Destinations in Three Neighboring States Team up to Create a Baseball-Centric Road Trip
Now that Major League Baseball has finally started, a trio of baseball-oriented destinations in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland have organized the ultimate road trip for travelers who are ready to get out of their dugouts this year for a long-overdue “away game,” whether their roster includes kids, a significant other, or fun friends.
COVID threw the travel industry a curveball over the past two years, but an idea that came out of left field during a conversation among a team of tourism officials eager to bring visitors back to their destinations has resulted in a collaboration that might just be a home run.
This Is Cooperstown, the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, and Visit Harford have teamed up to cross-promote baseball-themed tourism experiences in all three regions. Each has covered its bases by creating a list of baseball-centric attractions, sites and restaurants that visitors can find on all three organizations’ websites.
Travelers can move north or south, and there’s a strong argument for each end. The Susquehanna River begins in Cooperstown, which would also be a likely starting point for visitors coming from New England or New York. But it could be just as satisfying to begin in Maryland – where legendary players were born – and move northward, concluding where only a fraction of the best players in the game also end up … at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here’s a sample lineup, following the route south along the Susquehanna River:
Step up to bat in Cooperstown, New York, nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” It’s home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, historic Doubleday Field, three bat companies (fun coincidence: the trees found near Cooperstown feature wood that’s considered perfect for bats), several memorabilia shops, baseball-themed breweries and distilleries, and a league of restaurants that serve incredible hot dogs.
On deck is Binghamton, New York, where travelers can catch a Rumble Ponies Minor League game before they choose to go one of two directions. The Rumble Ponies are the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
Road trippers can then run for nearby Corning, New York, where a famous glass factory crafts fascinating glass bats. Or they can instead head to a different sort of factory — Factoryville, Pennsylvania – which is the hometown of Christy Mathewson, one of the first five baseball players ever inducted into the Hall of Fame. Then it’s on to Scranton for a RailRiders Minor League game. If they time it right, visitors can take a historic trolley out to the ballpark to see the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees play.
Whether they’re coming from Corning or Scranton, third base is Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to both the Little League Hall of Fame, which honors the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and the Crosscutters, a collegiate summer baseball team that plays at the second oldest Minor League ballpark in the country.
Home plate on this direction of the trip is Harford County, a small destination with significant baseball history. It’s where both Ernest Burke, a record-holder in the Negro Leagues, and the members of the legendary Ripken family were all born. Burke is honored with a statue in his hometown of Havre de Grace, which is where the Susquehanna River ends as it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Twenty minutes away, you’ll arrive in the town of Aberdeen and find The Ripken Experience, where Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill (both former Baltimore Orioles) teach young ballplayers to dream big as they play in mini stadiums that are replicas of the most iconic ballfields in America. You can end the adventure by watching the team Cal Jr. owns, the IronBirds, a High-A affiliate of the Orioles, take to the field.
There’s no home-field advantage on this tour; each destination is prepared to support its neighbors with the intention that everyone involved will score a hit. The regions are ready to welcome visitors, and those visitors – from rookies to the most seasoned sluggers – will find museums, memorials, restaurants, hotels and small businesses that offer historic insights into baseball while also celebrating the fun and nostalgia of America’s pastime.
Along the way, they can watch games being played by kids, college students and Minor Leaguers aspiring to make it to The Show. The routes outlined on the tourism websites indicate travel distances and the suggested amount of time for visiting each attraction, though the destinations welcome anyone who’d like to stay for extra innings and spend a little more time discovering what makes each place special.
For more information about the Round-Tripper, a baseball-themed road trip through three states, you can visit the websites of each of the collaborative destinations that assembled the tour. Here’s a link that takes you from Cooperstown south, and here’s the one that begins in Harford County, Maryland and heads north.
Good news! Grand Isle, a part of southeast Louisiana that bore the brunt of Hurricane Ida’s impact last summer, is making great strides toward recovery. The famed Grand Isle State Park remains closed, but beaches and trails around the island are open, as is the shuttle boat that takes visitors to Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge. This is all wonderful news not only for the residents of this little island but also for fans of ecotourism.
Grand Isle is a haven for birdwatchers, who gather here each spring to welcome the hundreds of species of birds that touch down here after their long flights over the Gulf of Mexico to fuel up before continuing their migration north. The island residents have worked hard over the past few months to ensure that human visitors have places to stay (cabins and homes are available to rent, plus there are plenty of RV sites on the island) and great food to eat (the seafood in this area can’t be beat!).
Swooping Into Spring
From Alabama to Louisiana, myriad coastal destinations welcome flocks of both birds and human visitors for the spring migration season. Though birds stop along these areas in both the spring and fall, this is the more impressive migration time because thousands of species come to rest and recharge at around the same time as they all make their way north. If the timing is right – like when there are strong storms associated with a front – conditions are prime for what birders call a “fallout,” which occurs when thousands of birds drop from the sky at the same time to escape severe weather and refuel.
They gather in trees and shrubs, adorning them in a fashion that can be compared to looking at thousands of ornaments on colorful Christmas trees. This is a birder’s dream come true because you can see many species in a short amount of time, and spring is the best time for witnessing this spectacular event. To get an inside look at the best places to see migrating species this spring, click here
If you find yourself in the Mid-Atlantic or along the Gulf Coast this spring, we’re sharing two can’t-miss floral experiences for your itinerary (or future bucket list)! In Greater Wilmington & The Brandywine Valley, five spectacular properties await exploration in this season of renewal. Among them, Hagley Museum and Library, Longwood Gardens, Mt. Cuba Center, Nemours Estate, and Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
In Mobile, where blooms burst year-round, a special reason to visit each March is to see just how Mobile earned the nickname “Azalea City.” Two prime locations to experience the bounty of azalea blooms are Mobile Botanical Gardens and Bellingrath Gardens & Home. For a more in-depth look at spring offerings at these gardens and estates, click here
Doggone Egg Hunt in Mountain Maryland
Has Easter gone to the dogs? Seems that way consider that on April 9, Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County, The Mountain Side of Maryland, is hosting its annual Doggone Egg Hunt. The state park is accessible to all members of the family — four-legged ones included. Visitors can bring their pups (costumes encouraged and welcome) for their own free Easter egg hunt. Eggs will contain prizes ranging from dog treats to toys and supplies. The ulti-mutt prize for all attendees includes getting to meet the Easter bunny! The two-legged members of the family will have the opportunity to meet with local vets and dog trainers and sample local food trucks. It’s promised to be a paws-itively good time for both dogs and humans.
Spring Theme Park Festivals in Missouri and Tennessee
Starting in April, springtime festivals burst into the season at Dollywood and Silver Dollar City. Street Fest at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, is likened to a colorful street carnival with performers, stilt-walkers, live musical performances and menus featuring unique food items from around the world. Beginning April 14 and continuing through May 1, the Living Garden’s new aerialists, statue illusionists and giant moving topiaries all come to life on the streets of The City. Check out a sneak peek of the park’s annual calendar of events here.
Meanwhile, in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival has become a beloved springtime tradition. From April 22 to June 5, visitors to the park are sure to be delighted by the displays made up of thousands of brilliant flowers.
Returning guest favorites include the butterfly umbrella and Dolly’s mother sewing together the Coat of Many Colors. The “Food” part of the festival is also a showstopper, with a full menu of items inspired by spring in the Smokies. A roundup of Dollywood’s seasonal celebrations can be found here. .
Back in Bloom Special at The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown
The season of spring brings a breath of fresh air and a feeling of “new.” Flowers bloom, grass grows and baby animals start to make their appearances. The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York, follows suit with a new spring special designed to encourage guests to take in the natural beauty of Cooperstown and breathe new life into their upcoming getaways.
The Otesaga’s Back in Bloom Special offers guests their choice of tickets for either the Fenimore Art Museum or The Farmers’ Museum when they book a midweek (Sunday – Thursday) stay from April 3 through May 26, 2022. Rates start at $243, based on availability*. Both museums, which are closed during the winter months, will reopen on Friday, April 1 and this special launches just two days later. To get more details on this refreshing special, click here.
Knowing how much I love historic architecture and enjoy immersing myself in the grandeurs of centuries past, Sara Martin sent me a list of resorts and hotels dating back a century or more. All are in the U.S. except for one in St. Croix. But because it is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands passports are not required for American citizens. Whether you’re looking for a warm weather, winter, an urban or country stay all are relatively easy places to get to by plane or car. So take this step back into history and have a wonderful time.
Back in 1653, Charles Martel, a Knight of Malta, constructed the first building on the eastern end of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. After the Denmark purchased St. Croix 80 years later, a sugar mill and home were built on the estate. Later the land was used for growing cotton and raising cattle. In 1922, the Armstrong family took over the property and continued raising cattle until when, in December 1947 they built and opened an 11-room inn. Now the Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham remains in the Armstrong family and is today considered one of the Caribbean’s finest resorts.
Don’t expect to find a lot of cows mooing around now days. Instead of hay bales, the Buccaneer boasts 131 elegant guest rooms, three restaurants, three beaches, two pools, a water sports center, a full-service spa, a 24-hour fitness center, an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, and more. Committed to remaining an individually owned and operated resort, the Buccaneer recently partnered with the Trademark Collection by Wyndham. Located just a short drive to Christiansted, the capital of St. Croix.
Because the Buccaneer is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands no passport is required for U.S. citizens.
Located in Cooperstown, New York, The Otesaga Resort Hotel, which opened in 1909 has been the crown jewel of this lovely town nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” Commissioned by the Clark family, who still owns the hotel today, The Otesaga was a very model of what was state-of-the-art back then featuring such luxuries the many Americans didn’t have in their own home like a telephone in every guest room, individually controlled central heating, and a refrigerator cooled with 30 tons of ice.
Maintaining its old-world aura of charm and grace while evolving with time, The Otesaga today features 132 luxurious guest rooms, including 26 suites, spread among a diverse collection of accommodations. A sampling of all there is to see and do at The Otesaga includes golfing at the resort’s highly rated Leatherstocking Golf Course, swimming at the outdoor heated pool, rejuvenating services at Hawkeye Spa, playing tennis at the two all-weather courts, fishing in Otsego Lake using equipment provided by the resort, and more. Guests can also enjoy a rich diversity of dining options at the resort including The Hawkeye Bar & Grill, which serves comfort foods and delicious cocktails.
Though formerly a seasonal hotel, closing in October, The Otesaga is now open year round.
In the early 1900s, the growth of the DuPont Company and the need for hotel and entertainment venues lead the company’s president and secretary-treasurer to commission the development of HOTEL DUPONT. The building, which originally served as the headquarters for the DuPont Company, was the first skyscraper in Wilmington. When it opened in 1913, the luxurious European-inspired hotel featured 150 guest rooms and served as a financial and social epicenter for Wilmington’s elite. A 1918 expansion brought such additions as 118 more guest rooms, a “Gold Ballroom,” and a theater that is today known as the Playhouse on Rodney Square. Throughout the years, the iconic hotel has undergone renovations true to its original roots but with all the amenities expected by discerning travelers. A prime example is the reimagining of the legendary Green Room, originally serving as a venerable gathering place for politicians, business leaders and the occasional celebrity, after a recent remodel, it now is known as Le Cavalier at The Green Room, a French brasserie with a relaxing and inviting vibe.
The Inn at Montchanin Village & Spa, located in the beautiful Brandywine Valley and at one time part of the Winterthur Estate. Its name is a homage to Alexandria de Montchanin, grandmother of Henry Francis du Pont who founded the DuPont Company. One of the few villages or what were also known as company towns still remaining, thee village was where those laborers working the DuPont mills lived. Comprised of 11 restored buildings dating back to 1799, the Inn’s 28 guest rooms and suites today blend historic charm with luxury and modern comforts. Furnished with period and reproduction furniture and marble baths, several of the rooms include cozy fireplaces and many offer beautifully landscaped private courtyards. The property also features a spa, a restaurant housed in a renovated blacksmith shop, and a private “Crow’s Nest” dining room for up to 40 guests.
Hotel Gunter, located along Historic Route 40 in the heart of Frostburg’s growing Arts and Entertainment District, was originally named Hotel Gladstone when it opened in 1897 on the National Road, America’s first federally funded highway. The name changed in 1903 when William Gunter bought the property and embarked upon a 20-year, $35,000 renovation adding such enhancements using electricity instead of gas lamps with electricity. Other improvements meant adding a dining room that sat 175, and when Prohibition loomed, a speakeasy in the basement bar. A savvy businessman Gunter added a jail cell—but not for regular guests. Instead, it was a place for federal agents transporting prisoners to house their charges and enjoy a wonderful stay themselves. T Marhe jail cell is still there but now it’s just a place for the guests to explore. As a nod to its past, the speakeasy was restored though there no longer is cockfighting as there was one hundred years earlier. Amenities also include cozy rooms and event banquet facilities. Hotel Gunter also shares space with Toasted Goat Winery and Route 40 Brewing and Distilling Company.
Sitting atop Town Hill Mountain and surrounded by the 44,000-acre Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County, “The Mountain Side of Maryland,” Town Hill Bed & Breakfast was originally built as a fruit stand in 1916. By 1920, it had become the first tourist hotel in Maryland offering accommodations to those traveling by machine as automobiles were commonly called at the time. Up until then, car gypsies as they were sometimes called, when ready to get off the road, would stop at a farmer’s house and inquire if they could camp on their property. The prices were typically right–$5 might get you a spare room in the house and a homecooked breakfast by the farmer’s wife. Camping was even cheaper.
Like the Hotel Gunter, Town Hill Bed & Breakfast is on the historic National Road. It’s also near the C&O Canal National Park, a perfect place for cyclists and hikers traveling along the historic canal’s towpath. The Inn retain much of its original woodwork and furnishings loving preserved during its many renovations. Today, the 101-year-old Inn offers such amenities as 27 guest rooms, a 65-seat dining room where their legendary breakfasts are served, campfire area and easily accessible hiking trails. Another plus is the overlook with its panorama view of three states and seven counties.
The site of the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa dates to the beginning of the 19th century when it served as the headquarters of General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. The first hotel to debut here was the Franklin House in 1825. In 1829, new hoteliers opened the Waverly Hotel on the site, before the Battle Brothers – James, John and Samuel – constructed their own hotel here in 1852. After operating as an independent hotel for more than a century, the proprietors sold the company in 1958 and is now one of Marriott International’s prestigious Renaissance Hotels brand. The Battle House has 238 sleeping rooms, including 31 luxury suites; a 10,000 square-foot European spa with eight treatment rooms; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and a rooftop pool. Unique dining experiences include The Trellis Room, which serves family-style Italian cuisine at dinner; Joe Cain Café, which serves soups, sandwiches, pizza and salads; and Royal Street Tavern, featuring a menu of appetizer favorites.
The Forte Condé Inn, the second-largest house, built in 1836, was an elegant mansion but time isn’t always kind and the hotel fell into disrepair before being expertly restored in 2010. Now the Inn, alongside nine other restored historic properties that are part of Fort Condé Village. Located in the heart of downtown Mobile, Forte Condé Inn is among the city’s most historic landmarks. A four-star boutique hotel, guests can immerse themselves into the unique charms of its past but have the most modern of amenities. Featuring dozens of one-of-a-kind accommodations in the village with its cobblestone streets lined with century oaks, and verandahs lit by gas lanterns. The inn, known for its legendary breakfasts that pay homage to the many cultures and cuisines in Mobile, recently opened Bistro St. Emanuel.
No, I didn’t know there was an International Pirate Talk Like a Pirate Day (IPTLAPD for short) either. Luckily Mindy Bianca alerted me that it was a global event and gave me some background. Created by two friends in Oregon back in 1995. I shiver my timbers (whatever that means) just thinking of all those IPTLPAD good times I’ve missed for the last 26 years.
But not anymore! I’m up to date on IPTLPAD and Mindy has kindly pointed out places with historical ties to pirates as well as destinations which feature pirate-related events, tours, restaurants, and attractions.
Mindy wants to assure anyone who asks that she knows that pirates aren’t good guys and gals.
“They were scallywags who did things that would certainly not make their mamas proud, so we’re not here to celebrate their achievements … just to acknowledge their existence and the role they played in history,” she says, adding that pirates, no matter how bad they were, are certainly part of our pop culture.
So all hands on deck as we get started with our tour of all things pirate with a look at coastal Louisiana where pirate Jean Lafitte is legendary and intertwined with big moments in Louisiana’s history.
Not a whole lot is known about the early years of Lafitte, who claimed to be born in France–but can you really trust what a pirate tells you? We do know he ultimately made his way to the Gulf of Mexico with his brother Pierre to make his fortune—but not by hard work. Among his most horrible act was smuggling enslaved people.
“His bad behavior worked to Louisiana’s incredible advantage during the Battle of New Orleans, the final conflict of the War of 1812. Lafitte agreed to fight on the side of the Americans – General Andrew Jackson gave him the choice of assisting the American cause or going to jail – and the Americans were victorious against the British in great part because Lafitte and his buccaneers knew the bayous and waterways so well,” Mindy tells me. “It certainly didn’t hurt that they were no gentlemen; they ignored the established rules of engagement and used whatever means necessary to get the job done. The pirates led the British into the swamps, for example, and ambushed them or just let them get lost among the alligators and snakes.”
After all, pirates operate on the principle of “dead men tell no tales.”
*Please note that this region was recently impacted by Hurricane Ida, so now isn’t the best time to visit. Please put these on your list to visit in the future!
In his later years, Jean Lafitte established headquarters in Galveston, Texas, so he spent some time near the southwestern part of Louisiana. But in his earlier years he dominated the southeastern part of the state, where today you’ll find four of the six sites of his eponymous national park. Two of those park sites are within MBPR’s client destinations.
The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Lafourche Parish are also known as Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. Though the center itself, located in the town of Thibodaux, focuses on the region’s Cajun heritage, rangers there tell us that Bayou Lafourche, the body of water for which the parish is named, was among Lafitte’s preferred smuggling routes. He’d load and unload his cargo at the mouth of the bayou. But he and his band of pirates also aided the U.S. by preventing the British from accessing the body of water during the Battle of New Orleans. It’s a job they took very seriously indeed.
Over in Jefferson Parish, in the little town of Marrero, the national park site is called Barataria Preserve and it offers an incredible peek inside the wild wetlands of Louisiana. The preserve features 26,000 acres of bayous, swamps, marshes and forests that are home to plenty of alligators, plus more than 200 bird species and an array of plants and wildflowers. Wander along its boardwalk on a self-guided tour or accompany a ranger on a Wetlands Walk (tours are offered at 10 a.m. every Wednesday through Sunday) and it’s easy to see how Lafitte and his hearties could easily vanish in these swamps.
*Please note that this region was recently impacted by Hurricane Ida, so now isn’t the best time to visit. Please put this on your list to visit in the future!
Jean Fafitte is one of two towns in Jefferson Parish named for Louisiana’s favorite pirate (the other is just called “Lafitte.”) The region was a huge draw for Lafitte who found its bayous, swamps and waterways the perfect cover for his illegal activities. He favored places on Bayou Barataria, whose dark depths hide all kinds of secrets. Visitors can tour the region’s mysterious swamps (alligator sightings guaranteed!), enjoy some of the best seafood ever, and learn the history of the people who make their home here.
Jean Lafitte Harbor is one of the stops on the new “Soul of the South” tour itinerary, which was designed to help visitors learn the many untold stories of Native, Creole and African Americans in South Louisiana. The harbor is located along Lafitte’s favored smuggling routes.
Lafitte was a busy, well-traveled guy who sailed along and through the waterways of the state’s southernmost reaches. Legend has it that as he and his band of buccaneers were making their way west toward Galveston, enemy ships gave chase. To avoid being captured Laffite and his crew hid amongst the waterways of what would become Lake Charles. According to legend, their very favorite hangout was a place now called “Contraband Bayou,” an apt name given that Lafitte and his crew were reputed to have buried a treasure trove of silver and gold there.
This legend is celebrated in early May with the Louisiana Pirate Festival, which takes place on both land and sea. A highlight of the event is the reenactment of Lafitte and his band taking over the city, complete with cannons firing and the mayor “walking the plank.” Costumes are encouraged, and the event features live music, plenty of rations and grog, carnival rides, and appropriately themed pirate booty for purchase.
Louisiana loves a festival, and the Louisiana Pirate Festival in Lake Charles is one of the best.
We’re changing course now, away from Jean Lafitte and Louisiana and sailing on to other parts of the country, not all of which have their own pirate history but do subscribe to the theory that it’s “a pirate’s life for me.”
The Kalmar Nyckel is the official Tall Ship of Delaware, a sailing ambassador that serves as a floating classroom and encourages visitors to learn about the maritime heritage of Delaware and its historic ties to Sweden and Finland. The ship is a replica of the original Kalmar Nyckel, which was known as the “Swedish Mayflower” because it brought the settlers who founded the colony of New Sweden here in 1638 and thereby established the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. That wasn’t a pirate ship, but today’s Kalmar Nyckel hosts a Pirate Festival each June just for fun. Guests can climb aboard the ship for cannon and craft demonstrations and a variety of pirate-related activities. On select weekends when the ship is docked in Wilmington (it often travels throughout the Mid-Atlantic), visitors can also go out for pirate sails. This month’s 90-minute sails will depart on Sunday, September 19 (International Talk Like a Pirate Day!) and 26.
We’re not sure that pirates knew anything about reading and writing then that the letter X marks the spot. But the tiny pirates you find in Allegany County, on The Mountain Side of Maryland, definitely enjoy a good book. This summertime event hosted by the Children’s Literature Center of Frostburg State University is expected to return to its usual roost along Main Street of Frostburg (in 2021 the event moved to a park as a COVID precaution) on July 6 next year. Full crews of costumed lads and lassies and their parents take part in all manner of buccaneer activities, including pirate-themed crafts and treasure hunts. A children’s book author is always invited to present a reading and book-signing of their pirate-themed book; the 2022 author has not yet been announced.
Just one of the crew of small pirates who descend upon Frostburg, Maryland for the adventure of reading.
One of the oldest city’s in the U.S. Mobile was founded three centuries ago, and as an important port on the Gulf of Mexico, it’s certainly seen a pirate or two. No make that a lot more. To prove our point, consider the following. In 1711, British privateers pillaged neighboring Dauphin Island. In 1815, Jean Lafitte (yep, him again!) and his brother Pierre sold their ship, the Adventurer, in Mobile. River pirates such as Paddy Scott raided cargo barges as they tried to make their way to and around Mobile. The stories of these 18th- and 19th-century pirates and more are recounted during a 90-minute walking tour around Mobile’s waterfront. A costumed guide offers guests a step back in time back, teaching them to talk like a pirate and sing a sea chanty while also giving them a few “pointers” in sword fighting.
A Bounty of Pirate Activities
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
Local lore tells us that the bays and coves on the north side of this part of coastal Alabama once provided shelter to pirates and privateers who sailed their ships into countless protected areas that hid them from view. Modern-day visitors looking for a taste of the pirate life can grab a bushwacker (a favorite local cocktail) and burger at Pirate’s Cove restaurant near the town of Elberta, which is about a 30-minute drive from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and an even shorter boat ride. The dog-friendly atmosphere assures that your best first mate can come along on the adventure, too. Back in Orange Beach, the youngest swashbucklers enjoy climbing aboard the Pirate Cruise that leaves Hudson Marina at Skull Harbor. They take to the high seas with a crew in full garb and learn about the pirates who once sailed these waters. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, those lads and lassies might also appreciate the Pirates & Princesses Breakfast served at The Hangout, a legendary restaurant in Gulf Shores. For one of their famed cocktail recipes see below.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
What’s Dolly Parton’s connection to pirates? Well, like Dolly, the swashbucklers in her employ are a fun-loving crew … multi-talented and great at keeping an audience entertained. The first Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show opened in 2011 in Myrtle Beach, which has plenty of ties to Captain Edward Teach, a.k.a. “Blackbeard.” At the dinner show, a modern-day Blackbeard leads two incredibly athletic crews, the Sapphire Pirates and the Crimson Pirates, who battle on deck, in the water and in the sky above a pair of full-sized pirate ships docked in a 15-foot indoor lagoon. The show features acrobatic competitions and an original music score by Dolly and Mark Brymer. The show also includes a four-course pirate feast. Who knew that pirates enjoy buttery biscuits and crispy fried chicken as much as landlubbers do? The Myrtle Beach theater proved so successful that in 2019 Dolly decided to bring the show to Pigeon Forge, already home to her Dollywood theme park. In November and December, the fun-loving pirates in Myrtle Beach truly get into the holiday spirit, adding a little “ho-ho-ho” to their usual “yo-ho-ho.”
Leaving the continental United States, we set sail for the Caribbean.
Negril and Montego Bay, Jamaica
Pirates abounded in Jamaica in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. One, Henry Morgan, even became the island’s lieutenant governor. But perhaps Jamaica’s most famous pirate was “Calico” Jack Rackham, who’s credited with introducing the now-famous Jolly Roger flag. Jack, who is said to have earned his nickname because of his preference for calico clothing including his underpants, and his band of pirates made themselves at home in Negril while they pillaged merchant and fishing vessels along the north shores of Jamaica.
His crew included two female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who were said to be much more ruthless than any of their male counterparts. Calico Jack and members of his crew were captured in Negril, which is where today you’ll find Sunset at the Palms, an adults-only, all-inclusive resort. Its family-friendly sister properties in Montego Bay, Sunset Beach Resort, Spa & Waterpark and Oasis at Sunset, share a campus that features a pirate-themed water park.
This luxury resort on St. Croix gets its name from buccaneer Jean Martel, who in the early 1700s made his fortune hijacking ships in the waters surrounding Jamaica. When Martel traveled to St. Croix for supplies, Jamaican officials received a tip that he was in the Virgin Islands and sent a warship into Christiansted harbor to capture him. Trying to escape, Martel ran his ship aground just off Beauregard Bay, right where one of the resort’s beachfront restaurants sits today.
Martel along with some of his crew were able to escape in one of the pirate’s sloops, but others were forced to hide on the island as authorities confiscated their remaining ships. As for the gold? We don’t know as no record exists that it was ever discovered. But then would you admit it?
Anyway, for the last three centuries rumors have run rampant that the gold is buried somewhere on the island. When the Armstrong family opened The Buccaneer in 1947– the resort is still owned by the Armstrong family and is run by the third generation–guests often spent their days searching for the gold. They never found it, nor did the construction crews who built Beauregard’s on the Beach, the restaurant that sits where the treasure is said to have been buried.
And here’s a final entry you probably didn’t expect:
Cooperstown has nothing to do with pirates … unless you count the name of one of the 30 Major League Baseball teams represented at its famous museum dedicated to baseball. But why are the Pittsburgh Pirates called Pirates? The team used to be named the Alleghenys, but according to Major League Baseball, it’s due to their habit of plundering players from other teams that they became informally known as “pirates.” The team officially took the name in 1891. The Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure chest of baseball artifacts, and the “Starting Nine” is a collection of nine key artifacts from each Major League team. Among the nine items currently on display for the Pirates are Roberto Clemente’s retired #21 jersey; Willie Stargell’s 1979 World Series bat; and an incredibly rare Honus Wagner T206 baseball card, considered one of the “Holy Grails” among card collectors.
Avast, me hearties. We hope you’ll celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day in style! Wear your calico bloomers, perch a parrot on your shoulder, watch a few of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise movies, and above all, avoid walking the plank.
Surf’s Up Cocktail from The Hangout
Yield: 1 serving.
Fill a 12 ounce glass with ice cubes.
Add: 1 ounce Bacardi light rum, 1 ounce Malibu coconut rum and 1/2 ounces peach schnapps.
Then carefully, to keep colors as separate as possible, pour enough pineapple juice in one side of the glass and cranberry juice in the opposite side to fill the glass. Top with a generous drizzle of Blue Curacao. Garnish, if desired, with an orange slice and a cherry, which you stick on the end of a straw.