The National Park Service offers
more than lovely landscapes.
Try touring these historic locales
; Tuskegee Airmen National
Historic Site, Alabama
As World War II raged overseas,
Tuskegee, Alabama, became the site
of a barrier-breaking program when
African American pilots and mechanics were granted U.S. military training
there. During their service the pilots
of the 332nd Fighter Group protected
Allied bombers and eventually shot
down more than 100 enemy aircraft.
Today you can explore the site’s Visitor Center, where you’ll find related
exhibits and a theater that shows
historical films of the Tuskegee Airmen in action. Then head over to
Hangar #1, climb into a 1940s flight
simulator, and listen to the recorded
voices of these heroic men. Plus, if
you take a tour of this site over Memorial Day weekend, you can attend the
Tuskegee Airmen Fly-In, complete
with aerobatics, special exhibits, and
food (334-724-0922; nps.gov/tuai).
IN PLANE SIGHT Tuskegee cadetsgreet Air Force captain BenjaminO. Davis Jr., farright,in 1942.
; Thomas Edison National
Historical Park, New Jersey
A recent multimillion-dollar preservation brought upgrades to this West
Orange historic park. The grounds
include 14 research and manufacturing buildings and Edison’s 29-room
home. Listen to an original phonograph and tour the photography studio. Then drive a mile to Glenmont,
his estate. If you time your visit just
right, you can participate in Edison
Day, held on the first Saturday in June
You can also take a topside tour of the
launch-control facility. Then drive 11
miles to the now unarmed five-story-deep Minuteman II missile silo to
hear a ranger describe the Minuteman system. The training missile is
now visible through a clear dome
SEE A SCIENTIST’S STUFF Thomas
Edison National Historical Park is now
home to more than 400,000 artifacts.
; Minuteman Missile National
Historic Site, South Dakota
Ride a small elevator 31 feet below the
prairie, 75 miles east of Rapid City, to
a tiny, egg-shaped capsule, the former
home-away-from-home for Air Force
officers charged with launching a
counterattack against any nuclear-missile strike during the cold war.
For three decades, crews lived and
worked inside similar rooms, ready
to arm a Minuteman II missile able to
reach speeds of 15,000 miles per hour.
; Manzanar National Historic
In 1942 the U.S. government detained
more than 110,000 people of Japanese
descent in ten remote, military-style
camps across the country. More than
10,000 were sent to Manzanar War
Relocation Center, halfway between
Los Angeles and Reno, Nevada. Hundreds of structures once dotted the
6,200-acre site, but only three original
structures remain. Visit the Interpretive Center to see a replicated camp
barracks. Then take a 3.2-mile self-guided driving tour. You’ll pass the
original sentry posts and cemetery,
the final resting place of six internees (760-878-2194; nps.gov/manz).