As most people know, the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, which has shined the spotlight especially brightly on the best known parks in our country. Yet, while Yellowstone, Acadia, the Great Smoky Mountains and a handful of other perennially popular parks get the most attention, what isn’t widely known is that the National Park Service actually manages over 400 national parks, national monuments and historic sites. I’ve had the great fortune to visit many of them in my travels, which led me to compile the following list of recommendations.
No doubt you’ve heard of National Parks and National Forests, but National Landmarks? Well, those aren’t quite as clear cut as the other two. A National Landmark is sort of that in between phase, places that are very beautiful or very important, but not quite up to the standard of a National Park.
National Historic Landmarks can be natural, buildings, and even monuments. They can be their own stand alone sites, or you can find them tucked away inside a National Park, National Forest, or State Park as well. One thing you must know about them though? You shouldn’t miss out on them.
We like to think of the three-day Memorial Day weekend as a time to get away. This year, why not drive away to one of the places that have a tie to the theme or origins of Memorial Day itself. Memorial Day began as a way to remember the fallen from the Civil War. While many large cities and national historic site are logical destinations to remember the day, you may not have thought of these destinations, some of which have a right to claim to be the place where Memorial Day began, and some of which offer special events on Memorial Day Weekend.
Some of the best historic attractions to visit in the U.S. are actually former residences. There is so much you can learn about an era or a famous historical figure by exploring the way they lived daily life. From modest abodes to expansive mansions, we love old homes! Learn about our favorite historic homes that you can visit and let us know which ones you love!
I love history. For many years, I acquainted myself with cities by reading about their past, then exploring them by myself (mostly on foot). But in recent years, I’ve started taking advantage of more structured walking tours as part of my experience. Here are a few things I’ve learned about walking tours that I always keep in mind:
1. Take the tour as early in your visit as possible. This helps you quickly learn the city’s layout. In addition, your tour guide will help point out places you’ll want to try to see (or revisit) before you leave town.
2. Show up a few minutes early. Most guides are excellent at ensuring everyone hears the scripted parts of the tour. Nonetheless, you stand a better chance of learning more about places in between stops if you are walking closest to the guide and can banter a bit.
I’ve picked out three cities to feature in this blog. For each city I provide a “Top Choice” an “Honorable Mention” and a “Runner Up.” I hope you get a chance to explore these beautiful and historic cities with the benefit of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.
Maryland’s Fort McHenry is rich in history, with a major claim to fame. The Star-Spangled Banner was actually inspired by the fort. During the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 (part of the War of 1812), our troops valiantly defended it, and Francis Scott Key penned the ode to this great country that we still sing so proudly today. Beyond its musical connection, there’s a lot to love — and learn about — at this prominent landmark, which was named for Secretary of War James McHenry. You certainly don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate everything that the fort has to offer.
When you think of the schools that make up the Ivy League, chances are it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the campuses are beautiful. And most of them are, when you close your eyes and imagine an Ivy League campus you probably expect to see a green quad surrounded by trees and classical style buildings.
Most of the Ivy’s are found in larger cities throughout the Northeast, but since they are well over a hundred years old, these schools have the luxury to have both large and green plots of land. The good news is these open and walkable campuses are really nice spots to visit, many also have museums and libraries on campus you can visit as well.
This is the month in which we celebrate Presidents Day, due to the fact that both Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays are in February. When you drive the nation, you have many opportunities to visit presidential homes, from the most famous to the somewhat obscure. Here are some favorites:
You don’t need to be a fan of the founding fathers, or even a huge history buff, to appreciate a visit to the Mount Vernon estate. George Washington’s former homestead, located just south of Washington D.C. in Virginia, boasts a museum, gardens, farm, and even the tomb of our first president. Of course, that’s all in addition to the actual house. Well, “house” might be a bit of an understatement. It’s a stately mansion of 21 rooms and more than 11,000 square feet.