The thought of relearning the Revolutionary War on vacation sounds like a recipe for disaster. We all remember a hot June day where we were forced to tour a famous battle ground or historical town as our “fun” end of the year fifth grade trip. However, you’ll find plenty of guided tours around the U.S. that make history fun and lively. You won’t even think twice about checking your Insta on these guided tours.
Forget about your boring old history textbooks and experience some fun on these educational tours around the nation.
Snap a pic next to honest Abe or take a photo with your home state at the World War II memorial during the Gray Line D.C. This fast moving tour won’t give you the chance to get bored, and if you do, you can make a pit stop at bars like Blackfinn right around the corner from the White House. This tour even includes a top secret tour of the FBI headquarters— typically not open to the public. The silver lining is that you get free access to the Smithsonian museums on your own time. So, if you want to ditch the tour, you can explore the wonders such as the restorative World War II planes at Air and Space or a live coral reef at the Natural history museum. “It’s one thing to visit the National Mall yourself, but taking a tour and learning about not only the historical significance of the monuments but also the weird and wacky stories behind them brings it to a whole other level,” said American University senior Lana Kleiner-Kanter.
This pub crawl proves it’s always sunny in Philly, mostly historical and sometimes a little tipsy. This tour includes beer tasting and walking the historical bars in Philly. The bustling happy hour atmosphere will make you appreciate Philadelphia’s historical vibes as well as their eclectic craft beer selection. This bar crawl/tour is limited to 12 person groups for a more intimate feel. You will visit three Philly pubs while learning the history of each establishment from a knowledge-packed tour guide— some of the bars on the tour even date back to the late 1800s. This historical pub crawl will put your eighth grade field trip at the Liberty Bell to shame.
If you want to spice up Halloween season, look no further than a Salem Witch City day trip. This tour takes you back in time to the era of the Salem Witch Trials on this guided tour from Boston to Salem, Massachusetts. You’ve learned all about this, so why not see it for yourself? “Living in an age where we can easily look up facts about places detracts from us actually visiting them. Historical tours at monuments/buildings/places let you learn about a piece of history while seeing and experiencing it with your own eyes,” said AU junior Mackenzie Territo. You’ll hit the House of Seven Gables— this historical spot is the oldest surviving wooden mansion from the 1600s in New England. Lunch and free time to walk around is also included in Pickering Wharf, a Salem neighborhood. This spooky tour will give you the chills while being historical too.
Do you think you could spend the night with Al Capone’s ghost? Well, you may encounter a few paranormal prisoners at this night tour on Alcatraz island. You get to visit areas on the island like the old hospital where there is a rumored dried blood stain still on the ceiling— ooh creepy, and kind of gross. “Ghost tours are fun and educational because it emphasizes the importance and reality of history, while at the same time adopting thrilling and spooky aspects to make the history more intriguing to a younger audience,” said AU junior Jake Fox. This tour is friendly to kids, adults and seniors. If you were scared out of this night adventure don’t be. If senior citizens and children above the age of five can handle it, so can you.
What’s better than sober history? Drunk history obviously. Although drunk studying for your next history exam probably isn’t the best idea, this fun and boozy history tour in New Orleans will give you a little look at what it would be like. For all you American Horror Story fans, see Coven come to life while exploring the French Quarter (the home of over 200 bars) with a guide who sheds light on the historical and supernatural side of the neighborhood. A voodoo house visit will be paid where you learn all about Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. This two-hour tour is just enough time to get a little drunk… and educated. Only in New Orleans can you pair voodoo and vodka. You probably shouldn’t mix the two otherwise.
If you want a more laid back and relaxing tour, Charleston’s Old South Carriage Historic Tour has you covered. This hour long, horse drawn carriage tour shows you all of Charleston and makes you feel like a true southern belle. Not only do top of the line Belgian horses take you around town, but you get to see the iron gated, beautiful botanical gardens South Carolina has to offer. You’ll spot grand antebellum, Victorian-like mansions that look they came right out of The Notebook everywhere. On this tour you also hear all about the houses and their historical significance and past owners.
Most college kids vaguely remember where we were the day of September 11th, 2001, or the events that took place on. However, soon to be college freshmen weren’t even born during 9/11. “More than anything it helps you understand it in terms of real people’s lives instead of a national tragedy at large,” said AU junior Hannah Taylor. The tour includes artifacts, such as first person accounts of what happened on that September morning in 2001, multimedia displays and exhibits that commemorate nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the attacks. This is a more serious and emotional tour, but one that millennials will find very interesting considering many were alive for this tragic moment in our nation’s history.
If you’re going to visit NYC, you may as well enter in style like most of our great-great grandmothers and grandfathers did— through Ellis Island. This lengthy four-hour tour gives beautiful views of Lady Liberty standing tall in the Hudson. After a ferry ride and once on the island, you go inside the statue and up on the observation decks for a bird’s eye view of NYC’s skyline and surroundings— you’ll even get to peep some of New Jersey. After this Island pit stop you’ll continue on the cruise over to Ellis Island where a tour guide will give you the historic 411 on the millions of immigrants that passed through long ago.
When you think of Chi town, deep dish pizza and maybe a Kanye tune or two probably come to mind. But, this city has quite the historical value. An architecture cruise down the Chicago River will give you a newfound love for the Second City and skyscrapers. “Learning about Chicago’s architectural history allows for you to develop a deeper appreciation for the city,” said Bowdoin College graduate Evan Fencik. The tour starts at the Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue. As the boat cruises down the river, with comfortable seating and easily accessible restrooms, you may even find access to a full bar. You will see world famous buildings by well known architects like Mies van der Rohe, Owens and Merrill. This river cruise teaches all about historic Chicago while giving the chance to admire breathtaking scenery.
Unleash your competitive side with this one. We’ve all wanted to blow off some steam during big family vacays, so why not do it Georgia style— with a scavenger hunt through Savannah? This two to three hour event breaks your large group into small teams that work together on a time crunch. Here, you have to find and snap pics of historical spots like old churches and mansions, unique landmarks and popular shops and bars. The scavenger hunt teaches your team about the history of Savannah while having fun and getting competitive. The fun doesn’t stop there—the tour opens up to birthday and bachelorette parties as well.