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Most popular historic sites in America

  • 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. We can visit some locations to pay our respects to painful pasts, and others to celebrate American icons and pioneers.

    Using data from the National Park Service’s Annual Park Ranking Report for Recreational Visits, 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 2019, with data released March 2, 2020.

    America is home to nearly 90 National Historic Sites, stemming from the Historic Sites Act of 1935. Just two years later, the first one was created with the Salem Maritime NHS. In 1966, all NHSs automatically joined the National Register of Historic Places. Today, famous American sites on this list abound from the East Coast to the West Coast, and even to Puerto Rico.

    How many of these most popular sites have you visited or planned to visit? From an important military outpost from the 1800s to colonial-era sites in the Caribbean, something on this wide-ranging list is sure to spark some educational inspiration, a memory, or an upcoming road trip. Read on to see the 50 most popular historic sites in the country. 

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  • #50. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

    - Recreational visits in 2019: 25,043 (6.12% decrease from 2018)
    - Share of total historic site visits: 0.28%
    - Recreational visits in 2018: 26,676 (Rank: #49)

    Commemorating the birth of the cattle industry in the Western United States, Grant-Kohrs is still a working cattle ranch by the National Park Service. Outside Deer Lodge, Montana, the NPS uses draft horses and other period implements to work cattle as it was done in the 19th century.

  • #49. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

    - Recreational visits in 2019: 25,978 (12.19% increase from 2018)
    - Share of total historic site visits: 0.29%
    - Recreational visits in 2018: 23,155 (Rank: #54)

    Located in New York City’s Flatiron District, this three-story brownstone is the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s birth in 1858 and served as his family’s home until 1872, when they moved uptown. In 1916 the original house was demolished, so the current site is a recreation spearheaded by the Theodore Roosevelt Association, which repurchased the home in 1919. The brownstone joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and today is a museum.

  • #48. Fort Larned National Historic Site

    - Recreational visits in 2019: 26,958 (7.59% decrease from 2018)
    - Share of total historic site visits: 0.3%
    - Recreational visits in 2018: 29,173 (Rank: #46)

    In Kansas, Fort Larned commemorates the Santa Fe Trail between Sante Fe, New Mexico, and Independence, Missouri. The fort protected 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.

  • #47. Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

    - Recreational visits in 2019: 26,994 (1.87% decrease from 2018)
    - Share of total historic site visits: 0.31%
    - Recreational visits in 2018: 27,508 (Rank: #47)

    Originally built as a military outpost during tensions with British Canada, the Ansley Wilcox House became a private residence after five years in military service. It's on the historic register, though, not for its military importance but because it served as the site of Theodore Roosevelt's inauguration following President William McKinley's assassination.

  • #46. Hampton National Historic Site

    - Recreational visits in 2019: 28,234 (4.66% decrease from 2018)
    - Share of total historic site visits: 0.32%
    - Recreational visits in 2018: 29,615 (Rank: #45)

    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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  • #45. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

    - Recreational visits in 2019: 30,097 (12.18% increase from 2018)
    - Share of total historic site visits: 0.34%
    - Recreational visits in 2018: 26,829 (Rank: #48)

    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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    • #44. Harry S Truman National Historic Site

      - Recreational visits in 2019: 30,746 (6.48% decrease from 2018)
      - Share of total historic site visits: 0.35%
      - Recreational visits in 2018: 32,878 (Rank: #43)

      Comprising three different sites in Kansas City, Missouri, Truman's childhood home and farm are the centerpiece locations. The National Park Service now oversees the sites since their inclusion to the historic register on May 23, 1983.

    • #43. William Howard Taft National Historic Site

      - Recreational visits in 2019: 32,396 (7.26% increase from 2018)
      - Share of total historic site visits: 0.37%
      - Recreational visits in 2018: 30,202 (Rank: #44)

      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.

    • #42. Friendship Hill National Historic Site

      - Recreational visits in 2019: 34,159 (18.04% decrease from 2018)
      - Share of total historic site visits: 0.39%
      - Recreational visits in 2018: 41,678 (Rank: #36)

      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.

    • #41. Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

      - Recreational visits in 2019: 35,495 (3.32% increase from 2018)
      - Share of total historic site visits: 0.4%
      - Recreational visits in 2018: 34,354 (Rank: #42)

      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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