National Historic Landmarks You Absolutely Must Visit

The designation of 10 new national historic landmarks was recently announced by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. The designation recognizes the properties as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.

This designation joins more than 2,500 other National Historic Landmarks nationwide. Here are six of our favorites:

Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Now an historical museum, the Palace of Governors houses more than 1,700 artifacts. One of the best places to shop for traditional Native American jewelry is beneath its eaves. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now an historical museum, the Palace of Governors houses more than 1,700 artifacts. One of the best places to shop for traditional Native American jewelry is beneath its eaves. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain’s seat of government for what is today the American Southwest, the Palace of the Governors chronicles the history of Santa Fe, as well as New Mexico and the region. A fortified building, it served as residence, offices, workshops, and storerooms for the representative of the Spanish king; thus, they were called “royal houses.” Now an historical museum, the Palace of Governors houses more than 1,700 artifacts.

King Ranch, Texas

Today, King Ranch is designated a National Historic Landmark and is historically recognized as the birthplace of the American ranching industry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today, King Ranch is designated a National Historic Landmark and is historically recognized as the birthplace of the American ranching industry. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kingsville is located on part of a Mexican land grant purchased by Captain Richard King in 1853. Today, King Ranch is recognized as the birthplace of the American ranching industry. The four South Texas divisions sprawl across nearly a million acres of Gulf of Mexico coastal plains.

Santa Gertudis and King Ranch Santa Cruz breeds of cattle, Quarter horses, Texas Longhorn cattle, and a rich diversity of native wildlife welcome visitors during one of the variety of tours offered to public. Tours originate from the Visitor Center on the Santa Gertudis Division, just minutes from downtown Kingsville.

Roma Historic District, Texas

The Roma Bluffs World Birding Center is located in the old plaza in Roma’s National Historic District. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Roma Bluffs World Birding Center is located in the old plaza in Roma’s National Historic District. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roma Historic District features a central plaza surrounded by vintage structures that illustrate building techniques used along the Rio Grande during the 19th Century. Several of the structures were designed by Heinrich Portscheller, a German architect who arrived in 1879 and combined European styles with local stone and ornate brickwork.

Roma Bluffs offers a magnificent view of the river, island, and woodlands below, as well as views across the border to the Mexican town of Miguel Aleman.

Labrot & Graham’s Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, Kentucky

With its small-scale production, old-fashioned copper pot stills, longer fermenting and distilling time, and hand-bottling, Labrot & Graham's Woodford Reserve bourbon is made much as Pepper's bourbon was in the 1800s. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With its small-scale production, old-fashioned copper pot stills, longer fermenting and distilling time, and hand-bottling, Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve bourbon is made much as Pepper’s bourbon was in the 1800s. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A restored historic distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery is steeped in tradition. This small, picturesque distillery is nestled along Glenn’s Creek at the site where Elijah Pepper, one of the famous early Bluegrass distillers, set up his distillery in 1812. The Labrot & Graham name goes back to 1878 when James Graham and Leopold Labrot bought the property. Re-opened in 1996 by the Brown-Foreman Corporation, The Woodford Reserve Distillery gives visitors a sense of what bourbon making was like in the 1800s. With its small-scale production, old-fashioned copper pot stills, longer fermenting and distilling time, and hand-bottling, Labrot & Graham’s Woodford Reserve bourbon is made much as Pepper’s bourbon was in the 1800s.

Old State House, Frankfurt, Kentucky

The front elevation of the Old State Capitol was inspired by the classical Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene, Ionia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The front elevation of the Old State Capitol was inspired by the classical Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene, Ionia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kentucky’s Old State House is the third permanent capitol erected on Frankfort’s old public square. The two previous structures on this site had burned. The Old State House was constructed from 1827 to 1830. The architectural style of the building is significant as it represents the introduction of the Greek Revival style into Kentucky and the pioneering west.

The front elevation of the building was inspired by the classical Temple of Minerva Polias at Priene, Ionia. It is faced in polished Kentucky River marble, limestone quarried near Frankfort.

Jekyll Island Historic District, Georgia

By 1900, The Jekyll Island Club membership included the Rockefellers, Morgans, Cranes and Goulds and represented over one-sixth of the world’s wealth. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By 1900, The Jekyll Island Club membership included the Rockefellers, Morgans, Cranes and Goulds and represented over one-sixth of the world’s wealth. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1886, Jekyll Island was purchased to become an exclusive winter retreat, known as the Jekyll Island Club. Members included such notable figures as J.P. Morgan, Joseph Pulitzer, William K. Vanderbilt, and Marshall Field. Jekyll Island, with its cottage colony and clubhouse, was viewed as a little paradise, where members and guests pursued “a life of elegant leisure.” Today, the former Club grounds comprise a 240-acre site with 34 historic structures.

Worth Pondering…

Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.

—Freya Stark

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