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The 15 Most Popular Historic Sites in America

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Outdoorsy.

The pandemic brought the National Parks System to a virtual halt in 2020 as federal shutdowns closed various sites across the country. Yellowstone National Park’s attendance from January to May plummeted by more than 70% compared with the same stretch in 2019.

However, the parks system came roaring back in 2021 as visitors to the nation’s most majestic locations arrived at record rates. In May, Yellowstone recorded the most visitors on record in that month, and through May the park had more visitors year-to-date than it had in any of the past five years.

That the breathtaking environs of famous parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite are attracting visitors at record rates is no surprise.

Nationally, outdoor activities saw a significant increase in participation in 2020 as people turned to outside hobbies to ease the stress of the pandemic. And RV rental company Outdoorsy saw a 145% increase in bookings as people took to the road for outdoor vacations.

To find the most popular historical sites in America, researchers at Outdoorsy analyzed the most recent visitation statistics from the U.S. National Park Service, ranking parks by their total number of recreation visits in 2020. The researchers also included statistics on total recreation hours, as well as the total size of each park.

Here are the most-visited historical sites in the U.S.

15. Independence National Historical Park

Independence Hall in Philadelphia at Indepence National Historic Park
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  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Recreation visits: 907,090
  • Recreation hours: 1,361,174
  • Total park acres: 44.9

14. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C.
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  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Recreation visits: 1,010,986
  • Recreation hours: 505,492
  • Total park acres: 8.1

13. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
Atomazul / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Recreation visits: 1,083,671
  • Recreation hours: 541,833
  • Total park acres: 2.7

12. Minute Man National Historical Park

Minute Man National Historic Park, Concord, Massachusetts
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Recreation visits: 1,083,973
  • Recreation hours: 1,625,957
  • Total park acres: 1,027.8

11. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

San Antonio National Historical Park
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  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State: Texas
  • Recreation visits: 1,141,353
  • Recreation hours: 1,692,670
  • Total park acres: 947.8

10. Korean War Veterans Memorial

Pierdelune / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Recreation visits: 1,363,714
  • Recreation hours: 681,856
  • Total park acres: 1.6

9. Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Recreation visits: 1,585,525
  • Recreation hours: 792,761
  • Total park acres: 2.2

8. World War II Memorial

World War 2 Memorial
Juneisy Q. Hawkins / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Recreation visits: 1,924,128
  • Recreation hours: 962,064
  • Total park acres: 8.3

7. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
steve estvanik / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State: California
  • Recreation visits: 1,936,101
  • Recreation hours: 1,930,915
  • Total park acres: 49.9

6. Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania
Delmas Lehman / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Recreation visits: 2,012,832
  • Recreation hours: 4,025,664
  • Total park acres: 3,468.5

5. Mount Rushmore National Memorial

visionteller / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: South Dakota
  • Recreation visits: 2,074,986
  • Recreation hours: 2,732,050
  • Total park acres: 1,278.5

4. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Battlefield Park
  • State: Georgia
  • Recreation visits: 2,356,401
  • Recreation hours: 3,683,500
  • Total park acres: 2,913.6

3. Colonial National Historical Park

Colonial National Historic Park
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State: Virginia
  • Recreation visits: 2,946,594
  • Recreation hours: 2,987,790
  • Total park acres: 8,675.0

2. Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Memorial
  • State: Washington, D.C.
  • Recreation visits: 2,980,075
  • Recreation hours: 1,490,037
  • Total park acres: 7.3

1. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Park type: National Historical Park
  • State(s): Maryland-Washington, D.C.-West Virginia
  • Recreation visits: 4,888,436
  • Recreation hours: 10,246,241
  • Total park acres: 19,612.4

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. National Park Service. For the purpose of this analysis, a national historical site was defined as any one of the following: national battlefield, national battlefield park, national historic site, national historical park, national memorial, or national military park. To determine the most popular historical sites in America, researchers ranked these sites based on the number of recreational visits in 2020.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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