The Best of the Best!

In Tours by Richard Norton Smith

September 30, 2023 - October 8, 2023

The Best of the Best!

Eight Presidents, Autumn Foliage, and Olana:
The Best Art and History of New England, the Hudson Valley, and New York City

Starting at $5,955

About The Best of the Best! Tour

For over twenty years now, we’ve been introducing travelers to the riches of the American past. No destination has been more popular than autumn foliage time in New England and New York’s Hudson Valley. In October, 2023 we will return to this cradle of the American republic, with an entirely new itinerary. Besides a handful of perennial favorites like the Adams sites in Quincy, Massachusetts and Calvin Coolidge’s rustic Plymouth Notch, Vermont – this year commemorating the 100th anniversary of his lamplit inauguration in the simple Coolidge homestead – we’re including three previously unvisited presidential birthplaces; the Revolutionary War battleground on Boston’s famed Bunker Hill; a first time visit to the colonial home of American patriot and Founding Father Paul Revere; a tour of Albany’s sprawling State Capitol building, the most sumptuous seat of government in America; a full day’s sampling of Vermont’s agricultural and environmental history in and around picturesque Woodstock; a picnic on New York City’s Little Island; and a visit to Federal Hall, birthplace of the American presidency.

Adding to the trip’s WOW factor: three remarkable homes and museums associated with as many pioneering artists and collectors…Boston’s Italian palazzo built to house the Old Masters and antiquities assembled by Isabella Stewart Gardner; landscape artist Frederic Church’s Olana, a 250 acre landscaped estate and palatial home overlooking the Hudson River; and The Cloisters, a medieval complex showcasing the priceless tapestries and religious art collected by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

With first-class hotels, meals to match, and the incomparable landscapes of autumnal New England and the Hudson Valley – it’s no exaggeration that this nine-day tour, twenty years in the making, is called The Best of the Best.

Tour Itinerary


We meet as a group this morning in the lobby of the waterfront Hyatt Regency, with breathtaking views of Boston Harbor and the downtown skyline. Today is Adams day, beginning in nearby Quincy, and the side-by-side birthplaces of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams. The 2nd U.S. president was born in 1735. Next door an almost identical “salt box” house sheltered Adams and his growing family during the anxious years when John and Abigail, together with young Johnny, experienced the American Revolution. From a nearby hilltop Abigail and young John watched the Battle of Bunker Hill across Boston Harbor in Charlestown. After lunch we’ll tour Peacefield, residence for some four generations of the Adams family from 1788 to 1927. Adjacent to the house is the Stone Library, built in 1870 to house John Quincy Adams 6,000 volumes. The grounds also boast a historic orchard and 18th century style formal garden. Before leaving Quincy we’ll stop at the Church of the Presidents in whose solid granite crypt the two presidents are buried, alongside their First Ladies. En route back to our hotel we stop at Bunker Hill with its imposing granite monument towering over the site of the pivotal battle of June 17, 1775, when some 3,000 Redcoats required three separate assaults to dislodge colonial militia from a hastily constructed redoubt. While technically a British victory, Bunker Hill proved that outnumbered Yankees could fight effectively against the vastly better trained British. Returning to the hotel, a memorable Welcome Dinner at the Union Oyster House, both Daniel Webster and JFK’s favorite Boston eatery.

Tour Includes

  • Admission fees to all historic sites, attractions and museums listed on the itinerary.
  • AIR TRANSPORTATION: The main airport serving the Boston region is Boston-Logan International Airport. The three main airports serving the greater New York area are LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens and Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey.
  • All taxes and gratuities for all group functions, including meals, guides, bellmen, and motor coach driver.
  • Balance: Final payment must be received by Presidents and Patriots Tours on or before July 1, 2023. Cancellations after this date are subject to loss of full tour cost unless suppliers grant exceptions.
  • Deluxe Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, Boston, MA (Sept. 30 – Oct. 2); The Shire, Woodstock, VT (Oct 2 – 4); Hilton Downtown, Albany, NY (Oct. 4 – 6); The Lexington Autograph Collection, New York, NY (Oct. 6 – 8)
  • Deluxe transportation via climate-controlled motor coach, featuring on-board restroom, individual 110-volt power supply access (for cell phones, DVD players, iPads or laptops), as well as Wi-Fi (wireless internet) throughout the coach.
  • Deposit: To maintain quality, space on this tour is limited. A $1,000.00 deposit per person is required to confirm your reservation. Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Insurance: Presidents & Patriots Tours suggests highly affordable travel insurance through I Travel Insured to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances. TO COMPARE PROTECTION OPTIONS YOU WILL RECEIVE A LINK VIA E-MAIL WHEN YOU REGISTER. NOTE: Travel Insurance is optional. You may obtain insurance from any provider you wish or forgo it altogether.
  • Meals: Tour includes eight (8) breakfasts, eight (8) lunches, and six (6) dinners.
  • NOTE: Presidents & Patriots Historical Tours is not a full service travel agency. Tour participants can save by making their own transportation arrangements TO Boston, MA on or before Saturday, September 30, 2023 and FROM New York, NY on or after Sunday, October 8, 2023.
  • Entire tour hosted and narrated by author and presidential historian Richard Norton Smith.
  • Meeting/Departing from the lobby of Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor (located at 101 Harborside Drive, Boston, MA) on the morning of Saturday, September 30th at 9:00am.
  • Please note that there will be a fair amount of walking involved on this tour.
  • Tour arrangements by Presidents & Patriots Historical Tours, which reserves the right to modify this itinerary in order to maintain the quality of the tour.

Meet Your Host


Richard Norton Smith is a nationally recognized authority on the American presidency and a familiar face to viewers of C-SPAN, as well as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Following graduation from Harvard in 1975, he worked as a White House intern and a speech writer for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke. In 1979 he went to work for Senator Bob Dole, with whom he collaborated on several volumes of autobiography and political humor.

Smith’s first major book, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, was a finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. He has also written An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (1984), The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation (1986), Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (1993), The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, which received the prestigious Goldsmith Prize awarded by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School, and has been described by Hilton Kramer as “the best book ever written about the press.” In October 2014 Random House published On His Own Terms, a monumental life of Nelson Rockefeller described by Douglas Brinkley as “one of the greatest cradle to grave biographies written in the past 50 years,” and tagged in advance by Amazon as one of the fall’s Twenty Big Books in Biography and Memoir.

Between 1987 and 2001, Mr. Smith served as Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Reagan Center for Public Affairs in Simi Valley, California; the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, Michigan respectively.

In December, 2001 Mr. Smith became director of the new Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. There he supervised construction of the Institute’s $11.3 million permanent home and launched a Presidential Lecture Series and other high profile programs. In October, 2003 he was appointed the first Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a four building complex in Springfield, Illinois. The Library opened to the public in 2004 and the Museum opened the next year.

Much in demand as a speaker, in 2009 Smith was invited by Congress to be one of two historians addressing it on the two hundred anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Earlier, millions of television viewers heard him deliver the final eulogy at Gerald Ford’s Michigan funeral, a role he repeated at Betty Ford’s request when she was laid to rest beside her husband in 2011. Smith is currently at work on a biography of President Ford. Twice a year he personally leads historical tours ( emphasizing American presidents and history rarely found in the text books.

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