Destinations Where History Comes To Life

published on September 13, 2022 by

History books and documentaries are great. But there’s nothing quite like visiting the real-life destinations where the events that shaped the world took place. Below, we’ve gathered some of the U.S.’s very best cities for heritage tourism — places where the past blends seamlessly with the present. 

Independence Days: Boston, Massachusetts

Around virtually every corner in Boston, visitors can learn the stirring story of the Revolutionary War era of U.S. history. In the city’s downtown, pay a visit to the Old State House, where John Adams and his cousin Samuel Adams debated breaking away from England to form a new nation — and where the infamous Boston Massacre took place, an important precursor in the War For Independence. Nearby, the Boston Tea Party & Ships Museum features offers detailed re-creations of the event that kicked off the Revolutionary War in earnest; you can even take a guided tour by a costumed re-enactor. And in Boston’s North End, pay a visit to the Paul Revere House, the home of one of the U.S.’s first patriots. 

Golden Gateway To The Past: San Francisco, California

You might think of San Francisco as a futuristic hub of all things tech and social media. But the destination offers the history buff a fascinating glimpse of the California saga stretching back centuries. Take a stroll through the city’s Mission District, stopping in at Mission Dolores, founded in 1776 — the oldest intact building in San Francisco. The adjacent cemetery is worth a visit, too, the gravesite of many historic figures. Head out to the base of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to see Fort Point, a landmark built in the mid-19th century featuring amazingly well-preserved architecture (not to mention stunning views of the bridge and bay). And of course, no trip to San Francisco is complete without a ferry ride out to Alcatraz Island, which was the world’s most secure prison, housing such infamous criminals as Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and the Birdman. 

Crescent City Time Traveling: New Orleans, Louisiana

Echoes of the past are everywhere you look in New Orleans, especially when it comes to Black heritage. Start at Congo Square (located within Louis Armstrong Park), a spot where enslaved Africans gathered in the 18th and 19th centuries — arguably the birthplace of a great deal of New Orleans music and culture. There are still regular festivals and happenings in the square, featuring powerful drum circles and second line performances. For more Crescent City music, spend a few hours at the New Orleans Jazz Museum in the French Quarter, which is home to multiple interactive exhibits that tell the story of this still-thriving genre. New Orleans food has also had a major impact on the world over the years — and the Southern Food & Beverage Museum will give you a delicious taste of the diverse flavors that originated in the city. 

  • New Orleans Travel Tip: Walking tours are a great way to experience the rich history of New Orleans, often offering a local perspective on the city through the ages. 
  • Where To Stay: Club La Pension

Williamsburg, Virginia

History almost literally comes to life in Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg is one of the original living history attractions, featuring an array of costumed re-enactors playing the roles of blacksmiths, farmers, carpenters and more all demonstrating how it was done “back in the day.” It’s an impressive re-creation of the period when Europeans were settling in North America, and an experience that all ages will love. You can also visit Jamestown, another detailed living history spot that brings the first permanent English colony on the continent back before your eyes. 

Start planning your heritage tourism vacation with RedWeek now.

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