Travel America in All Its Glory, With Ken Burns as Your Guide

Ready to see the real America?

By Kirk Miller

Ken Burns
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12 April 2018

“Who are we? Who are these strange and complicated people who like to call themselves Americans?”

Ken Burns has spent his life trying to answer these questions, through an array of meditative and incredibly comprehensive documentaries. And with a lifetime of knowledge behind him, Burns is now acting as the best tour guide you’ll ever have.

Book yourself one of Ken Burns American Journeys, an array of upscale trips across our great land curated, crafted and occasionally hosted by the award-winning documentarian.

A several-yar collaboration between the PBS stalwart (The Civil War, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea), his collaborator Dayton Duncan and the family-owned, nearly-century-old upscale travel agency Tauck, American Journeys hosts more than a dozen primarily U.S.-based trips inspired by Burns’s films.

Burns himself contributes original videos, curated itineraries and even a bit of real facetime to the sojourns. The 15+ trips available currently include California’s Gold Coast, Colorado, Glacier, Charleston/Savannah, America’s Canyonlands (including a trip by rail), New England (where you’ll visit Burns’ private studio), Hudson Valley and even Yellowstone in wintertime. All destinations within the U.S. hit multiple national parks.

Ken Burns

Recently, Tauck added a five-day Washington, DC event (where Burns will deliver an address and mingle with travelers) and daily themed excursions based around preserving Constitutional rights, the federal government’s balance of power and the historical path to equal rights.

So the itinerary isn’t exactly beach/golf/margaritas. But it does include private tours of the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and Library of Congress, as well as a number of famous D.C.-area  memorials (Lincoln, Vietnam, Arlington, etc.) and, for those seeking a bit of fun, several evening cocktail and black-tie galas in historic buildings.

Compare with the eight-day Western U.S. jaunt “Mythic West: Montana, Yellowstone & the Tetons” journey, which includes tours of Little Bighorn, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, a visit to nearby cattle ranch/resort Snake River Ranch, as well as a raft trip and a final night with a private reception at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, overlooking the National Wildlife Refuge.

There are also traditional amenities. You’ll be staying in some pretty nice places: The Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, for example. And there are ways to book smaller group excursions (24 travelers max) and reserve deals if you’re traveling solo.  

The success of the tours means Tauck has also been able to add journeys outside of the U.S. but within Burns’s purview, including two trips to Vietnam (you may remember the filmmaker’s 18-hour documentary on that area) that also include side trips to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

No matter where you go, you’ll experience America — and America’s influence — in a whole new light.

Photos: Main image FDR Library; Inline IceNineJohn (License: Flickr CC)

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