Top 10 Historical Cities You Can Visit in the USA

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A Brief History

On July 2, 1776, The Thirteen British Colonies voted to declare themselves independent from the crown. And two days after the historic vote, the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the United States of America was formed.  Today, the United States of America is known as a North American nation that is the world’s most dominant economic and military power. If you want to learn more about the history of this country, you should visit its historic places.

In fact, there are so many beautiful cities in the United States. And it might be difficult for you to decide which one to visit first; however, do not worry as in this post you will find all the information you need to choose the most exciting travel destination. The following is a comprehensive guide with a list of 10 historical you need to visit to get a better understanding of the U.S. culture.

Digging Deeper

1. Washington, D.C.

Clockwise from top right: United States Capitol, Washington Monument, the White House, Smithsonian Institution Building, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington National Cathedral.  Photographs by AlexTref871Ralf RoletschekNoclipMartin FalbisonerDiego Delso, and Daniel Schwen.

The first place on the list is Washington, D.C. This city was founded in 1790. It was established by the Constitution of the United States to serve as the nation’s capital.

This city is famous for its historical attractions, such as the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol. Besides, Washington, D.C., it is the finest city for museum lovers. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Air and Space Museum are must-see museums for everyone who wants to learn more about the United States.

2. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston.  Photograph by rokker.

Today, Boston is known as a home of the world’s famous universities, such as Harvard and MIT. But if you look into history, you will see Boston as a city of “American firsts”. The first public library, the first public school, the first subway system, and even the first public park of the United States were opened in this very city.

If you want to feel the spirit of the past centuries, walk the old cobblestone streets. Visit such iconic attractions as Faneuil Hall Marketplace built in 1742 and the Paul Revere House built around 1680. And if you are a sports lover, visit Fenway Park baseball stadium built more than a century ago.

3. Williamsburg, Virginia

The Williamsburg Governor’s Palace in 2000.  Photograph by Agriculture.

If you are interested in learning more about pre-revolutionary history, you should visit Williamsburg. The entire city looks like a museum, and every building seems to have a story to tell.  In 1699, Williamsburg became the Virginia Colony’s second capital, deriving its name from the ruling King William III. This city served as an early colonial hub and educational center. College of William and Mary is known as an alma mater of American Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The 1906 Beaux-Arts architecture (left) on the borough’s Lincoln Square was the First National Bank building used as a WWII spotter post for aircraft and became the Adams County National Bank after the 1962 merger with the Littlestown State Bank and Trust Company.  Photograph by Aurora30 at English Wikipedia.

If you are interested in seeing Gettysburg Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, you should visit Gettysburg. You can have a walk around the Gettysburg Military Park and visit the local museum. Here you can also find the David Wills House, the home where Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, finalized his famous speech that freed the slaves.

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eakins Oval and Skyline (December 2017).  Photograph by Meihe Chen.

If you plan to visit the state of Pennsylvania, you must stay for a day or two at Philadelphia. This city has an extremely rich history and has plenty of historical attractions to offer. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary, and Independence National Historical Park are only a few of them.

6. San Francisco, California

San Francisco from the Marin Headlands.  Photograph by Noahnmf.

San Francisco is one of the most historical cities on the west coast. It was founded by the Spanish in 1776 but started to grow big only in 1849, when the gold rush took place.  San Francisco is famous for Alcatraz Island that operated as a military garrison and a federal prison from 1853 until 1963. Also, it is known for its Victorian-style houses, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fort Point, a battery established by the as part of the nation’s coastal defense.

7. Plymouth, Massachusetts

Court Street, Plymouth Center, 2009.  Photograph by Raime.

Plymouth is a small, coastal town south of Boston. If you are interested in seeing famous monuments dedicated to the Wampanoag American Indians and the people who founded the first New England colony, you will do love this place. If you go to Plymouth for a weekend, visit Plimoth Plantation and Pilgrim Hall Museum.

8. St. Augustine, Florida

Top, left to right: Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Light, Flagler College, Lightner Museum, statue near the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, and Old St. Johns County Jail.  Photographs by Excel23.

If you are trying to find an interesting historic place in the state of Florida, look no further than St. Augustine. This astonishing city was founded by Spaniards in 1565 and played an important role in defending Florida. Today, St. Augustine attracts travelers from all over the world with its cobblestone streets, Romanesque Revival-style buildings, and numerous historic memorials and monuments.

9. Chicago, Illinois

Clockwise from top: Downtown, the Chicago Theatre, the ‘L’, Navy Pier, the Pritzker Pavilion, the Field Museum, and Willis Tower.  Photographs by Jleon and Mcshadypl.

Well, Chicago is not the oldest city on this list, but it played an important role in the development of the U.S economy. The city was founded in 1830 as a water transit hub. And 55 years later, Chicago gave the world its first skyscraper, the 10-story Home Insurance Building. If you are a fan of architecture and history, you will do love to explore the city, especially the Pullman Historic District.

10. Savannah, Georgia

Downtown Savannah viewed from Bay Street.  Photograph by RCraig09.

Savannah is the oldest city in the State of Georgia. It was established in 1733. Now it is known as one of the largest National Historic Landmark districts. In Savannah, you can walk around the Forsyth Park that exists since the 1840s and take a look at a beautiful water fountain built in 1858, as well as see plenty of other historical attractions.

Conclusion

Now you have a list of top ten historical places to visit in the United States. All the cities mentioned in this article have a rich history. So, whatever travel destination you choose, you will enjoy your trip.  And we hope this short guide will inspire you to travel more and visit more places that help to obtain an in-depth knowledge of history.

Question for students (and subscribers): Which historical cities have you visited in the United States?  What historical attraction have you found the most interesting? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Moran, Mark and Mark Sceurman.  Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets.  Sterling, 2004.

The featured image in this article, Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain in its source country for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.  It is also in the public domain in the United States for the following reason: This image is a work of an employee of the Architect of the Capitol, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, all images created or made by the Architect of the Capitol are in the public domain in the United States.

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Elisa Abbott is a professional translator and editor at PickWriters, a website with reviews of translation services. She is a history lover and a travel enthusiast. When Elise is not working, you can find her in the museum admiring the art pieces, or at the park reading a book.