In the very early morning hours of April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic, a massive luxury cruise liner dubbed "unsinkable", struck an iceberg and began its long, terrifying descent to the bottom of the Atlantic. It was on its maiden voyage, carrying 2,200 souls, both passengers and crewmembers, and was equipped with only enough lifeboats for about half of the people onboard. All in all, 1,500 lives were lost, making it the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in modern history. The sinking led to widespread changes-- particularly as far as lifeboats go-- but the story of the ill-fated luxury liner has captivated people for over a hundred years. Take the chance to pay tribute to the disaster by doing something other than rewatching the James Cameron epic for the billionth time (although that song will never get old). Here are some of the best places in America to learn about the Titanic!
You'll find Titanic-themed attractions that delve into what life was like on the luxury liner (and what it was like to be aboard the sinking ship) all across the country. There's definitely something about the famous ship that appeals to a lot of people, and while a lot of these attractions are similar, they're all pretty fun to tour. Vegas has one inside the Luxor Hotel that contains loads of recovered artifacts from the ship, 2.5 miles below the ocean. See Titanic's whistles, a piece of the hull, an uncorked bottle of champagne, luggage, floor tiles, and tons more. They also have full-scale recreations of the famous Grand Staircase and the Promenade Deck (which is in a room cooled to the temperature outside on the fateful night that the ship sank, for added effect), along with first, second, and third-class rooms.
Molly Brown House Museum
The ship may not have been unsinkable, but socialite, philanthropist, and Titanic survivor Molly Brown sure was! She and her husband, J.J. Brown, were both born to poor Irish immigrants, but J.J. struck it rich in the mining industry and the couple soon became one of the wealthiest in Denver. Molly spent a lot of her time doing charity work, even helping out at a soup kitchen where the employees of her husband's mine ate. She was a first-class passenger on the Titanic, but (as depicted in the movie) was considered "new money" and was more bold and brash than other first-class passengers. Unlike many, she spent time helping others get into lifeboats before boarding one herself. She's most famous for grabbing an oar to help row her boat to safety and for arguing against the ship's Quartermaster, who was on the lifeboat, when he refused to go back to look for survivors after the Titanic went under. Her house in Denver is now a historic museum that teaches visitors about her life and what things were like in Victorian Denver.
Located in a replica of the Titanic hitting an iceberg (and the sister museum of the one in Pigeon Forge), the Titanic Museum in Branson is chock-full of things to see and learn. The experience takes you from the Titanic's conception and construction and introduces you to some of the various passengers and crew members. You can see Madeleine Astor's lifejacket that she wore as her lifeboat rowed to safety, and other artifacts that really make the experience personal.
This interactive experience in Pigeon Forge takes you all over the ship, from the Grand Staircase to the boiler room. They'll teach you how to send an SOS distress signal in Morse Code, demonstrate just how severe the deck was sloping before the ship went under, and let you sit in a lifeboat (don't worry, I don't think they have a "women and children first" policy). The coolest part is that when you first arrive, you're given a "boarding pass" for a real-life crew member or passenger, and you learn their fate in the solemn memorial room at the very end.
This is the best place to raise a pint to those who were on the ship! It was opened before the movie came out (FYI) and they've got karaoke, and live music on the weekends, plus a restaurant that serves up all kinds of yummy seafood specialties, all in a setting that's meant to be reminiscent of the boiler room of an old-school luxury cruise liner. And, of course, there's the beer. Their Triple Screw Light Ale, Captain Smith's Rye Ale, and Boiler Room Nut Brown Ale are all award winners, but you can't go wrong with the White Star IPA either!
Titanic Memorial Lighthouse
This monument was erected at the urging of our old friend Molly Brown in 1913, a year after the ship sank. Its original location was atop the old Seaman's Church Institute, where it could be seen by all the ships in the harbor on the East River. It has a time ball, which is an old maritime time-signalling device, that would drop every day at noon on the dot. The lighthouse was moved to the South Street Seaport Museum in the 1970's, where it stands today as a reminder of the ship and its passengers.
This Canadian museum has an entire permanent exhibition of some truly sobering Titanic artifacts. These include a pair of baby shoes, which, although they're still known as the "Unknown Child's Shoes", were recently tested and determined to be from 19-month-old Sidney Goodwin, who was en route from England to Niagara Falls with his family when the disaster occurred. They've also got a mortuary bag, which is made all the more chilling by the fact that they've also ID'ed the person whose body was transported in it-- he was a cabin steward named Edmund Stone. Other artifacts include "wreckwood" souvenirs, which are objects carved from wood from the Titanic by mariners involved in the recovery process, the wireless log from on land that contains a minute-by-minute description of the sinking, a model of one of the lifeboats, and tons more.
Thai tanic Restaurant
Just to lighten things up a bit, stop by Thai Tanic in Washington D.C. The punny eatery is actually a really solid and authentic Thai joint that doesn't just rest on the laurels of its amazing name. Plus, they make strong, delicious cocktails.
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