My United States Historical Attractions Bucket List
As the conclusion to my three part series on my United States bucket lists (click here and here to access them), here are the five historical attractions in the United States I want to visit the most.
While all of my ancestors were immigrants to the United States, I’ve always been fascinated by the immigration experiences of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, since that’s when my paternal great-grandparents immigrated to America. When I was a teenager I visited Ellis Island (although I would love to visit again now that I’m older and also own a digital camera) and I’d love to visit its West Coast equivalent, Angel Island, which is an island in San Francisco Bay and was once the gateway to America for millions of Asian immigrants. Just as with Ellis Island, Angel Island wasn’t always a place of happiness. Numerous immigrants were detained, some returned back to where they came from, some even died. But visiting there is an integral part of understanding America’s past with its Asian immigrant population.
Natchez On-Top-Of-The-Hill Historic District
While the state of Mississippi as a whole doesn’t entice me in the same way that visiting Maine does, for years I have wanted to visit the city of Natchez’s historic district, specifically the On-Top-Of-The-Hill area. This is home to countless historic buildings including many antebellum homes like Magnolia Hall and Rosalie. From the pictures I’ve seen and what I’ve read, On-Top-Of-The-Hill historic district sounds like it would be very similar to Charleston in terms of feeling like you’ve stepped back into the past. Ideally, when I return to New Orleans, I’d love to visit Natchez since they’re only about three hours apart.
Kalaupapa National Historic Park
On my trip to Oahu, I seriously looked into going to the island of Molokai for the day, specifically the Kalaupapa National Historic Park which was once home to the infamous leprosy settlement. Unfortunately for me, my trip to Hawaii coincided perfectly with the federal government shutdown of 2013 in which all National Park sites were closed. Ever since I read the novel Moloka’i by Alan Brennert and then the non-fiction work The Colony by John Tayman, I’ve been obsessed with visiting. I would like to pay my respects to the 8500 residents who were essentially imprisoned there from the period between 1866 and 1969, many of whom in the beginning were brought there to die since there were no adequate facilities or supplies of any kind. This is an incredibly dark period in American history but one that very much needs telling, now and always.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
I love anything having to do with the Hispanic culture and think it would be incredible to visit any number of the Spanish missions in California that date back to when this was the New Spain province of Alta California. Mission San Juan Capistrano is considered to be the loveliest of the ruins and is located in present day Orange County in southern California. It was founded by Catholic priests of the Franciscan order in 1776 as a means of bringing Christianity (and converting) the area’s indigenous peoples. It’s one of California’s most popular attractions and famed silent film actress Mary Pickford even renewed her vows at the mission’s Sera Chapel in 1915.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
I’ve wanted to visit here ever since I was in middle school and first read the young adult book In My Father’s House by Ann Rinaldi. Even though it’s a small village in rural southwestern Virginia, I still want to see the place where America’s only civil war came to an end after four horrific years of fighting. I still find it incredible that for the McLean family, the Civil War started on their front lawn in Northern Virginia during the first Battle of Bull Run (when their home was destroyed), and ended in their parlor when Southern General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Northern General Ulysses S. Grant, especially since the McLean family patriarch brought his family to Appomattox Courthouse since he never thought the armies would “follow” him there. Talk about bad luck. Although it’s a bit of a drive (just over six hours), one of these days I’m just going to do it since we’re not talking $1000 airfare or major jet lag either.
What historical attractions in the United States are on your bucket list?