Saudi Arabia/World: What Would YOU Recommend?

There are presently more than 50,000 Saudi students in the United States.  With the recent Education Fair that was held in Riyadh even more are expected to apply at U.S. Universities.  The students elect to come to the United States for the educational opportunities not available in the Kingdom and for the chance to be exposed and experience Western culture.

Most Universities in the US attended by Saudi students will have a “Saudi Students Club” as well as an international student advisor.  However I believe it is important for the students to not only enjoy American University life but to also take advantage of their time in the United States and see more of America’s diverse culture too.

Therefore, the purpose of this post is for YOUR recommendations on places and things to do that you think would benefit and enrich a Saudi students experience in the United States (or whichever country you, as a reader, are living in).

I think many Saudi students have places like New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington and other large cities on their own lists.  I don’t blame them.  These are places well-worth seeing.  However I am going to start with a few places off of the beaten path which are rich in history and nature.  Additionally, the local residents are already accustomed to Saudis having known my own husband and his children!  When I took Abdullah to where I was born and raised, he said every Saudi should come to the area and visit.

I’m from a small village called Espyville, located in the Northwestern section of Pennsylvania.  The nearest town of any size is Meadville (birthplace of actress Sharon Stone) which is a 20 minute drive. My family is one of the founding families of Espyville and there is a road named after my family – Lebhaft Road.  

Espyville is located in Crawford County, Pennsylvania.  One of the best things about the location of Espyville is that it is along Pymatuning Lake.  This lake has great beaches, boating and fishing.  Pymatuning Lake is an excellent place to fish for walleye and bass.  The lake is divided by a causeway which takes drivers across the lake to Ohio and also by a spillway which takes drivers to a small town called Linesville.

On the way to Linesville along the Spillway there are a few places one must stop to enjoy.  The first stop is the “honor store.”  Many people come to the Spillway to feed the geese, ducks and fish.  The honor store has bread for sale but there is no attendant.  Prices are posted for selections and customers leave what they owe in a big bowl.  After purchasing the bread to feed the fish, ducks and geese the next stop is about 2 miles along the Spillway and simply called “The Spillway.”  There is plenty of parking, refreshment stands, washrooms, souvenirs and of course what you originally come for – to see the ducks walk on the fishes back!

Ever since the 1930’s people have come to the spillway to feed bread to the fish.  As a result, more and more fish permanently gather at the spillway to be fed.  The water is so thick with fish that the ducks and geese will land on their backs to also eat the bread that is thrown.  My sister’s wedding party stopped at the Spillway to feed the fish enroute from the wedding ceremony to the reception!

     After feeding the fish and before leaving the spillway one must stop at the refreshment stand.  This is where homemade goat milk fudge is available for purchase.  It is some of the creamiest and most delicious fudge I have ever tasted.

From the Spillway, continuing towards Linesville, there will be a museum on the right side of the road.  This museum is free of charge and has exhibits and information about all of the fish and wildlife in the area.

Before leaving Linesville for the next recommended destination I suggest stopping for a tasty homemade meal at the Driftwood Restaurant located at 220 W. Erie Street.  This restaurant has been in business since before I was born but I am not going to disclose my age!

The next destination is a place my late husband said every Saudi should see.  That is Drakes Well located in Titusville, Pennsylvania.  This is still in Crawford county and a nice country drive from Linesville.   At Drakes Well one will learn all about the origin of oil in the United States.  Yes; oil was found at Drakes Well before Saudi Arabia and Aramco!

So that’s my recommendation for a unique weekend trip for a Saudi student in the United States.  What’s yours?

24 Responses

  1. I think they could stay with different families for a week at a time learning about a small community with rich heritage. Such as a small town in South Louisiana, Cajun or creole. Then maybe a Texas family in a small oil town,northern Kansas in an old west town such as Abilene. The small towns throughout the US is so rich with what America has been made from. There are gems of rich history in these little towns. So much better than the big tourist places. But I’m a history lover, and when I would travel overseas I liked the villages and back streets of places better than the tourist attractions . Just getting of the beaten path.

  2. I don’t live in America but what I’d like to see if I came all the way from Saudi Arabia would probably be nature parks, wildlife, anything native to America that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see elsewhere. Also, I’d love to go camping or fishing or anything like that. I’ve never been to Saudi Arabia but I’ve been to surrounding countries and the landscape is filled with beautiful desert and cities, but not much else. So seeing as much forest and animals would be exactly what I’d do!

  3. That sounds like a wonderful place to visit! I love the bit about your sister’s wedding party stopping to feed the fish. 😀

    I’d probably recommend somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway – maybe Sparta or Maggie Valley. I also like Savannah and Wilmington and Charleston. Gatlinburg. Williamsburg. Amish Country. Lots of good places!

  4. I think ‘off the beaten path’ always offers up such unique and memorable experiences.

    Yes; I was very blessed to grow up in a carefree area like Espyville!

  5. They can look for an indian reserve (if there are any ) and get to meet Native Americans and understand their beautiful spiritual culture. I did that when I was in Canada with Native Canadians and it was such an enriching experience.

  6. In Ontario, Canada there is always tent or cottage camping in the Muskoka area (Baysville, Bracebridge etc…) A day at the beach in a small town like Port Dover on Lake Erie. Every Friday 13th they have a huge bikers (motorcycle) festival in Port Dover. Dunnville and Cayuga offers the opportunity to see the Indian Reserves and small town life with beach area on the Grand River.

    While I lived in Texas, some nice places I had been were San Antonio (The Alamo and surrounding area), and also Old Town Spring in Houston was really nice too.

  7. I’d love to come and see your recommendations of Canada, Felicia!

  8. I have some of the best memories and times visiting the area with your brother, Mike and staying at Dad and Peg’s house. Very special-indeed!

  9. Loved the interview! I think it would be great to see more spontaneity like that.

  10. @Gail,

    What a pleasure to hear from you! Abdullah also loved staying at Dad & Peg’s too!

  11. They go into Mennonite/Amish country ..certain areas of Indiana, Pennsylvania… and in Canada …Waterloo County (Ontario) where I grew up as a child/teen!

    A Saudi might at a basic level relate to them. I did attend church of a good Mennonite friend….they segregate the sexes. Men on one side and women on the other side.

    Canadian Rocky Mountains. Or kayaking along the British Columbia coast where there is temperate rain forests, soaring old growth trees, starfish, 50 types of seaweed, Dungeness crab, etc. Northwest coast native Indian art and totems might interest them.

    Oops I don’t know about Saudis, if they require a visa to visit Canada…advance notice vs. just showing their passport.

  12. I should add that Alberta is Canada’ province rich in oil sands (north), natural gas, etc. But only 120 km. north of Calgary is start of the Canadian Rocky mountains. We have vast incredible national parks with protected wildlife of bighorn sheep (see by blog), bears, deer, white mountain goat, jewel turquoise glacial lakes, etc. Look at a map of Alberta and British Columbia and you would be stunned by how much mountain, wilderness (and very little roads at time) there is on both sides of these provincial borders.

    By the way, there was a local-international incident where the United Emirates airline wanted to create their own plane hangar/bays, but Calgary International Aiport (which under Canadian federal authority) wouldn’t allow it. I was not living in this city, so I don’t know much about this (within last decade or so).

  13. We have such an abundance of wonderful things to experience here. The big cities, of course. Personally, when I travelled I always enjoyed the small towns and villages and really getting to know the people and the culture.

    I don’t have any specific suggestions for small town places to go. Niagra Falls (Canada side) would be a great side trip. Many years ago I drove from California (seeing the giant red wood trees would be a great place to go) and it was funny because some places I assumed I would love didn’t move me much, while others i didn’t want to leave. I had never given much thought to Missouri but we stopped there overnight and i found the people there so welcoming and genuine and I also found it very beautiful. I really enjoyed taking a dip in Salt Lake and finding that it really is true that you’re super buoyant. Going to Maine for some real Maine lobster would also be worth the trip. Depending on the time of year, Vermont would be a great place to see how maple syrup is made and to pick some up. Nothing compares to real maple syrup! They now have trips to see moose in NH. Apple picking, strawberry picking in season can be a lot of fun,too. Museums usually have discounts for students or free passes can be got at the library with a library card.

    Cape Cod beaches are gorgeous and though can be overrun with tourists in the summer the months of May/early June and after Labor Day can be really beautiful with great weather without the crowds. Whale watching, seal watching are also great takes.

    The Grand Canyon with or without a trip to Vegas would be a really nice trip. For those braver than me, you can even go by mule. Arizona has much to offer and five hours in just about any direction will bring you to somewhere much different. (Could even take a little trip to Mexico)

    So much can be done without spending a lot of money. Of course, if you want to spend money, there’s even more to do. Florida has a lot to offer, Disney, Universal, Kennedy Space Center, a trip through the Everglades and more.

    Thanks!!! Now I have the urge for a nice trip.

    And there are many ways to save money when doing more expensive trips. Example, if going to Universal they have a deal for $20 where you get to see a movie and dinner from a choice of restaurants. We did that a couple of times and it was nice to get out of the heat for a couple of hours.

    Sorry this is so long … I could go on and on!

  14. This is a great idea! There are so many places in the U.S. that international students may not know about. My suggestion would be the California Central Coast, including Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Big Sur. It’s some of the most stunning coastline I have ever seen! It’s only two hours south of San Francisco, although there isn’t a lot of public transportation so it would be best to rent a car if possible. Also, close to my hometown is Lake Tahoe, another gorgeous place!

    I’m a university ESL instructor, and we’ve had quite an influx of Saudi students. All have been very pleasant and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the Saudi culture!

  15. The students elect to come to the United States for the educational opportunities not available in the Kingdom and for the chance to be exposed and experience Western culture.

    Along those lines, I would like to seriously propose that they should attend, at least once, the religious services at a church, a synagogue, a hindu mandir, a sikh gurudwara, a buddhist temple, etc., while in the states. They should pay special attention to and take copious notes of the PEACEFUL sermons delivered therein, to take back home for deep thought and deep reflection.

  16. Speaking of suggesting that Saudi students visit a church, temple or synagogue, I thought folks might enjoy reading this one:—

    Speaking of the Amish, we had Amish neighbors where I was from in Pennsylvania so Abdullah had opportunity to interact with them which he enjoyed very much. He said he felt the Amish outlook on life and way of life reminded him closely of Muslims and Saudis.

  17. Thank u AB for tht heartwarming story. Yes, we actually do joke about and hv services at the mosque in a lighthearted manner,contrary to popular believes due to a few radical preachers. Look up Ustaz Don Daniyal,a very funny islamic scholar who teaches his audience in an entertaining way.

  18. When our Saudi family comes to visit us in the next year or two we plan to take them camping (will rent RV so they have some privacy), take them on extensive public transit tours both bus, and our elevated skytrain, a riverboat cruise, drive along the coast up to the mountains at Whistler for starters. I’m sure that they will be very impressed with our ‘kneeling’ buses that accommodate wheelchairs and strollers as well as bike racks.

  19. @Wendy,

    I’d like to come on your trip too!!

  20. I’d say yellowstone, grant tetons, yosemite , Mt Ranier and our favorite haeakala, Maui . a trip to the US would be incomplete without these visits.
    We love haleakala, we visit atleast once every couple of years it’s fantastic.

  21. Here in Oklahoma I have befriended the Saudi students, one Mohammad in particular.
    I have done my best to show him everything I think he needs to know/do before he goes home.
    I’ve had him over to my house over winter break, where it thankfully snowed!
    At my house we baked cookies and made Mexican food. We also tried some of his family’s recipes.
    He has been to church with me to see what it’s like.
    He’s been to the zoo. Even a Renaissance festival!
    I’ve taken him camping in the Wichita mountains where we saw buffalo and deer and longhorns.
    I’ve showed him the best in classic films like the Great Escape, Forest Gump, Zorro, etc.
    Because I’m interested in China, I’ve taught him what I can about it.
    We’ve had pillow fights and silly string fights and water gun and water balloon fights.
    Soon I want to take him to the lake to go fishing and on the boat. I want to show him tubing and water skiing and jetskis.
    Someday I want to take him actual skiing.
    One of the most simple, but one of his favorite things is that I got him one of those quarter maps and we’ve been finding the state quarters. For each one I tell him what it is on the quarter and anything else about the state.
    He’s had a miniature Christmas tree with a few gifts. And a Valentines day with Chocolate-covered strawberries. (he got me flowers. Lots of flowers.) I pinched him on St. Patrick’s day and told him about Easter and Lent. Soon he’ll get a birthday party.

    Wow. I wrote a ton.
    But there is so much that I’ve done with him–and so much more that we want to do together.
    But mostly I love simply talking with him and learning from him. Our religious discussions are amazing–I only wish he was a better Arabic teacher!

  22. Laura,

    It has been such a joy to read about your relationship with Mohammad. There is no doubt that both of you have been very blessed!

  23. Although your picture of the couple and two fish indicates that these are walleye, I think that the fish on the left is a large Steelhead, and the one on the right is a Chinook or King salmon. Beatiful fish, and it makes me anxious for summer.

    Following up on radhaa’s comment, I would add Glacier National Park to the list and accross the border Waterton Glacier. Glacier is my favorite of all the national parks, because there is such diverse and readily available hiking trails. In addition, for those who don’t hike, it is pretty impressive just to drive along the highway to the sun drive which bisects the park. While I agree that the parks listed in Radhaa’s comment are “must sees” along with Bryce, Mesa Verde, the Badlands, etc, if you have time for just one, please see Glacier. Plus, for those who fish, Avalanche lake ( a short, easy 3 mile hike) is loaded with cutthroat trout.

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