Beliefnet
The Pop Culture Road Trip

As we approach our Nation’s 234th birthday this weekend, I thought I’d share, over the course of the next two days, some favorite places around the country that let one get close to the heart and soul of American history… have you ever been to…

The Old North Bridge

Concord, Mass.

What Ralph Waldo Emerson described as the “shot heard ’round the world” rang out here on April 19, 1775, when Capt. John Parker and his militia farmers refused to hand over their weapons to government troops. It’s so peaceful and quiet, and it runs so counter to what that day would have been like — the bloodshed, the smell of gunpowder. 978-369-6993; nps.gov/mima

The Old North Church 
Boston

Paul Revere’s midnight ride to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were arriving by sea began here when the church’s sexton hung two lanterns in its steeple — “One if by land … two if by sea.” It’s perfectly preserved. When you look up at that window, that’s exactly where it happened. 617-523-6676; oldnorth.com

Fraunces Tavern
New York

Amid the more modern buildings, the yellow brick Fraunces Tavern — where Gen. George Washington bade his officers a final farewell on Dec. 4, 1783, after the last British soldiers had left American soil — still stands looking much as it did then. I love this place. In addition to the wonderful food and an excellent museum, the Long Room, where Washington bid farewell, is exactly as it was then. 212-968-1776; frauncestavern.com

Old South Meeting House 
Boston

When more than 5,000 angry colonists met here on Dec. 16, 1773, there was little of the usual political debate about the quotidian issues generally argued here. “No tax on tea” was the rallying cry, and so began the Boston Tea Party.  You can see re-enactments here and it gives you a sense of the drama in a non-hokey way. 617-482-6439, oldsouthmeetinghouse.org

Independence Hall 
Philadelphia

In this park, you’re sharing a space with our forefathers” who created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution here. We take so many freedoms for granted — but this place puts into perspective what was at stake. They were writing our future. Home also to the Liberty Bell — the most important artifact related to our freedom. 215-965-2305; nps.gov/inde

Five more places posted here tomorrow – and if you have any suggestions of your own, please post them in the comments for everyone else to see. Thanks!

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