Page 1

Volume XXXIX, Number 5 •May/June, 2018

Hist o r ic Ro ut e s page 12

D ining & L o dg ing page 15

Nich e Tou r s page 18

KY Horses | Bourbon | Food Hilton Garden Inn Louisville Downtown is located in a vibrant spot close to many of the unique attractions that bring people to Louisville! We take pride in customizing a group experience that creates positive energy and tons of great memories!

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For more information please contact Rebecca Marks T: 502-631-4171 | E:

350 West Chestnut Street, Louisville KY 40202 | (502) 631-4171 |


MAY/JUNE 2018 Volume XXXIX, Number 5


4 8



ESCAPE TO THE MIDWEST Climb aboard the Eagle I riverboat at Starved Rock lodge, take part in Fort Belmont’s Pioneer Days or accept Jacksonville’s hospitality.

ESCAPE TO THE WEST Admirers of Ronald Reagan can explore his acting career and presidency at the Reagan Presidential Library in California, and a unique vacation in the scenic Southwest awaits bus tours that travel to the Four Corners Region.

Guides 15

DINING AND LODGING Sleeping and eating are necessary, but that does not mean these activities cannot be the highlight of a tour. With unique surroundings, delicious food, and above average amenities, these hotels are sure to be unforgettable.

Editor & Publisher . . . . . . . . . Larry Plachno Business Manager . . . . Nancy Ann Plachno Bookkeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . Dianne Billquist Typesetting/Page Layout . . . . Sherry Mekeel Office Asst.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nicole Fehler Editorial Assistant . . . . . . . . . Tiffany Wilken Bus Tours Magazine 9698 W. Judson Road Polo, Illinois 61064-9015 (815) 946-2341 Fax: (815) 946-2347 Web site:

12 15 Features





HISTORIC ROUTES Historic Routes and Trails allow travelers to walk in the footsteps of previous generations. They can also help you plan tours based around historic events and famous people. NICHE TOURS The best thing a bus tour can give a client is an opportunity to experience something novel.

And More 22


25 26



by Catherine Heeg


by Clairemarie Owens


Advertising Central/International – (815) 946-2341 West – (815) 946-2341 Midwest – (815) 946-2341 Northeast – (815) 946-2341 Southeast – (815) 946-2341


Once the county courthouse, The McLean

County Museum of History currently houses

exhibits on local history and the Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitor Center. Here, you will

find information about Abraham Lincoln,

Route 66 and attractions in and around

Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. JEFF WOODARD. BUS TOURS MAGAZINE (ISSN 0199-6096) is published six times annually by National Bus Trader, Inc., 9698 W. Judson Road, Polo, Illinois 61064. Subscriptions, $15 (in US funds) annually, Canadian & International $20 (in US funds). Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Polo, Illinois 61064 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BUS TOURS MAGAZINE, 9698 W. Judson Road, Polo, Illinois 61064. Change of Address: Please send old mailing label (or old address and computer number) as well as new address. Advertising: Display advertising rates sent on request. Advertising deadline is the last day of the second month preceding publication. Founded in 1979, BUS TOURS MAGAZINE is the oldest independent magazine in the bus and group tour market. Circulation includes bus and group tour planners in the United States and Canada regardless of affiliation or whether commercial, private or corporate or group leader. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without the written consent of the publisher. The name BUS TOURS MAGAZINE and the logo incorporating the passengers, bus and destinations are trade marks of National Bus Trader, Inc.

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 3

Escape to The Midwest

Starved Rock Lodge Starved Rock Lodge

gift shop and meeting rooms. The centerpiece

and learn how it got its name. New for 2018

Oglesby, Illinois

of the Lodge, the Great Hall, is home to the

is the leisurely “Land & Water” cruise, which

Starved Rock Lodge, nestled in the middle

largest two-sided stone fireplace in Illinois.

includes a meal at the lodge, a trolley ride

of scenic Starved Rock State Park in the heart

Comprised of Joliet limestone, it is an extra-

and a cruise aboard the Eagle 1 riverboat. If

of LaSalle County, is a centrally located des-

ordinary example of the fine craftsmanship

your group prefers a short, guided hike com-

tination that is less than 100 miles southwest

of the CCC stonemasons.

bined with a water cruise, then the best

of Chicago, less than two hours north of

Tour Groups love the Lodge’s Tribute to

choice for experiential travel is the “Visit a

Springfield and only one hour south of Rock-

the Stars series of musical performances,

Canyon with a Boat Ride,” which combines

ford. In 1911, when Starved Rock became a

which take place in the Great Hall. Talented

the interesting history of the area with a slow-

state park, the goal was (and still remains)

vocal performers entertain audiences with

paced ride on the Illinois River.

to preserve and protect the property for the

their renditions of famous hits by stars such

The indoor pool complex is open to all

public’s recreational use. In 1939, the Civilian

as Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline and Dean Martin.

guests on the property and features an

Conservation Corps (CCC) built the Lodge,

A buffet lunch is included in the ticket price.

expansive swimming pool, shallow pool for

shelters and trails. The Lodge is an architec-

Trolleys play an important role in the tours

children, a hot tub and two saunas. To truly

tural masterpiece that features a hotel with

offered by Starved Rock Lodge because they

enjoy the atmosphere of yesteryear with the

69 rooms, 21 cabin rooms, a restaurant, bar,

provide a comfortable way to see the park

modern amenities of today, visit Starved Rock

4 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Escape to The Midwest Lodge – where the past is always present. To learn more, visit

The annual Pioneer Days celebration is August 25-26, 2018. The two-day event brings

Fort Belmont

together demonstrators, vendors and artisans

Fort Belmont

focused on re-creating the trades and skills

Jackson, Minnesota

of life on the prairie. This year’s event features

Visit Historic Fort Belmont in Jackson,

an 1840s Buckskinner Camp and trade blan-

Minnesota, conveniently located off Inter-

kets, butter churning, lefse making and black-

state 90 and Highway 71. Step into the history

smithing demonstrations. Saturday will fea-

of southwest Minnesota as you explore a sod

ture a black powder shoot, a traditional

house, a working gristmill, blacksmith shop,

longbow archery shoot, and tomahawk and

and tour a log cabin and stockade. The Fort

knife throwing. The event welcomes author

also features the 1873 Lysgard Farmhouse

Steve Ulmen, an Abe Lincoln impersonator,

if your tour would like to begin or conclude

and the 1902 Delafield Church, which is avail-

and cowboy church with Gary Froiland. Activ-

your visit with a light lunch in the picnic shel-

able for small weddings and baptisms.

ities include horse drawn wagon rides, kids’

ter or green space. Contact the Jackson Area

In addition to the historical buildings and replicas, the Fort features a museum and gift

games and a scavenger hunt. Concessions

Chamber of Commerce for pricing and to

are available all weekend long.

arrange for group tours, lunch outings, build-

shop. The museum houses relics ranging

Fort Belmont is open daily, Memorial Day

ing and church rental at (507) 847-3867. For

from a covered wagon to a Model T. You can

through Labor Day. Guided tours are avail-

more information on Fort Belmont, visit

sit inside a tepee and view an assortment of

able Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to or

items from daily life in the 1800s. No trip to

4 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and

the Fort would be complete without climbing

Sunday from 12-4 p.m. Tours are approx. 1

to the top of the Look-Out tower for

to 1 ⁄2 hours long. Lunch accommodations

panoramic views of the river valley.


can be made with local catering businesses R

Come and learn how Ronald Reagan got from a white house in Dixon, Illinois to THE White House.

Jacksonville, Illinois Conveniently located between Springfield,

Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, Jacksonville F Page 1

Visit Historic Fort Belmont Jackson, Minnesota

Open Daily Memorial Day - Labor Day Fully Guided Tours Stockade, Sod House, Working Grist Mill, Museum & More (507) 847-3867

Groups Wanted!

Free and convenient motorcoach parking. Reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance. Tours take approximately one hour. April 2nd - October 31st Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Sunday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM Visitor Center 810 S. Hennepin Ave Dixon, Illinois 61021

Reagan Home 816 S. Hennepin Ave Dixon, Illinois 61021 (815) 288-5176

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 5

Escape to The Midwest is a thriving community rich in historical treasures, unparalleled educational institutions, growing businesses and a hospitality all its own. A recipient of the Governor's Hometown Award and a Great American Mainstreet Award-winning Community, the Jacksonville area has

Jacksonville Strawn Art Gallery

much to offer. It is easy to become a historian



sonville. Follow in the steps of Abraham Lincoln by taking the “Voices of Jacksonville” audio tour – part of the “Looking for Lincoln” experience, where you can see the actual places and hear the real stories of Lincoln as his friends and associates knew him. Jacksonville was a major hub of the Underground Railroad, and Woodlawn Farm is a prime example of a historic site available for tours. Visitors can also see Governor Duncan's Mansion, which is one of only two governor's mansions still standing in Illinois (Jacksonville was the home of three governors.). Self-guided historic walking tours of Jacksonville homes and Under-

6 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Escape to The Midwest ground Railroad sites entertain while providing knowledge about the city's unique history. Visitors can also enjoy the community's many annual events. From a free outdoor concert series to steam shows, car shows to music and art festivals, Jacksonville has something for everyone, and do not forget monthly exhibits are offered at the historic Strawn Art Gallery. National brand hotels as well as locally-owned properties are sure to provide a good night's sleep. Staying during the week? Book your stay through the CVB, who will offer a wine and cheese reception for free. A variety of banquet facilities provide space for small to large groups, all moderately priced. Jacksonville restaurants offer everything from home-style country cooking to unique delights such as Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisine. Jacksonville has several shopping centers and many locally owned oneof-a-kind stores, antique malls and gift shops. For more information, phone the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 5935678 or visit


Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 7

Escape to the West

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum The Ronald Reagan Presidential

two restaurants; group tours are encouraged

frescoes, mosaics, gladiator helmets, armor,

Library and Museum

to call ahead to reserve seating. The Reagan

weapons, jewelry, statues and more.

Simi Valley, California The American Presidency comes alive at

Library also serves as the final resting place for President and Mrs. Reagan.

• Holiday Lights – November 10, 2018 – January 6, 2019

the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and

The Reagan Library features many world-

Enjoy an outdoor nighttime walking tour

Museum. From Air Force One to historic pho-

class traveling exhibits. It is always best to

of the entire Reagan Library campus filled

tos and video to interactive games to exquis-



with thousands of Christmas lights, live musi-

ite landscaped grounds, the Reagan Library or to phone to

cal entertainment and much, much more in

is truly one of the most unique and beautiful

see what exhibits may be open for touring

our first annual Holiday Lights at the Reagan

travel destinations in southern California.

during your visit. Upcoming exhibits include:

Library display.

Where else in California can visitors walk on

• Pompeii: The Exhibition – October

board an actual Air Force One aircraft that






6, 2018 – April 21, 2019

• An American Christmas - November 10, 2018 – January 6, 2019

flew seven U.S. presidents, touch an authen-

Relive the catastrophic eruption of Mount

View 25 trees decorated to celebrate the

tic piece of the Berlin Wall or view an exact

Vesuvius and the rediscovery of Pompeii in

defining moments of America’s road to great-

replica of the White House Oval Office? Enjoy

Pompeii: The Exhibition. Featuring nearly 200

ness, from the Revolutionary Era to today.

a stroll through the grounds, which includes

artifacts, hidden from view and forgotten for

Each tree reflects the life and times of Amer-

replicas of the White House Rose Garden and

centuries until rediscovered more than 250

ican society and culture during each decade

South Lawn, or a meal in one of the Library’s

years ago, Pompeii: The Exhibition includes

8 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Escape to the West between 1770 and 2010 and beyond, thus tracing the evolution of America. Book your tour today by phoning (805) 577-4066.

Four Corners Region As you may know, Four Corners Monument is the physical marker indicating where the borders of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. The monument dates back to 1912, but its current rendition, made of granite and bronze, was installed in 1992. The thrill of traipsing all over the plaque or jumping from state to state can be had year-round. The monument is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The monument is guaranteed to be open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., with extended hours offered from April through the end of September (see Web site for details.). Adults must pay a $5 admission fee. Since the monument lies on Navajo tribal land, items made by the tribe are offered for sale at the visitor center and nearby kiosks. For more information, visit Of course, Four Corners Monument is just the beginning of an amazing state-hopping tour. There are so many natural wonders and Pueblo (Anasazi) Indian archeological sites in these four states, and a bus tour does not have to travel far from Four Corners Monument to see many of them. There is also plenty of shopping and gaming, as well as rail and sail, along the way.

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 9

Escape to the West In Utah Designated in 1908, Natural Bridges National Monument features petroglyphs, Puebloan ruins and three amazing bridges: Kachina, Owachomo and Sipapu. In Blanding, your group can shop for genuine Native American pottery at Cedar Mesa Pottery, tour the Dinosaur Museum or enjoy history and recreation at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum. If you tour Hovenweep National Monument and visit all six Pueblo villages, your group will cross into Colorado, not far from Cortez. For more information about Natural Bridges and Hovenweep, visit For more information about Blanding, visit

In Colorado The Ute Mountain Tribal Park near Cortez, Colorado also contains ruins and petroglyphs but requires a native guide to tour. Planners looking to schedule gaming into their itinerary will find Ute Mountain Casino & Hotel has slots and table games, plus a gift shop and the restaurant Kuchu’s. While in Col-

10 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Escape to the West Aztec Ruins

orado, you should not miss Mesa Verde National Park. If you would like to add a scenic railway to your tour, then consider a ride aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. For more information







visit, for more information about Ute Mountain Casino & Hotel, visit, for more information about the Durango & Silverton Railroad, visit, and for more information about Mesa Verde, visit

In New Mexico Readers familiar with BUS TOURS MAGAZINE may recall editorials featuring Aztec, New Mexico. Their CVB has promoted the Aztec Ruins National Monument and the community’s local Pioneer Village. As they have explained, Aztec is a misnomer as the ruins are Puebloan. More gaming can be had in nearby Farmington at the SunRay Park & Casino and west of Farmington at the Northern Edge Navajo Casino. For more information about Aztec and Farmington, visit and For more information about Northern Edge, visit

Amish Country is jam-packed with food for every tastebud! Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury is home to Indiana’s largest Family Restaurant serving generations-old, authentic family recipes since 1971 including 31 different kinds of pie (go ahead, try more than one!). While you’re there, be sure to take a peek at the Village Shops. Top off your adventure with live family-friendly theatre, year-round, at Heritage Hall. Shipshewana Flea Market & Auction is the

In Arizona Canyon de Chelly National Monument lies near Chinle, but if you would like to explore the canyon, you will need to work with a tour

perfect spot for freshly made pretzels, churned ice cream, Amish/Mennonite cooking and more! Take home tasty jams/jellies and enjoy other homemade items from the Midwest’s Largest Flea Market. Relax at the Farmstead Inn and enjoy FREE hot breakfast.

operator that has been authorized by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department to lead tours of the area. There are several firms to choose from, and tours can take place in a vehicle or be part of a hike or horseback ride. Just south of Canyon de Chelly is the community of Ganado and Hubbell Trading Post, which has been open since 1878 and continues to sell items handcrafted by the Navajo. Northwest of Canyon de Chelly is Navajo National Monument, which contains not one but two impressive Pueblo cliff villages: Keet Seel and Betatakin. Lake Powell straddles the border of Arizona and Utah, and planners have several options if they wish to schedule a boat

Amish Acres in Nappanee is full of hands-on food fun! Make a sweet treat in the bakery to take home (or enjoy on the bus - wink!) with their Make It, Bake It Shoofly Pie class. Dine at the 150-year-old Restaurant Barn for the famous Threshers Dinner and be sure to save room for homemade pies straight from the oven!

Take a quick break from the amazing food to see the Quilt Gardens along the Heritage Trail! Experience 19 super-sized quilt patterned gardens and 21 hand-painted quilt murals. Perfect for groups and best of all is free annually May 30 thru October 1!

cruise. For more information about Canyon de Chelly and Navajo National Monument, visit, for more information about Hubbell, visit, and for more information about Lake Powell, visit

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 11

Historic Routes

Martinsburg Roundhouse hanks to the large number of historic


ica, the Civil War and the rise of modern life

Museum, located down the street, and enjoy

sites and museums, the hardest part

and industry. Visitors can learn the secrets

its diverse collection of heritage antiques.

of putting together a tour is identifying

of the George Washington Heritage Trail

If your tour is interested in Civil War loca-

which ones your group should visit. Fortu-

(, a National

tions, then take a spin around the Martins-

nately, there are many organizations that have

Scenic Byway that spans Jefferson, Berkeley

burg B&O Roundhouse and see a site

put together materials for locations united by

and Morgan counties in West Virginia’s east-

destroyed by Stonewall Jackson’s troops in

a historical theme. For instance, the United

ern panhandle. The Martinsburg area also

1861. Your group may also be interested in

States Civil Rights Trail (

makes an excellent destination for Civil War

the Belle Boyd House and Visitors Center.

offers a directory of sites connected with the

aficionados and is part of the Civil War Trails

Born in Martinsburg, Belle Boyd was a lady

Civil Rights Movement. The US government


spy who worked for the Confederacy. The

has identified the most famous historic routes

Bus tours can visit the Morgan Cabin (in

neighboring community of Harpers Ferry was

through its National Trails System. In some

Bunker Hill), home of Morgan Morgan, one

the site of abolitionist John Brown’s famous

cases, a stretch of roadway has become a his-

of the first white settlers to West Virginia. In

Pre-Civil War assault on a military armory.

toric route, as is the case with Route 66 and

Martinsburg, your group can tour the General

Today, the town is home to a National His-

the Pacific Coast Highway. The following edi-

Adam Stephen House and learn about

toric Park, and the armory’s surviving guard-

torials are sure to help you ponder the possi-

Stephen’s service as a colonel in the French

house is known as John Brown’s Fort.

and Indian War and as a major general in the

Martinsburg’s charming downtown

Revolutionary War. In addition to the house

streets are a one-stop-shop for artisan décor,

Historic Martinsburg-Berkeley

tour, guests can go underground and explore

quality clothing, spa-quality luxuries and one-

County, West Virginia

part of the natural tunnel system that lies

of-a-kind antiques. Visitors with a sweet

Berkeley County’s history leads guests

underneath the house. Since your tour is in

tooth will want to visit DeFluris Fine Choco-

on a fascinating trip through colonial Amer-

the neighborhood, stop at the Triple Brick

lates, Everything Cheesecake, Latte Da Cup-

bilities for your next historic route tour.

12 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Special: Historic Routes cakery or all three. Bus tours will find delicious meal items at Mar-

Lincoln often used this line while conducting legal business from

tinsburg’s many restaurants, which prepare a variety of world cuisines.

1853 to 1860. Lincoln wrote the laws that formed parts of this railroad

However, no visit is complete without a trip to any one of the area’s

corridor, and a hundred years after Lincoln's time, Route 66 is a smooth

four farmers markets: Butler’s Farm Market, Orr’s Farm Market,

concrete ribbon winding its way through the prairie.

Kitchen’s Orchards and Farm Market and Taylor’s Farm Market. Each

Today, when you travel along Route 66 through McLean County,

treats guests to the best fresh produce, seasonings, local wines and

you will encounter many historic roadside attractions. The Funks

homemade goods, such as salsas, sauces, baked desserts and jams.

Grove Maple Sirup in Shirley began producing sirup in 1824. The sirup

To discover all the possibilities for your custom tour, visit the Mar-

farm remains a favorite for travelers along the route. Tours are avail-

tinsburg-Berkeley County CVB Web site at You can

able during the season. Sprague’s Service Station opened in 1931 in

also discover the county through the CVB’s free app “Visit Martinsburg,

Normal. This Tudor-Revival building served travelers on Route 66 in

WV.” The Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB is located at 126 E. Race Street in Martinsburg and can be reached at (304) 264-8801.

Historic Route 66 McLean County, Illinois A great way to explore Illinois is to travel any of the seven National Scenic Byways: the Great River Road, the Lincoln Highway, Meeting of the Great Rivers, Historic National Road in Illinois, Ohio River Scenic Route, Illinois River Road and Historic Route 66. National Scenic Byways or All-American Byways provide historical, recreational, cultural, archeological and natural benefits to the state of Illinois and to those traveling on Illinois roadways. Route 66 is a great example. As you travel on Route 66 through the Bloomington-Normal area in


McLean County, you are riding along a historic railroad line. Abraham

OPENS MARCH 10, 2018

Featuring the Bruce Callis Pedal Car Collection Half-price exhibit admission when you bring this ad! 200 N. Main Street, Bloomington, IL 61701

FOLLOW THE FOOTSTEPS OF HISTORY Travel the George Washington Heritage Trail and see where else your journey will lead at



126 E. Race Street, Martinsburg, WV 25401, 304.264.8801

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 13

Special: Historic Routes its heyday and once housed a café, gas sta-

the trails designated thus far. Each listing

tion, garage and upper story apartments.

explains what the trail commemorates and

Recently renovated, Sprague’s operates as

notes several sites located along the route.

an information center and a unique gift shop. The McLean County Museum of History in downtown Bloomington recently opened a new exhibit – Pedal Power! Since the dawn

Pony Express National Historic Trail From April 1860 to October 1861, the Pony Express connected St. Joseph, Missouri with Sacramento, California on a courier route

Juan Bautista de Anza National

spanning 2,000 miles. Hampered by the Pyra-

Historic Trail

mid Lake War and doomed by the telegraph,

Setting out in 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza

the Pony Express was a unique but ultimately

of the Automobile Age, pedal cars have

and more than 240 settlers travelled across

unprofitable business venture. In St. Joseph,

delighted children and adults. Explore the

1,800 miles of terrain located in what is cur-

Missouri, you will find The Pony Express

exhibit to learn the history of pedal cars and

rently known as Arizona and California. Many

National Museum and the Patee House

relive the nostalgia associated with these

of the famous Spanish missions and forts (pre-

Museum, site of the Pony Express’s headquar-

very popular, high-quality vehicles from the

sidios) built in Arizona and California served

ters. Hollenberg Station State Historic Site in

Bruce Callis collection. The restoration of

as rest stops for the colonists, who eventually

Hanover, Kansas and Rock Creek Station State

these collectibles is stunning.

settled San Francisco. In Arizona, bus tours

Historical Park in Fairbury, Nebraska are

The Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66 Visitors

can visit Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

examples of extant Pony Express stops. A visit

Center is located in the McLean County

and Mission San Xavier del Bac (Tuscon). In

to Caspar, Wyoming is also worthwhile. Here

Museum of History. It is the only one of its

California, there is Mission San Gabriel Arcán-

bus tours will find the National Historic Trails

kind in the area. Discover the history of travel

gel (San Gabriel), Mission San Antonio de

Interpretive Center, which is dedicated to the

along the road through an interpretative

Padua (Jolon) and Mission San Carlos Bor-

Pony Express Historic Trail, as well as the California, Oregon and Mormon Pioneer trails.

exhibit and shop for unique gift items local

romeo del Río Carmelo (Carmel-by-the-Sea).

to the area, souvenirs, publications and spe-

In San Francisco, bus tours can visit the Pre-

Additional historic trails you may find

cialty items. Get up to date information on

sidio of San Francisco and the mission the set-

interesting include: California; Oregon; Mor-

area attractions and sites, including the David

tlers founded: Mission San Francisco de Asís

mon Pioneer; Trail of Tears; Iditarod; Santa

Davis Mansion, Ewing Manor, the Bloom-

(also known as Mission Dolores).

Fe and Lewis and Clark. The National Park

Pepsi Ice Center, or find information on Route

Star-Spangled Banner National

brochures and maps about the National His-

66, area parks, shopping, restaurants, music

Historic Trail

toric Trails. There is also a Web site dedicated

ington Center for Performing Arts and the

Service Web site offers detailed information,

venues, festivals and historic communities.

The “The Star-Spangled Banner” actually

to the 50th anniversary of the National Trails

Tour buses can park in front of the Visitors

began as a poem by Francis Scott Key titled

System Act. For more information, visit

Center when scheduled in advance. To learn

“Defence of Fort McHenry” (1814). It was only or

more about what the Bloomington-Normal

later that it was set to the tune of John

area has to offer, visit

Stafford Smith’s song “To Anacreon in


Heaven” and designated as the national

50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act

anthem in 1931. The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail unites

Conceived by President Lyndon B. Johnson,

locations in the Chesapeake

the National Trails System Act marks its 50th

Bay area that have connec-

anniversary this year. Initially, the trail cate-

tions to the War of 1812. Nat-

gories were concerned with recreation, but

urally, Fort McHenry National

in 1978, President Jimmy Carter added Historic

Historic Shrine and Monu-

Trails to the roster. Today, there are 19 different

ment is the prime location.

federally recognized Historic Trails. They com-

However, North Point-Battle

memorate things like pioneer routes, expedi-

Acre Park and the National

tions, military campaigns and even a Civil

Museum of American History

Rights march (Selma to Montgomery Trail).

(Smithsonian), which exhibits

Numerous historic sites, monuments, muse-

the very flag memorialized in

ums and interpretive centers are attached to

Key’s poem, are also excellent

the trails. The following is a small sample of


14 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

The Pony Express National Museum

Dining and Lodging

Grand Hotel Looking for an economical yet comfort-

experience, particularly dressing up for din-

Garden, golf on The Jewel, visiting unique

able hotel to serve as the hub of your next

ner after 6:30 p.m. Groups visiting for the day

shops or relaxing in a rocking chair overlook-

hub and spoke tour? How about a resort that

can enjoy the legendary Grand Luncheon

ing the Straits of Mackinac. Mackinac Island

serves first-class cuisine with its woodland

Buffet in the Main Dining Room. A multi-year

offers additional activities, such as bicycling,

adventures? Maybe your group is longing for

winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excel-

horse-drawn carriage rides, hiking, exploring

an island getaway with loads of glamour?

lence, the Grand Luncheon Buffet includes

historic Fort Mackinac and shopping down-

Whatever you are seeking, these lodges are

an assortment of options, including fresh sal-


sure to exceed your expectations.





ads, slow-roasted meats, seafood and fresh-,

baked pastries. After lunch, visitors can tour or phone (800) 33GRAND and ask

Grand Hotel

the grounds, explore the hotel and take in

for the group tour coordinator.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

the views from a rocking chair on the world’s

Since 1887, America’s Summer Place has

longest porch. An overnight stay in one of

beckoned visitors to a bygone era of Old World

393 uniquely decorated guest rooms includes

hospitality and charm. Family owned for three

a full breakfast and dinner daily.

e-mail grouptours@grand-

Thunder Bay Resort Hillman, Michigan Welcome to northern Michigan, where

Of course, getting to the hotel is part of the

glaciers have gifted the state with a plethora

is truly one of a kind. You will return to a time

fun. Visitors leave the mainland aboard the

of lakes, streams and rivers, not the least

of horse-drawn carriages, Afternoon Tea, cro-

ferry for a 15-minute ride to Mackinac Island.

of which are the fabulous Great Lakes,

quet on an endless lawn and live music per-

Once at Grand Hotel, visitors can enjoy swim-

which touch the state on three sides. The

formed throughout the day and evening.

ming in the Esther Williams Swimming Pool,

Sunrise Side, near the Lake Huron shore,

Throughout Grand Hotel’s history, dining

Astor’s Salon & Spa, garden tours, Afternoon

is home to Thunder Bay Resort. It is “Over

has been an exceptional feature of the guest

Tea in the Parlor, croquet or bocce in the Tea

the River and Through the Wood” at this

generations, this National Historic Landmark

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 15

Guide: Dining and Lodging award-winning



wrecks that lie in the

venue. This family-run resort sits on 400

chilly waters of Lake

gorgeous acres along a mile of the Thunder

Huron. You can take a

Bay River. It offers spacious lodging units

glass-bottomed boat

and a friendly staff: a recipe for a matchless

ride to see some of

northern Michigan experience.

what remains or visit

In the evening, you will step back in time

one of several light-

as carriages pulled by teams of massive Bel-

houses that dot the

gian Draft horses take you over the Thunder

coastline. For a state-

Bay River and through the woods to view the

of-the-art Star Show,

majestic elk that reside in the resort’s pre-

visit Besser Planetar-

serve. The ride ends at the beautiful Elk Antler


Log Cabin, where a blazing fire in a massive

downtown deserves a

split stone fireplace welcomes you. Warm

stroll, or you can drop


Thunder Bay Resort


yourself by the fire and savor the delicious aro-

into one of several art galleries or winery

castle to these two carriage tours, then visit

mas put forth by the twin antique wood cook

tasting rooms.

Castle Farms in Charlevoix. Built in 1918 by

stoves as culinary artist Spenser James and his staff prepare your gourmet meal. Thunder Bay Resort is a great jumping off

A relaxing ride north takes you to Mack-

Albert Loeb, the “farm” has had a fascinating

inaw City, where you can board the ferry for

history. In addition to its original purpose, it

a short trip to Michigan’s most famous and

has been an artists’ colony, an outdoor con-

spot for tours of the area. In nearby Alpena,

visited attraction: Mackinac Island, where

cert stage and now a lovely wedding venue

The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Museum

another carriage ride awaits. Step back in

and tourist attraction. Its beautifully land-

and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

time as you visit the Island’s historic sites and

scaped gardens are breathtaking. For reser-

focus on the 116 historically significant ship-

beautiful gardens. If you would like to add a

vations, assistance with itineraries or information about northern Michigan, contact Susan at (248) 672-3813. For reservations only, contact Carrie at (800) 729-9375.

Buffalo Niagara Marriott Amherst, New York Make yourself at home in one of the 356 air-conditioned rooms that feature refrigerators and 42-inch LCD televisions. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. Bathrooms have shower/tub combinations and complimentary toiletries. Conveniences include desks and coffee/tea makers, and housekeeping is provided daily. Enjoy a range of recreational amenities, including a 24-hour state-of-the-art health club, an indoor and an outdoor pool and spa.


Grab a bite to eat at the hotel's restaurant,

Experience the history and unique hospitality of Grand Hotel. Stay overnight and enjoy a full breakfast and five-course dinner daily. Or visit for the day and enjoy our legendary Grand Luncheon Buffet, a multiple-year winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

which features a huge lobby bar, or stay in

Call Julia Luckey at 517-349-4600 or

Breakfast Buffet is available every morning

1-800-33GRAND • gr and ho

and take advantage of room service, offered from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. An elaborate

for a nominal fee. The Buffalo Niagara Marriott is the perfect tour group destination. Only 15 minutes to

16 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Guide: Dining and Lodging downtown Buffalo and Niagara Falls, 10 minutes to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and near the Walden Galleria and the Niagara Factory Outlet Malls, it is centrally located with complimentary bus parking. Because there are so many things to see and do in western New York, the Buffalo Niagara Marriott staff coordinate with your tour group’s arrival with prepared key packets, porterage, bus parking and meal service. Bookings of 30 rooms or more receive a complimentary welcome reception. To learn more, phone Tina Macey at (716) 276-7007.

Buffalo Niagara Marriott

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 17

A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours


ariety is the spice of

life,” or so the expression goes, and employ-

ing step-on guides and visiting unique destinations are great ways to add variety to the average tour. They can also become the cornerstones of your next niche or specialty tour. Because stepon guides know their local community so well, they can tailor their tours to your tour’s theme and help your group find hidden gems. If you are interested in the

Niche Tours

extraordinary, consider these attractions and tour guides. A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours Brooklyn, New York “Manhattan? FUHGETTABOUDIT!” That is the official slogan of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, located in Brooklyn, New

“My guides and I have always strived to

Sable Points Lighthouse

York. Since 2005, they have been NYC’s

exceed our guests’ expectations of what a

Keepers Association

leader in guided bus tours of Brooklyn’s

bus tour should be like through the use of

Ludington, Silver Lake and

favorite foods, neighborhoods, landmarks

our multimedia audio-visual presentations

Whitehall, Michigan

and famous movie locations. Tours include

on the screens of the bus,” says Muia. “They

“Our mission is to preserve, promote and

the Pizza Tour, the Chocolate Tour and the

include slides, music, montages of famous

educate the public and make our lighthouses

Neighborhood Tour, which have been fea-

Brooklynites and the respective movie clips

accessible to all,” so Sable Points Lighthouse

tured on The Today Show, the Travel Channel

when we visit famous movie locations like

Keepers Association invites you to come,

and the Food Network. They have also

Saturday Night Fever, Goodfellas, The Godfa-

explore and climb one of four iconic Lake

earned the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excel-

ther, Moonstruck, The Warriors and so much

Michigan lighthouses in the western Michi-

lence for six straight years in a row, and they


gan area. They are Big Sable Point Lighthouse

are the brainchild of former healthcare pro-

Adds Muia, "What also sets us apart from

and the Ludington North Breakwater Light-

fessional and native Brooklyn son, Tony

other tour companies is that our guides were

house in Ludington, Little Sable Point Light-


all born and raised in Brooklyn, so they have

“I wanted to create a way for visitors to

a pride, a passion and an authenticity that

experience all the amazing things Brooklyn

you can’t just train anyone to possess. From

has to offer from a native’s perspective,” says

standing under the Brooklyn Bridge for pho-

Muia. “When I started doing bus tours 12

tos to strolling the famous Coney Island

years ago, people didn’t consider Brooklyn

Boardwalk, our guides escort you around like

a travel destination. So I took it upon myself

you’re a member of the family. At the same

to become its official ambassador, and since

time, the history, foods, neighborhoods and

then, the borough has become a top tourism

landmarks of the borough are second to none

destination for visitors to NYC.” Besides year-

and resonate with everyone whether they

round retail tours, A Slice of Brooklyn Bus

grew up in Brooklyn or have always been

Tours works extensively with tour operators

fascinated by it.”

from around the country who visit NYC with

For more information, visit asliceofbrook-

their own coach buses. They offer discounted or contact them at info@asliceof-

group rates and step-on guides to do the very or (917) 515-5409.

same quality tours.

18 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Special: Niche Tours house in Silver Lake and the White River Light

unteers take real pride in making sure that

Station and Museum in Whitehall.

guests visiting the lights are informed and

The two lighthouses that are the most accessible for bus tours are Little Sable

have an enjoyable experience. Lighthouse specific gifts shops are located

Point and the White River Light Station and

at all four of the locations, and group tours

Museum. The other two are a little more

are available at each light. For groups with

challenging. The Ludington North Break-

10 or more members who register with the

water Lighthouse is a three-quarter-mile

SPLKA office, the price is discounted to $3

walk on the Ludington North Breakwater

per person from the standard $5 per person

wall out into Lake Michigan while the Big

rate. Tour operators are admitted free of

Sable Lighthouse is nestled among jack

charge and receive a 20 percent discount at

pines and dunes, just a short two-mile walk

all of the gift shop locations. Contact Rachel

along a breathtaking trail through Luding-

at or (231)

ton State Park. On certain days throughout

845-7417 to reserve the group rate and dis-

the summer, the Association offers special

cuss parking and dining options. For more

busing through the dunes to Big Sable. For

information, visit

those who ride the bus, the fee is an extra $5 per person to help the organization pay for the buses.

Jim Dykes New York City Licensed Tour Guide

The lighthouses are open to the public for

According to veteran New York City

touring and climbing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

step-on guide Jim Dykes, “New York City is

daily. The lights are manned by volunteers

the center of “niche” tours with dozens pos-

who come, stay and work at the lighthouses

sible – Harlem tours, architecture tours,

for a week or two weeks at a time. These vol-

Greenwich Village and SoHo walks, Broad-

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 19

Special: Niche Tours Jim Dykes

sticks out from the side of the building.” Dykes says he especially enjoys planning and giving tours popular with adults and older people because “Older people get me – my personality and my humor. It is the people who make any great city – and I love to tell informative and funny stories, dropping famous names and recalling New York legends from Babe Ruth and Jackie Onassis to

way history tours, Haunted New York tours,

the modern residents of Trump Tower.” Jim

Wall Street Walks, Rich and Famous tours

Dykes is on Trip Advisor, Facebook and Twit-

(celebrity stories and fabulous real estate),

ter. If you would like to retain Jim Dykes’

Revolutionary War NYC, Central Park in-

services, contact him at (917) 576-7170 or

depth, Brooklyn and much more. With many cities, once you have visited and seen D

the highlights, you usually do not need to


return right away, but one can visit New

Ri Van Rip Va V Winkle Wi Win Wink Winkl W Fl Fly Flye Flyer F

York City regularly and see it from different

is available for motor coach tours. We have ample comfortable parking and can accomodate motor coaches.

angles.” “NYC is an international center of finance, fashion, real estate, showbiz, fine dining, great architecture, jet set lifestyle and much more,” says Dykes. Historical architectural gems both old and new dot the city landscape because New York is where the “skyscraper race” of the early 20th century kicked off from the Woolworth Tower and Chrysler Building to the new World Trade Center Freedom Tower. “People are fascinated when I explain the NYC laws of ‘air rights’ that made these towers possible and the people who built them,” Dykes explains. “For example, there’s a skyscraper near Bloomingdale’s, and when it was being built, the developers had to buy every house on the block – but one elderly lady wouldn’t sell and wouldn’t move so they were forced to build the skyscraper around her! To this day, her 1840s house 20 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018


Rolling along from May to November, the Rip Van Winkle Flyer can be booked for special runs. Our regular schedule is posted on the calendar at Our trains and the Rip Van Winkle Flyer are for special runs and charters through the spectacular scenery in the famous Catskill Mountains.

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED and can be made by contacting us at or calling (845) 586-2929

Delaware & Ulster Railroad 43510 Route 28 Arkville, NY 12406 (845) 586-2929

Come aboard the Rip Van Winkle Flyer and travel on our train to an era when railroads were noted for their fine dining and service. Traveling on our Classic Steamliner, you will enjoy some of the finest Dining Car selections in the country all while watching the magnificent Catskill Mountain scenery. Your tickets are all inclusive for a two and one half hour train trip with a luncheon selection of your choice. The Delaware &  Ulster Railroad is located not far from Cooperstown and Albany, and a short ride from the New York State Thruway at Kingston, New York.

Special: Niche Tours

Morse Farm

examine the equipment used for maple

prime tourist season in Vermont. At Morse

sugaring in the Sugar House; trek the

Farm, tour passengers can enjoy a maple

Maple Tree Trail to view the various maple

creemee (soft serve ice cream flavored with

and tree varieties and see how the sap is

authentic Vermont maple) and stroll the

collected. Visitors can also sample a variety

nature trail to take in the brilliant colors of

of maple syrups and maple-flavored treats,

the sugar maple leaves. No on-site dining

visit an outdoor museum that includes an

is available, but maple creemees, Sugar on

antique replica of the Vermont State House

Snow and other treats, such as milkshakes

and shop for authentic maple syrup and

and floats, are offered for sale (Drivers and

other Vermont specialty foods, as well as

escorts get a free sample.).

a full array of craft and gift items. Selec-

Morse Farm welcomes bus tours anytime

tions can be mailed from the store or car-

of year, with 20-minute guided tours avail-

Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks

ried out. In addition, the property is

able for a small fee (self-guided tours are

Montpelier, Vermont

adorned with whimsical folk characters

free.). Because of the volume of visitors dur-

that were carved with a chainsaw by owner

ing autumn, reservations are required from

Burr Morse.

mid-September to mid-October. Buses can

Bus tour groups will have a truly authentic Vermont experience with a stop at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier. The

The two most popular seasons for tours

drop off and pick up passengers at the main

history of this family-run business began in

are spring and fall. Tree-tapping (or sugarin’)

entrance and park in the adjacent lot. Tour

1814, when James Morse first settled in Ver-

takes place in the spring, has a very short

planners should allot at least one hour for

mont. Today, maple syrup is made by an

run (three to five weeks) and begins any-

groups to take the tour, walk around on their

eighth generation of Morse family members,

where from late February to mid-March and

own and shop in the store. For more details

whose ancestors were taught to tap maple

runs through early April, depending on


trees by Native Americans.

weather conditions. During this exciting

Morse Farm is open year-round, and

time, tour passengers can witness the maple

each season offers a memorable outing for

sap being boiled down into syrup in the

bus tour passengers. Visitors can enjoy a

Sugar House and get a taste of “Sugar on

live presentation or video about maple sug-

Snow” – hot maple sugar that turns to taffy

aring and the Morse family, seated on sugar

when it is drizzled over shaved ice (served

maple stumps in a real woodshed theater;

with a fresh donut). Of course, fall is the


e-mail ❑

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 21

Here today... gone tomorrow


pecial exhibits allow new guests to enjoy something different and returning guests something new when they visit. However, time to enjoy them is limited, so limited that many exhibits are gone before a bus tour can reach them. Fortunately, these special exhibits have extended engagements or will still be available in several months.

Mummies March 16, 2018 – April 21, 2019

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i May 19, 2018 – October 28, 2018

Bus tours visiting Chicago can experience the Field Museum’s

Painter Georgia O’Keeffe is perhaps best known for her Southwest-

Mummies, which focuses on not just Egyptian but Peruvian mummies.

ern paintings, but fans of the artist are sure to be pleased by the paint-

Through CT scans, the exhibit promises guests a glimpse at what is

ings she created in 1939 for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (Dole).

under the wrappings.

In addition to the collection, the New York Botanical Garden will offer

The Field Museum

special events throughout the exhibit’s run that focus on Hawaiian

Chicago, Illinois

culture and vegetation.

(312) 922-9410;

New York Botanical Garden Bronx, New York

Rembrandt: Painter as Printmaker

(718) 817-8700;

September 16, 2018 – January 6, 2019 His name is synonymous with artistic achievement, and for a

Harry Potter: A History of Magic

short time, visitors of the Denver Art Museum will find more reasons

October 5, 2018 – January 27, 2019

to admire artist Rembrandt van Rijn. Guests will learn about

Unicorns, wizards, trolls and dragons – all the ingredients for a first-

printmaking by exploring the techniques he used to create his

class fantasy. Who does not love Harry Potter? Well, 20 years after the


American release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, fans of J.K.

Denver Art Museum

Rowling can see illustrations and texts from the franchise’s development

Denver, Colorado

and publication, as well as objects and books related to the occult.

(720) 865-5000;

New York Historical Society Museum & Library New York City, New York

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion

(212) 873-3400;

March 1, 2018 – January 6, 2019 If you have ever perused images of the sepia-toned drawings of da Vinci’s notebook and wondered what those magnificent inventions

Unseen Oceans March 12, 2018 – January 6, 2019

would be like in person, then wonder no more. Tours that visit the

This exhibit explores the technologies that are allowing researchers

George H. W. Bush Presidential Library this year can view functioning

to better understand the world’s oceans, particularly those that can defy

models based on da Vinci’s designs.

the crushing depths of the deep and help scientists study environments

George H. W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum

and life forms previously unexplored.

College Station, Texas

American Museum of Natural History

(979) 691-4000;

New York City, New York; (212) 769-5100;

22 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Social Marketing for Tourism by catherine Heeg

Q&A: Four Simple Social Ad Hacks Do you want an easy way to re-connect with past clients? Do you want to attract potential new clients who love to travel? As a busy travel and tourism pro, you are faced with the dilemma of where to spend your precious time and marketing efforts. Attracting potential new clients and keeping strong relationships with current clients is probably at the top of your to do list but may often times get buried beneath accounting, phone calls and creating itineraries. Did you know that 84 percent of marketers are using Facebook ads? Yet there are so many changes and fine details that are easy to miss; it is no wonder that there are more questions than clear answers. Here are some great questions I hear frequently from travel pros along with some proven hacks to make your life easier. Which is better for setting up ads easily – Power Editor or Ads Manager? Guess what—they have merged into a single ad platform, so you do not have to choose. I loved using Power Editor and now find the new combined tool easy to use. We still have “Quick Creation” and ‘“Guided Creation” in the new combined tool and Facebook will automatically opt you in to the tool you have used most often (You can always change to the other method if you want.). The best news is that in the combined tool you will have the option to save your work as a draft (Great news for busy travel pros). The best news is that now you will have one easy place to access your ads reporting. No more time wasted looking for certain metrics on Ads Manager and other details on Power Editor. In the new combined ad platform, you will find charts, activity history, breakdowns, summary rows, date benchmarks, exported insights reports and more. Easy. Novice tip: The “Guided Creation” option is still the easiest way to dive into Facebook and Instagram ads.

Intermediate tip: The new combined tool will show all your ad analytics and metrics in one place. What a time-saver. Advanced tip: Dynamic creative is an amazing tool to test a variety of creative assets: images, video, headlines, text, link descriptions and CTA buttons.

Is there a way to advertise to people who are just starting to plan a trip? Yes. A new ad opportunity called “Trip Consideration” has just rolled out on Facebook. An amazing way to target users who are in the early stages of considering a trip. You will

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 23

Heeg need to have the Facebook pixel installed. What a great way to reach more travel-ready millennials and other demographics planning to travel. How can I target ads to my own client list? There is a really simple way to add your own list of client emails to the Facebook ad platform and then target your ads to this unique audience. Yep, that is right—your own clients. Simply create an Excel spreadsheet of your client email addresses, save it as a .csv and then upload it to your ad account and set up your new Custom Audience. Tip: When creating your Excel spreadsheet, insert your client emails into one column and do not use any column header. Here is the navigation: Click on the “hamburger” icon at the top left of your screen, then select “Audiences”. Next select “Create Audience” and then “Custom Audience,” then “Customer File.” Then follow the prompts to upload your client list. Voila. Facebook matches up the e-mail addresses from your list into a new audience for your advertising pleasure. Easy.

step as a potential new client of yours by clicking “like, comment or share” on your post. Here are some examples of focused ways to turn them into brand loyalists. • Target your next ad to people who have interacted with a recent Facebook Event of yours. Simple. • Connect with anyone who has reacted or interacted with your business page. Simple. • Do you have a video that was viewed by a ton of people? You can create an audience of just those viewers. Simple. Here are the choices you will find when you select “Custom Audiences” and then “Engagement.” Now that you have a better idea of how to pinpoint your ad audience, what will you ❑ do differently for your next social ad?

24 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Coming events of interest to readers of BUS TOURS MAGAZINE. Submissions for the department should be directed to the editor. Unless otherwise indicated, events are not open to the general public. August 10-12, 2018. Gene Nicolelli Tribute Rally. Hibbing, Minnesota. For more information contact Ross Gabrick at August 19, 2018. Pacific Bus Museum Annual Open House. Freemont, California. See activities.html for more information. November 4-8, 2018. NTA Travel Exchange. The Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Catherine Heeg, international speaker and trainer, focuses on social media marketing strategies for the tourism and hospitality

Can I target people who have interacted with my Facebook or Instagram posts? Yes and yes. Imagine if you could reach out to people who have taken that first big

Down The Road

industry. Join the conversation and connect with her at and socially.

January 26-29, 2019. American Bus Association Marketplace. Kentucky Interntional Convention Center, Louisville, Kentucky. For more information visit

20 Tips For Bus Tour Planners by Clairemarie Owens

20 Tips for Hiking Trips

room for your group to spread out after a hike

portable fans – anything that can make the

is essential.

group more comfortable and less hot.

From domestic to international travelers,

4. Water. After their hikes, your group

youth groups to baby boomers, the most pop-

is going to be exhausted. Keep bottles of

does not have to be a new itinerary. The most

ular type of bus tour I get asked to quote is the

water on the bus for your group to drink

successful hiking trips that I have planned

hiking tour. The United States has a diverse

while on tour. I recommend two water bot-

have been from itineraries that I had been

landscape of mountains, deserts, beaches and

tles per person, per day. Most bus drivers

using for a while, incorporating hikes and

forests just waiting to be explored on foot, but

keep ice coolers on their bus and are more

modifying the timing. No need to reinvent

it can get tricky when you have 40 guests and

than happy to share.

the wheel.

a full-sized motorcoach. Here are my 20 tips for keeping all your guests “Happy Hikers.”

5. Snacks. Hiking trips are more active

8. Creating an itinerary. A hiking trip

9. What time of year? It seems like a

than classic bus tours, and guests appreciate

silly question – asking which time of year to

1. The Guide. A great guide is essential

high calorie snacks and lunches to eat on and

take your hike, but I cannot tell you how many

to every tour, but for a hiking tour, you want

after their hikes. While I usually budget money

times I have had requests for hiking tours in

to make sure you select a tour guide that is in

for cocktails and drinks during classic tours,

Death Valley in the summer or the Rockies in

great shape and enjoys hiking. The last thing

for hiking tours, I allocate these funds for snacks

November. Researching the best time of the

you want is your guide waiting at the trailhead

and water. Your guests will appreciate it.

year to hike is crucial and often overlooked.

for all the guests to arrive back from their hike.

6. Lunches. Picnic lunches are the eas-

10. Include hike details in your quote.

Plan on paying your guide a little extra each

iest and most affordable way to feed the

What is the distance of the hike? How long

day since hiking tours are so much work.

group while on a hike, usually costing about

will the hike take? What level is the hike? Are

2. Keep the group small. I do not rec-

half the price of lunch at a restaurant, but

there any changes in elevation? Including this

ommend having more than 15 to 20 guests

eating cold sandwiches does get old and

information in your quote will let potential

per tour guide. If you plan on having a full-

repetitive fast. Looking for alternatives to

clients know exactly what to expect on your

sized motorcoach full of guests, I would rec-

picnic lunches is one of the hardest parts of

tour and how to prepare for it.

ommend having more than one tour guide or

planning a hiking tour, but it is worth the

11. Do not hike every day. While it is

including a tour leader to help with the hikes.

extra work. Finding restaurants near the trail-

a hiking tour, it is also a tour. Do not make

3. Choosing a bus. While smaller mini

head and having lunch early (around 11 a.m.)

your tour only about hiking. Include sites and

coaches will limit the size of the group to

or late (around 2 p.m.) are better alternatives

attractions, just like you would in a regular

between 10 to 15 guests, their small size will

to cold sandwiches.

tour. For each day of hiking there should be

allow the group to access more hikes and get

7. Gifts and raffle prizes. In my last arti-

them closer to the trailheads. While hiking

cle, I talked about ways to pass time on the

one day of rest/sightseeing. This will give the group time to rest between hikes.

tours can be done with full-sized coaches, it

distances between tours and how it is impor-

12. Timing. Hiking trips require more

does make finding suitable hikes a little more

tant to have gift and raffle prizes. For hiking

time and a slower pace than a classic bus tour.

difficult. Whatever size bus you choose, make

tours, the best prizes are things that can be

The hikes themselves take around four to six

sure that you do not fill it up. Having enough

used on the hikes: hats, reusable water bottles,

hours, and after the hike, guests are often too Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 25

20 Tips tired and dirty to do anything else. Any activ-

national parks, the rules for state parks differ

18. Slowest person in the front.

ities done on a hiking day should be done

from state to state and park to park. However,

While on a hike, place the slowest guest in

before the hike or after the group has had

in general, they operate the same as national

the front of the group and allow them to set

time to rest and shower.

parks and require a licensed and certified

the pace for the rest of the group. This will

guide to lead all hikes.

also keep people from getting left behind and

13. Do not forget big cities. Hiking tours always seem to forget the big cities.

16. Native and First Nations Tribal

Even I have to admit that I was guilty of that

Parks. Native and First Nations tribal parks

when I first started, but large cities, particu-

are some of the most beautiful and unvisited

19. Medical emergencies. Medical

larly those in the western United States, have

parks in North America. They also offer some

emergencies are always a possibility on

lost. It will also make the hike more enjoyable for all the guests attending.

great hikes within the city itself (or nearby

of the most unspoiled and non-commercial-

group bus tours, but even more so on hik-

suburbs) that do not require a certified guide

ized hikes I have ever been on. However,

ing tours. Any guest with medical issues

to lead them.

hikes in tribal parks require a licensed and

needs to notify the guide so they can be

14. National Parks. All national parks

certified native/First Nations guide. The best

aware. Medical issues, such as shortness

require group hikes to be lead by a certified

way to find these guides is by contacting the

of breath, exhaustion and general dizzi-

guide for the safety of the guests and the

tribe directly for details.

ness, need to be taken seriously, as do

preservation of the park. Each park has dif-

17. Do not lose anyone. When every-

ferent requirements for this certification. If

one is fine, losing someone on a hike makes

the main guide on your tour does not have

for a fun story after the fact. However, it is a

important that your group does not leave

the required certification, you will have to

story you never want to tell. The best way to

any trash or garbage on the trail or at the

complaints of discomfort. 20. Leave no trace. While hiking, it is

outsource a second guide to conduct the hike

keep all the members in one place is to have

trailhead. I have often seen tons of trash left

within the park.

the tour guide or tour leader follow the group

in the wake of large group tours. Not only

in the back to make sure that no one falls

is it bad for the environment, but behavior

behind or runs off on a different path.

like this also leads to park rules against

15. State Parks. Often overlooked, state parks are hidden gems for hikers. Unlike

group hiking and gives bus tours a bad

Advertiser’s Index

name in general.

A Slice of Brooklyn Tours . . . . . . . . . .19

Jacksonville Area CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Airborne & Special Ops Museum . . . .10

Jim Dykes – NY Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Amish Country of Northern Indiana . .11

Lowell Observatory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

versity, she travelled around the United States

Angel Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB . . .13

and Europe for a few years before returning

Atlantic City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

McLean County Museum

Clairemarie Owens was born and raised in Los Angeles. After attending Boise State Uni-

Buffalo Niagara Marriott . . . . . . . . . . .17

of History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

Castle Farms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

Morse Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

City of Aztec . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Old Sturbridge Village . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

City of Ft. Madison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Our Lady of Consolation . . . . . . . . . . . .6

Columbia Gorge

Paw Paw in Southwest Michigan . . . .27

Interpretive Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad . . .10 Delaware & Ulster Railroad . . . . . . . .20 Fort Belmont . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home . . . . . .5 Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation . . . . . . . . . . .9 Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers

Grand Hotel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Association . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Greater Bangor CVB . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Starved Rock Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Hilton Garden Inn

Step On Bus Tours . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Louisville Downtown . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 26 • Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018

Warren County Historical Society . . . . .7

to Los Angeles. She currently works as a tour operator, planning bus tours in the U.S., Canada, Cuba and Africa for both American and international clients.

Warner Winery and Tasting Room

There’s more to experience in

PAW PAW Paw Paw offers group travelers the perfect hub to Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan attractions. Find great value with a charming downtown and affordable lodging options. Explore the area and plan tasting trips to over 20 wineries, visit beachtowns along Lake Michigan, and enjoy authentic restaurants.

Learn more and arrange your group’s lodging at Oak Cove Resort

Bus Tours Magazine / May, 2018 • 27

Bus Tours Magazine May/June 2018  
Bus Tours Magazine May/June 2018