Revolution and Revolt on the Historic Trail

Envision American history as a living thing, and this route would be a tour of its central nervous system, from the staging ground of the American Revolution to the nation-forming Civil War to the breeding ground of the States' current political climate.
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The Philadelphia Liberty Bell
Touching the Past: The Philadelphia Liberty Bell  (Photodisc)

Trace the trail of revolutionaries, founding fathers, and freedom fighters on a trip through Philadelphia, PA, to Washington, D.C., and on to Harpers Ferry, WV. Along the way visit top-rated museums and kid-friendly attractions plus enjoy bike riding, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.

Days One & Two: Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, revolutionary history comes alive. See the Liberty Bell (215.965.2305; and Independence Hall (215.965.2305), where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted. Hands-on exhibits at the National Constitution Center (215.409.6600; enable kids to learn more about this remarkable document. Don't miss the evening Lights of Liberty tour. (215.LIBERTY) which combines larger-than-life projections of revolutionary heroes, the rabble, and the Redcoats with an engaging commentary delivered on headphones with a sophisticated sound track—the background noises of horses' hooves, mob cries, and cannon shots make you feel part of the 18th-century action.

Along with an exhibit on Franklin's inventions, the Franklin Institute Science Museum, (212.448.1200; features hundreds of hands-on exhibits. Kids can measure the height of their basketball jumps, find out how angles help ace tennis games, and walk through a giant heart. Cruising the RiverLink Ferry (856.365.1166; across the Delaware River is the fun way to arrive at Camden's Adventure Aquarium (856.365.3300;, whose highlight is a 40-foot tunnel where toothy sharks swim above and around you. The Reading Terminal Market, (215.922.2317;, a great place for lunch, features rows upon rows of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meat as well as salads and sandwiches. This is a good place to try a Philly cheese steak, as is Geno's Steaks (215.389.0659;

Those with young kids should drive about 40 minutes north of the city to Sesame Place, (215.752.7070;, a park combining water-themed play areas with Sesame Street characters.

For more revolutionary history, head to Valley Forge (610.783.1077;, about 30 minutes from Philadelphia. It was here that General George Washington and the Continental Army suffered through six months of a winter so severe that 2,000 soldiers died despite the fact that no battle was fought.

Bed down overnight at one of the many hotels within Philly, or head for the Philadelphia/West Chester KOA (800.562.1726;, located about 45 miles west of Philly.

Published: 1 Mar 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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