They are some of the places that shaped the American nation’s history, from its earliest days as a British colony to its emergence as an independent country and on to its expansion west to the Pacific. These historic sites mark momentous events and pivotal moments in the growth of the country.
Mesa Verde National Park
Made up of 5,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular insight into the history of southwest Colorado. Dating back to 7500BC, the Cliff Palace is the largest of the cliff dwellings and is where around 100 Ancestral Pueblo people once called home. Visitors can take a guided tour which involves ascending 120 stone steps and five 8-10 ft ladders.
The largest community of Native Americans within National Park boundaries once lived in Sequoia National Park, near Visalia, in California. Evidence of this can be seen at ‘Hospital Rock’ where pictographs that date from 1,350 are visible as well as bedrock mortars (grinding holes) and other notable sites. In Visalia itself, you can visit the Farm Labor and Agriculture Museum located in Mooney Grove Park where a collection of local Native American baskets are on display, one of the largest displays in California.
In 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, after their historic sailing from England. The town's famous 'rock' is seen as a symbolic tribute to freedom. Plymouth is planning a calendar of events in 2020 to celebrate 400 years since the Pilgrims arrived. You can get a feel for life in 17th America at Plimoth Plantation, the world class, Smithsonian Affiliate living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Set on the Eel River wetlands overlooking Cape Cod Bay, the 100-acre main campus is a stunning setting for the recreated 17th English and Wampanoag communities. This immersive museum featuring costumed interpreters and modern day artisans shows a the 17th Century English Village, Wampanoag Homesite, Craft Center and Mayflower II docked at the State Pier in picturesque Plymouth Harbor.
The Virginia Company settlers landed on Jamestown Island in 1607 and established England’s first permanent colony in North America. The past is still being unearthed at Historic Jamestowne, part of Virginia’s Colonial National Historical Park. Nearby Jamestown Settlement is a living history attraction with a fort, Powhatan village and replica ships.
The British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 inspired American lawyer Francis Scott Key to pen a poem called Defence of Fort M’Henry. It was renamed The Star-Spangled Banner, set to music and, in 1931, declared the U.S. national anthem. Today, Fort McHenry is a National Monument.
The Battle of the Alamo in 1836, during the Texas war for independence from Mexico, saw 250 defenders, including Davy Crockett, killed as Mexican troops overran the fort, a former Spanish mission. Texas won its independence and in 1845 became the 28th state in the Union.
The freedom trail
The Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts, is a 2.5-mile self-walking route that links 16 significant historic revolutionary sites across the city. They include the Old State House, John Adams Courthouse, Faneuil Halljhyi, Paul Revere House, USS Constitution and Old South Meeting House, where a meeting about English tea taxes led to the infamous Boston Tea Party protest.
Independence National Park
This park in downtown Philadelphia is home to several sites key to America’s birth. Independence Hall was where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed. America's most famous bell can be viewed at The Liberty Bell Centre. After an 18-month journey west from Missouri, ordered by President Thomas Jefferson after the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the a November 1805. The corps or discovery, as it was also known, established Fort Clatsop, now part of Oregon’s Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
At this national park in Fredericksburg, you can get a glimpse into the life of former US President Lyndon Johnson. See the school he attended as a child, the main house or ‘The Texas White House’, where you can take a Ranger-guided tour through the home that entertained heads of state. The National Park Service operates the LBJ Ranch and offers public access to the ranch, Texas Whitehouse, LBJ’s birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, old Junction School, LBJ’s grandparents’ home and ranch show barn.
Track US Civil Rights history across the Deep South
A trail of 80 the USA’s most significant civil rights landmarks launched last year on the Travel South USA website
on January 15 – Martin Luther King’s birthday. The historical hotspots include Selma bridge in Alabama where state police attacked voting rights demonstrators on ‘Bloody Sunday’, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthplace in Atlanta, Georgia, and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where a lone gunman assassinated King 50 years ago. For a tour that takes in highlights including the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia, the brand new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi and the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama try USA travel specialists Bon Voyage