Posted by: Karen Fowler
When school lets out for the summer, lots of families want to go on vacation, but they can have trouble deciding exactly where to go. Beaches and theme parks are fun, but they can be hot and can cost a lot of money. However, if you live in America, you have a huge selection of fun places to go - there are 108 national monuments in the country, and each one is surrounded by history, nature, and a road-trip adventure. Ten of the most popular monuments are listed below. Give them a look; one might be near enough to your house that you and your family can easily go visit!
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty stands in the middle of New York Harbor, but did you know it was actually built in France? The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. It wasn't always blue-green, either. The statue is made of copper, and when it was first built, it had the same bright color that a penny does. But once the statue was set up in New York and left out in the rain, the copper started to rust into the blue-green color that it is today.
  • Lady Liberty - This ThinkQuest website was made by kids like you! You can learn more about the symbolism that went into the Statue of Liberty's design and take a fun quiz at the end of your visit to see what you've learned.
  • Statue of Liberty in a Nutshell - If you only have a few minutes to learn about the Statue of Liberty, check out this fun animated history report from WatchKnowLearn.org.
  • New York Harbor Coloring Page - Straight from Ellis Island, here's a coloring page that, while fun to do, will also help you understand why the Statue of Liberty was placed in New York.
  • Statues and Memorials: The Statue of Liberty - If you'd like to learn more about the Statue of Liberty, check out this page from Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government.
The White House
The White House in Washington, D.C. is where the President of the United States lives. President Obama lives there now, but the first president to ever use it was John Adams, one of the men who worked on the Declaration of Independence. You might think that a day in the White House would be boring, since a lot of political work gets done there. However, the White House has a secret bowling lane, movie theater, and swimming pool inside! Sadly, public visitors can't use them (only the President and his staff), but it's pretty cool that the president gets to go bowling in his own house.
  • White House Interactive Tour - By clicking on different rooms, you can see photos of the inside of the White House and learn what each room in it is for. Did you know there's a flower shop on the ground floor? It's to provide the White House with fresh flowers every day!
  • First Kids - It's not just the president who lives in the White House; his family does, too. Learn about the kids who have lived in the White House and what they did for fun with this page from the White House Historical Association.
  • Fun Facts to Know About the White House Residents - Did you know that Thomas Jefferson had a pet mockingbird? Find out more cool facts about the presidents on this page from Scholastic.
  • White House for Kids - Learn all about the White House including history, pets that have lived there, historic moments and more.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of those things that you have to see to believe. It's hard to picture a huge hole 277 miles long (the length of 4,457 football fields) until you're standing right beside it - and then, it's something you won't ever forget. But after you're done exploring the Grand Canyon and its National Park, there are plenty of other things to do. You can ride on a train around the canyon or earn a Junior Ranger badge by completing challenges when you visit the Grand Canyon National Park. You can learn all about the Native Tribes who have lived in and around the canyon, how to tell the age of layers of rock, and your parents will love all the historical buildings nearby. It's a great place for an adventure the whole family can enjoy!
  • Grand Canyon National Park - In this video from UNESCO, you'll learn (and see!) how the Grand Canyon became what it is today.
  • Drag-n-Drop Grand Canyon Puzzle - Ever wondered what the Grand Canyon looks like from way up in the air? You can find out in this puzzle from NASA. Just drag and drop the pieces to create a photo of the Grand Canyon.
  • Grand Canyon Brainteasers - How much do you really know about the Grand Canyon? Test your knowledge with this online, interactive game from National Geographic.
  • Grand Canyon Facts - A list of fun facts about the Grand canyon.
The Liberty Bell
In the song "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", there's a lyric that goes, "Let freedom ring." When most Americans hear those words, they think of the Liberty Bell, located in Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell was created in 1752 to call politicians to business meetings and to let the town of Philadelphia know when something important was going on. It doesn't ring anymore, but you can still see the massive bell on display at the Liberty Bell Center.
  • Independence Hall - Learn about the original home of the Liberty Bell with this page from the animated TV show "Liberty's Kids".
  • The Liberty Bell - The Liberty Bell has a huge crack in its side - but how did it get that way? Find out here with this article.
  • Interactive 3D Liberty Bell - It's always fun to see the Liberty Bell in person, but if you want a quick look now, you can play with this interactive online version of the Liberty Bell. Just click and drag your mouse in different directions to rotate the bell.
  • Liberty Bell Coloring Page (PDF) - How would the Liberty Bell look if it was green or purple? Create your own Liberty Bell with this coloring page!
Mount Rushmore
If you and your family are walking around Keystone, South Dakota, you may look up and see four faces carved into a mountain. These faces belong to four United States presidents, and the sculpture is known as Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore was built in 1927, and while it started as a way to get people to visit South Dakota, it has become a symbol of America. When you visit, you can learn about the history of America as well as the history of the Black Hills mountain region. Don't forget to bring a camera!
  • Mount Rushmore Student Guide (PDF) - Learn more about the construction of the monument and the history of Black Hills with this student guide from the National Park Service.
  • Dynamite Presidents - In this online game from the Library of Congress, you help sculptor Gutzon Borglum carve the presidents into the mountain!
  • Mt. Rushmore National Memorial - This video from the Travel Channel walks you through a bit of the history of Mount Rushmore, as well as what the visitor center is like.
  • South Dakota Interactive Map & Facts - It can be hard to picture where a place is without seeing what it looks like. Get a better idea of where Mount Rushmore is with this interactive map; Mount Rushmore is clearly marked, and you can click on it and other locations for more information.
The Alamo
Texas wasn't always a part of the United States - in 1836, it belonged to Mexico. The Alamo, located near San Antonio, was an old mission (similar to a church) that became the fortress and last battleground of a group of freedom fighters from Texas. The group, called Texians, wanted independence from Mexico. Mexico didn't like that, and so Mexican troops attacked the Alamo, where the Texians were. The Texians ultimately lost the battle, but the story of the Alamo encouraged more people to join in the revolution, and just a few months later, the new Texians defeated the Mexican army. The Alamo still stands, and you can walk right inside it and learn about the battle and the men who fought there.
  • Davy Crockett Biography - One of the most famous participants of the Battle of the Alamo was Davy Crockett. You can learn more about his life with this video from the Biography Channel.
  • Remember the Alamo! - The Battle of the Alamo can seem boring in a history class, but it truly is an exciting story. Read about it here, and learn more about this special moment in history.
  • The Alamo - A slideshow about the Alamo, including the story of the Alamo and the battle that took place.
  • The Alamo Battle - Interesting facts and information about the Alamo and the Battle at the Alamo.
Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls isn't just one waterfall. It's three, and they're all beautiful. You can find Niagara Falls right on the border between Canada and the United States (the United States side is in New York). Tourists usually visit the falls to take photographs, but the falls are useful as well as scenic. They actually provide a form of electricity called "hydroelectric power", which is used as energy for New York. When you visit, be sure to visit the tourist center to learn about the performers who have done things like tightrope-walk all the way across the falls - with no safety net!
  • Niagara Falls Facts - Want to know more about Niagara Falls? Check out this animated video from Mocomi Kids.
  • Niagara Falls Live Feed - If you'd like to see Niagara Falls right now, just click here. This is a live feed from EarthCam that shows the falls as they are; you may even see tourists walk by!
  • Niagara Falls Facts - Information on the location of Niagara Falls as well as some interesting facts.
  • Niagara Falls Daredevils - Read about some of the stunts that have been performed involving Niagara Falls.
The Lincoln Memorial
All United States Presidents do things while in office that they are later remembered for. However, there are some Presidents who do much more than sign in a new tax. Abraham Lincoln, the 6th President, is a good example. He worked to end slavery in the United States, and held the country together in a time of Civil War. As a way to remember his life and what he did, the Lincoln Memorial was built in 1914 in Washington, D.C. If you go visit, you'll be able to learn much more about Lincoln's life and his time as President.
  • Lincoln Memorial - Learn a bit about the Lincoln Memorial with this article right from the National Mall in Washington D.C.
  • The Life of Abraham Lincoln - When Lincoln was a young boy, he shot a turkey and felt so bad about it that he never hunted again. Find out more facts about this amazing man in an interactive slideshow put together by kids like you.
  • Abraham Lincoln Activity Book (PDF) - Color, solve riddles, and read stories to understand more about Abraham Lincoln, and why he was honored with a monument.
  • Bo's Day Out: Lincoln Memorial - Join Bo the dog as he takes a trip to visit the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall.
The Golden Gate Bridge
Way over in San Francisco, you and your family will be able to find the Golden Gate Bridge, stretching across 4,200 feet of water. The Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1933, and is one of the most photographed bridges in the world. It is a bright red color, and has enough room on it for six cars to drive side by side. It has come to be recognized as an American landmark because it symbolizes industry and, quite simply, because there is nothing else in the world like it.
  • Photos: Then and Now - Take a look at how the bridge has changed (or not changed) over time with these cool color photos of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Golden Gate Bridge Video - A video all about the Golden Gate Bridge and its completion.
  • Golden Gate Bridge Facts - A list of fun facts about the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • 5 Facts - The top 5 facts about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The Hoover Dam
Back in 1929, there was a huge money crisis for the United States. Lots of people were out of work, and had no way to earn money. President Hoover asked for a dam to be built to help supply work, and today, the Hoover Dam helps generate power for Nevada, Arizona, and California. Before the dam was built, flooding was a big problem around the Colorado River. The dam, which is a kind of special wall to hold back water, helped control flooding and even helped get water to nearby farms. You can take a tour inside the dam to learn more about its history and to see the unique decorations in the dedication plaza.
  • Hoover Dam Factoids for Kids - Did you know that if you drink water at Disneyland in California, that same water flowed over Hoover Dam? Find out more neat facts like this one in this article.
  • Hoover Dam - This video from Disney Family gives you a view of Hoover Dam as if you were actually there.
  • Hoover Dam Hydroelectric Plant - The Hoover Dam generates a lot of energy; you can learn what goes on inside the plant in this field trip report from a fellow student.
  • Build Your Own Dam! - It's hard to appreciate something unless you've tried it yourself. So, before you visit Hoover Dam, why not try making your own? The instructions are all right here, courtesy of ZOOM from PBS.