Trailways Traveler
Cathedrals are heavenly for group trips

Embrace the holiday spirit with a group trip to a cathedral that will nourish the soul and elevate your senses. A Trailways bus can take your group all over the U.S., Canada and Europe to your destination of choice. See one of these stunning architectural marvels, ethereal decorations and perhaps hear heavenly song while there.

East
Where is the first cathedral built in America? It's on the East Coast in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the Baltimore Basilica of the Assumption. Towering over downtown Baltimore, this cathedral is not only beautiful, but monumental as the first cathedral in America. As the oldest cathedral in the country, there are many artifacts to view, including the chasuble that Pope Saint John Paul II wore during his 1995 visit to Baltimore. To check this site off your bucket list, tours are available 3 times a day and require no admission. (Groups of 10 or more must make reservations.) The cathedral garden, called the Pope Saint John Paul II Prayer Garden is one of the few green spaces in this bustling city. For the historically minded group, the Basilica Museum is a must see.

Washington D.C. also has something for everyone in your group — not only famous monuments and museums, but also one of the most stunning cathedrals on the east coast. The Washington National Cathedral is in the upper Northwest section of the city, atop a hill overlooking the city. Your group can learn the secrets with a cathedral tour that is included with admission. For a special holiday touch, purchase tickets to "The Joy of Christmas", a concert and sing-a-long that is sure to lift the spirits of everyone in your group. Large groups need to make reservations for accommodations. The walls of this cathedral hold important stories as they watched history unfold at many inaugurations and funerals. Make sure you take note of the Space Window that contains a piece of lunar rock from the Apollo XI mission.

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Central
Another basilica is a stop your should make when visiting St. Louis, Missouri. The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is the spiritual home of the Gateway City. The architecture blends two styles with a Roman style exterior and a Byzantine interior. There is much to see, so plan your visit around the busy Christmas schedule and if you've got the time, catch a concert with your group bus tour. The highlight of your group's visit will be the mosaic collection, which is one of the largest in the world and covers 83,000 square feet. For the art-loving group, there is a museum on the lower level dedicated to the construction of the Basilica and the mosaic itself.

Another special city, the Big Easy, is a great place for a group bus tour. In New Orleans, you must visit St. Louis Cathedral. In fact, it's hard to miss. The steeples rise above the historic neighboring buildings and is a perfect backdrop for photos in St. Louis square. With residents worshipping on the grounds since 1727, there is lot of history to discover. A stark difference from the plain exterior, the inside of the church is ornately decorated and will take your breath away. Impromptu tours are available thanks to dedicated volunteers. If you want to learn even more, the Old Ursuline Convent Museum is the perfect location to take your group to learn all about what makes the cathedral so special.

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West
If your group bus trip takes you west, make a stop at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. A part of the city since 1910, it is now the third largest Episcopal Cathedral in the country and many have worshipped within its walls. For a special holiday treat, buy tickets for "Christmas at Grace Cathedral", a concert that will help your group ring in the season. Some of these include Mark Twain and Martin Luther King, Jr., and your group can count yourselves among them after taking a tour. This gothic revival structure also has some unique features including a labyrinth and the AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel.

For those venturing to southern California, Wayfarer's Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes should be on your list! With something for nature, archtiecture and reality TV lovers — your entire group is sure to enjoy the cathedral. Nestled in a redwood grove not far from the ocean, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the cathedral to embrace the natural scenery rather than shut it out. The natural beauty and close proximity to the city made this location an obvious wedding choice for Bachelorette favories Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried. The grounds are open daily during business hours, but may be closed for special events.

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Toronto, Canada
If you're looking to take your group bus tour to the Great White North, there are still plenty of cathedrals worth a visit. The Cathedral Church of St. James is a Toronto Heritage site. From design and stained glass, there is a lot to see here, but one of the special things can't be seen — but heard. The "Bells of Old York" are made up of 12 bells named after all the parishes in Old York, and are the only such bells to ring in North America. For groups interested in the history of the cathedral it has a volunteer-run archives and museum. To plan your group tour, call ahead to arrange for accommodations. The original wooden structure was built in 1807 and served as a hospital during the War of 1812. Although it has been replaced with more sturdy and elaborate structures, the now Gothic Revival cathedral is at the center of worship and history for many Anglicans in Toronto.

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If you look to the heavens during the holidays, plan a getaway that's a perfect remedy to your busy holiday season. A group bus tour with Trailways is a great way to take a break with your friends. No worries about driving or getting there on time, so you can enjoy the experience of your destination. These great cathedrals and many more keep the holidays at the heart of your vacation. Book your trip!
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