Don’t know much about history? Or are you a historical aficionado? You can brush up on the facts or inspire your passion by visiting some of the most significant destinations from America’s past.
While many of the attractions hark back to a simpler time and more rustic tastes, you don’t have to give up on luxury while you travel. Exclusive accommodations and fine dining are never far from your destinations.
No wonder Colonial Williamsburg is called a living museum. Along cobblestone streets, you’ll mingle with re-enactors in tricorn hats and accomplished craftspeople and cooks.
Once a cultural center of the colonies, Williamsburg is still home to elaborate holiday events, and collections of folk art and decorative work. You’ll get a taste of another chapter of Williamsburg’s history — its preservation and promotion by the Rockefeller family in the 1920s — if you choose to stay at The Williamsburg Inn.
The California Missions
As they brought their religion to North America, Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order also brought their architecture and art when they established the California Missions from the mid-1700s to 1823. While it’s nearly impossible to visit all 21 missions in one trip, be sure to see San Juan Capistrano in Orange County or San Francisco Solano in the heart of Sonoma Valley wine country.
Boston’s Old North Church
During Paul Revere’s famous ride in 1775, sexton Robert Newman briefly held two lanterns in the church’s steeple, warning colonists that the British were coming by sea. On your Beantown historic visit, start with a behind-the-scenes tour of Old North Church. Bicycles replace horses, as you retrace Revere’s ride on two wheels on a private bike tour with Urban AdvenTours.
Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center
The decidedly humble Martin Luther King Jr. Center pulls at the heartstrings. Maintained by the National Parks System, the center encompasses many of the critical sites of King’s work in Atlanta, including the home where he was born and the church where he preached, Ebenezer Baptist Church. A nonprofit organization headquartered at the center sustains the legacy of nonviolent social change through further events, exhibits and resources.
Trace your ancestry back to the boat at Ellis Island, the East Coast’s gateway to citizenship for millions of immigrants. Take a private, chartered sunset cruise through the harbor to view the Statue of Liberty in all her glory. The next day, head to Battery Park, where you can board the ferry for a round-trip excursion to Ellis Island and all of its exhibits and genealogy resources.
St. Augustine, Fla.
In 1565, long before English settlers came to points farther north, Pedro Menendez de Aviles established St. Augustine on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Today, the city is home to some of the country’s most exclusive spas, resorts and golf courses, including Casa Monica and Ponte Vedra Beach Resort. See the coast as Menendez may have, aboard a private sailboat cruise vacation.