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5 National Parks to Visit in Winter

By Lauren David
updated November 29, 2021
Glacier National Park, Montana
HaizhanZheng - Istock
These National Parks are the best with a blanket of snow.


The short daylight hours and cold temperature invite us to stay indoors but venturing out to a National Park in the midst of winter has its own benefits—less people. The swarming crowds of summer are gone, offering a chance to see these splendid parks at your leisure and appreciate the landscape, often blanketed in snow. There are plenty of winter activities inviting you to enjoy the snow, such as hiking, tubing, sledding or cross-country skiing. Visiting in winter requires being extra prepared with proper hiking shoes and adequate clothing for freezing or below zero temperatures so make sure to pack your gloves, scarves, ear muffs and rain gear.

Big Bend National, Texas

Big Bend National Park, located in the western region of Texas and bordering Mexico, encompasses part of the Chihuahuan Desert and Rio Grande. The park was created in 1944 and there are fossils dating over 130 million years ago that highlight the expansive geological diversity. The Chiso Mountains are a special part of this park because the entire mountain range—spanning 40 square miles—is within the confines of the park and formed from volcanic activity in the Eocene epoch.

Snow isn’t common in the winter and day time temperatures are often in the 70’s, making it great weather for hiking. Though be prepared for near or below zero weather as the cold sets in as soon as the sun goes down. Hop in the car and enjoy the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive that leads to Santa Elena Canyon, a 1,500-foot vertical chasm made of limestone and is along the border between Mexico and Texas. Stop frequently on this 30 mile road, where there are plenty of overlooks and monuments or turn off and hike on one of the many well-marked trails.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon is magical in winter with layers of snow set against the red rock hoodoos and spires. Located in south central Utah and established as a park in 1923, ponderosa pines and fir-spruce forests thrive along with plenty of wildlife in this amphitheater shape of plateaus and meadows. The park has 56 square miles to explore. Some roads, including Fairyland Road and Paria View Road are left unplowed where you can traverse the expansive snow with snowshoes or cross-country skis. Sections of the Rim Trail are open as well where you can enjoy the vistas of the Main Amphitheater and the Bristlecone Loop Trail. You can also opt for sledding above the rim, one of the few areas where this is possible. If you want a break from the snow, hop in your warm car and stop along at some of the main vista points to take in the views.

Bryce Canyon Winter
Bryce Canyon in winter. Credit: Mike Nielsen, Flickr creative commons

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, created in 1910, has over a million acres with an ecosystem that has been protected and mostly undisturbed. Snow blankets the mountain peaks and glaciers and the coniferous forest of larch, firs and spruce trees serve as a backdrop for Lake McDonald. Mountain goats, Bighorn sheep, beavers, nine species of bats, as well as Grizzly Bears are just some of the 71 different types of mammals that live in the park. Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the highlights—spanning 50 miles with challenging, hairpin curves. This is the only road that crosses the park and passes through the Continental Divide, though during the snow filled months only certain parts of the road are accessible. Upper Lake McDonald is a popular snow area where you can ski up to McDonald Falls or Sacred Dancing Cascade. Visit Marias Pass, known by the locals as the “summit,” where skiing and snow activities are often ideal. There are plenty of routes for cross-country skiers and snowshoe fans who want to experience the solitude in this vast oasis.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Covering almost a million acres and spanning from sandy beaches to mountain peaks to lush fir and cedar tree rainforests, the geography of this park is unique. Created in 1938, it is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and as an International Biosphere Reserve. In the colder months, Olympic National Park is beautifully draped in snow with a myriad of activities to partake in. Hurricane Ridge is a haven for snow lovers, offering downhill skiing and snowboarding and an area for tubing and sledding or just playing in the snow. There are several trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, who prefer to head into the backcountry or connect with nature as they traverse the white powdery snow.

There are frequent storms on the Pacific coast in winter so being attentive to weather conditions is fundamental. Between bouts of harsh weather, low tide is an optimal moment to take a stroll along the sandy beach. Visit the Hoh rainforest in the north of the park where you can surround yourself among a variety of trees, including Red Cedar, Big Leaf Maple and Douglas Fir or go towards the southwestern area of the park and hike in the Quinault rainforest with a distinct geography of alpine meadows, lakes and peaks carved by ice.

Because of the geography of this park, the weather can change at a moment’s notice so keep this in mind when planning your trip and once you arrive with your day to day plans.

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. Credit: Steve FUNG, Flickr creative commons

Yosemite National Park, California

Waterfalls, meadows and the granite wall of half dome makes Yosemite famous. The park was first protected in 1864 and became part of the National park service in 1890. The beauty of visiting in the colder months is experiencing this 1,200 square mile park when crowds have dissipated, offering plenty of solitude.Yosemite Valley and Wawona are accessible year-round by car but many roads close due to the snowy terrain, making traversing by foot one of the best ways to enjoy the park. Many trails are open with various options from easy and low-key hikes to more challenging ones where you can navigate through coniferous forests filled with ponderosa and sugar pine, incense cedar, white and Douglas fir trees or stare up at Giant Sequoias.

Yosemite in winter
Yosemite in Winter. Credit: Yūgen, Flickr Creative Commons

Temperatures can be mild during the day, although freezing temperatures and snow are common. If you time your visit when there is snowfall, typically between December- March, winter wonderland options abound from sledding, tubing, snowshoeing or snowboarding and skiing down the oldest slope in California on Badger Pass. Curious about snowshoeing? Take a ranger-led snowshoe walk where you’ll be in a good company while you learn about the sights, although be prepared for sore muscles afterwards because it’s more challenging than it appears.

Disclaimer: Make sure to check the park website to ensure the activities and areas of the park you wish to visit are open and accessible. Some roads and park areas have been closed due to Covid and/or to inclement weather. Please also respect measures to prevent the spread of Covid, including passing through towns en route to your destination.

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Black Friday's best travel deals from around the web

Whether you’re planning a staycation closer to home or an epic adventure in Mexico or the Caribbean, these Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals will help you do it for less, with rates starting under $250 per night and most travel dates extending into or through 2022. Note that blackout dates apply, most properties have flexible cancellation policies and some links won’t be active until November 26, 2021. Click here to join Budget Travel's free membership program for access to incredible deals year-round. Vacation Packages, Guided Tours and Cruises Apple Vacations & FunJet: Book November 24–December 4 to save up to $175 on mainland U.S. vacation packages and up to $500 on trips to Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Beach Bound: Book your beach break November 26–30 to save up to $175 on trips to Florida and $500 on trips to Hawaii. 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Hop on a beach cruiser and ride along the coast, soak up the SoCal sunshine by the pool or head to the nearby amusement parks through the end of the year. Hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico $569 Cabo beach resort for 3 nights w/ perks: Fully Refundable - Villa La Estancia – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This 4-star hotel sits on Medano Beach, one of the best beaches for swimming in Cabo, and it's only a five-minute drive from the happenings of the buzzing downtown area. St. Maarten All-inclusive beach vacation for 2: Kick back and relax on 10 acres of beachfront in the heart of Maho Village at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino St. Maarten, which is filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment lounges. This deal covers 4-star digs, plus all your meals and drinks, for just over $100 per person, per night over peak winter season dates. 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Now through November 28, use this link to book the Black Friday sale, then check this link for the Cyber Monday sale, available to book November 29–30.

Inspiration

Explore Nashville’s musical (and non-musical) murals

Nashville is known as Music City, but the truth is that the city is home to all sorts of artists. There’s no better way to get up close and personal with the artists of Nashville than the beautiful murals that can be found all across the city. Music City is home to dozens of murals featuring everything from Dolly Parton to dragons. Here’s where to find our favorites!Find your wings Lining up to have your photo taken with the giant wings in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood is a rite of passage for any bachelorette party. Posing for a photo with this iconic Kelsey Montague mural is such a popular activity that it often has a line. It can be found in The Gulch at 302 11th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203I believe in Nashville After floods inundated the city in 2010, “I believe in Nashville” became the city’s slogan for rebuilding. Find variations of this mural (including a Nashville Predators-themed “I believe in SMASHVILLE”) across the city. The original lies in the 12 South neighborhood at 2700 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37204. Find the Smashville version on Broadway at 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203. A third variation, this one with the slogan “I believe in East Nashville,” popped up after tornadoes tore through the neighborhood in March 2020. Find it at 919 Gallatin Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206I believe in Nashville. Photo by Laura Brown Dolly Parton Nobody is more popular in Tennessee than “Saint” Dolly Parton, whose many achievements include sending over 1.3 million books each month to children across the USA through her Imagination Library. You can find a flowery mural with her portrait in East Nashville at 1006 Forrest Avenue, Nashville, TN 37206Tomatoes! East Nashville is known for its summer obsession with tomatoes. Every August, this quirky pocket of Nashville has an entire festival for tomatoes, including freshly painted tomatoes on the streets and tomato-themed gardens across town. Find the biggest tomato mural in East Nashville at 701 Porter Road, Nashville, TN 37206It’s gonna be okay Looking for your next inspiring Instagram shot? Look no further than West End, where “It’s gonna be O.K.” by artist Sarah Tate can be found. The exact location is at 3020 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209. Nashville looks good on you! Nashville looks good on everybody (okay, maybe not as much in the middle of a humid August day, but still!) Show off your Nashville glam look in 12 South at 2509 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37204 The Silo What to do with an old, derelict grain silo? Turn it into art, of course! This amazing mural by Guido Van Helten features a realistic portrait of an older man looking towards the sky. It’s best appreciated when viewed in person and can be found in The Nations at 1407 51st Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37209The Silo in the Nations neighborhood of Nashville has transformed an abandoned silo into a noted landmark. Photo by Laura Brown Guitars everywhere Nashville is built on music, which is the lifeblood of the artist community here. See a celebration of the different kinds of music that have roots here with the guitar mural that can be found downtown at 213 3rd Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37201The Athens of the South Nashville is known as the Athens of the South, thanks to its many universities and the replica of the Parthenon. The beautiful mural by Beau Stanton of a Greek god pouring out a colorful chalice is an homage to this nickname. Find it downtown at 144 5th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219. Celebrate the legends Pay tribute to the legends of Nashville with a visit to this mural painted on Legend’s Corner on Lower Broadway. The stars depicted change frequently - most recently, Taylor Swift was replaced by Brad Paisley. Can you identify each of the legends on the mural? Find out for yourself at the corner of Broadway and Rep John Lewis Way downtown.The legends mural on Broadway highlight's Nashville's history of producing great musicians. Photo by Laura Brown Spread Love (the Nashville way) Nashville’s artist community is big on love, peace, and inclusion. Nashville also has incredible sunsets. See both married together in the “Spread Love” mural by Anthony Billups, featuring a beautifully painted Nashville skyline at sunset. This mural can be found at 1015 Nelson Merry Street, Nashville, TN 37203. Slay the dragons If you’ve ever needed some motivation to stand up with your sword and slay the dragons that stand in your way, look no further! That’s precisely what this Kim Radford mural is inspiring people to do. Find this mural in East Nashville at 1224 Meridian St, Nashville, TN 37207Little Kurdistan Nashville has the largest Kurdish population in the United States. This gorgeous community mural celebrates the rich and colorful culture of Kurds that have landed in Nashville. You can find the mural (and explore other parts of Kurdish culture) at 364 Elysian Fields Ct.

Inspiration

Can’t Get to Europe? These U.S. Destinations Will Make You Feel Like You’re There

With much of Europe off limits amid the current pandemic, Americans will have to wait longer to travel to and throughout the continent. However, they can find resemblances to some European countries a little closer to home. Here are locations across the U.S. that make you feel like you’ve set foot in a European destination with no passport required. To feel like you're in Greece... Head to Tarpon Springs, Florida More than one in 10 residents in this Gulf Coast city claim Greek ancestry, with Greek immigrants arriving in the late 19th century. They also gave Tarpon Springs the moniker, “The Sponge Capital of the World,” in that divers would apply the Greek Islands tradition of diving for sponges to Floridian waters. Nowadays, Greek heritage can be seen with locals in coffee shops along Athens Street. Along Dodecanese Boulevard, shop at Getaguru Handmade Soap Company and dine at Mykonos and Hellas Greek Restaurant. The Netherlands... Holland, Michigan Founded in the mid-19th century, this city on the shores of Lake Michigan makes you feel like you’ve set foot in the Netherlands. Experience a Dutch wonderland at the Windmill Island Gardens, with a windmill that grinds West Michigan sourced wheat into flour, while Nelis' Dutch Village shows the traditional making of wooden shoes. Every May, take in its Tulip Time Festival; later on in the year, do your holiday shopping at Kerstmarkt. Pella, Iowa Another Dutch destination, this Iowa location is all heritage museums, Dutch architecture, and the Vermeer Windmill, the tallest working grain windmill in the U.S. Then there’s Klokkenspel, a carillon clock going off on odd hours and with historic figurines coming in and out. And cuisine options are plenty, from Dutch bakeries’ Jaarsma Bakery and Vander Ploeg Bakery to Dutch Fix, serving up Dutch street food. lowthian, Getty Spain... St. Augustine, Florida As the nation’s oldest city, this former Spanish settlement is still noted through Colonial-style architecture and historic venues. Avile Street is the oldest street in the U.S. and is now an arts district with galleries and restaurants and historic venues. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, an old Spanish fortification built to protect their claim on the Atlantic trade route, is now overseen by the National Park Service. Denmark... Solvang, California Referred to as the “Danish capital of America,” this village in Santa Ynez Valley gets quite festive with its Solvang Julefest, a holiday event; Solvang Grape Stomp, a wine harvesting celebration; and Solvang Danish Days, a full-blown heritage festival. Regularly, you can see a copy of Denmark’s famous Little Mermaid sculpture and Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, whose exterior resembles an 18th-century Danish farmhouse. But be sure to try Danish pastries at bakeries including Aebleskiver Café and Birkholm's Bakery & Cafe. California, USA - August 6th, 2019 : Solvang Brewing Company in Solvang Historic Downtown, a Danish Village in Santa Ynez Valley. nicolasboivin, Getty Poland... New Britain, Connecticut Nicknamed “Little Poland,” this Hartford County city’s section of Broad Street continues the legacy built by Polish immigrants coming to work in factories over two centuries ago. It’s known for its annual Little Poland Festival, which holds cultural and family-friendly activities. Do some shopping in Polmart, a store with all things Polish, or for pierogis and stuffed cabbage at Roly Poly Bakery. Or order a meal at the highly recommended Staropolska Restaurant. Basque Region... Boise, Idaho With the most concentrated population of Basques living in the U.S., the “Basque Block” is a downtown section along Grove Street reflecting this legacy dating back two centuries. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center tells the history behind these emigrants from this northern Spain. The Basque Market carries Txakoli, Basque and Spanish wines and is known for weekly preparing giant paellas on the street. Go pintxo hopping at Txikiteo and Bar Gernika Basque Pub and Eatery. knowlesgallery, GettySwitzerland... New Glarus, Wisconsin Referred to as “America’s Little Switzerland,” this Wisconsin village showcases its Alpine-style architecture and a Cow Parade of statues depicting these dairy-producing animals. Established in 1845 by Swiss immigrants, New Glarus holds a Harvest Fest in October, where daily routines and responsibilities of the past – cheese making, blacksmithing, yarn spinning, you name it – are re-created. And at Emmi Roth Käse Cheese Factory, a Swiss-owned cheesemaker, take a self-guided tour. Germany... New Braunfels, Texas Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels arrived in what’s now the Texas Hill Country to motivate the founding of this 19th-century German colony. His royal presence lives on in murals depicting him and other key figures in The New Braunfels Historic Outdoor Art Museum. Head to Krause’s Cafe for its Biergarten and German fare, and the Gruene Historic District is where German farmers lived but now has a hopping’ dance hall, general store, and restaurant. Every November, Wurstfest serves up a German food-focused celebration. Leavenworth, Washington In the 1960s, officials decided to make this Deadwood-looking town into a Bavarian village to attract visitors. Today, its architecture is full of beamed houses with other German features ranging from restaurants (try the Bavarian Bistro and Bar) to German named gift shops (with European ornaments at Kris Kringl). Sweden... Lindsborg, Kansas Known as “Little Sweden, USA,” this city in Kansas’s Smoky Valley was settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1860s and Lindsborg still celebrates its Scandinavian roots through Swedish traditions year-round. Their event calendar includes St. Lucia Festival in December; Våffeldagen, which celebrates Swedish waffles in March; and Svensk Hyllningsfest, a biennial celebration. Spot sculptures of the Swedish Dala Horse around town and purchase a hand painted one from Hemslöjd. Italy... Napa Valley, California Giving a Tuscan landscape vibe, this wine-producing destination boasts wineries whose architectural features make you feel like you’re in Italy or another similar European countryside. To start, the Castello di Amorosa gives off the feeling of exploring a hill town in Tuscany or Umbria, with its 13th-century-style winery. Napa Valley is also noted for producing another associated Italian export -- oil olive -- and sample the bounty produced at Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Company. Napa Valley wine country mountain hillside vineyard growing crops for grape harvest and winery winemaking. Rows of lush, green grapevines ripen in cultivated agricultural farm fields glowing in sunset. Spondylolithesis, GettyFrance... New Orleans, French Quarter, Louisiana While bounced between the Spanish and influenced by indigenous peoples and African Americans, New Orleans was first founded and settled by the French. Their imprint lingers within nearby Cajun country, with those speaking “Louisiana French,” and in NOLA’s French Quarter, the city’s most famous neighborhood. Here, dine on fine French and Creole cuisine at Arnaud’s, Galatoire's, and Antoine’s Restaurant. New Orleans, USA - April 22, 2018: People ordering food in Cafe Du Monde restaurant, eating beignet powdered sugar donuts, drinking chicory coffee, waiter taking order. ablokhin, Getty England... Alexandria, Virginia Founded by Scottish merchants in 1749, this city outside of Washington, D.C. gives off a Colonial English vibe within its Old Town District. Captain’s Row is a cobblestone streetscape, while the brick-lined King Street has many shopping ops. The Old Town Farmers’ Market has been in existence since before the American Revolution; George Washington sent produce grown at nearby Mount Vernon to be sold there.

Inspiration

11 cities where you can honor veterans in the United States

Nearly 30 years after armistice was officially declared, formally ending World War I, a veteran named Raymond Weeks suggested turning the relatively new national holiday dedicated to world peace into Veterans Day to honor all US service members. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, himself a World War II veteran and five-star general, officially signed the observance of Veterans Day on November 11 into law in 1954. Veterans Day joined Memorial Day, established in 1868, and Armed Forces Day, first observed in 1950, as opportunities for Americans to honor the men and women who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Guard. But you don't have to wait for a national holiday to learn more about the contributions of veterans to US history – indeed, there are numerous museums, memorials, national parks, and national cemeteries around the country dedicated to telling the story of the country's military. Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor © Pung / Shutterstock Honolulu, Hawaii The US Navy has had a significant presence in Hawaii for 200 hundred years, particularly on the island of Oahu where Pearl Harbor naval base was developed in 1899. When the infamous Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 drew the United States into World War II, it cost 2,403 U.S. personnel their lives and another 1,000 were wounded. Today you can learn more about the history of the US Navy in Hawaii, and honor the casualties and veterans of Pearl Harbor at several sites throughout Honolulu, including the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Park, the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Battleship Missouri Memorial, and USS Oklahoma Memorial. There are also numerous tours you can take that combine several of these sites together with expertise from a local guide – and even offer line-hopping privileges so you can stay focused on the history at hand. The Navajo Code Talker monument in Window Rock Navajo Reservation © ullstein bild via Getty Images Window Rock, Arizona Native Americans enlist in the military at five times the national average, with the highest per-capital participation of any other population group in the country and a history of service that dates back to the first days of the United States' existence. Learn more about the contributions of Indigenous veterans at the Navajo Veterans Memorial Park, which honors the Dine code talkers who were the backbone of Marine Corps efforts to use Indigenous languages to create secret, uncrackable transmissions during World War I and World War II. Note: the Navajo Nation has currently closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated the Liberty Memorial in front of a crowd of over a hundred thousand in 1926 © Davel5957 / Getty Images Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City is home to the National World War I Museum, selected in 1921 in part because the city's rail station had proved quite the crossroads for thousands of soldiers criss-crossing the country as they prepared for, shipped out to, and returned from the front. Indeed, the handsome art deco Liberty Memorial Tower sits right across from Union Station. But it's the museum itself where you can really linger – rather than focusing only on the US troops, the museum's collection includes items from every nation which participated in World War I and is one of the largest collections of WWI artifacts in the world. Originally members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, the name Buffalo Soldiers eventually stuck to all Black regiments who served in the US military © Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo Houston, Texas In 1866, Congress passed the Army Organization Act, allowing for the formation of four regiments of Black calvary who initially served out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and soon spread across the western frontier. The men serving in these units soon came by the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" when they encountered Native Americans across the plains, and the name stuck to the 10th Cavalry from the Civil War through numerous other conflicts, including the Spanish American War and Philippine-American War, and on through the Korean War. Some of the most famous Buffalo Soldiers include boxing great Joe Louis and ground-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson. Even after the traditional regiments were effectively disbanded and integrated with white troops, their legacy lived on in songs by musicians like Bob Marley, The Flamingos, and Quincy Jones. You can learn more about the proud and complex history of these tenacious troops at a museum dedicated to their achievements in Houston, Texas – the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. Cannon at the Gettysburg Battlefield at sunset © drnadig / Getty Images Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Gettysburg remains an important touchstone for Americans even 157 years after one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War was fought here and President Abraham Lincoln's famous address on national unity. At the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, you can learn more about why it was such a significant – and bloody – campaign that cost 8,000 soldiers their lives. Take a tour of the battlefield itself, whether self-led, with a park ranger, or on a guided bus tour, and pay a visit to Dobbin House, an important stop on the Under Ground Railroad in the region and the oldest surviving home in the area. Last but certainly not least, pay your respects to the 3,500 Union soldiers who are interred at the Getysburg at the National Cemetery. While it's just an hour and a half from Washington DC to Gettysburg, you can make a day trip or a weekend of it by booking a stay at the nearby. You can actually rent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens' log home – built in 1790 and beautifully restored as a vacation rental – which is close to numerous historic sites like the Shriver House Museum and Jennie Wade House. Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois © Ray Laskowitz / Lonely Planet Chicago, Illinois Best known as the home of the Chicago Bears, it's sometimes easy to forget that Soldier Field is a memorial to those service members who gave all in World War I. But that's not all Chicago has to offer veterans or those who want to learn more about service members' contributions. Pay a visit to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, founded by Colonel Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG as a non-partisan institution dedicated to increasing public awareness and understanding of military history and the many individuals who played a part. You can also visit the National Veterans Art Museum, which for 35 years has collected over 2,500 artworks by those who have served in combat, not only in the US, but around the world. The powerful works in the collection range from paintings and sculptures to intermedia pieces and installations that reflect on themes from PTSD to portraiture, reentry to revolution. In 2017, the National World War II Museum received a US$370 million makeover that included several exciting new exhibits © Carol Barrington / Alamy Stock Photo New Orleans, Louisiana You might be surprised that the National World War II Museum is in New Orleans rather than, say, Washington DC. But it was Louisianan workers who designed and constructed the amphibious Higgins Boat landing craft that helped US soldiers succeed in campaigns like the famous storming of Normandy on D-Day. Today, the World War II Museum has a slew of artifacts in their collection, from preserved documents and footage to a restored watercraft, aircraft, submarines and more. If you really want to immerse yourself in history, you can book a tour that includes a ride on the PT-305 torpedo boat on Lake Pontchertrain. R2WA23 A group of Maryland Army National Guard soldiers attended the reopening of the Army Womens Museum, Fort Lee, Virginia, Nov. 2, 2018 © Alamy Stock Photo Fort Lee, Virginia While women weren't officially allowed to join the military until the Army Nurse Corps was created in 1901, countless women served served their country since the American Revolution – and some like Cathay Williams even disguised themselves as men to get into active combat. You can learn more about the long history of women in the military at the the US Army Women's Museum in Fort Lee, Virginia. This unique institution first got its start in 1955 in For McClellan, Alabama, but has since lived a few different lives in a few different locations before settling down in Fort Lee Virginia in 1999 and expanding in 2018. Today, it's home to over 1.5 million documents, as well as uniforms, photographs, and other artifacts that paint a vivid picture of the oft-overlooked heroines of the US military. The Museum of the American Revolution opened in 2017 © Jumping Rocks via Getty Images Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Go back to the beginning of US military history at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. It's one of the most popular attractions in a city already packed with history, and goes beyond what you might have read in your elementary school textbooks to include the stories of women, African-Americans and Native Americans. You can get a broad overview of the Revolution and how it unfolded, as well as more personal, in-depth look at figures like Richard St. George, who is the focus of a new exhibit called Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier. Visitor looks for a name at the the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington DC © Rick Gerharter/Lonely Planet Washington DC Last but certainly not least, the nation's capitol is, naturally, full sites honoring veterans lives and contributions. From the National World War II Memorial to the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Women's Memorial to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, many are well-known, thoughtfully designed tributes to those who lost their lives fighting for their country. Others, like the American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial honor a different sort of sacrifice, while the United States' oldest and best-known resting place for veterans endures at Arlington National Cemetery. There are also tours that combine some of the city's most significant memorials and give you a chance to hear their stories in detail from a knowledgable guide. But there are numerous museums, too, where you can learn about US military history and the veterans who took part. The African American Civil War Museum tells the story about the men for whom military service was not just an act of patriotism, but also a path to freedom. For a particularly moving experience, opt for an African-American history city tour of DC that includes a stop at this unique museum. The National Guard Memorial Museum encompasses nearly 400 years of this unique wing of the Department of Defense – and you can even take a virtual tour, too. American Sailors are honored with their own collection, too, at the National Museum of the US Navy, though as of October of 2020, the museum is closed while a new campus is constructed outside the current location in the Washington Navy Yard, allowing improved access. And, of course, the National Air & Space Museum and National Museum of American History have much to offer those interested in military history, too.