Best 40 Getaways in the Northeast for History Buffs

Monticello Nickel Shot

Colonial era, Revolutionary War, Civil War, Victorian and Gilded Age: much of what shaped our country happened on the Eastern Seaboard.  Choose one or more of the following 35 escapes to be immersed in American History. Click on each town to find the best attractions, restaurants and inns for educational and enlightening getaways, Virginia to Maine.



New London CT: A shipbuilding port to support the American Revolution, New London was burned down by the Brits in 1781. It’s also home to the oldest continuously operating Customs House in the nation – to which the Amistad was towed after being found off the coast of Long Island, NY.

Mystic CT: You’ll find the country’s last remaining Whaling Ship, the Charles Morgan, at Mystic Seaport.

Hartford CT: Discover why Connecticut is considered The Constitution State. The Fundamental Orders, adopted by the Connecticut Council on January 15, 1639 are considered by some to be the basis of the US Constitution.



Wilmington DE: It’s all about the DuPonts here. Improving on gunpowder in the late 1700’s, this French expat family established the chemical company that still bears their name and a dynasty of wealth that supports hospitals and cultural programs.



Dorchester County MD – Birthplace of Harriet Tubman and site of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor’s Center.

Washington County MD – Antietam Battlefield. Bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War.

Annapolis MD: The “oldest in nation” State House is where George Washington tendered his resignation as Commander In Chief of the US Army. Also home to the US Naval Academy.

St. Michaels MD: The excellent Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum tells the story of this bountiful body of water.

Baltimore MD: Oh Say Can You See? Yes, you can see where our National Anthem was written.  The flag that served as muse to Francis Scott Key flew from Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.



Provincetown MA: The Pilgrim Monument stands in commemoration of the Mayflower passengers who made the voyage from England to this Land’s End community. While they didn’t settle here, some of the “Strangers and Saints” set foot first on land here to search for a water source. Finding none, they sailed on to the more protected Plymouth.

Plymouth MA; Plymouth Rock is just the beginning. 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing.

Boston MA: The Old State House celebrated its 300th year anniversary in 2013. Walk the Freedom Trail to discover our country’s revolutionary stirrings.

Springfield MA: The Springfield Armory commissioned by President George Washington is a National Historic Site open for tours. Springfield is also hometown to Dr. Seuss and where the game of Basketball was invented.

Fall River MA: Battleship Cove comprises the largest collection of WWII warships in the world. It’s also where Lizzy Borden was arrested for, but never convicted of, whacking her parents with an ax.

Salem MA: Known for the Witch Trials, its also home to the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the oldest and best all-encompassing museums in the country.

NH State Library Concord NH


Portsmouth NH: The Strawbery Banke Living History Museum is one of the best in the country.

Concord NH: Primary Central. Crawls with every Presidential hopeful every four years.



Princeton NJ: Albert Einstein escaped Germany and lived in Princeton from 1933 until his death in 1955.



Seneca Falls NY: In the mid-1800’s, while America was questioning its ethics and morals vis a vis slavery, women’s rights, and the demon rum, Seneca Falls NY, on a branch of the Erie Canal near Lake Ontario, was drawing Abolitionists, Suffragists, proponents of Temperance, and other agitators to a whirlwind of evangelical fervor so hot, this corner of Northwestern NY was known as “The burned over District.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman, spurred on movements that gained national attention – and all lived in the area.

Hyde Park NY: Home to Franklin D. and Eleanore Roosevelt and Culinary Institute of America. See the bed FDR was born in – and a terrific new multi million dollar museum.

West Point NY: The Military Academy was established by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 at West Point.

PA Capitol Entrance


Harrisburg PA: Most spectacular Capitol Building in the USA. National Civil War Museum.

Milford PA: Home to Gifford Pinchot – “Father of the National Forest Service.” And where you’ll find the bloody flat that cradled Abe Lincoln’s head after he was shot.

Bradford PA: In the PA Wilds – the country’s first “Billion Dollar Oil Field.” Also where Zippo Lighters were invented and still made.

Johnstown PA: Site of the most deadly flood in American history (and fourth deadliest natural disaster of all time).

Altoona PA: For Railroad History fans and trainspotters – site of the engineering marvel, Horseshoe Curve.

Carlisle PA: Where the controversial Indian Industrial School was located, and the current must-see Army Heritage Center.

Bucks County PA: Where George Washington crossed the Delaware on that fateful Christmas Day 1776. See Washington Crossing Historic Park.

Gettysburg PA: Battlefield, Town, Eisenhower’s only home.



Newport RI: History of the Gilded Age in full force. Also – home to the Touro Synagogue, the country’s oldest, established in 1763.

Providence RI: Founder of the Rhode Island colony, Roger Williams defected from the Puritan pack, sanctioning freedom of conscience and religion. See the original State Charter in the Capitol building.

Bristol RI: This small bucolic peninsula town has some dark Slave Trade history.



Yorktown VA: Surrender of Cornwallis; where the fledgling US Army effectively won the Revolutionary War. Victory Center – another one of America’s best Living History Museums.

Southwestern VA: Birthplace of Country Music with “Bristol Sessions.” Carter Family Fold.

Charlottesville VA: Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Winchester VA: During Civil War, alternated between Union and Confederate allegiance a whopping 72 times. Old Courthouse served as Civil War prison where you can see anti-Jefferson Davis graffiti.

Richmond VA: Patrick Henry bellowed the immortal “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Newport News VA: The Mariners Museum is one of the best of its kind in the USA. The $30 Million Monitor Center highlights Civil War Ironclad warships.

Hampton VA: First slaves brought to US here, but also home to one of country’s first African American colleges. Langly AFB was site of NASA Mercury Project.

Arlington VA: Cemetery, Pentagon and yes, a DEA Museum showcasing the history of Drug Enforcement in the USA.

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In Category: Features, Historic Getaways

Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

Show 8 Comments
  • Kaitlyn October 25, 2016, 10:10 am Link

    This is a great round-up of locations in the USA! Visiting the home of the US Naval Academy would be neat.

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