• April 17, 2014

National Heritage Areas Make for Great Family Vacations

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 2:34 am, Thu Jun 27, 2013.

(StatePoint) Families are always looking for a trip that is fun, affordable, and memorable for everyone.

This season, consider traveling to National Parks and nearby National Heritage Areas (NHAs), which can be exciting destinations to experience the best that America has to offer. NHAs are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources converge.

“National Heritage Areas make great vacation stops for anyone interested in learning more about our nation’s diverse heritage,” says Alan Spears, Legislative Representative for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We should all advocate for these National Park Service-managed programs to retain adequate funding and protection.”

As you make preparations for your family trip this year, consider these five destinations:

Early Settlers

The Essex National Heritage Area, located in Massachusetts near the Boston National Historical Park, showcases colonial settlements, maritime adventures and centuries of American growth.  Take a trip back in time by exploring the trail of 17th century settlers, or check out the maritime trail of 18th century seafarers.  With 26 historic landmarks and 86 historical sites and museums open to the public, there is much to learn.

Civil War

Right by the iconic Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area captures many compelling stories of the home front. Walk through the same battlefields soldiers did 150 years ago and the same sites politicians used to spur political and social change after the battles were over.

Outdoor Adventure

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor encompasses New York’s canal system and the communities that grew along its shores. Near Saratoga National Historical Park, this area is for outdoor lovers, as you can cruise, row, motorboat, fish, canoe and kayak on the hundreds of miles of scenic waterway. You can even cycle along the historical and active sections of the Erie Canal. Consider planning your trip around one of the dozens festivals and events that celebrate canal heritage.

Go West

Out west, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area is a popular destination. This region in Utah is recognized for its dramatic landscapes, including Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks. It is also known for a string of communities along the axis of the corridor that reflect Mormon colonization.

You will find a blend of art galleries and artisan studios, western adventures, historic sites, celebrations, antiques and indigenous foods. Take a guided horse pack or 4-wheel vehicle trip along cowboy trails or visit some of the most isolated towns in America.

Cultural Crossroads

An important cultural crossroads, the Yuma Crossing in Arizona is represented by the blending of the many different traditions of the area’s people. The natural ford on the Colorado River has been a gathering spot for people for over 500 years and is a vital landmark of westward expansion.

For help planning a trip to a National Heritage Area, visit www.nps.gov/history/heritageareas. For more information on National Parks visit www.npca.org/.

Look no further than National Parks and Heritage Areas to experience the best of the nation.

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