There’s no better place to study American history and honor the service of soldiers to their nation than at one of the many memorials and military museums that can be found in cities and states across the U.S. There are scores to be found — from Pearl Harbor to Boston — but these nine guides to key sites offer visitors thoughtful, moving portrayals of what are arguably some of America’s most wrenching, politically complex moments in our relatively short history.
Relive the triumph and tragedies of the war — from the “date which will live in infamy” to victories in Europe and over Japan — at this expansive (and expanding) Big Easy museum.
Make the most of your visit to the site of the history-changing Dec. 7, 1941, attack that killed 1,177 sailors and Marines and spurred the U.S. to enter the Second World War.
Reflect on the triumphs and many tragedies of the Great War at this moving, must-visit Midwest museum.
Climb aboard the enormous aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, a participant in more than 40 World War II battles, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, across the harbor from Charleston.
The bronze Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Civil War Memorial honoring African American soldiers is a stirring stop in a history-packed city.
Take a long, deep dive into the Civil War at this massive Mississippi site where key battles helped change the course of America’s deadliest fight.
Follow AARP’s guide to Pennsylvania’s famous battlefields, where a major Union triumph changed the course of the Civil War.
Learn how the colonists reached a breaking point, fought for independence and won the battle at one of Philly’s top destinations.
See how American warplanes progressed from motorized kites to supercharged bombers with Rolls Royce engines at this Smithsonian-affiliated gem in beautiful Balboa Park in California.
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Christina Ianzito is the travel and books editor for aarp.org and AARP The Magazine, and also edits and writes health, entertainment and other stories for aarp.org. She received a 2020 Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing.