If you didn't get the gift of a grand European tour for the holidays, LifeLong Learning & Leisure has the next best thing.

If you didn't get the gift of a grand European tour for the holidays, LifeLong Learning & Leisure has the next best thing.

Instructor Shawnie Kelley provides your passport to castles and cathedrals, as well as a nearby modern masterpiece in her new series of LifeLong Learning & Leisure courses offered this winter. This term she'll be hosting five sessions including: "History of the English Castle," "Castles of Arthurian & Templar Legend," "The Crusades: Part II," "Great Cathedrals of England" and one non-European stop, "Fallingwater Turns 75."

Kelley is an Upper Arlington resident and owns Wanderlust Tours (http://shawniekelley.com), providing educational and recreational tours in the U.S. and abroad.

As the city's resident expert in European castles and cathedrals, Kelley's two-hour-long presentations regularly attract a crowd, often having upwards of 15 attendees per session.

"She has a number of regular students who sign up for everything she teaches," said Kate Erstein, administrative specialist for the Parks and Recreation Department's LifeLong Learning & Leisure program.

"I really enjoy the students in my classes because they are often well-traveled themselves and very engaging," Kelley said. "I think I learn as much from their experiences as they do from mine."

Kelley blends her academic research and extensive travel experiences, including an expansive photography collection, for a local tour of these sometimes far away places.

Kelley's background includes studying at Carnegie Mellon University, Ohio State University, University of Edinburgh and University of Nice. After spending two years at OSU, she was awarded a research fellowship that took her to Europe, where her work included dating a 15th-century castle with the organization Historic Scotland and documenting a collection of British medieval sculptures for the English Heritage organization in York.

"Shawnie has the educational background and work experience in the field to have extensive knowledge of the subject, the passion and enthusiasm to keep her students captivated and exceptional slides to illustrate her lectures," Erstein said. "We feel very fortunate to have an instructor of Shawnie's caliber in our program."

Kelley hasn't spent her whole career studying European art history, however.

She is an accomplished author with titles including "The Insiders Guide to Columbus" and "It Happened on Cape Cod," as well as the upcoming "The Insiders Guide to Cleveland."

Her session on the 75th-anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright's Pennsylvania masterpiece Fallingwater includes an optional tour of the property by Kelley for an additional cost.

"One of my favorite hidden treasures of Columbus is the Rush Creek Neighborhood," she said, referring to the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired community just south of Old Worthington.

The LifeLong Learning & Leisure classes run throughout the year with three terms during the winter, spring/summer and fall.

The programs are fully funded through registration fees paid by the participants, with discounts for UA residents. To find out more about the classes being offered or register for a session visit https://parks.uaoh.net or call the parks and recreation department at 614-583-5300.