Every year, summertime travel is a gift and a curse. Everyone in the household wants to go somewhere different — wives want to go wine tasting in Napa or, worse, Italy. Others want to go to some expensive park where your life is wasted waiting in line. Why can’t everyone have the sensibility of the man of the house and simply go enjoy the best of the best? After all, there’s something in visiting a Hall of Fame (HOF) for everyone!
Sports are a great place to start because almost every sport has a Hall of Fame, and most of them are in odd places throughout the US, making them both cool and cheap! The Baseball Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, New York, which is considered by many to be America’s Most Perfect Village. Situated on lovely Lake Oswego in the middle of nowhere (well, upstate New York), the Baseball Hall of Fame has a museum, an actual Hall of Fame and a library. There are over 40,000 baseball artifacts, including a baseball thrown in the first World Series by Cy Young, the helmet of Bill Mazeroski, who is famous for hitting the “shot heard ‘round the world,” and a baseball pitched by Nolan Ryan during his seventh no-hitter.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is more of a destination vacation located in picturesque Charlotte, North Carolina. Visitors can spend the day on the many floors of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building, and they can watch a movie of the history NASCAR in the Belk High Octane Theater right off the bat. The next floor is the home to a display featuring Glory Road, modeled after the Talladega Super Speedway and featuring 18 famous cars and 46 well-known racetracks. If you’re really fortunate, you can also get tickets to a race and see some of the new inductees in action.
Almost all sports’ Halls of Fame can be the centerpiece of a vacation, since most are located in or near some pretty cool towns. The Tennis HOF is in charming Newport, Rhode Island, and the Basketball HOF is in Springfield, Mass. Not surprising, hockey is in Minnesota and swimming is in Fort Lauderdale. Most tend to be museums with memorabilia that are in or near a major sporting city, but there’s more to Hall of Faming than just sports.
Other games, like the competitive casino games poker and blackjack, have more of a virtual Hall of Fame, where awards have been given, but there is no real museum dedicated to the winners. The Poker Hall of Fame was instituted in Las Vegas in 1979. The Hall of Fame honoring Vegas’ favorite game is in San Diego at the Barona Casino, where the casino awards each Blackjack inductee complimentary room, food and beverage in exchange for each member’s promise to never to sit our play at a Barona table. California also is the home of the Bicycling HOF and the California HOF, featuring all things awesome about Cali. Las Vegas hosts the Burlesque HOF (not to be missed), the Boxing HOF and the Pinball HOF. Vegas is definitely a destination not to be missed.
Finally, the most famous and popular Hall of Fame is located on the shore of Lake Erie in hometown Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established in 1983 and chose Cleveland as its home in 1986. This $1.8 billion money maker has hosted over 10 million visitors and honors its many inductees, including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and a multitude of modern well-loved performers and musicians.
It’s important to get a little inspiration out of your summertime escapes, and reminiscing about those achievers that made the most of their lives is a great foundation for an unforgettable vacation.