Like many travelers, I’m a history nerd. Maybe I’m a little worse than most of your groups, but nonetheless, history has a place on almost every tour you run. I cannot link my history fascination to my 8th grade history course, or for that matter, any other course through college. It was a simple board game that hooked me on history.

Gettysburg is a board game introduced by Avalon Hill in 1958. I’m sure I had one of the first. The game had several first-time features and with revisions, remained successful over the years. I was fascinated by the day-to-day strategy by both sides and how the final outcome was affected. You can probably guess my first visit to a battlefield was Gettysburg National Military Park. During the (many) years that followed, the history bug has drawn me to countless American Revolution and Civil War battlefields and historic sites. That’s just the beginning.

The history nerd in me is also fascinated by state capital buildings. They have so many stories to tell. My first visit to the Colorado State Capitol had a memorable quilt exhibit that covered every floor and was a Colorado history lesson in itself. The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond is a must stop. Imagine the founding fathers that walked those halls and the decisions they made. The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge still has the bullet holes in the marble walls from the day Senator Huey P. Long was shot. In Columbia, South Carolina, bronze stars point to where Union artillery struck the under-construction capitol building. It’s understandable that the majority of state capitol buildings do not have bullet holes, but it’s always worth looking.

Plenty of options to fill any itinerary

History is found in different places throughout the United States. Whether it’s a state history center, or museum, historic home, memorial, fort, living history museum, ship, penitentiary or palace, there’s plenty of options to fill any itinerary. Larger museums might tell the history of their state often going from prehistoric times to modern day. Smaller local museums will not cover such a wide timeline, but their hidden gems are just as interesting and should be on any itinerary.

A beauty of any historic place is it provides an introduction to the people and their stories that impacted the local community, state, or our nation.

Jamestown Settlement tells the story of the first permeant English colony in the new world and the cultures of the Powhatan Indians and English and West Africans that followed. Learn more about the history of those first West Africans at the June opening of the new International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore more in each of the 16 states that comprise the United States Civil War Trail.

A trail within a trail, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Area tells the story of the Gullah Geechee enslaved people and their language, crafts, food and music. Already attractions from Wilmington, North Carolina through South Carolina and Georgia are welcoming groups.

As most history nerds admit, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we don’t know. Me, I’m still focused on American history and want to learn more about the west. In the meantime, I’m curious. The British drove out the Roman Catholic French Canadians from Arcadia, now Nova Scotia, in the 18th-century. These farmers and fishermen crossed all the way to the Louisiana Bayou. Someday, I’ll need to confirm that they were drawn to Louisiana when it was under the French flag. Or, had they heard of the abundant fishing and fertile farmland of the bayou?

By Dave Bodle