Obama adding umph to the Land of Lincoln and Winfrey

Barack Obama’s new status as the president-to-be has added a boost to Illinois tourism. Already tourists are showing up to frequent the places Obama has frequented. Want to see where he used to get his haircut before the Secret Service said, “No way,” to the large plate glass windows? Head to Hyde Park Salon and Barber Shop. Even though Obama won’t be there, (the barber now goes to him) you can see the chair where he once sat.

If eating where Obama heads with Michelle on date nights is what you’re after, head to Medici on 57th Street in Chicago. There you can join the 3,000 other folks who have bought “Obama Eats Here” T-Shirts.

For some inspiration, tour the Old Statehouse in Springfield where Obama gave two campaign speeches, or stand in Grant Park in Chicago and imagine the crowd on election night when history was made.

The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau’s homepage has been changed to reflect the flurry of tourists interested in Obama travel. There’s a link to “Presidential Chicago” that highlights the places Obama has frequented and provides addresses and contact information. One of them is Maria Pinto Boutique, the designer who is a fave of both Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

For more Obama travel ideas and information, check out this AP article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It’s where I found out about these details, except for the info about Obama’s barber. I read about that in an article earlier this week about how Obama has had to change his patterns for security reasons. If you see a gaggle of Secret Service members, Obama might be close by. Keep an eye out.

Undiscovered New York: Up the Hudson River Valley

Welcome to this week’s installment of Undiscovered New York. This week we’re going to be heading north, following the path of the Hudson River, one of the great waterways of the Northeastern United States. Many New Yorkers will tell your our city is “the center of the world,” and in some ways, they have a good case. But the land bordering the Hudson River up to the capital in Albany has been just as important in shaping New York as the city itself in matters historical, political and cultural.

Along the shores of this picturesque valley lie all sorts of fascinating destinations which have shaped New York City, the United States and arguably the world. The Hudson River Valley is home to the mansions of former Presidents and wealthy industrialists, famous enclaves of artists and culinary experts and birthplace of one of our nation’s great military schools.

Are you ready to leave the confines of New York City? Come along with Undiscovered New York as we “head up the Hudson.”Stop One: West Point Military Academy
Just fifty miles up the Hudson from New York is West Point, site of the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States and home to around 4,000 cadets. Though the academy was first established by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802, the site was founded as a military installation in 1778, when it helped deter British troop movements along the river during the Revolutionary War. Visitors who are interested in checking out the grounds can stop by the Visitor’s Center where they can arrange guided tours. There’s also one of the world’s biggest military museums on site, providing a interesting look at the history of U.S. military.

Stop Two: Storm King Art Center
Next on our tour of the Hudson, is Storm King, an outdoor sculpture gallery set against the backdrop of scenic Mountainville, NY. Nestled among over 500 acres of gorgeous rolling hills are enormous sculptures crafted from famous artists like Alexander Calder and Richard Serra. It’s a peaceful place to spend the day strolling the grounds or to bring along a picnic and enjoy the outdoors (OK, yes winter is coming, but you never know with global warming these days).

Stop Three: Hyde Park
As we move further up the Hudson, we arrive at Hyde Park, a historic New York town that dates back to the 18th Century. It’s famous for several great attractions, all within close proximity. Perhaps most renowned is the former home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was born in Hyde Park and spent many years living there during his time as President. In addition to tours inside Roosevelt’s home, visitors can also take a look at FDR’s Presidential Library with many artifacts from the momentous years of the Great Depression and World War II. Also nearby is the Vanderbilt Mansion, one of the family’s many opulent retreats and a monument to Gilded Age excess. Foodies should also make a stop at the Culinary Institute of America, where they can sample world class cuisine from the school’s chefs in training.

Stop Four: Woodstock and the Catskills
What trip up the Hudson would be complete without a stop in Woodstock, notorious home of the world’s best known music festival and long time hippie enclave? If schlocky tie-dyed t-shirts are not your thing, don’t despair – there are plenty of awesome attractions nearby that will make the trip more than worth it. Nature lovers will be pleased to find the Catskills are just minutes away. It’s a gorgeous unspoiled wilderness where you can take in the scenery and perhaps check out the Buddhist Monastery that sits at the top of one of the area’s many hills. Make sure to finish your day at The Bear Cafe – the food is absolutely outstanding.