Are you looking for historical sites in the South of the USA? If so you are in the right place. In this article, we will walk you through southern USA historical sites, southern USA monuments, and landmarks and famous sites in the southern USA.
There is so much history in the southern states of the USA and much of it is well preserved. There are so many battlefields, monuments, and places of interest and we have included a variety here.
The history of the South while rich and abundant is also very complex. We think it’s important when you visit these historical sites that you keep in mind the nature of the region’s history.
We have chosen here a mixture of different types of historic sites in the south. Obviously, the list is only a selection and not exhaustive.
Are you ready to see which historical landmarks in the south we have chosen for you? Grab a drink, pull up a chair, and let us walk you through historical sites in the South USA.
16 Best Historical Sites In The Southern USA You Must Visit
Dry Tortugas National Park/Fort Jefferson – Florida
When it comes to Florida’s historic sites this is one you have to visit. Not only is the location outstanding but the fort is really interesting and makes for a great day out.
Of all the historic forts in the south, this one by far sits in the most beautiful location. Dry Tortugas National Park is made up of seven breathtaking islands 70 miles off the coast of Key West.
You will be greeted with white sand beaches, turquoise water a rich and lively coral reef, and the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere, Fort Jefferson.
The 19th century fort was named after the 3rd US President, Thomas Jefferson, and was built to protect the southern coast of the USA. It was also used as a prison for criminals and deserters during and after the Civil War.
The fort comprises 16 million bricks and still remains unfinished. It covers 16 acres of the largest island and is steeped in history.
This is one of the historical sites in the south that you can’t drive to. To get here you take a ferry or a seaplane from Key West. Believe us though this is one of the historical places in the southern USA you will want to see.
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site – Alabama
This is one of the historical places to visit in the south that we feel everyone needs to visit. Here the legacy and history of the Tuskegee Institute, a college for African Americans founded in 1881 are preserved.
The first class was held here on July 4, 1881, when 30 students, mostly children of former slaves, celebrated their freedom. The school run by Booker T. Washington, a former slave who started the school with only $2,000 with no funds for land, buildings, or equipment.
The school later moved into the Bowen Estate on abandoned plantation farmland. Most of the early buildings were built by the students.
Today the main features are the house of Booker T. Washington known as The Oaks and the building that housed George Washington Carver’s laboratory. There is also an administrative office and the site includes a 50-acre Historic Campus District consisting of most of the original campus building.
This is one of the southern USA historical sites in Alabama that are best enjoyed by a guided tour.
Freedmen’s Town National Historic District – Texas
Established in 1865 as a community for formerly enslaved people from surrounding plantations Freedmans, Texas is now a nationally registered historical site.
Located southwest of downtown Houston this is one of the historical sites in the south everyone should visit. It marks an important and significant historical story.
After being established Freedman’s grew significantly and became a center for black culture in the area. Jazz clubs, black-owned restaurants, and businesses soon populated the area.
The community went through a lot including dealing with segregation in the city, expansion into the area, broken government promises, and eventually a wall that separated the black from the white community beyond.
In the 1970’s fearing the area would be lost to newer development historians stepped in to save the area. They began work to save the remaining homes, churches, and businesses. In 1985 the area was finally recognized as a nationally registered historical site.
The work still continues today to preserve this area and transform our understanding of emancipation to freedom. This is one of the historic sites in the south that we feel is so important for the understanding of our history.
Mercer Williams House – Savannah, Georgia
One of the historical places in the southern USA that is just beautiful. The Mercer Williams House, Savannah is in the Renaissance Revival style of architecture and dates from the 1860s.
Despite its name no Mercer ever lived in the house even though they began the construction in 1860. The house however is best known as the site of one of Savannah’s most notorious murders, depicted in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
The house now operates as a museum and runs guided tours throughout the day. One of the historical landmarks in the south that really does have a story to tell. It is truly one of the best Museums In Savannah!
Fort Sumter National Monument – Charleston, South Carolina
Only accessible by boat Fort Sumter is in Charleston South Carolina. This is one of the historic forts in the south that played an important role in the Civil War and saw some of the first shots fired.
This sea fort was built on an artificial island to protect Charleston from invasion. It dates from the 1812 British invasion and still wasn’t completed in 1861 when the battle of Fort Sumter began the American Civil War.
Here you will get to see the gun emplacements, the fort ruins, and the museum. They also have sunset tours during March and October.
The fort is a 30-minute ferry ride from Charleston and there are a lot of tours to the island. These ruins in the south are well worth a visit. I have a post that walks you through exactly what Exploring Fort Sumter is really like.
The Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina
If you are in the North Carolina area we highly recommend a visit here. To say this place is beautiful is an underestimation. The Estate is also a vineyard so try some wine while you are here.
George Vanderbilt built this home in 1895, and the gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park in NYC. It’s probably one of the most famous sites in the southern USA.
There are 250 rooms to see here each as grand as the one before. The real star here though is the beautiful gardens and the view of this incredible house from various vantage points.
You could be forgiven here for thinking you are in a European fairytale with yourself as the main character. Definitely one of the historical sites in the south where you can stay and relax for a while. Don’t forget to visit the Biltmore during the holidays! It is one of the best places for Christmas in North Carolina and they really go all out!
Mount Vernon – Alexandria, Virginia
George Washington’s former home is a great place to learn about the president’s early life. Close to Washington DC, Virginia, this is an excellent day trip from the capital.
You can tour the house, visit Washingtons’ Grave and walk around the 50 acres of land that is part of the estate. This is one of the southern USA monuments and landmarks that has a lot to offer.
There is also a working distillery on site. If you have never visited before it really is well worth a visit and makes a great day out.
Williamsburg, Virginia is the premier center for the preservation and interpretation of American colonial history. This small town is full of famous southern monuments.
Here you will find historic locations, museums, nature, and some beautiful buildings. It’s also a great place for food and wine. The town is charming and quaint and was founded as the capital of the Virginia Colony in 1699.
It’s one of America’s first planned cities and still retains the beauty it had when built. When it comes to historical sites in the south USA this place should definitely be on your list.
Vicksburg National Military Park -Mississippi
Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg. This battle lasted from March 29 to Jul 4 1863 with a siege lasting from May 18th – July 4th and was some of the final major military action. This battle marked somewhat of a turning point in the war.
This is one of the famous southern monuments where you will see reconstructed forts and trenches. There are over 1400 monuments and memorials to enjoy. The park also is home to the USS Cairo the only remaining example of a City Class ironclad.
You can go on guided or self-guided tours here and there is so much to see and do you can really make a day of it.
Mooresville – Alabama
With a population of under 100 people, this town is on the National Registry of Historic Places. A visit here feels like going back in town.
Nearly every building here is from the 19th century and you can tour many of them. A trip here is about learning what life was like in times gone by.
Mooresville was the first town incorporated in Alabama in 1818. It’s one of the most intact historic villages and despite its small size, there is a lot to see and do and it’s a beautiful place to explore.
Swan House, Atlanta, Georgia
The house of Edward Inman designed by Phillip T Shiutze is a beautiful example of Neoclassic architecture. Walking around the rooms you get a real feel of how the wealthy lived in the 1920s.
It’s a house that might seem familiar to some of you as it featured as President Snow’s mansion in the Hunger Games. It’s listed on the national register of historic places.
This a beautiful house with some incredible garden and is well worth a visit. One of the historical sites in the south in Georgia for your itinerary.
Henry Clay’s Estate, Lexington, Kentucky
The home of one the most influential early politicians that really does deserve a visit. Henry Clay escaped here when Washington DC when things got too much for him.
Clay represented Kentucky in both the Senate and the House and he was influential in pretty much every part of politics. He is most known for helping establish a national bank and liberating the South Americans from Spanish rule. Most feel he is one of the most underrated politicians.
The house is open from March to December and there are walking tours around the house and you’re free to explore the gardens. This house is a place that celebrates his life and legacy.
Ernest Hemingway’s Home- Key West, Florida
If you could think of a perfect home for a writer chances are a home similar to Ernest Hemingway’s would come to mind. It’s a light airy home that is just beautiful
The tropical setting is beautiful, the breezes running through the home heavenly and the views spectacular. It’s one of those Florida historic sites that everyone needs to visit.
It’s also a home full of unusual treasures collected by the writer. The house is in the Frech colonial style and really is stunning.
The house is also inhabited by dozens of cats known as Hemingway cats who are named after celebrities and over half are polydactyl.
Shiloh Indian Mounds – Tennessee
Located in the Shiloh National Military Park, Tenessee on the historic Shiloh battlefield is the Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark. Here lies the site of an 800-year old Native American Village.
The mound consists of six rectangle platform mounds and an oval burial mound. This area was the centerpiece of what archaeologists call the Shiloh Chiefdom.
These mounds are unique for a few reasons, first, they have never been plowed so kept their original pyramid shape. Secondly, cultural deposits and artifacts have stayed intact with no looting or damage.
It’s also one of the few sites where surface remains of prehistoric houses can be seen. When it comes to ruins in the south they don’t get much older than this.
Baton Rouge National Cemetery – Louisiana
Established in 1868 as a resting place for Union soldiers killed during the Civil War this United States National Cemetery, Louisiana sits in just over 7 and ½ acres of land.
The first graves were placed during the Civil War but the majority of graves here are from the bloody battles in this area. Soldiers who died in Baton Rouge and the surrounding battlefields, including Plaquemine and Camden are buried here.
It became an official National Cemetery in 1867 when money was given to anyone who could identify a grave of a Union soldier so it could be reinterred in the cemetery.
Notable interments here are General Philemon Thomas, Lieutenant General Troy Houston Middleton, Aden and Emma King, and Levi S. Porter.
The Massachusetts Monument is also here. This monument memorializes the officers of the 31st and 41st Infantry and of the men from Massachusetts who lost their lives in the Department of the Gulf during the Civil War.
The cemetery contains a total of 2,936 graves, of which 494 contain the remains of unknown U.S. soldiers. The cematory is beautifully maintained and while it may be a somber place to visit it’s one of the important historical sites in the south.
Beaver Bridge – Beaver, Arkansas
Known as the ‘Little Golden Date Bridge” Beaver Bridge takes Highway 187 traffic across the White River.
The last suspension bridge of its type in the state the bridge was built in 1949 and is located in the little town of Beaver, Arkansas.
The bridge is 554 feet long and 11 feet wide meaning it can only take traffic one way at a time.
The bridge is a unique feature in the Ozarks and nestles among the mountains making for some beautiful photographs.
As you can see when it comes to historical sites in the south USA there are so many to choose from. Whichever of these famous sites in the southern USA you choose to visit we know you will have a great time.
Visit some of the ruins in the south or the historic forts in the south or take in the southern USA monuments and landmarks. Whatever you decide to do have a great vacation and come back and tell us all about it.