Living in the Mid-Atlantic affords us the luxury of visiting many historic sites, pivotal to the settling and founding of our country. While most folks celebrate the 4th of July with cookouts, pool parties and a trek to watch local fireworks displays, consider visiting a historic site this month. There are so many great locations to visit for a day or a weekend, and they allow for a budget-friendly getaway. From the youngest to oldest members of your family, everyone will learn something new, and get to experience a bit of the time period through tours and demonstrations, with dedicated re-enactors who strive to recreate colonial life. So, take a break from household chores this weekend, and head out to learn more about the founding of our great nation, and why we celebrate the 4th of July with fanfare and glory. Below are some favorite and family-friendly destinations.
Maryland and Washington, DC
- Fort McHenry – although not written during the Revolutionary War, but during the War of 1812, the birthplace of our national anthem is right here in Baltimore.
- Annapolis – boasting the oldest state house in use in our country, Annapolis is a close destination to learn about colonial America. Tours are plentiful, as are the water views.
- St. Mary’s City – Maryland’s original capital city and one of the earliest settlements in the state, this town in Southern Maryland boasts archaeological excavations and a replica of a sailing ship that brought colonists to the New World.
- Washington, DC is of course home to all sorts of historic places, monuments and museums. The National Archives isn’t always the first stop on visitor’s lists, but here you may view America’s most important documents – The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights.
- Mount Vernon – George Washington’s home, just outside of Washington, DC along the banks of the Potomac River, offers daily tours.
- Colonial Williamsburg is perfect for those looking to see colonial life up close. Tours abound, along with many sites to visit and even restaurants serving colonial fare. Nearby Historic Jamestown and Yorktown Battlefield are worth a visit as well.
- Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece near Charlottesville. Daily tours of the home and grounds sell out, so be sure to plan and purchase tickets early! This writer of the Declaration of Independence was also the founder of the University of Virginia and quite the gardener who cultivated many plants we know today.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey
- No one’s education on the Revolutionary War is complete without a visit to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Visit the Liberty Bell, tour the buildings where our government formed, including the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
- Valley Forge, King of Prussia, PA – the colonial army wintered here in 1778 and barely survived. Tour historic buildings, monuments and more.
- The Delaware River is home to Washington’s famous crossing on Christmas Day in 1776, with a victory at the Battle of Trenton the next day. Washington Crossing State Park exists on both side of the river, in both PA and NJ. Visit the site, museum and buildings that remain.
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