Road Trip Week 2: Armchair Explorer
There's lots to explore this week in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia. Check out some of the places we've enjoyed virtually exploring below. And don't forget to do some exploring of your own - what cool places can you find?
There are countless museums in New York City, but, thanks to Night at the Museum, the one that always comes to mind first (for us, anyway) is the American Museum of Natural History. You can explore their special science website for kids, check out their online exhibits, and explore the museum virtually.
A New York (and American) icon is the Statue of Liberty. Did you know you can take a virtual tour of monument? Near the Statue of Liberty is Ellis Island and the National Immigration Museum. Looking for information on family members that passed through Ellis Island? You can do research through their passenger database.
At the Museum of Chinese in America you can learn about the experiences of Chinese immigrants and Asian racism and stereotypes in their exhibit video for With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America. You can also explore their digital magazine MOCA Heroes.
The Lakehurst Naval Air Station is the location of the Hindenburg crash site. You can learn more about the disaster, including hearing stories from survivors and spectators, through the Navy Lakehurst Historical Society.
In Grovers Mill, a small village located within West Windsor, New Jersey, you can visit a monument dedicated to the infamous 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast in which the tiny village is the landing site for Martians. If you're interested in learning more about the broadcast itself, our staff member Alaina highly recommends the book Spooked: How a Radio Broadcast and the War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 American Invasion, which is available to borrow at the library.
The original broadcast is definitely worth listening to, as well. Would you have thought the broadcast was real if you heard it on the radio in 1938?
Have you ever wondered what the Liberty Bell sounds like? On the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center website you can hear an approximation of how the Liberty Bell would've sounded, as well as listen to the nationwide broadcast on June 6, 1944 when the Liberty Bell was struck seven times for L-I-B-E-R-T-Y on D-Day. They also have some really interesting videos about Independence Hall and Philadelphia.
Fallingwater, the famous house that was designed in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright, is located in Mill Run, PA. Check out the Fallingwater From Home section of their website to learn more about the house, take some virtual tours, try some at-home activities, and watch some of their free webinars.
Check out the Valley Forge National Historical Park website to learn more about the site that served as a Continental Army encampment in winter of 1777-1778. The visitor orientation film gives a great overview of Valley Forge, and there's also interesting information on American Indians, Patriots of Color, and Women at Valley Forge.
There's so much you can explore on the Gettysburg National Military Park website. We definitely recommend their virtual tour of the battlefield, which takes you through all the key sites. Their collection of "Then & Now" battlefield photos is also really interesting and worth checking out.
One of the most interesting places in Pennsylvania (according to Alaina, anyway) is the Mutter Museum, located in Philadelphia. This museum of medical history is not for the easily squeamish, but it's a truly fascinating place featuring models, medical instruments, anatomical specimens, and even a medicinal plant garden. The Mutter Museum has excelled at creating virtual content during the pandemic as part of their Mutter@Home program. Check out their website for virtual tours of their various special exhibits, coloring pages, trivia quizzes, a scavenger hunt, mini lessons, and even a virtual escape room. Be sure to spend some time exploring the rest of the site to learn more about the many interesting things in their collection and some of their past exhibits (in case you want to learn more about art made from human hair).
Delaware became known as The First State because it was the first to ratify the Constitution. You can virtually explore First State National Park to learn more about Delaware's history and historic sites.
Antietam National Battlefield is located in Sharpsburg, Maryland. You can take a virtual tour of the battlefield, look at historic photographs taken after the battle, check out some of the artifacts in their collection, and lots more.
There's lots to explore at the Civil War Medicine Museum in Frederick, Maryland. You can learn about their artifacts on display, explore their digital exhibits, and listen to the museum's podcast. If you like learning about Civil War medicine, be sure to also check out their extensive collection of video presentations.
The Smithsonian Institution is massive - there are 19 museums and galleries, research facilities, and a zoological park. They also have 17 different podcasts! Definitely be sure to spend some time exploring the main Smithsonian site - you can view some of the collection (check out some of the vintage toys and games they have!), watch their animal cams, play games, and more!
You can also explore each of the museums and their collections - the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture are all great places to check out!
Another important museum with a tremendous amount of virtual resources is The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - their "Learn" page has lots of information about the Holocaust and antisemitism, as well as key videos and even podcasts. Their video series on the stories behind the artifacts in their collections, as well as their special programs with Holocaust survivors, are especially moving.
You can learn about historic Jamestown through their Dig Deeper series. Explore the Jamestown website further to learn more about the history of Jamestown, see a collection of artifacts they've recovered from the site, and even download coloring pages.
Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living-history museum in the world, and their website is pretty massive, too. You can explore the museum through a virtual tour, learn about their Rare Breeds program, explore their blog (including a collection of recipes that would fun to try!), and much more!
You can learn about the Shenandoah Valley at the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park. You can learn about the history of the Shenandoah Valley, check out photos of re-enactments, and explore their virtual exhibits.
While Virginia contains the most miles of the Appalachian Trail, West Virginia is where you'll find the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail national park. Try exploring the trail by state - can you find which state has the most challenging portion of the trail? Or how about the states with the gentlest terrain?