Amusement Parks
National Parks
Route 66 Cities Beaches
Historical Sites
Fort Ti
Mt. Vernon
Quite frankly, we find history classes boring. Memorizing names, dates and places out of a textbook puts most of us to sleep. But that doesn't mean we don't like history. Actually going to the places where it happened and getting our hands on it, walking on the ground, going through the buildings, eating the food, seeing the costumed interpretors, and sensing what everything sounded and felt like, that wakes up just about all of us. Sadly, our schools no longer take such field trips, whether because of costs, liability, or the extra work of organizing the trips. But through our Venture program, we've still been able to get there.
One thing we've learned about these trips is that we don't like to hurry. We like to spend whole days, or several days, soaking up impressions. We like to roam around and see what there is, sit down and watch what goes on, listen to a few of the interpreters explain things, take a guided tour, eat some of the food that they really ate back then, browse in the stores for something symbolic of the time period, then after we have a pretty good overall sense go back around and shoot a roll of film. It's a real luxury to spend two days because we can see things in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, and as the sun goes down.

l. The Colonial Coast. Plymouth, Salem, Gloucester, Boston, Lexington and Concord. Dinners at the Pawtuxet, Jenny's Grist Mill, The Green Dragon, The Union Oyster House, and the Colonial Inn are musts. The Mayflower, Plimoth Plantation, Old Salem Village, The House of Seven Gables, Freedom Trail, the USS Constitution, The Old North Bridge and The Colonial Inn. This should be a required American pilgrimage just as Muslims go to Mecca.

2. The Melville Coast. Most students read Moby Dick in junior English, and this trip immerses them in the era of whaling ships and a century when the sea was the dominant influence on America. Mystic, New Bedford, Nantucket and Cape Cod. Museums, ships, lighthouses, beaches, whalewatching cruises, deep sea fishing, and lots of great seafood. Dinners at The Seaman's Inn, Arnold's, The Lobster Pot and Duck Creek Inn are musts.

3. Williamsburg. The original Virginia capital, the Jamestown Colony, the Powhatan Village, and Yorktown Battlefield. One dinner at Shields Tavern and another at Christina Campbell's are musts.

4. Fort Ticonderoga. Since Last of the Mohicans in Junior English is the favorite novel of many of us, actually seeing Fort Ti and realizing that the events James Fenimore Cooper described really happened during the French and Indian War is a pretty strong experience. Taking the extra day to visit the cabins and the meadow where the massacres occurred, and Glenn Falls and the mountain where the final battle happened is especially powerful. We have Fort Boonesboro and Fort Harrod in Kentucky but Fort Ti is the greatest fort ever built in North America and it's still impressive.

5. The Alamo. Even though it's now in downtown San Antonio, once you're inside the old mission, it's still awesome. Davey Crocket, Sam Bowie, Bill Travis and other heroes. Since high school history classes don't teach about Texas history anymore (except in Texas), you ought to watch one of the movies about it before the trip. There are other missions to see in San Antonio, plus the Riverwalk and the Old Mexican Marketplace. Dinners at AlDaco's, The Texas Land and Cattle Company, and Casa Rio are musts. And you stay at The Crockett, Texas' most famous hotel.

6. Monticello. Virginia home of Thomas Jefferson. You tour not only his personally designed and built mansion, but the farm and garden. You can spend a whole day here and eat lunch at the old mill and tavern down in the valley.

7. Mt. Vernon. George Washington's estate just outside Washington, DC. You could combine this with a trip to Washington, but if not it's worth a separate long drive. You can tour his mansion, farm and gardens, his private Potomac riverfront where ships brought supplies and shipped out farm produce and you can take a one hour trip up the river, the library of his personal papers and all the books written about him, the parade ground where the Colonial Army puts on frequent drills, and Washington's tomb, which is especially impressive on the morning of July 4th as they stage a full military ceremony.

8. Route 66. John Steinbeck called it The Mother Road, Will Rogers called it The Glory Road, and Woody Guthrie called it America's Main Street. Once I-40 was built, it was officially decommissioned and the signs removed. But the road wouldn't die. It's had novels, songs, movies and a TV series written about it. Now the signs are back up and the old highway has fan clubs in 23 nations. From Chicago to L.A., Route 66 lives on as The Ultimate American Road Trip, a two week drive through 20th Century Culture, History and Geography.

9. Washington DC. You have to see it to believe it and you actually have to see it several times before you begin to comprehend everything. Just visiting the monuments (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, World War II, Korean War, etc.) is one spectacular trip. The Smithsonians are another. To visit the major government buildings --- Congress, the White House, Supreme Court, Pentagon, FBI, Treasury, the National Cathedral, etc. --- would be an incredible trip all by itself. The architecture alone grabs your attention. Due to recent terrorism threats, there are a lot more precautions than there used to be, and you have to schedule a lot of things in advance, but they're worth it.

10. Atlanta. Gone With The Wind, The Battle of Atlanta, Sherman's March Through Georgia and Underground Atlanta. They all really happened and almost all the major locations are still there for you to see. Built around all the history is the modern city, with Coca Cola, CNN, great concerts and other attractions. Combine this with a stop in Chattanooga but don't forget the plantation Tara is 20 miles South of the city.

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