On International Women's Day - and every day - we pay tribute to the American women who paved the way for voting rights and civil rights, who helped bring an end to slavery, and who inspired all Americans to live up to our nation's highest ideals. Here, 10 travel destinations every American should see.
Last year marked the centennial of women getting the right to vote in New York state. (Yes, two years before the 19th amendment passed.) Here, we pay tribute to women who knocked down barriers in all different fields and established a new normal at these destinations that honor their lives. From Seneca Falls, NY (site of the Women's Right Conference) to the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery, AL, to the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and beyond, each of these sites makes a great travel destination, a short flight or road trip away from many major cities and offering affordable lodging nearby, as well as a timely reminder of all that American women have achieved and continue to achieve each day.
1. SENECA FALLS, NY
In Seneca Falls, NY, activists Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Bloomer, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, among others, held the Women's Rights Convention, galvanizing the women's suffrage movement that eventually led the passage of the 19th amendment, in 1919.
2. AMELIA EARHART BIRTHPLACE MUSEUM
When it comes to women making a huge impact in a notoriously male-dominated industry, Amelia Earhart stands second to none. Her childhood home in Atchison, Kansas, a Gothic revival cottage on the banks of the Missouri River, stands today as the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, a tribute to her life. The house is set up with turn-of-the-20th-century furniture and artifacts, presumably as it was during Earhart’s lifetime, and features an assortment of portraits of Earhart and her family as well as aviation memorabilia, including flight maps said to be from her fateful final flight.
3. ROSA PARKS LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
Located in a grand building that also houses the TROY-Montgomery Campus Library in downtown Montgomery, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum is a shrine to one of the landmark events of the Civil Rights movement and the woman who became an accidental icon. Among the many highlights of the collection is a replica of the public bus where Ms. Parks’s defiant act went down in 1955. It also features various interactive and educational attractions for kids.
4. WOMEN'S MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA
With a roster of temporary exhibits that have focused on everything from women who have disrupted the political establishment to Chicana activism and art to feminist photographers to the plight of women refugees, the Women's Museum of California, in San Diego, is an authoritative source on American history.
5. SOJOURNER TRUTH MEMORIAL
Boston, of course, is a hub of landmarks and lore that celebrate and commemorate our nation’s early history. But head west towards the Berkshires you could visit Northampton, an area that several of history’s remarkable women called home base, including Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist and women's rights activist who escaped slavery. She's honored with the inspiring Sojourner Truth Memorial in nearby Florence. Not far away in Amherst, the Emily Dickinson Museum, located in an historic home designed to replicate the poet's dwellings, is a tribute to her life and contribution to the arts.
6. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS
Female artists from the 16th century through today take center stage at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in Washington DC. From Renaissance painters to Rembrandt’s contemporaries in Northern Europe to Pop Art practitioners of the 1960s, the museum’s collection of over 4,500 works is a survey of the creative expression of women who produced their handiwork in the shadows of their marquee-name male counterparts.
7. SUSAN B. ANTHONY HOUSE
It’s only a modest colonial-style house on a tree-lined road in Rochester, New York, but it was ground zero for some of the most progressive feminist and civil rights thinking and organizing in the late 19th century. The Susan B. Anthony House, the iconic activist's original residence, was the command center for the National American Woman Suffrage Association and where the civil rights leader herself was arrested. Today it’s a National Historic Landmark, a memorial, and a library of research material and personal artifacts.
8. BURLESQUE HALL OF FAME
If you think of burlesque as little more than a strip tease, think again. Burlesque performers led the way for an entire feminist movement rooted in empowerment, control, and confidence. The Burlesque Hall of Fame, in Las Vegas, pays homage to some of the movement’s sassy ground breakers and glass ceiling crackers.
Every American president has some kind of dedicated tribute site. Not so for first ladies, with the exception of one: Eleanor Roosevelt, a tireless trail-blazer for social reform and women’s rights. At Val-Kill, her historic Hyde Park, New York, property and the location of her elegant stone cottage, her spirit is alive. The cottage houses “Eleanor Roosevelt and Val-Kill: Emergence of a Political Leader," a new permanent exhibit that explores how she and her circle of influential friends and colleagues forged the national agenda in the 1920s and 1930s.
10. HARRIET TUBMAN HOME FOR THE AGED
After the numerous trips she took on her Underground Railroad to lead about 300 slaves to freedom, Harriet Tubman, a former slave herself, took up residence in Auburn, New York in a property she acquired from Governor William H. Seward. It was here that she took up the cause of helping former slaves, particularly children and the elderly, and managed to squeeze in some suffrage activism activity, too. Today, the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged and the surrounding land, owned by AME Zion Church, is a National Historic Landmark.