A Doll’s-Eye View of Albany Aboard the Aqua Ducks Trolley

by Sandra Foyt on May 16, 2012

in Enrichment Ideas

Albany Aqua Ducks American Girl TourGirls and their dolls. That’s a special relationship; even the most adventurous tomboys and independent teenagers are not immune. But to see the love of a doll multiplied a dozen times over; well, that’s a treat.

On a somewhat soggy weekday evening, a group of moms and daughters gathered at Quackenbush Square for an American Girl Garden Tour of downtown Albany, NY, awarded the winners of a giveaway run on both Albany Kid Family Travel and Saratoga Mama courtesy of  Albany Aqua Ducks and Trolley Tours. Although Albany Aqua Ducks also runs an amphibious tour, we had elected to do the trolley tour – a good choice I think given the unpredictable weather and our treasured companions – but no two tours are exactly the same. Albany Aqua Duck’s Maeve McEneny tailors the American Girl tour to the story of the dolls present, but with over a dozen girls present, there was an equal number of dolls and their histories.

Albany Aqua Ducks American Girl Tour-2

My daughter’s favorite American Girl doll, Kit Kittredge, inspired a story about Eleanor Roosevelt who, in addition to her personal accomplishments as a humanitarian, is credited for encouraging her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to run for Governor of New York; thus commencing an illustrious political career. And as we turned the corner on the Entertainment Row anchored by the Palace Theater and the Times Union Center, Maeve shared recent stories of movie filming in downtown Albany inspired by Rebecca Rubin, the doll who wanted to be an actress.

Many moms cheered silently when Maeve pulled out photos of Suzy Homemaker and Rosie the Riveter. Not for the images themselves, but for the idea that any girl can now choose to be all of that and more. And then we went to the tea party at the mansion.

Albany Aqua Ducks American Girl Tour-3

We had elected to bypass walking in the gardens at Washington Park due to the weather, but when we arrived at Ten Broeck Mansion we were rewarded by the vision of loveliness that is the front gardens of the 213-year-old home. Our girls were delighted to see the roses and irises in bloom, and for one pint-sized cherub at least, the boxwoods presented an inviting maze.

Inside, we eagerly followed Wendy Burch, Executive Director of the Albany County Historical Association, on a tour of the premises. It’s always a pleasure to see how classic décor stands the test of time, and I wasn’t the only mom oohing and aahing over the kitchen cupboards and bathroom marble. But it was the details – personal items carefully placed to suggest that the inhabitants might return at any moment – that truly captured the imagination.

Albany Aqua Ducks American Girl Tour-5

Albany Aqua Ducks American Girl Tour-2-2

And then there was the tea party. Golden chairs had been set for mothers and girls, and their dolls, in the formal dining room. And an assortment of cookies accompanied pink lemonade – much better than tea!

Albany Aqua Ducks American Girl Tour-4

What a delightful experience. The entire tour was completed in just over an hour (by choice as this was a school night.) The girls learned a little bit of about history and women’s issues while enjoyed a very special time with their mothers and dolls.

And even I, the mother of a very independent sixteen-year-old, had a chance to share a pleasant outing with my daughter and her doll. Sweet!

Go See It!

Albany Aqua Ducks and Trolleys
P O Box 446
Albany, NY 12201
518-462-DUCK (3825)
Website: www.albanyaquaducks.com
 
Ten Broeck Mansion
9 Ten Broeck Place
Albany, NY 12210
518-436-9826
Website: https://sites.google.com/site/tenbroeckmansion/Home

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Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie.

A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.”

Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network.

Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Lisa May 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

What a great tour for moms and daughters! My older daughter’s first American Girl doll was Kit and she has always been the favourite as well! I love the American Girl books for teaching so much about history in a way that young girls find interesting and can understand. Even though we’re Canadian, many of the issues in the books are common to our history as well.
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