Ninety Six National Historic Site

Overview

Ninety Six was a bit of a misnomer for this 18th-century trading village in South Carolina.  It was estimated at the time to be 96 miles from a major Cherokee village, but was actually closer to 78.  Then again, Seventy Eight does not have the same ring to it, does it?  A small stockade built around a barn survived two attacks by Cherokees in the 1750s, then during the American Revolution the town fell into British hands after a battle on November 19, 1775.  They proceeded to build a star-shaped earthen fort that was partially reconstructed in the 1970s.

Highlights

Reconstructed Revolutionary War earthen fort, museum, film

Must-Do Activity

In 1781, six year after the town fell into British hands, a month-long Patriot siege led by General Nathanael Greene failed, but the Patriots abandoned their underground tunneling when they learned of British reinforcements arriving.  The British wound up retreating to Charleston anyway and burning the town behind them.  Ninety Six never fully recovered and remained undeveloped, which allowed archaeologists in the 1970s to rediscover the old tunnels and zigzag trenches designed by Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko. 

Best Trail

With interpretive pamphlet in hand, you can get a good idea of Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s strategy from atop the observation platform built along the one-mile self-guided trail.  The park also contains the 27-acre Star Fort Pond, which is accessible by road or the Cherokee Path Trail from the visitor center.

Instagram-worthy Photo

This is the only National Park Service site we know of where visitors are encouraged to brandish a musket.  They also have a pillory to pose in.

Peak Season

Spring and fall, since it can be very hot in the summer with little shade.

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/nisi/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Access road paved

Camping

Greenwood State Recreation Area has a campground on a lake about nine miles north.

Related Sites

Cowpens National Battlefield (South Carolina)

Fort Sumter National Monument (South Carolina)

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (Pennsylvania)

Explore More – Who was Robert Gouedy and why was he significant in the history of Ninety Six?

Boston National Historical Park

Overview

Boston National Historical Park is famous for the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail that leads through historic downtown Boston, Massachusetts.  Tourists should not try to drive into the city because parking is difficult and the public transportation system is so good.  We recommend that you hire a guide or bring along your own information because almost nothing along the route has outdoor interpretive signs.

Highlights

Faneuil Hall, Charlestown Navy Yard, Bunker Hill Memorial, burying grounds, Boston Common

Must-Do Activity

One of our favorite misnomers in American history is that the Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place on Breed’s Hill north of Boston.  This first major skirmish took place shortly after the Revolutionary War kicked off in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1775 and is well-known for the Patriot commander that told his men not to “fire ’til you see the whites of their eyes.”  The 221-foot obelisk built to memorialize this fight (which the Patriots lost) was started in 1825 but not completed until 1843.  The National Park Service does not charge to climb the 294 stairs to its peak for great views of the area. 

Best Trail

The famous 2.5-mile long Freedom Trail through downtown Boston, Massachusetts is a walking path marked by a line painted on the sidewalk.  Of the many historic places you will pass along the route, some of the free ones include the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall known as the “Cradle of Liberty” (and now a National Park Service visitor center), the site of the first public school in America established in 1635, several burying grounds, and the Old Corner Bookstore that has been turned into a restaurant.  You can also pay to enter the Old State House and Paul Revere House, among other sites.

Instagram-worthy Photo

If you keep walking the Freedom Trail north you cross the Charlestown Bridge to the Charlestown Navy Yard where you can walk aboard the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”), the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, and learn about it from active-duty U.S. Navy servicemen and women.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/bost/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None, except at specific buildings like the Old State House and Paul Revere House.

Road Conditions

Roads are paved, but traffic is bad and parking is expensive.  It is best to use public transportation to get into the city and then walk.

Camping

There are camping opportunities (reservations required) in Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, which are accessible by ferry from the city.

Related Sites

Minute Man National Historical Park (Massachusetts)

Boston African American National Historic Site (Massachusetts)

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (Massachusetts)

Explore More – The live oak wood used to build the USS Constitution came from what island, now managed by the National Park Service?

Wishing You All Happy Travels in 2020

2019 was the first complete year of our National Parks travel blog and it was a big year for us.  We wrote 112 blog posts and finished drawing our 50th logo for a National Park (see them all here).  In November, we published our first hard copy guidebook to visiting the 61 National Parks (which is available on Amazon). Then on December 20, White Sands was named the 62nd National Park so we will soon be working on a 2nd Edition (see our new logo on Cafe Press).

In 2019, we also worked toward our goal of visiting at least 400 of the current 419 units in the National Park Service (NPS) system.  In April, we took off two weeks to see all five NPS sites in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Virgin Islands NP, VI Coral Reef NM, Salt River Bay NHP, Buck Island NM, and Christiansted NHS).  We crossed off 29 NPS units from our list on a September blitz through Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.  In December, we made it to our final NPS sites in both Florida and Georgia.

We have now visited 364 of 419 NPS units, but most of the remaining sites are far flung, so it will take many separate trips to see the rest.  We hope to return to Washington, D.C. soon to see the leftover NPS sites there and in the surrounding states.  We are very grateful for the opportunity to travel and see some of the most wonderful parts of America. 

We wish you all happy and safe travels in 2020.

Thank you for reading our travel blog. 

Tiff at Christiansted NHS on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands
This design we created to celebrate the new White Sands National Park is available on a variety of products at Cafe Press and Amazon.

Top 10 Museums Run by the National Park Service

Some National Park Service units stick with the “go outside and play” philosophy, but these selected parks do a great job of interpreting human and natural history inside a museum.  You might recognize some names from our Top 10 National Historical Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites.  We previously created a Top 10 list of our favorite museums at the 61 National Parks.

10. Colonial National Historical Park (Virginia)

An indoor French frigate makes Yorktown a must-visit museum

9. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Ohio)

Follow the Aviation Trail to the Wright Brothers cycle shop and National Parachute Museum

8. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (Maryland)

This museum opened in 2017 to explain this incredible woman’s life

7. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (Missouri)

A balanced look at a controversial U.S. President housed in his former barn

6. Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York-New Jersey)

Ellis Island and Lady Liberty (new museum opened in 2019) make an unforgettable day trip

5. Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania)

The museum opened in 2008, and pay extra for the excellent film and the Cyclorama painting

4. Fort Stanwix National Monument (New York)

A superb use of videos and kiosks to provide four different characters’ perspectives on the events of the American Revolution in Upstate New York

3. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)

Two entire airplane hangars full of aircraft and displays about these Civil Rights pioneers

2. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

The best natural history museum in the entire National Park Service system

…and finally our #1 museum at a National Park Service site:

1. Andersonville National Historic Site (Georgia)

Visiting the National Prisoner of War Museum is a powerful experience

    

Honorable Mentions

Dinosaur National Monument (Colorado-Utah)

An indoor mountainside full of dinosaur fossils makes this place special

Fort Necessity National Battlefield (Pennsylvania)

An excellent museum interprets the start of the global French and Indian War in 1754

Hopewell Culture National Monument (Ohio)

A small museum, but the artifacts are wonderfully displayed (and it has a great film)

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (District of Columbia)

Like New York’s Women’s Rights NHP, this museum makes you think about modern issues

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site (North Carolina)

This museum will help you solve the mystery of the “Lost Colony” of 1590

Christiansted National Historic Site

Overview

Three of the Virgin Islands were purchased by the United States in 1917, supposedly to prevent Germany from establishing a Caribbean naval base during World War I.  The southern island of St. Croix was originally claimed by Spain, England, the Netherlands, and France, before being purchased by Denmark in 1733.  The Danish West India and Guinea Company grew sugarcane on the island utilizing slave labor (until 1848), with slaves outnumbering the free population 9,000 to 1,000.  The port town of Christiansted was planned by Frederick Moth and named in honor of Danish King Christian VI.

Highlights

Fort Christiansvaern, Old Danish Customs House, Steeple Building

Must-Do Activity

Fort Christiansvaern was completed in 1749 and is the highlight of this National Park Service (NPS) site.  Pick up a self-guided tour booklet at the NPS visitor center so you do not miss any hidden corners, like the dungeon.  Ask a park ranger about tours that may be available to see inside the other six buildings that comprise Christiansted National Historic Site.  The Scale House was under construction during our visit, but typically has exhibits on its bottom floor.

Best Trail

There are no trails, but sidewalks lead from Fort Christiansvaern to the Government House (that is still used for official business) and the Lutheran Church, which is next to a sprawling and interesting cemetery.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The beautiful yellow structures were built in neoclassic style and are best exemplified by the Customs House, which dates to 1841.

Peak Season

Anytime except hurricane season

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/chri/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$7 per person or America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

Roads are paved and there is a designated parking lot at Fort Christiansvaern with a two hour time limit.  Note: you drive on the left side of the road in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but in standard American left-side driver seat vehicles.

Camping

There is no official NPS campground at Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, but people camp along the coast there and at many beachside locations around the entire island.

Related Sites

Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve (Virgin Islands)

Buck Island Reef National Monument (Virgin Islands)

Virgin Islands National Park (Virgin Islands)

Explore More – What famous American patriot worked in Christiansted as a boy (Hint: he has a Broadway musical written about him)?