Pittsburgh is home to the Steelers, more bridges than any other city in the world, and the Big Mac, but did you know it is also one of the most important cities in American history! Visit Pack Up + Go’s hometown and explore our downtown with Walk the Burgh Tours!
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Sign up with Ye Olde Tavern Tours, one of our awesome Small Business Partners, and take a stroll through Bostonian + American history!
Since Pack Up + Go tends to send travelers to more urban areas, we wanted to share some of the National Parks that exist in the cities of our country to continue commemorating National Keep America Beautiful Month.
Written by Amber Quinn
For #NationalArkansasDay we wanted to share some of the blossoming cities of Arkansas with you + help reshape what you think you know about this Southern state!
While most people know the story of the pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, there’s much more to the holiday’s history! Interested in learning more about this beloved holiday? Why not take a Thanksgiving History Tour through some of the most important cities in this holiday’s past!
Written by Juliana Schnerr
You don’t have to be a history junkie to love the city of Philly! Take a trip through time as you explore this wonderfully historic city and discover the modern place it has become!
By Dominique Vitale + Corinne Hogge
Just in time for the 144th Kentucky Derby, we share with you some history, interesting facts, and a recipe of the unique event and its official drink, the mint julep!
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, and typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continuously held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
The Kentucky Derby’s long history began in 1872, when Meriwether Lewis Clark, the grandson of William Clark – of the famed pair Lewis and Clark – traveled to Europe. While there, Clark attended the Epsom Derby in England, a well-known horse race run since 1780, and also fraternized with the French Jockey Club, a group that developed another popular horse race, the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps. Clark was inspired by his travels and experiences, and, upon his return, was determined to create a spectacle horse racing event in the States. With the help of his uncle’s John & Henry Churchill, who gifted Clark the necessary land to develop a racetrack, and by formally organizing a group of local race fans to be named the Louisville Jockey Club, Clark and his new club raised funds to build a permanent racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. On May 17th, 1875, the racetrack opened its gates and the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the very first Kentucky Derby. A total of fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbred horses raced one and a half miles in front of a cheering crowd of approximately 10,000 spectators. Aristides was the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.
20 horses compete in the Kentucky Derby, which is a larger field size than most horse races; where on average 8 horses race against one another. The 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby must first travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is a series of 35 races taking place at tracks across the country and the world. Points are awarded to the top 4 horses that finish in each of those 35 races, and the 20 horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby race. The Kentucky Derby winning purse is $2 million.
- The youngest jockey to win the esteemed race, Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, was just 15 come derby day in 1892
- Bill Shoemaker continues to hold the title as the oldest winner; he was 54 when he took home the 1986 title (He has also ridden the most Kentucky Derby horses (26) in history)
- The Derby is also referred to as ‘The Run for the Roses’ because the winner is awarded a 40lbs blanket sewn with over 400 roses post-race
- Over $150 million in wagers have been placed over the last several Kentucky Derby races.
- Horses must be 3 years or younger in order to compete
- 19 past winners have had names beginning with the letter “S,” including Secretariat, the fastest horse in Kentucky Derby history, who completed the 1973 race in just under two minutes
- The amount of food consumed at the Derby is pretty astounding. On average, spectators will eat 142,000 hot dogs, 18,000 barbecue sandwiches, 13,800 pounds of beef, 32,400 jumbo shrimp, 9,000 scallops, 8,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 cookies and 300,000 strawberries.
- On Derby Day the infield will hold around 80,000 revelers, making it Kentucky’s third-largest city, behind Lexington + Louisville
- The 1¼-mile distance has been standard since 1896 (The first 21 were contested at 1½ miles)
- Fourteen female trainers have competed, with Shelley Riley coming closest to winning!
- Thousands of elegantly dressed women will grace Churchill Downs on Saturday - specifically with really colorful, large hats!
- Southern hospitality surrenders shamelessly to greed on Derby weekend, when you can pay at least $300 a night for a Louisville motel room that costs $55 any other time
- It became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1983!
- Traditionally, mint juleps were often served in silver or pewter cups + held only by the bottom and top edges of the cup (This allows frost to form on the outside of the cup)
- The term “julep” is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.
- The first appearance of a mint julep in print came in a book by John Davis published in London in 1803, where it was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”
- May 30th is National Mint Julep Day
- It takes 7,800 liters of bourbon and 2,250 pounds of locally grown mint to make the 120,000 Mint Juleps sold at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby weekend
- The first Juleps didn’t include bourbon or mint - just rum, water + sugar
- Around 1800, mint slipped into the equation. Many antebellum Juleps were made with cognac or other French brandies
- Juleps and similar libations were called antifogmatics + were often consumed in the morning
- President Theodore Roosevelt loved mint juleps and used them as an enticement to get his various cabinet members to play tennis with him!
Mint Julep Ingredients:
- 1 ½ Tsp. Sugar
- 10 Mint leaves (or more if you love it!)
- Crushed Ice
- 2oz. Kentucky Bourbon (Old Forester is the official whiskey of the Kentucky Derby!)
- Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a pewter cup (or old-fashioned glass) + top with the sugar
- Muddle these together until the leaves begin to break down
- Add a splash of seltzer water - this is optional, depending on how strong of a drink you would like!
- Fill the glass ¾ full with crushed ice + add the bourbon
- Top with another splash of seltzer, stir, + garnish with a sprig of mint!
- Serve immediately + enjoy the Derby!
Annapolis is the capital of Maryland located right on the Chesapeake Bay
This quaint city is known for history, sailing + lots of crabs!
Thanks to our traveler’s Allison + Jared for sharing these beautiful shots!
Alcatraz is located in the San Francisco Bay, offshore from downtown.
The small island was developed with a lighthouse, a military fortification + jail and became a federal prison from 1934 until 1963 - housing famous criminals such as Al Capone + Machine Gun Kelly!
On January 17, 1986, 32 years ago, this iconic penitentiary became a National Historic Landmark so that future travelers can continue to learn about its unique history!
*BONUS*: The friendly welcome committee, the Pier 39 Sea Lions!
Q: Why did you sign up for your trip? What were you looking to get out of it?
A: Anniversary trip. Looking for fun and different plus both getting a surprise. What could be better?
Q: Did you have hesitations about taking a surprise trip? Were you nervous?
A: Not at all. Excited!
Q: Where did you guess you were going to travel? Were you surprised by the destination?
A: We actually had a pretty good idea based on weather. We were surprised at how much we loved Philadelphia though. Amazing and would have never chosen it ourselves.
Q: Upon discovery of your destination, what were some perceptions about your city prior to the trip?
A: History, Rocky steps.
Q: What made the trip feel unique and tailored to you?
A: We like out of the way bars and restaurants. We were so excited that the team had located two speakeasies. The items on suggested itineraries were exactly what we wanted.
Q: What did you like most about your travel accommodations?
A: Beautiful hotel. We like nice hotels our needs were met. Staff was amazing sent champagne and roses to our upgraded suite.
Q: What was your favorite experience that we recommended for you?
A: Barns museum, speakeasy, quaint restaurants. It was a blast!
Q: If you could do the trip over again what would you do differently?
A: Definitely stay one more night + day. I felt like a long weekend should end on a Sunday.
Q: What did you discover on your own (not on your itinerary) in your destination that you feel is shareworthy?
A: Rodin Museum. I wish we had more time to visit. The outside gardens were beautiful.
Q: What was your favorite part of your trip?
A: Having so much information and ideas at our finger tips we did more in three days than we would have ever done on our own.
Q: How would you describe Pack Up + Go and your experience to Family + Friends?
A: Probably one of the best trips we have taken. The whole planning process + anticipation was wonderful. We had so many friends and family guessing our destination. Absolutely do it!
Q: What did you learn on your trip, or from your trip?
A: That we love this way to travel. Had we planned ourselves we probably would have been more budget minded. This way your budget is set + there was no guilt about staying in the great hotel!
Q: What would you say to someone who is hesitant to go on a surprise getaway?
A: There is no reason not to try it, it makes a three-day vacation an adventure. You may end up somewhere you never dreamed of vacationing in and have an amazing time.