Historical family vacations are a great way to blend education and pastime with the thrill of experiencing a new place. With more alternative accommodations available today than ever before, you don’t need to break the bank on a five-star hotel in America’s most charming colonial cities—thanks to TripAdvisor Rentals.
TripAdvisor identified nine of America’s most historically prominent vacation spots and pulled their average vacation rental review scores—the review rating that past TripAdvisor Rentals’ guests have given for their stay at a property in that location. Plus, for some destinations, we’ve compared the average cost of a rental to a hotel in that area. (Weekly rates as of May 2015.)
From the capital state and the heart of independence to the country’s first national park, a family trip to these affordable destinations will teach and inspire. Not only do these history-rich hotspots receive high praise for their rentals, but your family will save a boatload of money, too. Now that’s a decision our forefathers would be proud of.
And once you decide on a destination, you can book all your tours, activities, and attractions right on TripAdvisor, too. Plus, our new 24-hour cancellation policy (on experiences) means you can pre-book before arriving, but still have the flexibility to cancel if your itinerary changes.
Historical Prominence: The Battle of Gettysburg, said to be the turning point of the American Civil War, took place here. President Abraham Lincoln also delivered his famous speech, The Gettysburg Address, on the grounds that have since been established as the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Embrace the charm and historical impact of this Pennsylvania town with a guided city tour, where you’ll learn about Lincoln, Eisenhower and the first US-born Saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. Explore the numerous museums dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg, and don’t miss the incredible reenactments.
Beyond the battlefield lies Adams County, a countryside filled with wineries, farms, outdoor recreational activities and beautiful terrain.
If you’re not easily spooked, take a ghost tour around town and see the historical homes that have been featured on many popular paranormal television series.
Historical Prominence: Home of Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the Civil War was fired.
Charleston is known as home to some of the most historically significant architecture in all the US. Notably slow to recover from the devastation of the war, Charleston was left with minimal capital, forced to repair the existing damaged buildings instead of replacing them with new ones. Little did they know this would eventually become the city’s greatest draw.
As you stroll down gas lamp-lit streets, past 19th century mansions-turned-museums and stunning antebellum architecture, you may feel you’ve traveled back in time.
Take a horse-and-buggy carriage tour and relive the heritage of this Lowcountry gem, or visit Fort Sumter to learn about the Civil War’s origins. Save money with a highly rated vacation rental over a hotel, so you can spend on family fun instead of accommodations.
Avg weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental: $1,453
Avg weekly rate for two rooms at a 3-star hotel: $3,821
Vacation rental savings: 62%
Historical Prominence: Both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed here in Independence Hall. Philadelphia was once the country’s capital before Washington, DC usurped its role.
Philadelphia is filled with family-friendly attractions like world-class restaurants, museums, sports arenas and historic sights. Benjamin Franklin’s fingerprints are all over the City of Brotherly Love, with his National Museum and The Franklin Institute both offering an educational and artistic experience for parents and children alike. And you’ll certainly want a photo op at the Liberty Bell, one of the most iconic symbols of America’s freedom.
Historical Prominence: The location of the famous 1836 Battle of The Alamo, which represented Texas’ ultimate fight for independence from Mexico. While 189 Texans perished in their defense – including famous frontiersmen Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie – the battle is still remembered as one of the most heroic struggles in American history.
A tour of The Alamo is a must for any family trip to San Antonio, where you’ll read about the courageous history of the monument, see artifacts from the soldiers, and have the chance to purchase the classic “Remember The Alamo” t-shirts from the gift shop. With San Antonio vacation rentals receiving a 4.62 satisfaction rating, you’ll save money without compromising comfort.
Avg weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental: $1,159
Avg weekly rate for two rooms at a 3-star hotel: $2,318
Vacation rental savings: 50%
Historical Prominence: America’s capital city, home to the Washington Monument, Capitol Building, White House, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall and a plethora of Smithsonian museums.
Bring your best walking shoes on a family trip to Washington, DC. With so many historical attractions, it’s tough to fit them all into one vacation. In addition to the aforementioned monuments, you’ll want to spend a day navigating the Tidal Basin, a scenic two-mile-long pond with beautiful cherry blossom trees and paddleboat adventures. Along the basin are three more visit-worthy memorials, dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr., respectively.
With a whopping 51% savings on a two-bed vacation rental over two hotel rooms, your trip to DC won’t cost an arm and a leg, either. And did we mention tours of the US Capitol Building and Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum are both free?!
Avg weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental: $1,832
Avg weekly rate for two rooms at a 3-star hotel: $3,736
Vacation rental savings: 51%
Historical Prominence: Walk along the Freedom Trail, navigating the same cobblestone streets as the puritans and revolutionaries, as you marvel at historic attractions like the Paul Revere House, Faneuil Hall and the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown.
Aside from Boston’s role in America’s independence, this wicked fun city abounds with family-friendly activities. Catch an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, a ball game in historic Fenway Park, gaze at the ships of the Boston Tea Party, or grab a pint at some of the country’s oldest pubs.
Many of the rental homes themselves are part of the city’s allure – with centuries-old brownstones lining the charming streets of Back Bay and brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill.
Boston is also known for many “firsts” in America. Such as the first public school, public library, public park, and the first subway system.
Avg weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental: $2,460
Avg weekly rate for two rooms at a 3-star hotel: $4,368
Vacation rental savings: 44%
Historical Prominence: Part of America’s “Historic Triangle,” along with nearby Jamestown and Yorktown. Williamsburg is home to the neighborhood of Colonial Williamsburg, often called the Disney theme park for history fanatics – specifically of the Revolutionary War.
Tread the same steps of our Founding Fathers as you experience interactive war exhibits, guided city tours and prominent museums and monuments. Colonial figures such as Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Smith and Pocahontas all receive their due. One TripAdvisor reviewer gushed about their experience staying in a Williamsburg vacation rental:
“It was so nice to have our group of nine people in the same house instead of separate hotel rooms. While we enjoyed visiting nearby attractions such as the Jamestown Settlement and Busch Gardens, our favorite vacation memories are of the Lightwood House. We had three children with us ranging in ages from two to twelve and they all loved the toys and games. They played in the yard and loved the balcony over the kitchen and secret passageway. The owners have beautifully decorated the home with lovely furniture and antiques. My twelve year old said that on a scale of one to 10, this house is a 12!”
Avg weekly rate for a two-bedroom vacation rental: $1,029
Avg weekly rate for two rooms at a 3-star hotel: $2,240
Vacation rental savings: 54%
Historical Prominence: Established as America’s first national park by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872.
Three-thousand-plus miles of mountains, canyons, geysers and waterfalls make up Yellowstone, one of the country’s most remarkable nature preserves. Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful – a renowned geyser with incredible eruptions – are all must-sees in this national park. You’ll be in awe of the unspoiled beauty of the land, which is home to roaming wildlife like buffalo, deer, elk and grizzlies. If you’re a family of outdoor enthusiasts, you won’t be disappointed.
As with similar natural attractions like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite Valley, a unique vacation cabin in a nearby town is your best option to make home base.
Historical Prominence: The former Capital of the Confederacy, Richmond was considered “ground zero” during the Civil War. The emancipation of slavery was kick started here, and Abraham Lincoln walked the streets just days before he was assassinated.
To get a birds-eye view of this beautiful American town, take a ride via airplane, helicopter or hot-air balloon and witness the numerous historic districts that make up the region. There’s a bustling theater and performing arts scene, plus museums and galleries. The mysterious Edgar Allen Poe once called Richmond home, and the city boasts one of America’s oldest public markets, the 17th Street Farmers Market.