Now that summer is here, school is out and the election season is quickly encroaching upon us, we at Republican Coffee wanted to share something fun with you as you travel this season: a list of places every American patriot should visit! While some are more well-known than others, we think you’ll enjoy each and every one of these places and will appreciate our nation’s history all-the-more for visiting them. In no particular order, here’s the list!
Massachusetts, of course, is the birthplace of the American Revolution and surely belongs on every patriot’s top 10 list of places to visit. We are assuming that once you land in the Boston area you will soak up as many of the local historic attractions as possible. If you find yourself short of time, however, the best thing to do is walk the Freedom Trail. Not up for walking? Always remember those double decker busses!
The Freedom Trail in Boston
Step back into 17th-century New England and visit the grist mill, see rare animal breeds, talk with true Wampanoag native Americans in the Wampanoag village, and stop by the craft center to watch artisans use tools, materials and craft techniques of the 1600’s.
Lexington is considered the birthplace of American Liberty and the home of many of our nation’s first patriots. Visit the Minute Man National Historic Park, observe battle re-enactments, tour historic homes and check out the National Heritage Museum.
Concord was the site of the first battle of the American Revolution, the first interior settlement away from water in MA, and became known as an “American Athens” as great minds like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott all resided there.
Mystic Seaport boasts over 20 historic vessels that you can tour and cruise on, including four Historic National Landmark ships. Visit the 19th century village, the planetarium, gardens and exhibits for a true patriotic experience.
Baltimore was the site where American troops held off an invasion of British forces during The War of 1812, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem called, “Defence of Fort M’Henry” which was later adapted into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” While you’re in Baltimore, be sure to visit Fort McHenry, the site of many battles during The War of 1812 and The Battle of Baltimore.
Annapolis is one of the nation’s earliest capitals and home to the US Naval Academy. Be sure to visit the Banneker-Douglass Museum and Thurgood Marshall Memorial, where you’ll learn about the famous African American Marylanders who worked hard to either end slavery or push for African American civil rights, including Harriet Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker.
Ground Zero in NYC- learn about what happened and pay respects to the 2,977 men, women and children who died on 9/11/2001, as well as the Twin Towers attacks in 1993.
Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty- famously known to the many immigrants as the first sight of hope, a new life and true independence, Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty still represent American patriotism. Tour the Statue and visit the Ellis Island History Museum and Family History Center. Search for your family’s names in their database of 51 million+ Immigrant Arrival Records!
Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay - this was the summer home of our nation’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. Tour his “Summer White House” and take a trip back into history-- but book your tickets first - it’s a “ticketed, guided tour only” experience!
Empire State Building - visit this 102-story American icon, and if you’re brave, go all the way to the top and look out over New York City! It’s no wonder it was named the 7th wonder of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers! It’s been featured in over 90 films, the most recognizable being “King Kong.”
Fort Ticonderoga- near Vermont border on Lake Champlain, Fort Ticonderoga is touted as “America’s Most Historic Landscape.” It’s the site of the first American victory in the Revolutionary War, and offers war re-enactments, tours, special events and hands-on activities for everyone in your family.
Independence Hall and Liberty Bell- Tour the rooms of Independence Hall (formerly the Pennsylvania State House), where both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were adopted into American history, and the iconic, cracked Liberty Bell next door, where citizens first gathered on July 8, 1776 to hear the first public reading of The Declaration of Independence. https://www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/independencehall.htm
Gettysburg- relive significant moments of American history at Gettysburg, where the bloodiest battle to take place on American soil occurred and where Robert E. Lee’s ambitions were finally overcome with a Union victory. Visit the Gettysburg National Cemetery to walk the grounds where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his now-famous “Gettysburg Address” as he dedicated the cemetery to Americans who lost their lives in battle.
Betsy Ross Museum- visit the house where Betsy Ross sewed together the first flag of American stars and stripes, and step back into 18th-century American history!
Fort Necessity Battlefield in Fort Necessity, PA - visit one of our National Battlefield Sites-- the site of one of the first French and Indian War battles and the only place George Washington was forced to surrender while in battle.
Amish Country in Lancaster County- step back into time and enjoy a slower, more peaceful pace of life in Amish Country -- take a tour of the countryside in a horse-pulled buggy, enjoy some authentic PA Dutch cooking, and shop for hand-made Amish crafts, including quilts, clothing, soaps, furniture and more.
Mount Rushmore- Keystone, South Dakota
Visit the mountain that boasts four presidential faces - Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln - and hike the Presidential Trail! If you’re not the hiking type, go check out TJ’s ice cream -- Thomas Jefferson was the first American author of an ice cream recipe, and it’s available at the Memorial Ice Cream Shop when you visit Mt. Rushmore!
National Mall, Smithsonian in Washington DC. -U.S. Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial
An area rich in history and patriotism, take time to walk the National Mall, the home of the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, and more. This area hosts significant memories of past American leaders, including MLK Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial and the March on Washington in 1963. While you’re there, visit the myriad of Smithsonian Museums (entrance is free, though some exhibits/offers are paid, ticketed events) and soak up all that Washington, D.C. has to offer.
The White House - there may be no place more patriotic than the home where our United States Presidents have resided- book your tour and enjoy stepping through centuries of history in every room.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Arlington National Cemetery- a chilling, somber yet deeply moving experience, take time to quietly observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb and walk the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Seeing vast fields of white crosses that signify soldiers laid to rest after fighting for our country’s freedom is both inspiring and humbling.
Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia - visit this Revolutionary City and step back into the 18th century -- stay in an historic hotel, enjoy dining at the bake shops, apothecaries and taverns, take a carriage ride, tour the art museums and if you’re feeling brave, take the ghost tour!
Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia -- visit Thomas Jefferson’s home and see for yourself the West Lawn, which is featured on the United States nickel. This 5,000-acre estate was inherited by Jefferson at age 26, upon the death of his father, and following his 8 years as U.S. President, Jefferson returned to his estate at Monticello until his death.
Mount Vernon -- tour President George and Martha Washington’s beautiful estate-- explore the mansion, gardens, plantation and visit Washington’s Tomb.
Civil Rights District in Atlanta- take the streetcar to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, then walk the one-mile Sweet Auburn Historic District, where Civil Rights leaders found their solace and strength in Atlanta. Visit Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. preached and held civil rights rallies, and tour the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site to see where he was born and where he played as a child.
St. Augustine - Visit the city that claims it’s the oldest in the United States, founded in September 1565, and enjoy old Spanish architecture. Tour the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress, Anastasia State Park wildlife sanctuary, and enjoy the St. Augustine beach.
Kennedy Space Center - Merritt Island - Visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame, tour the launching pad or watch an actual launch. Enjoy exploring the location that allowed the United States to be the nation to boldly proclaim, “It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Navy SEAL Museum - Fort Pierce - The birthplace of the Navy Frogman, Ft. Pierce’s Navy SEAL Museum explores the history of the Navy SEAL, honors those who’ve fallen in the SEAL Memorial, and allows tourists to have hands-on experiences with specialized SEAL equipment.
Cotton Museum - Stand on the legendary floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange, where cotton traders were once the center of the worldwide cotton economy. The cotton industry is what put Memphis on the map, and this museum helps you explore how Memphis came to be. After touring the museum, stop down Beale Street for legendary jazz music and BBQ, and stop in at the Peabody Hotel to watch the famous twice-daily Duck March through the hotel.
Nashville, Tennessee and country music - If you’re going to Nashville, make sure you hit all the country music highlights: The Country Music Hall Of Fame, The Ryman (an historic church-turned-theater and music venue), and the Grand Ole Opry. Walk down Broadway Avenue to check out the smaller, honky-tonk venues and restaurants, and walk the green down by the river. If you visit during the summer, you might be lucky enough to catch Live On the Green- free evening concerts featuring national and local great music!
Historic Downtown Franklin, The Carter House and Carnton Plantation- If you go 30 minutes south of downtown Nashville, you’ll find 19th-century Southern charm in Historic Downtown Franklin- drive or walk the circle on Main Street, and enjoy boutique shopping and great American food. If you visit around holiday dates, you might catch festivities such as Pumpkinfest and Haunted Tours (Halloween) and Dickens of a Christmas! Tour The Carter House and Carnton Plantation, sites for Civil War hospitals and The Battle of Franklin.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame -- visit Waco’s historical museum, dedicated to the famed Texas Rangers Law Enforcement.
Texas School Book Depository, Dealey Plaza - The Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas is where the life, tragic assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy are housed.
The Alamo- San Antonio, TX - Although Texian soldiers were wiped out in The Battle of The Alamo in 1836, this battle was pivotal for Texas’ independence from Mexico, and Mexico retreated several months later. Visit The Alamo to see battle re-enactments and celebrate the Texan Independence Day (it’s a real thing!)
End of the Oregon Trail - Oregon City - visit the end of the Oregon Trail, where thousands of American families traveled, allured by the promise of abundant land, wealth and new living. For anyone daring enough to endure the treacherous travel across the United States through the wilderness, great promise indeed met them, but not without trouble and tragedy. Learn more and tour the Oregon Trail for yourself!
Shanghai Tunnels - Portland - visit the “Portland Underground” and learn about the legend of shanghaiing, a practice that truly occurred from about 1850-1941, and was the worst during the Prohibition Era.
Pearl Harbor - Visit the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the location where the USS Arizona sank in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and where many of the 1,177 crewmen were killed. Honor those who lost their lives in the attack that brought the United States into World War II by touring the two museums and outdoor experiences.
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - This museum is in downtown Cincinnati, and is based on the history of the Underground Railroad. They also seek to bring modern slavery and sex trafficking issues to light by paying tribute to those still struggling to find freedom from slavery.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library- Travel out to Simi Valley to visit Ronald Reagan’s final resting place, his Presidential Library, and see his famous Presidential motorcade car. The views atop the mountain where his library was built are stunning, overlooking beautiful California landscapes.
Golden Gate Bridge - Drive across this famous American icon and enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer. I bet some of you will catch yourself singing the “Full House” theme song as you go across the big red bridge! For a stunning view, drive just past the bridge and hike (or drive) to the top of one of many vista points to look down over the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.
Fort Sumter- Located just off the coast of Charleston, this is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired and remained a focal point for battles through the duration of the war. Accessible only by boat, take a quick trip over to learn more about this Civil War focal point, and enjoy historical Charleston’s Southern charm, food and shopping while you’re at it!
The National World War I Museum and Memorial - Kansas City may seem like an odd place for this kind of museum, but the city has embraced it and our government officially named it the National WWI Museum in 2004. Visit the Liberty Memorial in honor of those who served in WWI, tour the exhibits and see over 100,000 artifacts from WWI in the museum’s archives. And if you’re stopping through KC, you’d be remiss if you didn’t head down to the Power & Light District to check out the shopping and food (BBQ of course!).
We hope you take time to travel and explore our beautiful country this summer – there is so much to do and lots to see! If you go to one of the places we mentioned, we’d love to hear from you! Didn’t see a place you think should be on the list? Let us know that, too – we’re always looking for more places ourselves to explore!
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