The United States of America has a lot to offer history buffs.  You’ll find charming towns, diverse cities, interesting cultural institutions, and magnificent monuments.  Here then, are but 20 of America’s most beautiful historic places. 

America’s Most Beautiful Historic Places

1. Annapolis, Maryland


This picturesque port city and striking state capital can be found on the Chesapeake Bay.  The Royal Governor Sir Francis Nicholson named the city after Princess Anne, who became queen in 1702.  Here you will find more buildings from the 1700s than anywhere else in the country.  This city is also the home of the United States Naval Academy.  Must-see landmarks include the historic Maryland State House, where the famous Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the Annapolis Maritime Museum which details the city’s maritime heritage, and the National Historic Landmark Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. 

2.  Richmond, Virginia

The founder of this capital city, William Byrd II, named this place for the old London suburb.  Byrd found it reminiscent of “the view of the River Thames from London’s leafy Richmond Hill.  Libby Hill Park, located in the historic Church Hill neighborhood, is the most popular spot to see the James River.

The English first settled here in 1607.  Here you will find striking architecture, cobblestone street, and upscale eateries.  “Must-see” places include the Black History Museum, Capitol Square, the Capitol building, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the impressive mansion-turned-museum The Maymont. 

3.  Montpelier, Vermont

Montpelier is officially “the tiniest of all state capitals.”  Ensconced in the beautiful foothills of the well-known Green Mountains, this place includes many buildings from the 1800s which are now home to vintage record shops, indie bookstores, and historic inns.  Its skyline is marked by its gold-domed State House, and multiple church steeples.

Highlights here include the Vermont History Museum, and the historic sugarhouses.  Famous for their tasty syrup, many of the sugarhouses are still operated by the families who founded them.  Check out the state’s oldest maple farm, the 200-year-old Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. 

4.  Deadwood, South Dakota

This quaint little tourist town is a National Historic Landmark as it was a part of the famous Gold Rush back in the 1800s.  Many people came here seeking their fortune including such notorious gunslingers as Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok.  In fact, you can visit their graves in Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Here you can see historic reenactments of shoot-outs and enjoy the town’s themed saloons. There’s also the Historic Adams House, built in 1892, and get a feel for how rich some of the residents once were.  Visit nearby Lead and see the Homestake Gold Mine too!

5.  Boston, Massachusetts

Hike the famous red-bricked 2.5-mile Freedom Trail to learn about Boston’s historical importance. In only a couple of hours, you can see 16 historic landmarks.  You’ll see Faneuil Hall, the site of America’s first official town meeting and “the home of free speech”.  

Check out Beacon Hill, the well-known home of the descendants of the English settlers complete with old red-brick row houses and narrow, gas-lit streets.  Visit the harbor where the Boston Tea Party took place and the interesting interactive Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum too. Learn how this protest helped spark the American Revolution.

6.  Cambridge, Massachusetts


Cambridge is perhaps most known as the home of historic Harvard University.  Founded in 1636, it is America’s first college.  Famous alumni include presidents: John Adams, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama.  

Other attractions include M.I.T. (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the Harvard Art Museums that includes three art institutions in one building, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  Stop by Harvard Square and check out the academic eateries which are still often frequented by a few famous alumni.  academic eating institutions (still frequented by famous alumni).  Visit the various atmospheric bars, and small indie bookstores as well.

7.  New York City, New York

Some say New York City is the “most exciting modern city” in the world.  Ah, but it’s chock full of historic places, too.  There is the moving and memorable Ellis Island and its atmospheric museum.  

You can take a Statue Cruise ferry from Battery Park to what was once the glorious gateway to America for more than 12 million immigrants.  You can also go to Liberty Island and see the world-famous Statue of Liberty.  See the famous Brooklyn Bridge which was erected in 1883 and required 14 years to complete.

8.  San Antonio, Texas


Once known as San Antonio de Béxar, the Spanish founded this place in 1718.  It was also Texas’ first civilian settlement.  Here you will discover North America’s largest concentration of real Spanish architecture.

The most famous attraction here is the historic Alamo.  It is but one of five missions officially deemed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Stroll the beautiful gardens and learn of the Texas revolution from the inside history exhibits.  Explore the eight-mile River Walk’s Mission Reach section and see all the other missions there including the Concepción, Espada. San José, and San Juan. 

9.  New Orleans, Louisiana

The port city of New Orleans on the Mississippi River is nigh legendary.  Full of old-warm charm, it was founded by the French back in 1718 and later fell under Spanish rule.  There are many historic buildings in the French Quarter.

It’s there you’ll find popular Jackson Square and the impressive triple-steepled St Louis Cathedral, which was actually dedicated to Louis IX, the King of France.  Don’t forget to take in some live music on Frenchman Street in the famous Faubourg Marigny district.  It’s the birthplace of jazz. Sample some Cajun and Creole food too!  

10.  Savannah, Georgia

This city’s center is reported to be one of the country’s largest National Historic Landmark districts.  Here you will find the striking Forsyth Fountain in Forsyth Park.  The park comes complete with ancient oak trees laced with Spanish moss.  

The grand old homes once funded through rice and cotton-farming are also here.  Sign up for a flexible “hop-on, hop-off trolley tour” and learn about Savannah’s complex past as you explore its cobbled streets and shaded squares.  Sample some Southern staples– collard greens, okra, fried chicken, crab cakes, and fried green tomatoes–at The Olde Pink House too.

11.  Williamsburg, Virginia


The capital city from 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was officially founded in 1632.  Williamsburg’s restored historic area is actually famous for its recreation of life back in the 1700s.  Indeed, it is considered the planet’s “largest living history museum” and has garnered many awards for its immersive experiences and remarkable, meticulous recreation. 

They even cover the indigenous locals, slavery, and freed slaves.  Jamestown, found in the Greater Williamsburg area, is reportedly the original site of the country’s first permanent English settlement and is also now a living history museum.  Visit Riverwalk Landing, see the 18th-century architecture, and the tall ships as well. 

12.  Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Spanish conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta had overtaken this city by 1610.  It is North America’s oldest capital city and has the nation’s oldest church, the San Miguel Mission, founded in 1797.  This city is a unique mix of Mexican, Pueblo, and Spanish cultures.  

Some highlights include the Palace of the Governors, which was erected in 1610, the New Mexico History Museum, and the well-known Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi which dates back to the 1800s.  There’s also the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art, and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

13.  Washington D.C.

This is the nation’s capital.  It comes complete with handsome, historic architecture and political power.  Head for the world-famous Mall to see the big attractions–the Capitol Building, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Vietnam Veteran Memorial.

Hike the Neighborhood Heritage Trails to see some of the less-famous spots.  From Capitol Hill, you can take in great views of everything from the US Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  There are other attractions too such as the 1937-established National Gallery of Art, and the world-famous Smithsonian Institution museums.

14.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Philadelphia may not be the capital, but it is arguably the “birthplace of the nation.”  Visit the historic district first.  Here you’ll see the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall, where the famous Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed.  

Walk down America’s officially oldest residential street, Cobblestoned Elfreth’s Alley.  Most of the narrow, shuttered buildings were once home to the city’s artisans and merchants and are still privately-owned.  Visit the Elfreth’s Alley Museum to learn how the working class once lived.  Located in two houses that date back to 1755, this museum even offers guided tours.

15.  San Francisco, California


One of San Francisco’s most prominent landmarks is Fort Point, situated on the city’s photogenic bay.  The fort was erected between 1853 and 1861 after the Gold Rush.  it was then that San Francisco was deemed the most important city on the west coast and thus needed to be protected from naval attacks.

Today it is overshadowed by the towering, world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.  Mind you, the origins of this place can be found in the exciting Mission District.  This is the oldest part of the metropolis as well as where Spanish missionaries launched the settlement. 

16.  Atlanta, Georgia


Founded in 1837, and burned down during the Civil War, Georgia’s capital was actually found at the very end of the famous Western & Atlantic Railroad line.  It had two other names prior to 1845 when it was named Atlanta.  The city hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics and currently hosts such festivals as Dragon Con, Music Midtown, and the National Black Arts Festival.  Visit the peaceful Oakland Cemetery, where “Gone with the Wind”  author Margaret Mitchell and thousands of Confederate soldiers are buried.  There’s also Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum.

17.  Hartford, Connecticut


This state capital dates back to 1635.  Highlights here include the popular 18th-century Old State House of Connecticut, the 19th-century golden-domed State Capitol, and Bushnell Park.  The latter is a popular petty public park that’s particularly picturesque during the fall.  There’s also America’s first public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art which opened to the public back in 1842.  This Ivy League city is also the place to see the homes of author Mark Twain, and abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe.

18.  Charleston, South Carolina


This port city features colorful, elegant historic architecture, cobbled streets, great local cuisine, and beautiful, verdant parks.  Its harbor is historic too.  It was off the coast of famous Fort Sumter that the very first shots of America’s terrible Civil War were actually fired in 1861.  See the 13 colorful 18-century buildings of Rainbow Row.  It’s arguably the most photographed landmark in the city.  See the fancy homes and plantations that go back prior to the Civil War and remind visitors of the city’s dark past. 

19.  St. Augustine, Florida


The Spanish established this place in 1565.  It’s America’s “oldest permanently-occupied European settlement.”  Built in 1888, the Spanish Renaissance Revival building known as the Alcazar Hotel is a major landmark here.  At present, it holds the Lightner Museum.  There’s also the old Spanish fort Castillo de San Marcos which dates back to the 1600s and marks the western shore of historic Matanzas Bay.  The fort has stood through numerous different attacks during battles between the British and the Spanish.  See the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse too.

20.  Salem, Massachusetts


Forever linked to witchcraft, this coastal city is chock full of torrid tales of seafaring and “sorcery.”  This little, rural Puritan town would become well-known for an infamous witchcraft trial in 1692.  A total of 19 individuals would eventually be hung on the city’s Gallows Hill.

One man would even be pressed to death. The trials’ judge, Jonathan Corwin, is forever remembered by his former residence, the Witch House, which is open to tourists.  You can also take “witch walks”, ghost tours, and see the 17th-century House of the Seven Gables.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here