to bring the kids over the holidays!

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a public garden set in Schenley Park, not far from the campuses of Pittsburgh University and Carnegie Mellon University.



The gardens were founded in 1893 by steel and real-estate magnate Henry Phipps as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh. Its purpose is to educate and entertain the people of Pittsburgh with formal gardens (Roman, English, etc.) and various species of exotic plants (palm trees, succulents, bonsai, orchids, etc.). Currently, the facilities house elaborate gardens within the 14 room conservatory itself and on the adjoining grounds.

In addition to its primary flora exhibits, the sophisticated glass and metalwork of the Lord & Burnham conservatory offers an interesting example of Victorian greenhouse architecture.




In 2007, Phipps teamed with glass artist Dale Chihuly and his Tacoma-based team of glass blowers. They worked together to create a marriage of hand-blown glass and living plants. Following the closing of the exhibit, the conservatory retained four prominent pieces: the fabulous and amazing Welcome Center chandelier, that reminded me of Medusa...

the hanging gold star in the Desert Room, that rather obviously (but beautifully) evokes a sense of the glaring sun beating down on the dessert below...

.... the celadon and purple gilded Fiori, itself looking as if it's some exotic plant, in the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room. The room contains tropical and sub-tropical fruits, nuts, and spices such as citrus fruits, bananas, allspice, papayas, cinnamon and coffee.


In addition, there are 26 smaller pieces by Chihuly in the Conservatory's permanent collection including six multicolored Macchia (wavy, shell-like bowls) and

13 amber Cattails and 7 Paintbrushes, all of which are installed in the Palm Court. You come upon these pieces by surprise -- they're nestled in the interior garden landscape, and they take your breath away.


There are surprises in the gardens as well, including a display of Rube Goldberg-inspired interactive contraptions that pleased and amazed the kids I saw at the gardens, including one little toddler who simply (and eventually vocally) didn't want to move on...





Getting there: 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Hours: Open daily, 9:30AM–5PM

Dogs: No, sadly. But kids, yes!!

Website: www.phipps.conservatory.org

If you enjoyed this post, go to this page to keep exploring all the other interesting places the Blog has visited! And share the Blog with others!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger!