Travelers often scoff at the idea of visiting the United States for its historical attractions because it is still a young nation. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of world-class historical sights, often in unexpected places. If you're in the mood to combine a fun learning experience with an exciting modern vacation, consider planning a trip to one of these fantastic cities in the U.S.
Often considered the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia, PA is where the Declaration of Independence was signed, among many other important events throughout the American Revolution. Here, you can visit the Independence National Historical Park, where the old Pennsylvania State House is now known as Independence Hall. Phili is also home to the Liberty Bell that legend says rung throughout the town when the Declaration of Independence was announced publicly on July 8, 1776. The city is home to numerous other important sites from that time, many of which can be seen on popular guided tours.
Known for its graceful architecture and genteel atmosphere, Savannah, GA, is often considered the quintessential southern city. Savannah was one of the few cities spared from destruction during the Civil War, preserving a historic feel that many other towns in the area lack. Savannah's downtown historic district combines modern art, world-class cuisine, and fun entertainment venues. With historic charm and educational sites such as the Massie Heritage Center, the downtown scene provides an in-depth look into its history. Be sure to check out the Pin Point Heritage Museum, which showcases the unique Gullah culture in the area.
If you want a historic southern city with an upbeat atmosphere, New Orleans is the place to be. This unforgettable town has 32 registered historic districts, which is the highest count for U.S. cities. St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest operating cathedral in the country and a must-see for your historical adventure. Another New Orleans highlight is the Garden District, which is full of historic houses surrounded by lush, beautifully maintained greenery. If you in a celebratory mood, take one of the city's old trolleys to the famous French Quarter — a center for art, music, culture, and cuisine since the 18th century.
Texas is commonly known for its southern charm, equipped with cowboys and cattle drives that make up its history. However, this large state has some unique historical gems, such as San Antonio. Founded in 1718 by Spanish settlers, this is where Alamo's Battle took place — a 13-day fight where many Americans lost their lives. Today, the Alamo is a memorial where visitors can pay their respects and learn about San Antonio's history. While you're visiting, check out the Spanish Governor's Palace and San Fernando Cathedral, both fantastic examples of early Spanish architecture. Afterward, take a stroll along the Riverwalk — a beautiful pathway that provides access to some of the city's best restaurants and entertainment venues.
Sante Fe is the oldest capital city in North America, dating back to 1610, although Pueblo peoples have lived here for thousands of years. Spend a day strolling around Santa Fe Plaza, where you can find award-winning restaurants and lovely art galleries. The plaza is a very cultural spot, filled with historic adobe buildings, open-air markets, and beautiful pathways. While you're there, check out the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, a stunning church built in the '80s. If you want an escape from modern-day life, plan a trip to Taos Pueblo or Acoma Pueblo, the oldest active communities in the United States.
San Francisco is a beautiful city known for many things, but sometimes its historic character gets lost. It was founded in 1776 by Spanish settlers but majorly evolved in the 19th century during the California Gold Rush. The Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf are both iconic attractions in America, but this city holds more for history buffs to explore. Alcatraz, one of the most notable American Prisons, is a sight to see if you're looking to deep dive into California history. In the Mission District, you can find detailed and stunning examples of Spanish architecture. If you're a fan of vintage film, check out The Castro Theater or learn about how San Francisco pioneered new transportation forms at the Cable Car Museum.
Most people are familiar with this town's name due to its popularity in the Wild West's tales, but not many people realize that Deadwood still exists as a small but thriving city. In other words, Deadwood is not yet dead. Visitors can tour the famous Broken Boot Gold Mine or visit numerous museums devoted to the area's history, including the Adams Museum and the Black Hills Mining Museum. Deadwood is also a gateway to excellent outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, biking, and skiing.
Memphis, TN, is known as a music mecca, and you will find the streets filled with aspiring artists and joyous songs. Visit Magevney House to see a well-preserved home filled with 19th-century furnishings, or stop by the Cotton Museum to learn about the foundation in which Memphis was built. Embrace the city of music and culture by visiting the Beale Street Historic District, where many legendary blues, rock, and country artists have performed. Don't forget to stop by Graceland, where you can see Elvis Presley's famous residence.
If big cities aren't your thing, but you're still looking for an exciting trip, head up to Portsmouth, NH. This small city is full of historic landmarks, ranging from residential homes to public buildings. Tour the beautiful Moffatt-Ladd House that was once home to the Revolutionary War General, William Whipple. If you prefer to spend your time outdoors, you will not be disappointed in Portsmouth, as this region is populated with stunning gardens. You can also learn about the history of African Americans in the northeast along the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. To top off your day, head over to Market Square, a bustling historic district, for some dinner and shopping.
No list of historic cities would be complete without St. Augustine, FL, which is believed to be the oldest city in the United States. You can stroll down old cobblestone streets and take in the lovely Spanish architecture in the city center. For history buffs, you can visit forts established by early settlers at Fort Matanzas or the Castillo de San Marcos. This city is also supposedly the location of the legendary fountain of youth sought by Ponce de Leon, which you can find at the Archaeological Park and drink from the spring yourself.