New York City
Although best known as the city that never sleeps, the Big Apple is also rich in American history. Take the ferry past the iconic Statue of Liberty to reach Ellis Island and its fascinating interactive exhibits exploring the country’s immigrant foundation. Back in Manhattan, head downtown to visit landmarks of the city’s Colonial past including Fraunces Tavern, which served as George Washington’s NYC headquarters during the Revolutionary War, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House (now the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian), and Federal Hall where you can see the Bible that was used for Washington’s swearing in, along with other memorabilia. Stay at the historic Algonquin Hotel in the city’s Theater District and imagine what life must’ve been like as one of Manhattan’s literary and cultural elite back when the hotel opened in 1902. Check out these amazing facts about American history you never learned in school.
Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, and today Colonial Williamsburg, the most visited destination in the state, authentically recreates the time period in a perfectly restored village complete with costumed craftspeople and historically accurate reenactments of life during Colonial times. Nearby, visit Jamestown and Yorktown, which provide more background on the early years of American history—and don’t miss out on their stunning interactive museums and living history centers, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and James Fort at Jamestown Settlement. And remember: The city of Williamsburg is worthy of exploration in its own right. In recent years, entrepreneurial new businesses like the Virginia Beer Company, the Williamsburg Winery, and dozens of farm-to-table restaurants have popped up, guaranteeing you’ll be able to make more than a few discoveries of your own. For a historic stay, book the Kingsmill Resort to tour the spot where the Virginia Company colonists first stepped ashore in the New World. There, you’ll find the framework of one of the first buildings constructed in Virginia. Williamsburg is also one of the 30 must-see places in the U.S. to take your kids before they grow up.