This Southern National Park Is A Must-Visit For US History Buffs

You won't always find hiking or camping at a national historic park, but you can find a space preserved through time. This is the case with the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park. The small, quaint town of Plains, Georgia, offers a unique glimpse into the environment that shaped the 39th president of the United States. The park, which opened in 1987, enables visitors to experience a slice of the small town American life that influenced President Carter's outlook and politics that would eventually help shape the nation.

Every history buff should visit the park, as you get to experience a piece of American history in a hands-on way. This park is unique because of the way it appears frozen in time — the site remains similar to how it was decades ago. People still live in the humble town, including the Carters, but their home is off limits to the public.

Key sites to visit

The park consists of multiple buildings, the main ones being the Jimmy Carter Boyhood Farm, Plains High School, and the Plains Train Depot. Each one reveals a little bit more about former president Carter's past. Throughout the park, friendly staff offer explanations and answer any questions you may have. Their kindness adds to the overall experience.

The Boyhood Farm played a key role in Carter's childhood. He and his four siblings grew up here and helped on the peanut farm his parents Earl and Lillian ran — Lillian also worked as a nurse. Learn the intimate stories that marked his childhood and hear about the family dynamics he was raised in at the farm. 

Plains High School, which is Georgia's official state school, now serves as a visitor center as well as a museum with halls you can wander. Decades ago, both Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, attended the school. You can explore their classrooms and have a glimpse of what they experienced during their time as students. You can also observe the architecture and compare it to modern high schools as you consider how environment shapes perception. What's changed? What's remained the same?

Where and when to go

As you explore the very spaces Carter once inhabited and consider how such a place impacted him later on in life, you can also consider how much the world has changed since Carter's boyhood days. For example, think about how presidential and political campaigns are run and won, and how dramatically that's changed since the 1970s. For Carter, the Plains Depot (the local train station) was a monumental spot. He celebrated successful campaigns, both local and national, here. The depot itself enables you to do explore this on a deeper level in its self-guided museum.

You can find a number of other historic buildings in the town, such as the Maranatha Baptist Church and Rosalynn Carter's childhood home. It's a dream if you're a history buff with an interest in politics. The park is free and open all year, seven days a week. The exact hours from site to site vary, so check out the website before making your itinerary and heading over. The next time you're looking to travel and learn, this is a great historical site to visit.