In 1949, the USS Salem began its 10-year career patrolling the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. A flagship of the 6th Fleet during the Cold War era, it served as a “Lady of Diplomacy,” using its massive canons to impress ambassadors, not to fire on enemies. The ship also made headlines in 1953 when it harbored refugees from Greece following a massive earthquake.
Today permanently docked in Quincy Fore River Shipyard, the Salem is one of the last preserved naval heavy cruisers in the world. Three quarters of the ship is used to honor the history of those who served, with features including a Navy SEALs exhibit, the USS Newport News Memorial Room, and a US Navy Cruiser Sailor Memorial. In addition to memories, the Salem also hosts birthday parties and overnight adventures filled with simulated battles and real-life survival instruction. If they listen closely, visitors might even hear some of the spooky sounds that earned the ship a feature on the SyFy channel’s Ghost Hunters in 2009.
It didn’t take long for Robert Bennet Forbes to make a name for himself. He was made a captain by the age of 20, and he quickly amassed wealth and influence as a China Trade Merchant. And despite becoming one of the country’s most prominent businessmen, Captain Forbes still found time to design ships, write, and build an estate that would make Scrooge McDuck molt with envy. Along with his brother John, the Captain commissioned a Greek Revival mansion to be built in 1883. The house was intended for their mother, but over the decades, it would become home to many members of the entrepreneurial family—who collected four generations worth of paintings, artifacts, and various artwork.
Perched atop Milton Hill, the mansion—now a National Historic Landmark called the Forbes House Museum—transports visitors back to key moments in American history. In one part of the house lies memorabilia focused on President Lincoln and the Civil War, collected by the Captain's granddaughter Mary Bowditch Forbes. Her passion for that time period was so strong, she even had a replica of Lincoln's birthplace built on the museum's grounds. Other rooms showcase the valuable Chinese exports collected by the Captain. Sitting atop a table of Cantonese marble and hand-carved rosewood is the crown jewel of this collection, the Election Bowl, a porcelain vessel adorned with two Forbes family crests and two depictions of Scottish castles. In addition to tours, the mansion also hosts various cultural events, including a monthly roundtable discussion on the Civil War.
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The Histrionic Academy follows the enduring footprints of America's first steps, bringing to life the iconic men, women, and events that helped forge the United States into existence during the Revolutionary era. Throughout the extended, 90-minute Tour the Freedom Trail walking tour, groups weave across the first 1.2 miles of Boston's Freedom Trail behind the proverbial torches held by guides dressed in colonial garb. Up to 16 of the city's historical landmarks along the tour's route act as links to the past, enabling tour takers to see the actual locations where Paul Revere famously hung out and memorized the horse alphabet.
In addition to Freedom Trail adventures, The Histrionic Academy also swings open its vault of knowledge during school field trips and a variety of other tours. The Plymouth Night tour raises hairs by shuffling visitors through haunted locales beneath the eerie glow of the moon while hunting for ghosts and ghouls in their paranormal hangouts, learning about the dark shadows cast by the city on a hill and the proper safety gear needed for attempting to climb to the moral high ground. The Salem's 1692 tour relives the hysteria of witch hunts by sailing through city streets atop gas-powered brooms.
Fiction pops out from the screen and into full three-dimensional life courtesy of On Location Tours. From a certain bar where "Everybody knows your name" to a Nazi-like soup maker's original spot, New York City and Boston have served as the backdrop to some of pop culture's most iconic sites. Though the cameras have long since left, On Location Tours' goal is to bring sightseers face-to-face with iconic locations seen in shows like Mad Men and Friends and films like Good Will Hunting and American Hustle. So, while spacious tour busses charter passengers through New York and Boston's most famous neighborhoods, local actors wax poetic on the history of these spots and the actors who have cemented their status as American pop-culture landmarks. On Location Tours shuttles more than 100,000 tourists a year, and has been featured in national press such as Entertainment Weekly , The Wall Street Journal, and 60 Minutes.
Freewheeling around historic hallmarks and architecture, Boston By Segway, formerly Boston Gliders, has led more than 100,000 sightseers through Bean Town atop intuitive, easy-to-maneuver segways. Tours, which kick off every half-hour, range from one to two hours; the shorter version trundles down Boston's Harborwalk, and the longer sojourn ventures past historic hotspots including Faneuil Hall and Bunker Hill. To get acquainted with the segway, all upright rollers speed through a half-hour how-not-to-crash course, getting acquainted with the natural, fluid steering and learning how to propel the vehicle forward using a carrot tied to a stick. Armed with digital cameras, the urban sherpas snap shots throughout the tour for purchase afterward, and customers may take their own pictures as long as they briefly hop off the segway.