The Most Historic Landmark in Every State
Calling all history buffs! Step back in time at one of these significant sites in each state, from Revolutionary War battlefields to famous presidential homes.
Hawaii: Iolani Palace
Did you know the United States has its own official royal residence? Flanked by palm trees in Honolulu, Iolani Palace is a testament to Hawaiian history. Built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, the palace was inspired by the beautiful castles he had seen in Europe. Kalakaua outfitted the palace with fine furnishings and hosted grand balls there. But the palace is also the site of the final days of the Hawaiian monarchy. The king was succeeded by his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who was imprisoned in the castle before the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. The palace then served as the capitol but was restored and made into a museum during the 1970s.
Idaho: Cataldo Mission
Step inside Idaho’s oldest building and you’ll instantly be transported to medieval Europe. That’s because while the Cataldo Mission was built by the Jesuits in the mid-1800s, it was designed by Antonio Ravalli to look like an ancient European cathedral. Also known as the Mission of the Sacred Heart, it is open to the public for tours and Catholic masses are still held there regularly.
Illinois: Abraham Lincoln Home
Spend a day in the shoes of our 16th president at his home in downtown Springfield. Wander through the rooms, including the formal parlor, sitting room, and the master bedroom, where Abraham Lincoln and his family lived for 17 years. It has been restored to its original 1860s appearance so you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. In fact, you can almost imagine the Lincoln children running down the halls…
Indiana: Soldiers and Sailors Monument
You can skip the gym after you climb the 331 steps to the top of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. The 285-foot tall limestone structure, topped with a statue of Victory herself, was built to honor all of the Indiana soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and more.
Iowa: Amana Colonies
There’s no need to book a flight to Germany for an authentic Oktoberfest experience—you can find it in the middle of Iowa, in the Amana Colonies. The seven villages were originally settled by a group of German Pietists seeking religious freedom back in 1855. For over 80 years, the community thrived completely independently of the rest of the United States. See what a day in the life was like in the colonies by visiting the old woodworking shop or enjoying beer and brats at the brau haus. Find out more small towns in America that will leave you feeling like you crossed the pond.
Kansas: Hollenberg Pony Express Station
Snail mail? Before the postal service, there was the Pony Express, the cross-country mail service where horseriders delivered letters and newspapers. And in Kansas, you’ll find the only surviving Pony Express stop at the Hollenberg Station. Inside the historic building, not only will you see what a frontier “post office” looked like, you’ll also get to try on replica clothing from the period.
Kentucky: Churchill Downs
We say “Kentucky,” you say “Derby.” The annual horse race is one of the things the Bluegrass State is most known for…and there’s also a lot of history associated with those recognizable Twin Spires. Like that Churchill Downs was started by the grandson of famous explorer William Clark (yes, of Lewis and Clark) in 1875. Check out these things you definitely didn’t know about the Kentucky Derby.
Nestled in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter, you’ll find the Cabildo, a stunning Spanish structure built in the late 1700s. Spanish for “town hall,” the Cabildo is where many significant events have taken place over the years, from the signing of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to the decision in the controversial Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case (the Cabildo was once the site of the Louisiana Supreme Court). Now a museum, the Cabildo contains three floors of artifacts and exhibits on the state’s colorful history.
Maine: Wadsworth-Longfellow House
Elizabeth N/Via tripadvisor.com
See where one of the most famous 19th-century poets penned his prose by touring the boyhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Most known for his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Longfellow lived in the Cambridge cottage for over 45 years, during which General George Washington also used it as his headquarters during the Siege of Boston in 1775. Don’t miss the beautiful Longfellow Garden out back, either. Read on for more American literary landmarks to visit.
Maryland: Fort McHenry
Oh say can you see the walls of Fort McHenry? If not, add it to your history buff bucket list—it’s the spot where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the “Star Spangled Banner”, which later became the U.S. national anthem. The Baltimore fort played a major role in defending America from the British during the War of 1812. Visit the historic cannons overlooking the harbor, watch a flag-changing ceremony, or see the “bombs bursting” (aka the fireworks) at night. Find out 20 reasons the American flag is even cooler than you thought.