Colonial National Historical Park

Colonial National Historical Park
Location: Jamestown and Yorktown, Virginia
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Historic structures, turtles, glass blowing demonstrations, cannons (Wondon loves cannons)
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $14 per person or $5 per person with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Museum at Jamestown can be overwhelming in detail
Description: Jamestown and Yorktown are separated by 23 miles on the scenic Colonial Parkway. Our favorite part was watching turtles from the bridge between the visitor center and historic Jamestown. Guided tours are included with admission fee.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial
Location: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Museum, site of 1st powered flight by man
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $7 per adult or America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: No shade
Description: A cool-looking memorial sits atop Big Kill Devil Hill (formerly a sand dune) where Orville and Wilbur Wright practiced with hang gliders in the years before December 17, 1903 when they achieved man’s dream of flying before wrecking their plane on the fourth flight of the day.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Location: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours to multiple days
Major draws: Lighthouses, beaches, wildlife, campgrounds
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free except fee charged to climb Bodie Island Lighthouse
Additional considerations: Some portions only accessible by ferry
Description: The Outer Banks beaches are mostly lined by rental houses with the exception of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which retains its wild nature.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
Location: Manteo, North Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Museum, 1st British colony in America
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10 (handicap accessible)
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Musical theater only runs in summer
Description: “The Lost Colony” of Roanoke is a mystery that lasts until today. Founded in 1587, it was abandoned by 1590 when John White returned from England with supplies. The only clue left behind were the carved words “CROATOAN” and “CRO.”

Moores Creek National Battlefield

Moores Creek National Battlefield
Location: northwest of Wilmington, North Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Museum, cannons (Wondon loves cannons)
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Swampy areas may be buggy
Description: Little known Revolutionary War battle in February 1775 pitted rebels with cannons against Loyalists primarily armed with Scottish broadswords. In its aftermath North Carolina became the first state to pre-approve its delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Carolina Beach State Park

Carolina Beach State Park
Location: south of Wilmington, North Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Carnivorous plants, marina
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Poison-ivy
Description: Carnivorous Venus flytraps, sundews, and pitcher plants can be seen seasonally along the boggy Flytrap Trail. Park and campground are not actually on the ocean, but rather located along the brackish Cape Fear River in the town of Carolina Beach.

Fort Moultrie

Fort Moultrie—Fort Sumter National Monument
Location: Sullivan Island, South Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Museum, wildlife, cannons (Wondon loves cannons)
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $3 per person
Additional considerations: Stairs required to access portions of fort
Description: This fort protecting the entrance to Charleston saw duty in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, and both World Wars. Cannons representing each era are presented with interpretive signs.

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
Location: north of Charleston, South Carolina
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Historic house, museum, nature trails
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Poison-ivy, ticks
Description: The park rangers were very welcoming to us here, the former plantation of a politician central to the crafting of the U.S. Constitution. Located across from the well-known but expensive Boone Hall Plantation, this site is free to visit.

Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument
Location: entrance to harbor of Charleston, South Carolina
Length of visit: 3 hours
Major draws: Boat tour, wildlife, first shot of Civil War
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $19.50 per adult to ride ferry
Additional considerations: Only accessible by ferry
Description: Dolphins, pelicans, and shore birds are commonly spotted on the 40-minute ferry ride to the site that marks the beginning of the Civil War. We visited on April 14, 2016 exactly 155 years after the Union surrendered the fort to the Confederacy and exactly 151 years after the U.S. flag was once again raised over the fort at the end of the war.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Cemeteries, historic buildings, River Front shopping
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free (if you can find un-metered parking)
Additional considerations: Steep stairs access River Front
Description: Draped in Spanish moss, Savannah is the most picturesque city in the South.  Huge live oak trees can be found at Bonaventure Cemetery, Wormsloe Plantation, and the city’s many squares and parks.