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Most popular historic sites in America

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    Most popular historic sites in America

    Compared to most countries, the United States is a relatively young nation. Still, America's history is rich, and thanks to the foresight of its leaders, that history has been preserved for both current and future generations. From the Underground Railroad to presidential porches—historical sites offer visitors a new experience and a social studies lesson all in one. At historic sites across the nation, tourists can enter into a different time, worldview, or social status with nothing more than a park pass.

    Using data from the National Parks Service, Stacker identified the most popular National Historic Sites (NHS) around the United States. These include museums, forts homes, and railways. The historical sites are ranked based on the number of recreational visits each saw during 2017.

    Have you visited America’s most popular sites? From an important military outpost from the 1800s to colonial-era sites in the Caribbean, read on to learn about America's most popular historic sites.

  • National Park Service Digital Image Archives // Wikicommons
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    #50. Fort Larned NHS

    Recreational visits in 2017: 29,188

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.28%

    Located in Kansas, Fort Larned commemorates the Sante Fe trail between Sante Fe, New Mexico and Independence, Missouri. The fort provided protection for travelers during the 1800s, a time of intense conflict with Native Americans in the area. By the mid-1800s, the fort became a popular trading post.  

  • National Park Service Digital Image Archives // Wikicommons
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    #49. John F. Kennedy National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 30,399

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.29%

    Visitors to the John F. Kennedy NHS can see the house in Brookline, Massachusetts where President Kennedy was born, touring the various rooms of the 35th president’s childhood home, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods.

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    #48. Hampton National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 32,327

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.31%

    The Hampton NHS was the largest home in existence in the late 1700s. The site now offers tours of the home belonging to the Ridgelys, an aristocratic family of slave owners in Maryland. Visitors can also see the family gardens plantation.  

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    #47. William Howard Taft National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 37,425

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.36%

    William Howard Taft NHS marks the house where the 27th president was born. The Southwest Ohio site has been restored to its 1857 appearance so visitors can enter the world where Taft grew up and gain an immersive insight into his eventual presidency.

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    #46. Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 37,556

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.36%

    This New Hampshire site commemorates Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a famous American sculptor from the mid- to late-1800s. The site features the artist’s home, studio, and gardens.

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    #45. Weir Farm National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 38,096

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.37%

    The Weir Farm NHS allows visitors a peek into the lives of painter J. Alden Weir and other artists who stayed at his Connecticut farm. Exhibits and tours at the site offer insight into Impressionist artwork and a glimpse into why Weir referred to his farm as the "Great Good Place."

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    #44. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 39,322

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.38%

    This Alabama historical site preserves the legacy of the African American pilots who served in World War II. Visitors can see the iconic “Red Tails” planes and learn about the airmen, as well as the women who served America at a time of war.

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    #43. Friendship Hill National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 39,377

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.38%

    Friendship Hill NHS is a look into the childhood life of American politician Albert Gallatin through the house where he grew up in Pennsylvania. Gallatin served in the Revolutionary Army, taught at Harvard University, and served as the Secretary of the Treasury for 13 years in the early 1800s.

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    #42. Harry S. Truman National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 45,435

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.44%

    Learn about the place where President Harry S. Truman grew up at this Missouri historical site. Visitors can tour the president’s childhood home, as well as the surrounding neighborhood, which was home to Harry’s cousins and his wife Bess’ brothers.

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    #41. Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 45,800

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.44%

    Hubbell Trading Post is the oldest operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The Arizona historical site sells basic traveling staples, as well as Native American art, just as it did during the late 1800s.

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    #40. John Muir National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 46,876

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.45%

    Located near San Francisco, the John Muir NHS commemorates the life of the environmental advocate. The site offers visitors a look into Muir’s home and the inspiration that helped him found the National Parks Service.

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    #39. Whitman Mission National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 47,757

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.46%

    The Whitman Mission NHS tells the story of the murder of the Whitman family in 1847 by a group of Native Americans. The Whitmans were missionaries known for helping establish the Oregon Trail, though many saw the murders as a protective measure against the spread of measles to the native people.

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    #38. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 49,306

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.48%

    Known as an “iron plantation,” the Hopewell Furnace NHS illustrates how mining and producing iron ore spurred the United States to economic prosperity. Visitors to this Pennsylvania site can see demonstrations and hike the surrounding area, which was originally farmland.

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    #37. Eisenhower National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 50,597

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.49%

    Step into the home of the 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, at this Pennsylvania site. The former American leader farmed just beside the Gettysburg battlefield and his rural farmhouse also became an important meeting location for world leaders throughout his presidency.

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    #36. Longfellow National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 51,606

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.5%

    Henry W. Longfellow was one of America’s leading poets in the 19th century, and the Longfellow NHS commemorates his life through his Massachusetts home. The poet wrote the famous piece "Paul Revere's Ride" at the site, and his home served as a headquarters for General George Washington during the British siege of Boston in 1775 and 1776.

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    #35. James A. Garfield National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 53,536

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.52%

    Stand on the iconic porch of President James A. Garfield at this Ohio site. Garfield’s porch is where he met with important leaders and voters during the presidential campaign that would launch him into fame as the 20th president of the United States. Visitors can tour Garfield’s home and learn more about life in the mid-1800s.

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    #34. Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 53,744

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.52%

    The South Carolina site, Charles Pinckney NHS, preserves the plantation owned by Charles Pinckney, a U.S. founding father and signer of the Constitution. Visitors to the farm can learn about the man, as well as the slaves he owned.

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    #33. Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 53,998

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.52%

    The Andrew Johnson NHS preserves multiple sites related to Andrew Johnson, the 17th U.S. president and the man who took over after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Visitors to the site in Tennessee can see Johnson’s home, tailor shop, and cemetery.

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    #32. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 55,186

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.53%

    Sagamore Hill NHS offers a glimpse into the life of President Theodore Roosevelt, who helped found the National Parks Service with John Muir. The 26th U.S. president lived at Sagamore Hill from 1885 to 1919. The building was known as his “Summer White House.”

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    #31. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 59,761

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.58%

    When Ulysses S. Grant married Julia Dent, he began staying at her family’s home, called White Haven. That house is now the Ulysses S. Grant NHS in Missouri, where visitors can visit the home and learn about the Civil War general, 18th U.S. president, and the lives of the slaves owned by the Dent family.

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    #30. Jimmy Carter National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 60,735

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.59%

    Located in rural Georgia, the Jimmy Carter NHS includes the 39th president’s childhood home, school, and presidential campaign office. Visitors get a glimpse into the life of the American leader and his humble beginnings as a peanut farmer.

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    #29. Fort Davis National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 60,910

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.59%

    Fort Davis was an important military post from the 1850s to the early 1900s for protecting the San Antonio-El Paso road. The fort launched military missions against Native Americans and protected settlers traveling throughout the Southwest. Today, visitors can see re-enactments and tour the site at night by lantern.

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    #28. Fort Laramie National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 61,513

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.59%

    Fort Laramie offered protection and a chance to trade for travelers moving across the American West. The fort in Wyoming was originally built in 1834 as a respite for fur traders but eventually evolved into a military outpost.  

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    #27. Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 67,621

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.65%

    Celebrate the life of early feminist icon Eleanor Roosevelt at her historical site in New York. Visitors can learn about the first lady’s advocacy for local farmers and artisans, as well as tour the grounds where the Roosevelts would escape the bustle of the city.

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    #26. Golden Spike National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 67,811

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.65%

    Golden Spike NHS in Utah marks the site where the Union and Central Pacific Railroads met in 1869, thereby connecting the Transcontinental Railroad. Visitors can tour historical trains, watch re-enactments and learn about the impact of the railroad on America’s history.

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    #25. Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 72,777

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.7%

    Step into the world of poet and author Carl Sandburg through a visit to his North Carolina home. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner is known for his biography of Abraham Lincoln and his talent as a folk singer.

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    #24. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 76,569

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.74%

    Learn about Frederick Douglass, the former slave and leading abolitionist during the 1800s, at this site in Washington D.C. Douglass was known for his advocacy and powerful writings, something visitors can learn about while touring his final home.

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    #23. Christiansted National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 96,779

    Percent of total historic site visits: 0.93%

    Located in the Virgin Islands, Christiansted NHS commemorates the former Danish capital and influence of European architecture and economics in the Caribbean. Visitors to the urban park can take in the 18th-century buildings, which include a fort and a steeple.

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    #22. Steamtown National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 103,956

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1%

    Learn the history and impact of the railway in this Pennsylvania historical site. The area includes more than 60 acres that were formerly the railroad yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Visitors can travel along the iconic tracks in a historically accurate train.

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    #21. Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 108,716

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.05%

    Walk the most influential street in America, along Pennsylvania Avenue, and learn about the history of American politics. The Washington D.C. street has been the parade path of presidents and features the White House, Ford’s Theatre, and the U.S. Treasury Building.

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    #20. Ninety Six National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 113,103

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.09%

    Step into 18th century South Carolina at Ninety Six NHS. The site offers histories related to the forming of the United States, the battles between settlers and Native Americans, and the role of trading posts in settler life.

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    #19. Manzanar National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 114,461

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.11%

    Manzanar NHS is one of ten locations in the United States where Japanese Americans were interned by the U.S. government during World War II. Visitors to the California site can tour the barracks where some of the 110,000 people were detained.

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    #18. Andersonville National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 132,149

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.28%

    The Camp Sumter military prison housed some 45,000 Union prisoners during the Civil War. The Confederate prison, named after the nearby city, is now a memorial to all American prisoners of war.

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    #17. Fort Smith National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 141,914

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.37%

    Fort Smith, located in Arkansas, tells the story of the Native American Trail of Tears, U.S. policy toward Native Americans, and the role of U.S. Marshals in chasing outlaws in the 1800s. Visitors can tour museums, courthouses, and local jails.

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    #16. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 143,715

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.39%

    Commemorating the Cold War, Minuteman Missile NHS offers visitors a history of the U.S. nuclear missile program and their hidden location in the Great Plains. The site details U.S. foreign policy and its push for nuclear disarmament.

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    #15. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 144,619

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.4%

    Herbert Hoover NHS features the two-room cottage where America’s 31st president was raised. The historical site in Iowa tells the story of how a small town boy rose to win the highest elected position in the country.

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    #14. Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 147,259

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.42%

    Located in Hawaii, Pu'ukohola Heiau NHS contains the history of Kamehameha I, the Hawaiian king who built a kingdom from nothing in the late 18th century. Visitors can tour the ruins of an ancient temple.

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    #13. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 170,413

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.65%

    The Little Rock Central High School NHS is a step into the history of U.S. school desegregation in the 1950s. Visitors can learn about the history of Brown v. Board of Education and the story of the nine African-American students who enrolled at Arkansas’ all-white Central High School.

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    #12. Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 185,743

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.79%

    See the place where Franklin D. Roosevelt was born and buried in Hyde Park, New York at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt NHS. The home is also the location of the first presidential library.

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    #11. Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 201,837

    Percent of total historic site visits: 1.95%

    Tour the site of the first railroad through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Visitors to the Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS will learn the importance of the railroad connection between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as its impact on slaves, merchants, and soldiers.

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    #10. Lincoln Home National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 232,265

    Percent of total historic site visits: 2.24%

    Step into the place Abraham Lincoln called home before becoming the 16th U.S. president. The Illinois site tells the story of Lincoln—not just as a president but as a family man and local community leader.

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    #9. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 274,981

    Percent of total historic site visits: 2.65%

    Preserving the location of the very first English settlement in present-day America is Fort Raleigh, nestled into modern day Dare County, North Carolina. Upon visiting, tourists can learn of the traditions and cultures of the Native Americans, European Americans and African Americans who populated this early township.

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    #8. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 360,436

    Percent of total historic site visits: 3.48%

    The Vanderbilt Mansion is a symbol of a country in the grip of change after the Civil War. Visitors to the Vanderbilt Mansion NHS will learn about the architecture and landscaping of the grounds, as well as the influence of the Vanderbilt family.

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    #7. Salem Maritime National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 373,630

    Percent of total historic site visits: 3.61%

    A journey to Massachusetts to the Salem Maritime NHS provides visitors insight into the historic role of sea trade and travel in early America. The port there was a hub for new ideas, goods, and services to the budding country.

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    #6. Boston African American National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 413,151

    Percent of total historic site visits: 3.99%

    The Boston African American NHS is a chance for visitors to understand 19th century African American communities in Boston. The site preserves buildings and stories central to the Underground Railroad, Civil War, and abolition.

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    #5. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 584,435

    Percent of total historic site visits: 5.64%

    Walk the streets where Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up, preached, and organized at this Atlanta historical site. Visitors can tour King’s childhood home and historic church in a neighborhood preserved to reflect the world King inhabited as young man.

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    #4. Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 744,266

    Percent of total historic site visits: 7.19%

    Ford's Theatre NHS plunges visitors into the scene where America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated in 1865. Visitors can learn about the theatre, Lincoln’s life, and the assassin’s motivation behind the murder.

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    #3. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 1,081,489

    Percent of total historic site visits: 10.44%

    Fort Vancouver NHS includes four sites central to life in the Pacific Northwest. These sites include army barracks, a fur trading post, an air travel museum, and the home of the doctor who helped form the state of Oregon.

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    #2. San Juan National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 1,188,780

    Percent of total historic site visits: 11.48%

    Learn the importance of Puerto Rico for colonization and global trade at the San Juan NHS. Visitors will tour historic forts, ocean walkways, and colonial-era homes.

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    #1. Fort Point National Historic Site

    Recreational visits in 2017: 1,532,541

    Percent of total historic site visits: 14.8%

    Fort Point NHS marks the military outpost tasked with defending California’s coast from foreign invaders. The fort was in service from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s and today overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge.

     

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