America, a young country compared to countries in Europe and Asia, offers an unprecedented mix of historic sites that will surprise even the most knowledgeable history buff. From buildings to trails, landmarks to memorials, America’s historic sites tell stories of how we innovated, invented, fought and worked for progress and freedom.
Want to learn more about the history of our nation during your next vacation? Here’s our pick of 10 best historic sites to visit in America:
1. National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC
Located at the World Trade Center site in New York City, the Memorial honors those whose lives were lost during the terrorist attacks and is a place to pay tribute to the past and hope for the future. It is free to visit the memorial.
The Museum showcases stories of loss and recovery and displays artifacts from 9/11. There is an admission fee to enter the museum.
2. National Mall in Washington DC
If you have middle school aged kids you would know that the top organized educational trip destination is Washington DC. It is the best place to learn about the history and politics of America. The United States’ capital is home to the President, Congress, and Supreme Court. It’s here that students get to see the White House, Capitol Hill, and National Mall.
According to NPS, the National Mall symbolizes our nation and its democratic values and it is the premiere civic and symbolic space in our nation. It has a collection of monuments, museums, memorials and gardens.
3. Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958, and America sent astronauts to the moon on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon. And the rest is history.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the place to see a real space shuttle, Atlantis, touch a moon rock, meet a veteran NASA astronaut, view a real Saturn V moon rocket and get an astronaut view of space.
We suggest flying to Orlando International Airport (MCO) and combining your visit to Kennedy Space Center with one of the theme parks in Orlando.
4. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the world’s first national park with natural wonders like hot springs, mud pots, geysers, and wildlife (bison, grizzly bears, and wolves).
Visit the Tower-Roosevelt area and museums at Fishing Bridge, Madison Junction, and Norris Geyser Basin. These are designated National Historic Landmarks and “roofless museums of nature”.
5. Liberty Bell Center and Independence National Historic Park in Pennsylvania
“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof” is inscribed on The Liberty Bell. This iconic symbol of liberty has been ringing its message since 1751. Today, it is located in Independence Hall.
A visit to the Independence National Historic Park will include icons like Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Old City Hall, Second Bank of the United States and more.
6. Ellis Island in New York City
A total of 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island immigration halls from 1892 to 1954. Ellis Island was an immigrant processing center and a port of entry for immigrants.
Visit and learn about Ellis Island, once known as Oyster Island. Check out the history of Native Americans, colonial and early American New York (1664-1890) and immigration in America (1891-1924) in Ellis Island.
7. The Freedom Trail in Boston
The red-lined, 2.5-mile Freedom Trail route will take you to 16 historic sites in Boston. Visit museums, meeting houses, burying grounds, and churches. Visitors will learn the history of the American Revolution and the struggles and victories of our forefathers.
Some of the historic sites: Boston Common, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, Old State House, Site of Boston Massacre, Paul Revere House and Bunker Hill Monument.
8. National Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is about the struggles for freedom and human rights. Here visitors can learn about heroes like Harriet Tubman, Henry ‘Box’ Brown, Margaret Garner, William Still and Frederick Douglas, who were behind the secret network that helped slaves escape to freedom and more.
9. Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde, AZ
This is the only place that has traces of the Sinagua culture, a people group that lived in cliff dwellings over 800 years ago. “The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a well-preserved cliff dwelling in North America”, says NPS. It was a 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff.
You can only look through the windows and walk on the 1/3 mile trail to see the archeological remains.
Closest airport to Montezuma Castle National Monument
10. USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu, HI
When visiting the island of Oahu in Hawaii, check out the USS Arizona Memorial. It was built in 1962 on top of the sunken Battleship USS Arizona. This war memorial was built in honor of service members and civilians who lost their lives in WWII.