Travel America the Beautiful!

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You don’t need to travel overseas to visit locations that are steeped in history!

America has many cities that have played an important role in the nation’s history and not all of them are well known. Here’s a list of cities with landmarks, museums and historic sites that are a history lover’s dream.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
As the second oldest city in the U.S. after St. Augustine, Florida, and the nation’s first state capital, Santa Fe is a living testimony to history with renowned Pueblo-style architecture and a historic district that celebrates the city’s past. The New Mexico Historic Museum is located in the former Palace of the Governors, a historic adobe structure. Santa Fe has long been home to a thriving arts scene; visitors can view the art of one of its most famous artist residents at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. Native American culture and history are also celebrated with several museums and with traditional tribal celebrations that are open to the public. Located in the scenic Sangre de Cristo foothills, Santa Fe has a population just over 80,000.

Memphis, Tennessee
The history of rock and roll has some of its roots in Memphis, a city of 650,000 located along the Mississippi River. Memphis is home to Sun Studio, where legendary musicians such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and B.B. King recorded some of their greatest hits. Presley’s Graceland Mansion is one of the most popular of the city’s attractions. Other landmarks that pay testimony to the music history of Memphis include the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the former location of historic Stax Records. Memphis is also home to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Street Motel, the site where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Astoria, Oregon
This small port city, population 9,800, is located at the juncture of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1811, it’s the oldest city in the state and was named for investor John Jacob Astor, who built a trading post there for his Pacific Fur Company. There are several museums in the city that focus on maritime history, including Fort Clatsop in the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. One of the most popular historic attractions in the area is the Astoria Column, a concrete and steel structure built in 1926 that’s decorated with paintings of historic events along the Columbia River, including the Lewis and Clark expedition. For more recent history, you can visit sites where the movie Goonies was shot and learn more about it at the Oregon Film Museum. Another important local historic attraction is the steel cantilevered Astoria-Megler Bridge, which at 4.1 miles is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.

San Antonio, Texas
This major city in Texas, population 1.5 million, has many historic attractions for visitors. San Antonio played an important role in the history of the U.S. Southwest. The Alamo Mission, site of an 1836 battle for independence from Mexico, is the most popular historic attraction in Texas. The Missions National Historic Park, home to the Alamo and four other historic missions located along the San Antonio River, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s River Walk connects the historic missions to downtown and provides access to restaurants, bars and shops.

Dodge City, Kansas
About 27,000 people call this historic city home. Named for nearby Fort Dodge, the city celebrates its history as a Wild West frontier town. Some of the most infamous gunfighters of the late 1800s passed through the town and its famous Long Branch Saloon. Today, you can visit Boot Hill Museum and see a recreation of an authentic frontier town street, complete with historic buildings and gunfight re-enactments. Historic figures such as Wyatt Earp can be viewed in sculpture form at the Gunfighters Wax Museum. The Home of Stone is a three-story limestone house that contains period furniture and household items. El Capitan, a life-size sculpture of a longhorn steer provides the perfect opportunity for selfies.

Plymouth, Massachusetts
In 1620, the Mayflower pilgrims established the oldest community in New England at Plymouth. With a population of 58,000, Plymouth is located 40 miles from historic Boston. It boasts numerous buildings and sites dedicated to both Pilgrim and Native American history and culture, including Plymouth Rock, Cole’s Hill cemetery and the Richard Sparrow house, which has stood since 1640. The Pilgrim Hall Museum, which tells the story of the Mayflower pilgrims, is the oldest public museum in America, continuously operating since 1824. The Duxbury Pier Light is another important city landmark. The 47-foot cast-iron lighthouse, nicknamed the Bug Light, stands in Plymouth Harbor. ■

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