How much do you really know about where you live? We all think we know a lot, but sometimes when we visit historic sites as adults, we get a new perspective. Which is to say, if you want to take your family somewhere fun, don’t discount visiting some American landmarks. Your kids learn something, and so do you! Here are some of our favorite trips.
The heart of New England is Boston, home of the Boston Tea Party, the catalyst of the American Revolution. Boston touts the first schools in America, and was the site of the battle of Bunker hill, as well as the Siege of Boston. A seaport, Boston has always been a major transportation center for New England.
From Boston, make sure to take some road trips…
Head to Plymouth, Massachusetts to see the rock, of course, and then make your way to Concord. Concord is home to both Walden Pond, of Henry Thoreau fame, and was an iatrical part of the Midnight Ride. Colonists hid their weaponry in Concord, and it was here the battle of Lexington and Concord took place.
If you’d like to see a practical demonstration of what colonial life was like, plan a day in Sturbridge Village. This town has been preserved to show what life was like for the settlers, from butter churning, to yoking an ox, to blacksmith work, this is an excellent way to teach kids about early America.
This former capitol of the United States has the most historic square mile in the country. Here, you can visit Dolly Madison’s home, Benjamin Franklin’s post office and grave, Betsy Ross’s house, the Franklin Mint, and Independence Hall, where the declaration of Independence was signed, and also the former sight of the U.S. capitol. While you’re at it, take a trip to the National Constitution Center to learn all about how the country’s independence came to be.
For this trip, stay in centrally located Savannah, and do some road tripping. Savannah in its own right is a marvel. This beautiful city is believed to be haunted, so while you can of course go on ghost tours, it also remains one of the most historically intact places in the south. The northerners, while ransacking the confederate, saved Savannah for its beauty. You can enjoy it today, and make a trip out to a Wormsloe Plantation, too.
Charleston, two hours drive north, was the leading southern city until the Civil War, which destroyed its dominance, however, the restoration of the city makes it one of the most charming in the united states. Historically, like its northern counterpart, Charlestonians protested the Tea Act, and their rebellious attitude made them integral in the American Revolution. The city is home to many Revolutionary and Civil War sites.
Three hours south of Savannah sits St. Augustine, the first settlement in Florida. The Spanish influence can be seen in the old port city’s architecture, and throughout the state of Florida. Many of the streets are still slim, quaint lanes, similar to what you’d see in the northern historic settlements.
5.The South West
As Americans sprawled west, settlers found their homes along the way. Visit San Antonio in Texas to remember the Alamo, the site in which Mexico marched to take back Texas. The Americans lost this battle, but Texas purchased the land and has a chapel there, to remember the battle and those lost. The Alamo is the most popular sight in Texas.
Or maybe you want to go further to Tucson, where you can visit an old western town. Old Tucson, which was formerly just Tucson, is located out in the desert, the drive being an experience in and of itself. Here, you can visit an old timey saloon, watch a gun fight, and go on a train ride with your kids.
The new frontier! Sacramento is your bet for an old mining town. Here, kids can try their hand at gold panning in the river where gold was discovered in 1948, ride trains into caverns, and check out some of the mansions built from prosperous golden days. Take a trip to Old Sacramento to see what life was like in the nineteenth century.
7.The Oregon Trail
The journey west wasn’t exactly luxurious. It was long and difficult and dangerous. But, if you choose to try it today, you can do it with a little more luxury. Many tour operators run an Oregon Trail adventure, or you could do a road trip yourself, and hit up the sights along the way!
At first, this city of heathens might not shout family vacation at first, but New Orleans has a rich, fascinating history everyone should experience. While associated with the French, the city also has a strong Spanish influence, which creates some of the most stunning architecture in the country. A port city with connection up the Mississippi River, New Orleans was the hand that provided goods to Midwest cities surrounding the river. It was so important, in fact, that it was a target for early capture during the Civil War. The French Quarter is New Orleans’ fame, but the surrounding areas are some of the most beautiful in the nation.
Homeland to more presidents than any other state, this commonwealth was the named capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The state was the site of many war battles. Arlington Cemetery is eternal home to some of the country’s most noble figures. Here, you can visit plantations and old tobacco farms that made the commonwealth the richest and most populous in early America. The most historic city is Colonial Williamsburg, where you can take guided tours of 18th century buildings, and like in Sturbridge and Old Tucson, engage with the “locals.”
No place encompasses American history as much as the center of our government. Take a tour of the White House, the Pentagon, and Capital Hill to learn all about how our great country works. The National Gallery features presidential portraiture and a glimpse of our nation’s rich past.
Have a favorite historic site that’s not on this list? Tell us about it!