Discover Civil War Battlegrounds: Road Trippin' USA

Step back in time and explore this unique and fascinating U.S. road trippin' itinerary; giving you the perfect blend of history, culture and nature as it takes you on an unforgettable journey through Pennsylvania, D.C. and Virginia.

Step back in time and explore this unique and fascinating U.S. road trippin’ itinerary; giving you the perfect blend of history, culture and nature as it takes you on an unforgettable journey through Pennsylvania, D.C. and Virginia.

The “Civil War Battlegrounds” is a one-of-a-kind road trip, venturing through two famous states and the nation’s capital, that honours those who stood up, spoke out, and created meaningful change, while paying respects to those who were caught up in the tragedy of battles and slavery.

History enthusiasts will marvel at iconic sites, memorials, and parks, where, if you close your eyes and take a deep breath, you can catapult yourself back in time; sensing what happened all those years ago.

Celebrating uprising and freedom, this road trip educates you on exactly how this country came to be where it is today.

Are you ready to start planning the history field trip of your dreams, post-pandemic? Let’s go…

Explore all of Brand USA’s 31 Amazing Self Drive Road Trip itineraries here.

Civil War Battlegrounds: Route Highlights

1. Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial

It is unthinkable to begin any journey learning about Civil War history without first exploring Washington, D.C. So let’s start there, shall we?

Broadway fans might know a little bit about what happened in the U.S. from 1776-1804 thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s epic musical ‘Hamilton’, but fast forward a few years and this itinerary has you covered.

A good place to start is at the western end of National Mall, where you’ll find the Lincoln Memorial, which honours the memory of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president.

Arlington National Cemetery was established during the 1861-1865 Civil War (the years Abraham Lincoln served as president) on the grounds of Arlington House, once the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s wife, and has been a military cemetery ever since.

2. Washington, D.C. > Richmond, Virginia

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Once you’ve had a taste of Washington, D.C., the next stop is Manassas National Battlefield Park, north of Manassas, Virginia.

This site commemorates two battles, one in 1861 and the other a year later, between the Union (North) and Confederate (South) armies.

This is where Confederate General Thomas Jackson earned the nickname ‘Stonewall’ at the First Battle of Manassas.

South of Manassas is Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, known as ‘Americas Battleground’, where four Civil War battles were fought and the war came to its climax.

A key city in the Civil War was Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America for much of the war.

The Richmond National Battlefield Park commemorates the many battles fought and the defense of the city.

  • TRAVEL TIME: 175kms: 1 hour and 48 mins drive time

3. Richmond, Virginia > Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Today, take a leisurely drive to the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, which celebrates the life of Walker, who was born to a former slave and later became the first African-American woman to charter a bank in the USA.

A civil rights activist, she also devoted her life to teaching and offering tangible improvements in the way of life for African Americans and women.

Take a respite from Civil War history and reconnect with nature to explore the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.

Travel the spectacular Skyline Drive, then take a hike on over 805 kilometres of trails to experience lush forests, waterfalls, incredible views and wildlife.

  • TRAVEL TIME: 149kms: 1 hour and 30 mins drive time

4. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia > Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Leave Shenandoah National Park and take a journey back in time once more at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, site of the famous abolitionist uprising of 1859 led by John Brown.

Tour this historic community and find battlefields, museums, a variety of hiking trails, and old-fashioned taverns and shops. Try talking to the locals to get a real feel for this interesting destination.

Okay, next up you’re going to hop in your car and travel to Gettysburg National Military Park.

This is the site of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, a turning point for the Union in the Civil War and the inspiration for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, considered by some as the most important engagement of the American Civil War.

  • TRAVEL TIME: 161kms: 2 hours drive time

5. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania > Washington, D.C.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

After all that, you’ll return to Washington, D.C. much wiser, and can explore the U.S. capital in even more depth.

Check out the African-American Civil War Memorial, which honours the service and sacrifice of over 200,000 African-American soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy during the Civil War.

Their service helped to end the war and free over four million slaves. The African American Civil War Memorial honors their service and sacrifice.

After listening to these inspiring stories, you’ll never, ever, take freedom for granted again.

Another must-see before your road trip comes to an end is Ford’s Theater; where you can tour the museum that tells the tale of the fateful night in 1865 when Lincoln was assassinated.

Once you’ve seen and experienced all there is to do in Washington, D.C., you can park your car, hand over your keys, and take some time to reflect on the power of people.

  • TRAVEL TIME: 132kms: 1 hour and 30 mins

Download the complete Civil War Battlegrounds‘ itinerary here!

Get the Road Trip Playlist

This eclectic road trip mix will immerse you in the sense of freedom and belonging that it means to be American.

Turn up the music and feel the red, white, and blue flow through your veins, as you discover the people, places, and stories that have contributed to the country’s rich history.

From John Williams and 38th Army Band, to US Marine Band and Tennessee Ernie Ford, this playlist will support you on your quest for knowledge.

Agents: Download, Escape and Explore GoUSA TV

GoUSA TV is a free premier travel entertainment channel. Watch full episodes, documentaries and films, told from the diverse perspectives of real people across America. 

Discover the Queens area of New York City through the diversity of the Latinx diaspora in the series, Americanos, available on GoUSA TV. Explore how Latinx culture brings American cities to life through the stories of those who embrace their roots and shape the future.

With more than 400 authentic and short format videos featuring destinations from all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia, there’s never been a better time to get online and enjoy some incredible travel entertainment!

Available for download in the App or Play store and on Apple TV.

More info here.

Agents: Join the USA Discovery Program

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

The USA Discovery Program is Brand USA’s official trade training platform for the USA.

Get clicking and complete your Regional Expert badge and skill up in a fun and interactive way on the south east states including the District of Columbia and Virginia and the north east state of Pennsylvania.

Click here to register and get all the knowledge for the USA.

PLUS! Design your own Road Trip with the USA Trip Planner

The Visit USA Trip Planner is an amazing (and free!) tool that matches your personal travel preferences and style.

With over 230 million data points including the best places & times to visit, reviews and hidden gems, this is one smart piece of travel tech.

This little travel genius optimises your itinerary to minimise travel time, checks when attractions are open and even recommends how much time to spend at each stop off. Brilliant!

Finally, it lets you share & collaborate with your fellow road trippers and is easy to add or revise points of interest as you go.

Find out more:

Get all the tools on Brand USA’s Travel Trade Site


From Trip Planners to Itineraries and the USA Discovery Program and Destination information, Brand USA’s Travel Trade Site for agents has you covered.

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