En español | Summer's more than halfway gone, but there's still time to plan a memorable family trip to a national park or historic landmark. Lucky for Latinos, locations with significant ties to Hispanic history are now in the National Park Service's spotlight. These diverse sites offer everything from hiking trails to museums, each with an educational twist highlighting the role of Latinos in this nation's development.
See also: Spanish-language fun at theme parks.
Sound like a perfect vacation for you, the kids and grandkids? What are you waiting for? Dust off those road maps — or program your GPS — and plan a scenic and cultural pride-filled trip.
Where to Go
The National Park Service oversees 30 national park sites, national trails, heritage areas and historic places with a connection to Hispanic heritage. Most are in the West, home of icons such as San Francisco's Presidio, the world's largest national park in an urban area.
Farther afield, Georgia's Fort Frederica National Monument commemorates the Spanish struggle against the British for control of the southeastern United States. And Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida and Puerto Rico also boast their share of sites. Check out Texas' San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, New Mexico's Fort Union National Monument, Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park, Arizona's Tumacacori National Park, Colorado's Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, and Puerto Rico's San Juan National Historic Site. Each provides a wealth of Hispanic heritage and history.
Though I didn't appreciate it at the time, I'm grateful for the countless childhood trips to sites that showcase our heritage. We dutifully gathered around plaques commemorating Spanish and Mexican influences in missions, plazas and presidios throughout the Southwest. That the Spanish arrived here long before the Pilgrims was a fact drilled into me by my parents. It's not one I recall learning in school.
Despite my own experiences, Hispanics in general account for a mere 9 percent of national park visitors. That's hard for me to understand, especially since planning a trip has never been easier.