Genealogy Road Trip Tip 12: Schedule scenic side trips

Tip 12:  Schedule scenic side trips. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

You and your travel partner have completed your genealogy road trip’s main event. Now it’s time to enjoy some scenic side trips to enhance your travel experience.

The roaring falls on the East Canada Creek in Dolgeville, Herkimer County, N.Y. (2015) Take time to contemplate and photograph the natural wonders as you travel from place to place during your genealogy road trip. Photo by Molly Charboneau

A joy of journeying to an ancestral locale is to spend time in the environment in which your forbears lived, worked, raised families and participated in civic life.

What better way to get a feel for their day-to-day lives than to experience their hometown or homeland as they may have years ago?

So think like a tourist and come up with some ideas for scenic side trips like these:

Explore the natural surroundings. My fondest memories from genealogy road trips with my dad, Norm Charboneau, flow from the waterways of upstate New York.

In Forestport, Oneida County, New York — near Dad’s hometown — the rush of a waterfall cut through the stillness as we visited the church where our ancestors worshiped and the nearby cemetery where they are buried.

A larger falls, shown above, roars day and night behind the Alfred Dolge factory complex in Dolgeville, Herkimer County, New York, where our ancestors once worked. We took time out to contemplate and photograph these natural wonders as we traveled from place to place on our trips.

Enjoy museums and artwork. Are there murals, statues or other artworks worth seeing during your trip? What about exhibits at local museums or historical societies? These works of art could be anywhere, so do a bit of research.

That’s how my oldest sister and I ended up viewing a wonderful mural in the Dolgeville post office depicting the town’s abolitionist role in the Underground Railroad. It was painted by Works Progress Administration artists in the 1930s, when our ancestors lived in town, so they would have seen it whenever they posted mail.

Fairs, festivals and food. Will there be any fairs or festivals during your road trip? Any locally-owned restaurants you might want to eat at? These are great places to meet local residents and enjoy the area’s ambiance.

Another genealogy road trip with my sister to an ancestral home (our main event) ended with a fun scenic side trip to a local fair where our grandmother had won blue ribbons for her Early American Tole Painting — nostalgic for me, too, since summer work at the fair was my first paid job as a teenager.

And I can still taste the crisp, home-fried donuts served up at a local diner where I listened to my dad and Aunt Gig (his sister-in-law) joking and telling stories over steaming cups of coffee during our family history trip together.

Brainstorm with your travel partner to come up with one or two scenic side trips — then schedule them around your main event and any family history research you plan. It’s a road trip, after all — so be sure to have some fun!

Up next, Tip 13: Visit your ancestor’s homes. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Genealogy Road Trip Tip 12: Schedule scenic side trips”

  1. To trace my genealogy would require trips to Eastern Europe. Now, that would be a heck of a road trip. As I live in upstate New York (Southern Tier), I enjoyed reading about your visit to upstate New York. It is so full of history – I find myself traveling local more and more.

    1. Yes, I tried to stick with domestic trips for NaBloPoMo. Trips abroad are a much bigger deal. But totally agree with you on upstate New York. So many beautiful areas to explore. Easy to see what attracted our immigrant ancestors to the area.

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