Calling all history buffs! As enjoyable as learning about history in a classroom can be, there’s really nothing quite like experiencing it in person. Insert yourself into this week’s history lesson by visiting some of the great sites listed below. Whether you’re trying to convince your teacher to take your class on a field trip, traveling with your family, or embarking on a solo road trip, you’ll be sure to love these major historical spots.
Home of arguably the most significant battle in the Civil War, Gettysburg is a must-see for all American history buffs. The grounds are almost fully open to the public, so you can walk across battlefields and take a relaxing water break on top of Little Round Top. There are monuments to both the Confederacy and Union scattered throughout the park, as well as an interactive Visitor Centre offering tours of the grounds, a small museum, and a short introductory video on the Civil War.
- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The Battle of Gettysburg occurred between July 1 and July 3, 1863 and was the largest battle of the American Civil War. The battle was a victory for the Union Army and is considered by many historians to be a turning point in the war. President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address on the battleground of Gettysburg in 1865 where he redefined the purpose of the war.
Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson during much of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The house is now owned by non-profit organization, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and they have opened it up to the public, turning Monticello into a museum and educational centre. Visitors can tour the grounds, as well as the cellar, and all three floors including the iconic dome.
- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Thomas Jefferson lived in this residence for many years. The plantation was initially built in 1772, though Jefferson continued working on it until his death in 1826. It spanned 5,000 acres and much of the land was used for the cultivation of tobacco and wheat.
Philadelphia was founded in 1682 by William Penn (who also founded the Pennsylvania Colony). There are several historical sites to visit including the National Constitution Centre, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, Independence Hall where visitors can see where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted, and finally, the Liberty Bell (read the inscription on the bell to see Alexander Hamilton’s spelling of Pennsylvania - it differs slightly from our current spelling).
- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Being one of the oldest cities in American history, Philadelphia was extremely prominent during the Revolutionary War. As tensions with the British ran high and Americans geared up for the War of Independence, the Founding Fathers began meeting in Philadelphia to coordinate their plans. The First and Second Continental Congresses were held in Philadelphia, as well as the Constitutional Convention, meaning both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were drafted and signed in the city.
4. Washington D.C.
There is so much to see in Washington D.C. From the government buildings such as the White House and the Capitol Building, to the monuments and memorials such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial, to the museums including the National Archives (which houses the Declaration of Independence), to the Smithsonian’s. Just outside of D.C., you have Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia where the eternal flame memorial dedicated to John F. Kennedy is located, along with the infamous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And if you go a little bit further outside of the city, you’ll find George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Named after the first president of the United States, Washington D.C. officially came into existence in 1790. As the capital of the U.S., Washington has been home to life-changing negotiations, such as during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, political gatherings, such as the March on Washington in 1963, and the passing of famous bills, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is no shortage of historical significance here!
For all American history buffs that have taken a keen interest in the American Revolution, Boston is an especially great place to visit. Walk the Freedom Trail, visit Plymouth Rock, see the famous harbour where tea was dumped during the Boston Tea Party, or visit Salem and learn more about the Salem witch trials. The city is extremely proud of its heritage so they make all of the major historical sites very accessible to the public.
- HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded by Puritans in 1630. It was the location of many key events in the Revolutionary War including the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, the battles of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill.