Traveling with the kids can be a lot of fun and when there is a chance they will learn a little something without even realizing it? Well, that is just a bonus! Here we take a look at some history tours in the southeast United States your kids will enjoy, too.
Early American History
A terrific place to start is in St. Augustine, Florida, known as the “Nation’s Oldest City” and the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the United States — founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles. But before Don Pedro settled in, Juan Ponce de Leon stopped by in 1513 on his quest to discover the Fountain of Youth. Castillo de San Marcos, the large Spanish stone fortress found here, was built in the late-1600s and still stands today.
A fun way to learn about history is to step back in time and experience life as it was, as much as we can. Living history museums and experiences throughout the United States allow us to do just that and one of the best is Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, with loads of hands-on activities and its costumed reenactments and interpretations. In North Carolina, The Lost Colony has recounted the English settlement on the Outer Banks’ Roanoke Island for 80 years, and in East Tennessee, the Buttonwillow Civil War Dinner Theater performs a theatrical account as well, though about the Civil War.
A country’s history is about its people, too, and the Southeast is full of rich characters that made their mark on American history.
Thought the Wright Brothers hailed from Dayton, Ohio, their dreams of taking flight took them to Kitty Hawk in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where their first successful airplane flight — albeit 12 seconds long — happened Dec. 17, 1903. The Wright Brothers National Memorial tells their story.
American novelist Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time in Key West, Florida, the southernmost point in the United States; his home is open for tours and you may even spot a descendent of his famous six-toed cats on the property!
Elsewhere in the Southeast, your family can visit spaces dedicated to authors who may spark an idea for the next great American novel — the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia; Connemara, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina; or the Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center in Henning, Tennessee.
If you’re traveling through Alabama, make plans to stop in Tuscumbia to see Helen Keller’s home where learned to communicate through a well pump, and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum at Troy University, dedicated to the Civil Rights icon.
Another Civil Rights icon, Martin Luther King, Jr., is memorialized at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; he was assassinated at the motel in 1968. Elsewhere in Memphis, follow Elvis’ footsteps from his recording at Sun Studio, the “Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll,” to his home at Graceland.
These are but a few ideas that may give your brood some ideas on where to plan your historic family journey in the Southeast.