Americans may feel their patriotism a bit dampened this year with everything that’s been going on in our country, but hopefully the 4th of July has renewed your patriotic spirit. If you’re thinking of doing some traveling this summer, here are a dozen sites in the U.S. that will put you in a patriotic state of mind. These patriotic places all represent the founding ideals of our nation and preserve national symbols of independence, freedom and liberty. Explore America’s history – and rekindle your patriotism at the same time!
1. Lexington & Concord – Lexington & Concord, Massachusetts
The American Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord. The British Army set out from Boston to capture rebel leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock in Lexington as well as to destroy the American store of weapons and ammunition in Concord. The colonists were warned ahead of time by riders – including Paul Revere – that British troops were approaching. The American Minutemen met the British Redcoats at Lexington, Massachusetts and shots were fired, although it is unknown who shot first. More than 900 acres of Minute Man National Historic Park run along the route of the battles of Lexington and Concord.
2. Freedom Trail – Boston, Massachusetts
Boston’s iconic 2.5-mile Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick path through Boston’s historic neighborhoods, stopping at patriotic places that tell the story of the American Revolution. From the Old North Church to Faneuil Hall, the famous Freedom Trail connects 16 nationally significant historic sites, each one an authentic landmark of the Revolutionary Era. Thanks to preservation efforts, these cultural treasures are still intact, which makes Boston truly unique as one of the few places in America where you can experience the actual sites and learn the history they tell while walking through modern city streets. It doesn’t get much more patriotic than that!
3. Independence Hall – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Independence Hall is one of the patriotic places where it all began. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both debated and signed inside this building (then known as the Pennsylvania State House). Enjoy a guided tour through the historic property and relive the birth of a nation. Independence Hall houses the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence and an original draft of the Constitution. The Liberty Bell (originally called the State House Bell) is on display nearby in a glass chamber with a view of Independence Hall in the background. Easily recognizable because of its crack, the Liberty Bell is an impressive symbol of American freedom. The Liberty Bell’s inscription remains just as relevant and powerful today: “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10).
4. Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia
Every patriotic American should visit Colonial Williamsburg at least once if they can, to be immersed in early American history. This historic district in the city of Williamsburg is a genuine living replica of Colonial Virginia, transporting you back in time to 18th century life in the New World colonies. It’s also where the Virginia Resolves for Independence were adopted, which led directly to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. You’ll get to meet famous people like Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George and Martha Washington. The massive 301-acre site has so much star-spangled Americana that you’ll be whistling “You’re a Grand Old Flag” on your way home.
5. Fort McHenry – Baltimore, Maryland
Is there anything more patriotic than the Star-Spangled Banner? America’s National Anthem was inspired by the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer, had boarded a British ship to negotiate the release of an American captive. While there, he personally witnessed a British attack on Fort McHenry. When he saw the American flag still flying high above the fort after 25 hours of heavy bombardment, Key was inspired to write a poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry.” The words were set to the tune of a popular song at the time, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” The new song became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It has become national tradition that when a new flag is designed, it flies over Fort McHenry first.
6. Gettysburg Battlefield – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Often referred to as the turning point of the Civil War, the battle fought here from July 1-3, 1863, was a Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee‘s ambitious invasion of the North. The Battle of Gettysburg was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln‘s immortal “Gettysburg Address.” Gettysburg National Military Park is a battlefield shrine to the Union and Confederate soldiers who fought here. Visit the scene of the Gettysburg Address, Pickett’s Charge, General Robert E. Lee’s Headquarters, Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, and other sites.
7. The Alamo – San Antonio, Texas
One thing’s for sure, Americans will always fight for their rights when it comes to their freedom and autonomy. The Battle of the Alamo (February 23, 1836-March 6, 1836) was pivotal in Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico, making San Antonio’s Alamo Mission one of the most patriotic places in our country’s history. The names of rugged individualists such as James Bowie, William Travis, and David Crockett will forever be remembered as members of the small band of Alamo defenders who sacrificed their lives in hopeless combat against the massive Mexican military in order to prevent ruthless dictator Santa Anna from taking over Texas. Their efforts were not in vain, as they held their ground long enough to give Samuel Houston time to organize his army. “Remember the Alamo” served as a rallying cry for the Texan soldiers who would go on to defeat the Mexican Army to establish the Republic of Texas.
8. Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island, New York
After welcoming more than 12 million immigrants to our shores between 1892 and 1924, Ellis Island is a symbol of the American Dream. Ellis Island is also home to probably the most iconic of all our nation’s monuments – the Statue of Liberty. Designed by French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi, “Lady Liberty” was a gift from France to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The colossal 151-foot tall copper statue was publicly dedicated in 1886 and has stood as symbol of freedom and international friendship since that day. This world-renowned site is one of America’s most patriotic places, well worth a visit for anyone whose ancestors came through here.
9. Pearl Harbor – Oahu, Hawaii
The Japanese aerial attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was one of the most pivotal moments in American history. The U.S. suffered the devastating loss of many sailors, soldiers, marines and civilians, as well as battleships, cruisers, and other vessels. Of the 2,335 military personnel killed, 1,177 were on board the USS Arizona. The unprovoked strike was met with outrage and disbelief, and even though Hawaii is far from mainland America, the whole country was swept up in national pride and unity. This action prompted the United States to declare war on Japan and thus enter into World War II. Today, Pearl Harbor is one of the most venerated patriotic places in America. Ordinary citizens, history buffs, veterans, and foreign tourists alike make regular pilgrimages to the USS Arizona Memorial every year, making it one of the top three most visited tourist attractions in the state of Hawaii.
10. Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia
Arlington National Cemetery is located in the state of Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The final resting place of over 400,000 men and women, these hallowed grounds honor America’s greatest heroes – from Presidents and statesmen to notable veterans of every American conflict. More than 400 Medal of Honor recipients – ranging from the Civil War to recent conflicts – are buried here, making this the most sacred of patriotic places. There’s even a monument called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for U.S. service members who died in war and were never identified. If you visit this national landmark, you’ll have the opportunity to honor these brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
11. The National Mall – Washington, District of Columbia
One of America’s signature public spaces and treasured patriotic places, the National Mall is an open area of trees, gardens, fountains, statues and monuments stretching for two miles between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. The monuments and memorials in this park honor our American forefathers, heroes, and presidents. Towering overhead is the Washington Monument, the world’s tallest stone structure at 555 feet, named for the first President of the United States.
12. Mount Rushmore – Black Hills, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore, the world’s largest stone monument, is a tribute to four Presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. These presidents were all great patriots who stood for the most honorable principles and highest ideals of America. Do you know what else each of these men have in common? As children, none of them had any regular, formal schooling. They were all self-educated or taught at home! Click here to read more about Mount Rushmore. While it can get quite crowded and touristy, this iconic site is pretty much a no-brainer for any patriotic American, especially if you’re a homeschooled patriot.
Honorable Mention: Lewis & Clark Trail / Oregon Trail
In 1800, America’s western border reached only as far as the Mississippi River. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the country nearly doubled in size and pushed its western edge past the Rocky Mountains. The first land route across that part of the U.S. was mapped by the Lewis and Clark Expedition between 1804 and 1806. Their land exploration demonstrated that much of the route along the Snake River plain and across to the Columbia River was passable by pack train or even wagons, with minimal improvements. This knowledge would be incorporated into the Oregon Trail. American missionaries, trappers, and early settlers started showing up in Oregon around 1824. By 1836, the first of the migrant trains was put together. The Oregon Trail was in regular use from 1843 until the 1870s. One of the landmarks along the way is Independence Rock in Wyoming. Pioneers would try to reach this rock by the Fourth of July, and those who did often celebrated America’s birthday. At least 80,000 emigrants followed the Oregon Trail to settle in the present-day states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The covered wagon became a symbol of American resourcefulness and self-sufficiency. More than 2,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen along the Oregon National Historic Trail in six states, serving as reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early settlers. Follow the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition and Oregon Trail pioneer trails, and make your own historic discoveries!