America may be a young country, but a lot of complex history gets packed into 233 years of nationhood — especially when you’re talking about a place as geographically and ethnically diverse as the USA.
1. Sears (Willis) Tower - Tallest building in the U.S., standing in the hometown of the world’s first skyscraper.
2. Gettysburg, PA - The site of perhaps the most pivotal battle of the U.S. Civil War.
3. Yellowstone National Park - The first-ever designated national park…in the world.
4. New York Harbor - A solid chunk of American ancestry passed through here, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
5. Monticello - Thomas Jefferson’s domed house in Charlottesville, VA.
6. Graceland - A nod to pop culture, Elvis Presley’s well-touristed home makes the list.
7. Pearl Harbor - The setting of the story of how America was drawn into WWII.
8. Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church - The Atlanta church of one of America’s most revered figures of conscience, Martin Luther King, Jr.
The limits to this topic are quite broad, as Budget Travel acknowledges,
In trying to come up with a list of places every American must see, we knew we’d raise some hackles.
Here are a few from the shortlist that didn’t make the cut:
- Grand Canyon - Truly, America’s natural heritage deserves a list all its own.
- Ground Zero - Site of the latest defining moment in the American narrative.
- Trail of Tears - As any conscious celebration of Thanksgiving reminds us, there are chapters — entire volumes, really — of American history that need to be more intimately acknowledged, dragged into the light of scrutiny (Wounded Knee, SD, also comes to mind in this context).
Now it’s your turn. What places do you think every American “must see” to better understand the heritage we were born into? Tell us in the comments.
Does the very phrase “must see” make you cringe? Commiserate with kindred spirits in 10 Words and Phrases We Never Want to See in Travel Writing Again.
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Hal Amen is a managing editor at Matador. His personal travel blog is WayWorded.
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