Top Picks: National Hispanic Heritage Sites in the U.S.

September marks Hispanic Heritage Month, so we’re rolling out with the best locations to celebrate. All of these sites are with the National Parks Service, so don’t miss out on all the amenities that come with that, such as discounted senior passes, educational opportunities for the kids and more! These places are rich in historical value, cultural significance and natural beauty for national hispanic heritage month! So read on and explore our top picks:

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail:
Named after Spanish Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, the namesake trail was first known for the 1776 trek where Captain de Anza led about 300 people from New Spain to San Francisco. The trail has a great map, tons of historical sites, traveler journals and a nifty interactive guide.

De Soto National Memorial:

In honor of the 1539 Conquistador Hernando de Soto, the Florida coast (in Bradenton) features the De Soto National Memorial. In his search for resources and fame, De Soto made the history books as he clashed with indigenous people and explored the southeast coast for four long years. The memorial displays the rich history and outlines the cultural interactions De Soto was involved in. The museum has a great interactive map of his timeline and exhibits of archeological sites. There’s also an easy, self-guided walk through a nature trail that visitors can appreciate. It looks just as it did all those centuries ago so you’ll feel like you just stepped back in time!  A great location to visit during national hispanic heritage month!

Dry Tortugas National Park:
The seven keys that make up Dry Tortugas National Park are definitely worth a visit! As a strategic location during the late 1700s, the Dry Tortugas connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and with that brought scores of vessels through its waters. During that time, the channel was used by many Spanish explorers and traders looking to expand their routes and profits. Garden Keys’ Fort Jefferson has since become the largest fort in the United States and was built to guard the Gulf of Mexico, but has been under constant reconstruction since the 1840s. Most of the park is self-guided and allows visitors to freely explore the natural keys and the abundant wildlife!

Padre Island National Seashore:
Can you believe Padre Island National Seashore ownership has traded hands numerous times over the last few centuries? First came Spain up until the Mexican Revolution of 1820, then Mexico for about a decade or so. Next up was the Republic of Texas until the U.S. acquired it during the Mexican-American War. The first permanent arrangement came in 1804 with Spanish priest Padre Nicolas Balli, hence the park name. Any other visitors or occupants were limited to Native Americans and Spanish ships. Now, the island is used predominantly for ranching and tourism. World War II had some impact as well when the Navy used the northern section of the island as a bombing range. The island is steeped in history (probably the most out of all locations within national hispanic heritage month) and the untouched seashore will take you back in time and is definitely worth the visit! 

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park:
The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park entered the National Park Service family in 1978. The missions are a testament to the Spanish inhabitants of the 1700s, their resilience and their assimilation to governing parties, such as the U.S. The park encapulates bastions, towers, living quarters and the church-- all great accomplishments for this walled community! Many of the structures still remain and the tours are educational and insightful. We’d definitely recommend this destination!

San Juan National Historic Site
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Tumacácori National Historical Park

For more info... Check out this website below!
American Latino Heritage Projects:
A website Initiated by the National Park Service, American Latino Heritage Projects seeks to consistently highlight the American Latino community in the form of programs and various services during National Hispanic Heritage Month. This includes interpretation, community engagement and academic inclusion. 

Stay tuned for more Top Picks with our National Parks Depot crew! As always, we send you off with this sentiment: No matter where you are, enjoy the outdoors and it’s never too late to #FindYourPark.

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