50 Historical Sites For The American History Buff

As the region that saw the first European settlers, the Northeast US holds many of the most fascinating historical sites in America.

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 50 escapes to be immersed in American History.

Baltimore MD Weekend Getaway

Click on each town to find the best attractions, restaurants and inns for educational and enlightening getaways, Virginia to Maine.

Historic Sites In Connecticut

Customs House Museum Amistad Exhibit New London CT

New London CT

New London, a shipbuilding port during the American Revolution, was burned down by the Brits in 1781. It’s also home to the oldest continuously operating Customs House in the nation, where The Amistad was towed to 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.

Historical Sites In Delaware

Hagley Machine Shop - Wilmington DE

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. Its dynasty of wealth still supports hospitals and cultural programs.

Dover DE

The “First State” to ratify the US Constitution,  home of the only Founding Father to abstain from signing the Declaration of Independence, and site of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware’s Capital City has a cornucopia of historic attractions.  

Historic Sites In Maryland

Tubman as Civil War Hero, Harriet Tubman Visitors Center

St. Mary’s County MD

Deeply historic, St. Mary’s County drew early European settlers, most notably, a group of Catholics escaping persecution and execution in Protestant England. As Catholics were being slaughtered in England, 140 faithful arrived here in 1634. Finally free to worship as they chose, they built the first Catholic Church and settlement in Colonial America. Historic St. Mary’ City grew for sixty years, then vanished into the cornfields and was lost for 200 years. It is now one of the most exciting archeological digs in the US.

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

This “oldest in the nation” State House is where George Washington tendered his resignation as Commander In Chief of the US Army. Also, tour 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.

Historic Sites In Massachusetts

Freedom Trail in Boston Massachusetts
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston, Massachusetts, that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States.

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.

Mayflower II docked in Plymouth MA

Plymouth MA

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

Boston MA

One if by land, two if by sea…..Paul Revere,The Old State House celebrated its 300th year anniversary in 2013. Walk the Freedom Trail to discover our country’s revolutionary stirrings.

Lexington – Concord MA

The “Shot Heard Around the World” in Concord, and the accidental battle that preceded it by a few hours in Lexington.

Lowell MA

Learn about “Mill Girls,” immigrant workers, and the forces of the Industrial Revolution in America. A monument to American Industry and Ingenuity, Lowell National Historical Park, in Lowell MA, 30 miles from Boston, is unlike any other U.S. National Park in that it takes up sections of a still thriving (or, as the case may be, reviving) city.

Deerfield MA

This tiny prep-school burg fleshes out stories of Colonial New England life on the fringes of civilization in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

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

Historic Sites In New Hampshire

NH State Library Concord NH

Exeter NH

One of the many misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution is that they emerged from the minds of our Founding Fathers fully-fledged. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Both were works in progress, with many reworked drafts. The American Independence Museum illuminates this better than any other historical museum.

Portsmouth NH

The Strawbery Banke Living History Museum showcases Coastal New Hampshire history. With costumed docents, it’s one of the best of its kind in the country.

Concord NH

As Primary Central, Concord crawls with every Presidential hopeful every four years.

Historic Sites In New Jersey

Morris County NJ is a great weekend destination for history buffs.

Morris County NJ

George Washington was headquartered here. And it’s where Alexander Hamilton fell in love. Plus you can explore the laboratory where Thomas Edison invented modern America at the national historical park.

Princeton NJ

Albert Einstein escaped Germany with a $5000 Nazi bounty on his head. He lived in Princeton from 1933 until his death in 1955.

Historic Sites In New York

Albany NY skyline view from Corning Tower with Times Union Square and Hudson River.

Albany NY

The Million Dollar Staircase, Modernist Empire State Plaza, and Alexander Hamilton history are huge draws to New York State’s Capital City. 

Chautauqua Institution NY

Founded by the father in law of Thomas Edison in 1874, Chautauqua continues to be a summer camp for the intellectually curious. 

Suffragette statue at the Womens Rights National Historic Park.

Seneca Falls NY

In the mid-1800’s, Seneca Falls NY was drawing Abolitionists, Suffragists, proponents of Temperance, and other agitators. This whirlwind of evangelical fervor was 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 all lived in the area. And they spurred on movements that gained national attention. 

Wheelchair in the parlor at Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park NY

Hyde Park NY

Home to Franklin D. and Eleanore Roosevelt and Culinary Institute of America. See the bed FDR was born in and the wheelchair that the public never saw – plus a terrific new multi million dollar museum.

West Point NY

The Military Academy was established by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 at West Point. And yes, you can take a sanctioned bus tour. And even stay in a luxury hotel on campus.

Upstate NY

Explore significant stops on the Underground Railroad.

Historical Attractions In Pennsylvania

PA Capitol Entrance

Harrisburg PA

Pennsylvania arguably has the most spectacular Capitol Building in the USA. The Harrisburg-set National Civil War Museum is a can’t miss.

Milford PA

Find the bloody flag that cradled Abe Lincoln’s head after he was shot in this unlikely place. Milford PA was also home of Gifford Pinchot – “Father of the National Forest Service.” 

Bradford PA

The “PA Wilds” encompassed the country’s first “Billion Dollar Oil Field.” It’s 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). Two museums interpret the event: a National Memorial at the site. And another in town.

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.

Soldier at Battle of Gettysburg historical site

Gettysburg PA

Battlefield, Town, Eisenhower’s only home.

Philadelphia PA

Philly is “philled” with historic attractions. Museum of the U.S. Constitution. Liberty Bell. Grave of Benjamin Franklin. Museum of the American Revolution. With over eighteen historic sites, Philly is the best city for learning about our country’s origins.

Historical Sites In Rhode Island


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

Roger Williams, founder of the Rhode Island colony, defected from the Puritans, 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.

Historic Sites In Virginia

Tailor cuts cloth in Colonial Williamsburg Historical Site
Tailor plies his trade in Colonial Williamsburg.

Orange County VA

What world events influenced the Architect of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison? This Founding Father lived in Orange VA, and his home is a revelation. 

Yorktown VA

The fledgling US Army effectively won the Revolutionary War when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. The Yorktown’s Victory Center is among America’s best Living History Museums.

Southwestern VA

Birthplace of Country Music with the “Bristol Sessions.” Clog with other dancers at the Carter Family Fold.

Charlottesville VA

Don’t miss Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Winchester VA

During the Civil War,  town allegiance to Union and Confederate sides changed a whopping 72 times. The Old Courthouse served as a 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. John’s Episcopal Church. Edgar Alan Poe also lived here.

Newport News VA

Another best of its kind in the USA, the Mariners Museum is a can’t miss attraction. The $30 Million Monitor Center highlights Civil War Ironclad warships.

Hampton VA

First slaves brought to US here in 1619. Hampton is 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.

Williamsburg VA

The entire town lives and breathes the colonial era, joining with Jamestown and Yorktown to form the “Historic Triangle.”

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  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    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, Shape.com, 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.

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