Using your family vacation as an opportunity to expose your children to sites rich with American cultural and historical significance is an effective way of making sure that the trip is both a fun and informative one. Parents with aspirations of instilling an appreciation of history and the American journey in their children need look no further than these 10 attractions and landmarks, each of which is iconic in its own right.
- Colonial Williamsburg – The world’s largest living history museum, a visit to Colonial Williamsburg is truly akin to taking a step back in time. Sprawling over 31 acres of restored and reconstructed buildings with historically accurate furnishings and decor and staffed with costumed interpreters, Colonial Williamsburg showcases the history of 18th century settlers and the contribution they made to American culture.
- Boston, Massachusetts – From Tea Parties to Massacres and Sieges, the city of Boston lends its name to many of the most monumental moments in American history. A stroll through this vibrant city is rife with opportunities to discuss the history of both Boston and America as a whole. There are a plethora of activities and attractions designed to cater to history buffs, so you’ll never want for something interesting to see, do or experience while you’re in Boston.
- St. Augustine, Florida – As the oldest city in the nation, St. Augustine boasts plenty of old world charm that helps it live up to its name of the “Ancient City.” Cobblestone streets, monuments and museums abound in the temperate climate, making it a place that is welcoming to visitors year round. The perfect temperatures also make St. Augustine a comfortable and exciting choice for winter getaways.
- The Alamo – A Spanish mission built in 1718, the Alamo has since come to symbolize the American spirit of triumphing over insurmountable odds as a standing monument to the Texas Revolution and the state’s fight for independence from Mexico. No trip to Texas is complete without a visit to this iconic site.
- California Gold Country – A major catalyst for western expansion, the California Gold Rush is a seminal chapter in American history. Visiting California Gold Country is a great way to help your kids learn about the quest for fame and fortune that typifies the indomitable American spirit, and can be done through tours, museums and exhibits showcasing this important era.
- Coney Island, New York – Called the Playground of the World in its heyday, Coney Island was one of the first major tourist destinations in America. Relive Coney Island’s golden age with a pilgrimage of your own to what was once the largest amusement area in the entire nation.
- Grand Canyon – Along with the breathtaking views of the awe-inspiring Canyon itself, the Grand Canyon park is dedicated to preserving the history of the area. The Hualapai Native American Tribe also manage the Skywalk tours, and welcome visitors to learn about their own history and culture along with the natural history of the Grand Canyon.
- Mount Rushmore – More than three million people visit the Mount Rushmore Memorial each year. Learning about the birth and development of both America and the Black Hills region of South Dakota are among the opportunities available after catching a glimpse of this immediately recognizable and celebrated United States Landmark.
- Independence Rock – As one of the most notable landmarks along the emigrant trails taken during westward expansion, legend has it that travelers needed to reach Independence Rock by the fourth of July in order to have the best chances of completing their journey safely. While this tale isn’t strictly true, it has become part of the mythos surrounding this spot. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, there is an information kiosk and a paved footpath for easy accessibility to the Rock.
- The Liberty Bell – A symbol of the abolitionist movement to end slavery, the Liberty Bell actually took its name from these revolutionary souls. Before, the bell was simply known as the State House Bell. After being adopted as the symbol of abolitionists, the Liberty Bell reached its status as a national icon and is one of the most recognizable American cultural images.
These are merely a tiny sampling of the many incredible historical sites scattered across the American landscape, with dozens more along the way. Should you choose to make visiting historical landmarks your new family vacation tradition, you’ll find no shortage of options to choose from each year.