Magazine article Newsweek

All-American Vacations

Magazine article Newsweek

All-American Vacations

Article excerpt

Byline: Tara Weingarten

The very idea of visiting our nation's historical sites can conjure up unpleasant memories of school trips past--even if you weren't the kid who always got sick on the bus. But there's probably no better way to spark your kids' interest in our heritage. After all, it's easy to make the ideals of liberty and self-government seem interesting when you're standing on the Lexington Green, where the first shots of the American Revolution rang out. And it's almost impossible not to ponder the vast human toll of the Civil War when walking among the gravestones at Antietam National Cemetery. Reminders of our heritage are everywhere, and many of our coolest historical sites are very inexpensive to visit. Here's a list that should make any American proud.

MONTICELLO: (monticello.org) Thomas Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation in Charlottesville, Va., is a monument to one of America's greatest thinkers. Among his extraordinary accomplishments: penning the Declaration of Independence, serving two terms as president and founding the University of Virginia. Visit his house and stroll the gardens where he experimented with more than 250 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Even jaded teens will love hearing that recent DNA evidence strongly suggests Jefferson fathered several children with one of his slaves. Adults: $13. Children 6 to 11: $6. Stay at the Clifton Inn, a 1799 country estate once owned by Jefferson's son-in-law. (See cliftoninn.com for rates starting at $165.)

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS: (loc.gov) The world's largest library isn't just a pile of books. Among the 121 million items in its collection: the eyeglasses and Confederate money that were in Abraham Lincoln's pocket the night he was shot, and George Gershwin's handwritten lyrics for "God Bless America." Admission is free. Stay at the Morrison House, a Colonial-style manor house in nearby Alexandria, Va. …

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