Expand Your Search
If you’re having a hard time finding historically significant places within driving distance of your home, try expanding your search beyond just battlefields and historic landmarks. The national parks system might be most known for preserving natural spaces, but it also protects hundreds of historically significant sites. These sites are usually very well done, with short films, museums, and ranger-led talks and tours. Local state parks are also great to check out, as they will often run programs or exhibits that highlight the state’s unique history.
Take Age Into Consideration
If you’re traveling to a historic place with younger children, make sure to take their ages and attention spans into account. I, personally, could tour lavishly decorated historic houses all day long, but my seven year old doesn’t always share my love of interior design (especially if he can’t touch anything). Fortunately, many historic sites are kid-friendly and go the extra mile to make sure young visitors have a great experience. Look for places with lots of outdoor space where kids are free to roam. Nearly all of the National Park Service units offer a Junior Ranger program. This program allows kids the opportunity to complete various activities and fill out a workbook as they go around the site. At the end of their visit, they can turn in their workbook and be sworn in as a Junior Ranger, complete with a custom badge. Other museums and historic sites sometimes offer scavenger hunts or activity packs that you can rent. These aren’t always well-advertised, so it’s worth searching the website before your visit to see what’s offered or ask about kid activities once you get there.
One final note to all the parents out there: Don’t worry if you feel like your kids are not listening to every word of the tour guide or reading all of the signs and plaques. I’m sure they are still soaking up a lot of knowledge without you even realizing it. And even more importantly, they’re building fun memories that will stay with them for their whole lives.