June 15, 2023

Beyond Beaches: Summer Entertainment, National Trust Style

  • By: Priya Chhaya

For many, the summer season fosters the dream of poolside drinks or the comforting feeling of sand between your toes as you read a book under a beach umbrella (and hey, we have a reading list for that!). But we know that summertime means different things to different people: taking long road trips to visit historic sites, sitting in an air-conditioned bubble away from the heat—perfect for binge watching television shows, or enjoying a picnic or BBQ with family and friends.

In the spirit of living a summer of your choosing, we at the National Trust for Historic Preservation put together a list to engage all your senses—all inspired by some of our major campaigns. Check out the list below.

Boat’s bow on a lake

photo by: Aaron Burden | Unsplash

If You Are a Fan of Backing Historic Small Restaurants…

Over the past three years the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with American Express, has awarded a total of $3 million dollars to 75 historic restaurants across the United States as part of the Backing Historic Small Restaurants program. Taken collectively, these places share the histories and stories of our country through the food we eat. In 2023 the restaurants included soul food, a Hungarian pastry shop, and a Mexican Restaurant on Route 66 each telling the story of a community gathering spot.

…then this summer learn about the ways in which history and food intersect:

If You Are Interested in Preserving America’s Chinatowns...

America’s Chinatowns sit at an irreplaceable crossroads of history, culture, and identity. They connect us to our past, anchor us in the present, and show us the path to a more equitable future. The National Trust for Historic preservation—together with partners and communities—are researching elevating, and building coalitions that sustain and support historic Chinatowns across the United States.

…then spend time this summer learning about these irreplaceable neighborhoods.

  • Cookbook: Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge by Grace Young was the winner of the 2011 James Beard International Cookbook Award and is a guide to the art of stir frying that has over 100 recipes for both first-time and expert cooks. Young is an advocate for Chinatowns across the United States and is currently partnering with the James Beard Foundation on the #SupportChinatowns social media campaign.
  • Podcast: Western Edition (Season 2)—L.A. Chinatown was developed in 2022 and features an examination of the “many ways we view Chinatown, both in L.A. and nationally.” Di Gao, the campaign lead for Preserving America’s Chinatowns, is featured in Episode 6 of this season.
  • Book: Mott Street by Ava Chin is a personal history pieced together after decades of research “she finds not only her father but also the building that provided a refuge for them all.” It is in a single building on Mott Street in New York’s Chinatown that Chin learns about her ancestors, “piecing together how they bore and resisted the weight of Chinese Exclusion laws.”
  • Article: Why We're Protecting America's Chinatowns

If You Love the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund...

For five years the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has stood as a leader in funding and advocating for the preservation of sites connected to Black History. These important historic places are instilled with the breath and depth of the Black experience. Awardees included the homes of incredible artists and musicians, institutions like Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Black Church, and organizations doing the essential work of preserving Black history in their communities.

…then dig into the rich history of Black America.

If You Want to Explore the Places Where Women Made History…

We believe that every site has a woman’s story to tell, and our Where Women Made History campaign looks to identify, honor, and elevate places where women have changed their communities and the world. Our work ranges from elevating the work of female architects, supporting women’s leadership in historic preservation, and recognizing the sites where women’s history has been neglected or deliberately obscured. After all, woman’s history is American history.

...then learn about the incredible women who made a difference.

  • Podcast: Amaza Lee Meredith: Love and Home is a part of the second season of New Angle: Voice, a podcast by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation about the life and work of architect Amaza Lee Meredith. Meredith, along with her partner Edna Meade Colson, worked and lived at their home Azurest South near Virginia State University Campus where they both taught. The seventh episode explores how “the homes and communities that Meredith helped establish provided a sense of joy and pleasure to those at a time when this wasn’t always possible.”
  • Book + Video Short: A Warrior of the People: How Susan La Flesche Overcame Racial and Gender Inequality to Become America's First Indian Doctor by Joe Straita is the story of the woman who became the first Native American doctor in United States history. Also check out this video short from American Masters: Unladylike2020 series.
  • Television: Mrs. America is a television series that tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), the unexpected backlash led by Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), and the bitter battle with second wave feminists Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus. It is available on Hulu.
  • Article: Five Women, Five Approaches to Saving Places

If You Love Hiking through America’s Public Lands and Places…

America’s federal public lands have stunning scenic beauty and contain diverse and important cultural landscapes, historic structures, and archaeological sites that belong to all of us. These resources represent our shared history and are part of our nation's multi-layered story. Historic and cultural sites on public lands are a diverse, informative, and irreplaceable part of our national heritage, and we believe we must work together to preserve them for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

…then explore your connection with the great outdoors.

  • Television: In America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, “explores the country’s diverse landscapes to see how they shape the way we work, play and interact with the outdoors.” Season one takes audiences from Virginia’s Tidewater landscape to the rivers of Minnesota, to Black surfers in Los Angeles. You can read about season 1 in this story, and catch up on PBS before season 2 airs this fall.
  • Movies: Love in National Parks film series from: Glacier, Zion, Yosemite. While on the surface these three films are Hallmark’s signature rom-com specialty, each contains an appreciation for the various cultures and narratives at these three National Parks and remind us of the importance of honoring and caring for these important places.
  • Podcast: The Secret Lives of Parks is a show from the National Parks Conservation Association which shares “unusual stories from some of America’s most beloved and inspirational places—our national parks.” Recent episodes look at poetry inspired by these public lands, a look at the role of witness trees at these parks, and a behind the scenes look at Padre Island.
  • Article: Historic Phantom Ranch Turns 100—Thanks to Mules

If You Get Your Kicks On Our Preserve Route 66 Initiative...

As one of the most enduring highways in the consciousness of the American Public, Route 66 represents a significant moment in history that continues to define the nation’s identity. The National Trust for Historic Preservation continues its advocacy for what is known as the “Mother Road," particularly elevating stories along Route 66 that may have been overlooked in the past, including places associated with historically excluded communities. Efforts are underway to amend the National Trails System Act to designate a permanent Route 66 National Historic Trail in time for the Centennial anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.

…then further examine your connection to the Mother Road.

  • Documentary: Route 66: The Untold Story of Women on the Mother Road is a 3-part documentary “looks at the women who overcame gender discrimination and segregation to build fulfilling lives and legacies along Route 66.”
  • Playlist: Driving Route 66 from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is a playlist that “evokes passages along the fabled journey.” With some surprising choices, this is a playlist that looks to connect classical themes with the emotions from the over 2,000 mile historic road.
  • Podcast: The Route 66 Podcast is a show that “features talks with people living and working along The Mother Road.” Listen to episodes with Navajo Code Talkers, restaurateurs, and famous roadside attractions!
  • Article: 9 Places on Route 66 That Tell the Full American Story

Donate Today to Help Save the Places Where Our History Happened.

Donate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation today and you'll help preserve places that tell our stories, reflect our culture, and shape our shared American experience.

By purchasing any of these products using the links on this page, you'll be supporting the National Trust. Check out other ways you can support preservation as you shop, travel, and play.

While her day job is the associate director of content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Priya spends other waking moments musing, writing, and learning about how the public engages and embraces history.

The Mother Road turns 100 years old in 2026—share your Route 66 story to celebrate the Centennial. Together, we’ll tell the full American story of Route 66!

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