7 Historical Trips Throughout The United States You Can Take This Spring
Whether you're excited about National Women's History Month in March, or just feel like the end of a historic winter is a good occasion for a vacation, you history buffs can rejoice: the U.S. is crammed full of brilliant trips that teach national history as well as keeping you entertained and getting you away from it all. Virtually every state has some kind of historical site worth exploring, but we've rounded up nine of the best, targeting many different aspects of historical experience. Whether you're into historical dollhouses, civil rights, aviation, or all three and more, there's an exciting destination to explore.
There's also more to the nation's history than Washington DC, though the Smithsonian and its companion museums are a good place to start. Small quirky gems and national parks have a lot to offer when it comes to quirky, off-beat memorabilia and stories, as do birthplace museums (though whether you're interested in seeing where Helen Keller had breakfast is a matter of personal taste — I for one definitely am). And don't dismiss more recent history, either. In New Orleans, for instance, you can take Hurricane Katrina walking tours that give visitors a real insight into the way the city has faced challenges and flourished since the 2005 natural disaster wreaked havoc. Get out there and get learnin'.
1. The National Civil Rights Museum
This powerful museum in Memphis, Tennessee, is housed in the building where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, and carries some of the most important artifacts in the history of America's civil rights movement. It's the place where the famous reconstruction of Rosa Parks sitting in protest on her Montgomery bus is held, so that you, like many politicians before you, can go sit alongside her.
2. The National Women's Rights History Park
When it came to women's voting rights in America, this is where it all began: Seneca Falls, NY, where the first Women's Rights Convention was held in 1848. And the National Parks service has set up a park here that commemorates the event, complete with Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, statues of prominent suffragettes, exhibits, and pretty parklands to explore when you're full to the brim with feminist history.
3. The Salem Witch Museum
This museum, featuring lots of wax figures of prominent people from the Salem witch hysteria, is one of Salem, Massachusetts's main attractions. It explores the ins and outs of the original "witch hunt" famously hit the Massachusetts town in the late 17th century. If you truly want to steep yourself in witchy history, get onto a walking tour of the town itself that explores burial sites and places of interest. Only a 32 minute bus outside of Boston, a city filled with historical gems of its own, it's worth making a pit stop to this witchy destination.
4. International Women's Air & Space Museum
There is basically nothing cooler than flight, and the International Women's Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, has a lot of memorabilia about female historical pioneers in the air and space. It's perfect for the Amelia Earhart super-fan: it's run by an organization of women pilots known as the Ninety-Nines, whose first president in 1929 was Earhart herself.
5. Ellis Island Immigration Museum
The famous Ellis Island in New York's harbor was the portal through which thousands of people entered America for the first time, and now it's become a museum to commemorate America's immigration history and those who came to build a new life. In a time when borders are closing and suspicion of "foreigners" is a political tool, it's an important and fascinating place to visit while in New York City.
6. Rosie The Riveter Park
America's home front during World War II is the focus of this park in Richmond, California, which contains remnants of shipyards, tank factories and other buildings that now tell the story of the "Rosie the Riveters": hometown workers who kept America's war effort going. There's a particular emphasis on women and people of color, and a staff of volunteers includes real "Rosies," women who worked in factories producing munitions until 1949. It'll blow your mind.
7. National Museum Of African American History & Culture
An offshoot of the Smithsonian, this D.C. museum is particularly worth visiting in March, because to honor Women's History Month it's putting on an exhibition of the unsung contributions that African-American women have made to American culture, under the uber-tweetable label #HiddenHerstory. Even if you miss that, though, the museum's an important visit; the fashion section alone could keep you occupied for an entire afternoon. For another D.C.-based activity, a visit to the Smithsonian collections in Washington is a must-do, because they have Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega SB aircraft and, in the National Air And Space Museum, astronaut Sally Ride's collection of artifacts.
If you want to plan a spring break trip around the rich history of our country, you now have options in every corner. Put away your passport and get our your notebook.