by Erin Gifford
Summer is a great time to explore America and there are so many patriotic places to go with kids. Learn about the work of our founding fathers in Philadelphia, visit the house where President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation in Washington, DC or see where our national park system was born during this centennial year. Here are six must-go patriotic places to explore with your kids this summer.
There’s so much to see and do in Philadelphia that’s all about celebrating the birth of America. Take a free, guided tour of Independence Hall to learn about the work of our founding fathers before walking across the street for a look at the Liberty Bell. Download the free NPS Independence mobile app for several audio tours, kids’ activities, even a digital Junior Ranger program. And, of course, Betsy Ross House is a must.
- Mount Rushmore
Is there anything more patriotic than the faces of four of our nation’s presidents sculpted into the side of a mountain? No way. So hop a flight to South Dakota and take a ranger tour at Mount Rushmore National Memorial to learn how the four presidents were chosen and how the sculpture was made. Pick up a Junior Ranger or Rushmore Ranger activity booklet when you arrive so your kids can earn a badge.
- Virginia’s Historic Triangle
Also known as Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, it’s a must to take the kids to Virginia’s Historic Triangle to explore revolutionary history and learn about the first settlers to America. Climb aboard replicas of three colonial ships at Jamestown Settlement, then pop in and out of shops and dwellings that re-created James Fort and Powhatan Indian Village. Dress up in period costume in Colonial Williamsburg or take a self-guided driving tour of Yorktown Battlefield.
- Yellowstone National Park
As America’s first national park, the kids will love a visit to Yellowstone National Park to see geysers, mud pots, hot springs and wildlife. At the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, check out a Young Scientist Toolkit, which includes a thermometer, stopwatch and more, to investigate the area around Old Faithful. Look for multiple ranger programs to celebrate this year’s centennial of the National Park Service.
- Washington, DC
No list of patriotic places to visit as a family is complete without Washington, DC. Take the elevator up 500 feet to the observation deck of the Washington Monument to enjoy panoramic views of our Nation’s Capital, including the White House, U.S. Capitol and Jefferson Memorial. Enjoy a bike tour of the monuments with Bike and Roll, visit President Lincoln’s Cottage (where he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation) and go for a spin on the Capital Wheel.
- Grand Canyon
It’s hard to find anything more American than the Grand Canyon, the symbol our national park system. Spend the day hiking and taking in the views from the Rim Trail along the South Rim before enjoying a picnic lunch near Mather Point. Use the free shuttle to get around the park and attend as many ranger-led programs as you can to learn about fossils, geology, native birds and animals.
Erin Gifford is a Washington, D.C.-based travel writer and founder of Kidventurous, an award-winning family travel resource. Her writing can also be found on TravelChannel.com, TravelAge West and Fodors.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Kidventurous, connect with her on Facebook or get the latest tips and tricks for traveling families at http://www.kidventurous.com.