WWII Sites Everyone Should Visit Once

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.

WWII Sites Everyone Should Visit Once

As the most studied war in history, World War 2 has created a lasting impact on many generations. Best known as the Second World War, millions of American and Allied heroes deserve to be honored. One of the ways we can pay our respects is to spend time at a war memorial or location that honors fallen heroes and those who served. 

While many incredible WW2 memorials exist in the United States, not all of them can be found on this side of the world. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the most essential World War II sites every American needs to visit.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii.
The Pearl Harbor Memorial is one of the most important places to visit in the U.S.

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is well worth visiting. Including memorials to the USS Arizona, USS Utah, and USS Oklahoma, this entire location honors the men who lost their lives during one of America’s darkest days. This is undoubtedly one of the most important WW2 memorials across America.

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial and Washington Monument - Washington, D.C., USA
The World War II Memorial at the National Mall is a well-visited site.

Located at the National Mall in Washington D.C., the World War 2 Memorial was introduced on May 29, 2004. One of the nation’s foremost monuments to the war, this location is part of the National Park Service. Through the use of stone and bronze sculptures, this memorial looks to honor those who fell in battle. 

Shrine of Memory

Virginia War Memorial South
Visiting the Shrine of Memory is a great way to honor Virginians who gave everything.

As part of the Virginia War Memorial, the Shrine of Memory is dedicated to Virginians who fought and died in World War 2 through today. The Shrine sits inside the giant glass and stone-covered walking section where you can see names inscribed on marble walls. It’s an incredible view and one that Virginians and all Americans alike need to see. 

Anne Frank’s House

Anne Frank's House
It’s difficult to visit Anne Frank’s house and museum without feeling emotional.

This is the home where the German Jewish teenager and holocaust victim Anne Frank hid from the German army. Hidden by the van Pels family, Frank and her 7 family members hid in the attic. As the story goes, the family was betrayed by a neighbor and taken by German authorities. The home is now a museum but it’s a stark reminder of the worst of humanity. 

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial Berlin
The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is one of the most visited World War 2 sites.

Located in Berlin, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is a memorial to the Jews of Europe who died in the Holocaust. The granite maze offers details about the victims and their families. This is an incredibly moving site that offers a stark reminder of the suffering that happens during wartime. 

West Coast World War II Memorial

West Coast Memorial
Honoring those who died guarding the Pacific Ocean is this Golden Gate memorial.

Set against a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, this memorial in Golden Gate National Park is an important stop. The memorial is a curved wall of California granite with the names of 413 members of the U.S. armed forces. The names are those who were lost at sea in U.S. Pacific coastal waters between 1941 and 1945. 

U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

The US Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.
The Marine Corps memorial is one of the most famous photographs of the war.

One of the most famous photos of World War 2, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial honors the Marine Corps. The statue is based on Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who raised the flag after the U.S. captured Iwo Jima. 


Auschwitz Birkenau memorial in Poland
Visiting Auschwitz offers a heavy look at one of humanity’s worst atrocities.

No one who visits the Auschwitz site, the largest concentration camp in all of World War 2, walks away without heavy emotion. It’s a stark reminder of the absolute worst part of the war and the 1.1 million people who were exterminated here between 1940 and 1945. 

Omaha Beach

Omaha beach at low tide near Vierville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. Commemorating the D-Day landings of 6th June 1944
The Omaha Beach Memorial is a must-visit location in France.

The words “Omaha Beach” are well-known around the world and for good reason. Made famous in movies like Saving Private Ryan, Omaha Beach was one of the amphibious landing zones where the Allies landed during Operation Overlord. The goal was to take the beach and start pushing the Germans out of Western Europe. 

National WWII Museum

National WWII Museum New Orleans
When in New Orleans, you see both the French Quarter and the National WWII Museum.

Located in New Orleans, the National WWII Museum is an excellent place all Americans should visit. Across six different buildings, you see and hear the stories of war. No aspect of World War 2 is left untold from why the fight started to how it changed the world after it was over. 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Genbaku Dome Hiroshima peace memorial
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a stark reminder of the cost of war.

Best known as the only structure left standing after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, this location is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a powerful reminder about the destructive forces humanity has created and the absolute destruction and death that comes from their use. 

Churchill War Rooms

Churchill Cabinet War Rooms
It’s incredible to see the Churchill War Rooms where real decisions were made.

If these rooms seem familiar, it’s because they have been portrayed in a countless number of movies. Left standing exactly as they were from the war, the Churchill War Rooms are a major part of history. These are the exact locations where British leaders took cover during German bombing Blitzs. 

British Normandy Memorial

The British memorial in Normandy
The British Normandy Memorial honors troops from more than 30 countries.

Honoring the lives of 22,442 people who were lost during the Normandy invasion as part of Operation Overlord, the British Normandy Memorial is beautiful. In total, over 30 countries are honored that were fighting under British command. 

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire
Bletchley Park is famous for being the location where codebreakers worked.

A country estate 50 miles north of London, this is where Alan Turing deciphered Germany’s Enigma code machines. The Allied effort to break the code was a critical effort to stop German advances. It’s believed that the efforts of those at Bletchley Park shortened the war by at least several years.

Normandy American Cemetery

American Cemetery in Normandy Monument of fallen soldiers, France
The Normandy American Cemetary has 9,388 U.S. soldiers buried there.

Located in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, the Normandy American Cemetery is the resting place for thousands of Americans who died in the D-Day landings. The memorial covers over 172.5 acres with 9,388 total burials. It’s believed more than one million visitors come here every year. 

Minidoka National Historic Site

Housing Barracks at Minidoka National Historic Site, Idaho
President Clinton created the Minidoka National Historic Site in 2001.

While many memorials honor those who fought in the war, Minidoka National Historic Site honors a different group. This is the location where over 90,000 Japanese Americans were interned between 1942 and 1945. American leaders had unfounded concerns many Japanese citizens could be enemy agents. President Bill Clinton declared the area a national monument in 2001 right before leaving office. 

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