6 Vacation Ideas For Lovers Of American History

It's been a long time since high school, so you're forgiven if you've forgotten quite a bit about American history. To get reacquainted with your heritage, consider one of these six destinations, where you can take in the formative years of the country and gain an appreciation of how far we've come. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 U.S. Destinations for History Buffs

Location Key Attractions
Ste. Geneviève, MO Missouri's oldest town, with classic homes, a trolley, the Green Tree Tavern, and The Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center
Boston, MA The USS Constitution, Old North Church, the Commonwealth Museum, Fenway Park, and tours featuring the sites of the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's House, and Freedom Trail
Alexandria, VA Mount Vernon, the Carlyle House, the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum, and excursions like the Original Ghost & Graveyard Tour
Cabarrus County, NC The Charlotte Motor Speedway, Reed Gold Mine, North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and the Billy Graham Library
Grand Rapids, MI Historic homes, bridges, and lighthouses, Nelis' Dutch Village, the Great Lakes Naval Memorial & Museum, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Plymouth County, MA Plymouth Rock, the Richard Sparrow House Museum, the Salem Witch Museum, and the Myles Standish Monument

5 Things to Do in Alexandria's West End

10 Engaging & Informative Books About American History

Title Author(s)
1. I’ll Be Seeing You Karen Berkey Huntsberger
2. Unshackling America Willard Sterne Randall
3. Custer’s Trials T.J. Stiles
4. Love For Sale David Hajdu
5. The Long Shadow of 9/11 Brian Michael Jenkins & John Paul Godges
6. Empire of Self Jay Parini
7. Lincoln’s Last Trial Dan Abrams & David Fisher
8. The Fleet at Flood Tide James D. Hornfischer
9. Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus James W. Loewen
10. The Strange Career of William Ellis Karl Jacoby

History Reenactment in Boston

5 Rewarding Museums in Massachusetts

Museum Location Features
Somerville Museum Somerville Exhibits showcasing everything from art and music to history and ecology
Norman Rockwell Museum Stockbridge Home to 998 original Rockwell paintings and drawings, gardens, sculptures by Peter Rockwell, educational and professional programs, and tours of the iconic artist's studio
Concord Museum Concord Collection of Revolutionary-era artifacts, items owned by Henry David Thoreau, a reproduction of Ralph Waldo Emerson's study, and local tours
Fitchburg Art Museum Fitchburg Pieces ranging from Ancient Egypt to contemporary works, public art projects, and teacher resources
Springfield Museums Springfield Multiple sites covering art, history, science, and Dr. Seuss

In Depth

One of the best things about travel is the opportunity to see firsthand the places where history was made. The United States, a young country compared to much of the world, features many sites of cultural and historical significance that are open to the general public. This list, unfolding in no particular order, looks at vacation ideas perfect for the U.S. history buff in your life.

#1 is the village of Ste. Genevieve. Settled on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the early 1700s, it's Missouri's oldest town. Its narrow streets and fenced gardens surround some of the most significant eighteenth century architecture in the nation, offering visitors a glimpse into its colonial past.

Historic attractions include the hands-on exhibits at the Linden House, featuring a variety of activities designed to teach visitors about the French Colonial past. The Green Tree Tavern is the oldest verified vertical log building in the town. Displays at the Centre for French Colonial Life illustrate what life was like for eighteenth-century settlers. The Felix Valle State Historic Site is built around an architecturally important Federal-style limestone building.

The Felix Valle State Historic Site is built around an architecturally important Federal-style limestone building.

In the #2 spot is Boston, Massachusetts. New England's largest city, residents take special pride in the city's place in American history. European settlers arrived in the area nearly 400 years ago as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Many of its earliest institutions, such as Harvard University and Boston Latin School, were designed to promote Puritan values.

The city was also the site of many major events in the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. It is home to a variety of sites and experiences that bring visitors into contact with these events. The Freedom Trail is a two and a half mile red-brick trail through historic neighborhoods that tells the story of the American Revolution. The Path of Presidents is a walking tour that connects an array of artifacts, anecdotes, and locales.

At #3, Alexandria, Virginia is a city on the Potomac River within eyesight of Washington, D.C that is nationally recognized for its rich history and beautifully preserved eighteenth- and nineteenth-century architecture. Old Town Alexandria is the historic city center, anchored in the west by the George Washington National Masonic Memorial and by the riverfront in the east.

Old Town Alexandria is the historic city center, anchored in the west by the George Washington National Masonic Memorial and by the riverfront in the east.

King Street is a walkable mile of centuries-old architecture and the heart of Old Town's more than 200 independently owned restaurants and boutiques. A set of three major museums can be found on Market Street, at the foot of Alexandria City Hall. Gadsby's Tavern is a well preserved bar and restaurant that has served an illustrious array of clientele since 1785. Carlyle House boasts impressive gardens and Revolutionary War history. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary is one of the United States' oldest pharmacies.

The #4 position is held by Cabarrus County, North Carolina. One-time home of deceased racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr., the area is renowned for its motorsports, playing host to Charlotte Motor Speedway, Zmax Dragway, and the Dirt Track Racing School. An entire industry has arisen to cater to visiting NASCAR fans, including a variety of museums, shops, and tours.

Composed of the towns of Concord, Kannapolis, Harrisburg, Midland, and Mt. Pleasant, Cabarrus County is located just 20 minutes north of Charlotte. The region's history extends back to 1792, and its largest city was established in 1796. Kannapolis, one of the largest and best-preserved mill villages in the South, is a testament to the area's textile heritage. In Midland, one can tour the Reed Mine, the first place where gold was discovered by settlers in the U.S.

In Midland, one can tour the Reed Mine, the first place where gold was discovered by settlers in the U.S.

For #5, we've got Grand Rapids, Michigan. The history of the area stretches far back beyond European invasion, as home to the Hopewell peoples for more than 2000 years. In the 1840s, gypsum mining arose as Grand Rapids' first major capitalist industry, and is commemorated today at sites like the Mines Golf Course and Millennium Park.

In the nineteenth century, Grand Rapids became a mecca of wood furniture construction due to its function as a major center for processing logs sent down the Grand River. Today, tourists can gaze upon the remnants of furniture industry wealth at the Heritage Hill mansions. Other historic sites include landmarks of the area's Dutch American culture, such as the tulip gardens at DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory.

Finally, our #6 entry is Plymouth County, Massachusetts. It's home to a variety of communities, from the South Shore, known for its scenic coastline, quaint villages, comfy B&B's, and impressive lighthouses, to the Cranberry Country made famous by Ocean Spray commercials, and Metro South, part of the Greater Boston Area.

It's home to a variety of communities, from the South Shore, known for its scenic coastline, quaint villages, comfy B&B's, and impressive lighthouses, to the Cranberry Country made famous by Ocean Spray commercials, and Metro South, part of the Greater Boston Area.

For history buffs, the heart of the county is, of course the town of Plymouth, the colony founded by the Mayflower settlers, and the site of the First Thanksgiving. Today it hosts an abundance of museums, monuments and memorials, historic houses, antiquarian societies, and tours. Three miles south of the town center is Plimoth Plantation, where the past is brought to life by reenactors.