The U.S. is filled with historic wonders. Americans have experienced civil war, revolution, assassinations, terrorist attacks, two World Wars and the birth of rock n’ roll, all of which have shaped and molded the United States of America into the greatest country in the world. There are historical landmarks dotted all across the country, from the east coast to the west coast, which have played important roles in these unbelievable occurrences. Here is a list of the seven best historic sites any history lover should visit, from sea to shining sea.
Lorraine Motel – Memphis. Looking at the Lorraine Hotel is like taking a step back in time to April 4, 1968. The paint is the same dreary mixture of yellow and blue and even the vehicles in the car park are the same ones Martin Luther King walked past before he was assassinated. It is now also the home to the National Civil Rights Museum and the tour leads visitors past the place where Dr. King was killed. This is a cold, attentive and essential visit for anyone visiting the city of Memphis. National Civil Rights Museum: 450 Mulberry Memphis, TN 38103. (901) 521-9699.
Fort Sumter- Charleston, South Carolina. Civil War fanatics won’t want to miss a trip to the place where the war began in April of 1861 with the Confederates attacking the Union’s Fort Sumter. Visitors can explore the fort’s walls—originally 55 feet tall, though now varying between nine and 25 feet in height—along with an array of heavy artillery still scattered within the site. Departure for Fort Sumter is at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center: 340 Concord St., Charleston, SC 29401.
Sun Studio – Memphis. There are many places that lay claim to being the birthplace of rock n’ roll. But it’s hard to argue against Sun Studios in downtown Memphis where almost every icon of early rock n’ roll recorded their first songs, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sun Studio: 706 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103. (901) 521-0664.
Old State House – Boston. As integral to the American Revolution as George Washington and the Boston Tea Party, it was from this balcony that the Declaration of Independence was first read aloud to the public. Even today, this Georgian style “Town House” in Boston’s financial district still manages to evoke a feeling of wonder and awe. Old State House: 206 Washington St., Boston, MA 02109. (617) 720-1713.
Texas School Book Depository – Dallas. Depending on your viewpoint, it was from the sixth floor of this School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed JFK and shocked the world to its very core. The unnerving ordinariness of the building’s surrounding give this historic site a spooky feel, forcing you to keep one eye on the grassy knoll across the street, just in case. Texas School Book Depository: 411 Elm St., Dallas, TX 75202. (214) 747-6660.
The Alamo – San Antonio. Built up to an almost mythical status due to the amount of stories, films and books dedicated to the great siege that took place here, when you finally visit the site in downtown San Antonio you truly get a sense of the importance and sacrifice made by the posse of Texans who stood up to Mexican forces and the effect it has had on American culture. The Alamo: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205. (210) 225-1391.
The Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, CA.Built by the wife of William Winchester (of the Winchester Rifle company), this sprawling 160-room Victorian is full of bizarre, historical lore. Get the full story about the seances Mrs. Winchester used to get the spirit’s input on her blueprints and the continuous construction she kept going in order to cope with the death of her child and her husband—both events she attributed to a curse brought on by profiting from the Winchester rifle’s success in the wild west. Stairways that lead to nowhere and doors that open into mid-air are just a few of the numerous oddities. Winchester Mystery House: 525 South Winchester Blvd., San Jose, CA 95128. (408) 247-2000.