Road trips are fun for the whole family. New places, faces and history are everywhere you go in the United States, and a road trip is a great learning experience for children interested in U.S. history. Of course, road trips commonly take you down unfamiliar paths, and you'll visit many states you've never visited before. Before you go, make sure you know all the rules of the road, as traffic laws vary from state to state. Once you're sure your trip won't be slowed down by costly traffic citations, it's time to hit the road. Here are the best historical road trips for you and the family.
Civil Rights Road Trip
Back in the 1950s and 1960s the deep south was a potentially dangerous area. However, nowadays, few places in the United States hold so much historical interest. The Civil Rights movement started in the deep south and quickly spread, but the South is the home of this historical movement. On this trip visit Montgomery, Alabama, where Rosa Parks sparked major protests when she was arrested and fined for refusing to move from the front of a bus. Just north of Montgomery is Birmingham, which saw African-American students line the streets in one of the most segregated cities in the United States. After your trip there, head Northwest to Oxford Mississippi. The University of Mississippi was just one of many southern universities that denied African Americans admittance. However, in 1962, when James Meredith was denied admittance based on his race, he sued the school and the court ruled in his favor. Last, visit Memphis, Tennessee, and the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
While the likes of segregation and the denial of human rights to a large minority of the population remains as a stain upon American history, it's important for parents to teach tolerance. And this road trip can complement such teachings easily.
Historic Route 1
This route hugs the East Coast and was established in 1926. It is the oldest highway on the east coast and stretches 2,450 miles--from Maine to Florida. Visit New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. Along the way stop at FBI headquarters and Okefenokee Swamp for some natural history. The East Coast is full of small towns, each with their own history.
Start in Sacramento, California. Here you can visit Sutter's Fort, where gold was first discovered to spark the gold rush. The California State Railroad Museum also calls Sacramento its home. Head up to the Sierras and Donner Memorial State Park, which gives you and the family a taste of the wilderness the settlers dealt with as they migrated.
In Kansas you can start your road trip and visit a collection of Civil War cites, right along the Missouri-Kansas boarder. Crucial deals were made, like the Louisiana Purchase. Battles were also fought, which you can see reenactments of. This short road trip shows how the United States remade itself during the Civil War.
If you haven't already, take your kids to the Grand Canyon and Moab for some natural history. From the Grand Canyon visit the Vermilion Cliffs, and then head east to the Navajo National Monument. As you drive north you'll pass many state parks like Edge of the Cedars and finally the sand flats. While this isn't typical American history, many Native American tribes once flourished on these lands.