The Oldest Tourist Attraction in Every State
From fortresses to national parks to geological wonders—American history is packed into each U.S. state’s roster of tourist attractions.
Alabama: Fort Morgan
Alabama’s Gulf Coast was the site of much Civil War history, including Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores. The fort took 15 years (from 1819 to 1834) to build and the structure made of finished granite, iron works, sandstone, and cement was revolutionary for its day, replacing the log and sand Fort Bowyer.
Alaska: Russian American Magazin
Courtesy Discover Kodiak
The town of Kodiak founded in the l790s was originally a Russian settlement. Relive that time period with a visit to the Russian American Magazin, also known as the Erskine House, a National Historic Landmark that is now home to the Baranov Museum.
Arizona: Grand Canyon
A bucket list destination for many Americans, Grand Canyon National Park in Northern Arizona may have been established in 1919 but the actual existence of the park’s canyons dates much further back, like 70 million years.
Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
Not only is Hot Springs National Park the oldest tourist attraction in the Razorback State, but it can also make a claim for America’s oldest national park. In 1832 it was designated a federal reservation, but it was discovered way before then, in 1541 by Hernando de Soto. While Yellowstone National Park gets credit for being the first national park (in 1872), this reservation didn’t turn into a national park until 1921, despite having being established much sooner. Find out 14 more of the best hot springs around the country.
California: Death Valley National Park
Another national park makes the list—this time, it’s because the rocks inside Death Valley National Park reportedly date back between 500 million and 1.7 billion years. The state’s Spanish missions—often thought to be representative of the state’s history, the oldest of which dates back to 1769—seem downright youthful in comparison.
Colorado: Cliff Palace
You’ll find this ancient cliff dwelling tucked into Mesa Verde National Park. Built from mostly sandstone and wood, it’s thought to date back to 1190 and also carries the distinction of being America’s oldest cliff dwelling. On an hour-long hike along the Cliff Palace Loop Road, you can see Cliff Palace up close. Don’t miss more hidden gems in each state.
Connecticut: Old Stone House
Courtesy Henry Whitfield State Museum
Not only is this the state’s oldest historic attraction, the Old Stone House, part of the Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford, but it’s also the oldest house in the state and the oldest stone house in all of New England. Stone structures were commonplace during the mid-1600s, and the Old Stone House dates back to 1639.
Delaware: New Castle Court House Museum
Built in 1732, this courthouse in Delaware’s former capital city, New Castle, is at the center of the town known for many notable moments in history. These include being the area where William Penn landed in 1682 and also being home to four signers of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, the pivotal vote for Delaware to become its own state took place in this courthouse, in 1776. Don’t miss these U.S. history facts you never learned in school.
Florida: Castillo de San Marcos
St. Augustine was founded by Spain in 1565 and this Spanish fort dates back to the 17th century. The 20.5-acre site is now a national park and holds the rank of oldest masonry fortress in the United States. Don’t miss these 16 best American cities for history buffs, including St. Augustine.
Georgia: Herb House
Courtesy Visit Savannah
At first glance, the saltbox-style exterior of Herb House may look like nothing more than a cute building, but locals know this is an important slice of Savannah’s history. Herb House is the oldest house in Georgia, built in 1734, and is still standing today. Its original use as an abode for the gardener of Trustees’ Garden later evolved into an inn for sailors and it is now part of the Pirates’ House Restaurant.