But which ones do you absolutely need to check out while sightseeing? If you have an interest in American history but aren't quite sure where to go, scope the list; it's got all the essential early American sites for you, the ultimate primer for everything from the pilgrims to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
A settlement erected in 1607 by the English. Jamestown, VA is the place where John Smith and Pocahontas met and had their historic romance. It's also the origin of slavery in the colonies, and the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. So, lots of misery and death. But it's really old!
#150 on America's Coolest Citiessee more on Jamestown
Boston Freedom Trail
A two-and-a-half-mile route through downtown Boston that covers 16 sites important to the history of the United States. Points of interest include the Massachusetts State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, and Paul Revere's House. You also get to visit the ground where the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought. And it's Boston, so everyone's probably drunk.
A living history museum in a district of Williamsburg, VA. The area features an interpretation of the original colonial city with centuries-old buildings. It has actors in authentic costumes and many exhibits, to give tourists an idea what life was like in the colonies. Just go to Virginia, already.
#67 on AAA Vacation Destinationssee more on Williamsburg
The reported site where the Mayflower pilgrims made landfall in America. A ten ton rock on the shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts, of which only four tons are above ground. It may not be quite as epic as a battlefield, but it's an iconic American symbol nonetheless, and is visited by more than a million people every year.
Also Rankedsee more on Plymouth Rock
The site of a major early victory in the Revolutionary War, which gave the Continental Army an important supply of artillery. Perched on a hilltop in upstate New York, the fort offers gorgeous views of Lake Champlain and Vermont.
In 1781, it was abandoned by the military and fell into disrepair. It has since been restored and acts as a tourist attraction, and hosts an annual haunted Halloween, featuring massive bonfires and creepy things moving in the depths of the ancient building. see more on Fort Ticonderoga
The New Amsterdam Trail
If you're curious what New York City was like before it became a modern metropolis, there's a tour that takes you through parts of the original city, when it was a Dutch settlement called New Amsterdam. Starting at Castle Clinton and ending with Federal Hall, the trail gives you a complete excursion around the original settlement. You can take the tour with a ranger, or download it as an audio file and take it by yourself.
Roanoke, VA, is the site of a very early attempt (1590s) by the English to establish a settlement in the New World. However, during the Anglo-Spanish War the colonists disappeared, which gave the town the name "The Lost Colony." It has since become a thriving American town.
#112 on America's Coolest Citiessee more on Roanoke
Fort Necessity National Battlefield
The site of an early battle in the French and Indian War, in Farmington, PA. Starting in 1754, this conflict was the breaking point of tensions between the British, French, and Native Americans. The battle ended with a British force led by George Washington surrendering to the French army. The fort was burned by the French, but has been reconstructed to honor the National Battlefield Site. see more on Fort Necessity National Battlefield