I love the US and the kids love the US. The history and learning possibilities are endless and this is just 4 small examples.
One of the fun things about family travel is the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. You may find that a family vacation is also the ideal time to help your kids learn about some of the historical backgrounds to the places they visit. From sites where important battles took place or where pirate ships were sunk, to those important locations in the context of Native American history, there are lots of places to choose from when you take the kids on a vacation adventure. Here are a few tips to get you started.
New York City
America’s capital city is host to a number of important heritage sites including Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and the Empire State Building. Parents wanting to teach their kids about recent history can head for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum located at the site of the World Trade Center. Open every day, you can buy tickets up to three months in advance of your planned visit. Find out more on their website here. Depending on when you travel, you might also catch a fun Broadway show with plenty of singing and dancing to lift the spirits of the whole family.
The beauty of New Orleans is reflected in its magnificent buildings – check out St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America, named after the king of France. With a combination of renaissance and Spanish colonial architecture, the very first structure was built here in 1718 and the current basilica has beautiful stained-glass windows and an impressive spire. Hurricane Katrina did some damage in 2005, however most of this has since been rectified. Kids are likely to enjoy spooking themselves with a visit to the graveyard, if only to marvel at the tomb of the Voodoo high priestess Marie Laveau, which attracts hundreds of tourists every year.
The traditions that predate the American Civil War live on in this charming corner of South Carolina where 19th century Southern high society is clearly in evidence around every street corner. You can take a tour of the Nathaniel Russell House or Calhoun Mansion to experience how folks used to live, and admire the moss-draped trees or the streets lit by gaslight every evening. You could pretend you’re Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind and, in between the history lessons, make sure the kids enjoy themselves at one of the Bluegreen resorts in the area, such as The Lodge Alley Inn located right in the heart of the city. Combining old-world charm with modern amenities, there couldn’t be a better base in which to unwind with all your creature comforts while maintaining the traditional vibe of your vacation.
New Mexico is a mesmerizing state full of life, culture, wonderful cuisine and sensational landscapes. Native American groups have lived here for thousands of years, long before European tourists turned up. Nowadays, 22 tribes still reside here and you and the kids can learn a lot about their different languages, customs, traditional clothing and celebrations. Visitor centers are interesting and often interactive and, as this is living history, you can easily get a guide to local tribal etiquette in advance of your tour. Other family attractions include steam engine train rides, theme parks and trampoline parks.
In the end, your family vacation can be both fun and educational – one doesn’t preclude the other. Seek out destinations that are significant in terms of history, heritage or tradition and be sure to throw in a few magic ingredients that will keep everyone happy and relaxed as well. Remember that historic and heritage sites can be very entertaining as well as being full of knowledge and information.
Simon Clark is an accomplished travel writer with over five years of blogging experience. He focuses on holiday destinations in Egypt, Turkey and other Mediterranean spots, but his recent trip to the US, with his family, inspired him to write about some travel ideas to introduce the kids to US history.