If you’re planning a summer road trip, you may want to see some iconic American landmarks along the way. From Bunker Hill in Boston to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, there are countless monuments to U.S. history that will add value to your vacation.
Check out these 10 American monuments you won’t want to miss on your summer road trip:
1. Bunker Hill Monument, Massachusetts
The Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the spot of one of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. Fought on June 17, 1775, the battle was fought over control of the Charlestown peninsula; 450 colonists were killed or wounded, versus 1,150 for the British.
The main visual in the Bunker Hill Monument is a giant granite obelisk, which was constructed between 1825 and 1843. However, a $3.7 million renovation in 2007 added a museum across the way, as well as handicap accessibility and other improvements.
2. Statue of Liberty, New York
The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the U.S. by the people of France in 1886. Made of copper, the statue was designed after Libertas, the Roman liberty goddess. She holds a torch high above her head, and walks forward out of broken shackles and chains; the date July 4, 1776, is inscribed on a tablet in her left hand. Since her dedication, she has become a beacon of freedom for both the American people and immigrants who come to fulfill the American dream.
3. Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
This national park marks the place where the historic Battle of Gettysburg happened during the American Civil War. In July 1863, Union General George Meade defeated Confederate forces in what became the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It is described as the war’s turning point, as it gave the Union the momentum it needed to emerge victorious.
Gettysburg National Military Park is drivable, and you can purchase CDs or audio to take you through the battle and everything that led up to it. You’ll see the battlefield, support areas, and the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where you can pay your respects to those who fought and died. Take a look at the different ways you can tour Gettysburg here.
4. Liberty Bell, Philadelphia
The Liberty Bell, made in 1752, resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — the country’s original capital. Although the bell never sounded on America’s independence day, as was falsely believed by many, it was one of the bells rung when the Declaration of Independence was read on July 8, 1776. It is said to have received its iconic crack during the 19th century; perhaps after the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835.
5. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial certainly isn’t the only memorial for Vietnam Vets. However, it is the most famous. It’s known for its “wall of names,” which pays tribute to many of the American soldiers who died in Vietnam. The memorial is also marked by a statue called “The Three Soldiers” and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, dedicated to the nurses who served in the war.
6. United States Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington
Also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, this statue is one of the most recognized images in U.S. history. It depicts six Marines fighting to raise the American flag atop Mount Suribachi, to signal victory in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The memorial was first unveiled in 1954, and is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States.
7. Gateway Arch, St. Louis
Although it’s not military related, the Gateway Arch is a work of American art. It’s the tallest arch in the world, at 630 feet, and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. It was built in 1963 to commemorate the westward expansion of the U.S., and is officially dedicated to the American people. Many see it as the symbol of St. Louis.
8. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is famous for its sheer genius. The monument consists of four presidential faces that have literally been carved into stone; each peering out from the side of a mountain. It took 14 years to be completed, with construction starting in 1927 and lasting until 1941.
The presidents chosen — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln — were meant to symbolize America’s birth, growth, development, and preservation.
9. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
This monument preserves another battle site, the Battle of the Little Bighorn. This battle is more commonly known as Custer’s Last Stand, and is a powerful testament to the strength of Native Americans.
The Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes came together in June 1876 against the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment. It wasn’t often that Native American tribes worked together, but it was necessary to defend against the U.S. government, which was attempting to seize their land. Tribe leaders Crazy Horse and Chief Gall led their people to overwhelming victory.
10. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge — built from 1933-37 — is not only a symbol of San Francisco, but a symbol of America itself. It’s described by the Frommer’s travel guide as the most photographed bridge in the world; and also one of the most beautiful. The Golden Gate Bridge has also been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World. If you’re passing through the Bay Area, it’s a must-see.