PATRIOTIC PIT STOPS FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY
Nothing says summer like a road trip — and if you want to double down on that summery vibe, get ready for the 4th with a patriotic jaunt around the Northeast. We’ve picked our favorite historical must-sees in the area, from presidents’ birthplaces to new museums to battle sites.
Westmoreland County, VA
Kick off the trip in Westmoreland County, where our first president was born (and subsequently chopped down a cherry tree?). Though his original house burned down in 1779, a monument stands in his birthplace, surrounded by the flowering Colonial Garden.
After taking in views of the Potomac River, head to Arlington to pay your respects at the Arlington National Cemetery. The final resting place for over 400,000 soldiers, the rows of white tombstones are both striking and sobering. From April through October, the Changing of the Guard happens every half hour at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
A quick hop away, you can’t explore the country’s history without a stop at the capital. Stroll (or bike) the National Mall to pay tribute to some of the nation’s largest-looming leaders. Drop into some of the Smithsonian museums, entry for which is always free — keep in mind, though, that for the excellent new African American Museum, you’ll need a timed pass.
Just outside D.C. lies Annapolis, a picturesque waterfront city that also plays host to the U.S. Naval Academy. Take a tour of the imposing facilities before you grab some blue crab for lunch, a Maryland specialty.
From Annapolis, head to Baltimore to visit the place where Mary Pickersgill sewed the nation’s first flag. Take a tour of the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, then head to Fort McHenry to see where that flag first flew and inspired the national anthem.
Once the nation’s capital, Philadelphia is still home to a wealth of patriotic history. The Independence National Historic Park holds over a dozen historic buildings and park spaces, including the site of a home inhabited by both Washington and Adams in the 1790s, the Liberty Bell, and multiple gardens, one of which has been cultivated with plants common in 18th-century gardens. Independence Hall is also here: the site where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed.
New York City, NY
It’s hard to even scratch the surface of “the greatest city in the world,” as Hamilton’s Schuyler sisters call it. Of course, seeing the musical itself is a great place to start, but if you can’t score tickets, you can still check out the Hamilton Grange, where the founding father spent his last days. To pay homage to a piece of our nation’s more modern history, go to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. And, of course, wave to Lady Liberty as she welcomes immigrants to the country.
Dating back to 1642, the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in this town in 1775, signifying the “shot heard ‘round the world” that began the American Revolutionary War. John Hancock’s home is also here, a famous stopping point for Paul Revere on his midnight ride to warn of the British approach.
Wrap up your road trip by exploring the cobblestone, brick-lined streets of Boston. The 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail is the perfect patriotic capstone, encapsulating 16 historical sites, ranging from the Massachusetts State House to the Benjamin Franklin Statue to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship. Wrap it all up with some Boston cream pie at Mike’s Pastry in the North End — perhaps not the most historical part of the trip, but arguably the most delicious.