This summer, you don't need to seek something exotic and adventurous abroad. The U.S. has plenty of adventures close at hand, from the storied Boston Harbor to a historic village in Ohio to the bridges of Yosemite Valley.
Just as with the places we recommended for spring break travel, the sites we've selected for your summer travel pleasure tell a unique story about our American history. Unfortunately, these places are also threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy, but your enthusiasm about discovering them can inspire more people to visit and preserve them as well.
Yes, simply experiencing these places firsthand can have a lasting positive impact. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get out of here!
Maritime History: Go onboard the Nantucket Lightship/LV-112, the largest U.S. lightship ever built. Docked in East Boston at the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina, the lightship was constructed in 1936 to be virtually unsinkable and was the first and last U.S. landmark seen by ships traveling to and from Europe during its 39 years of service. The Nantucket Lightship/LV-112 is currently undergoing restoration, but is open to the public for tours and educational programs.
Civil Rights Meets Revitalization: In 1957, Fortune magazine dubbed Auburn Avenue "the richest Negro street in the world," a vision that has been realized again through community revitalization. So if you've only read about the Civil Rights movement in textbooks, head down to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Auburn and get a sense of what a thriving African-American community looked like during that time. (It was also the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., whose house still stands at 501 Auburn Avenue.) Visit the National Park Service website or call 404-688-3353 for more info on walking tours. And once you're there, don't forget to stop for a bite at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, the oldest public market in Atlanta.
A Taste of Europe: Visit the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to experience an Old World feel. The Cathedral was constructed primarily in the masonry tradition of the great medieval churches of Europe, and includes 112 gargoyles, 231 stained glass windows, and at least one stone weighing more than five tons. Take time to enjoy an in-depth tour of the Cathedral followed by a traditional English tea with sandwiches, scones, and a scenic view of the city. The Cathedral has also many other activities planned for the summer, such as learning about iron work.
A Midwest Secret: Visit the Village of Zoar in the town of Zoar, Ohio, which has a population of about 200 people. The Village of Zoar was founded in 1817 by a group of separatists who fled Germany in search of religious freedom. Today, you could tour the restored buildings, stroll through the gardens, shop and dine, or stay at a charming bed-and-breakfast. And in August, come celebrate the bounty of the harvest.
Photography Fun: Visit a different part of Yosemite Valley -- namely, the historic bridges that span the Merced River in one of America's most treasured landscapes. Take the family or a friend and just sit on top of one of the bridges to watch the sunset capture the unique angles allowed by these bridges. It's heaven for avid photographers who are able to capture such beautiful angles of nature. The Rustic-style bridges also echo the sublime surroundings.
Adventures in Architecture: Texas has a lot more to offer than BBQ and rodeos. It possesses some of the finest works of public architecture in Texas and the nation, all in the form of its courthouses. Constructed over a 100-year period from the 1850s to the 1950s, these buildings come in almost every style, from Romanesque to Art Deco. These courthouses are usually located in the center of town and are the lifeblood for many historic Main Street districts. Learn more about which courthouses to visit.