Check out some of the USA’s historical spots in Boston, Philly and Williamsburg


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Don’t groan. Depending on where you are going this summer, you can effortlessly inject a little American history with the fun, even if the Independence Day celebrations are over.

AAA projects “50.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day weekend, setting a new record for the holiday. Domestic travel over the long weekend will increase by 2.1 million people compared to 2022.”

Let’s start in Boston where colonists were among the first to protest against British Rule, stoking the fires for the revolution to come. Look for the new life-size cow sculptures on display at Quincy Market as part of CowParade New England. The life-size cow sculptures, which will be located throughout the Boston area, have been designed by local artists to benefit the Dana Farber Institute’s work to combat cancer and to recognize the Jimmy Fund’s 75th anniversary. The city’s newest attraction, View Boston has opened with 365-degree views and interactive immersive exhibits showcasing the city’s neighborhoods and landmarks.

History Makers (costumed interpreters). Betsy Ross.
History Makers (costumed interpreters). Betsy Ross.

Certainly, no one will get bored in Boston. See the Red Sox play in historic Fenway Park; visit the world-class New England Aquarium where you are guaranteed to see whales on one of their whale watch tours, ride the swan boats in the Public Garden, adjacent to Boston Common, check out one of the many museums, including the Boston Children’s Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.

Yes, here’s the first history lesson – an interactive experience with live actors and a replica of the 18th-century sailing vessel. Ready to throw some “tea,” overboard? The 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, by the way, is coming up this December. On Dec. 16, 1773, the Sons of Liberty, some dressed as Native Americans, famously threw chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxes imposed on them by Britain when they had no representation in British parliament.

Take a walk on the Freedom Trail, the 2.5-mile-long route which will take you by Old South Meeting House where the patriots met and debated, the Granary Burying Ground where patriots, including John Hancock, Paul Revere and Sam Adams are buried. Stop in at Faneuil Hall for lunch — or a souvenir. It’s home to dozens of local shops and restaurants and there are often street performers outside. Check out the grasshopper weather vane. During the Revolutionary War, people would ask suspected spies to identify the object on the vane. If they couldn’t answer, they were thought to be spies. (13 of the 16 sites along the Freedom Trail are free. The tours are offered Free Tours by Foot.)

Boston Public Garden
Boston Public Garden

Britain responded with more acts that ended self-government in Massachusetts. Protests continued up and down the 13 colonies and the convening of the first and then the second Continental Congress.

Welcome to Philadelphia where the Continental Congress delegates debated some more and where they established the Continental Army and elected George Washington as the first commander! This is where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, where The U.S. constitution was written and signed, where Betsy Ross created the first American flag and where you can see the Liberty Bell, as famous for its big crack as it is as a symbol of American independence.

Visit Independence Visitor Center where kids can take the Junior Ranger Challenge See where the delegates argued and ultimately signed the Declaration of Independence, and later, the US Constitution in Independence Hall. Next July, for five days, rising tenth-graders from all 50 states will gather for the Young People’s Continental Congress, thanks to a partnership between Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia and the America250 Foundation, to mark the 250th anniversary of the First Continental Congress, when 56 colonial delegates convened at Carpenters’ Hall to discuss their grievances with Great Britain and solidify a united American identity.

Colonial Williamsburg Millinery Store at dusk.
Colonial Williamsburg Millinery Store at dusk.

Feel what it would have been like to be in the Continental Army at the Museum of the American Revolution and discover the important role women, Blacks, and Native Americans played in the war effort. Kids love Revolution Place where they can explore 18th-century Philadelphia through hands-on activities.

Visit the National Constitution Center where you can walk amid the 42 life-size bronze statues of those who signed the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

See what traits you share with Benjamin Franklin at the Benjamin Franklin Museum (check out his invention, a virtual glass harmonica). Visit Betsy Ross House and learn what life was like in 18th-century Philadelphia. Ross was a widow who was struggling to keep her upholstery business going when George Washington and his colleagues asked her to make a flag. Until then, each of the colonies had their own.

Look for the costumed History Makers as they bring some of the city’s 18th- and 19th-century citizens to life in Independence Center and throughout Independence National Historical Park. Historic Philadelphia includes the Betsy Ross House, Franklin Square, the big park complete with the Parx Liberty Carousel and historic fountain with evening water show and the History Makers.

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

If you want to time travel back before the American Revolution, there’s Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, the 18th-century capital of Williamsburg with more than 600 restored or reconstructed buildings, museums spread across 300 acres, and interactive programs.

Participate in a colonial court, debate politics at a coffeehouse, see what life was like for enslaved people with calls for freedom all around them, learn about various trades from milliner to printer to farmer and carpenter.

At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, also part of Virginia’s Historic Triangle, you can visit a Continental Army Encampment (take part in a militia drill!) and explore through interactive exhibits the challenges and choices facing early Americans – women, patriots and loyalists, enslaved and free Black Americans.

Whose side would you have been on?

(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2023 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.