Everyone has their own idea of the perfect vacation. Some people like the mountains, others the beaches; some people prefer a big city, and some would rather be out in the country, far away from everyone. At first glance, a vacation to a historic battlefield might sound a little dull — if not insensitive. However, as someone who has visited several battlefields in the United States, I can say that traveling and exploring a battlefield is a great way to connect with our past, to learn something new, and appreciate the sacrifices our ancestors made so we can enjoy all the things we do today. Below is a list of five battlefields you might consider visiting in 2019.

Battle of Trenton, American Revolution — Trenton, New Jersey

The battle of Trenton is remembered as the battle where General George Washington crossed the Delaware River and slaughtered several sleeping Hessian mercenaries who were working for the British on the day after Christmas. The battle is often referred to as “the turning point” of the American Revolution as the victory gave Washington’s forces the morale boost it needed to defeat the Red Coats. According to the National Park Service, the battlefield is part of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and is open Tuesday-Sunday. This one is probably best visited in the Summertime, but for the Authentic experience you’ll have to visit during the Winter — but that’s okay, the visitor center is open on Christmas!

The Battle of Trenton inspired this famous painting by Emanuel Leutze of Gen. George Washington crossing the Delaware River. National Archives photo

Battle of Cold Harbor, American Civil War — Mechanicsville, Virginia

The battle of Cold Harbor, fought in the Spring of 1864 is one of the lesser-known battles of the American Civil War, but was also one of the bloodiest. According to the National Park Service, the battle was the scene of one of the last Confederate victories in the war, and it also ushered in the era of earthwork defense, which would go on to define the first World War. Cold Harbor is near Richmond, Virginia, and visitors are permitted to tour the battlefield — which includes the remains of the fortifications (called ‘breastworks’ at the time), as well as a Union Army cemetery.

The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, devastated during the June 1 fighting at Cold Harbor in Virginia, was memorialized on this monument on the town green in their hometown of Litchfield.
NPS Photo

Battle of the Belleau Wood, World War One — France

The United States Marine Corps fought against the Germans at Belleau Wood in 1918, and were so brutal to the enemy that a German army commander nicknamed his Marine adversaries “Devil Dogs,” which is a moniker the Corps still proudly uses today. The battlefield is located east of Paris, and several companies offer tours and transportation to and from the American monument in Belleau Wood — which is also the site of a visitor center where you can tour a part of the actual battlefield. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, visitors who travel to Belleau Wood can view original trenchworks, shell holes, and even weapons that were recovered after the battle.

BELLEAU WOOD, France — Local resident and historian Gilles Lagin, who has studied the battle of Belleau Wood for more than 30 years, shows Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Dave Bumgardner a German mask found next to the remains he discovered on a recent battle study. (US Marine Corps photo by Master Sgt. Phil Mehringer)

Battle of Normandy Beach, World War Two — France