From sea to shining sea, from the farthest northern reaches of the frozen Alaskan tundra to the southernmost point of Key West, Florida, our country is chock full of places where America's history was created and is commemorated.
Any patriot wanting to fully understand how our country began and persevered over nearly 400 years, from when Pilgrims first set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620 until today, owes it to themselves to spend some respectful time visiting those sacred places so crucial to our shared past.
Stand at the battle-scarred walls of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, and pay homage to the courage of those brave Texicans who perished there battling the Mexican army. Walk the fields of Concord, Lexington, and Gettysburg, where patriot blood birthed and preserved our country.
Get a real feel for our heroic past by pausing in quiet reverence at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where, on Dec. 7, 1941 — the "date that will live in infamy" — more than 2,000 Americans died in a treacherous Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. fleet. Gaze at the crack in the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and ponder its inscription, "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof."
To help you plan your journey through American history, Newsmax has assembled a list of the top 50 sites that best spell out the greatness of our country and bear witness to its glories and wonders — a sort of personal red, white, and blue "bucket list" of places every true American patriot should visit.
Some are well known, some less so, but all are integral parts of our history and our heritage. As an American, you owe it to yourself to visit every single one of them.
1. Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, Virginia
— In one visit, you can walk in the footsteps of your forefathers in a recreated colonial town, visit the first permanent English settlement in the New World dating back to 1607, and see where American and French troops defeated the British in 1781.
2. The Philippi Covered Bridge, Philippi, West Virginia
— The covered bridge is the site of the first land battle of the Civil War, which took place on June 3, 1861. The bridge burned in 1989, and was restored and reopened in 1991, but visitors can still see the original burned supports.
3. Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, New York
— The home and "Summer White House" of President Theodore Roosevelt.
4. The Old North Church, Boston, Massachusetts
— Signal lanterns here set off the historic ride of Paul Revere in 1775 to warn the patriots that the British were coming. Revere's colonial home, which is still standing as a museum, is also nearby.
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5. The Betsy Ross Home, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
— Betsy stitched her way into American history here by sewing the first Old Glory flag. The house now serves as a museum and is well worth the visit.
6. The Jesse James Bank Museum, Liberty, Missouri
— In 1866, the Jesse James gang pulled off the first daylight bank robbery here. Today, you can visit the bank to get a real feel for what that robbery must have been like. Nearby, in St. Joseph, Missouri, stands the home where that "dirty little coward" Robert Ford shot Jesse in the back of the head while he was rearranging a picture on his wall.
7. Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Fort Necessity, Pennsylvania
— The first battle of the French and Indian War, and the first battle George Washington lost, was fought at Fort Necessity, a crude stockade defense quickly thrown up by Washington's men before they were overwhelmed by French troops in 1754. The historic Mount Washington Tavern on the old National Road and the gravesite of British Gen. Edward Braddock are nearby.
8. Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia
— The home of Thomas Jefferson displays many of the extraordinary inventions and the lifestyle of one of America's first true Renaissance men.
9. Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
— The park was the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Liberty Bell sits right across the street.
10. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas
— The museum holds guns, saddles, badges, and other artifacts from the lengthy history of the Rangers, and even includes a Lone Ranger collection with original mask, guns, and memorabilia from the beloved 1950s TV show.
11. The Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
— The site of man's first flight in 1903 is commemorated with some of the Wrights' original tools and a life-size replica of the brothers' historic airplane.
12. Ford's Theater, Washington, D.C.
— John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln here. The theater now holds exhibits including the Deringer pistol Booth used, Lincoln life masks, and the clothing Lincoln wore on April 14, 1865, the night of his death. Across the street is the Petersen house, where Lincoln died.
13. Mt. Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia
— The 400-acre plantation and 21-room home of President George Washington is where America's first leader farmed, lived, and died in 1799.
14. The Old School House, St. Augustine, Florida
— America's oldest wooden school house, over 200 years old, stands in the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the U.S., founded in 1565 by the Spanish. It contains the historic Castillo de San Marcos fort and was the capital of the Florida Territory until 1824.
15. The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, Columbus, Georgia
— The museum commemorates the brave sacrifices of America's hard-fighting "grunts" over 239 years of military history.
16. The National Civil War Naval Museum, Port Columbus, Georgia
— The site features full-scale replicas of naval vessels from both sides of the conflict, including the ironclad, CSS Jackson.
17. The USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown, Massachusetts
— This landmark celebrates and preserves the history of "Old Ironsides," launched in 1797 and the oldest naval vessel still afloat. It victoriously battled the British in the War of 1812 and the Barbary pirates.
18. The Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana
— Gen. George Armstrong Custer and 262 troopers of the 7th Cavalry lost their lives fighting Sioux and Cheyenne warriors here in 1876 in what later became known as "Custer's Last Stand."
19. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
— The cemetery contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the grave of assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Visitors can witness the moving hourly changing of the guard ceremony.
20. The Texas School Book Depository Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas
— This is where Lee Harvey Oswald hid behind a barricade of cartons and fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy. The museum contains a treasure trove of exhibits and information about the tragic assassination.
21. The Pony Express Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri
— The site details the exploits of the brave young men who raced the mail 2,000 miles to California by horseback through brutal country and Indian attacks beginning in 1860. One of the riders was William "Buffalo Bill" Cody.
22. The Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, South Dakota
— Nestled in a historic mining boomtown, the cemetery is where the graves of Western legends James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, who was gunned down from behind in a saloon poker game, and Martha "Calamity Jane" Canary can be seen.
23. Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
— This is where the North turned the tide against the South in the Civil War, with 51,000 troops killed, wounded, captured, or missing in the brutal battle in 1863, and where Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address in 1865.
24. The Shanghai Tunnels, underground Portland, Oregon
— These tunnels are where men were "shanghaied" against their will to work ships from the historic port. Hidden connections between basements of buildings secretly led to the port.
25. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
— This attraction traces the history of the clandestine abolitionist networks that smuggled escaped slaves to freedom in the North and Canada.
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26. The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville, Illinois
— This 2,200-acre tract of mounds was left by Indians who built and occupied a large city hundreds of years before the first white men set foot on America's shores.
27. The Cotton Museum, Memphis, Tennessee
— The historic Memphis Cotton Exchange displays the history of "King Cotton," the crop that created the wealth of the American South.
28. The Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi
— Nothing is more American than the blues, and this museum traces the blues from its Delta beginnings to present rock and roll, and includes the rough cabin where the legendary blues master Muddy Waters lived as a sharecropper.
29. The National September 11 Memorial Museum, New York, New York
— On September 11, 2001, two planes piloted by Muslim fanatics smashed into the World Trade Center in New York, killing nearly 3,000. Today, the museum stands as testimony to America's survivor strength, and includes the Survivors Staircase, where hundreds escaped the devastation.
30. The Museum of America and the Sea, Mystic Seaport, Connecticut
— The museum houses more than 500 watercrafts and pays homage to America's long and proud history of whaling and seafaring in the "Age of Sail."
31. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, Skagway, White Pass, and Dyea, Alaska
— This park commemorates one of the biggest gold rushes in history in 1896, when 20-30,000 gold-hungry Americans put their lives on the line to battle freezing temperatures and brutal terrain in search of the precious yellow metal. Most found nothing and went home broke.
32. USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
— Pause in quiet reverence at this site where, on Dec. 7, 1941, the "date that will live in infamy," more than 2,000 Americans died in a treacherous Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. fleet.
33. The Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
— This landmark "honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met" in the "Forgotten War," the museum website states.
34. The World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.
— This memorial honors those of the "greatest generation" who fought to save the world. The memorial contains 4,048 gold stars; each one represents 100 American military deaths, meaning that more than 400,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and military personnel gave their lives to preserve freedom.
35. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Mall, Washington, D.C.
— The names of 58,274 killed or missing in the Vietnam conflict are listed at this memorial, which also includes the "Three Servicemen" sculpture and the Women's Memorial.
36. The Tombstone Historic District, Tombstone, Arizona
— Known as the "Town Too Tough to Die," Tombstone is permanently engraved in the history of America's Old West, thanks to characters like Wyatt Earp and his brothers Morgan and Virgil, the gun-fighting, gambling dentist Doc Holliday, Johnny Ringo, Ike Clanton, and the infamous deadly shootout at the O.K. Corral in 1881.
37. The U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
— Watch as speeches are delivered and laws are enacted and see the Crypt beneath the Rotunda and the National Statuary Hall, or track down your Congressman's office and drop in for a visit.
38. The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
— This has served as the official residence of the president and his family since John Adams first moved in 1800. Burned during the War of 1812, the White House was lovingly reconstructed and includes the Executive Residence, the West Wing, the East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and Blair House, a guest residence.
39. The Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park, 95 miles west of Richmond, Virginia
— This commemorates the end of one of America's bloodiest chapters, the Civil War, when Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to the Union on April 9, 1865, and a new, united nation was born.
40. The Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, New York
— Standing 151 feet tall, bearing a book with the date July 4, 1776 — when the Declaration of Independence was signed — and a blazing torch, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 and serves as the ultimate symbol of American freedom.
41. Ellis Island, New York
— America is a land of immigrants, and nowhere portrays that better than Ellis Island, often the first stop for newcomers to our shores. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants poured through Ellis Island on their way to becoming new U.S. citizens.
42. Plimouth Plantation, Plymouth, Massachusetts
— This landmark provides a close-up view of what life was like for early settlers with its 19th century English village, the Wampanoag Homesite Indian village, the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America in 1620, and the working Plimouth grist mill, where visitors can see how corn was ground.
43. The Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.
— The nearly 555-foot-tall Washington Monument, with its cornerstone laid in 1848; the Lincoln Memorial, dedicated in 1922, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963; and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial with its bronze statue of Jefferson pay homage to some of our greatest founding fathers. See all three.
44. The Bodie State Historic Park, Bodie, California
— An eerie ghost town left over from the days when it was a bustling, rowdy mining camp in the big gold rush of 1859, Bodie now stands as a mute, dusty reminder of the "boom and bust" mining towns of the early West. There are 110 original structures still standing along its rutted dirt streets.
45. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas
— Pay homage to the courage of those brave Texicans who perished battling the Mexican army here.
46. Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California
— From 1933 to 1963, the toughest prison in America was on Alcatraz Island, "The Rock," a federal penitentiary which housed some of America's worst gangsters and murderers, including George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Mickey Cohen, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, Al Capone, and Arthur "Doc" Barker, son of the infamous Ma Barker who was killed in an escape attempt in 1939. Today, on guided tours, visitors can sit in their cells and feel what they must have felt when the doors locked shut.
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47. The Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida
— This landmark is responsible for launching manned missions to the moon with the Apollo Program, and also became the home launch and landing site of the Space Shuttle program. It still operates unmanned space launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and contains an interactive museum and memorabilia of space flights.
48. The Navy SEAL Museum, North Hutchinson Island, Fort Pierce, Florida
— The museum contains weapons, gear, and historic details about some of the most heroic missions of America's toughest underwater warriors, from the frogmen of World War II to the men who killed Osama bin Laden. The museum features vehicles from Desert Storm, special operations boats, the original lifeboat from the Maersk Alabama mission when SEAL snipers saved its captain from Somali pirates, complete with bullet holes, a Sikorsky attack helicopter and an exhibit dedicated to a different kind of warrior, the Navy SEAL dog.
49. The Amish Farm and House, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
— America's proud history of religious freedom is celebrated at the Amish Farm and House near Hershey, a working farm dating from 1805. Tours explore the lifestyle of the Old Order Amish of Lancaster, and include a blacksmith shop, a tobacco farm, a lime kiln, windmills and waterwheels, an Amish one-room schoolhouse, and resident woodcarvers and rope-makers.
50. Minute Man National Historical Park, Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts
— This park is where it all began, where the "shot heard around the world" was fired, which triggered the struggle for American independence from England. About 700 British troops planning to confiscate patriots' military weapons and supplies were fired upon on April 19, 1775. After skirmishes, the outnumbered British gave up and retreated, but once the first hostilities were begun, there would be no stopping America's march to freedom.
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