Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana

While Bourbon Street might be the heart of the French Quarter during the night, Jackson Square is the heart of the French Quarter during the day. With many different local artists performing and selling local items, the area is full of activity throughout the day. The St. Louis Cathedral is also there as well as the Cabildo, which is a museum reflecting the history of region. There are also many different restaurants on the streets surrounding Jackson Square offering some of the best food in New Orleans. Needless to say, being a location that draws so many tourists, there are also a variety of stores that sell a wide variety of items that represent New Orleans.

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Jackson Square, Andrew Jackson’s Statue, and the St. Louis Cathedral
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Crowds Watching a Performer

As different artists perform, from musicians, magicians, and jugglers, to acrobats and dancers, crowds gather around making it difficult to make your way through the area. As one artist finishes their performance, another will immediately start setting up near by. Many of these performances at Jackson Square are quite entertaining and they make their living from the tips that they receive once their performance is over. Because it is their source of income, they can be quite aggressive as they ask for people to pay for the performance that they just watched.

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Artists Selling Artwork
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St. Louis Cathedral

The focal point of Jackson Square is the park with its statue of Andrew Jackson on his horse. There are many benches within the park where you can sit and relax away from the noise of the people gathered in front of the cathedral. There are also several flower beds and shade trees, although we were there during December, so they weren’t all in bloom. In addition to the artists performing, you will find artists selling paintings and crafts all along the fence that surrounds the park. Depending upon your taste, you can likely find something interesting if you are looking for something original.

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Performers Just Gathering a Crowd
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At the Edge of the Park

Jackson Square will certainly be quite crowded throughout the day as throngs of crowds flock their to visit the park, see the performers, and go into the cathedral. It is certainly one of the more family friendly areas within the French Quarter and you can certainly spend a couple of hours in the area. It is also right by the Mississippi River and you can go on a riverboat cruise following your time in Jackson Square. Additionally, there are horse-drawn carriages offering to take you on tours of the French Quarter.

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Shade Trees and Vendor Carts
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Walking into Jackson Square

 

The Murder Mystery Train in Royal Gorge, Colorado

Looking for a unique experience when visiting the Colorado Springs area, consider taking a ride on the Royal Gorge Railroad. Located about an hour outside of Colorado Springs in Canon City, there are a variety of train rides available. We did the Murder Mystery Train several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition to the food and entertainment, the scenery during the train ride is absolutely stunning. The mysteries change on a regular basis, so even if you’ve done it before, you can enjoy a different experience if you happen to do it again.

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View from the Train
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One of the Actors at a Table
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The Mystery Begins as Dinner Options are Considered

We have done a variety of murder mystery dinners over the years, including one in a mansion in Manchester, England, with varying degrees of enjoyment. The train ride definitely makes this one very different and the food and views would have been good enough on their own. The actors walk amongst the tables providing clues and answering questions as each table tries to solve the mystery. We didn’t find the mystery particularly difficult to solve, but that didn’t detract from our enjoyment.

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Could She be the Murderer?
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Getting Ready to Board
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Interactive Entertainment

 

The Giza Pyramid Complex

No visit to Cairo in Egypt would be complete without going to see the Great Pyramids. Although the Pyramid of Khufu is officially known as The Great Pyramid, the entire complex is often referred to as the Great Pyramids of Giza. The Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World and also one of the most intact wonders and stands 481 feet tall (146.5 meters). There are actually six pyramids that make up the pyramid complex as well as the Great Sphynx. The Pyramid of Khafre still has the limestone covering at the top of the pyramid that would have covered all of the pyramids making their sides completely smooth as opposed to the exposed stones that are visible today.

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The Great Sphynx
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Pyramid of Khafre
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Looking Up at the Great Pyramid
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View of the Giza Plateau with Cairo in the Background

The three large pyramids are certainly the focal point of the complex, but there are other interesting features of the site including pits where the remains of a ship were buried. It is important to understand that to the ancient Egyptians, because the sky was blue and water was blue, they believed that they needed to sail to the afterworld. It was an important connection to the Nile, which they relied on for there survival, and the world of the gods. The three smaller pyramids were for queens of the Pharaohs which serve as a reminder that the Egyptians had a high regard for women of royalty. Clearly, the Great Sphynx is also an important sight to see while spending time on the Giza plateau.

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One of the Queen Pyramids
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One of the Pits Where the Ship was Unearthed
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One of the Many Camels
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Busy Road Between the Sphynx and the Great Pyramid

Because of its close proximity to Cairo, the pyramid complex is extremely busy with tourists, horse drawn carriages, camels, and people peddling trinkets. It is worth having a guide with you so that you can learn the historical facts regarding the pyramids, but it is a location that you can visit on your own. Riding a camel in the desert with the pyramids in the background is about as touristy as it gets, but is worth doing for that classic photo opportunity. Although fascinating, it only takes a couple of hours to fully see the Great Pyramids and the surrounding sights.

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Yes, We Rode the Camels
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The Great Pyramid Up Close, People in the Foreground Providing Scale
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Face of the Great Sphynx
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The Giza Plateau

Clearly, seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World is an incredible experience. Gazing up at the pyramids, seeing not only their height, but also the symmetry of their architecture has to make you marvel at the ingenuity of the people who built them over 4,500 years ago. In fact, the Great Pyramid was the largest man-made structure for over 3,800 years, truly an impressive feat.

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Walking Around the Great Pyramid with the Pyramid of Khafre in the Background
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The Great Sphynx

 

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The Great Pyramid
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Walking Among the Pyramids