1. INDEPENDENCE HALL
A UNESCO World Heritage site, this 18th-century landmark is where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. It’s the centerpiece of Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, home to the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, and more.
2. CLIFF PALACE
In Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park, this is the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Carved by Ancestral Puebloan people beneath rocky overhangs, they are extraordinarily well preserved.
3. BILTMORE ESTATE
The largest private house in the country, the 19th-century Biltmore Estate remains one of the most prominent mansions of the Gilded Age. It sits on 8,000 acres in Asheville, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. On view are antiques and art, 75 acres of gardens, a conservatory, landscaped grounds, and the on-site winery, the most visited one in America.
4. THE FREEDOM TRAIL
A bronze plaque embedded in a cobblestone street marks the beginning of Boston’s Freedom Trail, which runs for more than 2 miles past some of the city’s most historic American Revolutionary War–era sites, including Faneuil Hall, the Old North Church, and the Paul Revere House.
5. AZTEC RUINS NATIONAL MONUMENT
In New Mexico, this dazzling collection of 400 masonry buildings was constructed by the Pueblo people nearly a thousand years ago. Some are just foundations, while others are beautifully reconstructed.
6. ELLIS ISLAND
In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, this tiny island in New York Harbor was once the busiest immigration center in the country. While they are here, many visitors look up ancestors who passed through.
7. CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS
Construction began on St. Augustine’s fortress more than three centuries ago, when the Spanish wanted to shore up their defenses in what is now known as Florida. Its waterfront perch is dazzling.
8. EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor at this two-towered brick church in Atlanta until he was assassinated in 1968. To this day the church still has a strong focus on civil rights and racial justice.
9. ALCATRAZ ISLAND
On a remote island in California’s San Francisco Bay, this fortresslike maximum security prison, which held infamous criminals Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly, was perhaps better known by its nickname, “The Rock.” The open-air boat ride to the island is spectacular in itself.
10. FORD’S THEATRE
A history lesson come to life, this still functioning playhouse in Washington, D.C., is where Abraham Lincoln was shot. He died across the street in Peterson’s Boarding House, which you can also visit.
11. PLIMOTH PATUXET
This living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, teaches visitors about the day-to-day lives of the English settlers now known as the Pilgrims.