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3 great American cities for history buffs and patriotic travelers this summer

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Memorial Day weekend is generally considered the unofficial kickoff of the summer season, which means backyard barbecues, baseball games, beach trips and road trips to capture the patriotism of our great nation — as well as time to honor and remember those who gave their lives for our country. 

Summer offers a unique opportunity to travel with children or grandchildren and introduce them to important history lessons across the U.S. 

If you’re a history buff or want to share significant adventures with your family or friends, three American cities offer a blend of historic sites, museums and American tributes and national treasures.

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Leslie Carbone, a travel blogger at Sancerres at Sunset and based in Virginia, said that Colonial Williamsburg — the first location listed below — “is the world’s largest living history museum. It’s a place everyone who loves America should visit at least once,” she told Fox News Digital.

These three locations can foster learning opportunities and leisurely history lessons — and create memories for a lifetime. Read on for more details. 

1. Williamsburg, Virginia 

When you plan a visit to Williamsburg, you learn about the history of America, plus you’re surrounded by it.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit, said Carbone. “The weather is pleasant, the gardens are blooming, and the crowds are still manageable,” the travel blogger said. 

Williamsburg was the first planned city in America, founded in 1699 as the capital of the Virginia Colony. Today, you can explore the streets of a living history museum portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg. 

Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg, VA

The historic Governor’s Palace is shown at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. (iStock)

While there, you can discover historic reenactments, archeological digs, historical taverns and enriching museums. 

Also, carve out time to stroll through the iconic shops of the noteworthy Merchants Square — and venture beyond Colonial Williamsburg to the enjoyable Williamsburg Tasting Trail, where you can enjoy standout craft beers, local wines and meads, plus distilled spirits.

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After a day of history lessons, settle in at the Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection — which offers southern elegance and the furnishings of colonial times. 

While you step back in time during your travels, some culinary spots to try include Traditions in the Williamsburg Lodge or the city’s famous Cheese Shop. 

The Secrets and Untold Stories of Williamsburg Tour tells the true story of Americans that helped found our country.

For a history-centric dinner experience, consider Kings Arm Tavern, a “refined chophouse experience,” as its website notes. 

Also, take a tour of the historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, organized by Baptists in 1781 under Rev. Gowan Pamphlet, an enslaved man in Williamsburg.  

Another can’t miss is the Secrets and Untold Stories of Williamsburg Tour, the true story of Americans that helped found our country.

2. St. Augustine, Florida 

As the oldest city in the United States, this coastal location in northeastern Florida is a history lover’s pick.

The city boasts attractions such as military forts, castles, charming lighthouses, scenic nature trails and more. Be sure to visit museums, embark on scary ghost tours or participate in historical reenactments. 

Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine

Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, Florida, which “is a thriving and multigenerational congregation … committed to Christian unity amid diversity,” its website says.  (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

For history buffs, stop by Castillo de San Marcos, a fortress constructed by the Spanish between 1672 and 1695. 

It’s the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, according to Visit Florida.

Then, meander through St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, an iconic lighthouse built in 1874 overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

You’ll learn about maritime heritage and the lives of the region’s lighthouse keepers. 

Here, you’ll learn about maritime heritage and the lives of the region’s lighthouse keepers. You can even ascend to the top and capture breathtaking views. 

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Tim Schmidt, a Florida-based travel expert and author, told Fox News Digital that St. Augustine is a hidden destination for history lovers. 

“I live in South Florida, so I’m lucky enough to have visited this incredible city many times. There’s nowhere else in the U.S. that makes you feel like you’ve stepped right into the past quite like St. Augustine,” said Schmidt, who runs AllWorld.com

“There’s nowhere else in the U.S. that makes you feel like you’ve stepped right into the past quite like St. Augustine.”

Schmidt said he discovers new things each time he visits. 

“Every time I wander through the pedestrian-friendly historic district, with buildings dating back to the 1700s, I’m blown away by the sense that I’ve been transported back in time. You don’t just read about history here — you can reach out and touch it.” 

Bridge of Lions

The regal Bridge of Lions crosses Matanzas Bay from downtown St. Augustine. The town is filled with many historic buildings as the first settlement in the U.S. by Spaniards on the Florida coast. (Nik Wheeler/Corbis via Getty Images)

Be sure to plan time for the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, considered the oldest Catholic parish in the United States, per Visit Florida. 

To get your steps in, stroll down St. George Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district, featuring shops and restaurants. 

For folklore beyond history, visit the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, which — according to legend — Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León discovered the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine in 1513. 

St. Augustine, Florida

An aerial view of historic St. Augustine, Florida. “You don’t just read about history here — you can reach out and touch it.”  (iStock)

For an enjoyable dining experience, try the Raintree Restaurant, Salt Life Food Shack or St. Augustine Seafood Company. 

When making travel plans, Rodeway Stay Inn is conveniently located within walking distance of some of St. Augustine’s renowned historical landmarks.

3. Independence, Missouri  

This midwestern destination is best known for being the home of President Harry S. Truman

While in town, pay a visit to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, which takes an in-depth look at his life and legacy. 

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) served as 33rd president of the United States.  (MPI/Getty Images)

Recently renovated in 2020, the site is also on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, as Truman desegregated the United States military, according to the Missouri Tourism Office.

In addition, the city of Independence curated a Truman Historic Walking Trail to showcase locations and landmarks significant to the president. 

Independence was a starting point for thousands of American pioneers as they headed west on the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails. 

“Independence is a great vacation destination for history buffs,” said Katie Blake, spokesperson with Missouri’s Division of Tourism. “It was hugely important to American pioneers and President Harry S. Truman once considered it the ‘center of the world.’ Its rich history is still evident today in its fascinating museums and landmarks.”

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Another site worth visiting is the Vaile Mansion, built in 1881. It was once known as “the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west,” according to the Kansas City Times in 1882. 

Independence, Missouri

Independence, Missouri, on June 16, 2023. Afternoon sunlight shines on the historic core of downtown Independence. (iStock)

Independence is also known as the “Queen City of the Trails” because it was a starting point for thousands of American pioneers as they headed west on the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe trails. 

Visitors to Independence can learn about this part of the city’s history at National Frontier Trails Museum and Pioneer Trails Adventures, a guided tour on a mule-drawn covered wagon.

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Another point of interest is the Englewood Station Arts District, with charming shops, art galleries, restaurants and more. 

A few restaurants to consider are Vivilore, featuring American cuisine using locally sourced ingredients; Gates BBQ, a famous barbecue spot in Kansas City that has expanded into Independence; and Courthouse Exchange, a historic pub.

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Two lodging options for an Independence getaway are the Stoney Creek Hotel and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Independence. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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